Thursday, September 29, 2005

T-shirt contest

PumpkinMama is having a T-shirt contest (but not a wet T-shirt contest)

Yes I ran it!

This is the front of my favorite T-shirt. I bought it after I ran the Disney 1/2 Marathon. Nine months prior to this race I was a total couch potato. I thought sweating was icky. But Peter had decided that he was going to run the Disney Marathon and convinced me that I should try the 1/2 marathon. ("What else are you going to do while I'm running?" he said.) I love this T-shirt because shows that I am capable of doing something that is very hard for me to do. I also love the T-shirt because of what it says on the back. (Note: Donald Duck is the race mascot.)
I did!

Thanks Agnes!
Remember the Chinese scroll in my house? I sent a photo of it to Agnes, and she gave me a translation and lots of info about it. So cool!

This is a very famous poem ... almost everyone who has studied Chinese
literature would have known it. However, I am afraid my translation would not be
too accurate ... so I searched on the web and found an English translation. It
is an honest translation,which would give you an idea of the literal meaning of
the poem:
Then, the following link will take you to pictures of the actual location in the poem:
Then, I'd like to give you some simple background information so that you
can better understand the poem. The poet was thousand miles away from home, in the capital of the country to take part in a national examination (which was
very important to academia because that was the way for them to be able to get a
job in the government). However, he failed in the examination. On his way home
on a boat, he arrived at this town (Suzhou). The poem described what he saw,
what he heard, and how he felt during that night ...when he suffered from
insomnia (due to his failure? maybe). The poet is not a very prominent figure in
Chinese literature ... however, this poem won him a place there. I hope what I
gave you here helps. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In the Pink

What better way to celebrate finishing a sweater that I didn't like?
Amazing Grace knitted during the Amazing Race

This is the start of Grace from Debbie Bliss's Cotton Angora book. I have been wanting to make this sweater for ages. I'm using squishy and soft Karabella Aurora 8 and I'm loving it. I'm cabling without a cable needle which makes knitting very fast. I wonder why I didn't learn to do this sooner. Last night at the SnB, I showed Monkee's mother how to do a cable without an extra needle. She was horrified when she saw the stitches hanging in mid-air. :-)

The Amazing Race started last night--yay! I'm a little disappointed to see that the entire race may take place in the United States for this season. Where's the fun of seeing self-centered Americans make fools of themselves in other countries? I wonder if we will be getting a history lesson and be overwhelmed with patriotism during this race. I would find that annoying.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rosa aka Rosa Reef aka Rosa Rita

aka The Sweater of Misery

Thank the gourds that it is finished

Pattern: Rosa Reef from Rowan #31, size Large
Yarn: Rowan Handknit Cotton DK
Needles: US size 3 and 5
Modifications: I knit the collar in the round instead of flat with a seam. I also made the collar skinnier because I didn't want to bother joining a new ball of yarn (and I thought that joining a new ball would look ugly)
Recipient: Mother in law
General thoughts: I hated knitting this sweater. I hated the yarn. I hated the pattern.
Need a cat photo? Need a modeling photo? The sweater is too big for me and would have been too small for Peter to model. (Not that he would agree to modeling it).
Let me go! says Scout

Cat: Scout
(If anyone can read that Chinese scroll in the background, let me know!)

Laura's Rules for Knitting for Other People
If you ever think about offering to knit a sweater for someone, please keep the following rules in mind.

1. Know your "customer." Everyone has his or her own taste in clothing. The person that you want to knit for may not like the kinds of clothes that you like. Look at the clothes that your customer owns. Does he or she have brightly colored and patterned clothing? If so, the customer will probably like a fair-isle or an intarsia sweater. Does the customer like simple, neutral-colored clothing? If so, he or she would probably ask for a beige, stockinette sweater. Consider the customer's taste in clothing before even offering to knit a sweater of his or her choosing. If you don't want to do intarsia, don't ask the person who always wears floral-patterned clothes if she wants a sweater.

2. Do not hand your customer a stack of knitting patterns and say, "Pick which ever one you like." If you do this, your customer will invaribly select the one sweater that you never, ever want to knit. Instead, hand-select patterns that you want to knit and only show those sweaters to your customer. However, be sure to consider the customer's tastes when selecting patterns. If you select a bunch of patterns the customer doesn't like, the customer may suddenly start browsing other patterns and find that one sweater that you never, ever want to knit.

3. After the customer has selected a pattern, do not immediately run the customer to a yarn shop to purchase yarn. If you do this you many end up knitting a sweater with yarn that you hate, and who wants to knit with icky yarn? Instead, study the pattern and research yarns. Identify 1-3 different yarns that you would like to work with and tell your customer that "these are the best yarns to use for your sweater." Your customer probably doesn't know anything about yarns. He or she probably doesn't know that there may be 50 other types of yarns appropriate for the sweater. He or she probably doesn't know what makes one yarn better than another. When a nonknitter is picking yarns, only two things are important: texture and color. Nonknitters don't care about the resiliency, feltability, loft, squishiness, etc of a yarn. Nonknitters just want a soft sweater in a color that they like.

4. Consider making a "gift sweater" instead of making a "made-to-order sweater." Dangerous? Possibly. But at least you will enjoy knitting the sweater!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricanes are good for something

I finished knitting the pieces of Rosa during all the hurricane down time. Maybe I should rename the sweater Rosa Rita in honor of our disappointing storm. Scout wouldn't look up for this photo. She's too exhausted from all the hurricane hype.

Which piece of string should I eat first? says Scout

Speaking of hurricane hype, I was thinking about writing about how all the annoying news coverage was before, during, and after this nonevent but someone beat me to it. And he summed it up very well. Basically, all the media coverage in Houston caused mass hysteria throughout the city and prompted many people who didn't need to evacuate to rush the gas stations and spend many brutal hours sitting in traffic that barely moved. The state and city officials can declare the evacuation a "success" all they want--in my opinion the evacuation was a disaster. Twenty-three people died for no reason. That's a fact that everyone seems to be overlooking. The nursing home where those people were residing really wasn't in any serious danger, even if a category 5 hurricane had hit Galveston directly.

I should have final photos of Rosa by Tuesday.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Not blown away after all!

I'm ok!

The most exciting things that happened is that the power flickered on an off during the storm and that the cats got nervous. I don't even have any exciting photos of the storm to show you. It's still windy and rainy here, but we have electricity, water, and internet access. And a heck of a lot of nonperishable food. PB and J sandwiches for days!!!

Now I have to wait for the annoying local news to stop with their 24-hour coverage of the storm so I can watch normal TV. (I missed Survivor on Thursday--grr!)

Thanks for all the good wishes! More later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A couple of the neighbors are boarding up:
Should I be scared? I don't know. Peter says that we shouldn't panic because
(1) we're 30 or so miles inland
(2) we're above sea level
(3) so far, it doesn't look like the storm will hit the Houston area directly
(4) we had absolutely no flooding during freak Tropical Storm Allison (the storm that hit Houston on a Tuesday, moved inland, turned around and hit Houston again on Friday, causing massive flooding throughout the city)

We're not evacuating before the storm but we are planning. We have food, we're going to store water (I guess I'd better clean the bathtub tonight!), and we know where we are going if we have to evacuate after the storm.

Having never been through a hurricane before, I'm not sure if I should be panicking or worrying right now. Of course the media is all hyped up, but I think its because the local media desperately wants the "big one" to hit Houston and because of all of the Katrina aftermath. Interestingly, the mayor of Houston is conveniently using the possible Rita hit as an excuse to move all of the Katrina evacuees out of Houston. The ones that were still in the shelters are now being shipped out of state.

So, I'm trying to ignore the local media and I'm just tracking the storm through NOAA. I love the NOAA website. I use it all the time for research for my job. You can find lots of interesting tidbits of information on that website. Did you know that hurricane names are recycled? I'll have to wait until 2008 for a hurricane Laura.

Knitting Content?
Proof that I am a process knitter: When I was mentally listing the things I wanted to take if we did evacuate, tops on my list were my cello and my yarn. I didn't even think about taking my finished objects until I started thinking about clothes to take. Tops on my clothes to take list? Underwear, jeans, shorts, t-shirts. No knitware.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Somewhere in My Youth or Childhood . . .

. . . I must have done something good.

My name is listed as a contact on the main Houston SnB webpage. So, I occasionally get knitting related emails from people who I don't know. But the email I received on Thursday was a bit different (with some edits):

Hi Laura,
...I'm not interested in joining [your] knitting group, since unfortunately, after knitting for 50 years I'm unable to do so anymore I'm contacting you, because I have "tons" of german yarn that I've accumulated over the years and I would like to give it to someone that is capable of using it the way it should be. There is not cost involved (other than you having to pick it up at my house). Please let me know if you're interested.
(signed) Complete Stranger
Hello! Am I interested? You betcha! I emailed Mrs. Stranger to set up a pick up time. In her return email she mentioned that she also had a "ton" of knitting books, some in German. Did I know any knitter who could read German? she asked. Well, because I am an American-born Chinese-Filipino, naturally the only other language that I know is German. Weee!

Peter and I drove over to Mrs. Stranger's house the morning and came home with this:

Peter's worst nightmare

And this:

Patterns galore!
(The biggest prize: Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns)
And this:

Do you have a spare needle?
Straights, DPN, circulars including some Addis and Inox needles.

Most of the yarn are full balls, complete with ball bands. A lot of cotton blends, lots of mohair blends, acrylic stuff, stuff with lurex, and a some novelty yarns. I found ten balls of a lovely 55%cotton/45% tussah silk yarn, a heck of a lot of orange Regia sock yarn, some delicious 55% cotton/45% wool yarn, interesting looking novelty yarn, bags of cotton/linen yarn still in its original packaging, and some gigantic balls of fuzzy blue mystery yarn (Scout used for scale):

What are these? says Scout

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it all. I'll probably trade or give a lot of it away. Maybe I will get it organized and invite the people in my SnB to paw through it and take what they want. Maybe I will send boxes of random yarn to people I know. Right now I'm just completely overwhelmed!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I'm not too sure about these sleeves . . .

If they were black and white, the sweater could be convict-wear

This is the start of Rosa's sleeves. I just started the blue stripe. After that stripe, the colors repeat in the same order. The sleeves (being knit at the same time) look a little garish to me. The colors look nice together in the flower pattern but are a little to stark in this wide stripe pattern. I guess that must be why the designer choose drab colors in the original design. I hope my MIL likes it. I don't have enough yarn to make the sleeves a solid color--unless I made one sleeve one color and the other sleeve a different color :-)

Sisterly love
I took this photo of Cleo and Scout this afternoon.

Aww! How sweet!

I think that it's the closest that Scout has ever slept with one of her sisters. Believe it or not, Cleo and Elly are not big fans of Scout. I think Elly actually hates Scout but has taken a "if I ignore it, it will go away" attitude toward Scout. But if Scout gets to close to Elly, Elly will growl and hiss. At least Scout has learned that playing with Elly's tail is a bad thing. Incidentally, my girls are not actually related in anyway. They were each adopted separately.

Thanks for all your advice and support about my job situation. I'm still struggling with what to do with myself, but I'll try not to bore you with all of my anxieties too often.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How do you know what you want . . .

. . . 'til you get what you want and you see if you like it?
I haven't done anything thing with the Rebecca sleeves yet. I can't decide what I want because I don't know how other sleeves will look. I guess at some point, I will just have to close my eyes and take a leap of faith. And hopefully, I will like it when it's finished.

Right now, I'm facing a similar tough decision in my nonknitting life. I used to think that my job was perfect for me. I loved nearly everything about it. I even cheerfully worked overtime because I felt that it was a small price to pay for such a wonderful job. But now, for various reasons, I think that it is time for me to leave. Unfortunately, I don't know what sort of career I want to pursue next.

Jobs that I am qualified for and that I have done in the past:
1. High school or middle school science teacher. I have a lifetime teaching certificate in chemistry, physics, and physical science. But I was miserable when I was teaching.
2. Research Associate in a molecular biology lab. Same low pay as teaching with much less stress. Also much more boredom.
3. Freelance writer for educational publishers. Uneven work and uneven pay. May be difficult to make freelancing a full-time job that pays well.

Jobs that I think I would like to do but have drawbacks associated with them:
1. Professional knitter. I have never seen such a job advertised. Plus, I wonder if I would start to dislike knitting if I depended on it for money and if spent all my time knitting for other people.
2. Pastry chef. I'd want to work in a froo-froo bakery, not a restaurant. I'd have to go to culinary school and I've heard that the work is quite grueling.
3. Adoption counselor in an animal shelter. When these jobs exist, they tend to be volunteer jobs.
4. Patent agent. I'd need to take the patent bar exam (not a big deal) and I'm not sure I'd like working in an office again.
5. Food scientist. I'm not sure exactly what a food scientist does, but it sounds interesting. I'd have to go back to school for a third Master's degree.

You want to hear about knitting now?
I started a secret project. You will not see photos on this blog. All I will say is that I'm using RYC Cashsoft and that I'm making cables without a cable needle.

Also, I finished the back of Rosa and started the front. The front is identical to the back except for the neck shaping. This sweater (for my MIL) seems enormous to me. I'm am making the right size for her, but she's larger than I am and the sweater has quite a bit of ease.

Doesn't seem too big to me, says Scout

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Pondering Sleeves

As I said before, I'm not sure the puffy sleeves on Rebecca are working for me. I asked for the opinions of the fine (and opinionated) people in the Knitty Coffeeshop and the reaction was mixed. However, Gretchen suggested that I wear the sweater a few times as it before deciding on what to do. And that's exactly what I am going to do.

But of course, I have been thinking about how to fix the sleeves if I decide to do so. The easiest solution that I see would be to frog the sleeves from the bottom up until I undo all of the cabling part. Then, I would cast off and add the picot edging as before. I think and hope that this process will result in cute little flutter sleeves. Sorta like this:
Cute sleeves

I think shorter sleeves will help immensely and I think the fullness of the flutter sleeves will compliment the fullness of the bottom "peplum." Creating flutter sleeves will also allow me to avoid undoing all the seams and undoing the bottom crocheted edging. (ugh!) If the flutter sleeve idea doesn't fly, I guess I will design and knit new straight sleeves. But I have to wear the sweater a few times before I do anything rash!

Additional Rebecca Error Alert
Yesterday, I was studying the photo of the sweater in the Rebecca magazine and I realized that the pattern had the wrong cable chart for the sleeves as well. One row of cable crossings is missing. So, Rebecca is 0 for 2 as far as charts go. However, if that additional cable row was incorporated, the sleeves would be another 0.5 to 0.75 inches longer! eep! I think they are too long as they current are.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Two sweater in two days: Rebecca is finished, too.

Rebecca is not X-rated, but it may be rated PG.
Avast Ye Matey!

Pattern: Sweater with Honeycomb Pattern from Rebecca 29, size small
Yarn: ggh Bali, 7 balls (see note below)
Needles: US size 6 and my smaller crochet hook (I only own two crochet hooks)
Modifications: For modesty's sake, I slightly closed up the bottom of the V-neck. I also added a row of single crochet to the neckline before doing the picot edging to close the neckline up some more. I also omitted the crocheted sash. It looked silly to me.
Pattern Error: The chart for the diamond motif that was published in the magazine is incorrect. The chart produces a diamond that is smaller than the diamond shown in the magazine photo. I corrected this error by simply continuing the established pattern. Only after I made my corrections did I discover that Rebecca has a corrected chart available on their website.
Yarn Warning: The pattern says that the size small of the sweater can be made with 6 balls of Bali. I finished the 6th ball when I finished knitting the pieces. If I had only purchased 6 balls, I would not have had any yarn to do the edgings. Luckily, I always buy an extra ball of yarn. But if you plan on making this sweater--I'd suggest buying extra.
Random Thoughts: Is it a winner or a loser? I can't decide. I'm not sure the puffy sleeves are doing anything for me. I do like how the cable pattern from the front is repeated on the sleeves--but that's what makes the sleeves puffy. (The cable pattern gathers the fabric.)

Maybe the sweater is too fussy for my tastes. Compare it to Tivoli from yesterday. Tivoli is simple and clean, Rebecca is . . . I don't know what it is. Maybe it's a pirate shirt? Thank goodness for the plunging neckline--if the neckline were too high the sweater would look horribly prudish.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Yes, I know you all were expecting the Rebecca sweater. But it's not here yet. Wednesday afternoon, at the same moment that I discovered that the latest issue of Magknits was up, I was stricken by a very unusual case of knitting ADHD. I put down my nearly finished Rebecca sweater to cast on for Tivoli.

My Own Tivoli

Pattern: Picovoli (Tivoli) by Grumperina, 32 inch size
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cathay in pink (color 12009) and ivory (color 12002)
Needles: US size 5
Time to knit: 4 days
My personal touch: Single crochet "piping" on all edges in a contrasting color.
Cat: Elly (see photo below)
Other thoughts: I really love the picot edging that Kathy added to this pattern for Magknits. However, I had been planning the contrasting edging for some time now that I wanted to do it my way first. If I make the sweater again, I will do the picots.
Less squinty, indoor photo:
Elly approves

By the way, the Rebecca sweater is finished, too. However, the crochet edging needed a bit of taming so the sweater is now pinned to my blocking board with soaking wet edgings.