Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Dolman

The dolman design was something I really did not want to do(who wants a bat wing garment anyway?). As I was to discover, you can do any size bat wing. I chose a minimal size dolman. I must say, this is one of my favorite sweaters. I think the combination of yarn, design and wearability puts it on my favorite list.

I used Rowan Felted Tweed with a 3.75 mm needle.

The dolman construction is unique. To pick up the stitches for the sleeve, you actually use a crochet chain that includes all the stitches you will need down the length of the sleeve and you pick up as you go up the sleeve. At the top of the sleeve you graft the front/back sleeve together. One side is live stitches and one side is bound off. This way you get the structure of the bound off edge without it being too bulky. There is also a ton of short rows at the top of the sleeve. It is a slick way of creating the sleeve.

I wanted a simple cardigan, one that I could hold closed with a shawl pin rather than buttons. I find I rarely button up a cardigan from top to bottom plus I think it can look more dressy this way. Another reason to love this design is you can dress her up or dress her down.

I used a reversible cable so when the fronts flopped opened it had a finished look.

I had to calculate the number of cable repeats would fit around the neck line and luckily the numbers worked out beautifully. I was able to complete 20 full repeats of the cable and I think it looks nice.

Here is some cable detailing on the back neck.

As you knit the pieces, you knit the front/back including the sleeves. This can seem like you are knitting forever without getting anywhere. I had to remind myself that I wasn't just knitting a front or a back. I was knitting the sleeves as well.

I have seen many designs lately that are shrugs that have a rounded bottom front. Rather than being a 45 degree angle, it is rounded. I considered doing a cardigan with this shaping for my final project for year two. I asked Jean about it and she said that this rounding uses the same concept of the dolman curve. I think someday I will have to tackle this, just for fun!

I just finalized my design for my final project for year two. I have wavered many, many times. Cardigan, skirt, cardigan, skirt. Drum roll please. The winner is....skirt.

While my classmates made a capelet, I was the only student that ventured into skirt-land. I knit a worsted weight linen skirt and I think it is very cute. Having just finished that(still have to put the elastic in and sew the band to the skirt and Jean has to show me how to do this) I am inspired to do another skirt. Linen is so easy to care for(washer, then dryer and a quick iron block) and it is good to go. Great for travel because it doesn't get wrinkled.

My final project is done in sport weight linen(on 2.5 mm - a US 1). I pored over so many stitch pattern books and settled on two stitch patterns from one of Barbara Walker's books. I am done swatching and I need to wash/dry it and then I can calculate my final numbers. I hope to cast on in the morning on Thanksgiving before I head to my sister's house.

Also to my fellow classmates...I finished the gansey! When Greg comes home I just have to make sure the bottom ribbing is long enough and then I can finish with the invisible, sewn cast-off. This has been like a marathon. A post is forthcoming but it won't be until next month.

I'm in the home stretch for completing year two! Whew.

This will be my last post before the Thanksgiving holiday. Americans, have a nice long weekend! Enjoy being with friends/family and hopefully you will have some time for some fibery fun!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Raglan

The raglan. A popular, classic design.

Most raglan's knit today are done in the round, from the top down. Done in this manner it is convenient because you can try the garment on as you go along and there is virtually no seaming.

This Nihon Vogue raglan for year two is not done in this way. It is a very complex, geometrical way to design a raglan. I learned a lot and I also learned that I may not want to do a raglan of this type again. I did a post on the more technical side of this design in this post.

The upside is learning something new. Supposedly by designing a raglan in this way it will fit better. There isn't as much gapping in the armpit area.

The downside you need to be very exacting and accurate in your knitting. This design is knit in pieces.

There is a good amount of calculation. In addition, I found that you must chart the decreases on a spreadsheet. You MUST do the front/back/sleeve decreases EXACTLY on the same rows. If you don't, when you seam your pieces together the patterns won't match/line up.

I even had to re-knit my sleeves. Ok, I didn't have to re-knit the whole sleeve. I had finished my pieces and Jean was showing me how to sew it up, I realized I had an extra stitch when I began the decreases for the sleeve cap. I asked her, "Can't we just fudge this in?". No. She kind of gave me this look and I knew right then and there what the answer was before she uttered a word. It must be right! So...I undid the sleeve cap portion of both sleeves so my numbers would be right.

I know what you are thinking. Really? One darn(I used a much more appropriate word) stitch? Come on! It is knitting!!

No, this is Nihon Vogue and the whole reason we endeavor into this program is to have professional level garments. This is what I signed up for. I love it. Sure. I didn't love it at that very moment. When I wear it I know things are *just* right. It definitely was worth the extra effort. That is another lesson I am learning in Nihon Vogue. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing it right, especially if you are going to dedicate hours to a project.

There will be plenty of you out there arguing the point that knitting should be enjoyable and fun. Yes, it should. Nihon Vogue is about knitting at a different level. Sure I knit from published patterns and I like not having to *think* about it. I follow the step by step instructions. Nihon Vogue is about creating my own instructions. That is why during my Nihon Vogue projects I take detailed notes about what I did. We have to turn these in with our design notes. Really the design notes are for me, not Jean. They are a history of what I did for a particular design.

Sorry for the detour. Back to the Raglan.

This was an exercise in getting your patterns to match up, whether they be stripes or stitch patterns.

I used a discontinued yarn-Rowan Magpie. This was a wonderful yarn and I don't understand why Rowan discontinued it. I was able to get sweater quantity amounts from some fellow Ravelers. I still have a purplish color and a very beautiful charcoal gray in the stash(ten skeins each). If you have a chance to get your hands on some of this yarn, do so. It shows of cables and patterns very well. It is three ply yarn.

I did my raglan on 5.0mm for the body and 4.0mm for the ribbing. I only used 7.5 skeins which included swatching.

My inspiriation for the pattern was the Charade Socks. I love the simpleness of it and decided to use that stitch for the raglan challenge...lining up the patterns.

The cable for the front was from a Starmore design...can't remember which at the moment and I am too lazy to go look.

This is a warm and cozy sweater and now that the temperature has fallen it will get more use!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Aran

Another classic design. An aran sweater with saddle shoulders.

This was something I was really excited about. I hunted and hunted for traditional aran yarn(3-ply). I was going to use some of my Rowan Magpie but I wasn unsure if I had enough yardage. Since this yarn is not easy to find, I opted to find something that was readily available.

I settled on Wendy Traditional Aran. I knit this on a 4.00 mm.

The wonderful thing about this design was learning a way to do the saddle so it stays centered on your sleeve as you wear it. If you knit saddles in the "traditional" way, both sleeves are knit identically.

With Nihon Vogue, the two sleeves are just ever so slightly different. What do I mean?

When you draw/design your sleeve, your saddle is not centered identically. For example, my saddle was 7 centemeters. I positioned my saddle so that 4cm of the saddle was going to the front of my sleeve and 3cm was going to the back of the sleeve. The difference in actual stitches was only 2 stitches but the difference in how the garment lays when worn makes all the difference.

I used many traditional aran stitch patterns. For instance, the honeycomb used on the front was only using 3/4 of a full stitch pattern so that I could fit the patterns I wanted in the real estate I had available(my body measurements).

I used a Beth Brown Reinsel design/pattern stitch for the button bands, lower band and neck band. The way the buttonhole side of the XO patterns is knit, is it incorporates a buttonhole without altering the look of the stitch pattern. Brilliant.

Here are other details of the sweater:

As you can see on the back, for the honeycomb I only used 1/2 a usual repeat so I could fit the design elements I wanted, within that real estate. Although the two honecomb pattern is slightly different on the front and back, it is an okay design element(in my opinion) because they are separated by the saddle. This gives more design freedom between the front and back pieces.

This was a very time consuming project but well worth the results.

I must say, my year two projects have been designs I really am proud to wear. Things I designed and knit in year one...well there is only one that I really like. Now that I have such a strong foundation of skills and design practice, I am more satisfied with the end result of my designs this year.

Even though I am not yet done with year two, I look forward to year 3 and 4. That is when the real design work happens. I feel confident about it because Jean has given me such a strong foundation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Puffy Sleeve

I admit. The blog has taken a back seat to my Nihon Vogue projects.

As I always say, I love the Nihon Vogue program. It is challenging, it is fun and there are many rewards from the hard work.

The first project for year two was a puffy sleeve garment. I used a Trendsetter Yarns Superkid Seta. It is 70%superkid mohair and 30% seta silk. I wanted something lightweight, yet warm. I imagined the puffy part of the sleeve being light and airy. Not like the large puffy sleeves from the eighty's.

I used a 3.25 mm needle(US5) with a single strand of the yarn. I think I used only 3 skeins.

If I were to knit this again, I would make the sleeves much shorter. I love this garment and I have worn it a lot. I loved learning the technique on making the puff for the sleeve. I also did some short rows near the ribbing at the bottom of the sleeve so there would be a little puff shelf-like thing. It didn't do exactly what I wanted but if I were to do it again I think the modifications I would do would make it exactly how I envisioned.

As I was knitting the garment, I realized I had an issue with the lace pattern I used. I found this lace pattern in a Japanese stitch pattern book. In the book with 1000 patterns, it is number 271.

Because of the mohair, the patterning is obscured, which is good in this case. I like symmetry. The lace is not symmetrical on each side of the center line of the front and on the back. It looks just fine but it is just something to think about in design. Despite this design flaw on this garment, I had the same "issue" in another garment this year. Oh well.

Isn't that how life is? Lessons everywhere!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It has been waaayyyy too long

I think I have a lot in common with other bloggers. How?

I create a ton of blog entries in my head. That is where they have stayed for the past couple months.

I want to share my Nihon Vogue projects I have completed for year two. I have been dragging my feet in doing an entry because the photos are on my husband's computer. Since he is the professional photographer he takes the photos I need to turn in my projects for Nihon Vogue. We need to turn in a design notebook with all the details of a design as well as a photo.

I will post photos soon(I always have good intentions!).

I just want to do a quick post. I am not even sure if there are still people out there reading my blog!

Why did I have enough motivation to do a post?

I am anxiously awaiting a Golding Fiber Tools drop spindle. I don't have one of those! I have friends that like them. I also have friends that are lukewarm about them. I get to find out for myself!

What prompted a Golding purchase? This past weekend I was in Nihon Vogue class and a couple of my friends are rabid spindlers! I just love that! Candace had her Golding and it is just so pretty! I had to have one! It is research after all, right?

I was so excited for today. My spindle was to arrive today. I then realized....it is a holiday. So it won't arrive until tomorrow!

Oh, the anticipation!

I ordered the Celtic Sheep which is currently out of stock.

I want to post more, just to share what I am doing in my retirement! I am actually productive!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Blogging from my iPhone

While surfing the iPhone app store I found this app that enables you to create and post blog entries outside the phone browser.

I thought it might be worth the $2.99 pricetag.

Here is my first blog post from the comforts of my bed, sleeping husband two feet away.

I just returned from spending 5 days at our lake place. Here is a photo from the deck. I love it there. It is so quiet and peaceful.

I think this app might be worth it.

Now, let me try publishing this!

I published it, editted it and now am re-posting my entry. I think this is going to work out great.

If you want to know what app this is, it is called Blogpress.

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hanging out near Ebeltoft

During our first few days in Ebeltoft, we did a lot of hanging out.

This was a nice way to transition to the time zone.

One day Ruth took us to one of her favorite beaches. This is a place where she and Jens sometimes take a quick, refreshing dip into the very cold water. It was the middle of summer and it was chilly to me. I can't imagine taking a dip into that water!!

I love the area around Ebeltoft. Just minutes away from the middle of the town, you go into the countryside. It is so beautiful. You can go from middle of a tourist area to a very rural area within 10 minutes.

The beautiful wildflowers:

A thatched roof home right on the beach(this is a rare thing. They don't allow much building right ON the shore line as they do in the states. This house has been there for a very long time, before there were laws banning it):

A view from the beach where we sat down and just chatted about life:

I love this picture. There is just something about this photo that speaks to me. It is ordinary Danish life(always enjoying the outdoors) with modern life injected in with the modern windmills in the background.

Friday, August 21, 2009


When I was flying to Ebeltoft, Denmark, I took a flight from Seattle to Copenhagen and then another flight from Copenhagen to Aarhus. The Aarhus airport is only about 15 minutes from Ruth's house which makes it very convenient to go visit. Since it is so easy, maybe I should plan another trip! Just kidding, Ruth!

Ruth needed to go to Copenhagen to take care of some family business. We took the ferry(!) from Ebeltoft to (?) I am not sure where and then drove for about 45 minutes. My lack of concrete details tells you how relaxed I was on the trip!

Here we are driving onto the ferry.

Honestly I must tell you that this was one of THE MOST RELAXING vacations/trips I have been on. I think it was because Ruth and Jens are very laid back people and I felt so very comfortable in their home. I really felt like I was a member of the family. I slept so well at their house! Maybe I should live there part-time(Don't worry Ruth..I don't mean at your house!). After all, the Danes are the happiest people in the world!

Once we got to Copenhagen, Ellen and I left Ruth to take care of her personal business. We left with a map in hand and started on our discovery. Mind you we are knitters and we only had 5-6 hours. The night before we had traced out where we absolutely had to go. You know the places we had to find were the yarn shops!!

Joni also has a much more detailed review of a couple of the shops we visited. See her post here.

We walked along the canals and finally made our way to Uldstedet & Gepard. This shop was underground. If you are a Hanne Falkenberg fan, they had a lot of her finished designs. It was nice to see all the various designs completed, in person. This shop only took cash or debit cards so I was turned off by this as I always use my credit card. More on that issue later.

Here is a photo of Uldstedet & Gepard. Very unassuming entrance. We almost walked right by it.

They had nice yarn but they carried a lot of yarn I can find here so we left without buying anything.

Next we found Strikkeboden. This was very close to Uldstedet & Gepard. He had wonderful window displays. He also displayed the yarn very nicely in the shop. He knew how to merchandise his yarns. I was taken by some linen blend yarns. They had wonderful colors. I love linen yarn and in Denmark they have a lot more linen/linen blend yarns. I wish I would have had more time to go back to Strikkeboden so I could purchase some of that yarn. No need to worry. I found PLENTY to buy while on my trip, believe me!!! The man in the shop was very helpful and even gave us some recommendations for where to go for really great dessert!

After Strikkeboden we found a nice cafe to have a wonderful lunch. It was a bookstore/cafe that had outside seating so we could people watch while we enjoyed our lunch. It was a beautiful day. This was one rare store where I could actually use my credit card. He had to enter the transaction differently but he knew how to deal with my type of credit card!

After lunch we ventured to find Sommerfuglen. I think we were in this shop for TWO HOURS! They had great stuff. Ellen and I kept looking around, talking about this design and that design. Man, it was heaven and at the same time it was hell! Trying to decide what to buy without going completely insane was challenging.

We each bought a Hanne Falkenberg kit. How could you NOT when in Denmark. The price is 1/2 the cost of what it would be here in the States. I had planned to buy one before I left home but I just had to decide which one I really wanted. I bought Tweedie. Ellen bought Blues.

We also bought a kit designed by Geilsk> I love her designs. I purchased the design called Uppercut. So cute!

The women working in the shop were so kind and helpful. While Ellen and I were in the shop another American woman was shopping. I was so embarrassed by her rudeness and behavior. Sometimes when I am abroad and see people acting like they are entitled to be waited on hand and foot I hate to admit being from the same country. I see it more often than I would like. Where has the kindness and respect gone? If you are American, please remember you represent all Americans when travelling abroad!

I was supposed to call Ruth by 4pm to find out if she was going to have to stay overnight. If that were the case then Ellen and I were going to have to take the train to Aarhus and have Jens pick us up from the train station. Unfortunately I could not get cell coverage in Denmark. Ellen and I both have iPhones and she could get service but I couldn't. Very curious and maddening!

I can't say enough about the help we received at Sommerfuglen. They were great. It is a must see shop for knitters visiting Copenhagen! Not only do they have a great selection of yarn and designs, you will get excellent help.

Ellen asked the kind ladies at Sommerfuglen if we could use their phone to call Ruth and they happily obliged. It was so generous of them because without that we were going to have to walk a VERY long way to get back to Ruth.

Ruth needed to stay overnight. She picked us up so we could all share dinner together. We went to a sushi place near the train station. It was a very nice place to eat. Since I was so bad about 1) taking pictures and 2) documenting what we did, I can't tell you the name of the restaurant!

Then we walked over to the train station to buy our tickets and catch the train. Once again I could not use my darn credit card. Sad, so sad!

In Denmark they now have a certain chip in their credit cards and you have to enter a PIN number. I don't have that kind of card which meant....I couldn't use my credit card in many places. It was certainly maddening. I have used my credit card all over the world and have never had a problem. Ever. Good thing I could use my ATM card. The bad thing is knowing how much money I needed and having to carry it around. When I travel I rarely carry cash and always use credit. This was very frustrating. I kept saying that the Danes didn't want me to leave my money in their country! I even encountered shops that only took Danish Visa. Ok, what does that say to tourists??? Enough on that *issue*.

We had a nice train ride from Copenhagen to Aarhus. We got to ride in their newest train! It was very nice. We sat next to a very nice young Swiss man. He was an exchange student for a year in Pennsylvania when he was in high school. I thought it was neat that he told us he remembered when he had his first dream in English. At that point he knew the language was really taking root in his brain.

We arrived back in Aarhus around midnight. It is about a 45 minute drive from the train station to Ruth and Jens' house. As we were driving Jens mentioned something about midnight and I was surprised. It doesn't get very dark at night that far north. That was one thing I just didn't get used to while we were there. I always thought it was earlier in the evening than it was because of all of the light.

We had a wonderful day. We only saw a very specific segment of Copenhagen. Next visit there I would like to take in historical sights and museums and just wander around the city. Of course I will have to see the yarn shops again as well.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some Sock Knitting

I have been knitting some socks. Honestly when am I NOT knitting on a pair of socks?

I have yet to report on my trip to Sock Summit. It was another truly unique experience and I am so grateful I went. That report is yet to come....

I finished a couple pair of socks while in Denmark and Estonia.

I was so glad to get the Queen of Beads, designed by Sivia Harding, done. I started these way back in February when we were in Hawaii. This was the first knitting project where I strung the beads on the yarn before knitting.

This was an installment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin Sock Club.

I am quite behind in my sock club knitting. I have not started on any club designs since Queen of Beads! When the installment this month arrives, I will be 3 pair of socks behind.

The next pair are good old Monkey socks. I love this pattern. It is easy to memorize yet interesting. I don't get bored and they go really fast.

This yarn is from Ginny at FatCatKnits. This yarn is a 75% wool/ 25% nylon blend in colorway Small Cheer. I usually buy fiber from her. Her fiber/colors are amazing. I am very pleased with how these turned out. It was almost like they knit themselves.

The background for the socks is a blanket I purchased from a Gotland sheep farmer that Ruth knows. This blanket is hand woven and made from Gotland wool. I bought this for Greg during my trip and it matches our new master bedroom furniture and bedding perfectly!

As I write this post I am am preparing for my first colonoscopy tomorrow. I have to drink this stuff called magnesium citrate(as well as take lovely laxatives). I laughed because on the bottle, it says "pleasing lemony flavor". Pleasing? What a crock!

Sometimes I think about these kinds of things. It just *seems* that with how advanced we are technologically that they could actually create a version of this stuff that actually tastes pleasing.

I guess scientists are busy trying to eradicate cancer and those sorts of things rather than creating a good tasting magnesium citrate. Ok, I just had to let my thought process go through its iterations. I don't need a good tasting magnesium citrate if they find the cure to cancer!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eight Flights in Two Weeks

A month ago I started this post. It was right when I got back from Denmark.

During my trip to Denmark, Ellen and I took 8 flights in 15 days! This is the first post that will try to document a bit about my trip to Denmark and Estonia.

I just got back from a wonderful trip to see my friend Ruth.

On my way to Denmark I was re-playing in my mind how the internet enabled us to become friends. It all started with her design, the Kauni Cardigan. If you are new to reading this blog, read this old post which explains how we "met".

A few months later in 2007, as Ruth and I were corresponding via email, I had this hair-brained idea. Maybe I should approach Suzanne about Ruth and how popular the Kauni Cardigan design had become because of a post done by the Yarn Harlot. I knew the Yarn Harlot was going to be comng to Madrona. How great it would be if Steph could meet Ruth and vice versa! I was nervous about asking Suzanne about it because I personally did not know Ruth. I did not know if she was a good knitting instructor. I figured "what the hell?".

Some 8 months later I found myself picking Ruth up at Seatac. We had arranged for her to come stay with me. When I told her I would pick her up at baggage claim. I realized "how would she recognize me?". Uh, yeah! I would wear my Kauni Cardigan!

As I waited for Ruth to get through customs, a woman came up to me and asked, "Are you going to Madrona?". I asked "How did you know?". She pointed to Ruth's Kauni Cardigan! I introduced her to Ruth and another knitting connection was made.

Later, while at Charity night at Madrona, I was the moderator. I spoke about how the internet connects us as knitters and I even mentioned the lady I met at the baggage claim. I asked if she was in the audience and she was! I just love how the internet connects us in ways we never could have imagined.

For two years now she has come to stay with me while she teaches at Madrona. This year she even brought her husband, Jens, along for the ride. I am grateful that they enjoy coming to stay as it has allowed us to become lifelong friends.

Back to Ruth's visit this year. During her trip here we talked about me coming to visit her. Before I knew it, Ellen and I were booking flights to go visit her in her neck of the woods!

I really wish I would have taken the time to blog while on the trip!!! I am thankful that Ellen took so many photos. Ruth and I designated her our "official photographer". The photos I am posting are some of the few I took.

Our first full day in Denmark we spent walking around Ebeltoft with Ruth. This is such a charming seaside town! It is absolutely lovely!! No wonder there are many German tourists that flock there during summer. Ellen and I were amazed that even though we were cold(wearing fleece) that there were many people walking around in short sleeves. Ruth reminded us they they come from further north and it was warmer in Ebeltoft than where they were coming from! BRRRRR.

Here is Ellen posing in front of this quaint home. She loved all the different doors on the various homes. She took lots of photos of those and I wish I had those to share a few with you.

A "common" street veiw in Ebeltoft.

Ruth posing for me in front of a common home in the old part of town.

This was taken down near the waterfront. The waterfront is a very tourist-y area. In the background of this photo is the famous art/glass museum(a must see when in Ebeltoft). Here kids are in large bubbles on the water. I wanted to give it a try but I am sure I was over the weight limit!

Hollyhock are everywhere in Ebeltoft. I love Hollyhock. They remind me of my mother.

Next post: Copenhagen

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Intend......

Each week I say to myself "this week I WILL update my blog". Each week passes and it does not happen. As you notice, the last sentence was in passive voice. That is how I seem to be. Passive.

Honestly, I have been very tired. Today, I was so fatigued that I was glad I set my alarm for a 3pm doctor appointment because it went off and I realized I was so tired I could barely move! Glad I set that alarm or I would have missed this last minute appointment! I must apologize to Joni publicly! I feel guilty(oh, that darn Catholic, or recovering Catholic, guilt!) that I had to cancel our fun excursion to see the Seattle Seahawks practice this afternoon(I am glad you still went). My primary doc called to say they had a cancellation so I took the appointment so I could see her sooner than originally scheduled.

I try to not let this fatigue get to me. I put on a brave face and go, go go. I don't want to complain. I really admire people that can overcome challenging situations with minimal complaint.

Since February I have been battling nausea and fatigue(no, not due to pregnancy). I spent a good 4.5 months dealing with it..first thinking it was gerd, then thinking it was caffeine withdrawal, etc. I had numerous tests. Ultrasounds, gastric emptying test, blood tests. It ends up I have a gallbladder polyp. Mind you they don't know definitively if this is the cause of the nausea and fatigue, but it is their best guess.

I am looking forward to getting the gallbladder out which is scheduled for September 1. My busy social calendar has kept me from scheduling surgery sooner. I had made many commitments that I felt I could not break.

First was my trip to see Ruth in Denmark, and our side trip to Estonia.

Then I had committed to volunteering time at Sock Summit. I had personally promised Tina I would come down to Sock Summit to volunteer.

Then I was hosting my family at our lake place the week of August 10-16.

Then my gastroenterologist wanted me to have a colonoscopy, scheduled for August 21. Then I scheduled a mammogram at Village Yarn and Tea(this event is what makes me schedule this yearly "celebration") on August 22. I want to thank Village Yarn and Tea for their Women's Health Fair. They do this every year and without it, I would not be diligent in getting my annual mammogram. Thank you!!!!!!

My birthday is August 24. I am going to the Mariner game taking my sisters Trish and Kathy that night. Then I will be going to the Mariner game on August 25 taking my sisters Karen and Cheryl! New this year if you have season tickets in the Diamond Club, you can trade tickets for one date for another. We traded some tickets when I was going to be in Denmark so we could have 4 tickets together on my birthday! So much fun this way!!! Actually I was having a hard time trying to decide which sisters to bring. Originally we had 4 tickets only on my actual birth date. Greg traded some tickets we had when I was in Portland for the day after my birthday so I could be sure to take all my sisters that live in Seattle. That way I wouldn't have to decide who could/couldn't go. Have I told you how thoughtful he is?

Then we are hosting some friends out at the lake again from the 27th to the 30th. I am sad to miss out on Stitch N Pitch!!

The good thing...I will come home, have a couple days to rest(and get homework done)then have my surgery! Many people have told me that they, or someone they know, felt SO MUCH BETTER after getting that darn gallbladder out!

So, once again I must say that I INTEND on getting back to regular posting!

I have a lot to blog about!!!!!!

Monday, June 01, 2009


I realized that I have never blogged that I will be going to Denmark(with Ellen that hasn't blogged in quite awhile)!

Can you guess who I am going to visit????


I will leave the husband and dogs behind and fly out on July 9, 2009!

I am really looking forward to seeing Ruth and Jens. When they stayed with me in February I had the best time. We got to see a lot of local sights and I got to know Jens(Ruth's husband) better.

I feel like I have made some lifelong friends. They are wonderful people and I am looking forward to seeing their everyday life!

I also am planning to make a little side trip to Estonia!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When did I have time to work?

Time passes and I wonder where it goes. I just don't know how I ever had time to work!

Things have been busy around our house! Finally got all the finishing touches of the house siding project finished. It is a l-l-l-l-o-o-o-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g story. Let's just say that the downturn in the economy that hit the construction industry affected our project as well. It cost us some additional funds but now it is all done! Looks great! We are very pleased.

We have been working on re-landscaping the outside of our house as well. We have taken many trips to various nursery's in the area to shop for plants and trees. We have also been working hard at getting the 5 yards of topsoil and compost into our various garden beds.

Greg put in a beautiful water feature in our yard and it is even more magnificent at night with the artful placement of lighting. Have I ever told you what a gem he is?

The next house project was having some areas of the drywall patched/fixed. This has been a pain because furniture is in the middle of rooms and we have to re-paint the interior of our home. Did I tell you that there is dust everywhere?

We are also in the process of getting estimates to have hardwood floors put in on the 3rd floor. Hopefully within 3 weeks that project will be done as well. I am not a fan of carpeting and I will be so happy to say "see ya!" to this carpet.

I will be glad when the home projects are DONE and we can enjoy our home, once again!

I hate to admit that Nihon Vogue homework has been giving me angst. I feel torn between house projects and the time reality of what it takes to get this round of homework done!

The aran and the gansey/guernsey are very time consuming. For both projects I have chosen to use very traditional yarns.

For the aran I am using Wendy Traditional Aran yarn. I am using a smaller needle than probably what is recommended. I liked the resulting fabric of my swatch but this has proven to be....not a mistake but it has been hard on my hands. Overall I like my design.

Here are the fronts. I still need to do the shoulder slope and I will be ready for class.

For the button band, I am using the XO design and have built in the buttonholes while knitting. The technique is something I got from a Beth Brown-Reinsel pattern. It is very clever because you do not see the button holes.

Here is the back. Originally I had planned to use the diamond pattern that I used on the fronts, repeated on the back. As I was knitting I didn't like how it developing so I tore it out and found a cable pattern with the exact number of stitches I needed. I didn't tear out the whole back, I just tore out the section I was replacing and re-knit. I think it looks rather nice, if I say so myself! :O)

I hate to admit this "rookie mistake" I made while knitting the back. I chart every row to keep track of patterns, decreases, etc. I used the same chart for the front and back. In Nihon Vogue, the armhole decreases are not identical on the front and back. So I happily knit away, finishing the back and realized...I used the decreases for the front, on the back. I had to rip out 50 rows. Those of you that have knit an Aran sweater can empathize on how painful ripping those 50 rows was! I ripped and moved on. No time for tears!

Here is the detail of the aran "ribbing". It is curling quite a bit without blocking. I am hoping it will hold a block well.

I still have to knit the sleeves. My goal is to get one sleeve done by class at the end of the month. Jean is going to show us how to sew the sleeve on to the fronts/back.

For the gansey I am also using British Breeds Guernsey 5-ply from Two Swans(thanks Karen for ordering the Navy!).

I am knitting this project for my husband. I showed him all different colors and he had to choose the darkest color. As my eyes age, I have to be near a good lighting source! This, too, is time consuming. I am knitting on 2.75mm needles. Yes, 2.75mm. Can you say "Very time consuming? Let's repeat that. Very Time Consuming!" It will be very beautiful when it is completed!

Here is my progress so far(I am on row 69 and I need to do 128 for class so I will be ready to knit the gusset at the underarm):

Here are a couple photos to give you more detail of the patterning on the sweater.

What is the purple stuff at the bottom of the gansey you ask? I did a provisional cast-on using waste yarn. The reason? I did not like the channel island cast-on(traditional gansey cast-on, usually used if you are doing garter stitch to begin your gansey). Also per Jean, decreases look better than increases. So I will take out the waste yarn and decrease the number of stitches needed for the 2x2 ribbing.

Some of my fellow students are also knitting the gansey for their husbands. Each year we complete, Suzanne hosts a dinner where the family member's attend and help us celebrate completing another year. We laughed and suggested that we do a cat-walk for the husband's to show off our completed designs. Now THAT is something I am looking forward to and I'll have to take video! Ha!

Oh, to update you on the caffeine withdrawal. Well, I realized I was feeling really crummy because of a medication I was taking. I did get off the caffeine but what I was feeling was not totally caused by the withdrawal. I am still trying to find the right medication for my gerd but I am not feeling bad like I was. I am also eating better by trying to minimize the amount of processed food I eat(I love junk food, by the way so it isn't easy - it is a process!). The biggest and most helpful thing to my overall well-being has been getting up by 6am and working out. I walk briskly for 4 miles to start out the day. It does wonders for my mood and outlook on everything. I highly recommend it!

Recently I went out to Suzanne's to meet and talk to some people that are interested in taking Nihon Vogue year one. People in the fiber community are top notch! One woman was from L.A. I forget your name but if you read this, leave a comment! It was so nice to meet you!

I leave this post with the best intentions. I would like to blog more. Maybe once the house projects are done I'll have more time!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Looking Forward to Spring and Summer

We all need some sunshine and cheer. I can give you some!

Now...this is all about doing some colorwork and more specifically some of Ruth Sorensen's designs. You know how much I love Ruth AND her designs.

First up is the Spring Sweater.

I started the Spring Sweater some time ago. I actually started it way back when she released the pattern. As with many projects I start, they languish in a bag, waiting for more attention and love! Truth be told, I did have to set it aside for Nihon Vogue!

The pink color for the flowers is Kauni. The yarn for the background is Evilla. The Evilla has VERY long striping. I am happy with the very long striping because I wanted the brown to represent sand and the blue to represent the ocean and the sky. I think that is going to work out just fine. The blue will be up closer to my face which is much better for my skin color.

Here is my very slight progress.

This is a shot of the yarns - Evilla on the left and Kauni on the right.

Next is the Summer Shawl. I started a teeny tiny bit of this while Ruth was still here. I don't have anything to really show at this point. I do have a photo of Ruth's version that was displayed at Village Yarn and Tea while she was visiting us last month. I have always wanted to do a fair isle shawl in the round. Now I have my project! The colors Ruth chose are perfect for me. The pinks/purples for the roses and that cheery green as the background. The kicker for me in doing this project was that roses are my favorite flowers. When I sold my house, 15 well established hybrid tea rose plants stayed there in my english style garden. When this is complete, I will have some other roses to cheer me up! It is absolutely gorgeous in person. Note: Ruth...I'm so glad you finally got the pattern up on your website!!!

If you need some "spring" and "summer" projects, here are two suggestions.

Downside of Addiction

That really is a bad title for a blog post. Is there an upside to addiction?

If you are a fellow blogger, don't you have a whole bunch of ideas for blog posts swimming around in your head where they stay only for you to enjoy?

I've got many swimming around up in the brainsphere(is that a word?). They seem to stay up there due to a severe lack of motivation and drive.

Those of you that know me personally know what a "producer" I am. I am driven. I am motivated. I can get something done if I really need to or want to. This has not been me of late.

It all started after Madrona and I headed to Hawaii for vacation.

Due to a heavy caffeine addiction I have not been feeling well and have had a huge decrease in overall motivation and drive. In Hawaii I did not have my regular access to my espresso machine.

I love this machine. We purchased this (an older model) at Starbucks right after we got married. We bought a demonstrator machine which was something like 1/2 the regular price. It went on the blink before the warranty expired so we turned it in and got another one. This happened to us twice. Even though we had to pay a little bit of money each time, we were able to get the newest model. We've had the current one for at least 2 years now.

Anyway(I seem to get off track a lot-that is one of the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal-lack of focus) I didn't understand why some days I would have annoying headaches(not debilitating ones) and mildly nauseated. I thought it was something I ate because there was no regularity to my symptoms.

While in Hawaii, some days I would go to Starbucks and sometimes I wouldn't. On the days I didn't go I would just make coffee at the condo. I guess I wasn't drinking enough caffeine those days when I was feeling a bit under the weather. I was also trying to get off diet soda so I was really good about not having one in the afternoon. I'm beginning to wonder if I was feeling bad on the days I was trying to be good and not have a soda in the afternoon.

An added twist to this story is I also have acid reflux/gerd issues and have been on prescription medicine for about the past 6 months, post endoscopy. My father died of stomach cancer so once I started getting acid stomach symptoms I scheduled an endoscopy. Yes, I had inflammation and yes, I needed to keep it in check especially with my family history.

Since I have been back from Hawaii, some days I would have caffeine in the afternoon(in the form of a diet soda or espresso) and some days I wouldn't. I never connected my feeling "not like myself" to the caffeine, or lack of it.

Well, I began having the same symptoms I had prior to the endoscopy(nausea, acid feeling stomach, etc) and I thought I should look at the no-no list of foods for acid stomach.

One was coffee/caffeine. That is a big one. So yesterday morning I thought I'll try to go off caffeine. I only had one shot instead of two in the morning(I actually didn't even finish the one) and had nothing with caffeine in the afternoon.

Yesterday was a bad day, really bad day. I felt terrible. Big headaches(which I knew I would get) but also a whole host of symptoms(I had all of them). I woke up last night at 3am with a killer headache. I took my trusty little iPhone and looked up caffeine withdrawal symptoms while lying in bed. That was it!

They say to decrease caffeine consumption slowly. Take my advice, if you want to get off your caffeine habit, don't go cold turkey!

I am starting to feel a bit better now that I have had my regular dose of caffeine. I still feel a bit under the weather but I must be feeling well enough to do a post.

Can you believe I haven't even been knitting? I know I'm not feeling well when the thought of knitting doesn't even sound enticing. Maybe soon I'll feel like getting back to the things that bring me joy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I am doing homework.

Finally I have flushed out my design. I decided to move beyond analysis paralysis(a phrase I used to use when I could get bogged down in the analysis of IT systems designs-not too far off from knit designs quite honestly).

I have charted my design onto the body measurements to make sure all the pieces fit into my garment's real estate. If you have ever designed an aran you will quickly realize that you don't have as much real estate as you think you do.

With an aran, you have multiple design pieces, cables, honeycomb, diamonds, etc. When pieced together, they must fit into your set space. There is much calculation and then there is more calculation. (Heather in Alaska, you are going to like this!)

Not only is there challenge horizontally, but vertically. My most glaring challenge is the diamond pattern. Each diamond repeat, vertically, is 9.5 cm. If you want to have a complete diamond at the top of the sweater you must move and measure down from there to see if the diamond will get cut off at the length you want the finished garment. I had to adjust my sweater an additional 3.7 cm because I didn't want to start the diamond in the middle, I wanted a complete repeat.

Once your biggest, most noticeable cable is measured out, you must measure each design element, like the honeycomb to make sure its repeat will begin/end within the new length. Since I'm not as bothered by honeycomb ending mid pattern, that was easier to deal with.

My other large headache was getting the traditional X and O patterns to work out in my design/garment. I am doing the X and O pattern vertically to use as my button band. In addition, I am also doing the X and O pattern horizontally along the bottom band. In order to make all those X's and O's line up...well I had to pray the numbers would work out. As it turns out, they did. Beautifully I must say.

On the right and left front pieces I had to use only half an X for the numbers to work out. A full X or O would make the piece 1.75cm too large.

That means that on the back, on each side of the back I also have to knit half an X so when I sew, there will be a full X at the sides. I could not believe my lucky stars that the number of X and O's on the back work to exactly the 56cm. I took 56cm and subtracted 3.5cm (the two half X's for the sides to match the other 1/2 of the X from the fronts) and I'm left with 52.5cm. 52.5/3.5(width of each X and O) = 15. I needed and odd number to make sure two X's or O's wouldn't be next to each other. Do you understand what I'm saying?

Time to celebrate that the numbers worked out!!!

I am now excited to actually start the knitting part. Design is so much trickier and there is a ton of math and calculation involved.

I really appreciate all the work good designers go to in order to make a *good* design. Boy, I can sure spot issues with designs now.

Here is a tidbit of how my design worked out. It is hard to see. I have a hell of a time photographing the velum like graph paper.

Yes, another diversion

What can I say?

I'm lacking any motivation WHATSOEVER to do Nihon Vogue homework.

It isn't that I don't enjoy my education. It isn't that I don't love Jean(which I DO). It isn't that I'm not learning anything(I learn so much!). I can't exactly put my finger on why I haven't tackled ANY homework since last class.

Oh! I know why.

There are so many other exciting and tempting things out there that are catching my attention.

One is this Mystery Shawl Along #12 hosted by Goddess Knits. Renee' Leverington designs some amazing lace shawls.

I have never joined a mystery anything.

Friends know I am a lace ho. I love knitting lace and I collect lace yarn. You know one reason I gravitate to lace yarn? It doesn't take up that much space. It is lots of yardage in a very small package.

Why did I decide to do a mystery lace knit along? Consider my habits. I love starting projects. I love the anticipation of casting on, of dreaming about the finished product. I'm just one of those folks that loves *beginnings*.

My first thoughts on a mystery shawl was "what if I don't like the shawl at the end and I've committed all these hours to it?"

Then I began to think in terms of reality. I know I love to start projects. I know I love lace. I know I have a lot of lace yarn in the stash.

Hell, why not do a mystery shawl?

These are the pro's: It will be fun because uh, it's a mystery and I love mysteries and suspense. I can use up lace stash. I love knitting lace. I love starting things. Since a clue(or the next part of the chart) is released on a weekly basis, it is like getting to start a new project every week, yet it is also continuing a project. At the end of 6 weeks a mystery will be solved and I will have used up a small part of my stash and have a beautiful shawl to show for it. What are the cons? Are there any? Ok, maybe the con is that I have spent hours away from doing Nihon homework. As my friend Melinda pointed out that I will be able to DO IT ALL since I took Stephanie's Speed Knitting course(I'm sure her message was sent in a facetious tone which can't be conveyed in a text message). Oh, if only one could have those skills just by taking a class and not actually practicing the technique!

So I began my shawl on March 11, the day after I returned from Hawaii. Clue 2 was released this past Saturday. I finished clue two and this is what the shawl looks like so far.

Yarn: Posh Yarn Cecilia(50%cashmere/50%silk) 100g with 1300 yds - colorway aquarium

Needles used: Addi Turbo lace US4/3.5mm

Now back to designing my Aran for Nihon Vogue homework! It has been a rough go. I don't like anything I think will look good together. I thought last weekend I had my design pretty much figured out, now today I don't like it(the reason I have not posted any photos yet). Maybe my change in satisfaction had to do with the migraine I had yesterday? I am thinking of scraping what I had conceptualized. That is the hard part about design. Its all about lots of swatching and literally going back to the drawing board.

Back to the drawing board. I better get coffee first! (Do you see how my brain tries to protect me by diverting me to the kitchen rather than my desk?)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Queen of Beads

Yesterday I decided to start the first installment of the Rockin' Sock Club 2009 - World Domination Tour.

The first design is called Queen of Beads, designed by Sivia Harding.   

First detour from Queen of Beads:

I had an opportunity to meet Sivia at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter retreat 3 weeks ago.  I happen to be a member of a private Yahoo group.  Each year at Madrona a bunch of us meet up and have dinner one night during the retreat.  Sivia is also a member of that group.

As knitter notoriety goes, Sivia is right up there.  She might laugh about this but when she showed up for dinner(I had heard rumor's she was going to be there), I felt nervous excitement!  Having dinner with Sivia Harding?   She was also helping Cat Bordhi in her sock class so I had a chance to talk to her in class.   She is such a kind and gracious person.

Back to the socks!

Here is the wonderfully dyed yarn(thank you Tina!) with the very beautiful beads sitting next to my refreshing tropical drink.

I have never strung beads onto yarn before knitting.  I usually use a crochet hook to place the beads as I am knitting.

I don't know a lot about bead knitting so I had to call Ellen on the phone to find out how she strung her beads.  The way I was thinking I was going to string them on the yarn did not work(using a fine needle and stringing them on the yarn like I did as a child making bead jewelry). 

I had planned on placing the beads on the yarn while we drove 2 hours north to the quaint little town of Hawi.  Since that didn't work I knit on my Mandala shawl.

Note - Second detour from talking about the Queen of Beads:

As we got closer to the northern end of the island there was a brush fire.   The next photo was taken as we approached the area of the brush fire.  Don't you wonder what the fire/police think when tourists are taking dumb photos like these?  Ooohhh, I was on vacation and there was a *brush fire*.  Great excitement.  :)

I'll blame it on Greg.  He said "get the camera out and take some photos!" So I did!

On the way back to the condo after sightseeing on the north end of the island yesterday I asked to stop at Longs Drug to get dental floss threaders.  After talking with Ellen and failing at stringing the beads with a needle, I was intent on getting those beads ON the yarn!

Back on track with the socks:

This is how you string beads onto yarn using a floss threader.

Start with a single floss threader:

Drape your yarn through the loop of the floss threader:

Begin stringing the beads using the pointed tip of the floss threader:

Once the bead/beads are on the floss threader, push the bead down the yarn. I had some difficulty getting some of my beads down past where the floss threader ends and where the yarn is doubled. I think there are just some beads that were just too small to get on the yarn.

I've strung about 190 beads on the yarn for the first sock. I am ready to begin.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The other photographer in the family

As we were coming to our condo on the big island we went down a residential street. Obviously this is a well travelled street that required some speed bumps be installed to slow traffic.

As Greg drove, I was trying to get my camera focused and ready. As many speed bumps as there were on this road, I could not get a good, clear shot.

First attempt:

Second attempt:

Third and final attempt:

Good thing there is another photographer in the family!

I love the term "Speed Hump". Cracked me up. Funny how a one letter difference can really change how one reacts to a particular phrase. Obviously it moved me enough to try and get my camera out to take a photo.

On another note, I love taking photos of Greg taking photos. Why? I like to see the context in which a particular photo or photos are taken.

Greg taking photos of the sunset on the big island.

This is one of the photos he took when I was taking the photo of him:

This next round of photos are for Ellen and her son Patrick in memory of Monty! This little guy took up residence on our lanai.

Here is Greg taking photos of Monty II.

Here are some of the photos of Monty II that Greg took:

Monty II closeup:

Monty II feeling threatened:
Monty II looking like a dog, begging for a treat!

I'll end today's post by wishing my sister, Trish, a very Happy Birthday!  Have a great dinner with the kids at Marlai!  Hopefully they will treat you(although we know that it probably isn't likely!  HA!).  Hope you had a great day!