Sunday, March 02, 2008

Yarn Hunting in Kuyshu

It has been almost a month since I came back from Kuyshu. I wanted to post sooner but lately I've been involved with my kids' studies. We had a great get away during Chinese New Year holidays over there, despite the cold weather. Yarn hunting wasn't so abundant as I expected. I found very few yarn shops during my visit. First stop was Yuzawaya in Fukuoka. It's located in the district of Tenjin on the 6th floor of a department store named Mina (if I'm not mistaken). Not comparable with its store in Tokyo at all. There weren't many yarns that I would like to bring home. A lot of the yarn stock weren't sufficient to knit a long sleeve cardigan (very few stock left out. I believe there was a sale going on just a few days before leaving little yarn for me. Sigh...Here is a little tour of the shop. The buttons selection were amazing. Unfortunately, no time to dedicate to these colorful rainbow display.
In a way, it's good that I don't sew. It would be heavy to bring some samples of these fabrics home.
Not satisfied enough with Yuzawaya, I decided to ask around about more yarn shops. And finally found this little shop nearby. It's a small shop with a high end selection, mostly Italian yarns. I didn't find any yarn to buy. They were too expensive.
I was lucky that I found couple knitting magazines that were just released on the day. And they happen to be my favorite titles. :)
As we travelled further south to Oita, where DH wanted to refresh his memories of the old town he had worked before. It's a smaller city, things haven't changed much after more than 10 years, as I recall. Walking around the downtown area, I spotted this yarn shop. Looked nice with the sale bins but so sad only acrylic yarn, the ones to knit dishcloths or some mohair yarn. I only got some Clover bamboo straight needles to complete my collection. I have now a complete set of clover bamboo straight needles in Japanese size ( except size 1, not much of a possibility to use super thin needles) ) and they have the size mark in the top. Some of my needles bought previously only had the mark on the shaft (? the long part) and it's almost invisible after constant use.
Well, in a way it was good that I didn't get to buy much yarn. Something that I realized when I got home and looked at my yarn stash. The ones I got last year in Japan are still untouched.
At least I got two packs of merino wool from Yuzawaya. The wine color I got 13. It should be enough for a long sleeve sweater. The beige only had a pack of 10 available. Perhaps will suit a vest.
I finally bought the embroidery scissors. Having seen it previously in Keito dama magazines ads. I had wished to own one for a while. It's just too expensive for a small scissor ( about $36) . The store only had one in stock, so that helped me to decide quickly though I still think it's too costly for a tiny scissor. Spotted some nice bamboo buttons that followed me home. I also bought 3 very pretty mother-of-pearl flower shaped buttons but unfortunately I lost them.
The best part of my trip was a night stay at Yufuin Hot Spring. We stayed at this traditional style hotel that was very relaxing. I had the chance to soak myself in the Onsen 3 times. It was just so wonderful. The spring water leaves your skin so smooth and silky feeling. And to make you feel even more relaxed, the supper is served in your own room. Next photos were taken on a little stroll at the main street in Yufuin. It's so interesting, they had shops with animal theme, like cat, dog, owl and even a bee shop!
And if you are feeling hungry to see the cake shop ( bottom right photo) , you'll need a second closer look because they are instead mini towels rolled as cake forms. Didn't find any yarn shop but spotted some hand knitted gloves.
Not much knitting going on in my corner. I think I stopped knitting for too long. I feel that my hands are feeling all rusted. At least, I have a scarf and a hat to show in this post.
I like this hat very much, except that I pulled the string, to close the top, too tightly. Thus, yielding this big lump on the top. Otherwise, I like the cabling border. It gives that special touch to the hat.
Both the scarf and hat were knitted using Diadomina yarn. The patterns are from this book.

Lately, I 've been distracted by my Keito dama and World Knitting collection. Somehow, they never cease my enthusiasm to look at the designs over and over again. I 'm looking for inspirations to bring my knitting mood back. I don't think I could have enough of these magazines in my lifetime. I decided that I will start to buy less of other titles that I keep bringing home wherever I go to the book shop. Well that sounds to be an old story but at least I am getting conscious about it! ;)

Lastly, some knitting magazines that DH got at Liberty in London for me. I had just requested the new Rowan but he found the other two magazines at a bookstore. I couldn't think of what yarn to ask him to buy when he called from Liberty. Do you think I am suffering some kind of yarn withdraw lately? There are three designs that I want to knit from this Rowan, Astral (that has been already started in my needles), Geno and Purity . ( The designs can be seen here) I hope I can finish my wips ( almost ufos). That should bring up my knitting mood level back to normal. Let's hope so!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lotus Cardigan FO

Late posting again! I've been very busy these days since the boys are on winter vacation. No break for me though as I've been cooking, driving and checking on them around the clock. Little time for knitting. I finished Lotus cardigan a few weeks ago but I don't have very good photos to share. To get things going, I'll just post these ones or it will be another few weeks before I can post again.

As you can see, Lotus didn't turned out so great. I had high expectations that it would be a nice FO. It looks a little bulky, or in other words it makes me look bigger than I think I'm now. The pockets turned out to be all right. Regular length sleeves would be better since it's a little cold to wear it without an inner layer.

I managed to make the collar stay still by knitting extra rows and adding a ribbed border. It's just not the collar I had in mind though.

Yarn : Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino ( 10 skeins)
needles: Japanese 7
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, I had in mind to have a new sweater (named as Jade Jacket). Unfortunately, I won't be able to finish it in time for the occasion. Just the cable border took me a week to complete. The body is being knitted in one piece after picking up stitches from the side of the long cable strip. At beginning, I wasn't sure if I should knit the body parts ( back and two fronts) and later have it sewn to the cable border. I thought it would be safer to just pick up the stitches. A little more trouble at beginning to ensure even stitches along the border but no mending job left in the end! And I think it was the right decision. I'm satisfied with the connecting section.
The seed stitch is slowing me down in this project but I am happy with it. I'll add cable borders to the sleeves as well. Looking for a pattern that has Chinese collars but so far haven't found any. I believe I'll knit or crochet a button border with some Chinese style knotted closures, if I could successfully make them. I feel it's going to be a long project. it's not easy to knit without a pattern to follow. There are just too many little details that I can't foresee.

Last and certainly not least, I got an unexpected package from the postman this afternoon. Little stars to lighting my day from my childhood friend ( since I was 6 and she was 4) from the other side of the earth. Really, it's all the way from Brazil. Our last meeting was in California more than 20 years but we are still in touch by email and phone. She sent my favorite childhood chocolates, caramelized figs and fig scented soaps and body cream ( just because I told her I miss figs). And knowing that I am an addict knitter she sent me yarn and knitting magazines. I have lots of cotton yarns and hand made kitchen towels from her past parcels that I'll post in the near future.
I almost forget that I wanted to share new knitting books that I found this weekend and that followed me home. First one on left has classic vests for men (by Hamanaka, titled as "men's sweater & vest" that I think it will come handy when I knit for hubby. I already missed his birthday, so I still have plenty of months for the next one. Second one was an old edition from 1989. I only got it because it has golf clubs cover patterns that I plan to knit for hubby as well. One of these days... Well, good intentions count too! ;) And last, was this reprint of a vintage book. I have seen it in an ad from Keito ( summer 2006) and have since been very curious about it's content. It's a paperback quality and has lots of Japanese text ( unfortunately, can't read any). It looks more a book for machine knitting though. Which I presumably assume could be used for hand knitting too. In addition, there are stitches charts with similar symbols used nowadays. For now, it's more for browsing and seeing all the different designs the book offers ( no ISBN number information available). Anyway, I had to have it since it was the only copy on the shelf. All three books were lonely copies, so it was very easy to make up my mind.
Next week we'll be visiting Fukuoka , Oita and the surrounding area for vacation. And that means I'll be able to check on yarn shops. I'm pretty excited that I found out Yuzawaya has a branch store in Fukuoka. I am looking forward to seeing the new spring books and yarns! Does anyone know other yarn shops in the area?
It feels so good to know that I'll be starting the new year looking at yarns! ;) Happy Chinese New Year!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

About new projects and knitting collection

I've been thinking about knitting all day long since I am back to my usual knitting motto. ;) Using again Debblie Bliss baby Cashmerino to work on my latest Lotus cardi. The bottom left photo is more reflective of the true color of the yarn.
I had in mind for a simple design but I didn't spot anything suitable in my books. A lot of work flipping in my monstrous book collection these days. I decided to come up with my own design. Looks to be very simple but designing is not an easy task. With all my initial excitement, I forget to do the inset pockets. I was way up to the shoulder line by the time I noticed the mistake. However, I really wished to have pockets. Then my only alternative was to have sewn on ones. I took the risk even though I knew how bad my sewing skills could be.

Now I am working on the collar. There is a problem, it keeps rolling up on the back side of the neck . I'll need to check on that later. I decided to give myself a little distraction. Something brainless, like this scarf.

This was one of the first winter 2007 books I bought. I was attracted by it's clever construction. It's easier to knit than it actually looks. First knit a right triangle piece and pick up stitches on the hypotenuse side. Repeat the action until desired lenght. I am using Diadomina yarn in color DD 313 that I bought in Hokkaido last year. I am thinking in knitting a matching hat from the same book ( another nice construction, hopefully coming soon) since I have 6 skeins of this yarn.
Now showing some new items in my knitting collection. Got these from London via husband before Xmas. I wrote detailed info for him to easily get these items for me. Apparently, he had to call me once at the shop as he got all confused about the names. Then I spoke to a saleslady to get what i was hoping for ( Tapestry and Kidsilk haze). Though hubby selected the colours for me and even throw two bonus magazines ( Tapestry and Rowan pure wool). I wanted to get the Kaffe Fasset sock yarn ( even though I don't knit socks!) but they didn't carry it.

Next are some souvenirs from Spain my dear sister sent to me. She makes extra effort to look for knitting magazines or yarn when she is travelling these days. One magazine is called Diana ( Spanish) and the other Maglia ( Italian).There was also Knitting beyond the edge by Nicky Epstein that she added later in the pack .

Couple weeks ago I went to Shanghai with husband. It was a super quick stop of only two days to take care of a few personal matters. I had that little hope for yarn as you know me even though husband had told me there would be no time for yarn hunting. I did a quick search in Ravelry and found some info in the forums. On the second late afternoon, we had a little free time and husband asked me where I wanted to go. Of course we went yarn hunting based on the info I had searched. Unfortunately, we walked many streets to find only two yarn shops. One was closed and the other one didn't had anything appealing to me except for Henyuanxian yarn that I still have a good stock in hands.

I spotted an ad while in the metro train station. I took a photo of the ad despite that a train was approaching and we still needed to figure out which direction to go. Strong positive yarn thoughts, always bring me yarn! I wished that they were real than virtual though....
Well, I didn't come back empty handed. Found a tiny yarn shop nearby the district I was staying. I asked permission to take this photo. So fun that the ladies are all happy and knitting together.
As you can observe in the photo there weren't a good selection of yarn to choose. The owner looked so enthusiastic that she would sell me something. I didn't want to disappoint her so I got this lot of purple cotton yarn. It's very thin thread and it looks like export yarn to Japan. There weren't much choice of colors, either bright pink or blue.

I also bought couple crochet books from a bookstore. It's more for eye pleasing or inspirational tool because the patterns in the book are just stitches charts. No sizing or details info of the designs.

Thanks for your comments! It's always nice to hear from my knitting friends and receive encouraging words from new readers! I try often to reply to my comments but a lot times i don't get a return address from blogger.
Now it's time to go knitting! See you next time!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year with new FOs!

It's been a month since my last post. I hope you all had wonderful holidays with your family and friends, delicious food, many gifts and happy smiles! I think it's still in time to wish you all a Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to this new start as last year was a very bad year for me. Ah, but so far so good! To commemorate my new start, I thought a new face for my blog would be fun. I spent this afternoon sketching a drawing for my banner. I originally hand drew the picture and even coloured it. I showed the picture to my elder son when he was back from school. He told me that he could reproduce it with his MAC. And there I'm sitting and knitting in my dream garden in a sunny day! By the way, there were more yarns in the bag in my original picture. Anyway, I decided that I should not bug him for more changes. He commented that he didn't have a good tool to do the drawings. I'm quite pleased with the drawing.

I'm much back into my knitting these days after the little "affair" with crochet.
Here, I'm starting the new year with 3 new FOs. No, I'm not such a fast knitter! Would be nice though ... Actually, I finished them all before the year end but had no opportunity to post them.

First in line is Berry Cardi. I finished it at least two months ago. I was waiting for a good photo and I even made a visit to the orchid nursery. Unfortunately, by the time I got there it was pretty dark. I only got this blurry picture to share.

I am very pleased with this project. Very simple and practical. It's one of the few knits that I've been wearing so often. Everything feels good, the width, the length, the color and yarn that is very soft. It was just a pleasure to have knitted this cardi.

pattern: Berry Cardi - World Knitting spring summer 2006

yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashemerino ( 8 balls). The water turns red during the washes. I hope it will soon subside. Though I didn't notice any color change in my cardi.

needle : Lantern moon size US 5 3.75 mm

Oh worthy to mention. How I love these Rosewood Lantern moon needles! They are so good to knit with and the sts run so smoothly... I feel like to have a a complete set. I only have a pair and they are straight needles. There is a little problem, these needles are kind expensive. Perhaps I should buy less yarn and build a set.

Second in line is Fendi FO, as the name implies, this is a design inspired from last year's ( I think) Fendi Spring collection. I added the two flowers buttons, which were crocheted. The original one had two big buttons instead and a large belt around. As you can observe, it turned a little too snugly on me. I feel this yarn will soon loosen up and then hopefully the fit will be fine.
Pattern: Fendi inspired. Directions from a LYS teacher.

yarn: Lana Grossa Gala 40% silk 24% viscose 17% linen

needles: circular needles Japanese 7

And finally, the last FO is my Snow Flowers scarf. This project combines knitting and crocheting. Very fun to make since you get to work on different little pieces. I used a very thin nylon thread to sew the flowers and beads ( pearls and crystals) in place. I think it's the thread used for some quilting and is basically invisible. So good for me because I'm not such a good seaming lady. And with this thread you can barely notice the zig zag messy stitches I made on the back. ;)
I modified a little on this scarf. After I was done with a few crochet flowers, I tried to place them in the scarf and there was just no place I could add more. Another reason was that I didn't have enough yarn for extra flowers.
Pattern: Snow Flowers Scarf from Knitting book (ISBN 978-4-391-62490-8)

Yarn: Mohair Premier 2 balls 25g 90m

needles: Japanese size 7 ( knit) and size 4 (crochet)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Little knitting and more crochet

First of all, I need to thank you all for expressing concerns about my family in the fire event in San Diego. Fortunately, they were all fine and back to their normal lives now. In addition, I also felted very cared from those who had sent me good health wishes in words or vibes. You know in hard times, caring words are always so healing! Thank you so much!

I've been away for a while because I was feeling a little down with all the unlucky events that have been hitting me for a while, one after the other. The health issues took a good share of the blame. So far it's been under control and I'll just need some routine exams every 6 months or so. I decided then that I needed to live my life more beautifully. With that in mind, I filled the house with flowers and plants and developed an interested again in decoration and entertaining at home. Things that I have not done for a while.

And the beginning of a new craft emerged with a tea party. It's interesting that it all started with a crystal lilac three tier cake stand that I bought. Followed by a new set of tea set. Except that there was no matching tea pot available. I had to match up with a plain white one, that at least falls in the same style of the cups and saucers. Next,I felt the urge to complement the boldness of the pot with some light lilac pot warmers. Check the 50's style hat and matching dress pot holders. I think they are so cute. Truly, I feel that I am back to my little girl days. It's like playing with little dolls' clothing.

Another pot holder or mat in a shape of tea pot. By the way, no delicious cake available for photo today. So I openned some rice cracks that a friend brought from Japan. They were the best I had so far.

And more pot holders will be added to my new collection in the near future. I've never really liked crochet all these years. But now, I have to say that I am really addicted to it.The patterns are from a Japanese book, titled as pot holders. I acquired this book in Spring of 2005 but didn't had enough crochet skills to make them. I am actually very surprised that I was able to make them by my own with my limited crochet skills.

The hat has an inner crochet part that is round and flat. I added some cotton balls to make the center shape pop up. The little dress bottom and sleeves parts were crocheted in round.
For the tea pot I made it double layer to add some thickness to it.

As for knitting content, I was knitting some accessories last month.

In the photo above, I am enjoying a beautiful view at the coffee bar in Yilan, north east of the island. Savoring a yummy cake and fruit tea and concentrated in a scarf project seen in this photo below.
Sorry for the blurred image. The page is too shinning to avoid the glare.
Below is the Large rectangle stole from Victorian Lace Today. Started in my flight back from my summer escapade to Singapore. It's taking me forever to knit with the thin yarn, though the knitted fabric is divine to touch.

Hope to back again soon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

clicking on the needles

It's passed twenty days since my last post. And that is because I am back to the same boat with some health issue again. I am trying to be optimist and not think too much until I know more about it. That explains why I haven't been commenting in your blogs lately. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving nice notes to me. It makes me wanting to click more on my needles.

For couple days I've been worrying about my family in San Diego. As you might know there is a major wild fire issue over there. My parents, sister and brother's were all evacuated from their homes. Luckily they are all safe and sheltered at a friend's home. I can imagine how terrifying these past few days has been for the people in the area. It looks like that my family houses are safe, including my brother one that was in the most critical location. I was thinking about the orchard on the back of his house that I had just contemplated a few months ago. It's true that in time like this, you just feel blessed to be safe. But loosing your house, though is material matter is still too sad. There is a lot of sentimental value and your nest is where you find comfort.

I feel relieved and that makes me feel good and in the mood to blog. And all this time I have been working on these,

The violet top, is done by now but waiting for a couple of buttons, that I've yet to find a pattern, since I have in mind to either crochet or knit some flowers to use as button.

Did you notice the little plastic Clover needles? My new toys ,that I've just discovered since I started to knit the Lilac top. They are great for sleeves and the collar area.

Another project that I have been working on is this Vanilla top. It's a design that I've been eyeing for some time. The design is from one of my old AMU magazines. It's a combination of crochet and knitting, somehow I have an attraction for this type of project.

It has been put aside since I don't have time to go to the class these days. I need help on connecting the crochet flowers. So in meantime, I have other priorities like this,

Oh, I am so in love with dark reds like in my Bourdeaux top.

Ooops, there was an uneven stitch but all the way down. Apparently, I knitted through the thread and only caught a very thin one. I could feel it would rip very easily by itself, just a matter of time. It was much closer to the border but I just didn't want to unravel the border. There were a few difficult rows in there. I took the risk and frogged from the top instead, after all, they were just plain stitches. A bit risky because I run the chance to ruin the whole piece. But I did,

A crochet hook solved my problem and it is all fixed and I could not tell I had done a mini surgery there. I even decided to do a makeover for the sts adjacent. This design is knitted bottom up. First I knitted the back and front and sew the sides. Next was the sleeves and connected them to the body. I left all the sts for each part on needles and connect them all to form the yoke. It wasn't an easy job to sew the sleeves to the body. It shows my poor mending skills ; however, I think they won't be so obvious as the section will be hidden by the underarms. I am hoping.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Doily cardi FO

I made it! Here is another post for this week. You've been waiting for this post, don't you? I hope I won't brag too much about this FO. Oh but I am so happy and proud for my doily cardi!

The final product turned out to be much nicer than I had expected. This project started with a lot uncertainty and frustration. When I first saw the design in the magazine I didn't like it all. I had no idea of the pattern as the picture in the magazine only shows a cluster of crochet borders.

I noticed some knitting work and that lead me to the graph page itself. So surprised I was to see this doily diagram. I immediately knew I wanted to knit one.

Remember that I'd started with the blue Millefili yarn and by the time I finished the central leaves panel I had to frog due to the wrong gauge? Well, that was my first frustration. My solution was to knit with a larger needle size and using a thicker yarn composed of of ramie and cotton . I found so fun to knit in round without worrying about increases or decreases. It's all embedded in the pattern. Even the unfamiliar circular needles ( I seldom use them) were not so strange to me anymore. And the best, no seaming at all!

Yes, I know the white top underneath is not matching at all! I was in such a rush for this photo session and nothing reachable from my closet at that moment looked good either.

I added the 3 buttons because I don't like the loosen look it yields on the sides and back when the cardi is unbuttoned . Take a look at the back, I think it looks very nice.

It's all about the back! I wished it was longer though. However, the collar would be wider than it's already. And it would cover the main panel even more.
It took me a few trials to get the crochet border straight. I wanted it look flat not ruffled. Though, I like ruffles, my objective this time was to eliminate the busy look of the trims as in the original design. I also skipped the border on the sleeves.

I took the photos at this park nearby my home. It's a pretty place with a lake in the center and in the back it has a Chinese theme garden with lotus flowers and a school of Koi. Though I like this place very much I seldom go there. Perhaps when the weather cools down I will do some walking around.

A better look at doily cardigan,
Pattern: Keitodama Summer 2007
Yarn: R&C Ramie Cotton bought in Japan
Needles circular and dpns size 7 (4.2 mm) , crochet # 4
I like it best in full view,

There are small mistakes in this doily. Can you find it? Observe the flower petals and you'll find out that the sleeves openings are not fully aligned. I had a little trouble knitting the sleeves up as well. I thought that the pattern was supposedly a continuation of the eyelets sts from the body. After frogging a few times and checking on the pattern I discovered that they wouldn't match. At least I can't tell when I am wearing it, so it's fine with me. Despite these little imperfections, I am still very happy with this FO!