Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Nihon Vogue Weekend

I love the weekends I attend class for Nihon Vogue year one certification!

I learn so much! It is so cool!

Jean is such a wonderful instructor!

Don't have much time to write but here are some photos giving you a small hint about what we learned.

The next two photos show how Jean is teaching us about tank top fitting. Our crochet project is to crochet a tank top. Many students are crocheting a tank to fit themselves. I am going the smart route. Tank top for a 2 year old!

As part of the design process we must chart out every row, every stitch on the area of the armhole and neckline decreases for this crochet project. A very tedious task for homework. Luckily by doing the 2 year old size, there won't be as much work here for me.

Melinda is the only student done with her crewneck cardigan(I think she is the only one). Jean was telling us how to reinforce the neckline ribbing on a garment like this. This sweater is very heavy which can pull the neckline out of shape. We learned how to not only reinforce this area but how to keep it so it does not get stretched out.

We also learned how to attach a vertical button band onto our v-neck cardigan. There are many calculations that have to be made in order to make this work. Imagine knitting row upon row of a button band that goes from left front ribbing, up the front of the sweater, up and around the neck and back down the right front down to the right front ribbing. That is a lot of rows. It can be very tedious.

As part of the knitting of the vertical button band you need to calculate where the button holes are and hope that when all is said and knit up...that it fits the garment side as well. Of course it sounds like you leave it all to chance but there is a lot to calculate and make sure this all works out correctly.

Once you have done all that figuring and knitting, you have to learn to sew on the vertical button band to the garment. Here is Jean's illustration of how this is done. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how mine works out.

I am so very grateful to be given the opportunity to commit to such an amazing class. I have learned so much. As I discussed with my fellow students we acknowledge that it has been a very challenging year, full of growing pains. As difficult as things have been, I don't believe any of us would trade this experience. We still have to finish off the year but I think there are only two or three students out of the fifteen that are still undecided about committing to year two. The rest of my class has already committed to moving ahead to year 2.

Last night Greg asked me "If you had to decide today whether you were going to take year two, what would you decide?". I told him "I definitely would".

I look forward to trying all the things I learned in the past two days. It is nice to see my fellow students and teacher. I would definitely miss seeing them if I didn't continue with my Nihon education.

The woman that sits behind me was having a hell of a time with the button band calculations and the results over this weekend. She had to re-do it 4 times. I look at her as a seasoned knitter. She knows an awful lot and has years of experience. Not that I want Sarah to struggle but I realize that I am not the only one experiencing those hard earned growing pains.

We will celebrate when we complete year one(One student suggested lots of margaritas). This is definitely something to be proud of.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Still Behind

This coming weekend is a Nihon Vogue Weekend. I am perpetually behind.

The crewneck cardigan is coming out nicely. I am happy with the pattern and yarn but I'm disappointed in the fit of the sleeves. I added more ease with this pattern but It is still too tight. I blocked it to my design measurements. It is still too tight. I am going to try to block the sleeve out more so it is more comfortable to wear.

I think the overall fit of the sweater is going to be a bit tight. Read my prior post. I think I need to take new body measurements to base my designs on!

This is the progress I have made. For the sake of time I decided to do a 1X1 rib. I was going to do something more visually pleasing but I just don't have time. I just have to get this done. Originally I tried doing the ribbing in the same needle size as the pattern/body but it didn't look good. I am not fond of tighter ribbing like what it currently is, but it will have to do for now.

Remember the frogging of the seed stitch on the sides of the body? I took out just that secion to do it in pattern. Here is the sewn side seams. I think it looks pretty darn good. It isn't perfect and I had some issues figuring out where to pick up stitches at the yarn overs.

I still have to sew up one sleeve, attach the sleeves to the body and do the button/neck bands. This I want to finish before class on Saturday.

Here is my progress on the v-neck. As I was knitting the front neck decreases I checked the pattern against the 15 shoulder stitches on the back to make sure the pattern was going to match up. I checked it how many times and re-knit it once already. I was confident the end result as good. I blocked the pieces and went to sew the shoulder seams. No. Pattern is wrong. I have to undo the fronts down to the first yarn marker(see photo) and re knit.

I still have to knit a swatch for my vertical button band for the v-neck cardigan. Still have the sleeves to knit. Based on how my sleeves for the round neck cardigan fit, I am going to re-calculate the increases on the sleeves. Leave the sleeve cap the same width(don't want to have to re-knit the body armholes) and make the wrist width wider. I can leave the sleeve to knit after this upcoming class...

I want the v-neck cardigan in such a state that I can follow the vertical button band lessons in class.

I have abaondoned the grafting of the ribbing to be done on the v-neck pullover for now.

I don't know what it is with me and Nihon. I check my notes, I check my knitting, I check out how patterns are going to line up and I still have issues. I do believe it is my need to get knitting done and I just miss things because I am rushing to get it all done.

I know I will feel differently when I have more time. I know I will enjoy Nihon much more. Let's see, how many more work days? I work 4 days a week. I am requesting to take a vacation day this coming week to work on my homework, I have Memorial Day that makes it Sweet 16!

Crochet? Yes. We have to do a crochet project. My swatches look like crap. I see mistakes but I just don't crochet and don't know how to read the stitches. I have never crocheted a garment. This is going to be interesting!

My swatches are in Knit Picks Gloss - fingering weight in Woodland Sage. The right swatch is done in a larger hook size. I want the most bang for my time! I bought this from a fellow Raveler. I didn't want to spend much on this project. I got 10 skeins for $25. I'm following Melinda's lead - child sized garment only.

I have been thinking about my final project. It is a design your own - which really is what we have been doing all along so it really isn't all that much different than our other projects.

I am going to knit my final project in Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk - creamy white. It will be an empire waist deep round neck cardigan sweater with a lace pattern on the top, down to the bustline, then stockinette from the bust-line down. The sleeves will have the lace pattern down to near the elbows, then stockinette with a flared sleeve. There will only be a few buttons from the neckline down to the bust and no buttons below.

I have a concept drawing done but nothing ready to show yet.

I know it is a long post but I must comment about Nihon Vogue. It is a rigorous and demanding course. I think the few of us with blogs may highlight our frustrations and our stress for time.

I have taken some time to really ponder whether I will take year 2. Before my vacation I was 95% sure I would continue. Now it is about 60%. I know I will have a better sense once I'm done working. I will have a month and a half from the time I retire and when we have our last class(which is when I have to know if I am taking year 2).

The reason for the decrease in likelihood is not a reflection on Jean or the course. There is just so much OTHER knitting I would like to do, not to mention spinning, too!

I have learned so much this past year. I KNOW I will use all of the techniques I have learned. It has taken my knitting to a whole new level. It has also given me a boost in confidence in my knitting. I know it may not sound like it from my nihon blog entries but I am much more confident in my abilities.

I must also comment that Jean is an incredible teacher. She is so kind and patient with all of us and our stresses, our impatience. She expects the best from herself and she expects that from us as well.

You know how you take classes and you get all jazzed and you may or may not use what you learn? I will walk away from year one with a sense of accomplishment and with many, many new tools in my knitting tool box! Who can say they knit 8 garments in 13 months?

Extra Baggage

Now isn't that a loaded title!

I've had a post in the wings for all of you regarding my trip to see the Manta Ray's. It was such a memorable night. I'm waiting for hubby to get my video up on Utube to share. As soon as he does, I will post that entry. In the meantime...I have a more serious post.

I have been pondering about a weighty subject, literally.

When Greg and I travel we have to be very conscious of how much our check-in luggage weighs in order to prevent having to pay for overweight luggage. We take so much diving and camera equipment. We have to be smart so we pack, weigh, re-pack and re-weigh, re-pack, etc.

I got to thinking...How much does my carry-on bag weigh? I packed of my laptop, various battery chargers, my priceless Nihon Vogue notes and minimum clothes I might need in case my checked in luggage gets lost or is delayed by a couple days(it does happen). My carry on weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-22 pounds.

Well, when we arrived in Kona, we had to carry our carry-on luggage down the stairs to the tarmac. When we got home, I also had to carry this bag from the ground floor of our house up to the master bedroom(3 flights of stairs). It gets heavy and annoying if you can't just roll it around!

I have gained about that much weight since meeting Greg 8 years ago.

I had a light bulb moment.

The weight of my carry-on is what I carry around with me now, everywhere I go. I carry it up and down the stairs everyday at home, I carry it with me to the grocery store, I carry it EVERY-WHERE.

No wonder I feel more tired. No wonder why I feel more winded going up stairs. No wonder why I feel out of shape.

It has woken me up a bit about the reality of my weight gain and how much energy it takes to cart it around.

I have gained it slowly so I have not noticed how my body, bones and muscles have accommodated to deal with this additional load. When I had to lift and carry the bag I definitely noticed how much it made me work.

I don't want to carry that carry-on bag with me everywhere anymore. I wish getting rid of it was as easy as checking it in at the airport and sending it to some other destination!