Sunday, June 29, 2008

FO: North Sea Stole

North Sea Stole
Pattern: North Sea Stole from Folk Shawls
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr Lace in Mahogany, 1.2 balls
Needles: US 5
Modifications: Did not make two halves for grafting; I just returned to the first pattern and knitted in the same direction.

This yarn is deliciously yummy. The recipient, my friend M's mother, travels a lot and always brings back little trinkets for me so I thought it was about time to return the favor. I gifted it to her over the weekend and she loved it.

I ain't a newbie to lace or blocking it anymore, but the transformation from crumpled lace to blocked lace continues to amaze me. I now understand that I need to get me some blocking wires b/c I have had it with the pins. I had to pin this thing out a hundred times (yes, I exaggerate) and then gave up and threaded cotton through the sides to hold it out evenly.

I only had time for a few quick timer shots on the camera and this was the best of the lot. Fuzzy and overexposed, but you get the drift.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Eats

I'm really done with the North Sea Stole, but I haven't gotten my lazy rump to weave in the ends yet or take photos. So instead, I leave you with an abbreviated version of the past few days chez Sway:

George Harrison tunes at Karaoke w/silly, drunken friends

A bowl of ripe avocados

Cherry Tomatoes, sans salmonella

Sprigs of Cilantro and some squeezed-out Lemons 'n Limes

A handful of diced red onions


Add a picnic blanket, blue corn tortilla chips, several cold Coronas, and the Philharmonic in Central Park's Great Lawn, and we have ourselves a wonderful summer night.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Un vestido azul para el verano

I confess. I gave up on the Roped Shell. I realized at a certain point that the project was going to be of the slogging variety. You know, I could finish it if I really really made myself, but my knitting time of late has been limited and I can't bear to spend that valuable knitting time making something that I might enjoy wearing but is not pleasing to, you know, knit, actually.

I just watched "Painting with Words," a half-hour David McCullough interview on HBO. He is so eloquent and earnest that I found myself looking up his speeches and lectures. At Boston College's commencement this spring, he gave a speech in which he implored the graduating class:

"And please, please, do what you can to cure the verbal virus that seems increasingly rampant among your generation. I’m talking about the relentless, wearisome use of the words, “like,” and “you know,” and “awesome,” and “actually.” Listen to yourselves as you speak.

Just imagine if in his inaugural address John F. Kennedy had said, “Ask not what your country can, you know, do for you, but what you can, like, do for your country actually.”"

Ahem. Point taken, Mr. McCullough.

Moving on, I knew I needed some other type of soothing summer knitting that was interesting enough to keep me from poking my eyes out with the needles but easy enough that I could work on it with only half my brain present.

Enter Debbie Bliss's Estela:

One of my Spanish professors in college was this crazy language genius. She had been born in Iran, spoke Farsi and Arabic since childhood, went to school in Paris and then Madrid, and immigrated to the U.S. She was fluent in five languages right there. And then she started taking Mandarin Chinese courses.

I only mention her because she used to say that of all the Spanish cities, "Me encanta a Barcelona." I know "me encanta" is a very common Spanish expression, but for me, it is always tied up with the way she said it. "Me encanta" seemed to denote something alluring and positively delightful.

And that is the only way I can explain my reaction to Estela. Me encanta a Estela.

But not without modifications. I couldn't imagine donning a "waistcoat," so I eliminated the slits on the sides. I'm debating about whether to keep the full button bands for the front. I was thinking I could perhaps just make it solid with a placket at the bust, but I'm pleasantly making headway with the back, so I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Monday, June 9, 2008

FO: Leaves o' Gold Socks

Since leaving Korea when I was but a wee toddler, I've only been back once. After my freshman year in college, my a cappella group traveled through Asia for a month and we spent five days in Seoul.

The local chapter of our school's alumni treated us to a lunch and one of the men, the CEO of some large company I can't remember, was reminiscing about his drinking days back in college. Jokingly, he informed us that the Koreans are known as "the Irish of Asia." Apparently, my people like the likker.

Later that night, wouldn't you know it? We came across an Irish bar right in our own hotel. You know what it was called?


I kid you not. And ever since then, I am a little obsessed with using the o' in random and inappropriate places.

I like to think these socks are an homage to the little bit o' Irish in every Korean.

Leaves o' Gold Socks
Pattern: Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Gold, 1 skein
Needles: US 1 circs
Absolutely no modifications except for making it shorter to fit my feet.

I cast on for these because I was taking a few days to visit the 'rents and I didn't want to lug by large lace shawls or sweaters on the bus. I flipped through this pattern and thought it looked simple enough and I headed out. Whew. Two days later, I had eaten my fill of a large home-grilled steak, plenty of grilled veggies, watched two rather bad thriller movies, slept like the dead, and bound off these socks.

I really love how easy this pattern was and how it flows so smoothly. The toes are perfect. The leaves are perfect. The yarn! Sea Wool is a teensy bit crunchy while knitting, but softens after blocking to a beautiful fabric.

Also, these socks make me think of Eva Cassidy's beautiful, beautiful cover of Sting's "Fields of Gold." If you haven't heard it, go here to listen. It makes me all kinds of sad and happy.

Now on to a tale of two batteries:

You notice how the one on the right reads, "CR2," while the one on the left clearly reads, "123"? Apparently, I cannot read. I spent $14 buying two of the 123 batteries when what I really needed were two CR2 batteries. $14 is not a huge loss, but it is if I basically just threw it into the trash. It's not even like buying two AA batteries you don't need. You can always find uses for AA batteries. But 123? ARGHHHH.

Anyway, I need the batteries for this:

It's my old Pentax camera. I bought it several years ago from a friend who had no more use for it and then I promptly abandoned it when I realized I really needed a digital camera. This one ain't digital. It's old school and uses film. I don't even know if I remember how to handle film.

I never even learned how to use this thing properly, but my roommate Don is a photographer and he promised to teach me how to work it. That is, if I can ever get my brain straight in the drugstore and buy the proper batteries.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

FO: Gathered Pullover

I love perfume. I don't wear it often, but these are some of my all-time favorites: Chanel No. 5, Chanel No. 19, Gucci Eau de Parfum, Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle's En Passant and Lys Mediterranee.

Yes, I like the old-fashioned ones. The woody scent of sandalwood, however, might be at the very top of the list for me.

Sandalwood Gathered Pullover
Pattern: Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason
Yarn: Louet MerLin Tristan, a bit less than 3 skeins
Needles: US 8 Addi Naturas
Modifications: Knit the body longer before starting knot, knit full-length sleeves. Started sleeves with XS measurements, increased to S measurements at cap.

This sweater is making me so happy and so sad all at the same time. Happy because it fits beautifully and feels all wonderful and yummy. Sad because it is too darn hot to wear it right now. The Louet MerLin is stupendous yarn. Stupendous, I tell you. I steamed it to block and it just softened the linen part of it to give it elegant drape. I decided to make the XS size (even though I am not extra small) because everything I read implied that the sweater stretched a bit due to the loose gauge. Halfway through, I was nervous...but it ended up being a perfect fit. Hooray for Ravelry's pattern pages! I stuck with the S numbers for the sleeve caps because my upper arms are...uh...not quite toned.

Also, I knit this--with modified full-length sleeves and a lengthened torso--out of 750 yards of yarn. 750! That's remarkable! I love it so much that I'm considering buying up some Euroflax and making a summer tank dress from the pattern. I don't think I'd need more than 3 skeins considering there would be no sleeves and just additional length. We shall see.

On to book reviews, both knitting and not:

Of all the knitting books with men's patterns, this one is by far my favorite. It's full of classic silhouettes that have been updated with modern color palettes and I can actually see my friends and family members actually wearing this stuff.

Case in point:

A manly shawl-collared chunky-knit sweater. This one needs to be made before August. One of my friends, Clint, is moving to Chicago to start a lengthy M.A.-Ph.D. program in film studies. A month ago, he was deciding between programs in Santa Barbara and Chicago. He liked Chicago, but was scared of how cold it would be. To allay his fears, I promised to knit him a "professor" sweater. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have the winning pattern.

I also finished this short li'l book:

It's been translated from Korean and it's an odd story. Basically, the narrator is a man who searches for "clients" but doesn't tell you what he does for his clients until halfway through. And no, he does not offer sexual services. The story also involves several searingly lonely women and a pair of estranged brothers. It's terribly sad and bleak, but it also manages to be lyrical and beautiful. It's a quick, short read and I highly recommend it.

In other knitting news, I've started the border on my diamonds and triangle stole. I'm kind of afraid this is going to be gigantic.