Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Episode 7: Escape to Splash Mountain

Hooray! Semester is OVER! Going to celebrate by hightailing it down to Florida where my yiayia ("Grandmother" in Greek), Aunt and Uncle live with trips to Harry Potter World and Disney.

Off the Needles:

The sock monkey is complete, delivered and named to boot - my coworker insisted on it having an "old fashioned" Greek name and my mind drew a blank. I called my sister who after chastising me for not being able to come up with a proper old-school Greek name suggested Zorba. So now we have Zorba the sock monkey.

On the Needles: 

Still cranking away on the Pickadilly; casted on Orchids and Fairy Lights in Creatively Dyed Woodbrook in Forest. Love. Cabling without a cable needle is really fast, and Grumperina has a really great tutorial on it. 

Stashers Anonymous:

My friend Sarah (of the Pickadilly Skype date) told me a story while we were watching USA Sevens Rugby with an interesting lesson: honestly, don't just buy yarn for the sake of it. There is a larger issue here which will probably be discussed in a future episode, but for now, the idea is something may come up which requires you to not used yarn funds - she had a family of baby squirrels in her dryer and paid a hefty amount to get rid of them humanely (because Austin is awesome like that). She told me that she was really glad that she didn't get any yarn in recent Loopy Ewe and Fresh from the Cauldron updates.

As for me I caved - but with good reason; I recently got into a competitive program for teaching in NYC schools and I deserved a reward for going through a difficult application and a 4 hour interview.

Jen from Fresh from the Cauldron opened up custom requests for her new Mythos series under the "Armful" option:  maximum 5 skeins in any combination of colors, which are on set bases. I shared 1 spot with a friend and placed an order for 2 skeins of Artemis, 1 of Poseidon and 1 of Athena. I also knew that this was coming and (somewhat) budgeted for it, lest something along the lines of the NYC version of squirrels in the dryer happen to me.

The Armful option is closed, but Jen will open it up in the future after the summer and there is also the Sampler option for the summer which is each skein in the series.

Knitting Travels:

TSA Website: you can bring knitting needles! I plan to print this out and carry it with me. Traveling into the US from overseas is usually the problem; here are some tips that helped me with the knitting needles issue when I traveled to Italy via Ireland last summer - Mel and I had a connecting flight in Dublin and we needed to go through security again and in the EU the rules are a little more strict.

1. I had a pair of socks with me on DPNs - before I went through security, I took the DPNs out, put them on scrap yarn and stuck point protectors on one end of the needle to make it look like a pencil with an eraser. 

2. I placed said DPNs in a pencil case that also carried my make-up brushes and a few pens for good measure.

3. A friend suggested I stick the pencilcase along the side of the bag, not just chucked in. 

This definitely worked - of course it does depend on the security agent at each of the checkpoints, but when I went through Italian and Irish security, I had no problem. 

I have also heard the opposite of what I did - having a project on the needles helps if there are any problems with security. Since I am going to bring a pair of socks and two hats with me, I am going to try both as I am only going to have carry-on luggage. 

Most important thing though - never use fancy interchangeables. And if anything, carry a self-addressed stamped envelope in case things get very messy. When I went to Italy, I had a spare set of DPNs in my suitcase. 

My sister and I going to be in Tampa and Orlando, which means being in a car. And for me that means motion sickness. I've heard alot about the Sea-Bands or BioBands
and was able to pick up the Sea Bands and Anti-Nausea Ginger gum from my local CVS - together with my new prescription sunglasses for distance, we shall see how knitting in the car goes.  

Speaking of getting knitting through security and knitting in cars, I will be bringing Orchids and Fairy Lights, Hermione's Everyday Socks (adjusted to child size for my godbrother) - perfect for knitting on lines at Disney and at Harry Potter World since it's auto-pilot, but not boring and Red Light Special for nights when I hang in my yiayia's tv room watching Greek soap operas.


There will be no show next week as I will be riding copius amounts of rollercoasters, drinking Butterbeer, and prevent my sister from jumping on Winnie the Pooh. (^_~).

Closing Song: "Island in the Sun" by Weezer from The Green Album

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Episode 6: Harajuku Knitters

Short episode this week - instead of stash diving, I'm ungraded paper diving. Not fun.

On the Needles:

Pickadilly! Finally! Getting over my fear of sweater knitting by having a Skype Knitting date with my friend Sarah who is also trying to finish "The Damn Pickadilly." Currently working on the sleeve - started the decreases after 1" of knitting as opposed to kniting for 8" and then doing the decreases. Worried about the fit of the sleeve, and many said the sleeve was really big. Using Boye Locking Ring Stitch Markers to mark the point where I did begin my decreases so that if I have to frog back, I know where to stop.

Off the Needles:

First pair of socks for 2011 - the Knitmore Girls Vanilla Socks. Cast on 58 stitches, not 60 like I said by accident and I found that 56 stitches do suit me better (although the jury is still out on it). I take it back what I said about the jogless join - such a savior and I did a funky version of it (where I took half of the last stitch and half of the first stitch of the previous row as opposed to the whole of the first stitch of the previous row and knitted it on the new row to create the jogless join).

Knitting Travels:

Two parter - first I was finally able to get some subway knitting in. Worked on my Vanilla Socks while on the subway platform and learned that outdoor subway platforms in the winter are not very conducive to knitting. But did learn the best place to knit besides a seat - leaning against the rails on the seats next to the doors opposite the ones that open (on my part of the subway line, the doors always open on one side at every stop till I get to my transfer station, so it's easy for me to just stay on one side and not move even if I have to stand).

Also knitted on the train to Ridgewood (in Queens along the north border of Brooklyn) going to and from a Superbowl party; tried to knit at said Superbowl Party but the game was actually interesting and while the IKEA Poang chair is comfy, it leans to far back for me to knit comfortably. This time, I did get a seat on the subway.

And to continue our discussion of Japanese knitting - there is ALOT to say about this so here are some links that I talked about in the podcast to help you get started:

Places to get  Japanese Knitting Books/Magazines:

Online Resources:
Jenny and Nicole from the Stash and Burn Podcast discuss Japanese knitting in Episode 70.
Interpreting Japanese Patterns (an amazing PDF overview)
Japanese Syllabary (Kana)
Japanese-English Knitting Dictionary
Japanese Knitting Basics
Helpful Japanese Knitting (and Crochet) Books (especially the "Clear and Simple Knitting Symbols)
Basic Knitting Symbols
How to Read Japanese Graphical Charts
Charting Lessons (as Japanese patterns do not come in more than one size)

Knitting Japanese Style in English Books:
Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner
Ori Ami Knits by Olga Buraya-Kefelian and Vanessa Yap-Einbund
Japanese Inspired Knits by Marianne Isager
Haiku Knits by Tanya Alpert
Knit Kimono and Knit Kimono Too by Vicki Square

and don't forget Amigurumi! But that will be a topic for when I figure out how to crochet (which I will have to for the Pickadilly).


Closing Song: "Harajuku Girls" by Gwen Stefani from Love.Angel.Music.Baby.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Episode 5: From the West to the East

Off the Needles:

Vintage Baby Cardigan: all that's missing is the finishing - sewing on the bow to close the front and seaming the underarms. Love the 3-Needle bind-off, I may be closing the toes on my socks with this more often. The Patons Grace is a bit drapey; might not knit this pattern again with cotton, but it would work great with wool or wool-blend. Still have some leftover - might make a baby hat and another pair of booties.

On the Needles:

Knitmore Girls Vanilla Sock: while switching back and forth from the purple to the red Koigu KPM on the first sock, I ended up with gaps on both sides of the heel - how to fix this? I did the trick that Cosmic Pluto suggested to wrap the final stitch on her tutorial, but it didn't work. Have half of the second sock completed - I cast on 60 stitches to see how a 60 stitch sock fits on my foot; 56 stitches is ok, but stretched out a bit. 

Knitting Trainwrecks:

Saartje's Booties - the lesson learned here is to NEVER, EVER delete a project page. I remembered I knit these on size 2s, but forgot if I made the larger or the smaller size of the bootie. I cast on for the large and realized it was way too big. Frogging commenced, bootie reknit...and it's still too big. Have to frog it again and knit on size 1s perhaps. Second lesson learned: yes, your gauge can definitely change over the course of 3 years.

Knitting Finds:

Vintage Modern Knits and corresponding KAL by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley of Kelbourne Woolens/The Fibre Company - what caught my eye was the Adelaide Yoke Pullover which is featured on the cover. Reminded me alot of one of my favorite sweaters, which is a 100% lambswool JCrew raglan sweater in brown with a cream, orange and pink fair-isle motif along the yoke. Also loved the Ajiro Scarf, Abigail Mitts, Maple Bay Cardigan and the Whitby Stockings.

Definitely one of those books that I want to knit about 90% of the patterns in, so it's a great buy if you like the "vintage modern" aesthetic. They will be doing a classes, signings and trunkshows to go along with the release of the book, the schedule of which is here - planning to go to the 3/13 one at Purl SoHo.

EZ Read Along with the Knitmore Girls - one of my favorite EZ quotes so far has been "Perhaps, then, pass by the [acrylic] department, with your nose in the air." Definitely chuckling along to the Knitter's Almanac, if freaking out about how the patterns are written because it's not a format that I am used to; however she does include the "pithy" instructions.

Knitting Travels:

Off to Japan! Part one of a two part series wherein I talk about Japanese yarn and yarn shops and ways to get it both in Japan and in the United States. Some of my local LYS' back in Japan include Masuzakiya (located also in Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe), another craft shop located in the basement of Kyoto Tower, which is across the street from Kyoto Station, Avril (known as Habu in the United States with a NYC location and also locations in Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe), Nomura Tailor (with awesome fabric and sewing notions that made me want to learn how to sew).

If you are there in the summer, check out the noryo-yuka at the Sanjo Starbucks. You can get a Red Bean Frappucino (yum!):
If you need help with translating the Japanese, let me know and I'll do my best - I can also point out on Google maps where most of these places are (which except for Masuzakiya and Yoshikawa in Kyoto Tower, are all in the downtown area between Shijo and Sanjo Dori).

There are also the Japanese Knitting and Crochet and Knitters in Japan group which are great resources (especially the latter for yarn shops since the majority of the group's members live in Japan).

One place that you can buy Japanese yarn from is from Pierrot. You can also order yarn via Rakuten, which is a massive Japanese site that sells almost everything under the sun. Here are some of my favorites:

Puppy Silk Blend
Puppy British Eroika
Puppy Maurice (pretty similar to Lion Brand's Amazing yarn)
Make Make (6 balls will make a pair of socks). Can also find this on kpixie.
Puppy Alpaca Rimisto
Hamanaka Fugue

I have not tried ordering yet but here is the Rakuten Shipping Information. Definitely plan to restock on my favs in the future. In the next episode, I'll be talking about Japanese patterns.

Here is a map of the 4 yarn shops I mentioned that are located in Kyoto.


Thanks to Kristin of the Yarngasm podcast and Abby of the KnitKnit Cafe podcast for mentioning me in their latest episodes!

Closing Song: "Love Letter to Japan" by The Bird and the Bee from their album Ray Guns are Not the Future
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