Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Pattern - Mermaid Mittens

yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Lite, main color Rose, contrast color Twig
needles: US#1 for cuff, US #2 for rest of mittens                                                           

Well, not brand new pattern but it was published coupla weeks ago. It is now available through Ravelry.  I couldn't show it when I finished the mittens because the mittens were knitted for Christmas present.  Now that the present had been presented, here they are.

yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sport. color Wellwater, and Tart
needles: US #2 for cuff and #3 for rest of the mittens

Not many people know I actually have a weird phobia of fish.  I freaked out at the sight of fish, even a photo of it.  But my sister Judy loves mermaid, among other little girly stuff such as hello kitty, and believe it or not, she is already 38 years old.  So it's crazy that I actually made this design. I decided to make her a pair of mittens for Christmas.  No way am I going to make hello kitty, so I designed a mermaid mitten.

I first knitted a mitten with sport weight yarn.  I knew it really wasn't her color combo, then I tweaked the chart and made another design in fingering weight with colors I knew she'd like.  Then I came back to finish the second mitten of sport weight yarn.  I deicded to reverse the color on the second mitten of the sport weight just so I wouldn't be bored.

On the palm side i decided to do simple all over geometric motif that is easy to memorize.

The pattern now includes both versions, fingering weight and sport weight.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Handspun Shawl #1

Slowly, I'm adding entries into my spinning journey.

I was away for the holidays for 4 days. The entire time I did not miss knitting, but I sorely missed spinning.  
Something about letting the fiber glide through my fingers while my feet treadle away just feel so satisfying. 
It alos seems be my cure for stashing up yarns.  I have not made a purchase of yarn since I started spinning. 

My spun yarn may be uneven but I love making them.  I also love dyeing up my own colors and see what they turn into. It's like magic. In some ways, it reminds me of printmaking.  Being a painter, I'm so used to see result as I paint, but with printmaking, you can see the color of ink, the image on your plate, but there is always that slight mystery with the final product. That is what dyeing my own fiber and spinning and knitting with it was like.

I wanted a shawl using merino, so I had some ideas in mind of how I will approach it. But being a complete beginner, there were so many surprises along the way, both good ones and bad ones, which all made the process that much more exciting. When I dyed the fiber, I had an image in my head of deeper purple and more light brown areas. I was envisioning a purple/brown combo. But as you can see, it didn't turn out that way. While spinning, I was feeling a bit disappointed how the color combination came out.  Then I liked the colors much better when I was at the knitting stage.  It was like a roller coaster ride with my feeling towards the colors. Spinning merino took a lot of my patience. I truly thought I was spinning it at a pretty fine and even thickness until plying.  I was surprised at how uneven and thick the yarn turned out to be. And, I was even more surprised at the yardage being less than I thought.

The knitting design was pure improvisation. I knew with the stripey look an all over lace would be too much. I just knitted in plain sts and inserting 2 rows of eyelets. I used US #7 needles for a more open look with St sts. Half way through knitting, I realized instead of using the same chaging color yarns for the lace border, it would be better with a solid contrast color.  I spun up some BFL without dyeing it for the border. Oh, how I love spinning BFL. It is just as luxurious as merino but easier to spin.  BFL is my favorite fiber to spin so far. The color section was knitted until I ran out of all 4oz spun merino yarn (~375 yards,) then I made a simple lace design for the border, and it used about 100 yards of the 135 yards spun from 2oz of BFL.  

I like the shawl as the final product..  Even though it is not my wardrobe style at all, but I like it because it truly was a wonderful journey to dye, spin, design, and knit. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Warm wishes to you all for this holiday season.

A note about my spinning journey. Now I'm visiting my family in SF area, so I made a trip to Carolina Handspun yesterday and bought some fiber. It was like walking into a treasure trove,  fiber, wheels, and everything fiber-licious were everywhere and on top of each other. I could barely move around. It was quite an experience. The shop owner was very helpful and knowledgeable.  I'd fell in love with spinning BFL recently, it is so far  my favorite fiber to spin, so I got some natural color of BFL and some BFL/Silk blend in  gray color (this one is sooo pretty.) I can't wait 'till I get back home to play with my wheel and hopefully I'll have something nice to share with you when New Year comes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


“Drag me, strip me, my brothers’ blood will cover me!” they chanted. “Where is the field marshal?” they demanded of the top military officer, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. “The girls of Egypt are here.”
Historians called the event the biggest women’s demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women’s activism here.  
New York Times report here

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finally a Sweater

I had an idea of intricate cables for a sweater using some orange yarn I dyed.

I decided to swatch my cable design into a pair of mitten first using the Plucky Knitters SW Merino fingering weight I had in Iced Lavender, but it came out a bit loose for mittens.  So they turned into sleeves, and I made rest of the sweater in heavier yarn for the layering look. The Plucky Knitters SW Merino Worsted in Essie was a perfect combo to it.  It's a very purplish brown.  Paul commented twice on how beautiful the color is.  After 4 skeins for the sweater, I still have 3 left.  I have to figure out how to use it for future project.

Sleeves: yarn - Plucky Knitter SW Merino Fingering Weight, color - Iced Lavender.  
 needles - #2
Body: yarn - Plucky Knitter SW Merino Worsted Weight, color - Essie.  
needles - #5

The sleeves were knitted from cuff up then knitted 2 rounds in main color and put on waste yarn.  I knitted the rest of the sweater from top down in round with simultaneous set-in sleeves.  Contrast color band was picked up sts knitted sideway.Sleeves of the main body and the contrast colory were joined together by k2tog on the join round. together.  So the only sewing part was the buttons.

It certainly was fun to get back into knitting.  Now that semester is over.  I hope I'll have a lot of time for my long neglected studio and some knitting.

I'm so addicted to British TV series on Netflix. The last one I watch while knitting this sweater was Forsyte Saga. I can't wait to watch more TV series with some fun knitting to go with it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

spin spin and more spin

For the past two weeks, I'd been dyeing up fiber and spinning like a total addict.  I did manage to knit up a quick pair of fingerless mitts after the first batch of dyed fiber just because I was soooo curios how the dye job would look when knitted up.  I also ventured into spinning merino, it did take some getting used to, but I loved the luxurious fiber.  I'm definitely putting in a lot of practice time.

and this is what's on my spinning wheel now:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yellow Sub Patterns are Up

Finally all the testings and pattern editing are done.  I've been super busy lately with a lot of things on my to do list, so I'm really happy to announce that both the patterns for cowl and hat are now available for download via Ravelry.

I'm really looking forward to the few weeks of winter break coming up so I can get back to some knitting.  My to do list is taking up most of my time which means very little knitting. Also, I'm hooked with spinning, and knitting has been put on the back burner.

Although I'm thrilled with the ending of the semester, I will be sad when one of my classes ends.  This semester I'm having one of the best drawing groups I'd ever had in the 11 years of teaching.  They're all so open and positive to learning, and curios with drawing.  The work they do are making me very glad that I am teaching.  We're all just having such a blast in that class.  They're a lot of fun to be around, yet they work really hard. Classes like this doesn't come along often, so I know I am very lucky this semester despite the bumps going on with the other 2 classes.