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.