November 30, 2012

A quick one before the Holiday season

I haven't forgotten this blog.  Just.... doing this and that other than writing here.
cotton, handspun with a tahkli
Like spinning cotton with a tahkli.  These days, though, I do almost all the cotton spinning on my handmade ahka-style spindle.  Handmade with a bamboo barbecue skewer and a plastic dish for flower pots (you know, the one you put under a flower pot to catch excess water).

My cotton spinning has become a part of my daughter's going-to-bed routine.  When she gets ready to sleep (done snack and brushing her teeth and all), I go with her to her bedside, start Stephenie Gausted's "Spinning Cotton" video on my iPad.  She watches the video for a while, from wherever the point that starts, enjoys it and wants to do (one day) all the "fancy jobs" - ginning, willowing, carding, making the fiber into puni, and spinning with a charkha.  Then, she just listens Miss Stephenie's voice.  Like listening to a bedtime story read by her favorite great-aunt.  And I spin, rather slowly, talking (or not talking) this and that, until she goes to sleep.

It's a bit sad that my daughter has lost her English language skills almost completely.  No wonder.  More than four years in complete Japanese-only environment, going to school and everything.
But, she says she loves listening to Miss Stephenie (Stephenie-san).  Norman Kennedy's singing-and-spinning video doesn't work for her, nor Maggie Casey's calming voice.
I believe she still remembers fondly of the teachers she met at KinderCare Learning Center more than half of her whole life (four years) ago.  Hearing Stephenie-san's Southwestern US English gives home-coming feeling to her.  Happily, and warmly, she goes to a good night's sleep.

My cotton-spinning evening may or may not continue because December is coming.  Last year's advent project was so fun and satisfying that I've decided to do that this year, too.
This year, it's Angels project.  I'll knit or crochet one angel a day.  I am going to use the same pattern many times, because finding 24 different angel patterns which finishes in one day is not likely to possible.  I may use lots of different yarns, and also the same yarn many times.  My point is, making Angels.

Like, this one.
angel, handspun cotton

Pattern; Tiny Christmas Angel by Elizabeth Ann White
Yarn; my handspun, the first batch I tried with my tahkli.

Now, I gotta go to 100-yen store to get a display wall-pocket.  I can't find the one I bought last year.

Happy before-Holiday weeks, my friends!

August 07, 2012


Inspired by my friend's recent endeavor for an "old but new for me" world, I decided that I'd follow my inner voice.

Spin some cotton.

With a spindle.

I am not a spindle enthusiast.  It's just a storage and work space limitation.  And I'm not a perfectionist nor an "all by myself" kind of person. I mean, I don't aim having a shirt-worth of yarn. Spindle spinning will give me a good-enough experience and a whole new sight to store-bought cotton yarns.

I just want to try.  Try to find out what my ancestors' ancestors did.  While trying, I'd be able to connect to my ancestors.. not to the housewives, but to the girls who learned the skill from their mothers so that they could keep their own family dressed comfortably.  Beginners' lucks and mistakes shouldn't be so different even after a few thousand years.

For the first step, I made this today.
small coin spindle, DIY

It's made with a chopstick (leftover from the New Year dinner), and a couple of coins.  I'm not sure which came first to my country, spinning wheels or coins.

small coin spindle, DIY

5 yen coin has a hole which fits to a 5mm knitting needle, too.  I used a chopstick rather than a knitting needle because I don't want any dent on my needles.  I just pushed the coins from the tapered tip (sharpened beforehand with a pencil sharpener) hard enough to go as far as possible.  Friction, I love you.

My teacher is Stephenie Gaustad.  The video is on my iPad (named Iris, because she has Retina display). Check.

Now, I need some cotton fiber.  That part would not be so hard.  Oh, I feel IT.
If I don't come back, tell all the sheep in the world that I loved them.

March 08, 2012

Random because it's March and March means Madness

Some thoughts related to knitting and crocheting, randomly.
1. Bordhi-nized, the word which I made up and used on the last post and the one before it, was not good.  I knew it, but I didn't thought up anything else.  Yesterday, it hit me.  Bordhi-fied is better.  Not a whole lot, but a bit.  And it took me so long.  It's OK.  English is not my born-into language.
2. I'm in sock and legwarmer craze.  I've been in it for a while, and not really going through of it anytime soon.  My current projects in progress contain one pair of socks (for my daughter, knee-high) , one pair of legwarmer for my friend's newborn boy, and one pair of leg/arm warmer (anyway the recipient likes).  And on my "queued" list, I have one pair of Re-discovery socks for me (means, using my footprint, making "Discovery sock" by Cat Bordhi again to make a better fit), and Sandalwood socks.
3. My "queued" list on Ravelry is getting unrealistically long.  I am seriously thinking of deleting all and making a realistic list.
4. And cast on whatever I want to knit right now.
5. Which will not be so many, just a couple of bags and a pair of gloves.
6. I am away from working for about two months by now, and not really wanting to be back soon.  I enjoy the mornings and evenings I watch Mythbusters or GoodEats DVD while knitting.  These choice of shows causes knitting too many rounds before switching stitch patterns or start increase/decrease on sock foot, but just can't stop.
7. Maybe that means it's about time to stop.
8. I finished these Discovery socks, by the way;
for my daughter.
for my husband.
I'm happy they like theirs.

So, give me more time to knit.  Please.

February 21, 2012

Bordhi-nized room shoes

When I first made Cat Bordhi's "Discovery" socks, I was afraid of snipping the yarn in the middle of my knitting.  After I made a couple of garments with steeks, I still have my fears.
Can I open the "mouth" without cutting ?

I have been thinking of making a pair of room shoes for warmth all along this autumn/winter, say, for three months.  I was eyeing a nice knit/crochet pattern, but I had almost used up my colorful bits and pieces of fingering yarns suitable for it (they turned into armwarmers).  And, I wanted my shoes to be practical if not fancy.  It can be in awful acrylic or anything, if it stays on my feet snugly and keep them warm.
Then, "stays on my feet" rang the bell.

What if I made just the foot part of Cat Bordhi socks, in thick acrylic?
And if I crochet them, I could open the mouth with chain loop without cutting, with a bonus of a speedy finish!

So the project began, at around 9:30 AM.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippersCrochet Bordhi-nised slippers
1. Start circularly, making increases every other round or so, to cover your toe.
(I like slip-stitch my final sc on the first ch to finish the round, by the way.  You can spiral up the rounds if it suits you.)

Crochet Bordhi-nised slippersCrochet Bordhi-nised slippers
2. Once the circumference reaches your foot circumference, just crochet up to "leg" line, adding increases if needed.  The yarn was worsted-weight-ish thick, so I only made a 2 sts and a 4 sts increase once each.

3. Fun part made easy.  When you reach the leg line, make 1 ch st like you start every round (for sc), and add half the numbers of one round chain stitches.  I had 36 stitches, so I made (1 + 18) = 19 chain stitches.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers
And attach on the opposite side of the round with sc. Continue in sc like former rounds to the end of the round.

4. Crochet on the chain, 1 sc on 1 ch, for the first half and sc on for the second half of the next round.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers

5. Continue up to "heel" line.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers

6. Make decreases to finish the heel, just reversing the toe making process.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers

And Voila!  A shoe.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers

I added picot edging around the mouth, to strengthen the sides where instep and heel meets, and to make it a bit cuter.  I should have used, say, white yarn for edging to make it even cuter.
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers
It took less than 3 hours for one shoe for me, including taking notes and ripping a round or two here and there.

Naturally, the second shoe was finished a lot faster and a bit tighter (my crochet skill is not as good as my knitting).
Crochet Bordhi-nised slippers
See the right one is a bit smaller?

Still, I'm satisfied that I finished before my daughter comes home from school at 3:00PM.  Warm feet make a happy smiling mom.

I think this is going to be one of my "no-pattern-patterns" which I can work whenever, wherever I got enough yarn and a matching needles & hooks.
(And my Personal Footprint, to make my world easy.)

So Bordhi-nized

I bought Cat Bordhi's 2nd sock constructing book almost as soon as it appeared.  The idea is fascinating, to make perfectly fitting socks by making your own footprints.  I don't know why I try the method sooner.

I started last week, made my own footprint and a sock.Discovery sock

Somehow the result was a bit loose on my ankle and heel.
Discovery sock

I added ribbings and decreased several stitches at ankle, and made another sock that way.  Now I have a confortable pair, but, it doesn't seem right. It shouldn't be like that.  But I couldn't point out where I made a mistake.

Anyway, I was satisfied enough that I took my daughter's footprint and started hers.  While I was trying the "discovery" piece on her sleeping foot at night, I had a sort of Aha! moment.  I should have made increase only once, a little longer instep, stand up and pull the piece up over my foot while my leg stands vertically.  (I was just too lazy to try it on while I sit on the floor.. warmed floor.  Shame.)

Talking about my daughter's foot,
she is growing up fast.  I'll draw a new footprint every autumn until she gets an adult size foot.

I'm definitely making another Discovery sock of my own, after making my daughter's and my husband's sock but before making them matching pair.
You don't need to make a pair of Discovery socks if you follow the book word by word.. she doesn't say "make another and enjoy" after closing the heel.  You can make just one sock for sizing and start a new pair with fun design. Nevertheless it looks that everybody on Ravelry who tries this patten (method) makes it as a pair.  I, too, did so on my first try.  That's natural, because you're just one sock away from a perfectly fitting pair, and you know the next one comes up fast now you know how things go.

I got so excited when I realized I could crochet room shoes in no time if I use this strategy.  And the idea worked.  I'll make another post for it.

February 13, 2012


After all the classes in the fall semester and related paperwork is done, I was in no mood for anything classified as "obligation. "  I knit, knit, knit, cutting housework time and sleep, on these.
cat mittens
Two pairs of Kitten MIttens by Alyssa Lynough, using stashed Hamanaka Wanpaku Dennis double-stranded.  Yellow/brown stripe brothers for me, white/brown stripe with colorful ears and tail brothers for my daughter (her pair is used only for playing, not as hand warmers).  Although double-stranded and thick, it isn't really wind-proof because they are knit single layer.  I learned that Scandinavian/FairIsle colorwork is necessary to resist the windchill.

I like this yarn.  70% Acrylic and 30% wool, machine-washable gently, colorful, reasonably priced.  It's not the softest and loveliest yarn in the market, but a good go-to yarn for school goer's garment.

donuts vest
Finished my "donut" vest.  I reinforced the steeks with crochet.  Highlight was executing the cutting while my friend was watching and making her scream (I have to mention she did so very lady-likely.)  I gave up the bottom rib (too short and too weak) and hemmed it, added a row of single crochet at the folding line.

dancing lady coffee sleeveLinked arm Coffee Sleeve
Two coffee sleeves, just to try a motif (dancing lady) and a technique (intarsia in the round).

lapwarmer roundlapwarmer round
A skirt for me, double-stranding my stashed fingering yarns.  Love the pattern. It's simple, versatile, and fun to make.  I'm literally living inside this skirt.  It's a "Mary's little lamb" lapwarmer - follows everywhere I go.

Of course, the colorful skirt made my daughter want hers, too.  It's made of Hamanaka Wanpaku Dennis, bought to make a bean-brothers toy (like this - Ravelry project link) but I was too slow to start and she has outgrown the book.  The  color reminds us of her favorite pokémon, Tsutarja (Snivy) .  She even claims herself as Grass type, because her name (written in Kanji - Chinese characters) contains the grass radicals.
(The paper under the skirt, is her homework from school.)

Just sleeves, working
These legwarmers are still in progress, but I'll finish them in a couple days or so.  The pattern  was in Kurashi-no-Techo, the bi-monthly magazine which has 60 years history.  The contents are so wide-ranged - book review, craft, cooking, to health and sometimes a hard-core educational or environmental debate.  Everything house-keeping, you know.   My mother bought December  2011/ January 2012 issue at hospital news stand, and gave me the craft page.  I wasn't really thinking of materializing it, but as usual, leftover yarns nudged me.  It's a good motif sampler design, so I can change the yarn on any round.

This weekend, my husband and I had our 16th anniversary, which means we have known each other for a little more than 20 years now.  Speechless.
We (Me, my husband and my - our - daughter) went for a two-days trip to Kinosaki Onsen to have a good time and good meal.
DinnerIcy water pond

There were good inspirations for color and texture, too.
Fish tile1

on the sheet

I feel so good.  It's about time for a Spring cleaning!

PS; About the Ambitious gansey sweater I mentioned on the last post?  I brought it for the trip and made progress, up to 8 of 10 repeats of pattern A. Two more repeats and underarm gussets starts.  Looks loose stitch-wisely, but I believe the yarn will plump up after a wet block.

January 19, 2012

Two and a half month.

I've done all my classes on this Tuesday.  A little paper work (PC work, actually) is left but I got 10 weeks' off before starting to be ready for the coming school year.

Now I can catch up with my neglected knitting projects and, of course, start new projects.

First, I concentrated on finishing these socks;
admit imperfection
Pattern; Maple Sugar Socks by Karin Bole
Yarn; ONline Supersocke 100 Sierra color, colorway 01, 72g
Needles; Brittany 5 in DPNs in US #0
It's a nice, warm pair of socks.  The color is much nicer when knit up than in ball.  I had to choose size 0 needles not to change the stitch numbers while making them fit to my feet.  I felt I'm taking an extra knitting time just to avoid calculation, but the result is a good fitting pair.  I think I'll make more "size 0 needles socks" for a while.

I had a good time making up my mind to "THE project" as I finishing the socks.  I thought it's about time to "do that".

About a year ago, after I finished Colette pullover, I thought I ought to do this more.  By "do this" I mean knitting light and warm pullover for myself.  Warm, not-bulky, honest sweaters.
I've done a colorwork, so the next project should be a nice gansey.

Picking up candidates was not a hard process.  I was already eyeing on Jess's Gansey and I had Gladys Thompson's book (Patterns for guernseys, jerseys, and arans : fishermen's sweaters from the British Isles) on my bookshelf.  And then, Alice Starmore's book,  Fishermen's Sweaters: Twenty Exclusive Knitwear Designs for All Generations. (Did you know Amazon says "Fisherman's"?) I put four sticky notes on Eriskay, Nova Scocia, Cape Cod and Mystic.  I was going to "do this" by making a dent in my vast fingering stash, too.  After pouring on the pages (and made photocopies of all these patterns), staring at my stash on Ravelry, swatching and calculating, I finally made a decision. 

Eriskay, with purple yarn.
Nichibo 779 PURPLE!!!

The pattern requires knitting 5-ply (US sport) into 32 stitches per 4 inch gauge.  I think the weather on the coastal area where the garment originally developed needs those dense fabric, but here in Kyoto, I don't need THAT toughness.  I respect the tradition, but I'd go with what I have and use fingering (Chu-boso in Japanese standards), just getting the same gauge.
Miraculously, I'm getting the exact gauge on the same size of needles.  It's suspicious because I'm a fairly loose knitter so usually have to go two sizes smaller than the patten says.  The yarn is thinner, of course, so it may be no mystery at all, but still.  I guess I'm taking a risk of loose fabric with not-so-clear stitch recognition.  My swatch in stockinette stitches looks absolutely fine and nice, but still.  I know what swatches and gauges do to the knitters.

One more thing I'm anxious about is the sleeve length.  I'm OK with the chest circumference and the length with "small" sizing.  But the sleeves?  No way I can do dishes wearing a sweater with more than 6 cm longer sleeves than my size.  I think I have to change the ratio of decreasing to make them fit to my dwarf arms.

I've started it, anyway.  I have plenty of time thinking over the sleeve length while I knit up the body.
gansey project has started

This is my 200th project on Ravelry.  I wasn't paying attention which one was my 100th.

My 201st is this, by the way.
garter butterfly mug-hug
garter butterfly mug-huggarter butterfly mug-hug
A mug cozy with thick-and-thin self-striping yarn.
It's a simple garter stitch project, with any super-bulky yarn and 4.5 mm needles.  Just knits up in no time.

Here's my recipe;
CO 12 (about the height of your mug)
Knit every row for a while.
Just before the half length of the mug's circumference, start decreasing on each sides as k, ssk, knit to the last 3 sts, k2tog, k.  Decrease every other rows until the width reaches the half of what you start.  
Increase back to the original width.
Knit on until the length reaches about the circumference of the mug.
Make three (or more, or less) button holes by adding yo, k2tog on the places at your whim.
Knit a couple of rows flat, BO.
Sew on buttons.
Make sure the narrow part faces to you when you hold your mug, right-handed or left-handed, by turning the cozy upside-down if you need.  That way your lips will not catch any fuzziness, and you can show off your selection of buttons to public, your spouse, or your cat.

One more thing in my mind right now.
Since I don't have any intension to do machine knitting myself, nor I don't have any friend nor family who does it, a lot of fingering yarn in my stash means a lot (more than I want) of knitting time.  I did very good at not buying yarns last year, but I feel I'm under a heavy stress every time I skip the yarn section of craft stores and colorful websites of yarn company.  I am not sure I can bear this any more.  It was so hard to hit "delete" button in the "your shopping cart" page after I poured over the laptop screen for almost one hour and put 15 balls of worsted yarn when my inner "yarn purchase police" finally fought over my adrenaline.  That happened about a week ago.  I felt sad.  Sad to the bottom.  It was like giving up a bright future as a professional athlete to go back to my hometown and marry to an honest but boring boy next door, not with carrier-threatening injury, but just because we made a promise when we were both 6 years old. ( I'm just imagining. Wild.)

I don't have any space left in my house, this is a cold fact, so I can't go nuts and "buy anyway".  Throwing away the good quality wool yarns is never going to be my solution.  So, I seriously do double- or triple- stranding the yarn to knit, or crochet something calls for worsted yarns, to broaden my choice in patterns and re-joining the flock who buys yarns.  I'm sick and tired of telling myself "no, no yarns for you".
I've already started the research.  I got a bullet.  Wait for a hit.

January 13, 2012

Just going on

It's almost two weeks into new 2012, and those "new year" feelings is behind me.  You know, a blank-paper like, fresh "I can do anything" ambition.  I didn't find it at all in the first place, if I think back.  I'm in this burnt-out, post-holiday, flattened mind, sort of.  It's about time for me to make a resolution for this year if I want any reality to it.

A month ago, I was in the middle of this;
Knit and Crochet advent project.
One a day, all different, all with stash yarn - well, almost all, I bought a small amount of cotton lace thread with sequins.  I had a lot of fun making those.  Each one was done within half an hour or so, put in a vinyl pocket on medicine organizer I bought at 100-yen shop.
advent 2011
(Not a good picture.  I should have chosen a sunny day.)

My daughter was delighted to see a new stuff every day when she comes home from school. I think I found out a good tradition-to-be.

After we celebrated Christmas with this (Christmas eve)
dinner table
and these (Christmas day) ...
Christmas day dinner 2012Christmas Cake 2012
(note; I did most of the cooking, but the steak in the upper pic and Christmas cake cooked and baked by my husband.  I happily say my marriage is a success.)

Here came the New Year.
Osechi 2012Osechi plus alpha
Zouni (soup with rice cake)Japanese cake for New Year
Yes, I got 3 pounds more to shed off.

This year 2012 is a year of Dragon in Chinese Zodiac.  Our new year's card had this "kawaii"  /cute dragon family.
And of course, I had to make this;

Saphira looking out
Pattern; Fierce Little Dragon by Lucy Ravenscar
Yarn; Leftovers from this scarf.  100% wool fingering yarns, very likely to be more than 30 years old.
Hook; size D (3.25mm) aluminum

Other than this new addition to our family (my daughter loves her - she is a girl dragon, named Saphira, after the dragon in Eragon), I have a few things coming up.

My mother came back home last weekend from hospital where she was taking a series of tests and rehab programs for her back and neck issue.  We (means my mother, me, my sister and brother, and the social worker) have to arrange how we install handrails on the wall and AC in her living/dining/sleeping room.  Financially, she has no problems.  It's mostly an insurance procedure, and, we don't ask her if and she won't admit but, Mom's mindset.
She lives in Osaka, where its summer is scorching but her apartment has very good breeze most of the day, and its winter is not really hard.  35 years ago when my father bought it, he said he didn't like "unnatural coolness and warmth" because his back hurts or he feels too balmy too easily. It was his choice that we didn't have any drapes on the windows (Annoying!) nor AC (Unnecessary!)  My brother had a small electric heater in his room because it was the coldest place in the house, and we had kotatsu and small heating carpet in our living room.  And it wasn't so uncomfortable in those days' standard.  But, now the summer is hotter and Mom is older (Sorry!).  Every summer after we came back to Japan, every time we visit her at her apartment, I ask her if she doesn't need AC and she answers no.  For her health, I don't doubt AC is not a luxury but a necessity.  Mom doesn't say so, and I have not asked her, but maybe it has somewhat sacred meanings for her to keep the house as her husband liked.  I respect her faith, but it's about time for her to move on, sort of.

My husband will have a rather busy first third or half of this year.  His job requires him to fly abroad more often.  Good thing is, he enjoys most part of that.  He has great flexible taste for food. Thanks to the mileage he gathered last year, his Frequent Flyer status is upgraded that his trips will be a little easier.  Next year he might regain "Platinum elite" first time since the hectic "fly every week" times he had in 2007.
My daughter somewhat welcomes his absence (poor Dad) because she can slip in the big bed with me and her favorite dolls.  I will enjoy her warm love and admire for me while I can.  She is growing up so fast, means the day she repels me off like a filthy old witch is coming considerably soon.

My teaching job at a local college is going so-so.  I still can't believe my students treat me as "an expert in Windows OS and MS Office", about which still I'm on the way of learning so hard just to give them something to do every week.  I may have some kind of skills to use ordinary computer applications for whatever I need to do, from making report sheets and keeping track of science experiments to more every-day things like making new year's cards or knitting chart.  And that's the essence of my class.  My students, most of them are 18, are born in the age of internet and e-mails, but too used to them that they don't stop and try all what those applications can.  I want to show them the flexibilities and possibilities of simple word processor and spreadsheets.  The problem is, many of my students are not academically good, to be honest.  First thing I have to cover for them is usually the basic of basics - like, proper term and pronunciations, junior high school math and physics.  I try every week so hard to find out how to make our 90 minutes flow, from basic to advanced (not really, actually), without letting them sleepy nor overwhelmed, and always feel frustrated by the lack of my teaching skill.  I feel rewarded most of the time, though, when I check their reports.  Next week is the last one for this year, thank goodness, and I will surely get the same job for the coming year.

The job steals me of my crafting time for sure, but I guess I'm now in the stage of my life when I need to work for somebody else than my family.
For a long time already, I have wanted to be a retiree.  Yes, retiree.  Live slow and small, find happiness in subtle but beautiful daily milestones.  But in order to retire, I need to be in the position of some sort in the first place, I guess.  Now I'm in the "building up" stage.

So, I'll just keep going on, work for whatever I can, wherever I'm needed.  I'll not give myself a big plan this year.  I'll just spend my days to do anything I need to do on that day.  This is my new year resolution, or non-resolution more precisely.