December 22, 2009

Santa, santa

I have found a good Santa Clause ornament.
Santa ornament 2009
It was on a pretty expensive side for its size, but we think it will make us remember that it was the year my daughter played "Little Star" for the kindergarten Nativity Play.

And, as a knitter, I couldn't resist to make this;
knit santa
He kind of looks like my ob/gyn doctor in the US. I thinks it's because he is wearing a mustache, not a beard.

First thing I made for my tree this year, though, was a pretty pom-pom Santa on an amigurumi book. I changed it to simplify the pattern a little so I can make it only the yarns I had in hand, and ended up...
Christmas pompom creature
on a creature like this. I don't think he looks like Santa, but really really like him.
I used a pom-pom maker from Clover (the 65mm & 85mm combo one). I wasn't a pom-pom supporter until I tried it. Now? I can't wait to make a new pom-pom (or two) for my daughter's pink hat which lost one because it was made too sloppy.

I profess my belief in Santa. Really. I believe that he exists and is giving away toys to children all over the world.
Or, why we adults keep on buying toys for children at this time of the year?

This year, my husband and I are getting a bicycle (blue, with Hello Kitty on it) for my daughter. We are having so much fun playing the roles of Santa's agent.

Merry Christmas, to y'all!

November 26, 2009

Finding Santa

I made it a promise to buy one Santa Clause ornament every year when we got our first Christmas tree (imitation) in the US. When we don't buy a tree, that is.
So far, I got
2004; a tree (~7 ft. tall, from Garden Ridge, which we said "good bye" to before moving back to Japan - it's not practical to have anything taller than my husband inside)
2005; a Santa (with cute eyes)
2006; a Santa (carrying winter sports gears)
2007; a Santa (standing in front of his house, from Santa's Workshop at Colorado)
2008; a tree (~5 ft. tall, from nearby home center)

This year is a Santa year. I visited some stores where they have Christmas trees, "box-full at 1,000 yen" kind of ornaments, colorful lights.... but found no singleton Santa. Not yet.

I will try a little harder, but, if I can't find any lone Santa in anytime soon, I'll make one. Why not? I am a knitter/crocheter.

November 13, 2009

impulse and planning

Recently, I finished two garments for my daughter.
rainbow jacket
Yarn; Omega Sinfonia, in various colors... please see my Ravelry project page
Needles; JP 5 bamboo circular, US 3 Knitpicks Harmony circular and 2 1/2 Knitpicks Harmony DPNs
School vest blocking
Pattern; my own, just plain knit-in-round vest.
Yarn; SKI yarn fingering, colorway 1786 - one of my mom's stash yarns, used only 75g for the vest, 20g for swach, which means I still have four balls (200g) of it
Needles; US 2 1/2 (for rib) and 3 (for body) KnitPicks Nickel-Plated circulars
Note; about the yarn... My husband cannot wipe off the image of "Chinese stir-fry veggie mix with Jew's ear mushroom" when he sees this color mix. I'd go with "trail mix with lots of dried fruits".

Each started with my sudden realization of the temperature outside. My daughter was going to feel cold if I didn't make these.

Today, the low dropped down to low-40F from mid-50F of last week's. The school vest had been finished in a week and blocked yesterday. Phew.

Yesterday, I went sit'n'knit to a nearby café with my daughter. My knitting friend on Ravelry was coming, too, but she had to cancel. So the "meeting" ended up in mother and daughter time, with cappuccino (for me) and iced cocoa (for my daughter), We had a lovely time, though. I worked on my husband's socks (almost black but so comfortable to work with) and my daughter's socks (another colorful project). My daughter drew some pictures (and gave one of those to the model - squishy bear in café), knit 10 stitches, and took a nap.

It was just me and my daughter this time, but I and Betsy of Kansai Knitters Meetup Group hope this grows as the "Kyoto branch" of our meetup group. The main meetups at Sept Mignon in Osaka on Saturdays doesn't always work for me, as my daughter's swimming class happens on Saturdays.
I could be an assistant organizer in Kyoto. It's a very small step, but my first one to follow the great people who works to spread the yarn/fiber love, like all the podcasters and event organizers.

Spread the love. I feel I'm on a mission.

October 31, 2009

eyeless fish


My Halloween post for 2009.

This semi-dry fish is popularly served for breakfast, or as salty treat in Japanese cuisine. We eat this as it is, head and bones and all, after lightly roasting it.
It's called mezashi (speared at eyes, literally) or maruboshi (dried whole, literally).
It is "dried sardine, held together by a bamboo skewer or string piercing the eye sockets" (by

It's just.. yummy.

Happy Halloween!

October 27, 2009

Mission; kotatsu

kotatsu completed
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

About 3 weeks ago, my daughter, born and spent her first 4 years of life in Texas, was watching TV and asked me, "Mom, what is this stuff?" On the screen was a kotatsu. We have one, but have not been using it as its original form - I mean, it was just a square coffee table for us these years.

I had thrown away both of kotatsu futons (shiki-futon and kake-futon, mattress and blanket, that is) before we move to Japan (yes, I took them to Texas). My daughter and I picked up a set (happened to be the most inexpensive one in the shopping catalogue - good eye, girl!) and it was delivered yesterday.
It's not really cold enough for a kotatsu yet, but we just HAVE to get it ready NOW.

This morning, I cleaned up the living room floor and got it. A basket of Unshu (Satsuma) oranges is essential. Lots of coloring and drawing, snacking, TV-watching, knitting, reading, card games and not-so-intended naps are going to happen here this winter.

October 23, 2009

Do (again, if you need) it right

I haven't finished any knitting project for a while.

I'm working on these;
impulsive rainbow back
My daughter's jacket/cardigan.
I'm using Omega Synfonia in my stash to use up most of them. It's a mercerized cotton yarn I bought at Hobby Lobby long ago, leftover from this colorful snake.
Ms. Slee and Choo-choo
I had such a fun time using this colorful yarns on various projects, but it's about time to say good-bye... I feel pretty bad to keep ten (or more?) partial balls of mercerized cotton. It's not that I don't like it, but.. you know.

My daughter LOVES colors. Rainbow colors. I hope this cardi/jacket wears more than one season. In fact, she grew one whole inch during two month in this summer. I am really trying hard, making the body long and all, but, now, I'm counting on the "grow" of the cardi itself. Oh, the god of gravity, please, please mercy me.

I did the body in one piece, split and joined at the shoulders. I picked up the sleeves, and working two sleeves one time on two circs.

Earl dark grey
My husband's socks, one done. I'm using Earl Grey by Yarn Harlot, and Patons Kroy sock yarn on Brittany 5 inch DPNs. This combo is so comfortable, so natural, that... I knit the foot too long and had to rip it back about 1.5 inches. I added another light grey yarn to make the toe thick and durable, as of my husband's request.

MiL's glove doin' it right
My mother in law's gloves. I will not really "finish" this project before she tries them on and make final adjustment on fingers (or palms, if needed). These are made for "a perfect fit". I am wondering if her hand is really this big, but I'll not make any speculation.

I made the second cuff almost to the bottom of the palm, and realized I counted wrong. It is "a twist every 5 rounds", but I made it every 4 rounds a few times. As a result, I had to choose between adding one more twist and go on or ripping it back to almost cast on edge and do it right. I, proudly, chose the latter. It's a Christmas present, so I still have time.

All these three project required some ripping and re-doing. I feel proud and really matured of myself, to have done so.

After finishing all these three, I'll cast on fingerless gloves for my sister in law. I think I found a perfect pattern for a mother of three who loves playing flute and wants a pair of fingerless gloves for driving hot summer days and chilly mornings.

October 09, 2009

Living with a girl

Here's my dughter's fluffy scarf, "huggie" towel, and a "tail" for her kindergarten bag.

all stars

Patterns; Noro Striped Scarf by Jared Flood, and Mitered Hanging Towel in Maxon-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Both are arranged a bit.
Yarn; Chaton (orange) and Chaton Print (mix) from Naska, 100% nylon
Needles; US 11 (8.0mm) plastic single points
Notes; Scarf is made 2 rows of orange and 4 rows of mixed colors, instead of 2 rows alternate colors of the original. Towel is made "top down", from handle to increased bottom, to use up all the yarn. The tail? It's just a piece of yarn, folded. It's just tied to her bag's shoulder strap.

We went to a small shopping mall to get my daughter's new pair of indoor shoes. I wanted to get a button for her sloppy lacy bolero, so we hit the craft store (Lupinus) just for a button. (I just realized I have forgotten to take a pic of the improved bolero. Ha!)
I wasn't going to see a yarn because I have enough (I'm tired to even think of it. Enough.) yarn for coming twenty years or so, but my daughter walked into the yarn aisle like a planned visit. ( That would tell something about my yarn habit.) I had to go with her. Before I say "oh, not today, you've got a runny nose and I'm not gonna....", she took a skein and cuddled it like a baby doll, put it on her cheek, saying "aaagh, this one is so soft! so fluffy!" (Well, she's speaking Japanese all the time these days. I'm a bit sad that she says she forgot how to speak English, but delighted that she says it's because speaking in Japanese with her friends is such a huge fun.)

I had to buy the skein. And a little more to make it work. I ended up buying three skeins of furry 100% nylon yarn.
Partly because the yarn was really soft to touch and thought it would be fun to deal with this kind of yarn (oh, I'm talking like a yarn snob) from time to time. But mainly because it was the only thing my daughter really wanted that day.
She is growing up. She is not a baby who would only accept anything her parents think good for her. She's got her own taste, and I sometimes get really really impressed how good it is.

It's still a little too warm for wearing a scarf. She just have "a tail" on her bag for now, and it helps her really well to touch it on the way to the kindergarten in the morning she's not so excited to go.
The towel doesn't work a bit for drying hands. I knew it. I was just afraid that she likes the feel of the scarf so much that she might secretly take it in her bed at night. I just had to make something which will not strangle her. It's beautifully working every time she or her buddy cuddly horse Mar-kun needs something soft on their cheek when they fall asleep.

And you know what? My husband liked to touch the scarf, too. Big guy apparently needs a little fluffiness, too.

September 30, 2009

On not using a dryer

We have a washing machine. But not a laundry dryer.
We have small ACs for our living/dining room and each of two bedrooms. And we turn them on only when we think we need to adjust the room temperature or humidity. OF COURSE we turn them off when we go out, even just for a grocery shopping. They are not a central AC for the whole house which keeps on working even while the house is empty and waiting for a new buyer.

Now, after staying in southeast Texas for 5 years, I know that would sound somewhat pre-historic or uncivilized for a lot of Americans. I understand that.
When we moved to the US, I learned it's not allowed to dry my laundry outside (like on the balcony) at our apartment. I learned we are basically only supposed to adjust the thermostat and toggle cool/warm switch on our AC, only from time to time. We bought a washer and a dryer at BEST BUY, and found out the temperature comfortable for both me (who like it warmer) and my husband (who like it cooler). We got used to it.

I have read about a Japanese lady who married to an American and was living in New Mexico (or Arizona. Somewhere in the Southwest.), who couldn't dare to use "excess and meaningless energy" for drying their laundry and tried drying bed linens in their backyard. I understood her way of thinking, but couldn't agree her with "Americans are wrong, Japanese are right about saving energy" kind of implication she was trying to make.

Yes, saving energy is very important and urgent issue for us all. I don't deny that. But, there are reasons for any "common" way of life. That Japanese lady finally admitted that not using a dryer makes bed sheets so hard (because of the hard water they have from the tap) almost unable to sleep on, and gave up. I really think it's necessary to use a dryer in snowy winter of Northern countries to keep the family healthy. I know for a fact that turning the AC off in southeast Texas in summer temperature (which starts in March and doesn't end even in October) can be a serious health threats for elders and infants.

In Japan, energy is expensive. We try to use less energy not because it saves the earth. We do it just to save money.
I have my September bill for electricity (charges for 8/11~9/9, the second most usage in this year) here. We used 372 kWh and owe 8,145 yen (about 90 US$) to them. I tried to figure out how much we would pay if we were in Texas, and visited Entergy web site. They have "A typical residential bill calculation, using 1000 kWh of electricity usage." Ha. We are not even on a same ground. (FYI, the model bill says the price is $86.47. Roughly speaking, the same cost for three times more usage.)

While thinking about this, my trusty washer told me the load is done with a lovely melody (I guess it's a phrase from some famous Classic music. Please don't ask me further.) I got my damp laundry out and brought them to the balcony, hung them on the clothes line (bar, actually) to make this scene;
laundry 10/1/09

We have restrictions for the laundry drying on the balcony in the apartment rules, not to let the laundries seen from outside nor to hang mattresses/rugs on the fence. Otherwise, we would buy one of these and hang our laundries as high as possible.
Like my husband's maternal grandmother (may her soul in peace), we like to hang our laundry as close as to the sun, "so it will dry quickly." My husband says she believed that the closer, the quicker.

Even though he laughs off her "not-so-scientific" reasoning, his laugh is a very warm one. We believe in the antiseptic power of the sunshine. The belief takes the form of a knowledge about ultraviolet, but I'd say it's a primitive awe we have to the sun. I think it's the way we worship the sun in everyday life.
The same kind of awe to the air itself can be the reason we turn off AC and let breezes in.

So, call us uncivilized. In the sense we haven't lost our indigenous, primitive eyes to the nature, we are.

September 09, 2009

Catching up

It's about time to be productive again. The high for today is expected to stay under 30 Celsius (=86 Fahrenheit). As my mom said yesterday (on text message! Hooray for her!), we have survived another summer.

I blogged on Aug.3rd that I got a lovely book "Amigurumi sweets"(changed the title translation). The taiyaki pattern was irresistible, so I just started right away at their home.
It took only a small piece (like 10g or so) of fingering-DK cotton yarn I had on hand and half a day. I gave it to my mother-in-law. She is a good crafter herself. She quilts and sews garments & toys mostly, but doesn't crochet or knit ( knows how to, though. ) We have our own niches, which is really, really good for us both, I guess. Although I am invading her field by making stuffs for my daughter myself, I'm not so comfortable like her with sewing. It's like I'm just learning a language to make myself useful, and she has grown up with that.

Now, about taiyaki. Traditionally, taiyaki is not white. It is made of flour-based batter, have red-bean paste (usually tsubu-an) inside and is cooked up on a mold shaped like fish. Naturally, tan-colored.
Recently, white variation is getting popular. The batter is made from tapioca flour, and cooks up really chewy.
White taiyaki
This is real white taiyaki. There's a shop near my daughter's kindergarten, and we gave it a try for the first time the other day.
It was good, but not so great like people's talking. For red bean paste filling, my husband and I like traditional flour batter far better. Custard cream or chocolate cream fillings, more and more often seen with flour-based ones, go better with white ones. May make a good breakfast. But as a snack, I prefer "normal" one.

Anyway, you see how good the crochet taiyaki pattern is. This is what I made (posted again).
white "taiyaki"

My sock knittings were on hold during the summer. I didn't have enough time nor mental energy to pick them up after spending a day with my daughter (we had a lot of fun every single day, for the record). Instead, I was making a few hand towels with cotton yarns which I didn't bother adding to my Ravelry stash page, because I was so sure I wasn't going use the same yarn again. It's not that they are horrible, just not so attractive. They are something that get mixed up and fades out in your memory. And you'll never miss them.

I am slowly making a come back to garment knitting these couple of weeks, at last.
I finished these;
blue sky socks
Pattern; Poseidon Socks by Elinor Brown
Yarn; KnitPicks Essential in Gulfstream (as suggested in the pattern)
Needles; US 1 1/2 circulars (two of them)
I knit them one at a time, because I didn't want to have two small leftover balls.

thick brown socks
Pattern; Whitby by Nancy Bush, in her great book Knitting on the Road.
Yarn; Bob Sleigh from a Japanese company no longer exists. Sports/DK weight.
Needles; KnitPicks Harmony DPN, size US 2 1/2 (2.75mm).
I started them as my Sockdown! challenge for June, but gave up finishing them before time limit. They knit fast once I resumed, the pattern is just right to have them around (not too boring, not too complicated). I tried adding wooly nylon in a non-matching color to the heel flap and the toe, and I am OK with the tweedy effect. The only problem with this pair is, they itch. I think I can cope with it by wearing them over another pair, by making these "room boots".

I also finished a scarf for my daughter, but I'll blog about it on my next post.

And now, my daughter is back in her kindergarten, I'm having an ICW, intensive cleaning week. It includes we give in and bring in a floor-to-ceiling shelf to the tatami room (no, it's not so classic-looking as the photo on Wikipedia page). We are waiting it to be delivered while I'm picking up every toys on the floor and throwing away some of my daughters "works" (after taking pictures of it), vacuuming the floor... you know, putting back our house in a state it's supposed to be all the summer.

Now on my needles are;
raspberry choco kitten swatch
Colette pullover for me. Pic is just a swatch. I started this project on March, and now the body is on hold before knitting sleeves and joined to make the yoke. It's a good bedroom knitting for me.

I also casted on a pair of gloves for my mother-in-law. Like this one;
twisted glove
These work for me so good, to put laundry on the line outside on the balcony in wintertime. I made them with KnitPicks Essential, which is machine washable. I'm using SockEase from Lion Brand, which also is machine washable, for MIL's. I got her handprint when we visited them in May. I'm using Brittany 5 inch DPNs for this project very comfortably. After trying magic loop and two-circs, I found out my favorite is DPNs. For now, at least.

After that, I'll start a pair of fingerless mitts for my sister-in-law.

After that, a pair of socks for my husband (very possibly Earl Grey by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) with the yarn my dear friend Janet sent me.

After that, well, maybe another pair of socks.

I think I have started counting down the days to Christmas already.

August 10, 2009

Gardening without a garden

baby tomato

This year, I got a pretty large plant pot, a bag of gardening soil, and a cherry tomato seedling from nearby home center. Later, I got a bag of fertilizer which says "for tomatoes", too.

Today, I harvested eight tomatoes as the last crop and cut down all the vines, packed them in a plastic bag and put out as garbage. The tree was tired and lost almost all the leaves. I could have saved several green fruits still on the vines by waiting a week or so more, but Typhoon No. 9 (No, our lovely Meteorological Agency doesn't name them. We just give them numbers. An international meeting give them Asian names, but we, ordinary Japanese never recognize a typhoon with name.) was coming closer - or so I figured that I didn't want to take a risk.
I explained my daughter that I was going to cut down the tomato tree while she was helping me harvesting. "No, I don't wanna say good-bye." "But, look, the leaves are almost gone. It's about time, honey."
She went inside. I was sure she was watching me using my pruning scissors, and lost her interest after a few minutes.

It's OK. What I have done today was an act of killing. It's not something she has to learn to do it herself yet.

We live in an apartment in the city. It's not completely unaffordable, but very expensive to have a "real" garden in my neighborhood. I dream of having apple trees or citrus trees that I can cook with their fruits in my own backyard. I set a table under the tree, sit and knit and sip iced tea from a tall glass.... Just a dream. Instead, I spread a rug on the veranda/balcony/whatever the word that describes my little outside space which hold clothesline and plant pots, sip lukewarm coffee from my mug. Sometimes I knit.
And think of the next plant or seed I get from the home center.

This summer, I got 209 cherry tomatoes from my tree. And thankfully killed it. The typhoon took the eastern-most course that we didn't have any strong wind. Just rain.

August 03, 2009


Now the rainy season is officially over. Summer. Is. Here.

My daughter and I spent 6 days at my husband's parents'. We had really good time. My husband (who couldn't make it this time due to business schedule) laughs at me, saying "you're more relaxed there than at your mom's!" He's got a point. At my mother's, I am supposed to take care of her. At in-law's, I can be one of mom-in-law's "kids to take care of," just one of helpers. At the age of 40, I'm praised when I do dishes, and I really feel good about it.

As a 40-yr old not a 5-yr old, though, I take pictures like this;
Garbera daisy?

Rose Mallow
for color inspirations.

On this trip, I took only Poseidon socks and some leftover organic cotton yarns from baby projects with me. At the bookstore where my daughter picked up a workbook about numbers (my sister in law bought it for her), I found a book about amigurumi deserts&cakes. The "Taiyaki" (red bean paste filled pancake shaped like a fish) pattern is superb. I just couldn't NOT making one like "white taiyaki" which is becoming popular recently.
white "taiyaki"
Mom-in-law liked it very much, so, naturally, it became hers. I hope it's good for her. At least, it's organic.

My daughter enjoyed VERY much staying at Gramma's. She played outside every day, played the piano her daddy first played 30 years ago, won climbing up on every lap but her great-gramma (who's 94 and has thinner thigh than my daughter) and her oldest cousin (who's 14 and a boy... he's a nice boy but, ohh, touchy, touchy age!) there. She watched all the video games her cousins play (which is surprisingly small part of their days). She helped her gramma washing all the plastic trays (in which sashimi came) for recycle. She enjoyed every minute of our stay, and at the same time, couldn't wait to go back home to see Daddy.

My husband's "welcome back home" went straight to our stomach;
Hubby's Chinese dinner
(You see my daughter's plate is almost empty?)
Hubby's Angel food cake
Yes, my daughter thinks it's very nice but somewhat takes it for granted that her dad bakes. Angel food cake from scratch.

How much spoiled are we?

July 24, 2009

beauty beuty

beauty beuty
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

I think I'm having a sort of whiplash (in Yarn Harlot's way of description).
I can't gather up enough mental energy (which is not so much) to knit a sock.

Instead, I'm eating tomatoes. Off the vines on my balcony, and even though I counted 119 so far from my crop, I'm buying bigger (means regular) ones at stores every week.

Since I learned that the cold of the fridge kills the sweetness of tomatoes (from Alton Brown, my master), I have been eating only the room temperature tomatoes happily. This summer, I eat my cherry tomatoes and "fresh from the farm" ones (which is not so hard to find in Kyoto) this way. But not always.
Did you know you can turn mediocre tomatoes to "fruits" kind? Try this;
1. Peel off the skin. Use hot water method or freezer method, whichever you like. I like hot water.
2. Cut them in quarters or leave them whole, and put in a container/bowl.
3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of honey per one tomato.
4. Put on the lid/plastic wrap and store it in the fridge, like, 3 hours or longer.
5. Voila! COLD and SWEET tomato.

And I found out tomatoes let me get enough energy to knit garter stitch baby projects.
baby booties
Pattern; Bootees by Elizabeth Zimmermann, in The Opinionated Knitter
Yarn; Ski Yarn Cocoty, colorway 3 for the body and 5 for the ties
Needles; KnitPicks Harmony 24 inch circulars, US 3

BSJ natural
Pattern; BSJ by Elizabeth Zimmerman, in The Opinionated Knitter
Yarn; Ski Yarn Cocoty, colorway 1, 3, 5
Needles; KnitPicks Harmony 24 inch circulars

The catch is, they have different recipients. I was not fast enough to make a set for each, so I kinda divided a set. Maybe I did it right, not to make them feel overwhelmed to receive a complete set of handknit garment from "just a mom of their child's classmate" - they both know how to knit, but not knitters, you know... They are not going to fully understand that they gave me a huge favor to let me knit something for their babies.

The cotton yarn I used is organic, and it was a joy to touch its mercerized (hey, I spelled this word correctly for the first time without dictionary!) smoothness. I love it. They come in small balls, which is very suitable for a baby project. I hope they keep this line in next summer, too.

I'll drop out of this month's SKA challenge. Although I don't feel too good to break this year's resolution, it's just getting too much right now. I'm just overwhelmed over 1000 unread posts. We are having a month's break in August anyway. I'll be back in September.

July 04, 2009

Summer is here.

Slows down blogging. Slows down knitting & crocheting. I just joined worldwide mom's band of "summer break, what the xxxx." My daughter's summer break is not here yet (Spring, or 1st term ends on July 16th), but I can feel IT already.

I have finished HÉLÈNE SOCKS;
Helene done
Yarn; Osaka TOA Prism light fingering (from a company long ago gone. one of the inheritance yarns)
Needles; US 1 (2.25 mm) Brittany 5 inches DPNs

The pattern is written for US 10 size, with sport weight yarn and US 3 needles.. To fit my feet, US 5 1/2, I decided to use fingering and finer needles. I thought 2.25 mm needles go better with this yarn, but in retrospect, I should have used 2.50 mm - finished socks are very, very tight on my feet (wearable, though).

Pattern includes beautiful, speaks-out-itself charts. After the first heel turn, I didn't need to reference the main chart. I could have start reading what I've made at much earlier point if I had tried to do so. I was too lazy, and ended up using more mental energy than I needed. Foolish me.

I used wooly nylon thread for reinforcing heels and toes for the first time. The hardest part was to find the right thread, which is not really "hard" once I figured out which thread I should get. Maybe the close second hardest was to find out the right color. Wooly nylon was sold at my trusty craft store (Yoshikawa @ Kyoto tower basement), in 50 zillion colors or so.
Brittany needles are not really famous for their sharpness - if I want sharp tips, I'd go Knitpicks Harmony or Options - but working on complicated traveling & cabled pattern or picking up the stitches on gussets with them were not so frustrating. I love their bare wood finish. I love their length. I always think of switching to 6 inch Knitpicks DPNs only when working on the first several rounds of gusset decrease, most of the time just think and keep on using Brittanys.

Now, I got...
BSJ organic cotton on the way
a BSJ with organic cotton yarn in my new knitting bag.

Friendship & love comes colorful
These are from my dear friend Janet in Texas. I can't believe we only saw each other in person just a few times - and I regret it. I was living so close to her home and her work. Again, I was lazy.
Our "visiting each other" happens now mostly on Flickr or on blogs, and e-mails. And, a little care package from time to time. It's sad we can't actually see each other often, but thinking of, finding goodies for, and sending packages to each other totally has another fun.
Her pictures on the blog and Flickr site always amazes me. I should learn more from her works; pay attention to lights and layouts when taking pictures, and consider well when choosing colors for projects.

When I saw her blog about getting new knitting bags, my heart pounded. She had told me she was waiting something for me to be delivered. Yeah, this beautiful green bag might be for me, oh, but... no, I shouldn't be greedy, oh, oh, ...
Big relief and joy it was, what I felt when I found the bag in her package.

Her love and care goes to my daughter, too.
Love comes in a blue box & a yellow box
When we opened her package, my daughter, delighted, used the new crayons from "Janet - uh, MISS Janet" to color her then-working drawing ("Mom and Dad and me going to the zoo") right there. My daughter loves drawing and painting. Now she has any color of crayons she wants, and has learned mixing colors when she paints. This shooting-star, rising-sun artist has got a power.

Her package gave me some firm strategy to wade on this summer. Macaroni cheese for lunch. Small knitting(socks?mittens?)/crocheting (how about granny squares?) while she paints, draws or plays at playgrounds. Glasses of tea and lemonade.

Happy Birthday, USA.

June 30, 2009

The last day for a challenge

I've been working on Hélène Socks by Tuulia Salmela these two month. It's a challenge, to say the least. I'm doing this for a May challenge at Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry, means, I cast on between 5/1/09 and 5/31/09, to complete adult size pair before 6/30/09 (all the date in EST).
The pattern is very intricate, and I had somewhat busy days. I'm having fun knitting them, but the progress is rather slow.

Now, I have only one toe to go and it's the last day. Can I make it? Or, do I want to make it in the first place?

I do. And yes, I can.

Gotta run.

June 09, 2009

10 %

On the second&last day of a weekend trip to onsen, in the big outside bath tub stretching out my arms, I had that usual mixed thoughts.  
  • It was a good trip - good food, nice room, fun family time together and quiet time alone.
  • Where did my sock knitting mojo go?  I ended up knitting 40 cm of garter stitch scarf.
  • It's OK. variegated + double stranded + garter stitch = therapeutic. Was true with cotton yarn.
  • Ah, good minimalism beauty.  Just me, and bath tub.  Even though it seems like a huge illusion that one can live in a room like ryokan (hotel), can I tidy up my house a little better?
  • Oh, I got to do a bigger laundry tomorrow.
  • Oh, big grocery shopping today.
  • Yeah, I want to try cooking pork like yesterday's dinner.  Just steamed on cabbage leaves?  Salt and, pepper?
  • Ah, foot bath.  Can I  have one at home?  Will a couple of ordinary pails work?
Mind bogglers. 

I love&enjoy staying at hotels, visiting and staying at families, seeing or eating local specialties, but that doesn't make me write "interested; travel" on my "profile" page.  I, basically, don't like traveling.  Travel itself is fun, but I usually overwhelmed by getting ready and wrapping up.
I have a love/hate feeling with those almost lifelessly tidied rooms.  I love them, but it reminds me that I am seriously challenged in keeping a tidy, clean house.  At home, I constantly step on laundries, catalogues and paper bags.  I am afraid my daughter has already picked up my bad habit because I constantly step on her toys, too.  I hate myself telling my daughter to watch her steps, instead of cleaning the floor.

What is my problem?  I do have a big clean-up day from time to time.  What happens is I get tired and throw out the work 50-to-80% completed.  It looks a little better, and I talk myself into being satisfied.  Then, the same "decay process" starts right after that.  I try to keep the stuff go back to where it belongs, but hey, who can do it perfectly?

While I was in the hot (really hot) tub, thinking about going home later in the day and feeling sort of depressed, I suddenly remembered what Brian Wansink said in his book, "Mindless Eating".

"People want to eat the same amount as the day before.  If you eat 30% more than the day before, you'll feel heavy. And you'll feel guilty.  If you eat 30% less, you notice it.  You'll feel hungry.  And want to eat more to compensate the loss.  When you want to achieve a success on diet, keep the change in less than 10%.  Doing so, you will not notice the hunger.  Eating better becomes your habit."
(No, it doesn't go exactly as this.  I don't remember word by word and I got that book from Audible that I can't reach it for reference so easily. )

My point is, I got an idea that this concept may be true to the endless household work as well as appetite.  Like belly fat, untidiness piles up day by day, without noticing that I'm a little lazier than yesterday.  Or, like eating only 1000 kcal a day, I'll notice how "too good" I am if I do a big clean-up one morning, that I'll spoil myself to say OK to the second DVD of the afternoon. 

Can I do a little, less than 10%, better/more housework every day?  

It may be my another clever excuse for not doing a big clean-up.  But I believe (hope, wish, whatever) it's worth trying.  Last night, I made a new file on Clover Diary.  It's titled "10%".  I'll keep track on my "plus" or "minus" of what I did outside everyday shopping, cooking, laundry.

Yesterday's "10%"; Getting flowers and fill abandoned empty pots.  Starting rug project on huge needles with used clothes.
Today's ; Cleaning the corner of bath room, to de-mold.  
Small step, but I'm going forward.

May 30, 2009

Too much

My daughter's kindergarten was closed only on Friday and Monday, and her swimming club was closed for a week that she missed her class on Saturday.
Just that, and I feel I'm still dealing with the messed-up schedule.  I'm not, but I feel I can't keep up with the everyday stuff like cooking, bathing my daughter, or knitting.

I doubt the culprit is this;
Helene on the way
Hélène Socks by Tuulia Salmela.
I chose this pattern for my Ravelry Sock Knitters Anonymous Group's Sockdown! challenge this month, "Cables/Twisted Stitches (or Anne Hanson or Mystery Sock designed by Yarnissima)."  This pattern was sitting on the top of my queue for more than a year and was crying out to be materialized.
It is written for size large using sport weight yarn.  I have tons of fingering weight but not any sport weight in solid color.  I thought, maybe using fingering makes a pair that fits my US 5 1/2 feet without changing stitch counts.  The yarn I picked up is on a thinner side of fingering, so I decided to go with US 1 (2.25 mm) DPN.  

My plan worked out OK.  It's a tight fit but wearable, the wooly nylon thread I added on the heel and toe doesn't show up at all, and above all, Austrian cable is beautiful.
But, as I was afraid, it's a slow going project.  After turning the heel, I got confident with the main cable pattern - until that, I needed to look up the chart constantly.  My eyes get tired, my head pounds the next morning if I knit it more than one hour in my bed because I can't figure out the best position.
I have started the second sock immediately after I finish the first on 24th.  I am more relaxed now, but still, I need some concentration that I don't want right now.

Two days ago, when I was putting my daughter's hand towel on clothespins to dry, I realized I was touching the stuff I need.  Cotton comfort.  
Yeah, I broke the promise to myself not to buy any more yarn.  I got some cotton yarn at Masuzakiya.  They are there, at LYS, cotton yarn, that is.  When I whined how it's hard to find cotton yarn last fall, I had forgotten how seasonal Japanese yarn sales are.  They sell "summer yarn" only from spring to summer.

I knit up one Mitered Hand Towel for me in the evening.  And started Moss Grid Hand Towels with a variegated yarn, but found out on the second row of the moss grid part that the color change is not suitable for the charming textured pattern.  I just ripped those two rows and knit stockinette all across but the moss stitch edges.  It looks like a huge swatch now, but I like it.  I just knit, knit on the right side, and purl, purl on the other side.  I feel good.  I'm so glad that I know how to put down a heavy load, even it's only knitting-wise.  Was it Elizabeth Zimmermann who said "you don't need to knit if it's not fun for you"?  Simple, but clever word.

I still love Hélène Socks, of course.  After one or two more cotton hand towels, I am sure I'll be ready to finish them.

May 22, 2009


Kyoto city now has it's first swine flu (novel H1N1 flu, officially?) case.  A boy (10), who has not been out of the city for more than a week, was confirmed to have it.  That means, the virus is here in Kyoto area for a while.  Now all the high schools in the city, along with some elementary schools and kindergartens, which includes the one my daughter goes, are closed for one week.  We have talked about the possibility several times with her since the epidemic in North America hit the news.  I am not panicked, nor my daughter.  Just a little disappointed not to see her friends, and a little excited to have more TV time.

I just hope a quick recovery of the boy.  New strain or not, influenza is a nasty disease.

Officials recommend using use-it & toss-it type face masks when going out.  HA!  They're sold out.  It's OK.  I've made several of this.
Baah Baah mask

It's made of soft cotton double gauze.  They say it's not effective to catch sneezes and coughs, just works to some degree to prevent touching nose/mouth with unwashed hands.  I don't really care how much it works.  I simply like the idea of  having cute pink sheep close to me.
Tell the truth, I never liked and still don't wearing these kind of masks.  My daughter tried it, like, for 10 seconds and gave it away to her "friends" (toys, stuffed animals, dollies). 
Well, we'll just wash our hands more often.

Today, it's raining outside.  This maybe good for the purpose of restricting young children from going out & spread the virus, and is a bad, bad news to mothers who have over-energized and bored school-goers.

We (my daughter and I) are planning a little baking.  I am planning a little organizing on toys, too, but my daughter is not so keen on it.  Anyway, it's not so bad to have more mother-and-daughter time (yeah, it's a new mantra for me now).


May 20, 2009

Losing and keeping

gwinko young leaves

Some 10 years ago. It was when my grandmother was still active enough to go to a nearby Shinto shrine to meet her friends and do some exercise every morning.  She saw ginkgo trees over there having lots of nuts and thought it's a shame not to share them with families.
There're mixed info about what she actually did.  I heard she picked up some nuts right there (carefully, as the fruits is stinky and make your skin itchy, develop rash for a lot of people), cleaned them.  My mom says she just picked up some already cleaned, ready-to-roast nuts at store.  Anyway, she sent some nuts to me via my mom.  Mom ate them all.  I planted some, and one of them grew into a pretty pretty tree.

When we moved to the US, I sent the pot to my brother.  The tree was just 30 cm or so tall.  After 5 years, when we moved back to Kyoto, he sent it back to me.  It's now as tall as my husband (he is as tall as Wandy Rodoriguez, fellow Astros fans.)

Here's the conversation on the phone between my bro and transport company guy.
Bro; ... and here's one more. A pot. Pretty big, planting pot.
Trp; Is it made of clay or plastic?
Bro; Plastic.
Trp; (relieved) Ok. No problem.
Bro; Except it's taller than me...
Trp; Huh? ....  Does it have any PLANT in it?
Bro; Sorry, I should have said so.
They are professional, so they just brought it to us overnight (as expected, it's just 100 km or 60-some miles) without farther whining, along with a piece of shamisen and seven boxes full of photo albums and books.

The tree is here.  Every time I see it, I think of my grandmother who passed away last year.  She is gone, but here I am, thinking of her.  And talking about her.

It hasn't produced any fruits yet.  I hope it's not because the tree is still young, but because it's a male.  I really hope so.  I love eating ginkgo nuts, but the smell of the fruits... not really.  Especially when it's 2.5 meter (~8 ft)  from our dining table.

I found a crochet pattern of Ginkgo leaf.  I think I can make some in several shades of pretty green,  golden yellow, and maybe in reddish brown, too.  We can't live forever, and these days, I feel it's OK as that's how the things go.

May 12, 2009

Planning again.

quilt Sashiko baby blanket
I can't believe it's five years since I made this.

I don't quilt often.  It's like scrapbooking for me; I don't enjoy it as a crafty hobby, but do it as a very satisfying (when done) chore.  When there're ashamedly huge amount of pictures to be sorted, I just put them in albums.  No fancy stickers nor cutting into cloud-shape/heart-shape the pics.  When there're enough amount of worn-out clothes and old sheets, I just cut them roughly to reduce the amount.  And when there're enough amount of usable fabrics, I start thinking of cut them into squares or strips and put them together.  No new fabrics.

This, baby blanket, is made from old bed sheet.  I just couldn't throw it away when we moved from Kyoto to Texas, so I tucked it in my "craft" bin and brought it overseas.  Finally when we thought it's OK to feel happy and get prepared to welcome our baby (it happened rather slowly, cautiously, after several years of unsuccessful infertility treatment, and, with our scientific but superstitious Japanese mind, we'd been telling ourselves not to disappointed if, when, something goes terribly wrong) , it was there.  I folded it in half inside out to get smoother surfaces, sandwiched a thin batting and just machine-stitched along the edges.  To put all the layers together, I needed some more stitching.
quilt Sashiko baby blanket detail
This is what I did.  Sashiko.  
The pattern is Asa no ha (hemp leaves), which is traditionally used for baby clothes, because hemp grows very fast, and also because it (the pattern, rather than hemp itself, I guess) is considered to have a magical power to fight against evils.  

These days, I dream of sashiko project a lot.  Maybe the warm, a bit too warm for wool, weather makes me think about cotton.  Or because I saw Pomatomus a lot on Sock Knitters Anonymous group and can't get Seigaiha pattern out of my mind.

I believe sashiko technique can be used to make an afghan square.  How about a fingering-weight stash busting project?  A tube, set flat with Sashiko pattern stitches with contrasting color to make an 8-in square.  Hmmm.  

April 24, 2009

Turn phobia to jag

sewing jag
Sorry for the quality.  Cell phone doesn't make better picture.

I didn't like Home Economics class.  I hated it.  Why does this lady talks forever about these boring stuff which my mom could teach in 5 minutes/day?  Why do I have to make this bag (pajamas, skirt, or stupid origami for "children") ?  ... My thought was filled with blank "letmego letmego letmego" and "ring,chime,ring,chime,ring,chime..." whole 45 or 50 minutes.
Knit and crochet wasn't so exciting for me those days, neither.

When I was going to get a job, and got one and was on it, I wasn't satisfied.  I was paid well (not a fortune, but economy wasn't good then, and I was just a rookie technician who knows nothing about her job but too proud to admit it), my co-workers and boss were nice people, I was learning a lot from my job.  I couldn't hope more than I had then. Still, I felt like I was selling my time just for money, like I got dirty. I thought and thought why I wasn't satisfied, and found a rough conclusion.
I didn't want to work for "somebody I don't know".

I was so lucky that my then-boyfriend (now-husband) got a job soon after I got enough money to repay my student loan (scholarship? just a debt) and didn't need to work full time anymore.  I got a part-time job.  Really exciting job.  

But I got aware that nothing thrills me more than domestic, kinda old fashioned house works. Or some part of those.  I am not so excited to do laundry.  I am not a tidy homemaker.  I just love to cook, and of course, to knit for my family.  Sewing remained to be a fearful enemy for me.  I could fix buttons. Period.

This spring, before my daughter starts kindergarten, I decided to make her drawstring bags for bento box.  There was a little pressure for it.  There are kindergartens who demand mothers to make all children's "goods" by themselves, saying nothing is better than handmade (controversial, huh?).  My daughter's doesn't say like that, we can buy everything she needs.  But, I wanted to make some for her.  We chose fabric together, and little by little, I got confident.  My mom guided me through (she used to sew from her dad's underwear to our dress). I made a smaller bag for a plastic cup.  I made two smocks.  I made a bag with drawstring top for closure.

Now?  I am planning to make pajamas.  After one or two more smocks.

April 15, 2009

Drop off, pick up, put down

My daughter just started her first year in kindergarten (she'll be attending there for 2 years).  There's another child, a boy, who started this year, too, but everyone else in her class has been taking a 3-year course since last April.  We all talk that young children are more flexible in mind, easier to adjust to a new group than adults.. but at the same time, we know from our own experience that children can be very cruel and exclusive.  How much can a mother be worried?  

She is doing good so far.  I am sure the years (I almost wrote days.  No.  Nearly three years.) she spent at KinderCare Learning Center did very good for her and me.  I know I should just say goodbye and go as soon as she's in her teacher's hand.  There's no need to worry even if she doesn't look so happy at the school gate.  The teachers are professionals.  The class is small enough.  She's still on the way of catching up on Japanese language and everything ("common sense", so to say?), but has no problem communicating with others.  They are starting the curriculum slowly, by letting the children stay only for the morning this week.  She complains she wanted to play more, doesn't want to leave.  My morning, my precious time alone in the house just passes by doing laundry, talking with my husband (who's right now in the USA on business) on Skype, and fixing lunch.   Next week, they will stay longer and start having lunch at classroom.  She can't wait to bring her bento box. 

But anyway, she comes home tired every day.  Hungry and tired.  
After the lunch, we still have time to do everyday-before-kindergarten-days stuff, like going to grocery shopping together (and say hi to cashier lady) or playing at nearby playpark just by herself (while I'm on the bench, knitting) or watch her favorite TV show on HD recorder (while I'm on my MacBook, or knit), or even paint at balcony (for cleaning-up reasons.  I'm sitting beside her, knitting).  
Or, she needs a nap (usually, while I'm in the kitchen, fixing dinner.  She just collapses on the comfort chair).  
Or, she wants to work on her coloring book with me ("Please do not sew or knit, MOM!").
And when she goes to bed, it's our bed, not her own Dora-filled one.  She told me the other day, that she wants to sleep between Daddy and Mommy, every night.  (My husband groans.  4-yr old girl sleeping with her parents is not uncommon - it's our culture.   It's the sleep he is sure to lose, feeling too nervous if he might accidentally crush his little girl.  And think of those pain on the rib cage by the kicking that little girl makes in her shallow sleep.)

Although it looks my knitting time increases as my little girl grows up, I'm not making a lot of progress on my projects so far this week.  I'm constantly picking them up, and putting them down after a row or two when she talks to me.  And you know, finding miss-crossed cables 12 rows below (happened three times).
After she goes sleep?  I just collapse beside her.  When I find myself awake, I'm correcting that mistakes 12 rows below. Or like now, blogging/twittering.  I should knit instead.  Oh, yeah.

April 11, 2009

knit-to-fit gloves - fits!!

knit-to-fit gloves_fits!!
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

My daughter loves swings. She wants to grab the chains really well even on a cloudy, windy day because she now is hooked on standing up on a swing (unlike in the US, swings in Japanese playparks are made of hard plastics or woods, not a rubber piece. Standing up on it is pretty safe even for a 4-yr old.).
Thus, a pair of gloves.

Patterns; Graph 84 in Latvian MIttens by Lizbeth Upitis
Yarns; KnitPicks Essential (colorway; Blue Violet Multi and Gulfstream), La Primera Junmou Chu-boso (pink, colorway; 13) and Ski Yarn Fingering (colorway; 1002 - white and 1003 - black)
Needles; KnitPicks nickel plated circulars, US 0 (2.0 mm)

Latvian Mittens book is her favorite bedtime book now. She looks at every single picture in the centerfold (not folded, actually.... how can I describe it? ), talks about what to "make for mom" next, like, for my birthday or for Christmas. In her imagination, she can make a pair of mittens in five minutes or so. Or turn any pattern into "a jacket." I might be seeing a budding great knit designer.
Anyway. She wanted this pattern. In blue (original was white, with orange-ish red and green as contrast colors). I just gathered bits and pieces from my stash, making sure she likes this blue-violet variegated.

I wanted to make them fit well. I know. She will outgrow them in a flash. I'll have to fix (at least) the finger length before the first cold wind blows this autumn. Or make a new pair.

I made thumbs like fingerless mitts I made for my sister and my aunt this winter. Because it's the way I remember now by heart, and I can make them without left/right, to make it easier for my daughter to put on.

I finished them in the morning of the first warm day in this spring. It looks the weather is just getting warmer every day. My daughter wore them the day they're finished. Just one day, but it's the reward just enough for a knitting mom.

April 05, 2009

Sock sweater

This month's Sockdown! challenge is about "underappreciated" patterns. (And knee-highs.)  I can't help downloading patterns after patterns the members chose for their challenge. 

But at the same time, I know it's impossible to knit all of them and wear them.  I already have more than 150 sock patterns as pdf.  And the patterns in the books I have in my bookshelf.
I asked myself if I am OK with wearing mismatch socks.  That will half the work.  But still, it's far too much than I want to do.  Besides, I am not OK with wearing mismatch socks.

What if I knit just the legs?  Leg/arm warmers?  More than 150 pairs?  NO.

What if I knit just one leg?  Mismatched leg/arm warmers?  About 80 pairs-worth?  NO.

What if I connect them?  Sampler tube scarf?  Hm, not bad, except it takes forever.  Maybe as leftover sock yarn project #1.   

What if I knit a big tube, for a sweater?  Connecting panels of each sock?  I have tons of fingering yarns anyway. (If I have to, I'll stand corrected.  Not "tons".  "Pounds" just doesn't sound a lot.... or have I lost the sense already?)  Hm.  I can make a sock sampler sweater.  Sounds good.  Although I am not fond of lace socks on my feet,  I am completely OK with a panel or two on my sweater.  I am going to make a huge amount of planning, but, that's what I will need to do before starting a big project without buying any yarns, anyway.  
I can still knit socks, from the patterns which have to be socks.  Like Cat Bordhi's uniquely constructed ones

Well, first, I'll finish sweater WIPs.  ColetteLeavened Raglan, Watermelon Cardigan.  Big planner, I am.

April 03, 2009

I am not.

I took a quiz about knitting addiction.  Here's the result.

You scored only 47%. Either you are a beginning knitter, or you just don't have an addictive personality. If your family accuses you of addiction they are insane. In fact, you are so non-addicted, I'm surprised you took this test!

Ok.  I'm NOT addicted.  Still my husband will say I'm a patient of incurable disease.  I'd say incurable, but coexist-able.  Or chronic.  Yeah, I'm old enough to have one or two chronic diseases.

April 02, 2009

No knitting

I took my daughter to a local amusement park. I decided not to take any knitting project today. When I told so to her, my little knitter disagreed with me, saying "Just in case,mom." And put her coloring book and crayons in her bag. I finally put my glove project in my all-in bag but didn't reach for it all day (I'm in the train on the way home right now.)
I don't mean I never thought of knitting. Like gelato cone in the pic. Great design for socks, isn't it?

March 25, 2009

Spend just to satisfy myself

I have been thinking a lot about my stash these days.

Its sheer volume is overwhelming and almost embarrassing.  I know there are a lot of mega-stasher out there in the knitting world, but, thinking about the size of my house and the fact I'm not making any money with knitting, my stash is just too much bigger than me.  I should not be ashamed of, though, because it's not a selfish stash.

Those yarns I salvaged from my mother's house was meant to be something for the families.  Inheriting her yarns means I am taking over her position as "family knitter."  Now I got a good excuse to knit more - it's something I can be happy about.
I think now I knit somewhat like knitters of years ago; Knit with what you have in your hand.  Years ago, before internet yarn shopping, before LYS, knitters depended on local yarn or what they get from agents.  They knit what they need to, adding a little bits and pieces of fun here and there.  Labor knitters had less fun.  
Now I'm a family knitter of modern age.  I can knit guernsey or Nordic colorwork, even lace.  I can knit in any design my daughter likes.  There's no limit by tradition, age, social position on designs.  I am FREE.  I'm only limited by the yarn I have.  Gauge issue have to be solved by double-, triple-, or even quadruple-stranding and choosing one or two size larger/smaller, but those are what I'm always doing anyway.

But still, from time to time, I feel "I gotta buy yarn".  I'm addicted to knitting, crocheting, and buying yarns.
My solution for it is, to buy yarns for my friends.  And for a single, small project as "vent" knitting.  Like buying just two skeins of Noro Silk Garden for a scarf.

I found out another solution just today.  I have never bought on-line patterns (download & pay-pal kinda stuff) before.  I think I can replace yarn-buying with pattern-buying.  Not started yet, but I have a vague feeling this can be dangerous.  Unlike yarns, pdf files doesn't require any storage space.  

March 24, 2009

Challenge and reward

Challenge Socks done
Pattern; Clematis Vine in New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One by Cat Bordhi
Yarn; La Primera Junmou Chu-boso, color 13 (pink) 13g, La Primera Wool Multi Color Chu-boso color 105 (pink-orange-purple multi) 34g, Kanebo Cattleya color 201(white) 40g  - 40g of MC (white) and total 47g of CC (pink & multi)
Needles; US 1 1/2 (2.50mm) Brittany 5 inch DPN, set of five and KnitPicks nickel 24 inch circular

This is my Sock Knitters Anonymous Group Sockdown! challenge for March.  Challenge, it was.  I had to carry the charts and instructions everywhere I go.  I didn't imagine I would say "oh, it's nothing - just K1-K1 stripe with two colors!" 

I'm sure it's a gauge issue, but my socks have extra room (more like extra suite rooms) at heels.  I should have stop increasing for the heels two or three stripes earlier, to make gusset shorter and fit a little more better.  I'm OK with this pair, though, because it's my bedroom socks to wear over another pair.  I love these colors.  Original pair in the book used orange and blue yarn, stunning beauty of autumn blue sky and leaves just starting to change their colors.  Mine is meant to be more like dreaming spring flower garden (too girly?).  I am very proud of myself that I did it and did it from my stash - "leftover" stash, that is.  All the skeins were partial at the beginning.  I didn't have to buy any to finish.  

On the first sock, I read the instruction wrong and made only one round of CC stockinette after the picot row.  I wondered why the cuff rolls up so bad, and crochet SC one round to keep it from showing the gut.  It worked, and I somewhat proudly even took a picture of it, and wondered again, why THAT Cat Bordhi publish such pattern.  I read it again, and found "inch" after "k1" at the cuff instruction.  I deeply regretted while I re-do the hem the right way, not to have been more careful.
The second sock was on hold for days after finishing the toes.  
My daughter had lost Gaspard and I promised her to make the identical doll again, and the demand was enough to wake me up from ignorance (not really ignoring, but y'all know what I mean).
Gaspard new eyes 
After Gaspard, I was all obsessed to make Penelope and her doll Doudou completed with the carry basket for him. 
And I had to finish something for a brand-new big sister of my friend's new baby (Welcome to the world, Ahren Kazuma!).
Lil green cat
Of course, my daughter had to have one for herself.
Lil cat black sitting
Those amigurumi craze made the girls (including the one in myself) really happy, but took longer than I expected.

My mother went home the day before I finished the socks.  I helped her to leave the hospital, do the filling-an-empty-fridge-and-an-empty-pantry shopping with her.  My daughter and I stayed for two nights with her to fill her emptiness a little more  and help her go back in the action (meaning let her cook for us).
I finished the Clematis socks at her home, actually. (It's why the lighting was so bad and the color of the carpet is different.)

I am not so confident about consuming the now humongous stash of mine in my lifetime.  The final (big) box filled with Mom's yarns arrives on Friday.  There are acrylics in worsted and fingering weight, and beautiful wools in rainbow colors.  I am thinking of a log cabin acrylic afghan/rug/whatever and a few wool vests for my daughter to wear under her Kindergarten uniform bolero.
I totally agree with "Life is too short to knit with bad yarns".  Looks like my criteria for "bad yarn" leaves very few yarns in that category.  Acrylics has its own niche.

March 18, 2009

It's all Greek to me

My mom's house is anything but (edited; more like "nowhere near") perfect, but now a couple truck-full lighter than it used to be.  And getting ready for her to come home.  Cleaning up and remodel still on the way (long way, that is), but anyway, Mom herself is ready to back in action.

I was helping clean-up guys at her house and found some more yarn in oshi-ire, which I blogged right from the scene and forgot a picture from too much excitement.
This is the Greek one.  Grey, maybe a little finer than worsted, 2-ply, ....... beautiful yarn.  20 skeins of them.  HEAVENLY, isn't it?

Greek label
This is the label.  Literally, All Greek.
But I think I can find all the information I need. 
Recommended needle size; 4-4.5 mm or 4.5mm crochet hook
One skein has 100 grams.  Length is not provided.  Hand wash warm.  And it must be 100% wool, because I found the words "Pure laine vierge" on the front side of the label.

Of course, I can ask for help on Ravelry to hellas, Greek Knitters Group.  Still, a little detective work first does no harm.  Woo, it's fun.

Other than this, there were four more big paper bags of yarn.  I didn't open them all, but looked like all Japanese yarn (old, or vintage?)  This weekend, I'll help Mom at home to settle, and inspect those yarns together.   Yes, I'm really lucky to have this kind of stuff in common with her.  

March 17, 2009

Should have known

Today, I am at Mom's house for cleaning. Y'all know what I found here? More yarn. Of course. One of them is from Greece.

March 11, 2009

40 years ago

On March 11th, 40 years ago, it snowed in Osaka.

I don't know if I like or dislike more if I were not born on a snowy day.  My feelings to snow is "normal" as a person who was born in a place where she has just one or two snow every winter - a child in me gets verrry excited, and an adult in me, not so much.

Anyway, I love snowflake pattern.  Especially now I'm pretty confident about stranded knitting.

Turning to 40 is - not so exciting, in any way.  It's not good nor bad.  It's just another day.  And I love it.

March 06, 2009

The busier I am, the more I knit (and crochet).

I haven't blogged about my FOs for a while.  I feel I'm behind of everything and still putting off everything.  I'm knitting all the time and still complaining I'm not knitting enough.

Here are my FOs done in these two month or so..

for Junko
Hat from Pea pod baby set and EZ February Baby Sweater on two needles.  I knit it with a  circular, though.

pea pod hat #2
Another hat, 
baby project II green
and another baby sweater for another recipient.

Fishhead decoration for Setsubun (it's supposed to be a real grilled iwashi head, but we ate fish the day before and I didn't save a head.)  

To go done
A pair of socks for my daughter.  It's just an everyday knit, y'all know. No frill, st-st sock with Yarnharlot's recipe.

Mitred Hand Towel trinity
Mitred Hand Towel stripy
Mitered Hand Towels with CotLin.  First three are for my daughter to use at her kindergarten.  Striped one is for my mother to use at her hospital.  (To my friends who's kindly thinking of her, thank you, she is fully recovered.  She could go back home two weeks ago, but for the sake of family's peace of mind, is still staying at a medical facility while her house remodel is going on. )

A baby sweater for my daughter's best friend, Markun the horse.  Another EZ baby sweater on circ.  I had had the pattern completely in mind when I made this one.  

Warm me up on me
Kay's Tess D’Urbervilles Shawl with double stranded Nikke Woolland 7.  Warm, and not scratchy at all.  My daughter wears it over her half-sleeve shirts and doesn't give it back to me.  Do I have to make another? mmm. 

Gaspard II
Gaspard II.  Please don't go anywhere anymore. Please.

And, I am participating Sockdown challenge with Sock Knitters Anonymous Group on Ravelry three month in a row now.
for January (Beaded Socks or Socks from a pattern from an online magazine or Mystery Sock, designed by SKA mod Emmie), I knit Clover by Kate Blackburn.Clover SKA non-flash
The yarn is KnitPicks Essential, colorway is pine.  This pair was adopted by my cousin and she loves it.

For February(Socks for a Cause or Gigi Silva or Entrelac plus surprise designer Chrissy Gardiner), I knit Eleanor by Monkey Toes (Gigi Silva), with Zitron Trekking (XXL) 107.
SKAFab Eleanor
The yarn was a present from Janet.  February challenge theme included "socks for cause", so I am going to add $20 (unused yarn budget) to my donation I'm going to make on July.  It's going to UNICEF, for we are thankful to have a healthy child in a peaceful community. 
I love the color of the yarn flew through my fingers. Pink, red, greens in different shades... so "spring".   I was amused to hear my husband say "oh, autumn color socks, aren't they?"

March challenge is Lace Socks or Cat Bordhi or Mystery Sock designed by Kristi Schueler.  I had long wanted to knit Clematis Vine in New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One. 
Mine started
SKAMAR09 on the way
well.  But I almost freaked out and frogged after about half the increase is done, seeing my sock "unusually short and fat".  I just didn't want to frog a whole day's worth of stranded knitting, so read through the pattern again, calculated again, and then I had an epiphany.  It is Cat Bordhi's pattern, my goodness.  Of course it looks unusual.  It IS unusual.  So I went on.
SKAMAR09 after the heel turned, in
It fits.  Heel edge is wonky, but it's because of a wrong choice of needles.  5 inch Brittany DPNs are a little too short to keep all the heel stitches.  I'll switch to 6 inch KnitPicks Harmony DPNs around the widest part on the second sock.

Anyway, I'm happy knitting.
I have some sewing on my to-do list this month (scared) to get my daughter ready for kindergarten, so my knitting has to be set aside to make times for it.  But, there are some added knitting time.  My husband had set out for his 7-weeks business trip to the USA this morning. - more flexible time schedule.  I'll visit my mom at the hospital a little more often now that my sister needs more time at and around her home.  - more time on the train and some sitting time with her.

According to my husband, I am an addict.  He may be right.