Sunday, July 30, 2006

Getting to know you...

Just about an hour before heading out to hear Kate sing on Friday, I decided that it was cool enough that I should take the spindle out and try some spinning. Everyone said, "with a little bit of practice everyday and eventually you will be good at it." Everyone also said, "just relax and keep trying, and it will all click one day." I just nodded and agreed. But there really was a big question mark.

This was my third try. The first time at the guild meeting, which was a disaster because of sweaty palms. The second was at the spinning class. I absorbed a lot of information, but didn't quite put it to work. Then the heat was just too much and I couldn't even think about touching the fluffy fiber.

Back to Friday. I was putting everything I learned in class and from reading "Spin It" to test. I took my time going through each step. Spin, draft, spin, draft, wind... Finally about 10 minutes before leaving it clicked! I understood. Just a little. I realized what I should do with my hands to make yarn. Then I had to put it away.

I couldn't wait to get back to it. So early evening on Saturday. A much cooler evening. I took out my spindle and roving. Took a few moments to get back to the point that it clicked again. I went at it without changing anything for a while. Then I realized the spindle wasn't spinning so much. I was using "Hearts" and it was suppose to spin and spin for a long time. Then I remember that my 1.3 oz spindle was labeled as a lighter weight spindle on Wolly Designs' website. Maybe I was spinning yarn that was too thick to the spindle's liking. So I tried spinning finer, and the finer it got the longer the spindle spun. I think I got it down to maybe a lace weight (?) and the spindle would spin for a long long time. I was having fun.

One thing about spinning finer yarn is that if I forget to watch the spindle and let it start spinning the opposite direction, the yarn would break and the spindle would drop. There are fewer fiber in the twist and with just a little bit of reversed spinning it would untwist and break. This happened often when I didn't park the spindle and just left it hanging while I tried to fix a thick section of the yarn. This also brought up another issue. With finer yarn, after breaking it, either intentionally or unintentionally, I find it hard to untwist the fiber with my fingers to prepare for a join. It seems to be retaining some memory even without setting the twist. Any trick for this?

You can see in the picture that it is still a bit of thick-and-thin. I still have to find a way to hold the fiber supply without it being in the palm area. I also have to refine my drafting skill, to get some consistency.

Now that I've gotten to know you better, my "Hearts", I can say that I do love you. But sorry babe, I'm afraid that you won't be the only one in the future.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

At the Woodshed

Kate and Friends' performances at Kulak's Woodshed last night were amazing! The place was small and intimate. Kulak's Woodshed is small storefront space. It was filled with chairs, cushions everywhere for you to sit. Even a large bed just in front of the stage. The atmosphere was fantastic. We got there early, so we got to choose where to sit, or lie down even. And that's just what my partner and two friends did. They took the bed. I felt like sitting and they really wanted more people in the front for the webcast, so I sat right down next to the stage. I could just pinch the singers if I wanted to. It was that close. LOL

It's not a club or coffee house. It is purely a place to showcase artists. They don't serve food or drinks. They just have a fridge with ice cold water that you can just go up and grab one for yourself. You can read how it all came about on their website. Check out the press reports too. You'll see the bed in one of the articles. LOL

No door fee. The funds come from donations on the spot or online. Volunteers put in time making the place work. There are numerous cameras throughout. I mean, they were serious about doing a good job with the video webcast. You won't believe the effort they put in until you see them at work in person. Check out their video archive on the website.

People can also interact with the performers through emails. We got one from someone who was visiting Germany but signed on to watch the performance. When the email arrived, a light in a plastic watering can started flashing. It was quite funny.

Kate, Claire Holley and Jay Matsueda were amazing singers/artists. They are those people that just make you wonder why they are not better known? I've known Kate for a little while, but never had a chance to hear her sing live until last night. And she was mighty funny too. They all were. And at Kulak's Woodshed, when the show's over you just stick around and talk to the artists like old friends. There's no backstage for them to go to. If they are done performing, they just sit down next to you and watch the rest of the show. How wonderful is that? LOL

What an amazing experience. I highly recommend it. So, check out their calendar, their videos. Go hang out or go online and watch the performances. I would. I would do it again and again. LOL

Note, 08.02.2006, updated Jay's link. Check it out!
Note, 08.02.2006, also found that Kate has a myspace page. Link updated for Kate too.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Just a reminder for Kate's performance at Kulak's Woodshed tonight. 8PM to 10PM Pacific. If you can't make it, you can always watch the Live WebCast.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cooling down?

Woke up this morning and immediately it felt different. Cooler. Maybe even less humid? The forecast is good. Temperature is at a downtrend for the next few days. Crossing my fingers.

Blogger is up. Blogger is down. Blogger is up. Blogger is down. :: sigh ::

I haven't done much with fiber. Knitting or spinning. Just too hot and sweaty. However, I did experiment with Francesca's Italian style tubular cast-on. I want to see if it works with knitting in the round. I wasn't successful, only because I lost the last cast-on stitch. Very tricky to get that one to stay put doing it in the round.

But I did find out a few things that I will keep in mind the next time I try.

1. Not recommended for DPNs. Too tricky with too many needles.

2. Francesca showed the cast-on knitting in the flat. I noticed that everything is reversed doing it in the round. When joining to knit in the round, you start with the first cast-on stitch instead of the last cast-on stitch. Also, you are looking at the other side of the knitting when you knit the first round. So, everything is reversed.

Francesca did the first row knit one, slip one wyif, repeat to the end. Knitting in the round should be slip one wyib, purl one, repeat to the end of round. The next row/round is the same for both, knit one, slip one wyif, repeat to the end. Of course, I still have to try it to see if it would really work.

3. Have to find some way to hold the last cast-on stitch in place so I won't lose it before I get to it. Very tricky that one.

I think this can work. I'll give it another try with the next hat project. :-)

Look what I have here. It is an update of Kerry's knitting. PLUS, a first showing of Kerry's partner Clive's current knitting project.

This is Clive's current lace project, Rosemary Shawl, design by Gemma Ord. This is the fourth time that Clive's knitted this shawl. He's at the border (edging?) now, which has 120 "points". Once that's done, he'll graft the ends together, then pick up 960 stitches on the inside and work toward the center. 960 stitches!!! Wow!

Here we have Kerry's current projects. The top one is "Midwest Moonlight Scarf" from "Scarf Style". I love the color and the design. I also have this book. Hmmm... could be a future project. Gosh, my to-do list is getting long.

The bottom one is a sock. Aija would love this. It is a pattern from the latest Knitty, "RPM", designed by... Aija! It is looking way cool. Which yarn are you using, Kerry? Who will be wearing them? :-)

Must be nice knitting in Australia now. Much cooler. :-)

Monday, July 24, 2006

What are you doing Friday night?

Our friend Kate Higgins will be performing at Kulak's Woodshed in North Hollywood this coming Friday. Other artists include Claire Holly and Jay Matsueda. It will go from 8PM to 10PM. Kate will probably be on around 9PM. Go have a listen if you will be in the area. It's free to get in!

Weekend of Activities

I must be a homebody. I am still pooped from the weekend's activities. Is it because of the heat? Boy, it's been hot and muggy. High temperature is one thing. The humidity is harder to deal with. We have what they call "monsoonal moisture". Sounds nasty, huh? This made learning spinning a little more difficult. I went to the guild meeting on Saturday. It was a lot of fun and I met lots of very friendly and very special people. I tried spinning with the spindles. But the heat and sweat made it impossible to handle the fiber to make it work for me. I also tried spinning with a wheel, and that worked out pretty well.

Sunday was the spinning class at A Mano, with John Pitblado. What a wonderful teacher. Very clear instructions from beginning to end. We learned how to spin singles and how to ply yarn. Air conditioning was on so no sweating problem there. Lots of people showed up for the class. He will be teaching at the Fabulous Fiber Fest. I think I want to sign up for the spinning wheel session.

Now the "Violets" update, and the last update. It's done! Complete! And given to my friend!

I have to give a lot of thanks to Ted for guiding me through every step of knitting this shawl. I was very lucky that I chose a pattern that he had already knitted. He even made modification so that it was easier to knit, and prettier to look at. Sylvia mentioned how nice the transition between the violets and the river was. All Ted's idea! :-)

Below is a picture of "Violets" being blocked. I didn't even notice that the wrong side was facing up. LOL

Here's a picture showing each design element in the pattern.

I knew I would be too embarassed to ask my friend to pose for a photo in the coffeeshop where I presented the shawl. So earlier in the morning I forced my partner to put the shawl on for a snapshot. LOL Here it is.

Additional Info, 7.25.06:
Pattern: Violets by the River, by Hazel Carter
Yarn: KnitPicks' Shadow in Sunset
Needle: INOX circular US Size 6

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Moving Along

Here we are, the River pattern finished, the right and left sides of the triangle bound off. I really like how this looks. And it has a nice drape even though it is light weight. My partner really wants to give this to our friend Dorothy by the end of the weekend. When I was working on the "violets", I was hearing, "Is it a violet, yet?" When I was working on the "river", I was hearing, "Is it a river, yet?" Now I am moving on to the "Honeybee & Faggoting", I wonder what I'll be hearing until it is done? LOL

Below is a photo of some stitches picked up along the top of the shawl. I think it looks OK. What do you think?

Here are my newest prized possessions. The spindle on the left is a Kundert, 1.1 oz. The one on the right is "Hearts" from Woolly Designs, 1.3 oz. The fiber on the left is Colonial Multi Dark Green. The one on the right is Colonial Multi Mahogany. I believe they are both from Ashland Bay. But they've been repackaged, so I am not sure. I really want to get some Colonial Northern Lights.

Anyway, I am ready to spin! Guild meeting is on Saturday and I signed up for the spinning class at A Mano. Crossing my fingers!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tubular Cast-on Without the Waste

Look what I've found! This tubular cast-on looks so cool and so easy. I just found it, so I haven't given it a try. But I am already wondering, can this be used for knitting in the round? Like the technique used in "Hats On!"? In any case, there will be experiments! Fantastic!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I don't know how many of you out there know about this online magazine for handspinners, Spindlicity. I've known about it since I met Kathy Hinckley who teaches knitting classes at my LYS. Three issues so far and I hope it will continue to publish and grow.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The River

SOOOOO! Here's the "Violets" with the violets all finished. I have picked up stitches along the left and right sides of the triangle and started the River. The River turned out to be quite easy. Mostly knit stitches. But the number is growing. Over 250 stitches per row and I am only on the second repeat of the pattern. I know, I know. That's nothing compared to a large project like the Princess, or the Wedding Ring Shawl. But I've never worked on so many stitches in one row before.

Picking up the stitches turned out to be more interesting than I thought. I must've been tired at the time that I wasn't paying full attention. I had to do it four times to get it right.

Besides "Violets", I have not knitted anything else. I have in mind a two-color project, but that will not be shown here until it's done. It will be a gift. However, I did do a lot of research. What research? Well... SPINNING! Spinning with a spindle to be more specific. Yes, I have Sachi to blame for that. Why? It's not that she pushed me into thinking about it. I've read about spinning. The nice ladies at A Mano tried to tempt me with roving and spindles. But I resisted them because I just wanted to focus on knitting. But, reading Sachi's recent adventure with spinning was like a big shove that finally got me through the door. Yes, Sachi, you did it. And girl, I can't believe you've upgraded to a wheel already!

So, I bought spinning books. I've talked to spinners. I've asked for advice. I've researched spinning online. I'm planning on attending spinning guild meeting. There's a store that I want to visit. There's a class that I want to take. What? Am I spinning? Nope. Not yet. I haven't gotten a spindle yet. LOL Anybody that knows me well knows that I take forever to research before taking on something new. But, I've ordered one. I'm so looking forward to getting it in my hands. In the meantime, I'm still shopping around. Maybe going to places and try different spindles. Maybe I will find one that's a bit heavier than the one I ordered. It's a new adventure.

Spinning with a spindle really appeals to me. Not only that it's portable, meditative. The thought of feeling the fiber twist and form into yarn in my fingers is really pleasing to me. I think it will be great for strengthening concentration. :-D

Oh, by the way, Ken gave a great review on KnitPicks' new interchangeable needles. Go check it out! Sachi, where's your review? :-P

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Little Boy by the Rice Field

During my trip to Northeastern Thailand in November 2005, a trip to visit my teacher's forest temple and to do some meditation practice, I saw a little boy sitting by the rice field one day. Just sitting there watching the sunset. My first thought was, "that boy must be so bored. I wish there were something for him to do. Maybe some toys. Video games would be good. Maybe he needs someone to take him to the movies." Then I thought, "but if he gets a video game system, he would want more games when he gets tired of the old ones. If he goes to the movie, he will want to see more and who will take him to the theaters in the future?"

I looked at the boy again. He was just sitting there, watching the sunset. He did not seem restless at all. Then I realized all that restlessness, all that stress came from me and not the boy. He was quite content. All those games and movies were far from his mind. No. They were never there in his mind. He had no need for them. Why would I introduce them to him and cause him to want more in the end? He was happy to just watch the sunset. He had peace. I should look at my own mind and see what needed to be cleared out.

Lesson learned.

LTK Afghan Square Nine

LTK Afghan Square 9, Horizontal Chain

Sorry, didn't block it first. Didn't pin it down for a better picture. I am not doing blocking until I get all the squares done.

This is really an easy way to do color knitting. Carrying one color at a time. The fabric is not too stiff after all. Maybe I loosened the tension? Maybe. I really like Wannietta's idea of using this kind of fabric for pillows. One more to add on the to-knit list. :-)

I have 16 rows of Violets done on the shawl. Two more to go. No more pictures until I start knitting the River, and I can't wait to get to that. I hope it will go well.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Kerry's first lace project. Yep! The very first. Beautiful scarf pattern from Heirloom Knitting. Fine lace yarn from Artisan Lace. You can see how fine the lace yarn is compared to the light fingering weight that he's using for lifeline. It is so lovely. I especially love the colors. Did I get the details right, Kerry? Please correct me if I am wrong. :-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Knitted Teddy Bears

I got a package from Amazon yesterday. It contained the book Designing Knitwear and this book, The Knitted Teddy Bear.

Clyde was showing me pictures of "Get on the Bus" and an idea just popped in my head. Just look at the pictures below. I'm sure that most knitters would have thought the same thing, "I can knit a teddy bear for this." So, I ordered the book.

"Get on the Bus" is a program that takes children to visit their mothers who are in prison, on Mother's Days. They also started doing this on Father's Day this year for children whose fathers are in prison. Clyde's church helps out arranging the buses for Southern California children. A lot of kids don't get to see their mom or dad due to the distance of the prisons. Some of the children had never even met their mom/dad until they got involved with "Get on the Bus". Long story short, on the bus on the way home each child recieves a stuffed animal and a card from their parent. The cards were filled out by the parents and the stuffed animal were bought in the parents' names. Something for the children to remember their parents by. I just thought it would be so cool if I could knit up something for the program, participating in my own way.

You can read about this last Father's Day bus trip on Clyde's blog.