Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We all know sock yarn isn't stash. Neither is laceweight, for the most part. Therefore, this is my entire stash:

And this is not stash:

As Lee says, don't make the yarn angry. It will get even. Apparently, it multiplies, and ate the couch. See:

That right there is all of my fibery goodness, all of the roving and yarn of all flavors (except the bag o' scraps) that are not currently used in projects. Maybe I do have too much...I mean, I have, according to my Ravelry stash page (which only counts what I have here in Japan, not the bit of stash I left home) 24.5 miles, yes, MILES of yarn. That is not in a project - if we count the yarn in my WIP basket, that's another mile or two, I'm sure. There's at least 550 oz, nearly 1.5 miles, in sock yarn alone, and then I have a sweater's worth of sport weight and a half mile in Alpaca Cloud for one stole and a whole bunch of crappy fingering weight but not sock yarn that is still fighting me, and...I think that's it. So at least three miles of in progress stuff. In addition to the stash in the closet and on the bookshelf waiting for its turn. Wow, that is a lot.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I has it.

Sorry to all my Ravelry friends, I shall be consuming your Friends pages for the next, oh, seven pages. I went through and photographed all my yarn this weekend.

Not my projects, just the yarn. Projects will be later. I swear.

I haven't looked at my Friends pages in awhile. So of course, I had to go back through to the point where I last saw things. I have 48 tabs of projects to look at open.

Oh jeez.

I also have a couchful of yarn to finish organizing. It's all photographed and uploaded to Flickr, now it needs to be input to Ravelry, sorted by project (as in, what projects will I be most likely to do soonest) and put back into the closet and onto the bookshelf.

All those yarn pictures will be popping up on your Friends page shortly.

In short, I apologize for all the annoying pictures you'll be getting from me, but it will be making my life easier and more organized, so it's worth it.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Too Much Yarn

I own too much yarn. Not huge rooms full of yarn, not more than I could ever knit, and not piles of yarn without a project to go with it, but more than I should have. Since I know I won't be staying here for too many more years and I keep buying new yarn for new projects, I am going to give myself some yarn-related goals for 2010. For 2009, my goal was to finish at least as many projects as I had in 2008, preferably above 50. Yes, I realize this is nearly a finished object per week and with less than two months to go I am still about 1/4 of the way from the finish line, but it should be doable. I've had some projects that have taken me less than a week; in fact, a few have taken less than a day. More than 50 projects is just insane, and in this coming year I'd rather focus on quality, projects for me, and using up the yarn I already own.

I have yarn for at least two sweater vests, possibly more. They would be very useful right now, and would take up oh, 1000-ish yards of WW yarn I have hanging around. Yarn that I brought to Japan, and that I really, really should not be bringing back to the States! By the 1st of January, after much after my current round of test knitting and gift knitting is over, I will catalog all of my yarn. I started to awhile ago, and then just got bogged down by the number of odds and ends I had. I also wound these odds and ends using my trusty niddy noddy and counted the number of yards I had of each, making nice little mini-skeins and sprinkling them in among the bookshelf skeins (which just keep growing...). I'll be photographing and counting all of my stash to add to Ravelry and listing the projects for all the yarn that has a desired project.

Next, I'll be going through that yarn and working on the desired project for each. I have a steeked Norwegian cardigan for my mom that I've been working on for awhile now. That one needs to be finished by August so I can take it with me to the States and give it to my mom. That one will be a good one to finish because not only will it be using up yarn I brought all the way from the States with me, but also not adding to the collection of things that will be brought home. I hope to replace the contents of my sock drawer with all handmade socks by the time I leave here as well, so knitting up all the sock yarn I have will not only be decreasing my stash but also allowing me to toss old socks and not get more dollar store socks. I have 20 skeins of Patons Classic Merino for a King sized blanket. That will prove highly useful while we're here as well, and I should use it for its intended purpose before I get too antsy and use it for something else!

Part of the reason I keep buying yarn is because the yarn I have is either not appropriate or is being kept for a different project, so of course I can't use it! Therefore, I really should figure out what has a project, what is up for grabs, and what I should try to get rid of. I have bunches of mohair, mostly recycled, that I find to be horribly itchy. I should get rid of it or find a nice scarf pattern for gifts.

Soon, expect a post with piles of yarn and some levels of organization, as well as a massive update to my Ravelry stash.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicken Wings Party

Thanks to our wonderful friends, we have an abundance of wing and barbecue sauces. Because it's not really all that convenient or cost effective to fry up a bunch of wings for dinner for just the two of us, we had a bunch of people over and a multitude of wings and french fries to fry up. Since the fries had frost on them, Lee had his lovely protective gear on to minimize blinding from spitting oil:

Mmm, I love a man in safety glasses! We went all Martha Stewart and put the melba toast and carrots for blue cheese dipping in our bread pans (because all the bowls were being used in the wings process) and had biscuits and garbage bread. We also offered a salad and ice cream sundaes for dessert, with homemade caramel and whipped cream. Lee scoffs at my dessert making attempts, but the caramel finally worked after burning only two batches of sugar.

Lee had a nice assembly line for his frying going on, drying raw chicken in the sink, pot of cornstarch to coat the chicken before dunking them into the oil:

We had about 15 people, so it was a good sized party. It was nice to be able to have a little taste of home, even if it wasn't quite the same.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What have I been doing?

1. Chicken Wing party - post as soon as I remember to do stuff with the pictures.

2. Local sight-seeing and recovering from said party (not like, hungover or anything, just house cleaning and all). Last weekend was pretty much supposed to be the last weekend before the miserable, wet, cold winter season, so we walked about and took pictures (which will be on Flickr probably tonight).

3. Swearing to myself I will go to bed early tonight.

4. Not going to bed early any night.

5. Being tired and lazy because I have not been getting quite enough sleep.

6. Knitting on a couple of projects I can't blog about as of yet.

7. Not sewing on the remaining button so I can give the baby gifts away after photographing and blogging them.

8. Making some progress, but not enough, on the projects I can blog about. Actually, I really should show off my Blooming glove again, now that it's all done minus the weaving in of ends. Must get on that.

9. Studying Japanese.

10. Watching Dan Brown movies. Rather disappointed in Angels and Demons, really impressed by how they showed the cognitive processes with DaVinci Code.

11. Not blogging. Not even logging onto blogger. Reading other peoples' blogs though.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Skills: +10 in formatting

Sometimes my image hosting site (Ripway) likes to cut off my access to images. Things like the progress bars over in the sidebar. I log in to see what the problem is, and get this message:
Our system has detected that downloads from your account over the last 24 hours has exceeded your daily download limit. Public downloads of your files are temporarily unavailable.") As soon as your downloads for a 24 hour period drops below your daily limit, public access to your files will be restored.

Use the chart to the right to see when heavy downloads occurred, and how much was used.

I also have this information about my usage, just a couple of lines above the temporary account locking notice:
Data Transfer
In the last 24 hours you have used 4.95 MB of data transfer, out of 150.00 MB.
So I should have 145.05 MB of data transfer remaining for this 24 hour time period. That is not exceeding my limit. I was always annoyed to see the little "pg" on my progress bars when the images went away, so recently decided to change them to status updates on each project. Cute little things, like "Finished!", "Needs blocking", "Slowly but surely", "Soon" and things like that. Well, I realized that that made for very wonky formatting. Why, I was never sure. The last time I saw it I didn't have time to sit and fix it, but this time, by gosh, I was going to do something about it!

I realized that all of the ones that said "Finished!" were okay. Others, not so much. The words would cut off and continue vertically down the screen, obscuring the names of other projects and cute progress bar messages. Not good. Two projects, one at 90%, and one at 98%, had the same phrase, which was fine for the 98% bar but cut off in the 90% bar. Of course, this didn't clue me in.

What did clue me in was the fact that the one that had only 35% progress cut off at about the 35% mark. A-ha! The alternate text for the image only shows up underneath where the image would be! So, something that is finished can handle any phrase up to 100 pixels long. I changed all of the phrases to something that can fit (OTN can fit any project at least 35%, UFO needs 40%) and removed alternate text from all the projects too small to be able to handle any. Awesome.

I also went through and closed the website formatting for some of those titles. This way all of the alternate texts are black instead of blue or grey. Check out the sidebar, I'm sure it'll still be image-less for the next few hours, and see how lovely it is now!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mmmm, dinner!

I made a lovely wintery dinner because we had a cold snap, and I told Lee I'd make him whatever he wanted for his birthday. Feather Stew! It's a family recipe (Lee's family) and delicious. Pretty simple, or at least, our version was.

You take a bunch of chicken, preferably with skin and bones, and brown it in some oil with garlic. Add sauteed mushrooms and water until chicken and mushrooms are just barely covered. We didn't saute the mushrooms and used big mushrooms because they were cheaper here than the button mushrooms we'd typically use. I also am not a mushroom person, so we left them large for Lee.

Simmer until chicken falls apart, remove bones and skin and shred the chicken. Typically, you'd then refrigerate this overnight, and remove the layer of gross the next day. Re-heat (or use these fancy oil and fat sucking pads we found here and make it all in one go), then add some white wine and cream, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over white rice with the wine you used to flavor it (we had a lovely Riesling) with some crusty bread. For dessert, apple pie! Mmmmm, delicious!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I need more pictures

I have a box bag I've been using to cart around my yarn. It's a perfect size for small-ish projects, and the handle fits around my wrist nicely. Is it photographed? No.

I have my finished Cinderella's Castle Art of Disney cross stitch framed and hanging in my craft room. Is it photographed? No.

I finished my Rogue hoodie months and months ago, and have worn it out a few times. Is it photographed? No.

I made another Fetching to match the non-missing one from the first set. There is a definite difference in gauge. It will make an amusing blog post. Is it photographed? No.

I have all the baby stuff ready to go, after stalling out on the final finishing since I was unwell for the 10 hour stretch it was originally supposed to be done in. Are they photographed? No.

I have three, count 'em, three! pairs of socks in the sidebar that are finished. One that is for gifting, so is not getting a post yet, just in case, but two that are work socks and have been worn a bit since getting finished, my Hourglass and Nebula socks. Are they photographed? Yes, but not well, and I want better pictures before blogging.

I want to publish Betty's Scarf, so it will not be photographed until later.

The one crochet item and the one stamp are gifts that (still) need to go out, so won't be shown until they're gifted, just in case.

I haven't been working on any cross stitches, so no pictures of that.

Most of my long-term knits haven't moved since I last photographed and blogged them.

My current knits are either secret or have been recently photographed and blogged.

I have blog fodder, I just need to exercise my camera a bit! Maybe I'll do a major photo session today since it's nice and sunny out, if I get home before the sun sets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Books, Books, Books

Squeaking in just under the wire for a post on the 4th, I'm going to mention books. And be a bit random.

I like books. I like to read. A lot.

I'm on Goodreads. Join me if you're a reader too. I also have that widget over in the sidebar, which if you read my blog from an rss feed, you've never seen. I like Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Ayn Rand, Harry Potter, Robert Heinlein, and sensational history, like things that verge on historical fiction (A Treasury of Royal Scandals is amazing!) and things that are decidedly historical fiction (or plain old fiction with historical settings) but good (The Red Tent, Memoirs of a Geisha, any Arthurian legend like Mists of Avalon), and I am, if you didn't know already, a big user of lists.

I like crossing things off of lists. I used to carry a planner around with me with all kinds of lists in it. Things don't get done nearly as well as they used to because Franklin Covey stopped producing the kind of pages I like and it's expensive to get pages that would probably work shipped to Japan, so I haven't done so yet. I really should. It would help a lot with remembering to e-mail, mail, and do various little things that I just can't seem to remember on my own anymore.

Anyway, the point of mentioning the lists is that I've been going through the book lists on the sidebar and bolding any book that appears on more than one list. I've got the first three lists completely done, and am working my way through. This way, if I'm trying to decide between books, I can read the ones that appear on multiple lists to somewhat artificially up my score.

Right now, I'm reading Last of the Mohicans on my iPod (so it doesn't advance very far very often), Freakonomics (not on my lists) as a hard copy (which can't be read as easily while knitting, so again doesn't get touched often enough), Discworld #8 Guards! Guards! on my laptop (which is on the BBC Big Read list and what I read while knitting), and I'm starting something new on my work laptop. That one doesn't get touched often either, which is why it took me a year to get through the last 1/4 of the Count of Monte Cristo. It's only for if I am eating lunch at my desk or am waiting for a meeting after school or something - during the workday I work or work on Japanese, including attempting to read Harry Potter. That's not going too well just yet.

I'm trying to decide between Mrs. Dalloway (crossed off on my list but I have no recollection of reading it), Jane Eyre, and A Clockwork Orange. I think I'll go with Mrs. Dalloway followed by Jane Eyre since they're both available through free online sources. I love Project Gutenberg!

I am also annoyed at some of the lists I have for good books. Any of them that list the Lord of the Rings books list it as a single entry. It's a trilogy. Three books. Not one entry. Same with His Dark Materials, and on one of the two 1000 book lists, Discworld. Discworld is a huge series of nearly 30 books! You had 1000 books to choose, and you put a 30 book series, 3% of your total list size, as ONE entry? Come on now! At least the BBC Big Read people took the best of that series (and the Harry Potter series) and put those books on individually. Yes, that means that 7 of them are in the top 100 and there are eight more from 101 - 200, but they are just that good! Also, it takes quite some time to get to cross things off if it's listed as a series instead of by book. Especially when the series is Discworld and not yet finished.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Indigo Moon Samples

I actually did write this on the 3rd, and forgot to add images and post it when I got home. Crap. Pretend it showed up on the third in addition to being dated on the third.

I got to work with some lovely Indigo Moon yarn to knit up a couple of pairs of sample socks. She dyes everything naturally and it's one of the "greener" yarns you can find (if you don't count the penalties for transporting it from the west coast of Canada to you) with some amazing colors. It's some pretty nice sock yarn that feels as though it will last quite some time under typical wear. Wouldn't be able to definitively say without wearing some for awhile, but they feel pretty good!

The first pair was a pattern made specifically for Indigo Moon yarns, Chains of Love, this time as a sample for shows and out of the same colorway as the pictures in the pattern, West Coast Sunset from the West Coast Musings line. This particular skein was a 120 gram skein, so was perfect for this pattern (it calls for a longer leg than most), but I wouldn't count on being able to do the full extra long leg with a typical skein.

Pattern: Chains of Love Socks
Yarn: Indigo Moon West Coast Musings in West Coast Sunset, one generous skein.
Needles: US1/2.25 mm, DPNs
Timeframe: August 28 - September 21, 2009, but I knit a different pair of socks in between the first and second.
Mods: None because it's a sample knit!
Problems: Not really, I'm just not all that pleased with how the row of twisted knits between the purls looks on either side of the center pattern. I'm not sure why, but one side is nice and tight and the other is loose. I think it might be the order of knits vs. purls or something, but I'm not sure.

The second pattern was Blackrose, knit in Turqoise. I love this pattern and plan to make it for myself in a darker color someday. This skein was 106 grams, still a bit generous!

Pattern: Blackrose
Yarn: Indigo Moon Turqoise, one skein.
Needles: US1/2.25 mm, DPNs
Timeframe: September 4 - 15, 2009.
Mods: None because it's a sample knit!
Problems: None, fast knit, love the pattern, want my own!

Continuing with the sidebar cleanup, next we'll have...some other post? Not sure yet, I need to figure out what I have pictures for and what still needs photography. Rogue still needs photography, as do the Nebula socks. Hmmm....maybe a current projects post? No, that'll be boring. Meh, we shall see!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Right now I am working on two different pairs of gloves, both by Laris Designs (she has an amazing spinning wheel, and is an all around awesome person). I am lucky enough to be testing an up and coming pattern, Blooming, and I'm working on a pair of Knotty gloves for Christmas.

Progress on Blooming:

This is made from Wild Fire Fibres Cyrus base, in the September club colorway. I love this yarn base. It is 80% lambswool, 10% cashmere, 10% angora, and so soft, warm, and wonderful! The branches are leftover Knit Picks Essential (now re-named Stroll) in Cocoa from my Nebula socks. I think it might not be enough for the second glove though - must send out a request for leftover scraps! The finishing touch of these gloves is flowers scattered about, which I may or may not do. I like how it looks like the silhouette of a tree during a cloudy sunrise. I might put a few blooms, probably in red, but I think not as many as are in the original pattern.

I like it so far! It'd be done by now, but my palm is shorter than the pattern is written for, so I had to drop down a few stitches to make the palm section fit better. It's good now! As of this post, I'm finishing up the fingers and then will need to weave in the ends. That will get its own post!
Knotty glove:

This is another design by the same person, who has chosen gloves as her medium. When you think of interesting sock designs, you think of Cookie A., when you think of gloves, Julia is your girl. I'd already queued most of her designs, so getting to test knit up and coming patterns is a great thing for me. This one is one of her free patterns, something I decided would be simple and easy for Christmas, and one of the patterns my Mother in Law liked. It seems a bit tight - I'm a bad person and tend to not check my gauge for projects like socks, knowing for the most part what my gauge will be like. This is a new to me yarn and not a sock, so I should have swatched. It's a bit tight getting it on, but fits lovely, and I know she wanted a close-fitting glove with a longer wrist for warmth, so I think this one will fit the bill nicely. I just might have to stretch the wrist a bit with blocking.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Sickness. Not anything horrible, I've just not been feeling well all week, and it culminated in nearly 14 hours of sleep on Friday night. The night I was going to spend slapping together a dress, weaving in ends, and sewing buttons. Crap.

So, instead of getting the pregnant women sick, I did not attend the shower and did not make the dress. I shall instead hold on to the materials for next years' Halloween and make a dress then. That way, I can focus on Christmas knitting (and the ever-present test knitting) as well as some things for an Etsy shop, and if my size changes in between, the dress will fit next year. I will also take the time to mark out the seams nicely and be less annoyed that they are not incorporated into the pattern pieces. Hopefully.

I'm on the final stretch for the year. My goals for this year were to:

Make a 101 in 1001 list for Japan. This is not yet complete but is an ongoing list with some things crossed off and others being added.

Read 12 books on my booklists (see sidebar) and one in Japanese. I've read 30 books this year, am in the middle of four others (one on my iPod, one paperback, one on my home laptop, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Japanese), and 11 of those 30 have been on the lists. I also finished A Series of Unfortunate Events and read the Twilight series this year. Of the 11 that I read, three of them are the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, so only count as one, and one of them is the Fellowship of the Ring, which is not listed individually on any list either, leaving only 8 books counting towards the goal. So, in 62 days, my goal is to read 4 books that count and finish Harry Potter. I can tell you right now that Harry Potter is a very long shot because my Japanese is still nearly non-existant, though I have gone through Little Red Riding Hood in Japanese. Two of my other books are also list books, so I'm doing pretty well with that.

Finish over 50 projects, increasing the number of FOs for the year from last year. As long as I finish the sewing projects currently on the table and all the holiday knitting, I will have made the goal. Wooo! Two months for 17 FOs, when the rest of the year, ten whole months, contained less than double that amount? Yes, I agree, looks crazy. But, there are six items that just need minor finishing (ends woven in, blocking, buttons) to join the FO list, a test knit that needs to be finished soon-ish, five or six sewing projects that can be completed with a full day in the sewing room, and then another six (minimum) Christmas presents. That right there is 17, and can possibly be completed by the end of the month. Actually, probably will be completed by the end of the month. Well, at least fiften will likely be completed by the end of the month.

Once I'm done with the Christmas rush, I have yarn for two or more vests for work and simple projects for me, mostly in the round and stockinette, that will really help me work through my stash and expand my wardrobe. I have enough leftovers from the cardigan I made for my Mother in Law and from the Helix lap blanket for a sweater vest from each, and some stash yarn for either a couple more sweater vests, tank tops, or camisoles. I want to leave Japan with a lot less stash than I brought, so the big things (20 skeins of Patons Classic Merino for a huge blanket, worsted and DK weight yarns in sweater quantities) should be used fairly soon so I can get some use out of them (and before I break down and buy things to fit those niches).

All I want to do, knitting wise, is cast on for a nice warm fairly quick sweater vest for me. Box one of Christmas goodness must be sent out in early December or even late November; box two should follow quickly, so there is no time for a sweater vest just yet. I'm trying to make it a motivating factor instead of a lack of mojo for other projects factor. I'd better finish off the four nearly complete projects tonight so I can cast on some Christmas socks tonight - new projects are always exciting!

After that long, boring, rambling, pictureless post, I will next time give you some FO posts of things that have been living in the sidebar at 100% for far too long.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Almost Halloween...

So, I've gotten the two buntings done, decided to not do the bibs because the yarn for them is big and bulky so not good for tossing in my purse and going and if I do more bibs I won't have enough yarn for a bag for myself, am going to have the booties done in time, and vetoed hats when the first one was able to stretch to fit my head. Not baby sized.

My biggest stumbling block: The party is at noon tomorrow. I have two engagements this evening, as well as picking up buttons for the buntings. I also have no dress, and realized, luckily before going too far, that the way the Japanese dress pattern pieces are printed, you need to add your own seam allowance.

Wait, what?


They have little lines where your tabs go for lining up the pieces. These lines must be extended 1.5 cm out and you have to cut out an offset for your seam allowance. Who does that? Why would you not have the seam allowance built in? Especially when there are edge markings that need to be involved? Apparently Japanese patterns do. It's not that much more paper, I buy a pattern for the ease of it all, why are you doing this to me?!?!?!?! At least I realized before getting myself into too much trouble! I only cut out a piece from the interfacing and it shouldn't be a problem.

The paper is also a bit strange. I'm pretty sure it's parchment paper, which is odd because I haven't been able to find any for baking. It's probably at the larger stores, but I haven't been to those recently and don't believe I've checked when I've gone in the past.

So odd, so very, very odd.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why do I do these things?

I went shopping at the local craft store, Craft Heart Tokai. It's like a Jo-Ann Fabrics; it has fabrics, craft books and magazines, knitting and crocheting supplies, sewing notions including a lot of purse handles and buttons, beading stuff, and whatever the hottest craft fashions may be. I got a lot of stuff.

That's 20 skeins of yarn and 7.2 meters of 120 cm across fabric. With assorted zippers and buttons, though I forgot to get matching thread (I probably have some here anyway) and will need more buttons.

I have another two skeins of yarn to add to this pile, and we'll see if I can get through the majority of Halloween. That's right, I'm going to a costumed double baby shower on Halloween. I have no costume, so the fabric is for a blue dress to go with my devil horns. Devil with a blue dress on, get it? Out of the twenty skeins of yarn, half plus the other couple to add are baby shower gifts. Or at least, should be. For each of the two soon to be new mothers, I want to make:

1 Angel's Nest bunting in grey with white stripes to be gender neutral (because I didn't ask if they know).
1 pair of Sneaker Booties in green for gender-neutrality.
2 Modern Cabled Baby Bibs in brown and natural/white, again for gender neutrality.
and if there's time, a bonnet or hat to match the bunting. By Halloween.

I think I can do this, because I've already nearly finished the first bunting and I still have a week and a half to go, including a full weekend and Saturday if I need it since blocking won't matter with all the acrylic*. Also, the buntings are the largest items to make, though the sneakers might be the fiddliest. Buntings, bibs, sneakers, then hats if there's time, that's the order I'm planning to do it in. Along with finishing the black thread on my machine by continuing on my languishing box bags and then working on my dress, I should be (maybe) able to finish this all in a week and a half. Yes, I will fully own the fact that I may just be crazy.

*Yes, I know, acrylic will melt to your skin in a fire, but there is a very limited selection of items at my LYS, new parents will NOT handwash regularly and therefore something that needs handwashing won't get used, and I'm doing this one on the cheap. Also, if the baby is near enough to a fire to get acrylic melting to them, there was very little hope in the first place.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Spirit of Things

Halloween's a'comin'! To get into the spirit of things, I did a test knit for Fickle Knitter Designs, a cute little bat ornament. This took me a few days, not because of difficulty, but because of teeny-tiny fiddliness. It's done in fingering weight yarn, and I was dreading weaving in all of the ends until I realized, hey, it's a toy and getting stuffed, don't bother! Something else I didn't realize until I was finished - on the backside, you don't need to deal with the colorwork, just knit it all in black because it's the back. Not a big deal, mine's two-sided.

You knit two little bats (full of yarn tails and rolling like crazy) and seam them together, and the seaming also takes a bit of time. Well, it takes time if you don't want to do it. I'm not a fan of seaming things for the most part. I love seaming sweaters simply because I like to make it look seamless from the right side, but seaming toys and other small things is just a fiddly annoyance. This is why I can't seem to finish the simplest amigurumi in less than a couple of months.

Pattern: Little Bat Ornament (Ravelry)
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential in Black, Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock in White, Cascade Heritage in Red, all scraps from socks (future socks in the case of Cascade Heritage)
Needles: US1/2.25 mm, 2 DPNs
Timeframe: October 7 - 11, 2009.
Mods: I moved up the "face" on the back piece to see how it looks, but I like it better as written.
Problems: No problems, especially once I realized I didn't have to weave in all the ends!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bonehead: Part II

Last time, I had issues with the correctly sized needle.  This project just seems to be bad luck or something.  At this point, it's finished except for weaving in the end and blocking, but it took me multiple tries with the correct size needle before I could get passed the setup!

Attempt number two:

For this attempt, I thought I miscounted the cast-on, and then managed to pull about twenty stitches off of the needles while knitting the first row.  Everything got pulled out and re-started.

Attempt number three:

Counted, re-counted, and counted the number of cast-on stitches again.  Third try is a charm right?  Not so much.  Apparently, I managed to cast on too tightly, so broke the yarn.  Third time being knit and frogged, it was weaker, but I was still quite upset.

Attempt number four:

Finally, success!  Well, mostly - I had to finangle the first row a bit and find out where the missing couple of stitches were, but in the end I had the correct number of stitches on either side and a working mobius.

Now, because I am a lazy bum when it comes to uploading pictures and posting, I have that one plus a second cowl finished except for the blocking.  Two more to go for Christmas presents, some box bags, a pair of gloves and a pair of socks, and then something for my sisters.  What exactly, I don't know, but something!  And of course, two lovely little test knits I've signed up for - I gotta stop doing that!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Yes, I am a bonehead.

I realized it's almost October, and we're planning to send Christmas gifts home in just over a month, so I should really be closer to done with my Christmas knits.  I have two about done, and need to make four more cowls, a pair of knee-highs, a pair of Knotty gloves, probably box bags for all of them, and maybe some small things for my sisters.  Not sure yet.

I pulled out my Addi Turbo Lace, the only Addi needle I own, and cast on a 144 stitch Mobius cowl, and for anyone unfamiliar with the mechanics of a Mobius (I've only tried it once before) you actually cast on double the base number of stitches so you're knitting upwards and downwards at the same time.  That's 288 stitches.  It's also a much simpler cast on than even the backwards loop method, so I can't complain too much.  I knit about 100 stitches of the first row, then realize that the needles feel a bit...thin.

This is odd, because I was just knitting on my Secret of the Stole 3, Estes Park, to finish up the clue I was on before putting it away until Christmas gifts (and the last couple of test/sample knits on my plate) were done.  That is knit using the same size needles, US4/3.5mm.  I go to the WIP basket, where the stole has been exiled, and feel the needles.  Yup, definitely on the order of three sizes too large.

What the heck, I only just bought the stupid needles recently for the express purpose of knitting these cowls since my interchangeables are not so good at the Mobius setup.  Did I order the wrong set?  Checking my last Loopy Ewe order, nooo, I did not.  Crap, they must have given me the wrong needles!

I begin an e-mail letting them know I just found this out and was planning to place an order soon anyway, and then realize that the package for the US1s I was knitting with had a price tag on them.  A price tag that was not what I'd paid for the Addis from the Loopy Ewe.  Hmmm...did I maybe sometime buy another pair?  Definitely possible...not too probable, but possible...

I rooted around in my craft closet and lo and behold, another package of Addi Lace Turbos.  Size US4.  That's right, bonehead, you bought a set of US1s in Delaware because that's the smallest size the Addis came in and you wanted to try them with the cobweb weight cashmere you still haven't used.  That's why the package looked a bit less than crisp.  Moron.  You even swatched with them before.

Rip and redo!  Bonehead.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Couch

When we got here, we had to furnish our apartment.  Japanese furniture is typically a bit smaller and in some cases plainer than what we're used to.  We had trouble searching for desk chairs and desks, because the typical Japanese styles just weren't to our liking.  Few of the desk chairs were tall enough, and few had adjustable anything, so the lumbar support was more like upper hip support, and it just wasn't what Lee, who would be the main user of the desk chair, was interested in.  The desks are also a lot simpler than typical American desks, and it seems as though most Japanese either use laptops or just don't have desktops.  Few offered keyboard trays, there were almost no built-in monitor stands, and no desks in the local stores had designated areas for your tower or holes for cables.  We finally found a western style desk on and chose a chair from the local home furnishings store.

Our couch, however, was even more difficult.  We went to all of the local stores that might sell couches.  Most of them were too low to the ground and had very low backs.  The ones that were taller typically also reclined, and so had much larger price tags than we wanted, especially if it's only going to be used for under five years.  We also went to the secondhand stores, and finally decided on a couch that was fairly comfortable and sized better for us, but in a color that Lee did not like  It's more yellow than the picture shows, more of a lemon sorbet than a butter color.  We found that the Japanese do not understand the concept of a couch cover as we understand it and will put a sheet over their couch if they want it covered.  This did not cover it quite the way we wanted it to.  I said I'd make a couch cover if he wanted, so we'd end up with a nice, comfortable, customized couch for under $500, plus some work on my part.

Lee and I purchased quite a few meters of fabric for this.  Since I was making a custom slipcover, we may as well have it be truly custom and give it some personality.  We chose mostly brown fabric, since everything in that area was already brown (and about 7 different shades already), and got an interesting rabbit print on a lighter brown fabric as an accent.  To make the couch look even more professional (and to hide uneven seams) I bought cording to go around all of the major edges.  Now that all the supplies were together, I was ready to start.

This couch cover and I, we had quite the relationship.  First off,
the couch is, of course, not a simple shape.  The cushions are not detachable and most of the edges are curved.  I brought a sewing machine to Japan, a Mighty Mender that I hadn't used too much in the past.  I soon found that it was not up to the task.  The tension for some reason never stayed where it was set.  It would loosen or tighten itself while you were using it, and it had one exact sweet spot, an area of about 5 degrees along the dial, that it would sew evenly in.  This spot changed due to the vibrations of using the machine, so I'd have to spend more time finding the right tension than sewing a single seam.  It was worse than the servo motors in the robotics class at RIT.

So, I got a new one!  A lovely Jaguar
X300, on sale at, and it came with a sewing kit of many different colors of thread, bobbins, pins, scissors, measuring tape, and a hard case that is quite useful.  This machine is a Japanese machine, but quite intuitive with many pictures in the manual.  It did not come with a foot pedal, and I was thrown at first.  It is automatic - it tensions itself automatically, runs when you push the start button and stops when you push it again, has quite a few different stitches for pretty much anything you'd want to do with controls for stitch width and length, and is just generally a good value.  With this machine, I crafted the slipcover.  Well, all but the last ten inches when the new machine had some mechanical problems.

After months of working on the slipcover, some mistakes requiring a seam ripper and patience, and many, many, many measurements, I finally finished the slipcover.  In the image to the left, I accidentally made two left halves for the couch.  Riiiiiiiiiiip!  For the most part, I am happy with it, especially since it's my first major sewing project and there were no patterns for it.  I followed some tutorials and have an excellent guide, the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing from the '70s, but due to the shape of the couch, they really weren't much more than starting points.  Well, starting points and in the case of the book, an excellent resource for many of the techniques I used.  I'm not 100% pleased with the sewing job; there are a couple of multi-seam joins in crevices that might not quite join correctly, there is extra stress on some of the corners due to the way the cushions move when we're both sitting on it that might tear the seam out, and it wrinkles easier than I'd like, but all in all, I'm happy with it.  It covers the yellow that wasn't too appealing and is some pretty darn good amateur work if I do say so myself.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

LBU Swap

I participated in an awesome swap where we swapped bookmarks.  The ones my swapper sent me are away somewhere - I think they're all in use actually - and I'm too lazy to go find them, so I'm just going to show the one I made.  I love this bookmark; it's adorable, simple, and really quick to work up.  If I ever have a reason to make another bookmark, I'd go to this one immediately.  I hope the swapee likes it as much as I do!

Pattern: Spider to Web Bookmark (Ravelry)
Yarn: Wister LaLa Baby, Japanese yarn in white
Hook: USE/3.5 mm
Timeframe: June 21, 2009, maybe an hour or two.
Mods: None.  Excellent pattern.
Problems: Only my rusty crochet skills, which weren't actually that bad!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sample Knitting for Indigo Moon

Right now I'm doing a bit of sample knitting for Indigo Moon.  The yarn is not the softest I've used, but it seems like it will wear like iron and comes in amazing, vibrant colors.  I love this stuff.  It has excellent stitch definition and is wonderful to work with.  I'm knitting three pairs of socks for Indigo Moon, and the size I've been asked to knit is also my size.  You have no idea how much I want to wear the first pair or two until I finish the third and have to send them back!

So far, I've knit one Chains of Love in West Coast Musings, a lovely two-tone dye series of 100% superwash Merino wool, color West Coast Sunset and am nearly finished with the first Blackrose sock in Tonals, a nearly solid dye series of the same 100% superwash Merino wool base, in Turqoise.  I'm doing one sock at a time for multiple reasons, one being that if I finish the Chains of Love I'll be sorely tempted to wear them, and two being that Chains of Love calls for a long leg, and while I weighed the yarn to make sure I could knit the full 8" leg, I want to re-weigh* it before starting the next one, just to be on the safe side.  I could handle re-knitting if I need to at this point, but if I have the second sock nearly done, I would be crushed.  And might miss the deadline.  Due to the twists in the cuff, I don't think I'd be able to just cut off the cuff of the sock and knit it back on (though I probably could cut in two places and graft it...) to fix the problem of a too-long leg, so I'd much rather find out now.  I also do not own a good scale for weighing yarn, so have to use the one at the Post Office or elsewhere, and of course I left work just late enough the Friday I finished it to be unable to stop in to weigh it.

These are pretty generous skeins.  The listed weight and yardage is 100g/370 yards, but I'm fairly certain at least the West Coast Sunset was larger.  I weighed the 6.5" sock leg to see if I would have enough to make an 8" leg with the 10" foot, and figured as long as it was near 90g I could do it.  There were 96g left.  Only a 100g skein with 96g remaining after a 6.5" leg?  I doubt it!  I should have weighed the leg to see what the actual weight was, but I didn't want to deal with taking out the DPNs or weighing those separately and doing math.

These would be going a lot faster if I didn't knit the entire heel flap and half of the heel turn incorrectly with the first one, and then completely screw up the last two repeats of the lace panel on the Blackrose sock.  Of course, it was a small error, I knitted the wrong two stitches together on either side, but due to the lace pattern, I had to rip back all but the center three stitches to fix it.  So, I ripped down the entire 17 stitch panel, one DPN, and am midway through knitting it back up so I can finish it and make the second sock.

So far, I am very pleased with the way everything is coming out and cannot wait to see how it knits up in the final pair of socks, in West Coast Musings, color Wildberries, in a Cookie A pattern.  Should be great!

*I weighed the yarn, first sock is  57.8 g, ball for second is 61.2 g, nearly 120 g skein!  I wonder if all skeins are so generous or if she knew she wanted the 8" legs for this one...I shall have to weigh the other two to find out!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sample Knitting for The CraftsMeow

I knit a single Lobster Pot Sock (by Chrissy Gardiner, oh how I love her patterns) for CraftsMeow.  This yarn, Banana Split in Kamikaze, is an amazing superwash merino/bamboo yarn that I've fallen in love with.  The color is amazing, the feel luscious, and at $20 per skein, I may just have to pick up a few next time I have extra yarn money!  This would be a big thing for me, as the most expensive yarn I've ever bought for myself has been just over $15 for a pair (with $5 shipping each in a sock club), and I don't tend to buy myself sock yarns often.  I've only gotten KnitPicks Essential and Cascade Heritage for myself, along with the wonderful Abstract Fiber sock yarn club, but will have gotten 16 skeins of yarn, minimum, in August, September, and October.  Three skeins to knit up and send back as samples, four skeins as payment for samples I've already received, six skeins I'll be getting as payment, and three skeins from the club.  I really shouldn't buy more; I'm supposed to have almost no yarn stash by the time I leave Japan...but that's at least two years from now, and this yarn was just so soft and wonderful, I may break down and get some!

Back to the project.  This sock took me about nine days, I think a week of knitting and two days to get it washed and blocked.  I thought it would take longer, with the cabling, but I enjoyed working with it so much I just blasted through it. 

Pattern: Lobster Pot Socks (Ravelry)
Yarn: The CraftsMeow Banana Split in Kamikaze
Needles: US1.5/2.5 mm
Timeframe: June 8 - 17, 2009
Mods: None.  Sample knit, so pattern had to be followed to a T.
Problems: The yarn bled a little, but that's to be expected with such a great blue.

Loved the yarn, loved the pattern in the yarn, was really happy with the whole thing and would love to knit it again.  In fact, I might, even though I never really liked this pattern (at least, not enough to make socks for me with it), I love it with this yarn!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lap Blanket

This one's been in the sidebar for awhile (and the post has been a draft for nearly as long at this point!). It's a test knit I did a couple of months ago, and is pretty cool. I used the nest o'yarn I showed off before as a bit of a spoiler. Regarding that nest of yarn - do NOT recycle a thrift store sweater and then try to wind it all around the niddy noddy. Not cool. Not easy to deal with later. It looked like Big Bird had been hanging out at our place, and left his nest by our bed.

This is an awesome blanket based on naturally occurring spirals. It's great for babies or for your lap. I keep the blanket at work for when it's cold. Here in Japan, all the women have blankets at their desks. They also always wear skirts, but it's amusing to me that it's totally acceptable for women to have blankets at their desks.

I love the clean edges next to the YOs. The decreases look marvelous, and the way the knitting swirls around - I'm looking at the blanket more than my work!  If you want an interesting lap blanket for the geek in your life (could be yourself even) or for the spawn of a geek in your life, I highly recommend this one.  Awesome, simple design, something you can get into the rhythm of and just go.  Fairly quick knit as well.  I didn't do the best job of blocking it into a circle.

Pattern: Helix (Ravelry)
Yarn: Recycled 100% wool sweater from GoodWill, nearly half.
Needles: US9/5.5 mm
Timeframe: January 1 - 31, 2009, one of the first projects of the new year.
Mods: None.  Test knit, so pattern had to be followed to a T.
Problems: Only user error in skipping a YO or K2tog in a couple places.  Fairly mindless pattern, but you still have to pay a little attention!  Stitch markers, they are useful here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

I finished the ornaments! Now I just need a place for them to go.  As usual, I have supplies left over.  I think I will just toss the extra bit of plastic canvas, because really, I will not be doing much with plastic canvas, and if I do, I have a large piece in my crafting stash.  I was hoping to use the yarns for felting designs onto things, maybe making very simple hats and felting a cute design on them for my sisters for Christmas, but alas, they are acrylic.  I suppose I could embroider the designs on, but I was really hoping to felt them, and the bright colors would have been perfect for such a use.  Thus far, they are knotted by color and are hanging out in my scraps bag.  Too much to toss, too little to be of much use.  Maybe I'll make some of those glass ball ornaments for Christmas and use that for inside...

Ornaments on my mini tree, how cute!

Details: Bucilla kit from forever ago, threw out the pertinent info in a happy dance after completion!
Materials: Acrylic yarn and cotton thread on plastic canvas, tapestry needle that came with the kit.
Timeline: Approximately 3.5 years.  I bought them my third year in college, fall I think, and I believe I tore into them right away, because they were new! shiny! and looked quick and easy at first.

With this finished, and still in the throes of the cross stitching bug, I have moved on to the Mickey Mouse and Fireman Art of Disney cross stitch.  I'm going with this one next because out of the two Art of Disney designs I've started stitching, this one is smaller, even though it is not as far along percentage-wise.  It's 16" x 20" frame size, but only161 x 224 (36,064 total) stitches versus the Past, Present, Forever design which is an 18" x 24" frame size with about 220 x 265 (58,300 total) stitches.  More than 50% more stitches because there is almost no "white" space (non-stitched seafoam green canvas) while in the first one there is a lot of white space.

I've mentioned before the issues I've had with this one.  There was some sort of dyeing error, or they just put the wrong color in for one of the colors.  Along with the correct color; I wouldn't have noticed if it had been all the incorrect color.  I know that Stoney Creek is really good about sending additional thread if you run out or if there is a problem, but since I needed so
little, the postage would have cost more than just getting it when I was at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  The kits list the DMC thread color for everything, so finding the correct thread color was not a problem.  DMC's dye lots are so consistent that everything that was already stitched in the old color matched so well I have no need to rip and re-do.  I did need to figure out which of the two colors was incorrect, and since I'd used both in the piece already, rip out all of the incorrect areas.  Luckily for me, out of the seven strands of DMC 370, three were incorrect, and I'd caught it before using two of them.  I didn't use it for the blended areas, just some of the plain areas, so was able to take that out and re-stitch.  See the one that is more brown versus the greener color?  The brown one is incorrect.

Of course, I ripped out the problem section and started right in before taking a picture of the now correctly stitched canvas, so here's a picture after I took out the incorrect thread and added the fireman's helmet.  There's also more yellow on the jacket, the same yellow that is used in the helmet.  Sad to take out so much work, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been, so not too many complaints.  I'm passed it, and it's been re-stitched already.  At this point, I'm quite far along since I just haven't wanted to work on either of my non-traveling knitting projects.  I have my Absinthe in my purse for when I'm out and about, and then an alpaca lace stole and stranded sport-weight wool.  Both patterns, while not actually complex, are more complex than I'm interested in, and the deliciousness of the fibers is not so amazing in the summertime.  I'm on the torso of the cardigan, so a lap full of thick wool is not appealing, and while I love the lace and beading, the alpaca is just a bit sticky while I'm sitting on the couch sans air conditioning.  I don't think I'll be finishing the cross stitch this year, since I have some more sample knitting to attend to once it arrives in the mail, but any progress is good progress, so I'm happy to keep on going while the mood stays!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I started Absinthe out of Wild Fire Fiber's June sock club offering. This one was an oceanic inspiration out of Cyrus, a cashmere blend, and the blues made me think immediately of Absinthe. LSG, a group I frequent on Ravelry, started a KAL of Absinthe, so I joined up. I typically don't do toe-up socks because of my high instep. Short row heels aren't big enough, and your average sized heel flap doesn't work either. I always get those couple of rows just after the heel that are way too tight. Absinthe is a lovely toe-up socks with a gorgeous pattern and a heel flap, so I figured, why not? As I don't usually do toe-up, I didn't quite get the construction when reading through. Once I finally figured out what was going on, I realized that to make a taller heel flap, I'd need to re-work the pattern to add more increases in some way. Of course, I didn't realize this until after I was done with the pattern and on to the heel turn, so this was way too late for me. More rows, increasing the gusset would also make a longer foot and that wouldn't fit. Another consideration is that this yarn has shown that it does not like to be frogged.

I optimistically figured that since I was already at the heel flap, I may as well forge ahead and do one repeat of the leg before deciding if frogging was necessary. After all, if I'm going to frog, adding a few yards of yarn to the frogging isn't that big a deal, and if I find I don't have to frog, life is good. Of course, now that I am nearly done with the first repeat of the leg, I switched from the DPNs to an open cable from my interchangeable needles, and, lo and behold, I cannot get the sock on. Now, should I:

a. Rip it all out?
b. Rip back to before the pattern and re-figure what needs to be done to make it fit?
c. First figure out how to add in a larger gusset, then rip back to that part?

I do like the pattern in this yarn. For re-figuring the gusset, I have two main options. First, I need to know how many more rows need to be in the heel flap to make it fit (16) and then I can either make sharper increases in the already present gusset area or start the pattern earlier, which would start the leg earlier as well. I think for a better fitting sock, I should go with the second option, which requires ripping back to before the pattern and then going from there. For this option, I'll be starting the pattern 16 rows earlier, because that's how many more gusset stitches I need and every other row adds two gusset stitches. This means I'll also be starting the leg pattern while still increasing for the gusset, and have just over one pattern repeat in the leg area before the heel flap is complete. I don't think that will look bad, in fact, I think it might look better, finishing the foot pattern lower and having the leg come up out of the foot instead of the foot joining up at the base of the let. If you know what I mean.

It's quite sad when you have to rip out 95% of a sock, about 40% of the total sock, for a problem. I guess that's one of the good things about knitting though, you can rip back if need be to make whatever it is you're knitting however you want it.