Vest Adaptation Excites Millions

Or, at least, me!

I’m very happy with how this vest came out. It may be the best, most well-fitting vest I’ve made. Especially, I like how the garter-stitch running in different directions gives the heathered Mushishi even more texture and dimension. I’ve said it before, EZ’s generally blocky and dated designs (60s, 70s) can really benefit from a) short-row or other shaping, and b) using zippers rather than buttons for a sleeker, more modern look. Behold my proud creation:

Will try to replicate in another yarn. I took notes as I went and it actually is a pretty simple hack on the EZ ASJ.

Has a bit of an ancient Japanese armor vibe, no?


Keep a Good Thought for Japan Tonight

I haven’t posted in so long here. Have been busy with so many projects but I was moved to say a few words about the devastating earthquake that has hit us here in Japan on Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm (3/11/11).

My family and I are OK but it was a HUGE scary event! The fifth largest earthquake in recorded history (8.9 on the Richter Scale), we in the Tokyo/Yokohama area had wide train stoppage (voluntarily, to check the rails) and cell/land phone outages but are otherwise just shaken up. The situation in northeastern Japan is the footage you have seen on the news: towns leveled, tsunami water and salt damage, thousands dead and missing.

We are in a tentative state, with hourly tremblors/aftershocks and a 70% chance of another big quake (3/12- 3/15).

There have been explosions of nuclear facilities, with limited radiation leakage, but I think they will largely be able to contain and limit that damage.

Yet, already, I can say that no place on Earth is better equipped to handle this catastrophe than Japan. People have been orderly, organized, generous,  other-directed, well-prepared, and civic-minded. I have not heard of one incident of looting or panic or disorder. This whole high-tech society has opened up to care for each other and, despite all the pain and suffering, that is a life-affirming thing to see.

If you are knitter who sees knitting as a meditation (kind of like a rosary), then knit a row— or 50— of kind thoughts/prayers for the people who are cold and hungry and sad in Japan tonight. They are the most deserving of that universal healing at this moment.

Or visit Knit for Japan and knit your bit for displaced evacuees.


Whoa! Long slack-off. School began, in hospital for a couple of weeks. Yada, yada. No excuses.

Anyway, with summer looming, I’m on a cotton kick. Not that I’ve completed all my previous wooly projects but I’m just jonesin’ to crank on the cotton. Scored the requisite second skein of Katia Jamaica (#4000) from my fav LYS Puppy Yarn in funky recycle shop and student theatre district Shimokitazawa. Here’s what it looks the front looks like (already finished the back):

Cool and island-y

Cool and island-y

Couldn’t help myself. Also cast on the same vest pattern but in my colors and according to Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) ‘s Vowel poem. You know, the one where he associates vowels with colors (basically launching the Symbolist poetry movement and the psychedelic study of synesthesia)?
Goes like this:
A Black, (E white), I red, U green, O blue : vowels,
I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins:
A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
Which buzz around cruel smells,Gulfs of shadow; (E), whiteness of vapours and of tents,
Lances of proud glaciers, (white) kings, shivers of cow-parsley;
I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
In anger or in the raptures of penitence;U, waves, divine shudderings of viridian seas,
The peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace of the furrows
Which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads;O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds,
Silences crossed by Worlds and by Angels:
O the Omega, the violet ray of Her Eyes!

– As translated by Oliver Bernard: Arthur Rimbaud, Collected Poems (1962) 

Scary and trippy right? I’m off on a tear now to incorporate those colors into the linen and cotten summer top I’m knitting up for myself. Looks like this:
Rimbaud Vowel Vest

Rimbaud Vowel Vest

Rimbaud Vowel Vest

Rimbaud Vowel Vest







Finally, I got very inspired by the origami mind of Elizabeth Zimmermann to knit the extremely simple but fun Moebius Vest with built-in i-cord (yarn forward then slip (purl-wise) last three stitches of each row).  So far, I’ve done this:

so cool and green

so cool and green

 Against the sour global economy, I’m busy in-vesting!    

No FOs but Happy Holidays Anyway!

I’m super busy this time of year. The end of the school year comes soon but the New Year is the BIG occasion in Japan so lots of events and family stuff abounding abundantly.  Holiday knitting? Don’t much happen round here. Committed myself to making lap blankets for family members (giant needles, bulky yarn) for friends and family but hard to really get them finished. At least I can vouch for two, one finished and given to David before he left for England and one more very nearly done for Iichirou. That leaves one more for Tetsuo and Seiko, maybe one for Yukiko and Kyou-chan.  Or maybe they will get theirs much later . . .

So, what do you do when you can’t get your knitted gift goals completed by the holidays? Let me know in this poll:

Readers Demand Full Disclosure!

After the last entry, reader Luneray incisively wrote in to say: 

What, no pics of the portrait on the building? That’s almost as interesting as your thrift-score sweaters!

Well, we here at the hAMImono main offices aim to please, so here is the aforementioned official sign/portrait:

Don't Worry! We aim to please! You aim too, please!

Don't worry, the Iwata Shop will recycle anything!

Sign says: Anshin desu. Benriya desu. Nandemo katazukemasu.
Iwata-ya Tel 402-6848
Translation: Don’t worry. This is a convenient shop. We will take absolutely anything off your hands.
Iwata Shop Tel 402-6848
Also, here is a pic of the whole place. looks like a junk pile but is actually a labyrinth of hidden treasures!
Iwataya Recycle Shop

Iwataya Recycle Shop

Again, thanks to reader Luneray for zeroing in on the heart of the previous posting and bringing this lapse to public attention. Her scrutiny has enhanced our lives.

Yarn Score!

Grades finished and turned in! Summer here with a vengeance! Nothing to do for two months but suck popsicles and knit! Heaven!

Now, like many a knitter before me has immoderately professed, I love nice yarn. However, I am not a yarn snob at all. In deed, I am a big fan of acrylic blends and even fun fur (in moderation, of course). Soooo, not wanting to spend much money on undesignated or vaguely-conceived projects, and not much wanting to build up much of a stash, I regularly cruise the recycle shops for hand-knitted sweaters that deserve a new lease on life via recyled yarn. Last week, bingo! Creamy clean white wool (60%) with acrylic (40%) —just enough to give it a bit of shine, bulky, nubby. Huge! (No one in my house is anything like huge . . . if anything, we’re all kind of skinny . . .) Lots of yarn for charity blanket knitting. Also, seams were not serged, so froggable. Snap! Perfect.

I should say that it is now 36 degrees C (97 F) here in Yokohama so this unloved treasure was in the “Free” bin.  Can’t beat that. I should say that this sweater was really knit quite beautifully with very intricate cabling, but as mentioned, huge, and also with a super-ugly immense cowl neck that screamed “I knit this in 1984!”  The effect is “Kilroy was here”—eyes and nose peeking over a large wool wall. Flattering to whom? No one could have worn this without invoking severe fashion police penalties. Do the world a favor and get thee to The Frogpond!

So, I did. Ummm . . should have photographed the sweater before ripping. But, alas, forgot. Remembered after snipping all seams. At least you can see the nicely knitted pieces pre-froggery: 

PreFrogged unseamed

PreFrogged unseamed

Hauled out the ball winder and vacuum cleaner (lots of little snips and threads!) and spent a pleasant thirty minutes making like Kermit. The result:

Loot of the Yarn Varlot

Loot of the Yarn Varlot

Were thirty minutes ever more well-spent? Thousands of yen worth of yarn for free. Not to mention the hours of knitting pleasure.