Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Japanese Yarn Purchase

Here is my first yarn purchase in Japan. It's for two pairs of Thujas, one for my work Secret Santa, and one for the person who's been helping us get settled in and acting as the go-between for our landlords and other important but non-English-speaking places. I was already mostly done with the first socks by the time I took this picture, but here it is:

It's some Wister Gokubito. I don't know either. But that's what it says! It's a nice multi yarn, three ply with each ply a different shade. It's worsted weight, 75 meters to 150 grams, and I think it's machine washable with cold water. Not 100% sure there. I did try to felt a piece and while it kind of did, I was still able to easily pull the strand back apart after vigorously trying to felt it. The Wool of the Andes (Knit Picks) felted easily with less agitation. At this point, I've finished both pairs of socks, but have only uploaded the photographs of the first pair:

Yup, another pair of Thujas. It's my go-to pattern. Fast, easy, and who doesn't like a nice warm pair of socks in the winter? Especially when they're handmade!

Pattern: Thuja from Knitty
Yarn: Japanese yarn, Wister Gokubito
Timeframe: Bought the yarn on a Friday, cast on Saturday, finished and gifted it the following Wednesday.
Mods: None, 9.5" foot
Problems: None. Love this pattern!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Baking

I will have made nearly 300 cookies by Christmas. This has taught me three things:

1. I really, really, really miss American size ovens.

2. I strongly desire a stand mixer.

3. Our apartment tends to be very humid.

I can only put 9 cookies in our oven at one time. Nine. The good news is that both kinds I tried came out well, and I hadn't ever made either of them before. They came out so well, in fact, that multiple people have asked for the recipe and I even made another batch of the gingersnaps to bring to Christmas gatherings. Even Lee liked the gingersnaps! I also made an anise sugar cookie. This one uses whole aniseed (or at least the recipe didn't say ground, and it did say ground cinnamon, so I used whole seeds) and is then rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture when still hot. These were also very good.

The day I tried making the gingersnaps was not a good day for baking. First, we couldn't find any ground ginger. There's lots of fresh ginger, but we couldn't find any ground. So, I decided that tossing the fresh ginger into the blender was a good idea. It's not. The ginger is too big to be adequately minced in the blender. Some of it was small, and there was a good amount of juice which will be good for the flavor, but there are definitely some cookies with extra large crunchy ginger bits. We bought a ginger/daikon grater for the next batch - got it down to a perfect size. When making the cookies, you are supposed to roll them into 3/4" balls and then roll them in some granulated sugar before placing on the cookie sheet and into the oven. I had to add nearly an extra cup of flour to get the dough into a non-flowing state, and then decided to go with 1.5" balls instead of the recommended 3/4" ones. Apparently, these cookies spread out when they bake:

They look more like muffins in the oven than the tiny little cookies I was expecting. They came out as one giant cookie with some perforations. It tasted pretty good, considering, so I froze the dough to make more cookies in about a week. I was trying to be proactive with the baking, and knew the day I wanted to bring cookies in, so I wanted to make the dough and a test batch early enough to make sure they would actually work. These ones were much better in smaller sizes and a bit less time in the oven.

Next I tried to make some frosting. I wanted to make a Red Velvet cake for Christmas, and wanted to try a couple of different frostings with it. This one was roux based, so I cooked the flour and milk and tried to cream together the butter and sugar. This did not work so well. The sugar flew everywhere and the butter just did not cream, leaving lumps of butter in the frosting. This (and mixing other doughs and things) made me realize that I really do want a stand mixer, especially the dough hook, and I convinced Lee by showing him the pasta maker attachment. As of yet, I have not found the necessary distilled vinegar or buttermilk for the Red Velvet cake, and have the frosting in the fridge, waiting for something chocolate to coat. It must be chocolate. I know, because I have tested various cookies in it and the chocolate ones taste awesome. Everything else, not so much.

Finally, to end the baking extravaganza, I made my tried and true biscuits. They came out...weird. Very watery, and I decided to just go with it instead of adding flour for a better consistancy. Not bad, per se, but definitely not what I was going for! No pictures of these. They confirmed the abundance of moisture in our household. I've made these things dozens of times, there's (almost) no way the consistancy was my fault, it must be the air. I shall attempt these again, for science. And my taste buds.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Wooo, I'm on vacation! Except for one pesky meeting on Monday, that is...

Goals for this 2.5 week vacation:

1. Finish Current Thujas
These are a gift for someone, so I'd like to finish them by Wednesday. The first one is already halfway done, so this should be very do-able.

2. Blog More
I have one completed pair of Thujas to show off, and I may as well show off some other in progress works. I've also been baking, so I can show some cookies too!

3. Finish 3 Baby/Lap Sized Blankets
The first one is already most of the way done, so it shouldn't be too difficult to do this. We've also found a way to get Hulu here, so I can peruse the movies on that while knitting.

4. Finish Fellowship of the Ring
I hated The Hobbit. However, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is on so many booklists that I'm finally tackling it. It's really pretty good so far!

5. Cook Daily
Lee's been cooking here since the majority of my recipes are sauce and cheese based (lasagna, stuffed shells, chicken parmesan) but you can't get plain tomato sauce or most cheeses here. I could definitely do Chicken Parm, and I probably will this week, but I can't get the ricotta for the others. I also like chicken and dumplings and chicken and beef based soups and stews, but there's really not stew beef or good chicken for such things either. No chicken on the bones here. The vegetables are also very small, so I'd be peeling potatoes forever for a good stew or potato soup. I have a recipe that I love, but it requires cheese too, which again is nigh impossible to get, unless you want to spend an arm and a leg. Since I'm on break for the first week and we're both on break for the second week and a half, I'm going to be doing the cooking.

To that end, are there any good Japanese style recipes you enjoy? We eat a lot of cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots and onions, and there is an abundance of fish. We can get really good pork, chicken, and beef, but it's expensive so we try to have vegetable based foods with some meat, instead of American style meat based foods with some veggies. We can only get short grain white rice, and can't get plain old distilled white vinegar. There is pasta and lettuce. There are also eggplants and a multitude of mushrooms, purple sweet potatoes and diakon, but I tend to stay away from those. The purple sweet potatoes are delicious and make really good mashed potatoes, but I don't like/don't know what to do with the rest. Any ideas?

Friday, December 5, 2008


I was going back and forth between finishing more things and going on to bigger and better newer and sparklier projects, and the newer and sparklier won. I figured I'd have to swatch a couple of times before getting my desired row count, then re-do the math for the stitch count and totally restart my mom's cardigan if I wanted to make progress on that, and while I'd like to get it to her for Christmas, I think her March birthday is a bit more likely right about now. While I could keep on chugging on those projects closest to completion, most of them take a lot more effort than I can put in right now. I have been having some wicked bad insomnia, and therefore cannot really focus too well on stuff.

I have three projects that require additional charting and/or math (one not yet started) so they are not really candidates. I have a pair of socks (Hourglass socks) that have some cabling every other row, and while it's not bad, is one of the slowest pairs of socks I've ever knit so far. I think they'll be awesome and perfect work socks when finished, but who knows when that will be?! Again, that one requires more focus than I can easily give. All the cross stitches require counting, and while the two that are furthest are easy to count as many other colors are already there, it's still more focusing than I'm interested in. While I could finish the two nearly complete projects, I don't quite have all of the required materials for one (brown felt and vinegar) and I don't have the focus for correct seaming, even if it is only two set-in sleeves (Rogue). Besides, I *almost* finished what I was supposed to in order to start something new...

Now I'm two (started the post) 4.5 (finally took the picture) five (finally uploaded the picture) pattern repeats into a twelve repeat blanket, and I'm trying to stop myself from starting the bibs. I might anyway. The wife of one of my coworkers went into labor yesterday, and I have the yarn for six bibs...two in the plain colors won't be missed from Valerie's set, right? I mean, four bibs and a blanket...and maybe a cute little newborn bag enough, so if I make two bibs for someone else...and they should be quick little projects...and I'll be reducing my stash...

I think I officially have Start-Itis again!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I've been fighting with this one cross stitch for awhile. First, I found the symbols for two colors (Dk Beige and Lt Beige) were switched, but only after I’d been stitching and realized that the shading didn’t look right. I checked it against the picture and found that yes, the two color symbols were switched. Grumble, grumble…okay, fixed that.

Somehow, it got smooshed under a banana and left for a few days. I'm still not sure how it happened. The edge is stained brown. Luckily, this is the edge of the linen and will probably be completely cut off when I go to finish it. Any leftover ickly bits will be in the seam allowance, I'm sure, so while it was a very annoying experience, no harm done.

THEN I ran out of white. That’s okay, white’s pretty common, I have more of that from other kits. It's not exactly the same, slightly smoother and brighter, but not really noticeable unless I'm going to submit it for an award.

Continuing along, no problem with greens, then I get to taupes - and the Lt Taupe and Taupe symbols are switched! Two in one pattern! Fine, I took out the Lt Taupe and continued on…only to run out of the Lt Taupe! Aaaaaugh! I hope I can find something close! The kit doesn’t list what types of floss (DMC or otherwise) were included. It does list a color code of 6114, but as the kit was made 10 years ago, and I’m now living in Japan and have no idea where to go to get embroidery floss, who knows if I can match it! I’m so close to just tossing the whole thing in the sink along with a lit match…

Found a correct color and finished the stitching since starting this post. The new color to match the Lt Taupe isn't quite right - a bit of grey and blue instead of a gold and green tinge, but not different enough to be noticeable. Again, not going for any awards here, just going for a finished piece. The cross stitches, back stitches, and straight stitches are all done. It just need some satin stitches in the gold metallic thread and a tassel to finish off the hat, then it needs to be sewn to a backing. It's a pretty small piece, but with all the setbacks, has taken a while to finish:

(See the banana gunk along the left side? The other spot in the bottom right-ish is just a fuzzy)

Now, I need to wash and block it out before putting the metallic thread and tassels on. For this, I was planning to toss it into some really cold water with some white vinegar, a rinse of really cold water, and then one last bath in Soak, again with really cold water. The vinegar will keep the colors from running, then a rinse to get the vinegar out, and then some Soak to clean it, though it's not really dirty or anything. The problem I'm having with this is that Lee and I can't seem to find any vinegar here! Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, vinegar for sushi rice, sure, many different kinds of vinegar - just not white! I know if I go ahead to finish this the red will bleed into the white, since that's the kind of luck I've been having with this piece, so it will be dormant for another while, until I can get proper color protecting ingredients. Vinegar - who knew that would be such a problem?

Once clean, it needs some tassels and then I'm supposed to sew it to some brown felt for backing. I don't have brown felt. I know where to get some, but I do have some more of that cloth I use for the ornaments. I'm trying to decide if the reason for the felt is that it's thicker and more sturdy, or if the fabric will be good enough. Since I'm waiting for the vinegar to clean it anyway, I'll probably go out and get the felt for it. May as well not skimp!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Well, Rogue has dried, but has not been moved from the floor of the sun room, so is not yet done. It needs seaming for the sleeves, so won't take very long once I get working on it - I just haven't done it yet.

I fought with a cross stitch (which will shortly get its own post) and have finished all the stitching, I just need to wash and finish it with backing and a couple of tassels. I need white vinegar to do the washing - with the luck I've had for this one it will definitely bleed in the wash if I don't have any. The problem at the moment is that Lee and I can't seem to find any. Does Japan have white vinegar anywhere?

I also nearly finished the sleeve I've been working on FOREVER for my mom's Telemark Ski Sweater, but I can't decide if I like it...I posted about all sorts of gauge/pattern issues before, and now I think that I might like the thing better if I got the assumed correct row gauge and then did the calculations for number of stitches based on that. Right now, I got the given stitch gauge which gets 8 rows/inch. The pattern says to do the snowflake charts at 8" before the finished length, which would work perfectly for 6 rows/inch, but not for 8 rows/inch. Instead, I need to start the chart 6" before the finished length, taking 2" off of the design area. I think this is shrinking the design too much, so I think I will go back to swatching...

I know I was supposed to finish three projects before starting something else, and I did finish completely two of them, but I think I will start the baby blanket today. I've stalled on my mom's sweater, don't want to go back to the stole until I have the Telemark sweater, baby blanket, and the MIL sweater done, have one slow going pair of socks I don't feel like working on, and one completely stalled pair of socks I'm designing. I think I'll start the blanket for easy, not thinking about it knitting, since I now have two projects that just need the last couple bits of finishing work done to complete them. Yay for new projects!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Of Course...

I'm all happy about finishing, so I wash the pieces in preparation for blocking and seaming, while forgetting that all the towels are in the wash. Our washer/dryer takes FOREVER, but it is quite convenient to just toss a load in and hit "go" then take out nice clean and dry, though very wrinkly, clothes. Another nice feature of our apartment is our sink. We have a triple sink; it's the length of three sinks instead of two, like most American kitchen sinks. We also have a tray that you can slide along the length, to work as an extra work surface or a nice air-drying surface, as it has holes in it. There's also a wash basin you can slide along a lower tray area, so that you can use it for washing dishes or what I do, holding the dishes for washing but staying underneath the work surface tray and out of the way during the day. This basin is also perfect for blocking:

As you can see, the pieces of my Rogue fit nicely inside. Now if only the towels would hurry up and dry already, I could be further along!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sleeve #3

Yay, now I have two matching sleeves! Hooray for re-knitting and perfectionism! Also hooray for weekends! Now on to blocking, followed by seaming, and I'll have an FO!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

RIP Sleeve #1

Out with the old, and in with the new. That ball is the first sleeve, and there's the cuff of the third. At least I can work on it a bunch and maybe re-finish it this weekend. I have a bit of an ankle injury that isn't actually bad, but as I walk everywhere here I'm just going to sit this weekend and rest the ankle. And knit. I just hope my gauge stays consistent this time!

What's Wrong...

...with this picture? Aside form the abysmal photography skills and the need for blocking?

Remember how I had gauge issues with the first sleeve? I didn't with the second sleeve. Used the same needles and all, but must have subconsciously loosened up once I realized I didn't have gague before. While it isn't the end of the world, the second sleeve (bottom) definitely looks better than the first, and I had to rip and re-seam the first sleeve anyway - maybe I'll just rip and re-knit. Just when I thought I was finished! Oh'll bug me forever if I don't fix it, so I may as well just suck it up and deal.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Spoke Too Soon...

Well, I realized that I need to rip and re-seam the sleeve. You see, I did not do the best job of distributing the stitches. The center top stitch lines up with the shoulder seam. The line of bound off stitches on the sleeve matches with those on the torso. However, in between, things seem to have gone awry:

The top stitches in the sleeve cap are all stretched, and the bottom stitches are all baggy. I need to fix that by redistributing the stitches so that the upper end has more and the bottom end has less, therefore getting rid of the obvious pulling at the top and the baggyness at the bottom. Lee pointed out the wonkyness of the sleeve. He said the torso looks awesome, and if my goal is to have it look not obviously homemade (read: poorly done) I should fix the sleeve seam. Thanks, dear. It also needs to be blocked, and I probably should have done that before seaming. I'll probably take it out once I've finished the second sleeve, block all three pieces, then re-seam both of them and make sure they line up better.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


First Rogue sleeve done, second to go! Obviously, the closer sleeve is the finished one. It's even all seamed and everything! I'm getting ever so close to finishing, which pleases me because then I can start the baby blanket, woooo!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I have learned that things like socks should not be made from anything but superwash, at least until I have a highly advanced dirty laundry storing and sorting system. Lee was doing all our laundry recently, as we had to go to a laundromat before we got our washer, and somehow, my Hourglass Eyelet socks got tossed in with the normal laundry. They were made out of the same yarn as the Baudelaires that met the same fate:

Felted. Now my sister can have a pair of really warm socks, at least until she grows out of them or puts them in the washer at home. I got rid of the rest of this yarn already - I learned my lesson last year!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wash Day

Sunday was laundry day for me, so I also filled up the tub and washed/blocked some knits. I did all of the socks I've remembered to separate (R.I.P. Hourglass Eyelets) and my Calorimetry and Fetchings got a bath too. My Lopi Cardigan was washed as it was packed away and had a bit of a plastic-y smell from the move. In addition to that, I finally washed my blue Goodwill cotton to get the kinks out.

That's about 1356 yards of light DK/heavy sport weight goodness. I have to check WPI (wraps per inch) to figure out which exactly it is, but I'm gonna say DK. This is what I'll be making the baby blanket and probably some burp rags out of for my cousin. These four skeins are the two sleeves, front and back of the original sweater. When I was first recycling sweaters, I tried making one or two massive skeins. Not the best idea. It's much better to have fewer skeins instead of joining to make a continuous loop. It gets tangled a lot easier if there's too much of it. It probably won't be 100% straight when it's dry, but that's okay. I just wanted to get the Goodwill smell out of it as well as anything that may have lingered between the stitches when it was still a sweater. Now all I have to do is finish Rogue and I can start the baby blanket!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A sleeve. Kind of.

I finished the first sleeve for Rogue, up to the sleeve cap. Now, this doesn't quite look right. It seems a bit short. I've re-read the directions, and I have knit it all as the directions say. It should be 17" long right now. It is 15" long. I have gauge issues. Crap.

Lee likes the torso bit sans sleeves. I like it too, but as I bought the yarn for the sleeves, I shall make this one with sleeves. I may make another one with no sleeves and do some sort of edging along the armholes, but for this one, I shall continue on with the sleeves. I do like the sleeve circumference, so I'm going to just continue on with it, and fudge the sleeve cap if necessary. I should have checked gauge at the outset, so if I stayed with this one I could have spaced out the increases better to make it a bit more anatomically correct, but I don't think anyone will notice. I also like my sleeves to be about 17.5" instead of the given 17", so I'll just knit until I'm happy with it, then make the sleeve cap to match the dimensions given on the schematic so it attaches correctly. I might have another FO to show off soon!


Due to massive insomnia and lack of pictures, I didn't actually post daily for November so far. Well, I wrote posts daily, but didn't want to post without pictures and then I didn't want to post because I had skipped a day or two, and snowballed. So, here are a bunch of posts dated when I wrote them, but posted today, Saturday the 8th.

In other news, I have moved on from the cross stitching jag I was on. We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but almost certainly before I was done with the piece. I wasn't feeling the cross stitch vibe anymore, and then, a few days after realizing that with a concentrated effort and a good plan I could get the number of open projects down to single digits, I learned that my cousin is pregnant. Which of course means that I get to knit baby things!

I was thinking of knitting her a Samony (rav), as she's in her early 20s and I think would like something like that, but it's not going to happen. It's a really cute sweater, I want one for myself, and it looks nice as a normal sweater or as a maternity sweater. The bottom bit is lacy and stretches to accomodate. I'd need to get it to her by Christmas for her to get any use out of it (baby's due in March, but it's a nice sweater, so I'd want it to her by the holidays) and for that I'd need to finish it in just over a month. That is do-able. It's a cabled DK weight yarn sweater, but it takes about 700 gr of yarn, which is quite a bit. I am a fickle knitter, so I know that I may or may not actually stay on task long enough to finish it on time. Also, the pattern is not the most clear pattern ever, and I'd have to be doing a bit of swatching and calculating, which isn't good for a sweater that I want to knit up quickly. Lee and I are also attempting to not spend too much money, and I can't really find a good yarn here in Japan that is within our price range. Well, technically, I did, but the shop did not have enough skeins. They had 10, and I need at least 15, though 17 or 18 would probably be right. The yarn here comes in odd sizes, like 40 and 88 gram skeins. I'm going to check one more shop, but from what I remember, that shop does not have very good prices and would therefore be out of our price range. Ah well.

I do however have quite a bit of light blue cotton rescued from a Goodwill sweater that will now be put to good use. A baby blanket with matching burp rags is what I'll be making from that! It's DK, not worsted as the pattern calls for, but I have a lot more yarn than the pattern calls for, so it will work. I'm not sure how many burp rags I can get out of it, but I may as well use up all the yarn! I also have a bunch of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton from my BYOBs. Lee doesn't like the pattern and won't use the bags, so I'm just going to make one more for me, and use the rest of the yarn for bibs. I should be able to get 2 from each color, so six bibs. I like a couple other patterns for the baby too, but I'll probably just use up stash yarn and then see where I am. I definitely want the blanket and at least one bib done by February so I can send them home in time for the shower. I know I usually think I can knit more than I do, so I'm keeping it fairly simple, and if I do finish, then I can think of other things. I knit while walking to work daily, 20 minutes in, 20 minutes out, so those bibs should be something like a week each if I work on them while walking, and then the blanket can be an at-home thing.

This totally blows my goal of getting down to single digits out of the water. However, I am not allowing myself to start anything until I finish at least three projects. I set this goal at the time that I just had to sew the button on and weave the end in for my Calorimetry, so that is #1. #2 is the Thank-You Scarf, which will be published so no pictures, and that is soaking as we speak. #3 will be, I do believe, Rogue, as I have the first sleeve mostly done and then just need to make the second, then attach them and block. I can work on the sleeves while walking to work, so that helps too. Next up for a wash is the blue yarn that has been salvaged but not washed, so is still all kinky from being a sweater.

While it may not be helping with my fewer projects goal, it is helping to reduce the stash, which is also a good thing. After all, once that's gone, I get to buy more!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cool Calorimetry

Now with 100% more button! It's completely done and wear-able. I love this and think I'll be wearing it a bunch - like, every day while walking to work this winter!

Pattern: Calorimetry from Knitty
Yarn: Cascade 220 - I got a pair of Fetchings and the Calorimetry from the same skein, and I still have enough leftover for maybe a Pocket Creature!
Timeframe: Finished the knitting the same day, sewed on a button two days later, Nov. 1 - 9, 2008
Mods: None!
Problems: No problems, but I did experiment with the bind off for at least four hours. Probably longer than the acutal knitting!

Sorry for the bad pictures. I really don't have much more to say about this, other than I hope it doesn't pill or felt on me - it seems as though it has a tendency to felt, and I like it just the way it is. I suppose felting would probably be more of an issue for the Fetchings though, as I'll be doing more with my hands than my head.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cinderella's Casle Cross Stitch or Are We There Yet?

This thing is huge. It may not be that large to someone who's main craft is stitching, but it's enormous to me! Not quite as large as the Past, Present, Forever one, but still pretty freakin' large. The finished product's recommended frame size is 16" x 20". This is 14 ct. Aida, which means that for every inch, there are 14 stitches vertically or horizontally, which means 196 stitches per square inch of canvas. There are many square inches of stitched canvas on this thing. I am very nearly done with the cross stitches. I saved the sparkly bits for last, because I like sparkly and that's one of the reasons I've been so keen to work on this one recently. The sparkly factor is wonderful.

As I was stitching the second to last firework, I figured I should give you some idea of the size of this thing, so that those of you who don't stitch can have a bit of understanding of why it's taking so *&*%*^& long to finish. The following picture is of the largest firework on the piece, the green one. I was barely able to fit the whole thing into the hoop I'm using for this project:

That hoop is eight inches in diameter. Eight inches. That means there's approximately 112 stitches from the top to the bottom of this firework, and probably about 84 across. Yes, it's not filled in completely, but still, that's a lot of stitches. I still have to put the other two colors into the firework too! And cross stitches take a bit more time to make than knit or crochet stitches. While I can motor along at over 1 st/sec when I'm in the groove knitting, it takes me approximately 6 seconds per cross stitch. And then once I've finished with all those, I need to do all the backstitching, and there's quite a few bricks on the castle walls that get outlined. Unless I decide I'd rather be knitting, this thing might actually be finished before Christmas!

Thank You America!

I sat all morning watching the election results come in. Finally, the pundits called it and the concession speech was at hand: Obama is the 44th president of the United States of America. Lee and I got a very nice bottle of Brut Rose Cava (pink champagne) and some chips to celebrate.

I am proud to be an American!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fabulous Fetchings

Yay, I have finished my Fetchings! Took a week longer than I thought, mostly due to rain and bringing too many things to work. I worked on these almost exclusively while walking to and from work, and when it rained, I carried an umbrella. I did not even attempt to knit with an umbrella, mostly because if I were to drop a needle, it would disappear down the huge ditches alongside all the streets for water runoff, and I would have no clue how to replace them here. If I brought more stuff to work than could fit in my purse, I generally used my BYOB, and therefore did not have free hands for knitting. Again, it may have been possible, but I did not try due to the drainage system. It's literally two to three feet deep and generally covered by
grates that could certainly swallow a size US6 knitting needle.

Pattern: Fetching, from Knitty
Yarn:Cascade 220
Timeframe: October 14 - November 1, 2008
Mods: None
Problems:None (with the pattern at least - I definitely tangled up the scrap yarn for the thumb hole and the knitting yarn a few times!)

I have finished my Fetchings just in time for the cold snap we had this week to suddenly go away. It went from being in the low 50s back up to being in the 60s, so gloves are no longer necessary for my walk to work. But finished they are! And Calorimetry, here I come!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Calorimetry: Journey to an FO

This was one of the fastest knits I've ever done. The most time consuming part was making the bind off edge look the same as the cast on edge, as I wasn't thinking of it before knitting. I use the backwards loop cast on most often, as I rather like how it looks. Sometimes an actual edging is nice, but I like how the backwards loop just kind of lets the knitting appear instead of giving it a starting border. As this piece is so small, I realized that having a matching cast on and bind off would make it look a lot better. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything that would match it. I know EZ's sewn bind off matches a long tail cast on, and I did a quick search to find something that would work with a backwards loop, but it seems like it's the least used among those who want to match their cast on and bind off and doesn't really have one.

So, I cut a long tail and went about trying to match my cast on and bind off edges. Calorimetry has 120 stitches you are casting off, and in a worsted weight yarn on size 8s, I did not want to cut a tail three times longer than what I was trying to bind off. It would have taken forever and tangled quite a few times. I'm using Cascade 220, which is a wooly wool, so I can certainly spit splice the ends anyway to get the edge I want. I've gotten something near correct - it's not perfect, but I gave up trying to get it 100% right. Nobody will be looking at the edges that closely, and it's better than a normal bind off.

Final FO pictures to come once I get a button!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vortical Socks

Remember those socks that I mailed out just over 48 hours after receiving the yarn? They were samples for Phoenix Bess, to be photographed for the online knit magazine Knotions. I knit a second pair of those socks, in bobby sock format, also sent back to Phoenix Bess. However, here are the lovely knits I've had in the sidebar for quite some time and can finally show off:

Pattern: Vortical Socks from Knotions (check out the site for a better picture!)
Yarn: Socks that Rock Mediumweight in Firebird
Timeframe: Shortest socks ever, August 25 - 27.
Mods: 7" leg height, as per designer's instructions.
Problems: The timeframe wasn't the best, and the socks ended up somewhat tight. They still look awesome though, and any looser and I would have run out of yarn!

Pattern: Vortical Socks from Knotions
Yarn: Panda Cotton in White - a new favorite sock yarn.
Timeframe: Longer than the first ones, even though it was smaller - September 2 - 22, 2008.
Mods: Bobby sock size (no leg, only ribbing), as per designer's instructions.
Problems: No real problems, it just took awhile due to the fact that I'd already knit a pair just before knitting this one, and the yarn is a bit splittier than I like.

I'm quite pleased to see the sock that I knit in the pictures on Knotions, even if it's not a sock I designed!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


It's National Blog Post Month again, where you try to post every day on your blog. I am not doing this for the Japan blog, because while I'm sure people would read it if I posted daily, we don't want to be having any posts that are only just there so that it's filled up for November. Though I suppose I could just bring my camera and have an interesting picture of something random posted daily...meh, maybe I will...

Also, this November, I shall give myself a goal. I want to get my number of open projects down below ten, and keep them there. The problem here is that I have way too many complex open projects. I have a stranded cardigan, a somewhat complex beaded lace stole, a cabled and beaded lace scarf, two sleeves with cabled motifs, socks I've been designing that just aren't right, and a whole bunch of cross stitches. Nothing I can really throw into the purse for walking to work. At least not until the socks are ripped and redone and actually start to look like something I want to keep. I am keeping Rogue at work, working on those sleeves with cabled motifs when I can, and I'm really motoring away on that Cinderella's Castle cross stitch at home (I should be done with all the cross stitches very, very soon!), but all the others are languishing.

The goal here is to get the number under 10 open projects by the New Year, and then have as a New Year's Resolution keeping the number of open projects below 10 for the year. Yes, I know, goals and I don't really get along as I am a fickle person. BUT, this time, I think I am being somewhat reasonable. I can have a purse item. That is the only thing I am allowed to cast on for. I have more than enough sock yarns to make this last for awhile, so if I get start-itis, I am allowed to cast on socks and things of that nature for purse carrying.

At work, I only have my Rogue and the purse item, so I'm good there. I don't have extra yarn to do anything else with, so I can't defeat myself there. I get to work on it so sparingly that I really don't have any plans for what will come after Rogue is finished.

At home, I've been on a cross stitching frenzy, so the current plan is to finish the Cinderella's Castle, which I am beginning to think may actually happen before Christmas, and then if I'm still wanting to cross stitch, move on to the Santa Hanger which is small but annoying, since they reversed two symbols on the chart that I've already stitched and therefore need to rip out before I can continue, or the Sled Ornaments, which aren't really cross stitch but are the kind of embroidery using yarn and the plastic squares with the large holes in them. If I stop wanting to stitch, there's enough open knitting projects that I can work on, starting with that scarf. I WILL get down to a small number of open projects! I maintain that you should always have a few, like a cross stitch and a lace piece and a cabled piece and a sock, but under ten is reasonable. That way things actually get done! That's my cross stitch problem; I have seven started and none of them near finished. I should never have started most of them - I keep thinking I'll start one because it looks quicker than the others I have open, but if I spent that time working on the same one instead of starting a million others, I'd be able to finish the ones I start!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Peasantry: An FO

I finally photographed my Peasantry sweater. It's absolutely awesome, though I don't think I'll be wearing it out much. Lee loves the fit, but not the retro-ness of it all. Here it is, my Peasantry:

Pattern: Peasantry from a vintage 1970s crochet pattern booklet from my mom.
Yarn:Recycled goodwill sweater and Caron Simply Soft in black for the edging and embroidery.
Timeframe: Loooong time. It was over two years from start to finish, July of '06 to August of '08!
Mods: Larger crochet hook (K instead of I) - I just couldn't get gauge with this sweater!
Problems: The yarn was sooooooo tangled and then didn't take the black dye, so I had to get some black yarn for the edging and embroidery. I got Caron Simply Soft, as it was the right color, thickness, had about the same feel to it as the white yarn and was also machine washable, but it isn't holding up wonderfully well. It's getting very fuzzy and indistinct. The sweater is also about 1/2" too tight at the hips. It's pulling the seams there. Other than that, it's a very nice fit!
Yes, I managed to wear a black bra for the photoshoot, but ignore that. I put it on after walking home in the rain, and then realized I didn't have pictures yet. Lee was recruited, and he did a very nice job for the most part. Should have told me to stand up straight for the side view, but I love the close-up of the chest details and the main picture.

I started this before I understood correct fit and all, and I'm just really lucky it turned out exactly how I wanted it. The hips should be about 1/2" wider, but I'm not all that disappointed by it. All of the details fall exactly where I wanted them to - it's a wonderful tunic top with bell style sleeves. The embroidery falls well below the widest point in the hips, so doesn't draw attention to that, the set in sleeves are at the perfect point of my shoulders, and the bell sleeves come down just past my finger joints when they're hanging. For some reason, the right one looks shorter than the left in the pictures, but that is not actually the case. The sleeve embroidery is also just past the widest point of my hips, and the neckline is perfect. I was worried it would be slightly too high, which would cause the top button or two to want to be open or otherwise unruly, but it's just right. I think I will be using this sweater as a model for later sweaters, probably knit. If I add a bit to the hips, it would be a practically perfect fit for me, as I love tunic tops and bell sleeves. I think I will probably knit something to those dimensions, probably with a lace or cabled panel for interest, but not the embroidery you see here. Maybe colorwork, with pewter clasps instead of buttons. I think I like that idea...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I had two items in my sidebar for awhile that have recently (like a month ago) moved to UFO status. You may have noticed that if you're on Ravelry, or if you pay more attention to the sidebar than I do. That little Hedwig Amigurumi that I'd been working on for over a year now was not finished before I left for Japan, and was something I was not interested in bringing with me. Mostly, I did not want to have the yarn taking up space once I was done with it. Had I finished the wings, I probably would have brought it, but I did not want to bring a random skein of yarn I'd have no use or desire for once I got here. We thought we'd be getting a very small place, but ended up in a really large, open, nice apartment where I could have easily had such a small item hanging around. Oh well. Hedwig is officially into UFO territory, until such time as I return to the States or Lee and I have his parents send us our items in storage at their house. It could be awhile! She's so close too, just needs the wings crocheted and then the wings and feet attached. The real problem is that I do not fully remember how I did the wings before and would therefore probably be ripping back and re-doing a few times before I was happy with it. I did not want to deal with that, so I left it.

The other item that has been officially moved to UFO status is Blaze. I love that sweater, and I really, really hope to get another skein of that yarn to finish it someday. I have a more than likely source, but she's recently moved and hasn't yet unpacked that portion of her stash. I may be able to finish it to the point where it's an off the shoulder number with what I have, but since the new skein will be a different dye lot, I want to alternate the new and old skeins and therefore can't do any more with it until I get the new skein. Since I don't have it now and may or may not get it soon, I decided to rescue my cord from the sweater, put it on waste yarn, and leave it. Now that we're here, I could have brought a heck of a lot more stash. I brought a good portion of it, but definitely not all of it. Anyway, Blaze is sitting in the US, and this is a picture taken when I removed the cord.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


See, I still knit, kind of. I've had this Cascade 220 hanging around for awhile to make Fetchings. I've never used Cascade 220, and find it to be very wooly. I think I like the Plymouth Classic Merino better for that category, though if I were ever felting, the Cascade would be what I'd choose. Once I'm done, I'll have a better idea of what this yarn is like.

They're going pretty quickly, considering the fact that I've only worked on them on my walk to work and at the band concert last week. I also realized that I'll have much leftover yarn, over half a skein when I'm finished. I checked Ravelry's advanced pattern search function, and it's awesome. You can put the yardage and weight of yarn you have, and it'll spit out all the patterns you can do. Calorimetry popped up, and that is definitely what I'll do. I wear my hair up to work, and now that I have a second pair of fingerless gloves, I may as well have a second ear warmer to match them. I have a lovely rainbow colored one given to me by the lovely AngelaNoel that I wear with my brown fingerless gloves.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Yay, my absentee ballot came in! Now I just need to try to get it back in time to be counted! You should vote too. This election seems to be much closer than it should be. In my opinion. Your vote may actually mean something this time around, but only if you actually vote. I'm getting it done, paying to airmail it all the way from Japan, so as far as I'm concerned, there's not really any excuse for anyone else!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amethyst Wrap

The Sea Silk Wrap Test Knit that I was working on is now published as the Amethyst Wrap from Gardiner Yarn Works. That means I can show it off, yay!

Pattern: Amethyst Wrap
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential in Peacock Multi. Love the pooling on this one, though I wish it were more consistent.
Timeframe: August 12 - September ? I have no idea when I actually finished this one because I was considering making it longer, but then didn't.
Mods: None.
Problems: Not so much a problem, but you really should use more than 100g of yarn for this one to make it a wrap.

The pooling was rather nice from this one, but it changed randomly. It wasn't my gauge that caused all the changing, it was the yarn itself. One change was caused by a missing green segment in the dye pattern. I'm sure some of it may have been me, but I know for a fact not all of it is! I love the details, but you really can't get all of them in a single picture. Or maybe a better photographer could, but I can't. I love the cabled edge. It's very pretty. I also love the lacy-ness of the border. You can see the cabled edge with no flash, but the lace gets lost. You can see the lace with the flash, but there is no cable. Maybe with a better background and lighting, you could still get the lace while photographing the cable, but oh well. All of these pictures were taken when I was blocking it. Hey - the date the picture was taken is saved with the picture. I know when I finished it! August 24. That took less time than I thought - cool!

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Cross Stitchery

I am ever so excited; I've finished all the plain colored cross stitches on my Art of Disney Cinderella's Castle humongous cross stitch and am now at the sparkly bits, to be followed by the backstitching and finishing of the design. Which means that I am inching slowly forward. I don't think I'll be finishing it by 2009, but I do believe it will be framed and hung by 2010. We've decided that any cross stitches I happen to finish while we're in Japan will be hung in the back storage-type room, as there's already all kinds of holes from posters and things in those walls, and that way they won't clash with any decor. Also Lee is not terribly fond of either cross stitches or Disney. I assumed my crafting stuff would be relegated to the back room as well, but he does like the colorful yarns and wants them to be stored in a bookcase in the living area. Sounds good to me!

I know I've said before that I needed to move Tinkerbell because the first time I stitched her I was on crack. Well, really I was young and dumb and read the directions to say that there should be at least 2" of canvas surrounding the design when finished, and decided that Tinkerbell should be done first at 2" in from either edge. This was not the correct way to go about it. I had put the piece down for awhile, and when I picked it back up again, realized the correct way to stitch and started at the center, stitching the castle correctly and leaving Tinkerbell as she was until it was time to deal with her. She's really quite far off. Horizontally, she's not bad, but vertically, well, as you can see, it's bad. I worked on the new one until I needed to take out the old one. The old one has hair and wings, while the new one has a face and a dress. At this point, I ran out of flesh-colored thread, and I couldn't do her hair or wings as they needed to go where the old one was.

I love looking at the back of correctly done cross stitches, and as you can see from the back of this design, when I started, it was not correctly done. Look at how much smoother the new one looks! I have obviously come a long way from where I was when I started stitching this piece. Everything else looks great from the back, and now Tinkerbell does too. I think I'll be continuing on this one for quite some time, since I'm on the sparkly bits like fairy dust and fireworks, and I like sparkly things. Once I'm done with that, I love how backstitching really makes the design pop, so I'll probably keep going for awhile on that. The castle does require a lot of backstitching though, so I may lose my steam and put it down partway through that. Like I said, it probably won't get done in 2008, though it could, and I'll most likely get it done sometime in 2009. Who knows, if I'm still wanting to cross stitch more than knit, it may actually get finished sooner.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Before I left for Japan, I bought a zipper for my mother-in-law's cardigan, and some gold thread to finish up four unfinished cross stitched ornaments. I tend to lose the hanging thread while stitching the ornaments. While I should have had them in my WIPs, I did not, so I do not get to cross those off. I figured that since everything but the hanging thread was done, I was not going to inflate my number by four. I needed the thread for the two Santa ornaments, the Ark, and the gingerbread boy, shown on my mini Christmas tree:

The fifth ornament on the tree is the reindeer I showed off before. He's finally done as well. I'm really on a cross stitching bent right now, and am trying ever so hard to not bring out another ornament or other small cross stitch. Most of the ones I have in progress are not in small and portable bits, and the two that could technically be portable have too much yarn or too many small pieces to actually be carried about in my purse. I could just get a bigger purse, but that would not be good. Instead, I'm cementing my status as the odd foreigner by working on a pair of Fetchings, to be followed by socks, as I walk to work. They fit in my purse, can be done while walking, and help me to reduce my stash. Also I need more work socks because the one other pair of socks made from the same yarn as the felted Baudelaires was accidentally tossed in the washer/dryer last Friday. Lee's been doing the laundry and general tidying up, so I must have worn them on a day when he tossed my clothes into the laundry, since I don't put them in there. Oh well, I guess I just need to make more socks!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I made it to Japan. I also got an apartment, started my job, and did a whole bunch of other things. Lee and I started a blog just about our Japan experiences. I backdated a bunch of posts, and posted them all when we finally had internet. We're actually borrowing the neighbor's unsecured wireless at the moment, until we get our own. The amount of paperwork and bureaucracy here is astounding. You have to do X to get Y to get B which you need to do X. We can start the process to get our own internet on Tuesday, when we get our Alien Registration Cards. Then we can get library cards, and bank accounts, and internet, and cell phones...

I was planning to knit on my Mystery Stoles on the plane. I really was. I wanted to be all caught up when I got here. I got on the plane and decided I really wanted to cross stitch. So I worked on my Art of Disney Cinderella's Castle until I needed to cut the thread and realized that they don't allow such tools on the plane and I don't have a covert pendant style cutter so was without cutting ability. I switched to the little ornament cross stitch that was in my purse because I needed to buy extra gold hanging thread. I managed to lose it from about six of the ornaments I've finished cross stitching, so needed more to fully finish them. Without a cutting tool, I managed to get a bunch of the ornament done, and would have finished more if my OCD ways allowed me to just use another thread instead of waiting until I cut the prior one to use that first. The back shows you just how much of a mess it became before I put it down and...well, I don't remember what I did next. I don't think it was knitting...Sudoku? I probably sat back and just tried to sleep. It was a very long flight.

I haven't done much more crafting recently. I finished the cross stitching and inner backstitching, glued the fabric on, but I haven't yet finished the outline backstitching. I've just been so tired when I get home that all I want to do is eat dinner and force myself to stay awake until I should be going to bed so as to try to beat the jet lag. So far, it's not quite working.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Finally, The Lace Rib Raglan

I finished this one once before. It was a test knit, and I just didn't quite like the way the top turned out. The shoulders liked to slide off, and it was quite cleavage-baring. So, I ripped it back to where the neckline began, brought that up two inches which in turn brought the shoulders in, since I was starting the decreases later. It's now quite lovely, and I've worn it a few times, but only managed to photograph it when we went to Boston to pick up our visas. I love many of the design elements, but as it's a cute cotton top, if I were to re-do it, I'd probably add another inch to the body stockinette section and also put in some waist shaping. That's the one thing I don't like about it. When I've been sitting or lounging about for a bit (in the car for over an hour going to Boston) the midsection stretches and looks huge. A bit of decreasing for the waist would alleviate that. It's very comfortable and I LOVE the lace rib portions at the hem, arms, and neckline.

How does it look now? Like this:

See what I mean about the waist bit? It makes me look a bit larger than I am. Looks fine in the earlier picture, and had I been thinking about it I probably could have tugged it into a bit of a better fit, but there it is.

Pattern: Lace Rib Raglan (Rav) from Gardiner Yarn Works
Yarn: Jaeger Aqua in Olive
Timeframe: Nearly a year in the making, I started this in October 2007, finished it for the first time October 14, 2007 (or at least that's when I took a picture of it blocking!), but finished it for the second time July 9, 2008.
Mods: See above!
Problems: Again with the see above!

And now for some artsy shots of my favorite bits of this pullover:

The pocket shot, showing the lovely edging and my pocket.

The neckline shot, showing, And a cool rock in the background.

The shoulder shot, showing the way cool raglan seam, the lace rib detailing at the shoulder and arm, and some rocks and a tree.

Tres cool, no?