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June 30, 2006

Return to the source

Sometimes when I read too many blogs or look at too many magazines or watch too much fancy TV, I don't feel inspired -- I feel anxious, and overwhelmed, and sort of exhausted. I think it's important to protect your own creative energy by blocking everybody out, and returning regularly to the source -- the materials of your craft, and your own two hands. I must block out some of the pressure of overstimulation. (via Alicia Paulson's entry at her blog)

I agree.

Return to the source of whatever truly inspires you.

June 29, 2006

Knitty Tempting - Finished

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Knitty Tempting
(my modification - no ribbon/bow)

I'm finished knitting the Tempting -- it fits wonderfully and I'm very happy with it except for a few finishing tweaks I'll need help with. I let this sit for a couple of days while I decided whether or not I wanted to wear this with the ribbon and bow. Obviously, a no-bow version of the Tempting prevailed. The bow is adorable, but I don't think women my age should wear them.

I loved knitting with the Cashmerino Aran and I love the deep red that I chose. I enjoyed knitting this in the round, but ultimately, I think a knitted garment would "finish" slightly better if it was knit flat and seamed.

June 26, 2006

Delightful knitting notions

I found the best Chibi needle holder to date:

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A knitter can't live without bent-tip (blunt) tapestry needles, but a sock-knitter might find the standard ones (in the green and white Chibi) a bit too large for sock kitchenering. Enter the orange Chibi like the one I purchased on Saturday. There are three needles packaged with this Chibi and they're smaller, but still the same design as the standard ones. Perfect for weaving in ends on small-gauge knits. Although this is my third Chibi, they'll be my most-used tapestry (darning) needles.

And because my notions have to be cute as well as functional, my daughter bought me this tape measure for my birthday:

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Who says functional can't also be adorable?


June 22, 2006

Cashmerino Aran & Tempting

I'm very close to finishing the Tempting sweater; I tried it on last night after placing my live stitches on waste yarn. Amazing fit and exactly what I envisioned. I was reading this review of Cashmerino Aran after I had decided to switch to smaller needles for the Tempting re-knit. Ribbing can be tricky when determining gauge but I knew the fit and the look I was after. For Cashmerino Aran and ribbing, I think you must knit at a tight gauge. Everybody who's knit the Tempting with Cashmerino Aran mentioned that it really stretches with wear, so I think I successfully allowed for that in the slight modifications I made. For the sleeves, I knit the first few rounds with Size 6 (US) DPN's and then finished the sleeves with Size 7 (US) DPNs - the same size needle I am using for the body of the sweater. I'll also knit the last inch (the neckline) with Size 6 circulars as well. I might not have tried this modification had I not seen it done several times in Kim Hargreaves' ribbed knit patterns.

Otherwise, I've followed this pattern exactly as written for the smallest size and I love knitting with the Cashmerino Aran. It's definitely one of my Desert Island yarns.

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June 21, 2006

Lornas Laces Sock Completion

I completed the Lorna's Laces Sock I started in mid-May.This is the first pair of handknit socks for my husband and it's proving a bit more difficult knitting larger socks, but I've enjoyed it. Lorna's Laces is probably my favorite sock yarn to knit with thus far. (Yes, even more enjoyable to knit than Trekking XXL). I'm curious to see how it washes and wears.

With each sock I knit, I catch on to things that a lot of you probably already take for granted, but I have had to learn them for myself - like slipping stitches purlwise when you redistribute stitches among the working needles. Several months ago, I learned that you slip purlwise whenever you are transferring stitches that you aren't going to work with later. My first traditional heel flap didn't turn out correctly due to the fact that I didn't understand at the time when you knit, slip, knit, slip, etc. that you are slipping purlwise each time.

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I'm always delighted and amazed when I finish a sock and I can't imagine ever tiring of knitting them. Did you know that you can also just "start" a sock without worrying about swatching? It's such a small number of stitches, it's no trouble to rip and start over if you don't like the results. Nancy Bush says so.

June 20, 2006

The family name

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I've been going through a lot of family photos and historical information regarding the Japanese side of my family and discovered yesterday that my great-grandfather's surname was "Nakabayashi." I'm not sure if he was the great-grandfather who was a samurai, but I hope to find out. My maternal grandfather was born about 15 years after the Meiji Restoration was complete, so both my grandparents' families would have lived during the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate. My mother spent the first part of her childhood in Fujisawa (Kanagawa Prefecture) and her young adult years in Ikenoue (Setagaya-ku) Tokyo. From July 1946 to October 1946 (occupied Japan), she was enrolled in Matsumoto Dressmaking School. From October 1947 to February 1948, she worked as an interpreter at the Prince Shimazu House. She met my Dad sometime in 1950 and they were married in Tokyo in January 1951. She left Japan by ship with my father, departing from Yokohama and didn't return to Japan until 1985.

A few years ago, I was reading some knitting folklore regarding the various occupations samurai undertook when they were relieved of their duties during the late 1800's. Apparently one of the things samurai did for income was knit. Interesting indeed.

June 19, 2006

Home

I didn't have to travel a great distance to be incredibly grateful to be home. It's been a long couple of weeks. I learned about VA benefits, the Agent Orange registry, and the effects of moderate dementia. We (my sisters and I) had to make some heartbreaking but ultimately hopefully GOOD decisions regarding our parents. My husband has been incredibly generous and supportive as we dealt with the details.

I hope my regular blog readers will humor me over the next week or so while I begin to blog some of what I went through. But, before I forget . . . Dani, thank you for your package and the thoughtful little tin. Thank you SO MUCH to those of my close friends along the way who made room for me and my kids and provided meals (and birthday cake), beds, patience, advice, and some lighthearted fun and diversion.

I'm so grateful I've still got both parents even though their respective physical, mental and emotional needs are different. They're both able to communicate their wishes to us and I'm relieved about that. It would be quite difficult to make decisions not knowing what their wishes would be.

Everything is so different with me than it was two weeks ago.

June 10, 2006

It's like a vacation

I've taken some time off to take care of some things and I'm choosing to treat it as a 'vacation' of sorts. A vacation is a break in routine, a change of scenery, and a time to look at things through fresh eyes. So yes, I'm on vacation while learning some new life skills at the same time.

Knitting time has been non-existent, but I still dream about knitting and I carry my knitting basket with me. The Tempting is nearly complete and I'm still very pleased that it's turning out as I'd hoped. It's possible that I'll be able to wear it next week, so I'll share those photos when I do. Until then, here's a photo in it's present state of almost-completion:

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