Wednesday, 24 August 2011

New Post

Oops. It has been exactly three months since my last post! Here finally comes a new post!

I didn't blog but I did knit a bit and finished off 4 projects. I'll post some photos and notes about those projects later, probably. Now I'd love to show what I did yesterday:

(1) I started a shawl by mixing and matching some classic lace repeats from Evelyn A Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. So far, so good.

(2) Finished spinning some BFL/mohair. Having blocked, it's now enjoying a sunbath. 660 metres in total. Maybe a Swallowtail or Summer Flies?

(3) Bought the cutest set of stitch markers!

(4) Enrolled in a Baking class which will commence in late September.

(5) Divided a braid of Shetland roving. Will be my next knitting project. But I am off to Bergen tomorrow for the Bank Holiday long weekend... so probably will start spinning next week.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

In the past 2 months... (with LOTS of pics)

Cough cough... I know I know I know. This place is quite dusty after nothing is posted in for over two months. But I am back!

So... what have I done in the past 2 months? 


(1) I went to another ski trip in mid March. Snow condition was awful but I managed to ski down red runs from the summits of Meribel!

(2) I finished an Orchird Thief Shawlette in Malabrigo Sock. Haven't blocked it yet. Maybe next week?


(3) I cast on a new shawl, Stripe Study, using Zauberball. It's about 90% done. But its a bit too warm to work with this woollen yarn.

(4) I tried dyeing roving too. Basically I just poured in water, vinegar, red & blue dyes plus a braid of SW Cheviot top into a saucepan. It's now on my Ashford Traveller. 

(5) During the Easter/Royal Wedding week, we went to Sharm El Sheikh for snorkelling, diving and chillaxing! LOTS OF FISH & CORAL!! Got my Open Diver Certificate, too. Now I can dive down to 18 metres.


(6) I finish a pair of Monkey Socks, knitted in Socks That Rock. Hum... guess it's a wrong yarn-pattern combination.

(7) I spun a skein of 3-ply Aran-ish yarn of Wildcraft Superwash English Wool Blends (EWB). Not perfect but I am very proud of myself as it does look a lot better than my previous encounters with EWB (here and here).

(8) I learnt a few new dishes. I have made Mushroom Risotto, Sausage Rolls and this Maple glazed duck crown. YUM!!!

(9) I booked two tickets for my parents. They're coming to London in late June and will stay for 6 weeks. My mum really want to take Eurostar so I've bought the tickets too. We're going to Paris for 4 days on 26/7. Hum.. anyone know good LYSs in Paris?

(10) I've ordered my first Golding Spindle. Not one. But six! YES. I bought 6 in order to spread the very expensive fixed shipping cost. They will be sent to my mum and she'll bring them over in June. Why sending them to HK? Because HK has no VAT so I can save 20%! There is no way I can keep all 6 of them. Probably I will keep only 1 or 2. Will post on Ravelry to destash. Hopefully other spinners will give them a good home.

(11) I am planning a trip to Scotland with my parents too. Maybe... having a "stopover" in Cockermouth on 24 June?

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Fraternal Twins

On the right is the second sock I cast on last night. It's quite amusing to see how it looks so different from its sister. I expect the colours of each sock will be reverted soon so at the end they should at least look a bit related, though It won't bother me even if it doesn't.

This picture was taken this morning. Actually I've made a pretty good progress today (it also means I made NO progress for my TCP/IP assignment... urgh...). The afterthought heels have already been set up for both socks and am knitting both feet two-at-a-time. Hopefully they can be finished before it becomes too warm to wear woolly socks.

Another thing I want to share is... I am considering a trip to Pfaffenhofen this summer -- don't make me to say it. There is one and only one reason for knitters around the world to flock to this little Bavarian town. Although Loop (a yarn shop in Islington, London, in case you asked) does carry the yarn now, but going to the shop is another thing. It is sock knitters' Mecca. Plus Claudia will have a summer sale in August, which gives an additional economical incentive to materialize this idea!

DH can't go with me as he has to save his annual leaves for a tentative trip back to Oz later this year to visit in-laws. I honestly don't want to go alone nor do I want to rush a quick same-day return. I am now trying to lure my friend E who happens to have shown preliminary interest in Munich. Will see if we can make a short girls' trip to Munich. :)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

WIP: My 1st Handspun Socks


In the last few weeks I tried to refrain myself from knitting. Knitting is too addictive and I get too many readings and assignments.

(I did allow myself to spin because I can't really overdo it. Thanks to RSI (!), spinning has become self-regulatory. My thumb starts complain by agonizing itself after at most an hour or two... groaning....)

But after a very frustrating day full of stress and tensions, I reckoned I need some "knit therapy". I had an unexplainable urge to do something soothing and fulfilling...


That's why I cast on a plain vanilla sock using SPIN014 last night. Full of thicks and thins, this yarn can't be the best candidate for my first pair of handspun socks. Indeed I first cast on a Chevron scarf with it. After knitting for about 20 rows, I still could't picture myself wearing these vibrant colours around my neck. It's simply not me! I frogged it and cast on 64 stitches again. The yarn is crying to be socks instead of a Chevron scarf.


Very uneven stitches. But who cares?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

SPIN013 & SPIN014

It had been 3 weeks since my last post. Was really busy for my Computing assignments and Diving exam. Not much knitting has been done. I did spin a bit while watching TV though.

First I've spun 200 grams of natural grey Shetland from World of Wool. Shetland wool is one of my favourite fibre to spin. It's not as soft as BFL but I find it easier to handle. Also there's a Cardigan SAL (Spin along) happening in Wildcraft's Ravelry group. I've got some Shetland custom-dyed by Karen of Wildcraft in Oak Leaves (a beautiful shade of greens, greys and purple). This grey Shetland is like a practice before I spin the "real thing".


I read from somewhere before that beginning spinners tend to spin something really chunky and uneven. But after they learn how to spin thinner, it becomes more difficult to spin chunky. I find it quite true. Undoubtedly I need  more practice until I can spin some consistent chunky yarn good enough to do a cardigan. Hum... maybe I should set my heart to some other patterns calling for DKish yarn for the SAL?

Another problem I got is the way I spun it. I don't know if it's true or not, but I got a feeling that Shetland is best spun woollen or at least semi-woollen. After all it's how Shetlanders spun their yarn for their super warm sweaters? Unfortunately I don't know how to do long draw. And I was too lazy to hand card 200grams into rolags. Therefore I only did a forward short draw directly from tops. I did try to keep my hands farther away than usual and not to press the single too hard after each draw, hoping to have more woollen-looking and airy singles. But I think my poor technique didn't do Shetland wool the justice it deserves.


On the left is about 170metres of 2-ply yarn. It's now sort of aran weight but will likely bloom to chunky after washing. The right was a bit of leftover chain-plied from one bobbin. Already chunky. But I get no idea what to do with 24 metres of chunky wool.

Apparently the 2-ply yarn is quite underplied. But I really want it to bloom and remain soft so I gave up doing another round of plying. I guess I quite like its rustic look though I can imagine people may hate it for its hairiness. Let's see how it looks after washing. Maybe it'll become a pair of mitts or a hat or maybe both?


Another braid I spun is the Superwash Merino from Alchemy Fibre Arts.


Navajo plying should be the best way to preserve the colour repeats. But I don't have confidence in spinning merino yet. I was afraid my single would have lots of thicks and thins - which turns out to be quite true. Chain-plying would amplify the unevenness and that's not what I want for sock yarn. Therefore I decided to do a fractal 2-ply.

I first split the roving into two long pieces across its width. For the first piece, I did a bit LOADS of pre-drafting before spinning up. It gave a bobbin of single with very long colour repeat, kinda like Noro, a lot softer though. The second piece was further divided into 4 pieces across its width to achieve a shorter colour repeat.


I got about 235 metres in 89grams after plying. Again, a bit underplied. Sigh... But I guess I can't say I am unhappy. After all it's merino! It is was my fear factor. Though I still can't spin it very well but I guess I no longer fear it. :)


The colours are very cheerful though I find it a bit too neon-y. Next time I think I may try to ply it with another strand of white or semi-solid merino. I am quite eager to knit it up as soon as I can. Really want to see the visual effect of fractal spinning. I am still debating if I should knit my very first pair of handspun socks, or to knit another One-Row Handspun Scarf using very big needles (but given its vibrant neon-y colours, I probably will overdye the scarf with coffee or tea to "sadden" the colours before daring to put it around my neck!)...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

*SPOILER* January Sock Club parcels

I am so lucky to be in two sock clubs this year. Both my January sock club parcels arrived yesterday!


The first one was from Socktopus Knit Love Club. The yarn is Sokkusu-Xtra hand dyed by Alice Yu (Socktopus). The colourway is called Coralina. As a serious hard-core pink/purple sucker, I screamed when I wrapped off the parcel. Different shades of pink and purple. What more can I ask for?

(Sokkusu Xtra: 70% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon. 366m/113g)

However I probably won't knit it into the designated sock club pattern. The yarn is soft and squishy. But I have a bad record and memory of felting and wearing out socks. Guess my gauge is not tight enough or my handwashing is not gentle enough or both. I really don't want to knit any sock with cashmere content -- I'd be too scared to actually put them on. So there's no point for me to knit some socks that I won't wear right? Luckily this Sokkusu Xtra is only a special treat by Alice to celebrate the start of the year. The normal sock club yarn should be a high-twist 100% merino, which I should feel more comfortable to knit socks with.

I still want to attempt the sock club pattern though. The skewed construction of the club pattern looks really interesting. I will probably knit it up with a skein of variegated Wollmeise or Blue Moon Socks that Rock.


Another parcel I got yesterday was from Blue Moon Rockin' Sock Club. Two skeins of STR medium weight with two mini skeins of emergency yarn!


The colourway is called Pinkie Swear & Aubergenius. I think Pinkie Swear is the colourful variegated one while Aubergenius is the semi-solid one in aubergine brown?


Each skein has about 102g and 228 metres.


There are two printed patterns and dyer's notes in plastic sleeves.


The first pattern is called Social Network. An interesting pattern combining cable and colourwork. I love the cable part. And honestly I think this pattern shows the yarn better. But I am really not that into the cuffs, heels and toes knit in garter stitch. If I really make this, I'd love to make modifications on cuffs, heels and toes...


The second pattern is Distelfink. The colourwork looks very complicated but the birds, hearts and flowers are so cute. The variegated yarn is a bit busy but guess I will still try to give it a go!

Alright. Time to wind some yarn up!

FO: Green Marlene Socks

Another FO off the needles in January!


My knitting goal for 2011 is to knit 12 pairs of socks (well, my real goal is to knit 20-24 pairs... but it may be too ambitious to voice out). The project information can be found at the bottom of this post. For more detailed (and boring) progress notes, click here.


In short, it's an enjoyable pattern. The lace pattern is easier than it looks. The only problem is its lack of elasticity. The twisted rib makes it not too stretchy. If I made this pattern again, I'd definitely cast on 4 or 8 more stitches to expand the lace panels and give more leg room.


Project name: Green Marlene
Pattern: Marlene by Cookie A (can be purchased at $4 on Vogue Knitting Online Store)
Started: 9 December 2010
Completed: 29 January 2011
Needle: US2 (2.75mm) Knitpick Symfonie.
Yarn: Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin
Colourway: WD Frosch (it means Frog in German)
How much? 0.54 skeins = 251.8m (275.4 yards)

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Wollmeise goes to...

Sorry to be a bit late. I am supposed to do it last night but my home broadband was down all night. Luckily the internet has been back this morning.

I used the Random Integer Generator to draw a winner out of 8 participants who left me messages in the Good Karma Giveaway post.

The winner is Silja who picked the Wollmeise Twin in Arlene. Please contact me via email or ravelry message. I will try to get the skein posted this week via First Class post unless you prefer other mode of delivery.

Thanks all for participating and sharing project ideas! For others who haven't won this skein, please don't be too disappointed. I promise I will have another giveaway later. :)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

In less than 45 mins...

Packing for French Alps

... I am leaving to the French Alps!

But I still haven't packed anything to knit!

Shall I bring some DK yarn to make another beret or maybe a cowl? Or shall I start another pair of socks?

Maybe both? or maybe none?

Decision decision decision...

Alright, maybe I just close my eyes and randomly pick something up.  Will tell you what I bring and knit when I come back home next weekend.

I'll also do a random draw to let you know who's the lucky winner for the skein of Wollmeise. Good luck and have a wonderful week!

Friday, 21 January 2011

FO: Wavy Water Slouchy Beret

I still haven't found any of my cable needles. But I've got a FO!

(I finally used another Addi Click tip as a cable needle! Works like a charm!)


After struggling for a while, I decided to make my friend a beret for her birthday. The pattern is Star Crossed Slouchy Beret which is available on Ravelry as a free pattern. The yarn I used was Fyberspates Scrumptious DK in colourway Water, a loosely spun single with 55% Merino and 45% Silk.


The colourway is a solid grey watery blue. The wavy cabling pattern in blue makes me think of Ocean and water waves. About the colour, you may notice a significant colour difference between the first photo and the other two. I don't understand neither. The first one should be showing the true colour because the camera had got its white balance adjusted (with a grey card) before taking that photo. Hence that blue should  be the real colour we can see under natural sunlight. But I don't know. Because I haven't had chance to see it under sunlight yet. What I've seen indoor (with tungsten lamp) is very close to what shown in the other two photos. But no matter what, it's a beautiful blue right?


The pattern is well written and the easy cable pattern is just perfect for a timid cable beginner like me. It went really quick and only took me about 5 hours from cast on till cast off! A true instant gratification.

But I still have made some stupid mistakes... I misread the pattern so I missed a knit row after cable row twice! But could not bring myself to care enough to frog and reknit. This yarn was difficult to frog and looked torn and old afterwards. I reckon my friend may not notice it as she doesn't knit.

I am not going to block it as I really don't want it to grow further. So basically it's ready to be sent now. But I am hesitating again. Gifting others my handknit really needs some courage. Hum...

Where are my cable needles?!

Bloody hell. Am I or am I not the only knitter in the world who is constantly losing her cable needles?

I don't really make cable often. I've only knit cable 2 or 3 times. How could I manage to lose 6 cable needles?!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

SPIN012: Merino

I got 50 grams of merino from Sara's Texture Crafts in early October -- in fact it arrived with the BFL I used in my SPIN001 project.

Twice blended from four different commercially dyed colours: Lawn Green, Citrus Green, Forest and Light Green, doesn't it give you a lively sense of primavera?


I tried spinning for about 6-7 grams in October but didn't get any luck. Nada. The yarn kept snapping for 20-30 times on my wheel. Seriously it meant snapping 5 times for every gram I spun! I knew something's wrong but I didn't know what, so I concluded I wasn't good enough to spin Merino yet. I tried spinning Merino again in November, but I still didn't get the hack of it. Therefore I turned my back to Shetland, BFL and Cheviot, leaving Merino behind with a big "fear factor" label.

Last night I decided to confront my fear factor once more. This time I was luckier. The yarn still snapped and broke for 4-5 times, but it felt a lot less discouraging and more manageable.


As I only got 44 grams, I didn't play in order to get a better yardage. There was about 270 metres with 40 wpi spun up before finishing.


It looked like a Christmas wreath before finishing!

I didn't wreck it that much, though still have given it a very hot water bath followed by a cold one. I bet it didn't shrink a lot but should be given enough treatment to make the single a bit stronger.


After leaving it on radiator for one whole night, it's totally dried. Haven't measured the wpi yet, but it feels like a lace weight to me. I think 270m of lace weight should be enough to make a small Ishbel (I made one in Kidsilk Haze with about 230m), but will this blended colour too fuzzy for Ishbel? Hum... I don't know, but I really really want to make something with it!

But I think I do love this skein. It's my first formal encounter with Merino. Not very even but not too wildly uneven neither. I think next time if I can get a bigger braid (100 or 200 grams), I will definitely ply it up and hopefully plying can smooth out the unevenness and give a rounder, nicer yarn.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Knitting for friends?

The other day, I talked about knitting for friends with my friend Cynthia, who's also an avid knitter/crocheter.

Cynth told me that sometimes she got a bit pissed when her friends didn't even bother to drop a line to let her know the gift has safely arrived. She only found out it arrived and stop worrying after weeks.

Yes. I think if I was her, I would be really pissed. Honestly if someone doesn't bother to say Thank You within a reasonable time frame, obviously he or she doesn't really care enough about the gift. In other word, they just don't give a damm shit to it, however much effort or time you spent on it.

In fact I think I'd be more than being pissed. If a good friend did that to me, I guess I could never treat her the same again.

Then I remember Lindsay, from whom I got my spinning wheel. She told me that she once hand dyed and spun two skeins of lovely rainbow yarn for a friend. One day she saw them in a charity shop. The other time she handspun for another friend some gorgeous yarn from a baby alpaca having the same name as her friend's. Unfortunately that friend didn't show much appreciation neither.

I am quite a selfish knitter. I have so far only knit for my parents, in-laws and one good friend who lives next door. Oh and I once knit a scarf for my knitting friend Kylie in a swap. But that's all. It's partly because I am not confident about my knitting. But more importantly, we have to admit that some people just can't see the value of handknit items.

One time an ex workmate of mine saw the photos of my handknit shawls and socks on Facebook, she left me a message: Hey, why are you knitting so much? You are not making enough money to buy new clothes?

Doh. I so wanted to tell her that the yarn used to make that pair of socks cost more than her socks from Polo Ralph Lauren.

But I didn't say anything. I sort of lost interest to enlighten her.

In the last few weeks, I have been thinking about this again. Since I was thinking about my crafty New Year Resolutions, this question comes to my mind:

Should I or should I not knit for others more this year?

The thing is, one of my very good friends has her birthday coming in early February. She doesn't knit but she's crafty too. She draws and she arranges flower and bouquet. I think she should be the type who appreciates a handknit present.

But what if she doesn't?

It's gonna hurt if she doesn't. It'll hurt my feeling and consequently hurt our friendship.

But if she's not the one I can knit for, I can't think of any friend who may take my handknits better.

Hum... it's a very difficult decision.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Good Karma Giveaway

As promised earlier, I want to do a giveaway. Today is the day!

Can you guess what they are from their back?


Hint number one: Something starts with W, ends with -meise.

Hint number two: They're from Bavaria, Germany.

Hint number three: Each skein is at least 150g in weight and has an amazing yardage of over 500 metres.

Hint number four: Not buttery soft. But they make the most sturdy socks in the most vibrant colours...




Yes. They're Wollmeise. I am planning to give away one skein of Wollmeise from my stash.


The first candidate is Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in Versuchskaninchen, which means Guinea Pig in German. Claudia (The owner and dyer of Wollmeise) names many of her test skeins as Guinea Pig, so there are many different Wollmeise Guinea Pigs out there. This one is in my favourite fuchsia pink (the close-up pic above shows the true colour better than the top one). In fact it looks EXACTLY the same as my another skein of Wollmeise Twin in Fuchsia colourway in my stash.

This is the third Fuchsia Wollmeise in my stash. The other two skeins have a total of 1000+ metres, enough to make 3 or maybe 4 pairs of Fuchsia socks for me. Therefore I know I will never use this skein.


The second candidate is Wollmeise Twin in We're Different Arlene. A subtle variegated yarn in browns, purples and a bit of burgundy. The real skein looks slightly darker and more subtle than the above close-up photo. I have a big skein of Wollmeise Lace in the same colourway which is destined to be a lace weight cardigan for my mom some time in future. Usually I don't enjoy knitting in the same colourway again, so I know I will never use this skein of Arlene.

Therefore, they deserve a better home with a better knitters to knit them up.

Before telling you how to bring one of them home, there's one important thing:

Since it's a giveaway, I really hope the yarn can find a good home in which it can be knit up instead of being sold away. I'd appreciate if you agree not to sell it or swap it away for another skein. If you happen to find that the colour isn't what you are looking for (I can understand, sometimes it happens), please pass the karma on. Give it away to someone who loves it. Or you can let me know so we can draw another lucky winner who may enjoy having it. By leaving a message to participate in the draw, you agreeing to abide by this little Karma rule. Okay? All good?

Here's what you can do to claim your skein:

1) Leave me a message. Tell me which skein you like to get. If possible, please briefly tell me what you're going to make with it -- just for my curiosity and to make more fun. You're not obliged to tell in order to claim the yarn. But why don't we share some project ideas with others?

2) I will use a random number generator to draw a lucky winner next Sunday (30/1) when I come back from my holiday.

3) I will cover the first class non-recorded postage wherever you're from, as long as Royal Mail sends to your country. If you want to make sure the little beauty arrives safely, I am happy to send via recorded mail, but I'd appreciate if you can cover the additional cost. Sounds fair?

Okay. All good?