Friday, January 27, 2006

Stick Fu

clapotis with 13 straight repeatsI haven't been updating this here ol'blog lately because I have been pretty ill the last week or so. Eating became a hideous chore because after having the Hurly Whirlies (great name for it April), I am now all of a sudden lactose intolerant. Yesterday was the first day since last Friday where I could eat without consequences. I've enjoyed my first soymilk latte and feel so much better. Yay! I promise never to take good digestion for granted again.

So all that time not a lot of knitting got done, but I am 13 straight repeats into my clapotis. I am thinking that I will do about 16 or 17 and then finish it up. I've got 7 skeins of Silk Garden and I am into my 5th now.

snowflake steel

I haven't been writing much about Kung Fu lately because I have been slightly disallusioned with it lately. Not kung fu itself. Tai Chi has become ultra boring. I haven't learned anything in that class since Septemeber and the people that are in it haven't caught up despite the fact that new material hasn't been introduced. It's frustrating and boring and I get a bad attitude when I get bored. Moreover a bunch of new people have joined lately and this just adds to the repetitive numbingness of the class.

I don't think people are practicing on their own and all they do is follow me and another guy in class. If the instructor made people do their forms solo, then they would learn them because they would have to establish their own mental cues and such. Oh well. So I haven't been going which is sad because I love Tai Chi, but it's not worth it if it drives me nutso.

ironwood fighting sticks

One thing I have been enjoying lately is weapons class. we've been doing a lot of stick fighting and bought some kick ass kamagong ironwood fighting sticks. They are quite heavy (1.5 lb?? 2 lb???) and barrel through rattan sticks, but watch out if you hit yourself. Ouch!!!

snowflake steel dragonwell swordBut talk about a work out. I am building up a lot of grip strength and forearm strength. so much so that I picked up my heavy sword the other day and it felt light!!!! I can really use it now. Well I can try to use it now. I am so excited. It's such a lovely work of art. Don't you think? Anyway, now I am thinking about getting a real broadsword. The one I have been eying is 2.5 lbs by the same maker as my dual edged.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The K2Tog Crowd

Are you part of the k2tog crowd? When you happen to randomly find one too many stitches on your needle, does it pain you to know that your knit fabric may have one tiny flaw? Will that extra stitch just needle and bug you till you can stand it no more and you rip back 30 rows to sort it out. Will the knowledge that there is a mistake in your project ruin the finished glory of your piece? Or do you just knit two together?

Ahem, I bet you can guess which group I belong to. In fact, I vividly remember on my first knitting project I kept getting too many stiches in my ribbing, so I did what any kung fu knitter would do and unvented the k2tog to take care of that little problem.

On another note, I've been sick with a stomach virus this weekend. Thank goodness for saltines and bubble water.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Adventures in Japanese Knitting

Uwajimaya Super MarketI have been in love with this scarf for a while and wanted to get the pattern for it. The problem is that it's a Japanese knitting book.

I knew I would have a lot better chance of finding it in Seattle than in Ithaca. So when I was in Seattle I went to the Big Uwajimaya market south of downtown. Inside is a book store, Kinokuniya. It is loaded with knitting and crochet books.

Unfortunately, they didn't stock the book I wanted but I picked up a couple of others. I didn't have a lot of time as I was with my siblings who were a little impatient. But my brother did actually help me find some cute little pattern books.

Japanese Craft Books

The great thing about Japanese knitting books is that all the patterns are charted. So I haven't had any problems trying out one of the crochet stitches I was interested in. Just follow the diagram.

Now as for my original quest, I ended up ordering it from I'll let you know if it was worth the $30.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A winter hike

As I was driving back from the grocery store yestermorn, the sky was clear, blue and bright with sunshine. As I sat on my porch enjoying the morning, I felt the sunlight on my face and I closed my eyes. The wooden planks of my porch felt warm to my fingers.

With such exceptional weather in the middle of January, I felt it would be almost criminal to stay indoors. I could practice my kung fu in the sun. I could hike to a peaceful spot and meditate or knit. I made the short drive to Taughannock Falls.

Still waters reflect the birch trees across the bank. (weathering pits)I brought my clapotis with me as I planned to find some sunny rock along the creek to knit and enjoy the weather. Many times I have been there and this hasn't been a problem, but I forgot that the melting snow would raise the level of the river and cover many of the choicer spots. In fact, it was wet everywhere. The water must have just receeded. But it was still lovely.

The long shadows at noon The only trail open was the gorge trail. It's not difficult or long, but it's beautiful.

The river drains into Cayuga Lake, so the beginning of the trail by the lake is fairly open. The sun was shining on the river and the water was a lovely opaque, greeny-blue color. Eventhough it was just around noon, the sun was low in sky. Only one side of the gorge wall would feel the sun's heat. The shadows fell long across the bank and creek.

The forest consumes the trail in the middle of the hike, but you are still close to the creek. The gorge narrows. The winter light in the gorge was amazing. The sunlight was so diffused and some colors really stood out against their backgrounds. The greens just seemed to pop and the shadows on ice patches were blue.

Taughannock Falls = 200+ foot drop As I rounded the bend to falls I realized that I wasn't going to find my lovely spot for knitting. But that was okay. I let the sound of the falls dropping, crashing, swirling fill my head. I let the mist rising from the watery chaos settle on my face, my eyes closed and face turned to the sky. All was good.

me at the falls

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Brand new off the hook and needles!

Let's see...all the vacuuming and sweeping is done, the sun came out and I have some time before work ='s time to play around on my blog!

I admit that I am hooked on crocheting curly whirly scarves. I feel very satisfied when I am making one. Very at peace and calm. The horrible thing is after completing each CW I feel the urge to start another only a few days later. I've got to get these crocheting urges under control. I don't have the yarn budget to support it.

Desire is the root of suffering.

Michelle's vintage twirly Well, I finished this Curly Whirly about a week ago so as you can imagine, I am jonesing right now. It's for a special friend who was supposed to visit me last week on a whirlwind visit through the US. We've been neighbors, roommates and friends but now she lives abroad. She's a fabulous gal who has always has kept our friendship close to her heart. In fact, she thinks about me when she travels to places like llama farms where they are selling oh-so-soft handspun yarn and suprises me later with it. So this scarf was made partly out of some yarn that she gifted me with a while ago. She's also a gal that loves vintage and pink. So I thought the combo of brown and pink would satisfy those aspects of her taste, especially with the shell edging in pink. And not to mention she's hip and spiral scarves are the thing (or at least I keep telling myself that because I want to keep making them).

Michelle's vintage twirly I ran into a slight problem with one of the yarns, though. I didn't think about mixing the Baby Ull with the alpaca and llama. Duh! It's superwash, so when I washed it the edging expanded out of shape all over the place. I put it in the dryer for a while and fortunately that took care of most of the yuck without damaging the other yarns, but geeze, talk about brain dead fiber choices. (the dryer also made the scarf uber twirly. I had to undo it is was so extreme. Do you think that's how it got to be 8 feet long!!!!!!).

Michelles's Vintage Inspired Twirly

  • Notions: Size L crochet hook, tapestry needle

  • Yarn: handspun llama from somewhere in the Negev desert, natural cream colored Suri Merino by Plymouth Yarn, bright pink Baby Ull

  • Stitches: Single Crochet and Single Crochet Shells.

Irish Hiking scarfI've also finished a belated Christmas gift recently. It's the evah-so-populah Irish Hiking Scarf brought to us from the folks at Hello Yarn.

This scarf is a gift for my brother in NH. I think he'll like it. The pattern is classic and the knit fabric is sooooft!

  • Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf by Hello Yarn

  • Needle: US10

  • Yarn: Berroco Pleasure (3 skeins in 8631)

  • Notes: If I were doing this scarf over I would increase the number of rows between cable crosses. 7 is fine for worsted or sport weight yarn, but for bulky or heavy worsted it made the fabric too scrunched up and the scarf shorter than it should have been. I would go up to 9 rows and cable on the 10th. I also think I should have gone up to size 10.5 or 11 needles. The fabric is still spacious with room for the blooming of the yarn, but I think it would have been better to have gone bigger.

Irish Hiking scarf in Berroco Pleasure

Saturday, January 07, 2006

knitting 2006

I think that 2006 will be the year of the sweater. I have plans to resuscitate Eris who has been on hold for the holidays. I also will have the yarn to knit Aran Wiggles soon. I should be getting Knit Picks Merino Style in hollyberry as a late xmas gift. I also would like to knit a Fairisle sweater. I'm thinking about using a Philosopher's Wool pattern as I already have their Fairisle Made Simple book and don't want to knit at the traditional gauge the first time around. (If you visit their site make sure and checkout their two-handed fairisle video. I learned how to knit continental from this great video.) But everyone says their yarn is scratchy, so I was thinking of trying some Beaverslide yarn which I have heard such great things about.

Three sweaters sounds like a doable goal, doesn't it?

In the mean time I have started a project that I have wanting to make for forever. It's a clapotis, of course. My father bought me some gorgeous Noro Silk Garden for Christmas. I made a start of it the other day. And look at the pretty stitch markers my father's partner got for me. They're quite beautiful I think. I'm actually up to the knitting straight section in the pattern right now. My dad also got me a lovely handmade bag for my knitting.

I've also wanted to work some lace, so I started the Pomatomus socks from Knitty. Actually I this is the second time I started the first sock. The first time the cuff ribbing was so big I thought that I had done something wrong, but the second time it's still almost as big. I think it's just the 72 stitch caston. That's a lot of stitches even for fingering weight. And I'm using US2 needles which are one or 2 sizes smaller than normal for me. I scoured the net to see if anyone else was worried about it but came up with nothing. So I'm just going to knit some more and see what happens.

While I was in Seattle I went to So Much Yarn looking for some lace weight yarn and picked out the Crystal Palace Kid Merino in the picture. I really like the colors and now I just have to find a pattern.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Home for the holidays

I spent Christmas in Seattle and had a lovely time there with my brother and sister, father and his partner and especially my niece. In a stroke of luck my mom, who resides in Arizona, showed up the day before I left. So with the exception of my brother who is too-busy-for-anything-because-I-am-in-law-school-so-there, I got to see all of my family.

My knitted gifts were well received. I made a panta and mitt set for my sister that she said she really liked. My dad got his cashmere scarf that I have been working on. And my neice really took to the curly whirly scarf I crocheted for her. Unfortunately, I had some card issues in my digital camera and lost some photos of the recipients wearing my gifts. :sigh: But I have a nice one of my dad wearing the scarf to the right.

One of my goals was to eat as much Pho as possible while in Seattle. (pho is vietnamese noodle soup) It's just about my most favoritest food in the world. I love the broth, the rare beef and beef brisket, the cilantro, the basil, the lime, the beanspouts, chiles, well you get the idea. I think it's the combination of flavors and the fresh vs. the cooked that gets my tastebuds going.

So right after leaving the airport with my brother and sister we headed to Pho Van in Rainier Beach. This is my sister's pho hangout. And yum! We also had 3 bean desert. It's kind of strange at first for a western pallette, but really good. It consists of 3 different sweetened beans, layered with ice and cream. You mix it all up and slurp it down.

But that was the only bowl of Pho for me. We ended up going to a fabulously good vietnamese restaurant called Tamarind Tree in Little Saigon in the International District. Review Here. Another Review Here It was absolutely amazing. If you are ever in Seattle you must eat here!

I had marvelous Mojitos, fabulous platters of different foods that you could roll up with herbs and dip into sauces, and life changing roasted coconut icecream. They make it everyday and it's to die for. It tastes just like those samoa girlscout cookies sans chocolate. Oh. My. God.

It's owned by the same family that owns Pho Van (different siblings). Good cooking really runs in that family.

Well I didn't spend my whole vacation eating, but this is one of the big standouts. I will post about my new castons and christmas loot a little later.