Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Seaming in progress...

Just a quick note to let you all know that I haven't disappeared from blogland. I had set a goal for myself to not blog again until my AV pullover was finished, but it's taking longer than expected. (Ok, so I've been distracted with reading.) I'm in the homestretch now, or is it hell week? I'm seaming. The collar was bound off too tightly, so I'm going to fix that and finish up with the sleeves and side seams. I plan to have it done well before Friday. Oh wait, it's Tuesday right? Ok, so hopefully by Friday. :)


PS. I got the new IW knits today. I've changed my mind on the Greek Pullover. The feature that I loved about it (the i-cords) turns out to be the feature that has turned me away. DH and I both agree that it'll do nothing good for my boobs to have two cords below accentuating their, well, boobiness. If I was anything close to flat-chested, I'd definitely go for it though.

It looks like the Union Square Market Pullover is the star of this issue. It's on my list even though it's on size 3's. I'm probably going to make it in cotton or a linen yarn. I won't get started on this right away though. I have some stash busting to do. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Knitting Frenzy!

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I haven't been talking about my knitting much lately. So many other interesting things have been coming up. However, if you're really observant, which I'm not, you may have noticed that the AV Shawl collared pullover went from being on my 'to-knit list' to being 50% done! (I really need to try to get my progress bars to work with this layout.) This is such a fun and quick knit! I've got the back and both sleeves completed; I've even woven in the ends! This weekend I hope to finish the front and cast on for the collar. Then the seaming... The dreaded seaming.

Wanting to get better at seaming (and more patient with it), I was hoping to do a little in between knitting. This would make it so that it wouldn't be so much all at once. Well, after doing some reasearch via Stitch 'n Bitch, it turns out that you do the shoulder seams FIRST. Ha! I guess I should have knit it in the order the pattern lays out. C'est la vie.

Here's my question though: Can you sew the sleeve seams up before attaching them to the body? I'm guessing that the answer is no, since all my books say to sew the sleeves to the armholes after you sew the shoulder seams. Is this an absolute in the world of sweater knitting? I hope not, but maybe the shoulder caps have something to do with it?

Hope you all have a great night!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dyeing for Vegans

"Yahaira, you are AMAZING! I can not tell you how much I am just beaming over here! I'm completely thrilled that you've taken such time and diligence to make a tutorial that shows so much vegan love. I never thought I'd try my hand at dyeing, but now I definitely will! I just hope mine comes out half as nice as yours. Your colorway is GORGEOUS!"

That's the most recent post I've put on someone else's blog. Yahaira is the BEST! Over at knit fix, she's created the absolute best tutorial on the web, maybe the only one on the web, for dyeing yarns that are NOT wool.

**Ok, so she demonstrates how to use silk ~ not so vegan friendly, but she does show off some mad bamboo dyeing skills!

May I take advantage of a teachable moment? This is in no way meant to offend or upset anyone. I am by no means the expert on silk and I am in no way perfect. Heck, I bought some Rowan summer tweed yarn a few months ago which is 70% silk and 30% cotton and I'm knitting with it right now! My thought at the time was that it wasn't wool, so it was ok. I've also got an unfinished chinese charm bag made with the recycled silk from tibet. If you look in the archives of this blog, you can see me struggling and trying to figure out how far I wanted to go with my veganism and if silk was something I should eliminate from my life. I'm human! I've ultimately decided that silk is something I can live without and will refrain from purchasing it again. So, if you use silk, I'm still your friend. I'm not judging ya or anything like that. No worries, ok? :)

This is the definition of veganism provided by the British Vegan Society:
"A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, including humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."

This is the definition my mind goes back to when people ask me what a vegan is. I feel like this definition is the complete and perfect answer to questions like 'What is a vegan? Why are you vegan? A bug just hit your windshield; can you still be vegan?' - type questions.

Ok, back to the silk! Insects may not seem like animals, but they are in the animal kingdom, just like us. People roast/steam/cook/boil the silk worms while they are still in their little cocoons resting and growing up to become moths. The silk producers do this so that the silk strands are not broken when the moth emerges. All you ever wanted to know about silk.

More interesting facts:
Today, the silkworm moth lives only in captivity. Silkworms have been domesticated so that they can no longer survive independently in nature, particularly since they have lost the ability to fly. All wild populations are extinct, although presumably old relatives exist in Asia.

One cocoon is made of a single thread about 914 meters long. About 3000 cocoons are needed to make a pound of silk.

To gather silk from cocoons, boil intact cocoons for five minutes in water turning them gently. Remove from the water and using a dissecting needle or similar tool, begin to pick up strands. When you find a single strand that comes off easily, wind the silk onto a pencil. Several of these strands are combined to make a thread.

Are there other options?

You betcha!

If you’ve just gotta have silk, try Tussah silk. One can never be completely sure how the worms are treated before and after the production, but if quitting silk is too unbearable for you tussah may be helpful. It’s described as being: "gathered after the wild silk moth emerges, making this silk organic or "Peace Silk."

We can’t forget the yummy soy silk and bamboo provided by SWTC. Classic elite also makes a bamboo yarn that feels softer than the one from SWTC, but is a bit more pricey. Keep a look out for Tencel yarn as well. It's really soft and light.

I love being VEGAN!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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If you can read only one book this entire year, The Kite Runner needs to be that book.

Before purchasing the book, I was concerned about the setting. What do I know about Afghanistan? Nothing much. My ignorance didn't matter one bit when I started to read. Khaled Hosseini does a beautiful job of describing anything that the reader may not understand, but nothing in this book is difficult to grasp. This book isn't about the politics of Afghanistan. This book is about life. It's about social stigmas, childhood friends, betrayal, guilt, love, and passion.

This amazing story begins with a phone-call. It's an old friend calling our narrator, Amir, who is now 38. The old friend is giving Amir a chance to make himself good again, but he must go back to Afghanistan to do it. Our journey doesn't begin on an airplane, though. First, Amir brings us back in time to his childhood. He pulls us into a world foreign to our own, but into a life that we can relate to. We learn about Amir and his childhood friend Hassan, who loves Amir unconditionally. Hassan always takes up for Amir and protects him from childhood bullies even though he is a year younger than Amir. They are nearly inseparable, until one day when Amir's courage doesn't match up to his friend's. Their lives are changed forever.

The story comes full circle when Amir comes back around to the present time, and the story feels like it has only just begun. The author does not rush an ending, as I’ve seen many other authors do in the past. He takes his time and tells the story as only he knows how, in the most amazing way.

This book is a journey that I will never forget. I absolutely love Hosseini's writing style and the unforgettable imagery he used. I've never used the word 'powerful' to describe a book, but now I truely understand how powerful and moving a book can be. Hosseini's characters were more than well-rounded. They really came to life for me. This book has a resonance that will be with me for the rest of my life. If you can only read one book this year, let it be The Kite Runner.

This is a wonderful essay written by Hosseini regarding his own trip back to Afghanistan after 27 years. You can get a feel for his writing style and some familiarization with The Kite Runner, without any spoilers.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My SP is the BEST!

I really wasn't planning on blogging today, because well, today was just really crappy. School was fine, work was fine. I just had a bad case of the blahs. Some plans in my life just aren't working out, but that's ok. Look what came in the mail today!
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My secret pal rocked my socks off! If I didn't know better, I'd think she knew me in person! She sent me a card with a Dancing BANANA! :) She could have easily been in Target when I was eyeing the Relaxation for Women CD she sent me, which I'm enjoying immensely right now. I already own the Yoga cd by lifescapes and I've nearly worn it out. My SP also sent me the first edition hardbound copy of a book I've been dying to read, Pour Your Heart Into It. A book about Starbucks, of course. Being a business major, and a starbucks addict, I had to have this book and have been wanting it for quite some time! My SP even sent me my very own R2D2 droid! I love him! I also received some beautiful shades of Elizabeth lavold cotton patine that's so soft! If that's not enough, she also sent me a skein of Classic Elite's Bam Boo yarn that I've wanted to try, which is also amazingly soft!

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So here I sit, listening to my new cd, fondling my new yarn, sipping a soy chai, and setting down R2D2 in front of my monitor (my favorite droid!). Thank you so much for being so thoughtful and sweet, SP! I love it all, obviously! How did you know that I just finished up Kite Runner last night and needed another book to read? Everything you sent was vegan friendly! You rock!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sailing, sailing...

Wow, what a busy week it's been! I'll go in chornological order and try to make it short and sweet. I have lots of pictures to share.

Sunday, we met Herbie! He was a fashionably late (ok, 2.5 hours isn't exactly fashionable, and it was H-O-T!), but finally he arrived. He was actually Herbie #9 of however many different herbies they used for the upcoming movie. The herbie that we saw was a junkyard herbie who shoots smoke out his muffler in the movie, which I can't wait to see.

Here he is!
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This week we took sailing lessons at the yacht club. DH and I missed the first two days, but we made up for them the last 3. (Actually, he missed the first 3 days, but who's counting.) I just happened to call DH's lil sis, and found out she needed a ride, so we went and had a blast! Thanks Chelsea!

Here's DH heading out on a sunfish:
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And here's DH an his lil'sis after sailing on the larger catamaran. (I just love this pic.)

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Today was my first ever knitting class! I had so much fun spending time and teaching these girls to knit. They were so sweet and so smart. I wasn't sure how to gauge how well I taught today and how well they liked it until I had a certain conversation:

G: Well, my mom said she's going to wait on the porch, so I guess she's ready to go.
Me: Yea, I guess so. But you can call the shop and I'll meet you here if you ever need help later.
G: I'll just knit one more row, then I'll go meet her.
[she finishes row]
G: Well, just one more row.
[she finishes row]
[I look at her and smile.]
Me: You want to do another row?
G: Just one more.. Man, it's hard to put this down.

The minute I heard her say, "one more row," I knew she was hooked and I felt like my job was done. All I could think of was, "oh honey!" LOL
I just beamed!

From left to right: G, A, and A. (I'd rather not put names until I have their mom's permission.)
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You girls were great! Hope to see you next Saturday!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

July 5th

July 5th is the day that the new IW knits hits the stands. I'm really eager for the publication to be out, so that I can get to work on those beautiful tops I posted earlier. That being said, I have exactly 30 days to wrap up my WIPs! Can she do it? Well, probably not.

Yesterday, I finished my suss shrug from an online pattern. I wasn't thrilled about the FO, but this is the 2nd time I've completed the pattern and I'm not doing it again. My gauge seems consistent, but when you fold the shrug in half one arm is an inch longer than the other. Yet, when I put it on it looks fine. The ribbing on the second cuff is a bit wonky, so once I fix that it will definitely help. There is a little crochet edging that is optional to add to the shrug, but it will be a long while before I attempt to add that. So, in summary, I guess it technically isn't finished. I'll probably fix it today and model it for a quick pic.

After the discouragement of not being a perfect knitter, yes I'm a perfectionist, I've decided to give myself a break from the cabled vest. I just don't have the energy to try to frog or tink 25 rows without screwing up or losing count, just yet. I've turned my attention to the stack of Rowan Summer tweed and have started re-calculating the AV Shawl collared pullover. Yes, it's still June, but I need an easy knit to work on when I am too busy chatting to look at a chart (which is probably the reason that I screwed up on my tank).

Actually, other than the cabled vest and the newly started pullover, I don't have any other wips. I do have the Chinese charm bag, but all it needs is some lining and for me to sew on the bamboo handles. So, that's not too bad. I still have a little stash to use up, but it's nothing to be concerned about.

I also wanted to mention that I finished Never Let Me Go. Without giving away any spoilers, I really enjoyed this book. It kept me so entertained that I could hardly put it down. I read it in 3 days by sitting in Books-A-Million after work last week. At the same time, the book is currently in transit to me from their online store, where I was able to buy it for $13 and some change! (Why won’t the store price match their own online store?) I'm going to go ahead and keep it, because I enjoyed it so much. I wish the ending would have been a little different, but I'll take it. I know I haven't said much about the content, but I don't want to spoil it for you like it was spoiled for me. (Don't read the amazon book reviews, just go read the book!)

The Kite Runner is also in transit to me, along with a few of the vegan books I mentioned before. I really think that this will be a great book, although I'm not sure I'll get to finish it as quickly as the last.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cabled vest help

OK, now that I'm finished rambling about school, I have a KNITTING PROBLEM! I've been knitting, ever so happily, away on my cabled vest. I got so happy lucky with decreases that I forgot that I was supposed to start increasing! If any of you have the Vogue Spring, maybe you can help me out. If you don't have the vogue spring issue, you probably can still help me out. Let me show you what I should have done and, adversely, what I have done.

This is for the body shaping. The pattern tells me to decrease 1 stitch at the end of each row on these rows:
2, 14, 26, 38 This is, with the exception of the first, every 12 rows. It also continues to say to increase every 12 rows. Which would mean that I would increase on rows 50, 62, 74, and 86.

Simple? Yes. Did I manage to screw it up? Yes. I made a little list, as I always do, of the rows where something happens. It looks like this:

2 dec 1 st at each end
14 “
26 “
38 “
50 inc 1 st at each end
62 “
74 “
86 “

I was knitting along happily, as I mentioned, and decreased at row 50 & 62. Today, I was knitting at work and came along to row 74. Oh, something happens at this row. I left my original paper with my notes at home, so I re-figured it out at work and realized my mistake. PANIC! Well, nothing I can do now but increase or frog. So, I increased and kept knitting a bit.

Now I’m on row 76 and am wondering what to do. Do I frog 25 rows to get back to row 50 and start increasing like a good girl? Do I deal with it and scatter out 2 more increase rows by row 86? I’m saying that it has to be done by about row 86 because at that point the garment will measure about 13.5” and that’s exactly when I need to start my armhole shaping.

I generally don’t mind frogging, but during school it’s hard to find time to knit, so that will definitely push this tank wayy back. I’d probably just rip it and not give two shakes about it if there weren’t so many cables involved. They’re fun to do, but are going to be a pain to rip. Ideas? Suggestions?

Summer School

Wow! I forgot what a workload the summer courses have. This past week has had me reading a chapter a night from my Business text! I'm also trying to get a hold of my nerves so that I can make it through my speech class. I've dreaded Speech for many years and I finally decided to tackle it this summer. My first speech only has to be a minute to 2 minutes long, but still! Everyone in the class is simply there because they need it for their major. The prof. took a poll and absolutely no one wanted to be in the class! It's gonna be a tough crowd. I've decided to make my introductory speech about diversity. Not diversity in the work place; I mean diversity in life. I'm going to talk about how my life has been so diverse in interests and professions: from knitting to mountain biking, and a diesel mechanic in the military to a teacher for 2 year olds. I hope it's enough to keep the class interested.

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