Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Wall

I've hit THE WALL. I thought I could avoid it. I ran a marathon a few years back with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. And I didn't hit the imfamous wall while I was running, in fact I was fairly jubilant throughout, somehow. As an aside, I would recommend this training program/fundraiser to anyone with a desire to complete an epic athletic feat (they also train people for 100-mile bike rides and triathalons, and the races are often in exotic locations. I did the Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, AK) and the ability to raise thousands of dollars. I'm not sure how I ended up doing this. I'd wanted to run a marathon for some time, and I got the TnT flier in the mail one day and, on a whim, went to an information session, and, on an even bigger whim, signed up. I had to raise over $4000, the vast majority (80%? I don't remember) goes directly to the LLS. The rest covers personalized training with certified coaches and trainers, as well as travel expenses to the race. It was great. I made some good friends, who I've sadly lost touch with (I'm very bad at this, well, good at losing touch, bad at keeping in it). Anyway, the race was great, I ran the whole way, and there were no walls encountered. However...
I think I have hit the wall on the Lotus Blossom tank. It's SO close to being done:
The back is probably half done, and then there is just the sleeves (straps really) and it's finished. Yet I've totally lost the will to knit it. Which is odd, because I was enjoying it so much, and I know it's going to fit, having tried it on when I finished the front, and it WILL BE DONE QUICKLY IF I MAKE ANY EFFORT WHATSOEVER. Bleh. I will push past the wall, whatever it takes, to get this baby done before the weather changes and I have to finish this:

I received a nice thank you package from Lillian. Here's what she sent:

I don't know why it's sideways, sorry about that. The photo is fine on my computer and weird when I upload it. Just turn your head. There are some cat toys for me to knit for Oliver, and some cedar blocks to keep the stash moth-free, as well as a luggage tag and some FedEx goodies. Thank you Lillian, it's been fun spoiling you! I'm awaiting my final package from my secret pal, whose identity still eludes me. Can't wait to find out who she is!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I almost forgot!

I can't believe this, but I almost forgot to post about Marlene's yarn dyeing experience! When my mom told her friend Marlene that I dyed my own yarn, she was really impressed and excited to try it herself, so we bought some Gems Opal and got right down to it, with my mother looking on:
Marlene went with varigated shades of sapphire blue, and her yarn turned out really well, don't you think?

I think I like it better than the similar skein I dyed a few months back, which was basically the same but lighter, and I think the darker is more striking. We didn't reskein it, but it looks lovely nonetheless. Hopefully she'll send me photos of the socks she makes with it, whenever that may be!

I also dyed some more yarn on my own last week, and I can show it now, because it should've gotten where it was going:

It's the pretty one on the right, as opposed to the lovely mohair on the left. I'm pretty happy with it, although it's got some white bits (adds character - totally done on purpose!). This was part of my final SP8 package to Lillian. Here is the whole box o' goodies:

I love this package, and I hope she liked it as well. We have the handpainted yarn, 4 skeins of mohair (better in the first photo), some "Footnotes," a pack of playing cards with a different drink recipe on each, and some handmade armwarmers. Better photo?These are a very slightly modified (made longer) version of the twisted rib armwarmers from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, done in Noro Kureyon. I think it's colorway 40, or maybe 50, but I'm pretty sure it's something *0. It bothers me that they don't match, but I did try. I took apart the whole second skein trying to find the same color repeat, and it did not exist. See the long teal stretch on my left hand? Nothing like that in the other skein. I've had this problem with Kureyon before (and my Lady Eleanor in silk garden, but then I didn't really mind). I made Rachel some armwarmers last fall and I ended up cutting and pasting the yarn 4 times in the second one to make the stripes match. Yes, I'm anal like that. I figured though that these looked pretty cool and obviously go together, so I'm trying to be Zen about the whole thing. I'm hoping Lillian has slightly bigger (or at least longer) hands than I do, since these are a tad big for me...

Oh, the bamboo tank? Finished the front on Monday, so I was able to try it on. It fits perfectly, although it's a bit short. Then again, I was holding it on, so I'm not sure where it will actually fall, and it can always be blocked a bit longer. And it's not as transparent as I feared. So I'm charging ahead up the back, and should be done soon! I also, god forbid, worked a repeat of the Clapotis over the last couple of days, in a last-ditch effort to appease the Project Spectrum neutral gods. I really thought I could get that done in August, but that assumed I wouldn't have spent all my time working on the tank top, which I've knitted at lightning speed (for me - Rachel could've made 3 of them by now). Tonight is knitting club and I've got the tank and the clapotis, so there will be progress shots tomorrow!

Monday, August 28, 2006


Now that's a lot of fake sweet goodness (outlet for scale). I figure this sets me up with Splenda for at least 3 years, assuming one cup of tea consumed per day on average! I took a trip to Costco with Rachel yesterday, hence this extravagant purchase. I figured it was blogworthy because it's such a ludicrously big box...
I also knitted some lovely armwarmers. I had forgotten how much I love Noro Kureyon until I knit these up...I've also gotten to the front/back split in the bamboo tank and I'm ripping right along, still crossing my fingers that it's going to fit. Won't be long until I can try it on. I figure once I've finished the front I should be able to squeeze into it and see how things are looking...(photos later - blogger is being uncooperative)

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Chinese Garden

I decided to dedicate a separate post to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden that we went to in Vancouver both because it was really striking and because I had a ton of nice photos to show. For those not up on their Chinese history (myself included), Dr. Sun played a leading role in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and was the first president of the Republic of China. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden was the first full-scale classical garden constructed outside of China, and was built by a team of experts from Suzhou, using materials largely imported from China, but native plants. The garden took a year to build, and is a replica of a scholar's garden of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). When you enter the garden, this is the first view. The structure here is called a ting; it's set on a pile of rocks emulating a mountain, and is meant to represent humans in their natural setting. There was also a lovely waterfall in the rocks. This is the focal point of the garden, and you can also see it buried in the trees in this photo, which was taken from the other side of the garden. This photo also shows the water, which is a key part of Chinese gardens. The water is made intentially cloudy, using a special clay lining, to intensify the reflections. You can see the water flowing under the Jade Water Pavillion here:
This photo also shows the intricate wooden screens on this building, which were put together without using any screws or nails, and if you know which piece to remove you can take the whole thing apart quite easily. Here is another view of that building:
There were many cool rocks, called Tai Hu rocks. These are naturally carved limestone rocks from Lake Tai in China. They're really neat, all pitted and holey, so that you can see things in them if you use your imagination.

The floor in all the outdoor spaces was intricately tiled, and each floor was different. The stones are individually selected for size and shape. The white bits are old pieces of pottery, and the curved grey pieces are old roof tiles. This is a good example, from the area near the first photo. Walking barefoot on these floors was like a slightly painful foot massage!

Lastly, here is an example of a penjing, which is a forefather of Japanese bonsai. It's different from bonsai in that the trees are selected for their interesting growth patterns and then pruned, instead of being forced into doing something interesting.

The garden was really beautiful - if you're ever in Vancouver you really must check it out, although I would give the rest of Chinatown a miss. I've been to several large Chinatowns (New York, San Francisco, Chicago (not so large)), and although Vancouver's is supposed to be the largest, it's very different from the others. It seems less touristy, which is good, but also means that you don't find the neat souvenirs and things that people associate with Chinatown. Plus it's bordered by a pretty sketchy area, and overall we weren't impressed. But we had good food, I got some cool stationary (I'm on a stationary kick these days), and my mom found a beautiful beaded shawl for only $15, which was an absolute bargain, so overall it was a success. And the garden, as I said, was exquisite and well worth the visit!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Whales and cities and packages oh my!

Well, my Mom and Marlene have taken the great grey bird back home to PA, and so my life returns to eating Ramen while sitting on the couch watching tv normalcy. It was really great having them visit, we had loads of fun and I think they really enjoyed the visit as well. Marlene was quite taken with Seattle (who wouldn't be?) and we've all fallen in love with Vancouver. We had quite a busy weekend after the Thursday yarn crawl. Friday morning we woke up early and drove up to Anacortes, WA to depart for our 5-6 hour whale-watching adventure. This was our steady-hulled craft, the Island Explorer II:

Knitting was accomplished:
Whales were watched: We saw a group of 6 'transient' orcas, which are the "mammal-eaters," as opposed to our resident orcas, which eat mostly salmon. We saw this group 5 times, about 5 minutes or so apart. Apparently this was a really good day; the company guarantees you will see whales or they'll keep taking you until you do, but seeing this many, and transients no less, is apparently rare. The whales were really beautiful to see. So slick and shiny. I'd always figured whale-watching was overrated but it was really great and I have been proven wrong. We also saw harbor porpoises and harbor seals, but the photos aren't very blog-worthy.

After the whale-watching we drove up to Vancouver. We stayed at the Delta Vancouver Suites, which I would highly recommend to anyone considering a trip up there. The room was lovely and the staff was very helpful and made us excellent dinner recommendations (and reservations) for both nights were there. Saturday night we ate at Capone's, in Yaletown. They had live jazz, but thankfully it was too quiet for me to hear since I'm not a big jazz fan. There was drinking of martinis. There was also, and I'm not kidding, TV in the bathroom. More specifically, a Chevy ad, on a flat-panel TV, in the stall. I found this totally mesmerizing, which is surely the point. But seriously, is it necessary to advertise in the bathroom? Just because you can really doesn't mean you should... Our waiter, Ken, was brilliant, and we had a great dinner there, including the best creme brulee I've ever eaten.

Saturday we went to the Granville Public Market, which is a bit like Seattle's Pike Place Market, but with fewer souvenirs and more artisan shops. I resisted the urge to buy an ironing board cover with an almost naked man who became inappropriately naked when you heated him up (how appropriate). I thought this would be a great gift for my friend Heidi, but, well, I just couldn't bring myself to buy it.

You can see the weather was lovely! We spent the rest of Saturday shopping. Many cute things were purchased, including a great teal purse that my mother found at Aldo and that I had to go back for the next day, having determined I couldn't live without it after watching her carry it around Saturday night. I was very excited to find a Zara store in Vancouver, as I love Zara but didn't think there were any stores in the US (although looking now I see I was quite wrong about that). We had a nice dinner on the waterfront, although I forget the name of the restaurant.

That cute green top I'm wearing? On sale at Zara :) I think it's probably supposed to tie in the front but I like it the way I have it since the ties are really long. Marlene is wearing a handknit cotton sweater she bought on Granville Island. It's a very nice sweater, and as she said, "It fits well and I didn't have to knit it myself, so I'm buying it!"

I think I'll finish my Vancouver post about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden tomorrow, because that will be another long post with a bunch of photos and this is already a big post.

However, before I go I have to give a giant thank you to my August Project:Colorswap pal, Stella, who sent me this lovely box of goodies:

Here we have 4 skeins of Adrienne Vittadini Fiora, in a deep purple. Stella thought it was black when she bought it, as did I when I took it out of the box, and now we're both convinced it's purple, which is just fine with me. It's a slightly fuzzy mohair/nylon/wool blend, with small sequins. I'm thinking it would make a nice lacy scarf. There was also a nice black notebook, adorable panda stickers, and neat zebra paper clips. And a bar of soap, which will go into the shower immediately since I bought a new suction soap holder. And licorice (already consumed) as well as licorice Altoids. And that origami bird (at least I think it's a bird), which totally blew me away and which I'm guessing Stella made herself. I'm jealous, since I've tried origami a few times and I'm apparently completely incompetent at folding. Which is also true with fitted sheets, now that I think about it...anyway, thank you Stella! I love my box and I'm glad you enjoyed yours as well!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Warning, long post ahead

Phew, it's been awhile! Sorry about that, but my mother has been in town so I've been pretty busy. On Thursday my mother and her friend Marlene came to knit with the Fiberphiles:
From the left we have Rachel, Shibani, Jennifer, Kristen, Marlene, and my mom, Teri. Kristen is holding my new copy of Alterknits, which I received that day from my SP8 (thank you, I had had my eye on that book for awhile, there are so many cute things!) I of course am not in the photo, since I was taking it. My mom and Marlene then met my labmates and my boss. Now, I was really hoping it wouldn't come up, but my mother told my boss we were going on a yarn crawl. A yarn crawl! I was going to say something vague about 'sight-seeing' or 'the Space Needle,' but no, she had to tell him (of course she didn't realize this should've been kept under wraps, so she's forgiven for her indiscretion). Anyway he didn't care, and off we went, on the great Yarn Crawl of '06. We went to many shops. Here at Acorn Street, something shifty was clearly afoot:

It appears my mom is contemplating absconding with that binder of patterns. Honestly I don't recall what was really happening here but I love this photo. We also went to Weaving Works, Fiber Gallery (where I finally got the nerve to talk about her blog with Jessica, after lurking about for ages both on the blog and in the shop), and Hilltop Yarns (east and west, that's another story for another day). In the end we had all this:

That my friends is all yarn. We went nowhere but yarn shops. Isn't it great? In those bags was Marlene's haul:

The gold and maroon yarn on the left is my mom's, as is the light turquoise on top, but Marlene bought the turquoise stuff as well. The pink is for a tank top, as is the bamboo, and the Cotton Fleece is for the baby blanket on the cover of the book (adorable!). There are actually 10 skeins (12?) of the Berocco Suede, which was very on sale at Acorn Street, but I didn't photograph it all. Yesterday Marlene went BACK to Acorn Street and bought yarn for another baby blanket! She's going to need a whole other suitcase for all this!

I also acquired some yarn:

That is 3 skeins of deep red Cascade 220 for a felted bag with grommets. I think it's the coolest felted bag pattern I've seen, or at least the most 'hip' and I'm really excited about it. I also got loads of teal (surprise!) mohair, for $4.50 a skein, and the Lamb's Pride to go with it, for a scarf. I plan to hold the two yarns together since I think the mohair on its own will be too fuzzy.

I also did a fair bit of knitting. Here is the progress on the bamboo Lotus Blossom tank, at almost the end of the lace:

Isn't it beautiful? I don't mean to gloat (well, actually I do), but I'm so enthralled with it. Marlene is as well - she plans to use the bamboo in the photo above to make one as a gift.

We went whale-watching and to Vancouver for the weekend, but I think I'll save all that for tomorrow. However, I have an announcement to make:

My secret pal figured me out! I was spoiling Lillian, and she found me. I have to admit I'm a bit disapointed to have lost my anonymity, but it's late in the game and she did the legwork. So, I'll be coming up with something extra special as a reward. I'm feeling like a right idiot because I apparently forgot didn't know that there was a blog for Secret Pal 8. You know, I must have known this when I signed up, but I had completely forgotten. Now I see how people figure each other out. I also see that there have been some problems with this round, of the neglect type, and I really hope my secret pals (Lillian as well as my spoiler) aren't disappointed in me. This was my first secret pal exchange and I've really enjoyed it so far. I didn't make much effort to find out who my secret pal was because I wanted to be surprised (although I might now, since I found the SP8 blog), so I hope she didn't take that the wrong way. She's been great, and I wish I would've gotten to know her a bit better over emails and such (totally my fault) during this exchange, but not having much experience with this I wasn't sure how to proceed. I've been a bit better with the communication lately, but I just wanted to say on the blog that I've really appreciated all the goodies/cards/emails I've gotten, so thank you Secret Pal! Can't wait to find out who you are :)

Tonight we're all off to see the Mariners-Yankees game. The sun has come out and the weather is warm. Lovely night for a ball game. I'll be taking my knitting!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Funky Scarf Swap - May your wildest dreams come true!

I've signed up for the Funky Scarf Swap, hosted by Scout and Bev, which sounds like it's going to be great fun. The idea is you make either a funky patterned scarf or a scarf with funky yarn (although I suppose you could do both at once it might get a bit too funky!). Here are my answers to the great FSS questionnaire!

Let’s get the allergy part out of the way. Are you allergic to any fibers? Nope, anything is fine, but please nothing scratchy!
Do you prefer any fibers over others? I prefer natural fibers, but I can get over that since there are so many funky not-quite-found-in-nature novelty fibers out there these days, and this is a funky scarf swap, not a cashmere scarf swap!
Thinking back to Scout’s post about what funky means to you, post an image of something that you think is funky! I've looked around, and most of what I see that I'd consider funky is a lot of the bulky handspun yarns with extra things spun in, like lengths of beads or buttons and things. Mixed media yarns, if you will.
Would you prefer funky yarn or a funky pattern? I could go with either, but I think I'd prefer funky yarn. However, I'll leave this up to my pal's discretion.
What are your favorite colors? Teal, turquoise, dark purple (not lavender), dark green, pretty much all the jewel tones actually.
What is your favorite piece of art? I love Dali. Pretty much all of his paintings appeal to me, mostly for their almost normal yet slightly off weirdness.
What colors would you never have up close to your pretty face? Yellow, orange (maybe dark/deep orange would be okay), and most pastels and neons.
Would you prefer an actual scarf or a cowl? Scarf. I'm really not a cowl person.
When you wear a scarf do you prefer a wider/shorter scarf or a thin/long scarf? I'd prefer long since I like to wrap my scarves around my neck a couple of times. Either wide or thin, but not too thin since I'd probably be going for some degree of functionality.
What is the climate like where you live? I live in Seattle. It's never really that cold, in the upper 30s/lower 40s in the winter. But I like to wear scarves with vests instead of a jacket, so something warm would be great. And something that can tolerate getting a little wet, since it does indeed rain a bit here in the lovely Pacific Northwest!
Would you prefer a functional scarf (to keep you warm) or one just to funk-up your wardrobe? Either would be great!
What else would you like your partner to know about you? I'm pretty casual in general, but I like wild jewelry and accessories, so this is the perfect swap for me. If it's cool and I like it, I'll wear something pretty funky!

It's been awhile since I posted, and sadly I have no knitting photos to share. We went down to Olympia for the weekend and although I did some knitting I spent most of the time picking blueberries and going tubing down the Deschutes River (yes, it was cold. Poor Dave, who has no body fat whatsoever was shivering the whole last hour of the trip. It was also fun, until the shivering). My mother is arriving in town this evening with a knitting friend (!), so we've been cleaning like crazy. They're staying for a week, which should be great.
In knitting news, I'm on the last repeat of the lace at the bottom of the Lotus Blossom tank, and it's looking lovely. I'll get a photo of it and post it soon, I've just been lazy about it...

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I remember a day, back in the spring, when I had hardly anything on the needles. Just the Hike sweater (and it wasn't really on the needles, since the 2nd sleeve hadn't been cast on), the pink Elspeth shrug/sweater/capelet/whatever, a green scarf, and, well, I think that was it. Since then, the sweater is done (yes, I'll get back on the blocking, have patience), Elspeth met the frog bin, and the scarf languishes while I decide if I should start it over now that I've finally figured out how to do yarnovers properly. But, having only a couple of things on the needles makes me nervous. What if I get bored? What if I misplace a needle? What will I knit?!? So, now there are many more projects on the needles. First of course there is the Clapotis, which I started sometime in the late spring. Then there are the green Project Spectrum socks, started in the end of May (no wonder I didn't get them finished). And then there is the lace project, which I have to admit has been sorely neglected because it's complicated and I can't work on it if there are any distractions. That and I'm so afraid I'm going to screw it up and not know how to fix it that I'm avoiding it altogether. And, really I was just itching to start something new. So this weekend I cast on two new things!
Here is my progress so far on the Lotus Blossom Tank:
As of this morning I'm actually 1/3 through the third repeat of the lace, but here is a detail shot from yesterday afternoon:

I am loving this pattern, and the yarn, and I'm SO hoping that it's going to fit in the end. I've been working on it almost exclusively, although I did also start this:

Now of course we know that I love me some Manos, so when I saw this new colorway I had to have it, and so I do. It's not the best photo but the colors are fairly accurate. I'm using the My So-Called Scarf pattern from Sheep in the City, which I've been wanting to make for a long time. I tell you though, you have to earn this scarf. The pattern is not difficult, but it's slightly awkward and very slow, and it's taken me longer than I care to admit to knit as much as I have on this. But I love it, and finally I will have made something for myself in Manos! Usually I just hoard it or make things to give away...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Felis bastardus

Phew, what a weekend! But before I get to all the knitting that was accomplished, I want to take a step back and discuss the blocking of the Hike sweater. I've been waiting until I had photographic proof, so you didn't think I was bluffing about having finished the knitting. So, here you go, proof:

Please ignore the ugly beach towel and the 'bike shop' behind the futon. Here we have the back of the sweater and one sleeve, with all the other pieces on the left of the photo. This blocking process has been my first painful lesson in "row gauge." Observe how long the sleeve is, especially compared to the back. From the pattern I think the sleeve is actually supposed to be shorter than the back, and you might recall me having been concerned about how long the sleeves were looking, and actually cutting out 12 rows near the top after the last increase. Apparently that was too little too late, from looking at these babies. Hence the row gauge theory. The sweater back was knit until it was however many inches, and then the increases/decreases started, whereas the sleeves didn't have a stretch of straight knitting, just increasing every so many rows until there were the right number of stitches. From looking at the back and the sleeves, I conclude that my row gauge was way off, and that this was corrected for on the back because I just knit less straight, but not fixed on the sleeves, hence they're long enough for a gorilla. But, I will roll the sleeves and carry on. Maybe I'll be more careful next time...

So you see the sweater, laying there on the futon, drying nicely in the breeze? Peacefully basking in its almost sweaterness? Hehe. Those photos were taken Wednesday night before I took Dave to the airport. Thursday when I got home from the lab it was late, and I was tired, and although the sweater was dry, I figured no harm could come from leaving it pinned out another night. Enter Felis bastardus. I awoke Friday morning and proceeded to the bathroom, where I immediately stepped on something cold on the rug. Looking down, I was both shocked and awed to see a blocking pin there under my foot. I ran walked to the den and discovered, well, a mess. Felis bastardus had apparently been bored in the night, having taken some time off from his usual nighttime activity of sleeping on my head and chewing my hair. Now I really do wish I had some photos of this to document the occasion, but what I discovered was a pile of green towel and sweater pieces on the futon, with pins sticking out everywhere. Thankfully, the beast had not damaged the knitting (I have to admit this was the first thing I thought of, before wondering about his well-being) nor has he appeared to have ingested any of the pins (this is a cat who has been to the vet for yarn removal from unmentionable regions, so I wouldn't have put it past him). I counted the pins I could find, and found 31, which seems to me an odd number. I've only used them once before and I know I haven't lost any, so they either were meant to come in 30 packs and I got lucky, or there are several laying in wait around my apartment. I've been wearing shoes. I have to admit that I haven't gotten around to reblocking these pieces, but I will soon...Here is the perpetrator as a kitten, showing early signs of destructive tendencies:

I've been doing a fair bit of other knitting, but I'll wait until Dave comes back with the camera to talk about it, so I can show it off properly!

Friday, August 04, 2006


This shall be a somewhat chaotic post, as I have a lot to mention...
1) In keeping with August Project Spectrum, I've been working on my black and white clapotis:

Laptop including for laziness scale. This is just after the end of the 8th repeat in the straight section, and it's endless. I feel like I started knitting this ages ago (March? April?), and I've actually worked on it fairly steadily (it's even an international traveler), but I feel as if I'm getting nowhere. However, I would really like to finish it before the end of August. We'll see. I believe Lolly is intending September to be "finish all the Project Spectrum UFOs" month, so if I carry over that would be tolerable. Of course I also have my green socks (from May) to deal with, which brings me to...

2. Sock Wars!!! How cool is this? I'm not sure if I want to sign up, although Rachel did. Basically it's like assassins for knitters, where everyone in the game has a partner. You knit socks and mail them off, and when the recipient receives them, they're 'dead' and they send you their unfinished socks and the name of the person they were supposed to mail them to (kill), and then you finish those socks, send them to that person, and so on and so forth. I would LOVE to do this, but I don't really knit that quickly, and fall is gift knitting time (not that I knit that much for myself as it is, if I'm honest, but I would like to). So, I figure I'd be killed off pretty quickly, but it's a great idea. I might still do it, I can't make up my mind.

3. The bamboo tank top is on. Daisy made a swatch for me, just to test if my knitting was really bizarre or if it was the yarn, and she got gauge and it looked pretty holey, but I carried on with her swatch and continued to get gauge (on size 5 needles, being careful to not knit too tightly), so I'm just going to go with it. In fact, I intend to head to the LYS for needles this afternoon, pretty much as soon as I post this. I will cast on tonight while watching this...

4. Pride and Prejudice, ala BBC. I watched the first half last night. Sadly, I was not eating the chicken dinner that I had so been looking forward to, because I didn't get home from lab until 8:30 and the chicken wasn't thawed yet, and I was starving, and so I ate lentil soup. But, the chicken is still in the fridge and better be thawed when I get home, because I WILL eat it tonight. Watching this inspired me to work on my lace project, but not enough to get it out, because it's a movie that requires more attention than I could give it if I was to be trying to remember my yarnovers. So, the clapotis was worked on a bit, but mostly I just relished the lovely dresses and Colin Firth.

5. The Hike sweater blocking experience. I have a good story. However, it will have to wait until Dave gets around to emailing me the photos that accompany it...sorry. Not my fault.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gauge shall be the death of me...

So, to all who provided input on my next project choice, either in the online ether or in person, thank you! Despite all those lovely sweater options, Rachel brought up the fact that a tank top would go quickly and I'd be more inspired to finish it since I would want to wear it sooner, and thus would be less inclined to procrastinate. So, because she is my knitting guru, I heeded her advice, headed for the stash, and pulled out this:

For those less obsessed with the fiber arts, this is the summer Interweave Knits, and the shirt I plan to make, the Lotus Blossom Tank by Sharon Shoji (p. 102), along with some lovely turquoise (of course) South West Trading Company Bamboo yarn. I may stress that this is the RECOMMENDED yarn for the pattern. In fact, it's even the right color, although that was accidental. I must also mention that the photos of this tank in the magazine are much more flattering than the one on the cover. But I digress.

So you might have astutely noted the title of this post, which also could have been "how many gauge swatches can Emily make" or "how many sets of DPNs is reasonable to need for swatching" or, as you'll see, "I'm supposed to get the same gauge with this yarn as I'm getting with thick merino on my Clapotis?". Let me back up a step. Last night I got home from work after my little "you should make something summery" chat with Rachel, and excitedly dove into this project. I realized quickly that I didn't the suggested circular needles (how is this possible, with all the needles I have?), but I wisely decided to swatch first and buy later. So, I gathered my provisions (magazine, bamboo, measuring tape, DPN case (from Kim), iPod, and diet Pepsi (don't leave home without it), and headed to the roof of my building. Sadly, there are no photos of this, as I'd left the camera in the lab, but I did get a shot of my full DPN case in case Kim is keeping an eye out. It's lovely, and very useful for this exact purpose, as we shall see:

The pattern recommends two needle sizes, one for the very bottom (US 6) and then one size smaller for the rest, with the gauge based on the smaller needle. The gauge I was shooting for is 5.5 stitches/inch, and the yarn band recommends 5 stitches/inch on size 5 needles, so there is good agreement between the yarn and the pattern. Hahaha...I'm a bit of a tight knitter, so I figured I would go up a needle size to start, and did a swatch on size 6s. Now, this swatch should've been done in the round, so I carefully carried my yarn across the back, loosely, and knit every row on the DPNs, for a couple of inches. I have to say, I liked the feeling of the fabric, but it was looking pretty I measured it, and I had 7.5 stitches/inch. 7.5! I'm practically making socks here! I did a bit of muttering under my breath and moved up to size 7s, and got about 7 stitches/inch. Getting desperate, I moved up to 8s, thinking that this was totally impossible, seeing as I'm knitting my clapotis with size 8 needles and thick wool, and this bamboo is nowhere near that thick. On the size 8s, I got about 6 stitches/inch, but the fabric looked horrid, it was holey and stretchy and not at all like the nice dense fabric I'd gotten before or that on the model in the magazine. I thought, Emily, maybe it is your bizarre 'carrying the yarn across the back' thing that screwing everything up, so I broke the cardinal rule of swatching and knit a stockinette swatch on my DPNs (purling across the back) and actually GOT gauge with the crazy size 8s, but it looked AWFUL. I cannot stress this enough. In an act of desperation I made a circular swatch with my size 7 DPNs, and that was something like 6.5 stitches/inch. At that point I threw everything back in my bag in frustration and went downstairs and had a glass of wine.

What does one do in this situation? I like this tank top, I really like the yarn, and it seems ridiculous to me that my gauge is so off. Since I really liked the feel and drape of my albeit small swatch at 7 stitches/inch, I did some math and figured out that if I followed the pattern for the large tank top, with that gauge it would come out about the same size as the small that I was initially going for. However, that size requires twice as much yarn as I have, and although obviously I wouldn't be covering as much physical area as the large tank, I have a feeling I'd be using way more yarn than I would with the correct gauge. Thoughts? I might consult with the folks at the LYS tomorrow and see if they have any ideas. I've actually had this type of problem with sock yarn before, with wild gauge issues and way too many stitches/inch, but not with larger yarns. For instance, I don't have crazy gauge problems with worsted weight wool, I'm usually spot-on with those. I have no idea what my problem is. All I know is I am frustrated with this. I might go back and reswatch with the smaller needles and make larger swatches in the round, in case that's really my issue, but I have a feeling it's not and that this tank+this yarn are not meant to be for me. But I will perservere, at least a little while longer.

Dave is going to be out of town for the weekend, and he's taking "my" his camera with him, so there may not be any photos for a few days. Perhaps I'll post some random ones I've taken lately and not put online, just to keep you all entertained! I'm all set for a long weekend alone in the apartment: 6 hour BBC version of Pride & Prejudice (thank you Netflix), chicken thawing in the fridge (I plan to eat meat every night, with the vegetarian out of my hair!), and (maybe) a new knitting project...

PS: No one has the new Rowan in the flesh! Very sad, I'm counting the days until they get it in stock in late August...