Happy Chinese New Year!

May you have a happy and prosperous New Year!

I hope you have time for some relaxing during the holiday. I took these photos last week, but the cats did the same things today.

Batu in the Sun

Batu in the Sun

Ella Relaxes

Ella Relaxes

Bhutan

A few years ago I had the good fortune to travel to Bhutan with Kent and a small group of colleagues.  Kent discovered this Youtube video from someone else’s trip.  We visited most of the places shown in the video. Enjoy!

Fiber Arts in Bhutan

I had the great good fortune to be in Bhutan for spring break. Imagine my delight one day, when we went to a preserve to see some of the endangered local beasties (takin and barking deer) and found women nearby engaged in fiber crafts.

I remember a discussion on Ravelry a few years ago regarding homemade swifts.  I saw a number of swifts like this one.

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This industrious woman sold a number of her weavings in the short time that I was there.

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Later in the week we were hiking down from a visit to a monastery.  As we walked through a small village I came upon this lovely sight, hand dyed yarn. I wonder if it is spun from yak hair.

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I suspect one of these women was the dyer. Notice the heavy jacket but bare feet. These people are so much hardier than I am after living in the tropics at sea level for nine years.

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A few days later we were in Thimphu visiting a school for the 12 traditional arts.  Here is a first year student using a backstrap loom.

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And these students are sewing the lovely Buddha’s earrings and banners of triumph (celebrating the spread of Buddhist teachings.) Crafts such as these sell for big bucks in the local craft stores.
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Men in Bhutan traditionally wear a woven garment called a gho. Our guide’s sister wove the fabric for his gho. He says he owns around 15 gho. I suspect that is more than most people. It is common for middle class families to employ their own weaver to weave the fabric for the family’s clothes and linens. Here are some art students wearing their school uniforms.

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And these cuties are wearing their best kiras for the Paro festival. Our guide told us that people may only wear there very best clothes once a year at their local festival.

Early Summer Projects Update

I have been trying to maximize time with my family since I am only home for a short time. On Tuesday I head down to Dallas, Texas to see Kent and his family. Then he and I will head to San Antonio, Texas for NECC, an enormous educational technology conference. 20,000 some people are registered for this year.

On the knitting front, I am having fun. On the flight from Singapore to Tokyo I worked on the forest canopy shawl. It is still very small, but it is making more sense. I love the Dream in Color Smooshy yarn. I’m using Ruby River. Although lots of people in Ravelry have knit it with lace yarn and it looks lovely, the pattern actually calls for yarn the weight of Smooshy. I saw someone who had knit it with this colorway and I liked how it looked. Of course, with my loose gauge, I had to go down a couple needle sizes. I know it is supposed to be lace, but my looked more like a fishing net.

forest canopy shawl

forest canopy shawl

I had lunch with wonderful Louise who patiently helped me understand how I will knit the border if I ever get to that point. Turns out I was viewing the shawl upside down. We newbie knitters never run out of new mistakes to make!

From Tokyo to Minnesota I work on the heel flap and heel turn on Kent’s socks. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten it right when knitting 2 socks on two circular needles. There is a Ravelry group for Antje Gillinghan’s book Knitting Circles Around Socks. In there, she has written an extended explanation of how to pick up the gusset stitches. I had that with me on the plane.

I wasn’t able to follow it exactly because the pattern I was using was not written for knitting both socks at once. However, her directions were so good that I was able to think through what to do. I made one false start and then realized I needed to start on the opposite side of the fabric and add one extra row when I was done so I’d end up on the correct side of the fabric for my directions. As per usual, it took me hours and had to retry a couple parts, but it worked the best it ever has. I think my next pair won’t be any trouble.

I am now done with the gusset decreases and am just working my way down the foot. Am eager to try them on Kent’s feet when I see him on Tuesday. I hope they fit. (Pay no attention to that gusset hole…)

Kent's socks

In honor of Summer of Socks I have cast on a new pair. It is the Chunky, cozy cotton socks in the Knitting Circles Around Socks book. I want them as a pair of house socks. Our marble floors get cold and I had a pair like these long ago. They weren’t hand knit but I wore them out they were so comfortable.

The week I arrived in Minnesota, BeYaGi had a 20% off sale. I was able to get the exact yarn the pattern calls for, and get it at a discount. It is Patagonia Nature Cotton from Araucania. I don’t have the label with me so I can’t tell you the colorway. It is a riot of yellow, golds, greens and dark blues. I can tell that no one who has seen me knitting it particularly likes it, but I love it and since they are for me, that’s all that matters.

Araucania Patagonia Natural Cotton
Since Kent’s socks are being knit on US #0 needles, it is a big kick to be knitting chunky yarn on size 6 needles. They are already a few inches long. It took me many many hours before Kent’s socks were this long. It is a thick/think yarn so it is being very forgiving of gauge.

Chucky cozy cotton socks

And here’s a shot of someone who tried to stow away in Kent’s suitcase. Luckily we found her in Singapore.

Take Me With You!

Socks, Sydney and Shows

Kent and I had the great good fortune to spend a week in Australia. First we went to Cairns and spent two days and one night on a dive boat. We didn’t actually dive; we snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef. It was mind-blowingly amazing. If you ever get the chance, do it. I can recommend Cairns Dive Centre as a good operator.

Next we went to Sydney. Since Quantas doesn’t allow knitting on their planes, I didn’t get any real knitting done until Sydney. One evening there I knit the heel flap and turned the heel. Then I made the mistake of also trying to pick up the gusset stitches. Take my advice and don’t begin this in the wee hours of the morning. When I was done, it looked good, but the working yarn wasn’t where I needed it.

The next day I was so eager to get back to the hotel to work on them, but that wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t get back to them until yesterday, three weeks later.

My first day in Sydney, after we spent the day tramping all over, and before we met Chris Betcher and Linda for dinner, I went to Tapestry Crafts. There I bought this…

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I also indulged in a bit of sock yarn…

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The first two were pretty self-explanatory, but the latter is Araucania sock yarn from Chile
colorway: Ranco multy. Yum!

I also bought two pairs of KnitPicks needles. They are lovely. Unfortunately, I should have checked my needle list in Ravelry. I bought the wrong size!

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As I mentioned above, I’m finally back to working on my socks. After ripping back twice and ending in the same predicament, I got smart and just moved the socks around on the needles until they were the way they were supposed to be (back on socks on one needle, insteps on the other) instead of half of instep and sole on each needle. I may actually be a row off, but I think in the end it won’t matter– at least not to me.

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Most of the gussets look okay. I picked up the extra stitches at the gusset turn and it work most of the time. Only one doesn’t look so good. I redid it a few times, but the fabric isn’t dense enough there. It isn’t a huge problem, but I’m glad these socks aren’t meant as gifts.

Origami Museum at Narita Airport, Tokyo

On my way to Minnesota, I saw that Narita airport was expanding its retail area. One new addition was going to be an origami museum. To my delight, the museum was ready for visitors on by trip back to Singapore. Here are photos of some of the exhibits.

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There were many other lovely pieces of art in the museum, including an entire case of paper cranes. These were not the single cranes I learned to fold. These were multiple cranes all formed from one piece of paper!  However, the glass on the case prevented me from getting a descent shot.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum has origami books, lovely papers and finished products that you can buy.  Check it out the next time you go through Narita.  It is near the McDonalds– hows that a blending of cultures for you?

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

After a month of not much knitting due to the crazed end of school, I’m finally back in the US.

Flight home SHOULD have been a great time to knit, but in my packing frenzy, I tossed in the WRONG SIZE NEEDLE for my yarn. Oh the agony of 20+ hours of flight and not able to advance on my project.  I still played around a bit with my sticks and string, but my heart wasn’t in it since it didn’t look good.  Have since frogged it all and started again on my #8 needles and it looks much better.

What is it, you ask?  It is the scarf I started knitting months ago for Tammy. She’s moving to cold Belgium and I think that warrants a nice toasty scarf to keep her warm and make her feel loved.

Why has it languished so long unfinished?  Because I started it back when my knitting was so tight it resembled felt.  Once I loosed my gauge, I realized I couldn’t finish it with two different gauges, so I left it for my long flight to the US.  It was a good plan…

And what, you may ask, of the other scarf?  My lovely mohair/wool one?  That is not a UFO because I have finally listened to the  yarn and it has been oh so politely telling me that it does not want to be a scarf.  It doesn’t like look like an elephant’s trunk warmer any more than I like it looking that way.  And so I have agreed to rip it out and make something else with it. For now, it is back snug and safe in my stash.

And what about that other UFO, my Grace Kelly scarf?  That is still on my needles but I didn’t bring it on the plane because it is on metal needles and I didn’t want to risk them not being allowed on board.  My Tammy scarf was on bamboo– (Clover bamboo needles Ayumi!)

Will take photos.  I actually have photos of the Grace Kelly scarf but haven’t had time to download them.  It isn’t very photogenic.  It is getting a bit misshapen but Lois assures me that will block out just fine. In any case, it is a fun project and I think my aunt will like it. It is in her colors.  Or she might NOT like it, not classy enough.  I’ll need to decide because if she won’t like it, I’ll keep it and use it.  So There.

The Long and Short of It

Galata Skyline

Long time without writing, but at least at the moment, I have a good reason… I am in Istanbul! Lovely city, but cold and getting colder. I wish the scarf I am knitting was done so I could wear it.

I was hoping to find yarn, yarn shops, even wool sweaters here, but no luck. In the Grand Bazaar I don’t see sweaters, and in markets frequented by the locals, most things are acrylic. They are missing the boat– I’ve heard numerous tourists wishing for a pair of gloves, not yet another carpet shop.

Before I tell about the scarf, I need to give a bit of background. On the way to KL last weekend I had decided that I didn’t like how the scarf was knitting up. I know that one of the traits of stockinette stitch is that it curls, but this is ridiculous; it look like I’m knitting a sleeve in the round, not a flat scarf. And so, since I didn’t love the bottom edge being garter stitch either, I decided to try a a few things before I ripped it out.

I wondered if throwing in a purl every 7 or so stitches would help to flatten it out. That just looked strange. Next I tried adding the purl every five stitches or so, but neither was solving the curl problem and it still looks strange. I decided maybe I needed smaller needles. Being part mohair, this yarn has no bounce to it. On the #8 needles it feels too stretched out.

Yesterday we took the boat ride up the Bosphorous River. It takes three hours so I did some knitting. I made the switch to smaller needles and so far I like it better. I need to knit a bit more before I actually rip out and start the scarf over. It seems like on the smaller needles it is curling a bit less, but I need to make it longer to be sure. I know I won’t eliminate all curl, but the other would have been unwearable. I don’t think blocking would have saved it.

I wish I had a pair of #6 but all I have was #5 so that is what I am trying. I am wondering if doing most of the scarf in stockinette with two rows of garter thrown in at regular intervals would do it. I tried garter stitching this yarn but it doesn’t show off the lovely hand painted colors, so I won’t do that. Besides I need practice with stockinette before I start my tunic.

I hope I am far enough along on this to frog it here so I can actually knit on the plane.