Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another One

I guess I've been productive this spring break.  Being broke with no money for any traveling, sigh, and totally stormed in for the entire spring break, it gave me plenty of time to work on the second version of Zen Garden.

Speaking of storm, we got snow, tons and tons of it.  There was 3 feet of snow on our deck before Paul shoveled the deck.  That was all from the last 10 days.

Sadly, I have not done much snowboarding at the resort this season. Not even during spring break when there was so much powder and that I virtually live right next door to the resort (5 minutes of driving, I can walk to the resort if I'm really motivated.)  I'm loosing interest not of snowboarding but of ski resorts.  I'm contemplating if I should get another season pass next season.  I did go with Paul coupla times hiking up the hill behind our house and did a little back country boarding.  It was soooo awesome to have first track and no other people in sight.  Then we went with a friend and his dog for some snowshoeing.  I am really liking backcountry more.  So much so that I am thinking of finding some cross country skis at swaps or thrift stores.  If I win the lottery, I'll get myself a nice split-board for backcountry.

Back to knitting.  I wanted to test my pattern draft of Zen Garden so I decided to knit another one that's one size smaller with different types of yarn and modified design.

I went for a tunic version with slight variation on design and a slight flare (not a lot, just enough so the tunic will be wide enough for the buttock area.)

This time I knitted with Mirasol Qina.  It was lovely both in skein and knitting up albeit somewhat scratchy for my very sensitive skin.  I love the red color, it's a cool red.  Because the drape along with the color and the sheen of the yarn, the feel of the sweater is completely different. Therefore I decided to change buttons too.  I dug through the few buttons I have in my collection (if you can even call it a collection cosider I have only 6 sets of buttons) and found these small roses.  They were a bit too small for the placement so I thought I'd place two in one area.  I think they work.  I'm not sure.... I'll change them later if I change my mind.

This time I knitted one size smaller with zero ease around chest.  When I blocked it, I did stretch it out about 1/2" as I'm not a big fan of very snug sweater.   Much to my surprise, the yarn, which is alpaca/bamboo blend, did not stretch as I'd feared during wet blocking.  It did bleed quite a bit during soaking.  I'll see how much will it stretch out during wear. I'd hoped for the tunic to be a bit longer by about another 1", but I ran out of yarn.  I bought the last ones of this color at Elann, and I wasn't gonna spend double the price somewhere else just to have another 1" or 2". 

I am hoping to finish editing the pattern within the next few days.  The pattern will include both the short and the tunic version.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Zen Garden

I just finished knitting this:

Yarn: Naturally Harmony 10ply, color Oatmeal Heather. 7 hanks
Needles: US #6

It was inspired by Japanese Zen Gardens.
I'm in the process of knitting up the second version and writing a pattern for it.  Being totally broke and fear of possible unemployment (yet I cannot collect any unemployment benefits since I'm hired by contract every semester,) making a pattern is one of the few ways I could think of  to maybe raise a little donation to Japanese earthquake / tsunami relief.  I was thinking about a quick and easy design that can be done in a short time. Then out of the blue, completely unaware of my plan, Paul showed me some pictures of Japanese Zen Gardens on the web.  Immediately I was thinking about how this could be like a sweater.... so the idea was born.
I'll post it here when the pattern is finished.

It really was a super quick knit since it was top down raglan construction with worsted weight yarn. Speaking of yarn, I really liked the Naturally Harmony (10 ply) - that's a good thing 'cause I bought a boat load of it when Elann had it on sale for dirt cheap a while back ($2.08 per 50g hank - so it cost me less than $15 to make this sweater.) The oatmeal heather color actually looked like sand color of a zen garden.  It was perfect. Harmony looks rustic yet soft enough against my sensitive skin.  It blocks really well and softened up a bit.  I have a feeling it's not gonna pill much. Love this yarn. It really feels woolly. 

I knew I wanted some stone buttons and was able to find some here at StoneMe on Etsy.

I'm currently making another one of longer version with Mirasol Qina which is a yarn of alpaca/bamboo blend with way more drape than Harmony.  It will be interesting to see how different they look.   It also has a little less positive ease.  This one has 3"-4" of positive ease which is great for comfort and works well with the woolly Harmony.  The one on the needles will have only 1"-2" positive ease (unless it stretches during blocking.)   I'm a bit concerned of alpaca/bamboo since neither holds shape well and both have tendency to stretch.  But it is such pretty yarn though.  (Elann currently has them on sale right too.)

I'm pretty happy with the result.  It's simple, nothing fancy, just the way I wanted it. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

50 Heroes

The 50 workers of Daiichi Power Plant that stayed behind .......
an article from NY Times

I have no words just heaviness in heart  My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This was a quick knit because I promised myself after Secret Garden, I'll do a sweater in larger gauge and with all st st. 

The knitting went smoothly.  The result, on the other hand, was far from ideal.
Things I learned:
1. Think a little more before proceeding especially when it's not just straight construction.
2. If at any stage there appeared to be some problem, just go ahead and rip back.

I was lazy.  With this sweater I really didn't want to spend much mental energy so I didn't take into the consideration when measuring across bias the measurement would be shorter than simply doing stitch count.  I just used the gauge of a regular swatch and stitch count for calculations. By the time I realized that it was not right, I actually wasn't too far down from the underarm (a top-down construction), yet I was still too stubborn and lazy to rip back and add few more rows to make the chest wider.  I was counting on 1. blocking will do magic, and 2, silk blend has more tendency to stretch.  And fortunately I was right.

Although wearable, the initial chest measurement before blocking was significantly smaller than I'd like.  It had negative ease, and it was very fitted through the midsection.  That would look awesome if I have the body for it.  But, alas, I don't.  So the wet blocking saved the tunic.  It stretched out enough to the point of not hugging my body. 

I like the look as a tunic, but I kinda wanted it to be a short dress as well.  When I tried it on, I realized to pull it off as a dress, longer and leaner legs, namely someone else's legs, will be required.  In the end, I think as a dress, it's not a versatile design that would flatter my body type.  But I'm still happy with wearing it as a tunic.  

Colorwise, I really dig the combo.  When I first got the yarn, I didn't know what to do with it.  It looked almost metallic, so I just put them away hoping an idea will come to me one day.   So when I had this design of more modern line in mind, I thought it may work.  The green on it really reminded me of lichen growing on rocks, which I always love looking at the color contrast when I go for walks in the the woods.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My thoughts are with people in Japan.  What a terrifying disaster.

I was living at the epicenter in the Loma Prieta earthquake of '89.  It was scarry even for someone like me who always grew up in earthquake zones.  And that earthquake was small compared to the one took place in Japan yesterday.  I remember being so impressed with Japanese people's strength during the earthquake in '95.  My thoughts are with the people who are still looking for missing love ones.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Secret Garden

I'm a little proud of myself that as of today, it has been 2 months since I last bought any yarn (I know, I know, February is the shortest month.) For an addict, this is a milestone.

To be honest, part (small part) of cutting back buying yarn is that I'm getting nervous about my job.  Well, there is huge budget cut from the state, and there will be a huge cut at our college.  The administration are looking at programs to cut.  We'd already cut back 20% of classes offering next Fall.  That, I think, is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is even the possibility that the college will merge with another college 40 miles away.  It's a stressful time.  I definitely don't envy anyone who is making the decisions of what to eliminate.  I have a sinking feeling from all the information that I gathered that I may loose my job eventually.  Well, I think even the president of our college is worrying about loosing her job too.

Paul and I were talking about our jobs yesterday.  He worries about how long his job will last too.  He is going back this season, but since he gets rehired every season, there is really no long term security to speak of.  Well, if it comes down to loosing my job, I don't think I'd be too sad as far as the job itself goes (except for the paycheck.) I like it, but for the past few years, it had become increasingly stressful. Who knows, if i do loose my job, it may just force me to look at different and perhaps better path in life.   The only problem is there is very little employment opportunities in this area....

As for knitting, I just finished another sweater.  And I do like it quite a bit.
I was pleased with the motif using Paul's program.  It allowed me to draw freehand first.
After the floral border tunic, I'd been thinking about roses as motif, and bigger motif.  So I thought I'd make a rose pattern cardigan/jacket.

The yarns used were Cascade Heritage sock yarn in Gray and The Plucky Knitter Primo in the color "A Little Hoity."  I did wash the red yarn first before I wound them up in case of any bleeding and was glad I did.  The Primo was certainly a lovely yarn to knit with.   I was a bit disappointed that the blocking did not even out stitches as much as I'd like because Heritage was bit thinner and Heritage didn't bloom during blocking while Primo did a little.   It wasn't the most perfect match of the two yarns for colorwork since one was slightly thinner and behaved a bit differently during blocking.  Still, I was glad to have used yarn from my stash instead of buying.
The sweater was knitted from bottom up, in round. It started with provisional CO since I wasn't sure how I wanted the hem, to be (ahem, another one that I designed the style as I knitted deal...I think I seriously have a problem with planning everything out ahead of time.)  Then the sleeves were knitted separately and joined at the underarm for seamless raglan style.

Cutting steek wasn't as scary as sewing up using my temperamental sewing machine.  I was relieved no jamming halfway through (it happened once when I was sewing for steek, talking about nightmare.) 

I decided to do bottom hem with gray and just did rows of garter 'cause that was the easiest solution for a plain edge without bulk that I could think of.  Then I did the front borders by picking up sts and worked rows of garter in red.  The collar was then knitted from the sts left on waste yarn at  the top.  I wanted a textured collar that was also reversible so I used Harris Tweed stitch pattern and I liked how it looked.  I also used that stitch for the cuffs.

The construction was easy, but knitting the motif was a chore since there is no repeat in any row I had to really read the chart carefully and developed some strategy as to how to keep up with the chart.   Also, the floats on the back were long at most places so I had to catch the float every 5 or 6 sts, and that was not the most smooth flow of knitting.  However, I did find the motif interesting enough to get me going as I was getting curious how it would look knitted up. (No, I didn't do a swatch. I was too lazy.)

I  love how the roses came out.  I'm calling the sweater "Secret Garden" for I not so secretly dream of having a garden again.  

Another no sewing and stash knit down.  Now I'm gonna go have some hot chocolate to reward myself. 

After knitting this sweater, the next project will have to be very simple knitting, mostly st sts.