Friday, July 27, 2007

Stitch 'N Pitch

Last night Michale and I attended Stitch 'N Pitch at the Seattle Mariners against the Oakland Athletics. We lost unfortunately.

Despite losing, we had a great time!

It was a beautiful day. I love seeing fiber-y stuff and people with a passion for anything fiber-y posed against the Seattle skyline.

What really cracked me up is when the Mariner players came up to bat when they display a photo of the player along with their number up on the big screen, they had a knitted background and the player's number was put on a ball of yarn. See Ichiro's here:

As you can see only the Mariner players got that special treatment. Here is Mark Kotsay(doesn't look so happy, does he? Maybe he's disappointed he didn't get to be up on the screen with knitting stuff!) up on the marquee.

This is what I was working on last night. Monkey socks with Plucky Knitter merino. Sarah's dying is yummy and the merino is so, so, so soft! You should go check out her etsy shop.

Here is the loot I came home with(I can only blame it on the high levels of stress I'm experiencing at work. I've been doing a lot of retail therapy!) :

Here is Socks that Rock in SeaMar. According the the vendor, this was dyed just for the Mariner Stitch 'N Pitch. Looks like Mariner colors to me!

I'm such a fan of Amy's stitch markers. A conservative way to put it is I have a *large variety* of her markers. You can never have too many stitch markers can you? Especially if you have a lot of projects going concurrently!!!

She made these special ones just for the event for Village Yarn and Tea.

On a side note: I signed up for my first mammogram at their booth. Annually they host a Women's Health Fair. If you need a mammo and are dragging your the shop to schedule an appointment. The Swedish Breast Care Express will be there on Friday August 24 and Saturday August 25th. You can make the whole experience an enjoyable one(as enjoyable as getting your boobs smashed can be). Village gives out a goody bag(isn't that right ladies??? Correct me if that is not correct) so that is added incentive to take good care of yourself! After all, knowledge is power. If you have anything suspicious, it is better to catch it sooner rather than later! Swedish takes most health insurance plans. Be sure to check with your insurance provider on your coverage.

I scheduled mine for my birthday. I like getting these kinds of things taken care on/near my birthday. I'm grateful to celebrate another year on the earth and by doing all the preventive things I'm supposed to, it will give me better odds that I'll be here to celebrate another birthday next year! ;)

I'm getting off track - but if you haven't scheduled your annual pap either...please do that as well. The phone call may take 10 minutes at most and you can feel good about taking care of you - put yourself first!

Oh - another side note - I never posted after my skin cancer scare. My facial blemish thingy was normal! Whew!

Two other things I bought. I got the Stole 'N Bases (what a cute play on words) pattern by my friend Ellen. They have the patterns for sale at Village Yarn and Tea. Go to the link on her name, she just posted on the stole. The pattern is based on diamonds (like baseball diamonds).

Baseball fans, you have to have this pattern!

I could not leave my passion for spinning out in the cold. I bought some baby alpaca roving in a charcoal gray. I've never spun this fiber and it was so deliciously soft I couldn't pass it up.

I gotta run. I have LOTS of homework to do for my Nihon class. As you know from my previous post I basically completely frogged the raglan back. I need to get caught up! Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2007

AH HA moment or is it UH OH??

The second session of the Nihon Vogue certification program was rigorous. After the first day, I came home exhausted. I had intended to review my notes and do some pattern drawing. I came home and could only manage to have dinner and start reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

The first day we worked hard on drafting the pattern for project 3 - a crewneck sweater with set-in sleeves. The pattern drafting is a done using very exacting techniques. Making sure the sleeve cap will fit into the armhole is comprised of many steps. Most of us had to do adjustments to the body at the bustline(moving the bustline up) to accommodate the correct measurements of the sleeve cap.

In addition, another thing I learned is that the decreases for the front and back are not done at the same rate. So if you calculate decreases for the front, they are different for the back - you cannot just calculate the rate for the back and use it for the front which is how most patterns are written. The number of decreases for the front and the back must be the same overall because your shoulder seams must match.

You can imagine there are quite a few calculations to make all the pieces fit together! There is A LOT of math involved in this. It is all very intriguing to me. I love it! It is so very interesting and logical. I'm a Virgo so this goes along with my personality - analytical.

Here is a photo of Jean with one of the sleeve diagrams.

I am astounded at the talent possessed by the students in this class. I feel a bit out of my league but there is so much to learn from those with skills that exceed ones own. It is really energizing to be a part of this course.

Here is a bird's eye view of our classroom.

The environment is relaxing and supportive. Suzanne feeds us so well. We have breakfast and lunch provided as part of our course fees. The food is very delicious and healthy! It is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

The title to this post is about an Ah Ha moment I had. I've been knitting along on my raglan, top down, sweater. Before our class on Saturday I put the sweater on waste yarn and tried it on to make sure it fit. It was a bit tight but I figured it was because this is before the first wash and the yarn will relax after its first washing.

During the weekend Jean talked about garment shaping done purely with the increasing or decreasing of needle size rather than increasing or decreasing the number of stitches.

For every .25 mm that you change needle size, this will change your garment size by 4%. So for instance, say you are knitting on 4mm needles and your garment is 50cm(20 inches) and you change(increase) your needle size to 4.25, your garment will increase 2cm(.8 inch).

So you can do shaping purely by changing your needle size. You may want to use this technique if you are trying to keep a full pattern repeat but you want to do some shaping.

We also, in class, discussed that in Japan they have needles in sizes that are in-between the ones we use in the United States. For instance in the US we do not have 4.2mm or 4.8mm needles.

I began thinking about how my raglan sweater felt tighter than I expected based on my exacting calculations. So in my notes, I had jotted down that I had used a 4.25 for my guage swatch. I used this same needle to cast-on for the project. Then eventually I needed to switch to another set of needles because there were more stitches on the needle than was comfortable for the length of circular needle so I switched needles. I happily knit away. I realize that there may be a bit of difference between addi's as compared to bamboo but I *figured* it was negligible. Plus I didn't have the length in bamboo that I needed and I needed to continue knitting.

Today I realized (Ah Ha) that maybe the needles I used for the guage/beginning of the sweater was different than what I used later on in the sweater. What I did the guage and began the sweater on were 4.25mm and the ones I'm now using are 4.00. This was the UH OH moment.

Even though both are marked US6, they indeed are different and will make a 4% difference in my garment! This explains why the sweater felt a bit tighter than I expected.

I'm learning so much in this class. I'll definitely be more attentive to needle size, not the US measurement but the mm measurement. As a result of this class, I'm a convert to the metric system. The calculations are easier to do and the needle sizes are more exacting. A US 6 is not a US 6 for all manufacturerers because one might be 4.0 and one might be 4.25.

You know how you *know* this but don't really know it?

The exacting standards of this course are helping me *get* it. Maybe this small detail will help you learn from my mistake, I mean lesson.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ready for class

I finished all my homework for the next Jean Wong/Nihon Vogue certification class.

I completed my swatch for Project 3, or P3 as I term it, Wednesday night and it is now dried and ready to go. The swatch did relax after it took its first bath. The stitch and row guage before washing were 18 stitches and 27 rows per 10 cm. After washing and drying they are 16 stitches and 27 rows.

Here is a photo of the swatch on my everblooming hydrangea that is out on our front deck. Notice the rain droplets? It is yucky rainy today!

The blue bracelet is from Heaven Help Us on Etsy. The medal attached to the bracelet is of St. Blaise. Now if you grew up Catholic, you'd understand. Catholics have saints for everything. This particular saint, according to Sister Mary Martha(you've gotta read her blog - such a crackup!) is the Patron Saind of Cold and Flu Season, Throat Problems and Wool. I had to buy it once I read that St. Blaise is "also the patron of wool gatherers, sheep farmers and shearers and wool weavers". Sounds applicable to me!

Go to her Etsy store. You'll find saints for just about anything. Maybe you need a patron saint of Great Breasts or how about the saint for People who get dissed. Maybe you need St. Isidore, if you are a Computer Geek.

Here is the raglan sweater for class. I put it on waste yarn(the purple stuff) to try it on to make sure it fits. It is a teeny weeny tad bit tight but this yarn also relaxed after washing the swatch so it should be okay. The green yarn is what Jean provided to us for a provisional cast on. It is very slick. She gets it in Japan.

Here is the sleeve detailing:

And the front details. If you look closely you'll see that the back is just a bit longer(3cm to be exact) than the front. The raglan is designed this way. I'm sure I'll get more details on why this is tomorrow in class.

Have you ever lost a project in your house?

Last Friday Greg and I had about 30 people over to celebrate Greg's retirement. I had my 100% linen summer sweater project, Memories of Ukraine, on the couch in the living room. I saw it there, picked it up and put it away before guests arrived. Where did I put it? I cannot find it. It is NOWHERE to be found. I have looked in all the usual hide-it-away places and I cannot find it. I'm so frustrated!! I must have more hidey places than I thought. Isn't that weird???

Since I cannot find that f*&# project, I picked the Angel Lace Shawl back up again. I have two more pattern repeats and the border to do. I'm getting there!

Do you want to know yet another bone headed thing I did recently? First let me give you some background. I've been working very hard at work(and longer hours some days). Lots of stress and pressure. Any of those of you that know me well, know how serious, super responsible I am at work!

So a couple friends of mine, Greg and I were going to see the 4pm showing today(Friday) of the new Harry Potter film at the IMAX at the Pacific Science Center at the Seattle Center. I bought tickets earlier in the week on-line. About an hour before we were set to leave the house to pick up Jamie, I look at the receipt I printed out. The tickets were for yesterday. YESTERDAY! The 4pm show today is sold out so we had to bag the whole outing. All the shows for the weekend are sold out. Dorkiness #1.

Then you should have heard me on the phone to the Pacific Science Center. I call the number printed on the recept and it is a message, not a live person. I leave a message. Shortly after hanging up I realize I left all the important information EXCEPT my phone number. Dorkiness #2.

So I call them back. In my haste, waste, or whatever, I mis-dial. I start into my story and the lady on the other side says "I think you have the WRONG number". Dorkiness #3.

Meanwhile, Greg is laughing his butt off at me. Shit. Give me a break. So to do something relaxing tonight - we'll just go out to dinner. I'm hoping they will let us re-book our tickets for another showing. Who is the Patron Saint of Dorkiness?? I need to find a saint to help me with my lack of brain power.

My next post will have some photos from the Nihon Vogue class. I'm excited! We start bright and early tomorrow morning. Part of me is dying to get my hands on the 7th Harry Potter book tonight at midnight. But then I know I'd be up reading it when I need to be sleeping. Admittedly, I'm going to get it early in the morning before I go to class!

This kind of *passion* for life gets me in trouble. Too much life and not enough rest!

I guess that is not such a bad thing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

BBQ with Cuzzin Tom!

I attended a BBQ today hosted by TMK and Ryan to celebrate the visit of Ryan's Cuzzin Tom.

Everything about the day was perfect. The weather, the food, the company, all perfect.

Tom even had gifts to hand out but...there was a pop quiz. I think I was probably one of the only attendees that did not come home with a prize!!

Here are some photos to document the (wonderful) day.

Folks hanging out.

Ryan and the Cuzz working on quiz questions and choosing the prize for the winner:

Here are some photos of the gifts/prizes:

There were also more Dulaan contributions. These you have to see to believe - Blogless Gail(as I call her) knit these up. She knits with great love to warm Mongolia.

And an adorable hat knit by Rebecca.

Then Tom received gifts. I love his response to getting coffee - it is to "help in my awakening". What a line from a buddhist monk!

Gotta love this photo - Tom modeling a hat MaryB knit for him.

Thanks Ryan and TMK for a lovely day. One last photo. TMK's yard is beautiful. I was able to capture a bee on one of her huge lavendar plants.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nihon Homework Completed and More!

Whew. I have finished my homework for the Nihon Vogue course - ready for next week's classes. The class sessions are full weekends (Sat/Sun 9-4:30) every 6 weeks.

I missed the very first session as I was on vacation in Bonaire. I'm relieved that I will not miss any other classes because you must attend 80% of the classes to pass as well as complete all 8 garments. I have to say that missing a class is also difficult because there is so much to learn in two days. It is really hard to catch up. I did take Jean Wong's Tailored Japanese Knitting class earlier this year at Madrona and that really helped. Without that, I think I would have been completely lost.

Thursday night I hooked up with Melinda and got a very important piece of info on the increases. She had one small diagram in her notes that made all the difference for me on when/where/how to do the Nihon increases. We met up at Village Yarn and Tea. The second Thursday of every month, they have a spinning gathering from 6-9pm. I got to hear about her trip to Shetland and she brought me back the cutest little fair isle sweater. Here it is on my wheel.

I do have photos of my vest. Plain stockinette(remember by K.I.S.S post?). It went quickly once I got the info on the increases. This is the advantage of using a worsted weight yarn. Here is a terrible photo of the vest.

I also have my yarn picked out for project #3. Project three is a round neck sweater with set-in sleeves. The design of the example in our textbook is a little...old lady-ish. The yarn I'm going to use is a silk/wool combination. I've had this yarn in my stash for MANY years. Actually my sister picked this up at a yard sale(when knitting was not so popular - but it was popular with me! You know, in the "old" days). The yarn is Tahki Chelsea Silk. I'm not sure how much the yarn cost - one skein had a 5 cent label. I have enough for a full sweater! Amazing.

I decided to use this yarn because the point of the Nihon class is to learn as much as possilble. I know that certain fibers grow in length over time. Jean has talked about adjusting the knitting to take this kind of growth into account-I want to learn first hand so I thought this would be a good choice. Also if I knit something plain-ish, this yarn doesn't need -much embellishment, it is pretty on its own. I would wear a plain-ish sweater in this yarn.

Note: I may change my mind on the yarn to use for project3. I also have some cotton fleece in the stash that needs to be used up. This is also a very good candidate.

On the subject of stash acquisition....

Thanks to Amy, she introduced me to the Plucky Knitter. I ordered two skeins of yarn from her and it is ggggrrrrreeeeeeaaaaat. The first is Good N Plenty. I love Good N Plenty(the candy, and now the yarn!)! Had to have that. Then I've been looking for a great sage-y green yarn for some socks to go with some Dansko's that I have. This is going to be perfect. See?

I've been considering a blog contest of some sort. The winner will get a skein of something from my stash. I'm still thinking about the details of the contest. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tea Cozy

Pattern: Shop pattern from Churchmouse Yarn and Tea
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts - Socks that Rock Heavyweight in Nodding Violet
Needles: US 4

One skein will knit two.

I got the pattern and yarn during the LYS tour in May. I think this turned out very cute. It is a quick knit - I did it in a few days.

Now I need to get back to my vest...there is something about this project that I am dragging my feet on!

Oh! I almost forgot to mention I got a notebook for my Nihon Vogue projects. How handy! It comes with a calculator(I've been using a calculator a lot) and it even has cm markings on it! (I'm really beginning to like the metric system!) It comes with some handy little bags that you can put accessories(stitch markers) in. I found it at Costco.

Next post will have actual photos of the beginning of the vest, really. It is not like an imaginary friend. It really does fact I'm doing the increases up the the beginning of the armhole.

One more photo - more evidence that dogs are allowed on the couch. Keep in mind that Beanie(the Maltese) cannot jump up on the couch. He has to be picked up in order to get on the couch!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I've been a bad blogger. No post in quite some time. Where does the time go?

I've been a bit busy plus there was a national holiday in there and my hubby retired. Yes, Greg is now one of those AARP kind of guys! He no longer has to get up and go to a job! I'm envious but very happy for him!

What is the K.I.S.S.? Keep It Simple Stupid!

Honestly, this Nihon Vogue certification thing has me...challenged. How?

After I got the raglan to the point I need to for the next class, I was tasked with figuring out what I wanted to do on my vest.

In my last post I said that a plain round neck vest was BOR-ING!

I take that back.

I got stumped in my pattern drawing and sent Jean an email. She responded that it would be easier to talk on the phone.

Monday night we chatted and she helped me get past my issue. Not attending the first session has proved a bit challenging. Not because I'm not an experienced knitter but there are tidbits of information that no one could remember to say "Naomi, don't forget that increase and decreases for the waist should be only 1.5 - 2 centimeters in from the beginning of the armhole or hip measurement". I was getting stumped on the pattern drawing for the waist because I didn't have this small, but very significant detail!

See my dining room table filled with all my stuff trying to figure out/draw my pattern.

I decided that I would, indeed, keep things simple. The whole point is to learn the techniques. I want to jump ahead and do more complex things.

Each project progressively teaches new/more skills. The point is to learn the techniques first and then take those skills and eventually incorporate more complexity into the designs.

Here are the swatches I prepared for this project-Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran on US 7.

My original plan was to use lace patterning in the middle part of the vest and stockinette on the sides so the waist decreasing and increasing could be done easily in stockinette.

When you draw the pattern for your unique measurements, you need to calculate the armhole decreases. I was asking Jean how I would calculate the armhole decreases with the lace and stockinette. Would I use the stockinette guage, the lace gauge or a combination of both?

She said I would use my guage ruler(provided for our class) and the part of the armhole with the lace patterning I would draw the grid with that guage(row and stitch) and for the stockinette I would use that guage. Then, she said the decrease should either be a half or full pattern repeat. So if the lace pattern is 11 stitches the number of lace stitches decreased should either be 5 or 11.

This photo should help explain this a little bit. Here the grid is drawn only for the stockinette guage. If I were to do a combination of the lace and the stockinette, the grid would have two different graphs within the armhole area.

I calculated the amount of decreases, stitches with the lace pattern and the numbers were not going to come out right. I would need to figure out another lace pattern, swatch it and re-draw.

That is when I was decided I didn't have enough time. I don't need to be super woman and do it all!

So once I got past that decision I was ready to start! Yes!

I cast on and knit 20 rows. I, admittedly, was watching the season finale of LOST on and my attention was more focused on what was happening on the island. I put my knitting up to my body and I realized....this is way too small. What the?

I hate to admit it but rookie mistake here. My pattern is for half the back. So I need to double the stitches....uh, yeah. Maybe it is a good idea to K.I.S.S.

To end my post I have to post this picture of Greg and Chase. Before Chase got sick, the dogs could not be ON the couch(not my rule - before Greg they used to sleep in the bed with me). They had to be invited up and if they were on the couch, they had to be in a human lap. No actual doggie bodies on the couch.

Since Chase's recovery, that rule has gone out the window. Boy am I glad Greg has come to his senses and allows the boys up on the couch. Here is the evidence!