Monthly Archives: March 2008

One Trip, Two Books, Countless Projects

This past week, after a morning appointment in downtown Seattle, I found myself free!  Me, free, for a whole hour in downtown Seattle, what to do, what to do.  So I ended up driving to one of my favorite parts of Seattle, to the International District.

I stopped by Uwajimaya, an Asian grocery store with an adjacent book store. Uwajimaya in Seattle  I wanted to get some much needed (hah!), tea paraphernalia. Uwajimaya in Seattle  While I was there I decided to stop in the book store, Kinokuniya, just to look at the pens and other paper goodness.  But before I could look at anything else I saw that the book store had created a craft section right in the front. Books at Kinokuniya Bookstore 

Books at Kinokuniya Bookstore I saw many cute books and but was drawn to two.  The first one is called the Handmade Felt Book, an unusual choice for me as I have not felted for ages. Hand Made Felt Book  In addition, this book utilizes carded wool/rowing to felt with rather than first knitting and then felting.  If I could make an analogy I would say that this form of felting looks like free-form felting and the book is very illustrative with a large number of photos and not much text – no matter, I cannot read a word of Japanese text but I so wish that I could.

The fact that I cannot read Japanese text does not mean that I will not be trying to make the hats that I came to adore and the beautiful bags that I want to felt. Felted Flower Bag The book also has two felted tea cozies that are begging to be made.  These projects are destined for my desk for later in the year, possibly mid-summer to early fall.  I have yet to decide which will be my first…most possibly the bag with leaves.  Felted Bags  Then the hats, I hope I can make one that will fit my head the right way. Felted Hats - Must make one for self  I have quite a bit of research to do.  I need just the right materials; for the wool I am thinking that the fiber should have some mohair to give the felted fiber texture.  In addition, I need some molds so as to make sure both the bags  and the hat come out right and fit.  Do you have any ideas as to what I can use?

The second book I purchased was a complete surprise because of the range of projects that it has within.  It is called Vintage Knitting in Tradition and has beautiful color work and lace. Vintage Knitting in Tradition  In my opinion a unique combination and a lovely one at that.

I am determined to make at least two of the patterns a part of my current projects.  The first one is Myrthen, a triangular lace shawl worked in a solid dark color. Myrthen, A Must Make Shawl  I have different ideas as to choice of color but I intend to cast on and make this shawl but I need help!  As with most Japanese pattern books this book is also very illustrative with multiple charts and lacks in instruction – again, not like I can read Japanese text. Myrthen, A Must Make Shawl  If you are reading this post and you have knitted Myrthen please help; if you know of someone who has knitted Myrthen please forward this post to them, and if you know of resources that could help me decode Myrthen please let me know.  And, finally, if you would like to knit Myrthen with me please let me know so that we can start a KAL and support each other through out the project. :)

The second project that is calling me is Der Blumenbrief, The Message of Flowers. Der Blumenbrief, The Message of Flowers  It is easy to see why it is called the Message of Flowers and I think it would be beautiful if knitted with Kauni with the assumption that I can manage the gauge.  I think Der Blumenbrief is simple, clean and beautiful. Der Blumenbrief, The Message of Flowers  The above request for help applies to this project as well as the invite to start and knit it with me.  I probably will not start this project until well after I have casted on Myrthen and have made some progress.  Fair warning I am a slow knitter.

Just a couple of final notes, I have no affiliation with Uwajiyama or Kinokuniya bookstore.  With that, I found their books well priced and the service courteous.  I will be making a trip to Kinokuniya again later next week to see if they have other goodies waiting for me.  Plus, I was told that I could search through and special order from their home base in Japan!  So there you go, I have started collecting knitting books that I cannot read – smart move on my part but I cannot seem to help myself.  So please help, I am collecting a series of resources online and otherwise that would be helpful in decoding these lovely books.  Don’t be shy please write with any suggestion you may have.  You know you want to knit one these projects, you know that you do. :)

Suggestions needed

I have over 50 model garments (sweaters and cardigans), that would fit 2-3 year old kids, both boys and girls.  They are very cute, brand new and still in their sealed bags (we never used them at the store or otherwise). 

This may not be very timely with the weather slowly warming up but I would like to donate them to a charity that can actually put them to good use.  I would appreciate your help with suggestions on charities that would be able to use these garments.  Please let me know if you have any ideas and/or contact info.  These items are rather nice and I would like to think that they would actually be used by little girls and boys.  Many thanks – in advance - for your feedback.

Cashmere Heaven

I have been on a hand-dyed kind of mood for a long while.  I am very much into deep and rich yet subtle color variations that can usually be produced and reproduced only by some of the more experienced dyers.  So when a friend said yes to my request to hand dye our cashmere, Indie, I was very happy (really, I was – you should have seen me do the jig at the store).

I wish you were here to see the beautiful color combinations that have been coming in, including some of my favorites, this deep deep ruby like crimson with a color-on-color variation. Little Knits Indie in Lust for Life  If I could name this color it would be ‘Lust for life.’ 

Then there is the Ocean with deep sapphire like blues, sky and jean blue combinations. Little Knits Indie in Ocean  If you like jewel like blues this is your color.  There is also the lavender the plum  and of course the sea foam blues. Little Knits Indie in Lavender  They are simply lovely.  Then the yarn itself, soft soft soft, luxurious and heavenly.  So when Kersten asked me if I would like to hear her opinion of Indie I said yes.  Here is what she said:

Cashmere, schmashmere. It should be called crack-mere.

I decided to use Little Knit’s Indie for my first lace project.  Oh so very scrumptious and cuddly, its softness belies its strength.  After making it safely through one pattern repeat, on row 12 of the next repeat, tragedy struck. I blame jet lag, flying across Canada, and listening to too much French.  I had to rip out a repeat section (get this…) 8 times.  Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten    Fearing that the yarn would become frazzled, frizzy, and weak, I was afraid that the section would resemble cat-yak.  Ah, but it was not to be.  The yarn maintained its beautiful softness, strength, and overall exquisiteness.  After a few more rows, the catastrophe was imperceptible.Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten

Like any good cashmere, this yarn is warm to the touch and so soft, I can’t find words to describe it.  I love the feel.  If only I hadn’t made such a poor pattern choice! Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten  The pattern stinks, but the cashmere makes up for it.

This lace project is clearly becoming a labor of love.  The pattern, a candle flame lace, takes forever for each repeat. Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten  The only way I am able to concentrate for a length of time for that hard is when I’m flying coast-to-coast.  It has become my airplane project.  This explains why it’s taken me 9 months to get to where I am.  I will be an old lady when I finish.  Please no over 40 jokes.  They just aren’t funny since last summer.

100% cashmere, approx. 400 yards for 50 gram hanks, under $20 for naturals and $25.75 for hand dyed colors, the expectations have been set very high!  I saw the hand-dyed skeins of this yarn this past weekend.  Holy Cow!  I didn’t know such colors existed! Little Knits Indie in Plum  I can’t wait to see what other delectables Fulay discovers for the Little Knits fans!

Not so nice

As I type this entry I don’t really know if I will hit the button that says ‘publish entry’ as what happened today is very off topic.  Let me go get my cup of tea and I will make my decision after I write the whole thing down.  I think that is a good compromise don’t you agree?

This afternoon I parked my car after a short shopping trip and was getting ready to get out my car, which is when I spotted a site that is familiar.  Two women were walking with multi-child carriages filled with adorable tiny tots that go to a child care facility within walking distance of where I was parked.  I would normally look, smile and then go about my business.  But this time I noticed that in addition to the small kids in the carriages the women had two small children walking aside them – well not quite aside but I will get to that later.

The women were walking at a fairly leisurely pace and the two tots whom I guessed to be between the ages of 2-3 were walking with a – for the lack of a better term – safety leash/band (?) attached to their waist.  I have an odd reaction to these contraptions anyway, so here you go, full disclosure of my bias.  The other end of the safety-band was attached to the handle of the carriages that was at the waist level of each woman.  I would think these bands/leashes were about 4-5 feet long, not quiet sure…regardless, the child walking with the woman in the front had no problems keeping up.  The story for the following set was different.

I will probably never forget the adorable little girl with the shiny dark hair who was attached to that carriage, the color of the leash/band and the fact that she kept falling behind, stumbling and being yanked by the woman pushing the cart.  She did not notice me in the car, I am sure of it as she softly yanked the little girl again right by my car.  This time after the tug she stopped and spoke to the child.  At this point a slow heat started spreading around my cheeks and my waist as I imagined my 3-year old being yanked by this woman.

I waited and after they passed me I quietly got out of my car and watched.  The little girl fell behind both because she did not have the stride-length and because she was distracted and was looking around.  The tension of the leash/band pulled her forward as the woman continued to walk and she stumbled (she did not fall).  The woman must have sensed her stumble as she pulled/yanked her with the leash and stopped shortly to talk to her again.  She did not yell or say anything that from my angle upset the little girl. 

The walk resumed and the little girl stumbled again.  At this point I could no longer restrain myself and I yelled “Excuse me, that little girl is going to fall down and get hurt!”  I was not heard so I repeated myself.  Second time the woman in the back heard me looked at the little girl and looked at me and then bent down to talk to the girl again.  I walked to my destination with some hesitation but I did not want to create a scene, which is when the first woman yelled back “Why don’t you mind your own business b…h!”

My cursor blinks…I need more tea, I will be right back. 

Let’s disregard the closing commentary by the second woman as it is irrelevant.  I find the little girl’s predicament upsetting and unacceptable.  She was not being abused but at the least the women in charge was negligent and ignored her apparent discomfort.  In my opinion they did not care for her well being.  I then wonder if they do this on a street where they can be observed by others what exactly do they do in the confines of the child care facility?

So I sit here and ponder, what to do, what to do?  What would you do?  I am going to go kiss my sleeping babies.

UPDATE: Within the last two days I made all the phone calls that I could plus some.  I now hope and wish for the best.

Stitches West, Fiber Heaven & Two Good Men

The weekend before last I left a sunny Seattle for a trip to Santa Clara for Stitches West.  My first trip away from home and my first overnight trip away from my two little boys since they have been born.

Somewhat naively I expected sunshine and warmer temperatures, silly me.  We left Seattle at the crack of dawn (had to leave my house at 4 AM!), and landed in Santa Clara around 8:45 AM.  It was cold and raining.

Almost right away we headed to Santa Clara Convention Center.  The market had not yet opened.  There were lines that went on and on, which lead into the 3 doorways that opened into the Convention Center floor.  Right before the market floor opened the women closer to the doors started counting backward in unison.  I knew then I was in for an experience.

We walked in to find most of the rows easy to get through and I headed straight to my vendors.  After much walking around I ended up at the Malabrigo booth.  This is where I meat Tobias and his brother-in-law Antonio.  After a little while, somewhat timidly, I asked Tobias whether they had a skein of their mythical sock yarn.

Malabrigo's New Sock Yarn The ever smiling Tobias was kind enough to grace me with a sample skein of yet-to-be Malabrigo sock, a super soft 2-ply sock yarn that was kettle dyed in a monochromatic amethyst-lilac color line, very much in character with their usual lovely color work. 

Malabrigo Sock Test Skein The test skein weighs 3.5 ounces and has approx. 440 yards of fingering weight yarn and it is made of 100% superwash merino. I have yet to swatch this surprisingly soft yarn but while I type this I stop to touch my skein and the yarn feels like it has cashmere content.  The fiber has some bounce to it as well, when I squeeze the hank it springs back to shape, which makes me think that semi-solid color lines would work well for intricate pattern work.  Did I tell you that this yarn is really soft?  May be even softer than Malabrigo Lace.    Malabrigo Lace at Little Knits

Next step – One of our designers is going to knit with the Malabrigo sock and give us her unbiased opinion.  I myself think this lovely yarn is too nice for a pair of socks and would be ideal for a lace project.  I would love to wrap a stole/scarf/shawl made with this Malabrigo yarn around my neck and shoulders.

Going back to Tobias and Antonio, I did not have that much time and therefore, did not spend a substantial amount of time with them.  That being said, they are some of the nicest yarn-folk I have met. The men behind Malabrigo  They are sweet, accommodating, kind and very focused on their customers and of course, their product quality.  I was told to caption their photo with “two pretty faces” but I think two good men is much more appropriate.  More on the sock yarn later this month.

On the second day of my trip I made some purchases (ehem, not all will be disclosed here).  To be able to knit on the plane on my way back home I also needed needles (I did not bring any with me!)  This is when I decided it was time to purchase my first pair of glass needles, with some trepidation – glass needles, what happens when they break!?  NOTE – They have a life-time warranty. :)

Mismatched circulars I ended up purchasing one of the simplest sets from Sheila & Michael Ernst; I selected the tips for my circulars and Michael connected them to the cord right then and there.  At $30 a pop I was still a little leery especially given my smooth relationship with Addi Turbos.  My new needles looked nice and channeled candy but how would it be to knit with them?

I cast on at the plane 15 minutes after we took off and I was happy!  The needles allowed the yarn to slide off easily without being too slippery, tips were pointy without being too sharp and my favorite, the transition from the needles to the cord was smooth like butter.  My Glass Needles Absolutely no catching, none.  Another positive, the cord is slightly thicker than what I had come to expect from my Addis making it better for the consistency of gauge and for using my circulars in place of straight needles.  Finally, the dreaded circular needle cord coil – the kind you would have to soak in hot water to get straight - is a none issue for the glass needles.

For me the only disconcerting issue was the fact that once in a while when the tip of one of my needles rubbed against the body of the other, the sound and the feel was similar to that of hitting a flint with a sharp object to start a fire.  That I did not like much though I must admit 20 minutes into my knitting that too became a non-issue.

I like my needles and probably would have gone for a fancier set had I known that I would enjoy working with them this much.  They are an acquired taste – especially given their price – but given that majority of them are a one of a kind art-work and come with life time warranties they are well worth it.

I have a couple of yarns that I would really like to share with you but I think for now it is good night for me.  Hope you are all well and knitting with a smile.