February 28, 2009


Most of my inherited yarns don't have any yardage info on the label, or don't have any label at the first place.  It might be the time I get a yardage meter, but I can't find it anywhere inside Japan yet, in person nor online.  I looked around fishing shops, too.  No luck.  I thought about buying one from Nancy's Knit Knacks or Paradise Fibers, but got a second thought.

I, can't buy any yarn.  Not for now that I got six skeins of sock yarn from Jimmy Beans Wool along with Norah Gaughan booklets.  Oh, let me make an excuse - these are early birthday present for myself, and I ordered it before I got Mom's yarns. 
Anyway, now that I can't buy any yarns, I just have to order just one single yardage meter overseas.  It is going to make me sad to ignore the goodies and all (read as "yarn").  I don't want to be sad.

Next thing I thought was to make one by myself.  I found a good instruction.  I seriously am thinking of it, but looks like it's going to take a while to gather up what I need.

So, I turned to a simple physics and math.  I measured out 10 meters of fingering yarn and put it on a kitchen scale.  It comes back and forth between 2 and 3 grams, so I'll call it 2.5 grams. That means, 100grams of that yarn goes 400 meters.  Not bad for an estimate, because the label says "100g = 420 m". 

I'll get a small and precise scale.  That will be way versatile than a yardage meter.
Did I ever mention I am Alton Brown fan?  Yeah, I hate a unitasker.

February 23, 2009

Making errors

In the last post, I wrote my mother "doesn't care" about discoloration of the angora yarn.  What I really meant was,  that she "doesn't mind" it.  

I'm not a native English speaker.  After those many years of English classes at schools and 5 years in The Woodlands, I'm not scared of being spoken in English.  I can buy things (mostly yarns and knitting books) online/in person in English with no problem.  Still, I feel I'm making improper, if not totally wrong, choice of words all the time.
I don't feel good about it, but I don't care.

On Ravelry, I see a lot of Japanese members make a statement that they are not good at English, being sorry for their poor English, blah, blah, blah. 
I was like that, too, in my first month or two in the USA.  Now I force myself not to be apologetic about my English skills.  That doesn't make any good.  If the reader of my comment and this blog or the person I'm talking with finds out any incorrect/wrong choice of words, phrases etc., they will help me to make my point clear if they really want to talk with me.  Or so I believe.  I don't want to waste my time and their precious time in an empty (and often poor) apology.  I don't want to become an expert of saying "I'm sorry".  I want to become good at making myself understood in English.
Everybody knows that there are a lot of people whose first language is not English.  English speakers are not mean nor narrow-minded.  Imperfect English is OK.  Wrong English makes yourself misunderstood, and that's it.  In many cases, you can correct the misunderstanding later if you don't give up making yourself understood and learn to speak better.  Knitting and speaking English looks similar, thinking of that.  Knitting is easier because you can frog a whole project and make a fresh start.  

I joined Knitters in Japan group in Ravelry because I need knitting friends I can talk with about Japanese yarns and all.
I don't participate in the Japanese Knitters Ravelry group, where they communicate only in Japanese.  Not for now.  Because I feel more comfortable in English than in Japanese when it comes to knitting.   And because I'm a snobby, stubborn little girl who's scared of being told so in her first language.

Blogging and Twittering in English takes more time than in Japanese to me, of course, but I enjoy it more.  Maybe it's because being aware of speaking imperfectly makes me feel easier to admit my fault in English.  Perhaps English speaking O'Chica is a better person than Japanese speaking O'Chica. 

February 19, 2009

The way I came, the way I go, and after that

This is the 100th post on this blog, according to Blogger Dashboard.
Thank you, my friends, to give me your time reading this and commenting on this. I love you.

To celebrate a milestone (sort of), I'll post about this;
Angora, angora
These boxes were on top of a cabinet in Mom's house. A 10-ball box and three new ball of 90% wool (70% angora), 10% nylon yarn and a mini-stole in progress. Apparently, there were 15 balls and one and a half turned to this cleverly designed piece. The pattern used was in the box, too, but it is modified to simplify and show off the beauty of this yarn.
lacy angora shawl detail
In a sense, I was well bribed with this to adopt her whole stash.

Mom started this project for her mother (my grandma) more than 20 years ago, without telling her about it. It was an expensive yarn. She was on it really really careful not to make ANY mistakes. She doesn't remember why it was put away high up there, but something, a series of everyday and non-everyday events, must have happened to keep her too busy for this delicate project.
It never left from her mind, but she was just too occupied. My grandpa passed away, my father diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away one and a half year after that. I went to college between those. My sister and brother had been married, and they had babies. I started working, got married. Mom herself had been diagnosed with diabetes and her blood pressure was dangerously high all the way. Her eyesight was not good as before. My brother had to change his job because of his health problem. I went to the USA, had a baby.
And, last year, my grandma passed away.

When we started to tackle the piles of stuff in my mom's house, she disclosed the existence of "an angora yarn". I found it on the top of the cabinet exactly as she described. The yarn is a little discolored where the bamboo needles were touching, and there were a few dead bugs but the yarn looks fine.
I didn't think a nano-second to decide finishing the stole for Mom. When I told her so, she didn't get overly impressed nor cry, just said "Oh, yeah, I don't care a bit about the discoloration." I love you, mom.
She is still a knitter, of course. And a knitter knows a knitter. She knows too well that I just can't let the opportunity to get free angora yarn go. And thank goodness, my sister is not a knitter. Peace between sisters is safe here.

Thinking of that, there was always only one knitter in our family. My sister knows how to knit, period. Mom taught me how to knit, but I got serious about knitting after "her era". My grandma didn't knit. Mom learned knitting from her aunt, and from classes. I'm not sure about my aunts' knitting ability, but I never received a knitted present from them.
I don't know how my grandaunt learned knitting. She was a kind of professional knitter who makes garments for customers at a yarn store. They make purchase of a yarn, leave it with some money and something about how they like their garment would be, and takes it when it's done.

The other day, I got a very interesting piece of information from Mom; My grandfather on my fathers side was a knitter. She heard from sibling-in-laws that my father was raised "on his dad's lap" because his mom passed away when he was still very young and his dad felt so sorry about it. His dad, my grandfater, was knitting with my dad on his lap, they say. Even my mom never met my paternal grandfather. He had passed away long before my parents got married. There's no way to know what he was knitting. "But," my mom says, "I heard he was a good knitter."

Japan doesn't have a knitting tradition. Like other stuffs, the art of knitting (and crocheting) was imported from Europe or America only 100 years or so ago. But, in my family, we have at least three generations of Knitters. My niece knits. My daughter knits. Fourth generation here.

eight ninety-four in seventy-three

I finished cataloging my mom's yarn, all but one. 

My stash has now 55627.9 yards / 31.60 miles / 50.86 kilometers of yarn, plus 1062 grams / 2.34 pounds of Aunt Lydia's #10 crochet thread PLUS 894 grams / 1.97 pounds of Gokuboso (2ply or Lace weight).  And one more (next post).

894 grams of Gokuboso in 73 colors.  Yes, seventy-three.  
Almost all of them have lost their ball bands. There are some which weigh exact 1 oz. and still have small piece of paper at the end tucked in the center. They probably are new balls (Why, oh why did you take bands away, mom?) You can safely guess that she didn't care sticking to one brand. There are six bright reds and ten grays, two navy(!)s. They are not the same, you can tell when you se them side by side. They are in different colorways, not just in different dye lots, or so I think.
There are a lot of "embroidery thread" of 100% wool, too. I had no idea that such a thing exists.

I think this picture explains all above.
Granny Squares
Grrrrrrrranny squares.

I think I am going to add it as a new project on my Ravelry notebook.  
Or try plying Gokubosos with my spindle.  Theoretically, plying two 2plys make a 4ply, which is fingering equivalent, right? 

February 12, 2009


My mom had given up knitting and crocheting a while ago.  She says she "graduated" from all those crafty thingies.  Her sight is not as good as before, her hands doesn't work as good as before, and she feels she's just "through."

After she had undergone a CABG (coronary artery bypass graft - Am I the only person who imagined the doctor makes Kitchener Stitches on my mom's artery?) about two month ago, we, my sister and brother and me, thought it's time to clean up and remodel her house.  It was "our" house.  Once a family of five was living there.  Now, it's so cluttered that just my mom has to squeeze herself to fit in there.  It's not just in a right condition for a grandmother who wants her children and grandchildren to gather at her place.

That means, a major throw-away and sell-away and give-away extravaganza.  She allowed us to pick up stuffs first - not "whatever we want" but rather "what Mom wants us to have and some more".  Thank you, mom.
Naturally, I am the one who inherit all her stash yarn.  Her knitting notebook and needles are yet to find out, but when it comes up to surface, those, too, are going to be mine.

Last Sunday, I had my turn to work on THE STUFFS, dug out two large boxes of yarn and sent them to my house along with two smaller boxes of other plunders.

I tried to take the picture of whole things but it was impossible. I took some out and....
Mama's yarn box
Mama's yarn box 2
These boxes are big enough for my daughter to play school bus with all her dolls, but I stopped her to do that for the fear of bugs.  I just threw bags after bags in a larger (the largest that I have) zip-lock bag.  And weighed it.
Mama's yarn in bag
This is almost all of it.  And it weighed about 8.5kg (=18.7Lb).  Not so huge?  They are mostly fingering weight.  Looks like it's about time to start flipping through Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis and The Celtic Collection by Alice Starmore, AND learn how to estimate gauges when you double-strand or triple-strand.  .. I think I favorited one post on Ravelry about that....

First, I have to inspect each skein for bug infection, catalogue it and put it in a separate zip-lock bag.  I am not sure if I should add old, very likely to be discontinued Patons yarns or Japanese yarn manufacturers who does not exist any more to Ravelry database.

About 19 Lbs.  I think I don't need to buy any yarn while President Obama is in the Oval Office (And I don't think he leaves after only one term.)

February 09, 2009

Sad news

We lost Gaspard.  Possibly my daughter left him at doughnut shop table or somewhere and somebody took him away.

Good thing I have leftover yarn and eye parts enough to make another doll.
Bad thing I'm fed up with making crochet amigurumi right now.

After all, I am sure I'm going to make another ASAP.  I have joint responsibility for his loss because I said OK to my daughter when she wanted to take him with her.  My daughter is still only four years old.  I sometimes forget that, though.


February 07, 2009

Long loved

Pattern; Gaspard et Lisa Amigurumi Kit from Clover
Yarn; for Lisa (white) included in the kit.  for Gaspard (black) Hamanaka Wanpaku Denis, 17 (black) and 45 (blue)
Hook; included in the kit, 3.5mm

I can take my daughter to craft stores or yarn stores without any problems.  She enjoys taking a look at the buttons or yarns while I get at a loss in front of yarn shelves and taking in or out several balls from the shopping basket.  Often, she gets something just for her or for our "joint project" like this;
play dough candy
These are made of playdough (paper-mache? the one made from pulp), colored with watercolors.  The sticks of lollipops are tooth picks... you'll see how small they are.
These are not my original.  We saw them on TV.

When I took her to Yoshikawa to get yarns for my Baby Projects, she found this;
Lisa amigurumi kit
She wanted to get both Lisa and Gaspard, but one kit costs more than 2,000 yen!  I told her to pick one, either Lisa or Gaspard, "because Mommy can make the other with my yarns."  This claim turned out to be half-true, half-untrue.  I didn't have yarns nor eye parts in my hand, so I had to go back to get yarns, order eye parts online (and ordered a little more - yarns - with that), but I used felt (nose) from my stash and the kit included more than twice the amount of fillings and embroidery threads for two dolls.
Gaspard's eyes are yellow/black in picture books, but these small-ish blue ones turned out very pretty.  My daughter didn't want him exactly the same as in books, but "cuuuuuuute!"

I ended up using Wanpaku Denis again for my amigurumi project, and I think I love this yarn now.  It's 70% acrylic and 30% wool machine washable yarn, and has pretty wide variety of colors.  19sts per 10cm gauge (worsted equivalent), 410 yen per 50g ball is not the most inexpensive choice for a project using like, 10 colors, but not so bad.  I'd say this is a high-grade craft yarn and I-don't-care-if-you-roll-in-the-mud-with-your-sweater-on type garment yarn.  My mother made a sweater with this yarn for my niece about 20 years ago.  She loved it and wore it practically everyday for two winters.  My sister kept it after the last wash, and gave it to my daughter last year.  
The sweater has a character (Tendon-man) from kid's TV show (Soreike! Anpanman) on front side.  That TV show is still on-air and young children still is getting hooked on it.  Of course my daughter loves the show (well, that's why she got that sweater.)  I love standard, stapled stuff.  Maybe that's why I love knitting.