Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Legends of the Shetland Seas Shawl

As you can see, Mother’s shawl is finally blocked and finished. This was my first time blocking any knitted items with wires. The method worked so beautifully. All the irregularities are gone and the shawl looks truly magnificent. The only difficulty was to find a large enough space to spread this thing out. It measures 72” long and 25” wide even though the pattern says the width is 18”. No wonder I used up more yarn than expected. No matter. Mother will be happy with more fuzzy warmth around her.

Here is the end panel.

And the center panel.

I had to use four large bath towels underneath the shawl when blocking. Even then, my comforter was kind of damp when all was finished. My DH says I should have used a plastic sheet under the towels. Looks like I need to go to a garden center when I knit this beauty next time.

Next is Father’s cardigan. Their gold anniversary is in March and I should have enough time for a cardigan.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Scrappy Hats and Cowl

I’ve been knitting this pattern called Scrappy Hat by Folknits multiple times this year. The pattern was available on their website for free early this year, but I am unable to find it now. So far, I’ve knitted three of them. First one was knitted with Noro Silk Garden 245, 2 balls, with 4.5mm needles. I cast on 65 stitches for my large head, about 23". I used up the two balls completely and it looked just fine as a hat initially. However, Silk Garden became very soft rather quickly and the hat became too large. It is now turned into a wonderful cowl.

Second one was done with Noro Silk Garden Lite 2027, 2 and 1/4 balls, with 4 mm needles. I saw a version knitted by a Knitsmith, Nancy, and I fell in love. The colors in 2027 are just gorgeous and I had to do one myself. I cast on 90 stitches and did 174 rows, or 29 repeats of 6 pattern rows. When turned up once, it is a rather slouchy hat, while turned up twice, it is a regular hat as photographed below. I am afraid this one may become slouchy no matter what. BTW, the color 2027 is discontinued now and I am so glad that I picked up some more balls for a matching scarf or another hat. In order to prevent stretching out, I’m thinking of knitting it with a strand of firm yarn, such as Kidsilk Haze.

The third one is knitted with Noro Kureyon 148, again discontinued, 2.5 balls. I used 4.5 mm needles and cast on 70 stitches. This is one of the Kureyon colors I just adore. It has all my favorite shades, chocolate, raspberry, toffee, etc. As Kureyon is more stable and bouncier than Silk Garden, I hope it will keep the original dimension. I did 27 repeats of 6 pattern rows, and it is turned up once only.

Addendum: A fellow Knitsmith member, Amber, pointed me to Scrappy hat pattern. Thank you, Amber!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rowan 42 Iceland

The Shetland shawl for my mother was finished sometime ago, but still waiting to be blocked. I just need a few hours to myself in the bedroom to complete the task, but I have not gotten time to do that yet. Soon, I hope. In the mean time, I cast on for a pullover from Rowan 42, Iceland. It has very wide three-quarter length sleeves. It knit up very fast with bulky yarns and 7mm needles.

Halfway through the project, I almost ripped the whole thing. It did not look large enough to me. When measured flat, the top piece had the right dimension. Yet, it looked so small. There was no way it would stretch down to below waist, I thought. My DH suggested that I finish it as it was, and if it turns out to be too small, knit another one. Well, it was the right advice and I am so glad to have listened to him. The knitted fabric turned out to be so elastic that it did reach the length I wanted.

So, here I am very pleased with the finished garment. I used only 7 balls of the yarn.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New book by Shimada Toshiyuki

Yesterday, I received two knitting books by Mr. Shimada, one of which was recently published and contains 14 garments previously introduced in Keito Dama without patterns, plus 10 new designs. (Link to the new book)

Here is one of the garments I was hoping to get patterns for some day since 2004. I happened to have a right yarn for this project, too.

Also, the recent issue of Keito Dama has Shida Hitomi listed in the contents page three times! It's been ordered but I won't receive it until December. Boo Hoo! (See the contents in Japanese)

Added: In case you want to order the book from YesAsia, here is the link!

Link to Errata: I just learned that there are errors in Mr. Shimada's new book, and they are corrected here. BTW, the book is indicated to have sold out on Nihon Vogue web page. Not to worry, though, as they are re-printing. Also, follow this link to find out if other publications by Nihon Vogue have errors.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A little project for distraction

I am getting a little tired of knitting the border for the LSS shawl. It is beautiful and I am so close to the end, but I am not that eager to finish. It is time to get something new going.

I’ve had this one skein of Louet Gems Merino Pearl, fingering weight, for many months. It was originally purchased to test its appropriateness for Aberlady. The yarn failed the test: it was too strongly plied and the fabric was not as soft as I thought it should be for the design. So, it stayed in my yarn basket untouched. I loved the color of the yarn too much to just put it away. It is bright pink/fuchsia. I’ve been wondering what I could possibly make with one skein of this pink yarn? Then, I saw a blog post by Ishi-san. Aha! That’s what I thought. And, here it is, my Wabenschal scarf. I’ve been wishing to have a skinny scarf in solid color for some time, and this was just the perfect thing.

I made it narrower than the original pattern to achieve enough length. It is not cumbersome as other scarves I own, yet kept me warm all day today. I used to love thick and bulky scarves, but looks like I will be knitting skinnier ones this winter.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shawl, Twin Set, and Something New

The main panel of the shawl is done and I am working on the edging. One of my knitting friends at the Knitsmith Claire gave me the red crochet ball bag shown above. It is just the perfect thing for my lace yarn. Thanks Claire!

I could not resist pinning the lace fabric on my ironing board.

I've finished DD2's tank top to match with her cardigan sometime ago. Here is how they are put together.

The tank top is based on a Katia pattern from last summer, slightly modified.

Here is the beginning of my new project. I bought this gorgeous yarn, Schachenmayr Diva in grey, from my LYS on sale sometime ago. It is a blend of wool and polyamide and I have 7 balls.

I have been swatching this ribbon yarn quite some time, started with simple stockinet stitches which I thought was boring, and moved onto various lace stitches, most of which were way too elaborate. In the end, I settled for garter stitches. But, I need some fun stitches, like yarn over, ssk or k2tog. So, what you see in the top section of the swatch is what I will be using. It was adopted from my old project and I changed it slightly. We shall see how it turns out.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Pattern Magic

The second volume of Pattern Magic by Ms. Tomoko Nakamichi will be out on November 11th.

Update: Yes Asia has the book listed here for non-US order and here for US order.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I look forward to when I visit Japan

No knitting or sewing contents today. Just about foods!!

There are many good and great Japanese restaurants in the U.S., but nothing compares to those you grew up with. I love to visit Nawate Douri in Matsumoto. It is a small section along Metoba river which is lined with small shops. I always visit there at least a couple of times when I visit my parents. Just stroll along the river with hand-made osenbei and taiyaki. Very simple and pleasant moment I always look forward to. For more excitement, my sister and her husband always have some new restaurants for us to try. This summer we went to Ayu Tei restaurant. My brother-in-law is a friend of the chef and they treated us with such abundant delicacies. We could hardly finish all the dishes served. I actually don’t remember how many courses there were. What impressed me most was a sashimi salad. I would go there anytime. We had pictures taken with the chef, Uchiyama-san, and his assistant, miss pirate.

We did not have a chance this time, but we love to visit Pamplona, yes, Spanish restaurant in Matsumoto area. They have paella, of course, but also black rice, which is cooked with squid ink. Absolutely delicious. Apparently, there is a meat shop in Japan producing sobrasada for some years now, not to mention jamon and chorizo, and they had them at the restaurant. Being from Spain, my DH tried the sobrasada. He said it was quite good.

Last but not least, we always visit Abura-Ya Chinese restaurant. It is a small shop but always busy. My DDs talk about it all the time, dreaming of going back there.

I am sure there are many more places I should be visiting. For one, I need to go to Sakura-ya where they serve only eels, that’s it.

Well, I am writing this entry at night and I’d better stop. Or else, I will need to snack on something.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lace Shawl by Hazel Carter

During my vacation in Japan, I knitted Hazel Carter's Legends of the Shetland Seas shawl with Lisa Souza hand dyed lace yarn in Sea Foam. Both the pattern and the yarn are just lovely. Actually, I saw the same shawl knit by my longtime internet knitting friend Laura one day this summer and I just fell in love with it. She brought with her many gorgeous afghans and lace shawls, but this Shetland shawl really caught my eyes. Her version was in darker color, called Wild Things, evoking dark stormy seas in northern Europe. I was going to knit it in the same color for myself initially. Then, I realized that my parents will be celebrating their gold anniversary soon. I thought the light sea foam color would be lovely on my mother whose hair is white. I still have a long way to go before I can start the edging as I am still on the center section.

Coming back home, I had to quickly seam up pieces to finish Belén’s cardigan. The pattern is from Phildar Enfants Printemps Été 2007 and the yarns used are Katia’s Sonrisa. We love narrow bands on the sleeves and cute flower buttons.

The back view.

And, Phildar version

Friday, September 21, 2007

More Japanese Books

We were on vacation in Japan for a few weeks and visited Nagoya and Matsumoto. Besides seeing my relatives, what I love to do over there is to go to markets and eat those morsels which are not readily available in the U.S. and to purchase craft books.

Here is a partial list of what I brought back: Four knitting books including Keito Dama Fall 2007, and Couture Knits no. 12 by Shida Hitomi. I also picked up Shida Hitomi's Couture Knits no. 8 and a back issue of SeKaINo Amimono from 2000, both of which are out of print now. I am quite excited about Ms. Shida's no. 8. There is one pullover in it with gorgeous cable design I must knit. I have yarns for it waiting for cooler days. Most of the designs from her no. 12 are knitted with fabulous and complex pattern stitches and simple garment designs, but there are a few which show new directions. It seems that my list of knitting projects gets longer every season.

I bought some sewing patterns books, including a book on skirts by Yoshiko Tsukii, on dresses and blouses by the same author, a fascinating book by Natsuno Hiraiwa, and Dress Up - Dress Down Simple Chic by Machiko Kayaki. The last book by Ms. Kayaki reminds me of a book I bought last year by Yuri Kaneko, which contains retro style garments.

There are few more books on other crafts I brought back with me. I will show them to you later.

With all these books, I thought my luggage might burst. Besides the increased weight of our luggage, there was another issue in returning home. The night before we were leaving Matsumoto, a relatively large typhoon hit Japan. Many railways were experiencing cancellations and delays, including JR Chuo line which we were going to take on the following day. Of course, our train was cancelled following morning and by the time we arrived at the Nagoya airport, we had only 45 minutes before our plane took off. I don’t know if it was this anxiety and nervousness but we had such a hard time overcoming jet lag this time. We were absolutely sleepy by 6 pm for a week! Things are back to normal and I just began to knit again.

Added: I just fond out that you can see more work by Ms. Hiraiwa here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Long at last!

Margaret Tudor is assembled and done! She is a hefty beauty in many ways, gave me lots of grieves and frustrations, involved many seaming works, and took me so long. I don’t remember exactly when but I think I started on the project in 2003. And, it weighs 1.1kg. It was abandoned for more than two years before being picked up again last year. As I recall, my hands were not used to working with thin metal needles initially and I had severe pain in my fingers after the first panel was finished. Naturally, I was very reluctant to start the second panel and the project languished in my bag for quite long time. In any case, last summer, I realized that I need to finish those unfinished works before too late. Margaret Tudor was the last one on the list of unfinished works. Now, I can toss the list, at least for now.

The yarn used is Louet Gems Merino Opal in burgundy, about 4 ½ of half pound cones. I used size 1 Inox needles (2.25mm) throughout. I felt that the original garment is too boxy. It should not be close fitting, but closer fitting would be more flattering. Instructions for the smallest size were followed except for a few changes: Side body panels were narrowed by 6 stitches each with the armhole shaping intact. This change resulted in 24 stitches less in the body circumference and 12 stitches less in shoulder width. In order to compensate for the narrower shoulder width and to make sleeves longer than the original, one more rose and thistle motifs were added. Instead of using buttons to hold upper panels down, I used beads. All in all, I am quite satisfied with the finished garment. Oh, the reason why I did not use Scottish Fleet? Well, I did swatch with it to see if I can achieve the specified gauge, and I miserably failed. I just could not do it. I tried a couple of other yarns before I decided on Gems Merino Opal. This is my second project with this yarn and I just love it. Great stitch definitions and a nice color range. Here is me wearing it in summer weather! Quick, cannot stand more than a few minuties!

Margaret Tudor was my third project from Tudor Roses. The next one would be Elizabeth I with camel Dunedin. I am now working on adjusting the pattern as I hear and read that it is large and its neck opening is too wide.

I was very productive this weekend, and I’ve finished my second silk corset. I just love pure silk yarns and Ms. Modesitt’s corset pattern. I am definitely addicted to the smooth feel of silk yarns. Although I have not knitted this design with cotton yarns, I have a feeling that silk yarns provide smoother and closer fitting. The third one would have longer sleeves; maybe elbow length, with flounces.

And, me again.

Addendum: Since a good knitting friend of mine had asked, I am adding the seaming method I used for the record. I used a regular sewing thread and a needle so as not to add more bulk to the garment. I simply used whipped stitches to sew panels together, picking up a half stitch each along the seam line. Now, the exact location of the half stitches I picked. Facing wrong sides of panels with a thistle panel underneath a rose panel, let’s assume that we are seaming the right edge of the rose panel onto the thistle panel. The rose panel is placed right next to the edge of the knitted (as opposed to purled) section of the thistle panel, or the purled thistle section when viewed from right side. I picked the last half stitch of the knitted thistle section (viewed from wrong side), and the outer half stitch at the right edge of the rose panel. The resulting seams were strong enough but not bulky. One thing to note is that the stitches do not line up nicely like one would see when seaming side seams. Rose panels have smaller number of rows than the thistle panels due, of course, to difference in row gauges. So, it is essential to match the thistle and rose patterns with right side up and pin them together well so that you can flip them over without dislocating the patterns.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Silk Corset by Ms. Modesitt

Lovely silk corset designed by Annie Modesitt is finally done. I used Debbie Bliss Pure Silk, about three skeins and a little bit more for this version. It is not the best yarn one could choose for this project, though: It pills as you knit. Once finished and washed, it looks okay, but not fabulous. I am now knitting version two with Fiesta La Luz Multi, also a pure silk yarn, and the superb quality of Fiesta yarn is staggering.

The smallest size available on the pattern is XS and it is for bust size 90cm. Now, my measurement is nowhere near 90cm. So, I began knitting XS with tighter tension than usual. It did not work out: too small for me! The whole thing was then ripped and I re-started with size S and loosely knitted. That's what you see in the above. See the nicely scooped neck line? It is very important to cast on loosely. Otherwise, the whole look of the corset would be distorted.

There are several changes I made and will follow them on my second version. No I-cord cast off and cast on was used for armholes. I tried the method once but the result did not look as nice as I hoped. Also, I was not sure how big the armholes ought to be and wanted to be able to adjust once the whole garment is knitted up. So, I just used waste yarns to save stitches for armholes, and used cable cast on, done very loosely, to continue underarm sections. The waist section seemed rather short on me and it was lengthened somewhat. It could be even longer I think. The zigzag pattern was made to be symmetric, although it is not in the instruction. Instead of using single crochet to neaten the hem, I used backward single crochet, which is my favorite crochet finishing. Lastly, I sewed the front opening shut. Completely shut. There is no way I would fiddle with 20 buttons every so often, like every second. After all, the fabric is very stretchy and the neck opening is rather wide. Oh, one more thing. The armholes were finished by one additional knitted row and regular cast off done very loosely. Here is me wearing the top.

(I learned that there is an update to the pattern and much smaller sizes are now available. Not that I need them.)

As for Margaret Tudor, I found an old silk buttonhole thread in exact color I needed. All the beads are sewn on the knitted pieces finally.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

BdF tank top finished!

Actually it was finished several days ago. Changes I made are minimal: shorten and widened the shoulder straps. That's all. I love this tank top just as much as the cover tank top from the same issue of BdF magazine. I will be knitting this one again. I used less than 700 yards of Silk City Bounce I bought from Elann. The only complaint I have is that the bottom edge rolls. I may need to apply a crochet edging to stabilize later.

Next is the matching cardigan, but I had to cast on for two projects. I've been thinking of knitting Annie Modesitt's Silk Corset for many months. Initially it was going to be knit with a cotton yarn, but then, I picked up Debbie Bliss Pure Silk at my LYS the other day. Gosh, it feels soooo soft! I've never knitted anything with this type of soft yet slippery yarn. As a matter of fact, I could not use my ball winder as the yarn kept on bunching at the bottom or top of the ball. I ended up winding by hand and that took me less time and frustration. There is always something new to learn. In any case, here is the table with my work in projects.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Moving right along!

I finished translating the pattern! It was not too bad. I am very much encouraged in this business of translating French patterns. The front is all ready and currently working on the back.

Here is a close up of the pretty lace pattern on the horizontal band. It will be used vertically on the gardigan sleeves. Love it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New project

I began to knit another tank top from BdF no. 123 issue. Despite the slowness, translating French knitting pattern is going relatively well. Abi has posted useful sites for translating French patterns. Margaret Tudor is on hold for now. I need to hand-sew panels together using sewing thread. It should not take too long, yet, I am procrastinating.

また BdF no. 123からの タンクトップを編み始めました。フランス語を訳すのには時間がかかりますが、ボチボチとやってます。AbiさんのWebページ に、英語翻訳に役立つ情報があります。Margaret Tudorのほうは 未だ放置したまま。

PS. Here is something for Bergere de France fans.

PS. Bergere de France フアンの方は こちらへもどうぞ。 

Friday, June 15, 2007

Slow going

Not much crafting is going on in my studio lately. At least all the panels for Margaret Tudor are finished. Some hand stitching of panels and finishing are waiting for me.

ここのところ、殆ど編んだり縫ったりする暇が無く、少しクサレ気味。とは言っても、Margaret Tudorの 16のパネルは、何とか完成させました。 後は、パネルを縫い合わせ、袖のカフスを編んで、ビーズを縫い付けるだけ。

Next in line for knitting would be this twin set. Recently I found this blog by Abi who is also thinking of knitting the tank top of the set. She has some interesting information on Bergere de France CDs. I wonder if their Canadian rep is carrying the CDs. Any idea, anyone?

Margaret Tudorの次は、 このツインセット。  最近、 AbiさんのBlogを見つけました。  彼女も同じツインセットを編む予定のようです。

For sewing projects, I am thinking of a wrap dress for this beautiful printed eyelet fabric. There are several options out there for woven fabrics. At the moment, I am inclined to this one from February issue of Burda World of Fashion. Here is the line drawing of the design.

洋裁のほうでは、 この布地で、 前うちあわせのドレスを作りたいのですが、どのデザインにするかで、ずいぶん悩んでしまいました。 結局、Burda World of Fashionの   このデザイン にしようと検討中です。 この写真では、細かいデザインがはっきりしません。  このリンクのほうが 分かります。 

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fabrics from NYC

While we were in NYC in April, I had a chance to visit famed Metro Textiles. While I was there, I finally met Ann of Gorgeous Things in person. She is an energetic lady with full of sewing ideas. It was really great to meet a fellow sewist.

Here are most of what I purchased at Mr. Kashi's store. Some of them are for my DDs but most of them are for myself.

The first project will be a wrap dress with the paisley print cotton eyelet. I bought some light weight cotton in fuchsia for lining the eyelet. The green light weight wool will be a jacket or a spring coat. The 'balloon' print is a silk and will be used as a lining for the wool.

I am plowing through my pile of sewing and pattern books to decide which one to make. I love this part of the project!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Another handbag from Japanese knitting book

I finished this handbag sometime ago. It is from fall/winter 2006 issue of "European Hand Knits" by Nihon Vogue.

The original is done with wool yarn and has leather handles. Mine has acrylic handles and Berroco Suede in Chickadee Pink was used. It is crochet entirely. Photos below show stitch patterns better. The horizontal ridges are created by "raised double crochet on front side". I referred to "Basic Crochet & Knit" by Ondori to find out the name of this stitch. In Japanese, it is called 'Omote Hikiage Ami.' You would crochet facing the wrong side which you can see in the bottom photo. The slanted ridges are created by knitting crochet chains.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rose beads on Margaret Tudor

Fellow Knitsmiths, Nancy, has taken time for me to select some beads for Margaret Tudor. She has her atelier on Newbury Street and is close to a bead shop. I trust her taste for good reason. The first choice, matt finished beads shaped like a rose.

The second choice, oval shaped beads with considerably shinier finish.

We decided that the first is the right one. Its round shape and 'rose' are perfect features for this design, don't you think? I am now finished with 10 panels! That is, all the body panels are done. I went ahead and assembled all the body panels except for the side seams and knit the neck band and hem bands. I made the body narrower by eliminating 12 stitches from front and back bodies, keeping the armhole shaping and neck opening intact. This means that the shoulder width is narrowed by 6 stitches and I was anxious to find out how much I need to lengthen sleeves. After trying it on, it was clear that I need to add quite a lot to the sleeve length: one more thistle pattern needs to be added. I think I got lucky. Just a minor math of adjusting the increase pattern.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lizard Ridge Afghan finished!

I used 24 balls of Noro Kureyon to knit 30 panels. For the edging, I was not quite satisfied with the original pattern instruction and did somewhat fancier version from this pattern book by Hirose Mitsuharu.
オリジナルより大きめにしたかったので、野呂さんのくれよんを24玉使ってパネルを30枚あみました。エッジングはKnitty のパターンにしたがわず、広瀬光春さんのパターンを使いました。

Pardon me for the poor quality of the close up below. Hopefully, you get the idea of what was done differently.

It was an absolutely fun and satisfying project from the beginning to the end. I don't know how Mr. Noro Eisaku does it, but his colors are just gorgeous. They are really captivating. The designer, Laura Aylor, used Kureyon so cleverly. I am grateful to both! DDs were impressed more than any other projects I've ever done. They requested to have one each. We shall see.
最初から最後まで、興味を失うことなく随分速く編めました。 野呂栄作さんの糸の色使いは素晴らしく、一度編み始めるとなかなか止められません。 デザイナーのLaura Aylorさんの引き返し編みの使い方には慣れるまで少し手こずりましたが、よく出来ています。 私の娘たちも気に入って、欲しいと言われ、ニッコリです。

追記: 日本語で書くのって、ずいぶん難しいです。おかしな日本語になっているかもしれません。 これから、少しずつ日本語で書くつもりです。 宜しく!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Five Panels for Margaret Tudor

Finally assembled, just for the back, though. Close up below.

Nine more panels to go!