Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Counting Down

4 days left 'till beginning of semester.

We drove to Markleeville and then down to Topaz Lake area the other day.

It was too hot of a day to go to the hot spring at the camp ground, but I took a picture of it anyway. The first time we went there was 10 years ago when Greg took us there after a day of snowboarding.

Paul and I hiked across the meadow and found a stream to chill out.

We should've packed a picnic, but instead we had our lunch at the only restaurant in Markleeville, "Wolf Creek." The food was surprisingly good.

It was a perfect, lazy, summer day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's done

The Blue Lotus is done! Finally. After all the planning and un-planning, and re-planning, knitting, and frogging, and ....

I settled on a sleevelss with cross-over front. Ok, I have to admit, I was loosing steam on it. But after finished the body and trie it on, I thought the sleeveless look was actually pretty nice. I tried to pictured it long sleeves kimono style with a blue band around the neck opening and sleeves edges like I'd planned, but I don't think that would look as good as the simplicity of its sleeveless stage. Heck, this time I was easily convinced to stop and called it done.

Because nothing else was done to the neck opening or the armhole edge, they roled in. I liked that look, so again, that was easy to decide no more working on this one.

Even though the FO is completely different than what I'd originally wanted (it was more ambitious.) but the minimal look has its own appeal, I think.

What have I learned?
  1. With color work, more swatches and detailed plans are essential.
  2. It helps with any design to have a good idea of how the overall shape of the garment will be (this is the first knitting garment I designed that I wasn't so clear on that, thus more struggles.)
  3. Swatch in the colors and yarn and motif that will be used.
I have yet to master the stranded knitting technique. The tension is not quite as even as I'd like.

For the next big project I still want to design a more complicated all-over motif. We shall see.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Meadow

I went for a walk today at the meadow.
(can you find the blue dragonfly in one of the pictures?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer Is Still Here

Summer is almost over. Well, at least according to school calendar, Fall semester begins in less than two weeks.
What are you talking about?
The air is still hot, the geraniums are still blooming, the town is still overflowed with tourist!
I'm not ready to go back to teach, yet!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making of the Blue Lotus Sweater

Current state of the sweater

I'd always loved scandinavian knitting and fairisle. In fact, my very first two knitting projects were two Norweigian sweaters by Dale. Lately, I'd returned to that fascination again. Being interested by color work, I thought I would give designing one a try.

This sweater is a real test not only to my motif design sense, but to my patience, my work ethic. The design and knitting is going a lot slower than I'd expected.

I felt like I worked and reworked the charts 100 hundred times. Oh, and the knitting part feels like endless ripping back.

This is a lesson in not fully worked out a concept and do all the swatches before I jumped into knitting.

Its very first existence was a plan to work in rounds and dividing into 4 vertical panels of blooming lotus with decorative motif panels in between. Well, after charting out and proceeded to knit, I realized I'd need to work with 8 different little balls of yarn in order for the motifs to work. I cut and wound up little balls. But yarns just got tangled up too easily. So I abandoned the idea.

Then I decided to just work the Lotus motif at the bottom edge, and figure out what will work as I go.

I knitted 7 rows of Garter border for the bottom. Then I ripped it back and designed water-like lines. After two days of working on that and finished the first Lotus pattern, I decided the water part really didn't work out at all with the hand-painted yarn. I couldn't even tell what they were. Since I did like the way the lotus looked, instead of ripping back all, I cut off the bottom and picked up sts from the bottom of Lotus pattern and knitted garter border again with orange color.

The water motif that didn't work out

I changed my mind again! I knew there was a reason I ripped that garter border back the first time. The proportion just wasn't right. The border got ripped back again.

I charted a fancy design and spent probably 8 hours knitting it. At the end of day, it looked so not right. Again, ripped back.

Finally I settled on the double garter border with contrast blue yarn. That's it, I'm not changing the border again.

Picked up the top part of the Lotus pattern sts to continue, I charted the second Single Lotus. After its completion. I decided there were too many rows in between the Lotus patts. Guess what? rip back again, that's right. Back to the drawing board, and I tweaked the Single Lotus chart a little. That turned out much more satisfying.

I really want to finish this before school begins in 2 weeks. With the rate I'm going, I have much doubt....

all the charts and some swatches.

Right now, plans constantly changing, I don't even have a very clear idea what the exact shape of the sweater is going to be. I know it will have set in sleeves and slightly shaped waist. But I'm still going back and forth on what type of neckline.

I know I should've planned everything out first. But that's really not my way of doing things. For the most part, I really like working out the proportion and combination of motifs as I go. This is mostly due to my lack of extensive experience so I have a harder time envision how all the details will go with each other in terms of proportion and design until I actually knitted them.

Even with all the challenges, I am enjoying the fact that I'm learning through both successes and failures.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It is so sad to hear the news about lives lost, people missing in Taiwan after Typhoon. My heart goes out to all the families that are suffering. I don't get much of the Taiwan news here. The only sources I found are on internet. So many lives...

I don't remember Typhoon being this scary when I was young and living in Taiwan. To us kids, it just meant little fun flooding and no school, and hanging out with cousins telling crazy storeis. It has been 27 years since I lived in a Typhoon zone. But I'd lived through the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. I was living in Santa Cruz (the epicenter) at the time, and the Angora fire here at Tahoe coupla years ago. I know how scary and unnerving an event like natural disaster can be. Oh, and I also lived in DC area when 9/11 happened. Events like these really do make one feel so helpless.

I'll keep all the typhoon victims in my thoughts... I hope all the people that are trapped in their remote villages are safe and will be rescued soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little Sewing

Yesterday we went for a short walk down to the meadow next to our house. We didn't go far since Paul's foot is still in the healing process. As we got to the stream, a black lab ran up to us. I petted her a little. As soon as the owner showed up, she walked right into the stream and sat down in the water to chill off. My heart ached a little seeing the sight. It reminded me the one and only time that Cody lied down in a stream during a long hike we took at Big Meadow near Luther Pass... and he never liked to go into the water, whether it's the lake, the stream, or the bath tub... though he did like to sit by the water...

Paul and I took off our shoes and dipped our feet into the water. It was icy cold, perfect for my arms that are suffering from heat rash.


Just finished sewing a bag today. I must admit, as far as process goes, knitting is more of my thing. The simplicity of just a pair of needles and a ball of yarn is more to my liking, not to mention you can knit anywhere. I do like the result of this bag though.

Most of the sewing was done in one afternoon. Unfortunately not really thinking it through I bought only one pair of the rectangular rings. Yesterday I had to drive 40 minutes to Carson City to get another pair of them. The downside of living in a small town - small selections of things available. But then again, if I live in a big city, it probably would take that long to drive across town anyway.

When I was at the store I also picked up some fabric, and I love the retro, Japanese print of this one.

I probably won't get to it for a little while. I got some knitting project in mind that I really want to get started. I've been obsessed about making a two-color fairisle/intarsia sweater. I just made a swatch with the yarns. Not exactly the motif I'll use, but I like the color combo. it's kinda like the fabric I just bought too.

The yarns are Needful Australian Merino in DK weight (feels more like a sport weight to me) and the Socks That Rock by Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

I've been trying to come up with a motif. It is not easy at all. I kept making design, knit up swatch, and I'd finally got something I may use after 6 or 7 attempts.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Day

First day of blog.

Summer time ..... Love it. I love the uninterrupted time of making things.

With all the scrap yarn and fabric, I was trying to figure out what to do with them. The thought of making little clothes to display on little dressforms pleased me.

Yesterday I finished my paper-mache dress forms. I'd used florist foams to carve out the forms. (Next time I'll have to find something else to use. This was too powdery and I don't imagine breathing in would be good for me. ) One was pasted with newspaper, one with stamped paper, two with pages from a pot-boiler book I know I'll never read it again. For the paste I mixed Elmer's glue with flour and water.

Making them reminded me of Dad's company of paper-mache Christmas decorations. It brought back a lot of memories of hanging out at his company when I was little in Taiwan.

Also, here is a little something I knitted yesterday. The quickest knitting project, ever.
It was knitted with 26 gauge copper wire.

As for knitting so far this summer, I've been quite productive this summer, if I may say so myself.
Here are some finished projects:

All except 3 (the blue Leaf Yoke Top, green Lace Skirt, and the pale pink all over Lace Tank top) are my original designs.