Lay of the Land..

This page runs like a blog (chronologically speaking): Newer knitting ventures are posted ahead of older ones.

Knitting Humour
Sunday, February 17th 2008

I don't know if you can see the writing on this card clearly enough, but it says, "It itches".

Oh knitting humour, how you completely make my day.

Passed along from Jen and found on the website: The Panopticon.

Fin! Completed Project #2
Sunday, February 17th 2008

Regrettably, I left this project at home during my winter vacation so was unable to finish it in January like I wanted to, but on Thursday, February 14th, I finally cast-off on this project. I commented before about learning that scarves should be as long as you are tall, and this one comes no where close, but I find it is the perfect length. I don't like overly cumbersome scarves, and sometimes I like to wear them just loose, so wouldn't want it dragging on the ground. Over the last couple of days, it's been keeping me nice and warm against a surprisingly cold wind.

On a side note: I know I haven't been sleeping well lately and am consequently feeling tired and dopey, but I never realized that I was showing it so much! Oof! Time to invest in a sleeping aide I think!

The Fringe...

Ever since starting this project, I knew I would be putting a fringe on it. I love the look of fringe, and Jen made a good point that it also adds length. Stuck at school on Thursday with nothing to do, and having cast-off but no idea how to fringe, I consulted some Youtube instructional knitting videos. After a few misses, I found a great instructional video, but they made their fringe using a crochet hook, which I don't have. Determined to finish my scarf, I rummaged in my desk and found the next best thing: a paperclip. With 20cm lengths of yarn laid out on my desk and my sewing kit open, I took a deep breath and started the fringe. And turns out, it's SO easy!! I will be fringing everything from here on. The one thing I wish I had for fringing though (besides a crochet hook) is a rotary cutter. I noticed that in the videos, even master knitters have uneven fringes, and they just clean them up with a swipe of the rotary cutter. Brilliant. Putting it on the list to Santa for next year.

DPN's and the Fabulous Mug Warmers
Thursday, January 24th

Why on EARTH did I think it would be a good idea to go from a simple brioche stitch to THIS in my knitting ventures in a seemingly natural skill development!?!?

See those bamboo devil sticks in the picture? Those are double pointed needles. I can barely manage my circular needles (they twist and twist and twist, gathering an abnormal amount of potential energy so that when I slip and release them, they whip out at the nearest knitter), let alone 4 needles with no designated top and bottom.
I am determined to master these suckers, as well as the following skills...

1) Purl
2) Knit front and back
3) Smock order to complete these fabulous mug warmers in a fabulous mauve super wash wool with fabulous mother-of- pearl buttons. They will, in the end, be FABULOUS! I am determined!

Last Friday, Jen made her first attempt to walk me through the base of the mug warmers, by far the most difficult part of the project. I cast on the required number of stitches to one needle, distributed the stitches equally among the other needles and waited for her next instruction. She demonstrated stitching front and back and I confidently took the needles back to increase my 8 to 16 stitches. Instead, I managed to drop several stitches and ended up with 13 stitches....all on one needle.

Jen consoled me and let me know that this was a difficult skill, and patiently showed me again. And again, I produced the same results. Forcing a smile, I held up my single needle of 13 and with a confused look on her face, she took it from me, retrieved another needle stuck in my watch band and counted my stitches. And recounted. Then gently said, "Why don't I just start the base for you and you can do the rest. I think purling would be a better new skill to learn".

And this is why Jen is so amazing :)

So starts the adventure of mug warmer making.

The Russian Join
Thursday, January 24th

Much to my dismay, a scarf cannot be made out of a single ball of wool. If someone had kindly told me that a scarf should approximately be as long as you are tall, I would have considered sticking to dishcloths. Instead, months later, I am still working on that darn brioche stitch scarf started in North Korea AND having to disastrously learn something new: The Russian Join. Jen had first shown me the Russian Join months ago as she whipped through her own scarf, and although I understood the theory behind it, I needed a refresher and thus consulted a site she sent me.

Well now, I thought to myself, that looks easy!

And truthfully, it was. Except when I tried to go back to knitting and introducing the new yarn into my work, I discovered that I had joined the slack end of my existing project to the new ball of yarn. Hm. Some things just aren't dummy proof, no matter how easy they look.

Today, I can proudly report that my second attempt at Russian Joining is breath-takingly seamless, and my scarf is nearing completion! Maybe only another 6 inches to go :) With four projects on needles at the moment, I am determined to have one finished by the time I go on holidays this Saturday (ha!)

Fabulous Felting Mistakes
Tuesday, December 18th

My Dad has a saying. He says:

"Life's hard. It's even harder when you're f****** stupid."

I often do stupid things. Some may call them mistakes, but when you don't learn from the mistake the first time, and instead repeat it...sometimes twice...I think that qualifies as something beyond a mistake. My most recent repistake (repeated mistake, let's coin a new term while we're at it) involves washing wool sweaters. More than once I have tried to wash a sweater in the washing machine to disastrous results. Usually, with the help from my Mom, I have been able to save my sweaters and keep them as functional pieces of my wardrobe. Until recently.

In my current apartment, I have a front-loading washing machine. I also have a lot of wool sweaters. I generally live in a second skin of wool for the entire months of November through March. Preferably something of the turtleneck variety. I decided my sweaters needed a freshing up, and also rationalized that my washing machine (being a front-loader) offers a gentler wash that would be similar to hand washing, so in they went. One hour and thirty six minutes later, out they came. In felted miniature. I tried my darnedest to stretch them back to their original shape, but to no avail. My black one "fit" but was a belly shirt, my coral one wouldn't fit over my head, and my grey one cut off circulation in my arms. *Sigh*

I hesitated telling Jen about what I had done, fearing the judgment from an experienced knitter and wool connoisseur. Instead, I got sympathy, a lesson in felting including the science behind wool fibers and warm water, and this link to Etsy:: Felted Wool Mitten Garland which displays the project in the picture above. If it wasn't for this blog entry, I could have pretended I did all that felting on purpose...:)

Dishcloth Disappointment
Monday, December 17th

So remember those dishcloths that were my first ever successful knitting project? So far, they remain my only completed project, and until recently, sat in my knitting basket decidedly too good to scrub dishes. This week, I finally threw them in the wash to soften them up and begin using them - after all, they were made to be used. Unfortunately though, the cotton is apparently not the same as the stuff my mother uses back home. Shaking them free from towels and pants, they finally appeared as shriveled up masses that had to be pried apart and repeatedly stretched over their drying period.  I can't exactly put my finger on what's different about this cotton, but oddly enough it doesn't seem to want to absorb water, but rather repel it. As you can imagine, this is quite a problem considering their designed purpose as dishcloths and generally renders them useless. Until I figure out another solution though, they sit draped over my kitchen taps as if proudly functional.

The Balling Chronicles

Interestingly enough, balling off the back of a IKEA Grankulla futon chair proved difficult. I thought it was just me, but then Sara came over with a cheer of, "I love to ball!" and gave up after one short lived winding. Another system needed to be developed.

People are often amazed that Sara and I have only known each other for two years. When they express their amazement, Sara and I often look at each, shrug and then impulsively, but synchronously, make a heart. We generally think we have a normal friendship and rationalize that their disbelief is unjustified.

But then last night happens and we realize what the fuss is all about.

It started innocently enough. Sara came over for dinner (we eat dinner together at least 4-5 times a week) and while I was cleaning up, we brainstormed some lesson ideas. When the washing up was done, I moved onto my knitting while Sara decided she should type her lessons up so that she could consider them finished. After a few rows, my gaze wandered to the mass of blue yarn with thoughts of giving balling another go. But how?

I tried laying it on the floor and walking around it in circles to try and prevent knots, but that proved futile and dizzying. I tried wearing it around my neck like a lei, but that proved hazardous. Finally a solution presented itself. I draped the mass over Sara's right arm, and unraveled a few meters. I balled while she typed. When I needed more slack, she would raise her arm and release a few more meters. And then go back to typing. All the while we chatted, eventually talking about how we never run out of things to talk about.

Three beautiful wound balls later, we come to the realization that this kind of situation may be what amazes/
confuses people. Oh.

IKEA Grankulla Futon Chair, Use #102

Never, never, NEVER am I buying un-balled (is that a word?) yarn again. NEVER!

That small, miserable attempt at a ball you see on the cushion is in such a state of disorder that it will undoubtedly be unworkable when I am finished.

In the meantime, it fondly reminds me of something my cat coughed up on a wintery day back in '04...

When Bad Knitting Happens to Good People: Exhibit B

Sara and Jen. In Itaewon. On Saturday night.

You might think I'd provide more information than that,
but really, I think the picture is self -explanatory.


Okay, well, just let your imagination run wild...
How was your weekend?

When Bad Knitting Happens to Good People: Exhibit A

In Itaewon.
On Saturday night.
Wearing a kilo of loose acrylic yarn around his neck.
And looking like quite the happy chappy doing so.

I have since promised a real scarf.


I am a tactile person. Whenever I go clothes shopping, you'll see me (without fail) cruising the racks, barely paying attention, but with my hand slightly reached out, touching everything. Usually something will catch my sense of touch before it catches my eye. Knitting is a great sensory experience, especially shopping for wool. The Mecca of yarn shopping in Seoul is at the Dongdaemun Shopping Complex in the basement. Here, in a remarkably organized fashion, rows upon rows of closet sized booths are set up selling yarn. Each shop has sample pieces hanging from mannequins, hooks and the rafters, and balls of yarn in every color, weight and material are stacked high on the shelves. It's almost sensory overload.

Still being a new (and thus slow) knitter, I am trying not to stock pile yarns. This is a difficult task, as undoubtedly while cruising the booths - hand out, feeling every strand I can - I let out an excited, "Ooooooo!" and are immediately drawn to whatever has caught my tactile attention. Yesterday was one of those days when I could have bought balls upon balls of yarn: Cotton blends, Merino, Lambsmere (?!?).... but, with three projects already on the go, I refrained and stuck to my intended shopping.

Next month's paycheck has already been spent though...


While Jen and I were cruising the aisles at Dongdaemun yesterday, we couldn't help but notice the number of samples that had been Brioche stitched! Apparently it's all the rage in the knitting community. And I'm knitting it. Don't I feel cool for the first time in years...:P

Brioche: Not Just a Delicious Bread

Feeling accomplished in casting on, increasing stitches, yarn overs, decreasing stitches and casting off, I felt the need to increase my knitting repertoire. I needed something that was just enough of a challenge to feel I was learning something new, but not something challenging enough to make me want to throw my needles across the room. Don't laugh - if you've read the previous posts, you know it's something I'm prone to.

Enter the Brioche stitch. Jen first taught me this sucker at Richard's house warming party (yes, we were knitting at a house warming party. Our friends have come to ignore such tendencies and love us anyway). She had just discovered it herself, and was eager to share it's simplicity. It was exactly the stitch I was looking for, as I had been hanging on to some beautiful burgundy yarn to make a scarf, and wanted something different, but not fussy.

After leaving the party, I promptly forgot how to do the stitch. I tried to look for some help online to no avail, and it wasn't until our trip to North Korea, that I had been able to meet up with Jen again for another tutorial. On the long, bumpy bus ride home, I started (and re-started...6 times) my Brioche stitched scarf. It has only now, a week later, reached a point that I can see the pattern forming.


In case I ever forget, the pattern for Brioche is: Cast on an even number of stitches. On my medium weight wool, 30 stitches is making a nice width of scarf. Knit one row. Knit one, Brioche one. Knit to end, but knit the last 2 stitches, do not Brioche. Brioche is knitting into the stitch below.


See those needles in the picture? Those are my Addi's. I'm becoming a knitting snob!

My PFD's in the Knitting Sea

1) Jen

Knitting in the North

I'm a nerd. Always have been, always will be, and I quite willingly admit it. As if furthur evidence were needed to support my reigning in Nerd-dom, please find on your right, Exhibit A. This picture was taken one sunny afternoon this past Sunday (November 4), as Jen - my good buddy and knitting teacher - and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a quiet moment to catch up on our knitting . It may have been under 10 degrees celcius, but it was one of those refreshingly cool days where you just can't pass up basking in the warmth of the sun.

Oh - did I mention this picture was taken in North Korea?!?

Yes, North Korea. Home of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and arguably the most closed and secretive nation on Earth. And we were knitting. Of course. I'm surprised we weren't detained for suspicious behavior...


Yes! It's finally a dishcloth! Look closely and you'll see some mistakes like dropped stitches and uneven spacing, but a wise person once said that knitting is like life, it's the mistakes that show our growth. A little purl of wisdom from the knitting world...

This week, in addition to successfully finishing my first project, I have found myself enjoying conversations about new techniques, watching videos of other knitters online and marveling at their speed and dexterity, laughing at witty knitting jokes that play on homonyms like purl (as above. And yes, I know I'm lame, don't leave a comment about it...), and consulting online knitting help forums (I actually learned to cast-off this way!). My first project is finally finished and  I'm also finally feeling like a knitter...happy, happy, happy!

The Best Kind of Stitch n' Bitch Sunday

This weekend was a Stitch n' Bitch weekend. Like the good girls we are, Jen and I packed up our knitting bags, and met at the used bookstore prior to the meeting. Somewhere between Lonely Planet travel guides and Toni Morrison, Jen and I received simultaneous messages on our phones. It was Richard. The boys were sitting on the roof of a local beer garden and would we like to join them? Jen and I looked at each other, and ended up rationalizing that we'd rather spend our sunny Sunday afternoon drinking beer AND knitting with people we like versus sitting in a cafe making uncomfortable conversation with people we had yet to meet. This was the first poor decision among many.

Making our way to join them, we sent out more text messages rallying the remainder of the troops, and soon enough it was a gathering of our whole group of friends with books being exchanged, knitting advice being given, and a baby being bounced around. As time passed, the sun clouded over and we moved inside. The knitting needles got exchanged for pool cues, and another pitcher ordered. Onto the pub for some food which somehow turned into meandering our way down the street for some Noraebang, our group snowballing along the way to include a random Irish tourist named Seamus who thought we just looked like a nice group of people to spend his time with.

As the evening wound down and everyone made their way to the subway, Jen and I giggled like school girls who'd played hooky and made every attempt to justify our actions. In the end, we just blamed Richard and thought that the video below said it all. And really, I did learn how to increase a stitch, decrease a stitch AND yarn over. Not at all a waste of quality knitting time.

Just Beginning...

I bought this skein of yarn (1 kilo!) at the Dongdaemun market last week, convinced that I would quickly use it all up making glorious washcloths for my friends and I. I had visions of them clutching them in their hands, tears of joy mixed with gasps of disbelief as they admired my handiwork. Sitting in my chair later that same day, these visions were quickly forgotten as I ripped out my first few rows of stitches for the ump-teenth time and threw my needles across the room. Every time I started this sucker, I was convinced it was wrong as it faintly resembled something that a spider on crack may have cooked up.

After some deep breaths, I retrieved my needles and convinced myself that I was just going to keep going. Give it 10 rows, I said to myself, maybe then it'll start to look like the dishcloths my mother is famous for. Sure enough,  it did, and I have the picture to prove it. I'm on my way! Wahoo! Expect dishcloths for Christmas! :)