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.