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January 31, 2008

Shiny :: Happy

Signature Needle Arts
Click the photo above for more information

I got these knitting needles earlier this week and am in love with them - they're pretty and functional. You can design your own based on your tip and length preferences. While the prices are higher than most retail superstore knitting needles, they're in line with the finer straight single-point needle prices such as the Lantern Moon hardwood. * If you love knitting with straight needles, put Signature Needle Arts needles on your wish list.

Green :: Grey

I got a wonderful surprise gift from Nora in Australia. She made this wonderful accessory bag to match my favorite Mama Llama Forest green/grey colourway. So that settles it -- the next sock yarn I cast on will be my Mama Llama sock yarn.

My laptop is still not home but it's still in the safe hands of the local Geek Squad for a few more days. I love those dudes though -- and have trusted them with other computers in the past. Meanwhile, I've had to be creative about doing the things I used to do without thinking -- like checking emails and updating my calendar. I'm feeling a little cut off from my friends, family and my Outlook calendar. I woke up anxious and fearful that I might be forgetting to do something important. I can access new emails through my webmail program, but nudge me if you haven't received a reply to something important.

* (I'm not affiliated with or compensated by any of the companies mentioned in this post)

January 28, 2008

Lipstick and yarn

Araucania Ranco Multi
Araucania Ranco sock yarn (click the photo above for more info)

Thanks to the ongoing computer woes, I've been spending a lot more time with my yarn and my knitting. While my son was waiting for his turn at the computer yesterday (I have to compete with the kids for computer time now), we talked about how we would each spend our first million (a purely imaginary windfall). I asked him what he would buy first if he had a million dollars -- he said he'd buy a scooter and then a house. When I asked him what he thought I would buy first, he said, "Lipstick." He predicted that after that, I'd buy yarn and "yarn books." He knows me too well.

I've been swatching (i.e. starting a new sock) with the Araucania sock yarn I bought several months ago. I fell in love with all the warm colors on the cool blue base. The only downside to this sock yarn so far is the yardage is on the low side and it's not as soft as I'd like. However, it's still a good knitting experience -- the stitches are even and smooth.

Araucania Ranco Multi

And, finally, a book purchase I put off entirely too long. Thanks to a nudge from Borders in the form of a 30% off coupon and a $5 gift certifcate, I now own The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd:

Finally . . .

I put off buying it for so long because I thought there wouldn't be "new" information in it -- but I've already highlighted several helpful things -- I should have purchased this book long ago.

Edited to add: This entry at Tiennie Knits, demonstrates how the Ann Budd book can inspire an already-accomplished knitter. Awesome.

January 25, 2008

Cynical

CYNICAL
1966

I actually had a great day; I got a lot done at the school (a scheduled meeting) and got to see some of my friends at the shop. I'm making big plans for Spring Break and the future.

But yesterday while answering a backlog of wonderful emails and getting caught up with current events via my favorite websites -- somehow I now have some type of adware infection on my laptop. And it's not looking good. So while I'm getting it resolved (thankfully we have another uninfected computer), I'll be even more scarce than I've been over the past week.

The good news -- although I'm cynical about my adware issues, I'm truly excited about my knitting. Keep an eye on my blog sidebar and my Flickr as I try to finish my works-in-progress and start some new, exciting (to me) knits. Peek at my queue if you're on Ravelry.*


*If you aren't on Ravelry already, now is the time to request your invitation.

January 16, 2008

But will I wear it?

I've been taking a long hard look -- a very critical look -- at my list of garments I intend to knit for myself. Usually something will make it on to my list due to my falling in love with a particular yarn. It's the yarn that attracts me first; then color next and design last. It's very rare that I buy yarn without a project planned but there are some yarns that have aged a bit in my young stash whose originally-intended patterns are really not that stylish any more.

So I've evaluated the store-bought sweaters I've loved and hated through the years and aside from the unfortunate intarsia phase, my favorite sweaters were solid colored -- usually natural colored, gray, red, or white, ribbed or plain stockinette and close-fitting. The sweaters that were the least flattering were loose-fitting cabled sweaters. I look best with some shaping, but an oversize sweater can be flattering on me if the proportions are right. Most surprising was that nearly all of my favorite sweaters were either 100% cotton -- or linen, viscose, ramie, and silk blends. Nearly all of them had some cotton though. I can remember owning only a small handful of 100% wool sweaters (one of which I still own after 15 years). Finer gauges predominated also.

My conclusion for knitwear for myself? Simple is best -- but it probably won't make good knit blog fodder or Flickr photos. And I'm okay with that. I want to knit what I'll wear. Chic Knits patterns seem to represent the style I envision for myself (Ribby Pulli and Cardi, Arianne, Cece) -- along with Knitting Pure and Simple cardigans and the Hourglass Sweater (Ravelry Link) in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Accessories are another story -- I'm much more adventurous with scarves, socks (sometimes), and hats.

For future socks for a family member, a planned 2x2 or 3x1 ribbing:

Passionberry :: See Jayne Knit

It's "Passionberry" -- a blend of merino and tencel from See Jayne Knit, an Etsy seller. Last week, I also received a set of sock blockers from Fearless Fibers. I love them and how they've infused my socks with their cedar scent. (And a quick thank you to Sallie, who has hooked me up with somebody we know who has darning eggs for sale).

I also finished the first of a pair of socks knit with Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn:

Pigeonroof Studios - Cinnamon

I love her dye job. The superwash merino she uses as her base is very nice -- the yardage made me a bit nervous, but not nervous enough to become a toe-up sock knitter. I like living on the (sock-knitting) edge. I've knit up all but two of my single socks-in-progress. I'm down to just one unfinished single sock and then will finish their mates. My Gesta vest front is almost finished and then I'll seam the sides and shoulders and crochet an edging.

There are a few changes in the air here and I can't share many details about them, but they're positive changes. While I anticipate how this will affect some of my plans, I've made some decisions about some of my former goals -- the ones unrelated to knitting. I'll share those as soon as I can. For now, I'll be in list-making mode.

Peace.


January 14, 2008

Gesta :: Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton

In Progress :: Gesta

The yarn is Noro Kochoran in Color 40. I'm using the needle size called for in the pattern - 6.5 mm. It's kind of nice seeing so much progress so quickly on these larger needles -- quite a departure from 2mm sock needles.

I've finished the back of this vest but I don't have a good photo of it -- just imagine a wonderful blend of wool, silk and angora in a subtle striping pattern with somewhat neutral colors.

Gesta

Thank you all for the great sock-darning ideas and alternatives. I do think I want to attempt a repair first and if it doesn't go well, I'll do an afterthought heel. Sock darning seems like a nearly lost skill and there's enough of a challenge and mystery to it that I want to feel I tried it. Here are some great blog entries about sock darning (scroll down to April 26, 2006 for Part I and then work your way up through Part III).

And although I really have a lot more to blog about, I'm going to stop since I'm having such an "off" day mentally.

January 13, 2008

Twisted Knitter's FREE Patterns

Manos Drawstring Bag
FREE patterns are on my blog sidebar

The wonderful Ravelry folks have now made it possible for knitters (whether or not you are on Ravelry) to download FREE knitting patterns. I'll be updating my sidebar (to the right of this entry) as I add more. Thanks for checking them out!

Staci is now teaching a beginning lace class at The Knitting Nest using my Leaf Lace Scarf Pattern. I'm happy to allow you to use this pattern as a teaching tool -- just ask (like Staci did).

By the way, I'm getting through my emails and writing overdue replies, but I have to admit that I'm *also* taking some time to knit and check in on a few blogs. I have to share this awesome entry from the Yarn Harlot.

January 10, 2008

Well-loved socks

One year later . . .

These were the socks I knit for my sister for Christmas in 2006. She sent them to me when I sent her another pair this past Christmas. She told me she loved them and provided proof:

One year later . . .
.

And this is the Wollmeise Brombeere that I had left over when I knit her these socks:

Wollmeise Brombeere - leftovers

I'm thinking I have enough for my first attempt at mending socks. Tips anyone? Ideas?

This will be a short post for now, but I wanted to thank those of you who left such helpful and encouraging comments (and sent private emails) in my last post. I am pursuing some leads you all have given me and have discovered that a native Japanese speaker will actually have a more difficult time translating to English in an understandable way. He/she can translate in the SPOKEN native Japanese language, but then I would have to have somebody translate THAT. That explains the difficulty that my uncle had providing me with a translation. I had to set aside the pursuit in favor of some unexpected crises this past week, but it remains at the top of my mind -- even though I haven't been able to sit and reply to the emails some of you have left. Please know it is very much appreciated.

For those of you new to my blog, this is my maternal grandfather:

Grandfather
Born April 1891, Kyushu - Died January 1939, Tokyo

and this is my grandmother:

grandmotherblog.jpg
Born June 1898, Kyoto - Died June 1959, Tokyo

The samurai ancestry is on my Grandfather's side.

January 06, 2008

Research :: Letters from Michio

Samurai_Letter.jpg

In between a few knitting projects this weekend, I'm also going through many old letters and photos from my uncle. Although he passed away several years ago, I've kept over twenty years' worth of letters he sent me and combined with the details my mom has been able to share, I've filled in some gaps.

Sallie was immensely helpful in providing me with genealogy information from my father's side of the family -- but mostly my grandmother's (Snodgrass) lineage. I think I only have two generations of my father's information.

The biggest obstacle in learning more about my Japanese ancestry is that I don't know the language. I can't speak it, read it or write it. I do have our koseki, but because my mom married a non-Japanese, her husband and children (me and my sisters) wouldn't be on the koseki. And for those of you wondering the obvious, my mom can't read the koseki either -- after more than 5 decades in the U.S., it's increasingly more difficult for her to read Japanese and understand it when it's spoken.

I will be checking some local resources, but I'm also going to "ask the blog" (It worked before!) if anybody could put me in touch with somebody who can read Japanese. The koseki (I have a certified copy) probably covers our family's history from the mid-1800s to the late 80s. I do have some scans of it if that would help.

And now, back to some knitting. If all goes well, I'll have knitting to share this afternoon.

January 04, 2008

Shamelessly stockinette

Pink Panda Silk
Click the sock photos to see more information and larger photos

I started this sock in mid-December but interrupted finishing while I knit the Noro shop sample. Both are totally different knitting experiences and I love them equally -- however, the pink sock will get its mate soon so I can send this pair to my mom.

It was undeniably different knitting with yarn that had no "memory." I'm used to considerably more stretch in my sock yarns. In spite of that, the finished product is so soft that it will convert anybody who isn't already convinced that hand knit socks are superior.

Seriously soft silk socks

January 01, 2008

Happy first day of 2008

Family 1970s
Family photo from the early 1970's

I went to sleep with some big questions last night and woke up with the answers. The big questions have to do with a goal of mine -- something I want to complete this year involving a family story.

I love this photo of my family. Due to the age difference between my oldest and youngest sisters, it was rare to get all of us in a photo together. This is how I remember my Dad. I'm startled now when I see photos of him with white hair and his thinner, smaller frame. During most of my childhood and the years I lived in Oklahoma, he was stocky -- and looked like he did in this photo.

Longtime readers know that I don't "do" resolutions, but I do evaluate what's working for me and what's not. In 2008, I'm taking some steps to enrich my life -- I'm excited about the things I'm considering. And because the most effective method I have of dealing with unresolved issues is to write through them, I'll continue to do that and will probably share more of it here on my blog.

My knitting goals for 2008 are rather vague, thanks to a refreshed point of view and a desire to be true to myself -- I will knit what I enjoy knitting and do what I enjoy doing. Because I don't struggle with discontent or disappointment internally, I'm going to take full advantage of the absolute freedom I have to just BE.

And now, for the winner of the hand knit socks . . . congratulations to Susan at KitKatKnits. I'll be contacting you to get your color preferences and shoe size!

Look for more fun contests and giveaways in 2008.