Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Review - Christmas Gift List

Hey, there. Back from Thanksgiving, spent with my family. Before you know it, 2005 will be gone and over. I've asked my family what they want this year, and as usual, they're on the fence on what they want! Frustrating! Anyway, I've considered some possiblities for them, and various other people who I'd like to give a gift, too (including my scarf exchange contact!). Here's a few items I'm considering

Christmas Gift Potential List
1) Knit a scarf? (I'd really like to try the Irish Hiking Scarf pattern)
2) Knit a hat? (It will be my first hat! Most of my family lives in the cold Midwest, so it might be useful. Heck, I was just there myself and it was C O L D.)
3) Buy some Scharffen Berger chocolate?
4) Get a sweater? - (I'm considering an alpaca sweater which none of us own)
5) Buy a watch? Maybe a Citizen or a Seiko. Something that does not require battery replacement.

I haven't forgotten my wish to knit something to donate to charity. Haven't casted on for that yet, though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Entry 11 - So I basically finished my purse, but I have yet to block it, attempt a mattress stitch up the sides, and attach the I-cord strap. I bought some nice burgundy purple flower print fabric to line the inside, but I don't have a button yet. I plan to go to Michael's to look for some.

Meanwhile, I've casted on another project for the past week. I've finally started my Multidirectional Scarf in Artyarns Supermerino Colorway #123. Initially, I was having trouble getting beyond the first triangle, but now I've gotten the hang of it. The pattern deceptively looks complicated on first read to my newbie eyes, but once I started to get used to it, it was extremely easy.

This yarn is so fantastic! No annoying pills or weird bumps along the way with this yarn that I experienced with Plymouth Encore, although maybe I just got a bad skein of Encore. I can truly see the difference in quality though, with the more expensive Supermerino. The vareigated blue, green and purple hues that travel along the yarn also make knitting very visually interesting and fun. Eventually, I'll get around to posting some pictures. *ahem* I have to post at least one picture of my finished MD Scarf so I can get the free patterns. :)

I kind of wished I had casted on for a wider scarf though. 4 inches wide seems a little too skinny to my eye, but I was afraid of deviating from the pattern too much. Anyway, I'm almost done with the 2nd triangle. 6 more triangles to go! Then, I'll "attempt" to attach fringe. I'm also considering sending this scarf to my secret pal who is a fan of color. Although, when I read those questionnaires, the Cables or lace question kind of confuses me. Does it mean the pal wants cables only type scarf or a lace type scarf, if specified? Would she be amenable to multidirectional scarves as well? I think it would be a good gift, but I don't want to disappoint anyone if they expect cables only scarf or a lace type scarf.

After this MD scarf is finished, I'm seriously thinking of attempting a variation on this scarf called the Short Row Rib Scarf. I'm tired of doing garter stitch all the time (the MD Scarf is essentially a garter stitch short row scarf).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Review - Charity Giving List:

Around the holidays, many of our local charities are starting to ask for donated food, clothing, and money. Of course, some national charities happily accept knitted items. Here are a few of some of the charities I found through other sites that accept hand-knit items and they provide patterns for ideas, too!

LIST OF 10 SITES I know of so far:

Afghans for Afghans - http://afghansforafghans.org

Ships Project: http://www.coingo.net/theshipsproject/
- handknit an item for a soldier

Stitches from the Heart: http://www.stitchesfromtheheart.org
- handknit an item for a baby/preemie

Special Knitting Forces: http://www.specialknittingforces.org/
- handknit an item for civillians during wartime

Headhuggers - http://www.headhuggers.org/
- handknit a chemo cap! (a hat, beret, cap for chemotherapy patients)

Knitting for a Better World (information provided by Interweave Press)
http://www.interweave.com/knit/charities.asp
- lots of links to charities that accept knitting. Please contact charity before donating because addresses may have changed or such.

WoolWorks.org- Links to Charity - http://www.woolworks.org/charity.html
- more links to charity organizations that are more state-specific (if you'd like to donate to a more local charity)

About.com - http://knitting.about.com/od/charityprojects/
- links to some charity organizations, but they have lots of free-patterns in their library that could be used for inspiration. Beware annoying pop-up ads.

From p2 designs website: http://www.p2designs.com/Links-CharityPatterns.htm
- don't know what pattern to use for donation? Look here for free patterns for inspiration. These are mostly geared toward baby items

Knitting Pals by the Bay - http://www.knittingpals.org/
- Another chemo-cap link with a free pattern. This organization is more specific toward the San Francisco Bay Area (where I'm located!)

Just a note before you start casting on, buying yarn, or even start donating. Read the guidelines in some of these charity organizations on what yarn they would like and such. One good example is Afghans for Afghans where clothing is desired to be in 100% wool, whereas afghans can be in acrylic, but they'd like it to be double-stranded for extra warmth. Another good example I just read was for Chemo Caps. Wool is itchy on the head and some people are allergic to wool. Therefore, acrylic blends (Plymouth Encore) or cotton blends are best and they are desired to be machine-washable. Therefore, READ the GUIDELINES!

I haven't started on my charity project yet, but I am thinking of doing something simple like a baby blanket, although a chemo cap might be interesting. I could use up all this Plymouth Encore I bought. :P

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Entry 9 - Nov. 17, 2005

More progress done on my purse strap with the I-cord method. It's now starting to look more like a cord, rather than a flat piece of fabric. I've already gotten about half of it done. I must knit pretty tightly though because my hands feel cramped. I worry somewhat about the first stitch of each row becoming too loose and baggy where my I-cord will look less than neat. I already have a few lumps down the line that look a bit uneven, but I've decided to live with it. After I block this cord, perhaps it will look better. I'm so excited now because I've almost used up my first skein of yarn (Plymouth Encore, color: light purple, 200 yds - 100g). Yay! I feel so proud. :)

I'm most worried about getting carpal tunnel with this new knitting kick I've been on. Before, my hands have always been pretty tolerant of the abuse I've given it (writing, piano playing, computer work), but now with all these people I sometimes see with casts on their hands after surgery, it worries me somewhat. Acquiring arthritis would be very bad...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Entry 8 - Nov. 15, 2005

I received my secret scarf exchange pal yesterday. Simultaneously, I felt thrilled and a little nervous. Some of those scarf questionnaires asked for cables or lace which is something I've never attempted at (still at Garter Stitch, folks!). Anyhow, it's not due till Feb. 2006, so plenty of time to learn, I guess till then. Hope there won't be too much frogging...

Speaking of frogging, I had to rip up my entire purse strap, because I realized I was doing it wrong. I was trying to do the I-cord, but couldn't figure it out, so I did it the old fashion way, turning my work using garter stitch. I had a good foot length of nice flat garter stitches. Then, out of curiosity, I decided to look on the Internet to see if there was a video of the I-cord method and I did find it! The Knitting for Dummies book tried to describe it in text form, but it wasn't much help to me. Thank goodness for the Internet. :) So, now, I'm going to use the I-cord method the correct way and make a nice purse strap. Find the video here at this link:

http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/basic_techniques/misc.php

It's already Nov. 15 and I promised myself I would try to do the Multidirectional Knitalong finished by the due date (11/30/05) so I can get a free pattern. I haven't even casted on yet. *sigh* I did buy the yarn though, although I do not have US #7 needles. I knit pretty tightly though, so I was considering using my double pointed US #8 needles. Or, maybe it's another excuse to visit a local yarn shop. :) Anyhow, I can't wait for this silly purse to get finished so I can proudly show a finished object on this plain-looking blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday Bit of Randomness List

Where did I go for vacation? A little place known as Paradise, Nevada... but more frequently known as the Las Vegas Strip (even though technically it is not IN Las Vegas). Hehe. I did actually go into Las Vegas to view the Fremont Experience which was visually beautiful and at the same time annoying ( dancing girls in skimpy outfits that were clearly for a male audience). I liked some of light and sound visuals though. Here is lists of what I liked and didn't like in Las Vegas ... I mean Paradise.

5 things I liked:

1) The Pink Jeep Valley of Fire tour - beautiful red rock formations and cool petroglyphs.
2) The close proximity of a Korean restaurant within walking distance.
3) The fabulous shopping with hundreds of unique boutiques.
4) Celine Dion concert - (and I'm not a fan of hers, but she performed very well)
5) The creepy thrill I felt at Madame Toussand's Wax Museum replica at the Venetian. (There was a red suited bell-boy like goblin zombie who suddenly appeared behind us after we bypassed the Monster's Alive exhibit. He just stood and stared at us. I know it probably sounds lame, but when it happened it felt scary!)

5 things I disliked

1) The huge cloud of cigarette smoke that was constantly present in the air.
2) The $55 Sushi plate at Fusia Restaurant (and the sushi didn't taste that good to me. The wasabi was also not very potent. I might as well have gone to a sushi buffet)
3) The somewhat militant tour guide on the Las Vegas Evening Tour.
4) The inflated prices of some things we usually take for granted. ($2.50 for just a regular cup of coffee?! - *sigh*)
5) Slot Machines ( it's very dull to gamble on them. I'd rather spend my money on actual video games, thank you)

Entry 6 - Nov. 13, 2005

This week I was on vacation, thus no posts for awhile. :) After I came back, I took the opportunity to travel from San Francisco Airport to the ImagiKnit shop! What an amazing store! Last week, I had said I was going to try to find some Art Yarns, but I went to TWO local yarn shops and they only had the super expensive Regal Silk kinds ($22/skein - ouch!) or the Ultramerino (around $17/skein I think? - *shudder*). I was thinking to myself, what happened to the Artyarns Supermerino which is only $9/skein? Bah. So, I finally found it at ImagiKnit! Yay!

Of course, once I saw all those yarns, I felt the urge to buy a lot of yarn beyond my simple intent just to buy for one project. So I gave in. :) I bought two vareigated blue, green, purple skeins of Supermerino Artyarn and one skein of Silk Ribbon Artyarn in the same color and 5 skeins of Dale of Norway Svale in pink for the Honeymoon Cami project which I really want to learn to do well. I love the picture in Knitty. I also acquired another set of double pointed needles (US #8), a set of cable needles from Clover (ack, haven't even learned to do cables yet), and some blocking pins (I'm thinking of sweaters already?? without any finished objects to my name? -sheeesh).

Just a word on my purse project. I've completed the main body of work - the garter stitch in 22 inches long after a cast on of 38 stitches. It feels really nice to finally be done with that part because I was getting really tired of knitting monotonously every row and seeing the same color all the time. Next step is the 42 inch purse strap in garter stitch as well. I was thinking I could try to learn how to knit some flowers, too because the purse itself seems rather plain looking. Or...maybe I could crochet them. I already have some dark purple yarn! :)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday Review - Pack Rat list

I thought I would start off by stepping back and looking at the big picutre each week. What I have and what needs to be done. I like reading about people's stashes so here's mine:

1 skein in violet (200 yds) - Caron Simply Soft - various practice crochet swatches

2 skeins in light purple (400 yds) - Plymouth Encore Worsted - currently used to knit Everyday Bag from Knitting for Dummies

1 skein in vareigated dark blue (200 yds) - Plymouth Encore
1 skein in vareigated demin-blue like color (200 yds) - Plymouth Encore - for striped scarf with dark blue?

10 balls of (109 yds each) 100% superfine alpaca in Lavish from Interamerica - some clothing item for the future. A short sleeve sweater or shell maybe?

1 hank of Cascade 220 (200 yds) in a rich red color.
1 skein of Mexican Wave (170 yds) variegated in red-gray color. Striped scarf with Cascade?

3 balls (156 yds) of Sherlock 70% extrafine merino/30% silk from Artfibers. Dark earthy brown color - first sock project

Equipment: US #9 and #5 straight Fiddlesticks needles (bamboo)
US #3 Double point needles from Clover (bamboo)
US #10 circular Clover needles (bamboo)
Brittany 5.0 mm H hook (bamboo)

After buying the Art Yarns for the multidirectional scarf project, I think that will be it for shopping. (famous last words)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Entry 4 - Nov. 5, 2005

Okay, I lied when I said I've put down my crocheting for now. Typing about it in my last post has grabbed my attention again. I decided to sit down and really practice my chain stitches. Before, I would make them all sloppy and loose, or really difficult to work with because I held my yarn too tightly. Similar to practicing scales on a piano, I've been making ten chain stitches, frogging them all, and then repeating them over and over. Subsequently, my yarn is starting to look at little frayed, but it's very durable. I'm using Caron Simply Soft right now in a rich dark violet. I really love this yarn for the color, the amount of abuse it can take and the feel of it. So what if it's acrylic? :)

I read an interesting discussion on the forums concerning knit versus crochet on the addictive Knitter's Review website. So much helpful advice! I was surprised to read that crochet is sometimes viewed negatively as inferior to knitting. I think they both are good crafts, although the variety of excellent patterns currently favor knitting in my point of view. Crocheting is somewhat playing catch-up in modernizing the pattern styles of clothing. I was leafing through some pictures of different Crochet stitches at my local Barnes and Noble and my excitement grew for crocheting. So many beautiful stitch patterns! It was so visually inspirational! I didn't buy the book though because I figured I better just concentrate on mastering the basics first. One baby stitch at a time...

Entry 3 - Nov. 5, 2005

More progress done on my first knitted object - about 75% done. Yay! I've also joined a multidirectional scarf knit-a-long in Yahoo groups. More motivation! The deadline to knit a MD Scarf is by Nov. 30, 2005. Well, first, I have to buy some more yarn. (More shopping!) Then, there is more "free patterns" to be rewarded if you knit with Artyarns to make your first multidirectional scarf. I've looked up the prices of those yarns on the Internet, and they're pretty expensive at around $9-12/skein depending on what you buy. I guess you're technically paying for the pattern as well as the yarn if you follow the promotional guidelines. Can't blame them for wanting to do a plug for themselves. Still, it sounds like fun and the Yahoo group for the MD Knitalong provides plenty of support, encouragement, and guidance.

The first knitted object I'm working on is going to be from the Everday Bag guidelines in the "Knitting for Dummies" book by Pam Allen. I could always use more purses of different colors. This purse is likely not going to be good for work or everyday, despite the title. I am a little leery of hand-knitted objects in general, because they seem to wear out quicker with too much handling. It'll be perfect though for a casual weekend going out with some jeans. Someday, I'll actually get around to buying a digital camera so that I can put some pictures on this plain-looking blog. I'm currently using Plymouth Yarn Encore in a soft light purple. I was initally going to turn this into a scarf, but after feeling the texture of my finished fabric, I didn't think I was going to enjoy it too much around my neck. Knitting it up as a purse is using up a lot less yarn though, so after I'm done, I'll likely still have about 250-300 yards left. Oh well. :) Still, plenty left to knit a scarf if I wish.

I've also started to learn how to crochet. Although, I haven't really gotten beyond working just a few chain stitches on my H hook. I bought a pretty bamboo one from the Brittany Brand. I love how it looks with the fancy carved handle. However, I'm not concentrating on crocheting right now since my knitting project needs to be finished. Then, I can start work on my Scarf Exchange/Knitalong project. THEN, I think I'll finally try my hand a crocheted project. I've looked at some crochet patterns on the Internet and I am a little dissatisfied with the projects I've seen in comparison to knitting. They all seem so...full of holes in the photos and are less tightly woven. But maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Entry 2 - Nov. 3, 2005

More yarn came in the mail today... I went on e-bay and looked at various yarn and lots of fibers were tempting me. I really wanted to find some good yarn I could buy for my first scarf project. If my receiver wants another yarn or color, well, I suppose I could always knit it for myself. I like scarves. Although, I suppose it doesn't make much sense to have too many for California style weather.

The yarn I bought was 10 skeins of 100 yds each of 100% superfine alpaca bought pretty affordably. The color is nice earthy brown, never dyed. I was so excited when I received my package. I can't wait to work with it. After receiving this yarn, I went back to e-bay and saw there were yarns of this same material in OTHER colors! Oh... sweet temptation...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Entry 1 - Nov. 2, 2005

Hey, yet another knitting diary (i.e. blog)! What a waste of bandwith, you say? Probably. But hey, it's the American way to waste resources. *ahem*

I've just learned to knit and so far have nothing to show for it. My work in progress is a simple everyday bag from "Knitting for Dummies". Quite actually a pretty good book and detailed as well. I went to my local yarn store and bought some purple Plymouth Encore to start. Later, I wanted more yarn to play with, so I bought two more skeins of Plymouth Encore (vareigated dark blue and a denim like blue) and different size needles. A few visits to other yarn shops and several purchases later, I have probably now a dozen skeins of different colors and needles of a few different sizes, but still no finished objects. Terrible, isn't?

I've also joined a knit-a-long and scarf exchange for the first time. I told myself I could use the motivation, and I like the idea of sending someone a gift overseas. It works better for me, to learn this hobby if I had a set goal in mind. Before, I would just idly pick up needles, work on a few rows, set it down and do something else. I hope I do a good job with this scarf since I will be making it for someone.