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October 29, 2008

A Blue Cowl and a Giveaway

Delores_Park_Cowl.jpg

I knit another cowl yesterday (the Delores Park Cowl) with yarn I'd received the day before from Eat.Sleep.Knit. My local yarn shop doesn't carry the chunky Malabrigo and I wanted to use the yarn that the pattern called for, so when Ravelry recommended Eat.Sleep.Knit in the online store options, I clicked it. Service was super-fast and my yarn arrived on a day (Monday) when most yarn shops are closed anyway. I'd never knit with the chunky before and I loved it, so it's definitely on my list to knit again. This serene blue is the Blue Surf colorway.

The cowl craziness is due to my wanting to find some quick knits for loved ones who need some warmth. They're one-skein, instant gratification projects and fast enough to knit during other ongoing projects.

For a Socktoberfest surprise, click behind the cut:

So I'm having a giveaway for Socktoberfest! It's been a crazy couple of weeks here and stressful too, so I didn't get to blog about Socktoberfest like I had planned. On my initial Socktoberfest post, I showed you a sock-in-progress and several of you commented that you liked the color (Morello Mash), so I bought another skein to give away to a lucky reader to celebrate the end of Socktoberfest. Included in the package will be a mix CD created with the help of iTunes new "Genius" feature, which I love. (If you haven't tried it already, please do)! NO rules - just leave a comment and I'll draw a name based on the random number generator. You have until midnight (in YOUR local time zone) on October 31st to leave a comment!

Morello_Mash.jpg

October 25, 2008

Malabrigo Pagoda Cowl

I think I've mentioned before why I am so hopeless in my desire to become a stashless knitter - I'll fall in love with a yarn (it's the color I see first) and I buy ONE skein in the belief that I will find a just-right pattern for it eventually. And I do. And I did:

Birthday Cowl - Pagoda Malabrigo

Heather knit this cowl with the gorgeous "Vaa" colorway in the Malabrigo. And then I remembered that Vanessa had knit one too. I'm just a little late to the party. I'd already used some of the Pagoda to knit a ball, but I was confident I'd have enough left over to knit the cowl.

The pattern, Birthday Cowl, is from Nova's blog, Novamade. I used a Size 8 (5mm) circular needle and didn't make any modifications to the pattern. Mine is about 9 inches tall; I didn't measure the opening, but since it goes over my head, it's just right. I'll be shipping this to my mom because it's already cold in Cowiche. (Jayne, don't show her this blog entry please!)

Here's a less artsy shot of the cowl -- it's a more accurate color too.

I've got a few other cowl patterns in my queue and a lot of potential necks to warm! Have you knit one yet?

October 22, 2008

Toasty Mitts

toast_mitts_by_Leslie_friend.jpg

I loved knitting these thumb-less tubes and Leslie did a great job with the pattern inspiration she found from the photos in Toast (go browse the catalogue - it's gorgeous).

Do you knitters have a "carry-along" project with you at all times? I do - and mine's usually a plain sock to knit while I wait in the car-rider line at school or the doctor's office. These fingerless mitts filled the role of being my carry-along for a couple of days. You know those people who say they have no time to knit? They would have time to knit these.

I didn't deviate at all from Leslie's pattern except for my yarn choice. The yarn shop doesn't carry the Classic Elite Portland Tweed, but it seemed like the Kathmandu Aran was close enough in gauge that I could try it. (I would still like to knit a pair with the Black Forest Portland Tweed). Click to see how the mitts work like sleeves.

This weekend, I learned Portuguese knitting using a knitting pin and I want to blog about that soon; I loved it; purling for me went so much faster this way. I'd love to hear whether any of you have already tried it.

October 17, 2008

Happy Fall

I gave a mouse a pumpkin.jpg

My youngest son loves the Laura Joffe Numeroff / Felicia Bond series of books and especially the classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you've been reading me for a while, you'll remember my knitting a sweater for Mouse a few years ago. Although I know that one famous knitter won't knit for inanimate objects, I'm obviously not one of them. So when I re-visited Wool Windings' felted pumpkin pattern last month, I knew exactly who needed a tiny felted pumpkin. I dipped into my well-aged stash and found two of my favorite yarns - Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in Rust and a wonderful tweedy green Cascade 220. I'll admit that at first I felt that I might knit a bunch of these little pumpkins, but after one pumpkin, the novelty wore off. They're cute, but I've got a lot of other things to knit, so perhaps I'll just knit (and felt) a new one every year.

I didn't felt this pumpkin in the washing machine -- I used hot water and wool wash in my bathroom sink to "agitate" and felt it by hand. I love the fuzziness of the Lamb's Pride (thank you, mohair) and the woodsiness of the green Cascade.

Felted_Pumpkin.jpg

Now I have visions of knitting a vest for mouse and matching one for a boy.

UPDATE: Thank you Kim and Tracy for letting me know I had comments turned off!

October 10, 2008

The Two Uncles

1949 Keiji Wedding.jpg
View it larger with additional information here


1950 Michio Wedding.jpg
View it larger with additional information here


Both of my Japanese uncles, pictured here in their respective wedding photos, have passed away, but thanks to my Uncle Michio, I have many important family photos and details. The photos he sent me were always accompanied by detailed handwritten information including dates and names. He sent me two photo albums in the early 80’s that included a lot of older photos like these as well as current ones of his family.

Of my two uncles, Uncle Keiji was the more “traditional” Japanese man and the brother with whom my mom was closest. When I was visiting Tokyo with her, Uncle Keiji never tried to speak or write in English but through smiles and gestures, he was able to show me (for instance) how Japanese men drink whiskey (with a beer chaser). I had to show I understood by doing the same thing -- he got a huge kick out of that, though later he told my mom to tell me to stay healthy by eating well and taking a lot of vitamins. What we didn’t know at the time was that he was in the early stages of what might have been stomach cancer; he passed away a few years after our visit. Keiji had a Karaoke machine in his house and put on a performance for us the night we celebrated my 21st birthday. Throughout his life, Keiji remained in the neighborhood where the family had grown up and eventually served a term as mayor. When his youngest son graduated from college, Keiji tore down their family home and built a 4-story apartment building with what eventually became a flower shop on the bottom floor. Their home was on one of the upper floors.

Uncle Michio, the eldest son, seemed quite a contrast to his younger brother. He was educated at Tokyo University and then worked as an engineer at Shell Corporation in Tokyo until his retirement in 1982. I don’t recall seeing him laugh or smile very much while we were there. He was incredibly serious and prone to sitting on the sidelines observing and taking in every detail (and taking a lot of photos). He spoke English as much as possible and asked me a lot of questions about life in America and in Oklahoma. He was incredibly interested in American politics and world affairs and if he was still alive today (he passed away in 2002), he would be totally enthralled with what is going on in our country.

Both Keiji and Michio met us at Haneda airport when we arrived in Japan in May 1985. My first observation? They were both shorter than I am. After a hair-raising taxi ride from Haneda to Michio's home in Tokyo (we stayed half the visit with Michio and half with Keiji), the prevailing feeling for me was that I was in a comfortable and oddly-familiar place where everything was the right size for me -- from the heights of the counters and tables to the portion sizes of the meals. Even more importantly, however, was the feeling of having begun my task of unlocking the secrets of the past and discovering more about my Japanese heritage.

October 02, 2008

Socktoberfest 2008

Embossed_Leaves.jpg

I'm joining in the fall festival of sock celebration otherwise known as Socktoberfest IV -- and I'm fully embracing the 'no rules' mindset that Lolly's always envisioned for Socktoberfest. I've not been able to focus on socks for months due to a number of different group knitalongs and design projects but those commitments are winding down and I'm delighted to return to sock knitting this Fall. I love that there are exciting sock knitting books still being published and new patterns to peruse on Ravelry and Knitty (and several other new online knitting magazines). If you'll notice, however, I'm knitting a sock from a pattern that is nearly three years old (but still as popular as ever). It's a wonderful pattern -- and if you can knit a Monkey sock, you can knit the Embossed Leaves sock pattern. The good news is that you no longer have to try to hunt down a back issue of the Interweave Knits in which it appeared; it's in the Favorite Socks book.

I don't yet know what my focus will be for this year's Socktoberfest, but I do know that Twisted Yarns has some exciting new sock yarns (Dream in Color Smooshy, Shibui Sock, Colinette Jitterbug, Regia Kaffe Fasset . . . plus so many more) but I'm the most excited about the saturated semi-solids like the Colinette Jitterbug -- I'm using the Morello Mash colorway for the Embossed Leaves socks. So, since buying sock yarn is another hobby of mine, expect to see some stash enhancement.

Happy Socktoberfest!