New Inspirations

This summer was a big lift for me, knitting-wise. I really speeded up my knitting, making it much more fun. I discovered that while cotton and I will not be soulmates, we can at least be friends. I learned alot more about new techniques and EZ’s various projects. Worked diligently through three (count em!) three different  wool and sizes of baby Surprise Jackets. Currently, making the EZ Snail Hat to match one of them.

Lil Skunk Toddler Surprise Jacket

Lil Skunk Toddler Surprise Jacket

I’ve begun a vest in Silk Garden yarn to rev up my attempt to do the Knee-length Coat in Silk Garden. I’m concerned about the seaming . . . but, happily, I have a lot of support from Alana and the gang at the NeverNotKnitting fan forum on Ravelry. Just between you and me, I don’t know if i would go for it if they weren’t there to support me. It’s been a very helpful group so far, knowledgable and friendly. But then, that seems to be the rule with knitters, not sure why . . . 

Mango Lace

Mango Lace

The Sunset Picnic lace yarn Series

The Sunset Picnic lace yarn Series

Got two great samplers of lace yarns from Knit Picks, one in blues and greens, one in reds and salmons. Both rich and sophisticated palates. First thing I had to de-skein all of them and came up with a good system for these really fine-easily tangled yarns. After balling them on my yarn-baller, I get a fine plastic mesh food strainer bag (we use them in the drains of Japanese sinks), pull the bottom through the center of the yarnball and wrap the rest around the ball. Keeps the yarn from tangling/falling apart but allows it to feed to the work. Good system for me! I’ve started Miriam Felton’s Seraphim Shawl in the red series and am planning to use a bit of all the red/salmon yarns in the shawl. The series goes like this: Shadow (100% merino) Sunset Heather, shading into Gloss Lace (70% merino, 30% silk) Chipotle, shading into Shadow Hot Rod, shading into Alpaca Cloud (100% baby alpaca) Papaya, shading into Shimmer (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk) Sunkissed, shading into Gloss Lace Mango. Have also started the same shawl in Filatura di Crosa mohair fingering weight #3001, an opalescent blue-grey shading into lavenders and pale pinks. Why two? Well, this lace knitting is some fine and tedious shit. Even with sharp Addi Turbos, each stitch is hard to see and pick up, easy to split and will take beyond my life expectancy to complete. When I cast on the same thing in my favorite yarn, even though it is mohair and I know lots of people have issues with that, I had doubled what I did with the other within twenty minutes. Encouraging! So, I will continue with this lace spiderwebby stuff as practice but will actually get a shawl in reasonable time out of my workhorse fingering yarn. That works for me.

EZ BSJ Fever

One Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket FO. Two more on the needles! Found a use for the Mokely Stripe (100% wool). It’s amazing how addictive this little bugger (the BSJ) is. I’m using the easy pattern to get set for starting a real sweater construction, the Knee-length Coat in Noro Iro from Michael del Vecchio’s Knitting With Balls (page 112).  Got yarn and needles. Can I do it? Or should i try the ASJ first?

Finished BSJ #1

Finished BSJ #1

Winter Diamond FO: Sofa Rug, or Shoulder Shrug?

Finished the Ghost Cable Winter Diamond Room Throw today! My design. Fun and easy to knit. I say it again, recycled yarn is a great way to go.

Sofa rug or shoulder shrug?!

Sofa rug or shoulder shrug?!

It’s a very easy pattern, based on the Lion Brand Baby Love Diagonal Baby Blanket. The center has progressive cable fragments, called “ghost” or “shadow” cables, drifting sinuously to and fro. The many cables pull the square into a long diamond, great as a sofa topper or shoulder cozy in the chill of winter. 

Sofa rug? Shoulder shrug? Your choice. The icy gale shall not prevail! 

Check my Ravelry page for more pics and info on this project.

Finished edging the Origami Hat and Scarf with i-cord . . .

Origami Scarf and Hat with i-cord trim

So now on to BSJ, complete with i-cord trim. (But, may *lacivious wink* cast on Seraphim Shawl today . . .)

My Pillow List: Yays and Nays of Knitting in Tokyo

Things I love about knitting in Japan:

  • Being Asia, bamboo needles are super cheap, even circs. I get them at 100 yen shops (about a dollar) and have lots of them. OK, yes, I mostly use my Knit Picks Harmony needles but I use my bamboo needles a lot every day as well. The yarn from 100 yen shops sucks but I have used some for theatre productions . . .
  • Japan is the home of Mitsuharu Hirose-sama, the Knitting Prince! the-knitting-prince
  • a little-known fact: tatami (rice straw flooring found in every Japanese home) is perfect for blocking. Imagine having a room-sized blocking mat to push pins into. Great for those big honkin’ lace shawls and crazy-long Dr. Who scarves! 
  • Japan is the home of Noro * drool* and Habu yarns. Also, Habu’s talented designer Setsuko Torii.
  • Japan has four very distinct seasons, with very strict divisions between them and appropriate activities for each. Knitting is Winter activity. Period. In that period, Japanese knitters knit like maniacs. Intense!
  • Japanese knitting means chart knitting. Fun and Interesting. 
  • Lots of indigo and natural dyed yarns.
  • Popular Japanese spiral paper clips (these shown are a German make but we have super cheap ones just like them here) make great stitch markers.
  • My job (university professor at Japanese university) gives me lots of time, both during the school term at school and off for months of vacation, to knit. 
  • I can knit anywhere or anytime I want. Since I’m a foreigner, I’m expected to do strange things anyway, so no one bats an eye when I knit on the train or in a cafe :).  

Things I Don’t Love About Knitting in Japan:

  • Not many yarn shops. Most yarns and knitting goods very expensive (like most things here).
  • Sock yarn nonexistent. Has to be ordered online. The sock-knitting craze, indeed the knitting boom, never hit here. Knitting is essentially the domain of middle-aged women (blouses) and love-struck teen girls (boyfriend scarves).
  • Knitting is strictly seen as A Winter Activity. (See seasonal comment above). Lots of craft stores put away their yarns in the spring and summer!

Some FOs Coming Up!

It’s been great. Lots of knitting time and more on the way. Basically, I’m a house husband this summer . . .

So, the Origami sweater and hat are done except for the i-cord edging. I am practicing my applied i-cord because I know that I want to edge the BSJ with it. I like the finished look.  A great thing I discovered about i-cord: covers a multitude of edging errors (I had to steek the back of the band because I BO too tightly! But, shhhh, don’t tell anybody. Its a secret . . .) . Love that. Here’s what I have so far:

Origami Scarf and Hat- pre i-cord

Origami Scarf and Hat- pre i-cord

Ghost Cable Room Throw is coming along, maybe 75% done. I love it. If it comes out well, I’ll post the pattern, my design :), here.  

Gotta take an excusion into the Houdini socks by Cat Bourhi. Love her mind!

Will work on BSJ this week. If it comes out OK, will start right in on the Adult Surprise Jacket in Noro.  But what about the Seraphim Shawl?!! So many projects in queue . . .