July 2009 Archives

Japanese Crochet Books, Part II


Not surprisingly, thoughts about Lotus bring me back to my new stash of crochet inspiration.  This book (titled Crochet Accessories in English ISBN4-277-43080-5) is an interesting collection of crocheted jewelry (including necklaces, earrings and rings), scarves, and bracelets and charms.  Much of it I can't imagine wearing, but I can imagine using some of the foundation shapes for the beads, vegetables (yes! almost like tiny tiny amigurumi), fruits and flowers in other pieces.  

20090630_FloralCrochet.jpgThis is, perhaps, my favorite piece.  A cord of tiny flowers (it is modeled as a neck lace -- most of these flowers are probably not much larger than a quarter) in a riot of spring colors.  Done slightly larger, and with the right outfit, I could imagine it as a belt.  So much work in those little flowers, I can't imagine making it (well, maybe I can, but only over a long period of time), but I find it very inspirational.  A little garden path to wear around your neck or waist.

20090630_CrochetDreamcatche.jpgI think of these as crochet "dream catchers" suspended into necklace form.  This piece is probably one of the most "traditional crochet" looking pieces in the book, but I think it still feels quite fresh and wearable. Any one of those motifs, done singly, could be made into a simple choker (how the circles are so circular is somewhat mysterious to me -- I suspect there might be a small hoop that is crocheted around). 

This book has another surprising aspect -- at least it is surprising if you look at the photography done for most US craft books -- the models are diverse in both age and origins (though all are women) and none of them is overly polished or stylized.  It got my attention in a good way.

The instructions in this book are somewhat harder to follow than in the first book I talked about -- while the stitches are drawn using the standard symbols, there is no real explanation of what stitches they are except in Japanese, so you might need another reference to help you with this.  Also, the crochet and construction steps are separated.  For instance, the motifs in the second necklace are described in one area and the assembly process much farther on.  But this makes it easier to use the motifs in whatever context you might want, even if you do have to puzzle a bit more to get to the pieces as shown.

Compared to the Crochet Doliy book, I think I am more likely to use this book for inspiration than I am to crochet anything from it.  Unlike most knit accessories books I have come across, however, there are actually things I would wear were I to actually find the time to make them.  Some of the pieces are more whimsical than my wardrobe could bear, but many of them are interestingly constructed, well thought out and much more jewelry like than you might think crochet can be!

And speaking of crochet.... the first of Lotus sleeves got her pink edging last night.  I feel like I am moving at a glacial pace right at the moment. When I first saw the little pink edging on the model garment in the magazine, I was somewhat suspicious of it, but now that I see it in place, I quite like it!

In my last post, I neglected to metion which interchangeable crochet hook kit I got.  It is nothing fancy -- the kit is made by Boye and is called "Interchangeable Head Crochet Set".  I got mine at JoAnn's (I would link to it, but I don't see it in the online store).  It comes with 14 steel heads ranging in size from US 1 to US 14 (i.e. from tiny to really really really tiny), a handle and a case to hold all the parts.  It's an all metal set, but I have some foamy finger protectors that can slide over the handle to provide some cushioning.  I think it will be perfect for traveling with.  And if you wait for when they have one of their 40-50% off coupons you could pick the set up for $15-$20 bucks.

Aloha for Now

Not so much time to write today, as packing and getting ready to travel dominated almost everything I did today.

The next time you hear from me, I will be here:

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We anticipate quite an adventure ahead of us, with 9 hours on airplanes combined with a rambunctious child.  But compared to when we set off without children, we are traveling amazingly light.  Amazing how having to one new person in our lives gets us to be less concerned about the little stuff and more concerned about making sure that we can entertain her on the plane.

The beach house we are renting is situated on the west end of Anini Beach and is sheltered by a lovely reef system which keeps the shore mellow and baby-friendly.  And it's big enough for grandparents to share in the visit.  My mom and dad will be spending some quality time with us on this trip and I can hardly wait for Zosia to have such an extended visit time with them.

Lotus now has pink edgings on both cuffs, but, still needs sleeves sewn in and the edging around the crochet border on the body of the sweater.  She's been tucked into my suitcase and will be what I work on when I get to the island... I just can't imagine trying to focus on that kind of project while on an airplane with a toddler. 

As per usual, we have found a place with a broadband connection, so I hope that I will be able to share some of our vacation photos with you while we are there.

To all in the US, a happy 4th of July weekend to you.  To all others, may you have a lovely weekend to kick off July! 

Images of Kauai -- July 4, 2009



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top left: sunrise over Anini Beach, top center: cottage hammock, top left: Anini Beach, bottom left: Kilauea Lighthouse, bottom center: plumeria blooms

We've been in Kauai for less than a day, and we're now settled into our lovely beach house on the west end of Anini Beach. The house is simple, but the view is to die for, since the panoramic windows on the front of the house give you a spectacular view of the water. After being woken up just before 6 AM to the sound of crowing roosters (if you are on Kauai for any length of time, you will encounter these loquacious fellows)  we headed down to the beach to enjoy the sunrise (top left picture).  No matter whether I'm in Chicago or Hawaii, I love the early morning when the sun hits the water and turns it into liquid silver.  Ms. Z got her first splash in the Pacific Ocean and my parents and I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the edge of the water (John doesn't like coffee,or he would have been included, too).  There was the briefest of rains and a stunning rainbow over our cottage.  A perfect beginning to our vacation.  I can almost feel the cares of home melting away.

I think I feel some swimming coming on.  Happy 4th of July, everyone!
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Images of Kauai -- July 5, 2009



(click thumbnails for full sized images)

top left: early morning break in the clouds over Kilauea Lighthouse, top center: camoflauged rocky fish near shore, top right: a view from the hammock, bottom left: wild Kauai rooster, bottom center: Spouting Horn near Poipu Beach, bottom right: sunset with palms

Our second day on Kauai started off with an early morning dip in the ocean.  John and I explored tide pools in the coral (for which there are no pictures because it was not a camera friendly place to go) and discovered more sea urchins than we could count.  After naptime (during which I both got myself sunburned and discovered that I had made a mistake in the pink edging on the main body of Lotus that required I rip it completely out ) we took a trip to Koloa Town and Spouting Horn, stopping off for some Caramel Coconut Macadamia Nut ice cream at Lappert's Ice Cream.  Ms. Z has decided that she doesn't like convertables ("Too windy!  I no like it!"), but thinks the beach is a good deal ("Want to go in the water!") and is starting to get used to her new flip flops. 
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Images of Kauai -- July 6, 2009



(click the images to enlarge)
top left: sunrise, top center: Waimea Canyon, top left: Waimea Canyon, bottom right: John and Z at a Waimea Canyon overlook,bottom center: looking down to the Napali Coast

Today we headed down to Waimea Canyon.  John and I had been before (in fact, we'd done several hikes in the canyon on our last trip), but it was nice to introduce my Mom and Dad.  I think Waimea Canyon is one of those big surprises on the island.  You drive up the mountain road and suddenly come face to face with this stunning terrain.  The most stunning views, in my opinion can be found at "the end of the road" in the park, looking down from the top to the Napali coastline.  I was unable to take a picture that did it justice.  It's one of the few places that calls out for a wide angle lens to help you take it all in. 

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(click on the images for larger)

top left: little cove near Kilauea Point, top center: sea bird (red footed booby?) in flight, top left: Kilauea Lighthouse, bottom left: greater frigate bird, bottom center: Z at the Lighthouse, bottom left: breakers near the Lighthouse

It was a low key day today, some swimming, some seaming and a trip to the Kilauea Point to see the Lighthouse.  The Lighthouse area is a state park and wildlife refuge that is filled with ocean birds.  We visited the Point on our last trip, but I was unable to get any good pictures of the birds in flight with my little point and shoot camera.  This time, with big DSLR and telephoto lens (a much appreciated Christmas present from John that is finally getting a real work out) in hand I was finally able to capture some of these birds.  I think the bird in the top center picture is a red footed booby -- he reminded me of my memories of reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  But the photos that I was most excited about were those of the Greater Frigate Birds, which have forked tails and perform beautiful acrobatics in the air.  Using the mode that allowed for rapid shooting, I was able to take a whole series.  I am particularly happy with the one above and the way the bird is juxtaposed with the clouds.

I mentioned that there was some seaming.  Indeed, Lotus is now has all crochet completed and all ends woven in.  Just one more sleeve remains to be attached. 

Beach view.  Coffee.  Sweater without sleeves.  Seaming inspiration.  Looking forward to tomorrow when the light is good again and I can get the second sleeve sewn in.
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Lotus on the Island

Pattern: Lotus from Rowan 45 by Marie Wallin
Yarn: Rowan Fine Milk Cotton  (Snow and Shrimps)
Size: Small
Project Archives: Lotus Archive

After an afternoon nap's worth of seaming, Lotus is now complete.  When I first tried it on after those final stitches, I admit to having had one of those let down moments. Something didn't feel right.  I put Lotus down on the bed and figured I'd come back to her later and test her out again before I got disappointed.  Sure enough, fresh from a dip in the ocean with John and Z a few hours later, I slipped back into Lotus and decided that I'd been overly critical of both myself and the sweater earlier in the day.  So I grabbed my camera and headed back to the beach. If any sweater deserves a beach photo shoot, it's Lotus.  To me, this sweater's airy quality, cotton foundation and lacy details speak to breezy afternoons in the sun. 

20090708_LotusSide1.jpgThe light on the north side of Kauai in the late afternoon is perfect for a photo shoot.  All these pictures were taken by John, who did an admirable job of having one eye on the camera and the other on a happy toddler.  The styling, as it were, is intentionally informal and meant to evoke both wind swept and apres swim (and to hide my post-baby untoned belly).


20090708_LotusFront2.jpgAll these pictures might lead you to believe that I have confused Lotus for Narcissus.  Perhaps that is so.  Certainly the sweater makes me happy, and it was more than a little bit wonderful to get to celebrate it's completion with my family on a stunning beach front.  And John did a nice job, I think, of capturing both me and the sweater, I felt it deserved a few extra  victory dance steps. 

I'm not sure what else there is to say about Lotus that I haven't already said. We're I to make it again, I think I would shoot for just a little bit larger diameter. I wouldn't go up a size, but I would probably add a little more width to the fronts.  As you can see from the pictures of the back, the sizing there is perfect, but, in addition to the post-baby tummy issues, I also seem to have experienced a post-baby boobal area size increase that made the front coverage not quite as perfect as I would have liked it.

Overall, I'm pleased with the sweater.  I have yet to make a Rowan garment that I have design complaints about, and Lotus is no exception.  I believe this is my first "3 skein" Rowan sweater, so completing Lotus gives me another merit badge to add to my knitter's sash.  I made no modifications other than to knit the crochet lace for the body of Lotus directly on to the garment and in the round.  In spite of its small gauge, this sweater didn't really seem like it took all that long for me to knit.  I like the texture and the hand of the Fine Milk Cotton, but found it somewhat fussy to knit and crochet with, as the plies in the yarn become easily untwisted and separated. Given it's light color and special care needs, it's unlikely that Lotus will see constant daily wear, but with those fabulous bell sleeves and neutral coloration, I suspect this sweater will see it's fair share of summer for seasons to come.
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Images of Kauai -- July 10, 2009

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(click on images for bigger versions)

top left: coral on Anini Beach, top center: north Kauai shore line, top right: beach Morning Glories, bottom left: tunnel through the trees near Hanalei, bottom center: mountains in the clouds, bottom right: tree roots near Ha'ena Beach Park

This is the mid point of our vacation.  The midway point is always a little melancholy for me, as it's a reminder that while the glass is still half full, it's also half empty and the busy world we left behind is only another week away.  This is silly, of course, since even though I love to visit places like Kauai, I know I couldn't make my home here.  In fact, I think vacations would do less to recharge my batteries if I always lived in paradise.  I think that the fact that vacations are fleeting is part of what makes them precious.  What I need to get better at is taking a little bit of that peace that I find and stashing it away inside myself so that I can find it again when I need it.

Today was a lazy day with no particular plan.  There was a morning dip in the ocean and after Z settled in for her nap, John and I headed west and had lunch at a restaurant with a lovely view not too far past Hanalei, the Mediterranean Gourmet (very passable Lebanese inspired food... and a Macadamia Tart to die for).  One thing that often gets forgotten amongst all the beach pictures is that Kauai is much more than her beaches.  Kauai also has a stunning mountain scape courtesy of her long dead volcano.  It's almost impossible for me to take the panoramic pictures that would really show off the landscape -- but that's okay... somethings have to be experienced and no photo can really capture their grandeur.  Such is true of watching the sun set throught the clouds casting stunning rays of last light over the mist on the upcountry. 

One thing that has stood out to me, compared to our last visit, is how much real estate along the north shore is available for sale.  I'd say it ranges from 20-50% depending on the area.  It seems that Kauai is no stranger to the same housing issues plaguing the mainland.  And it's clear that unemployment is hitting the island hard, too.  A number of beach parks that we've seen that have full amenities (i.e. showers and toilets) have clearly become more than temporary camping sights for some.  Not that this makes the beaches less enjoyable (the main camping area at Anini Beach is only a couple hundred yards from us and you would never know there were a bunch of people there), it's just a reminder to me of how lucky John and I are to be where we are in life and to be able to take a vacation. 

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A Little Crochet

Today we headed to Tunnels Beach to do some swimming and some snorkeling.  In spite of the fact that the scenery was absolutely stunning, both at the beach and on the drive to the beach, I took no photos.  In fact, I didn't even bring the camera along.  I think that's the hardest thing about going to beaches that you aren't able to walk out your back door and go swimming in -- you just don't want to take all that much valuable stuff.  Especially if your car is not going to be where you can keep an eye on it and you have a toddler to patrol.  The water was wonderful and the snorkeling was great, even in the afternoon when all the water was stirred up.  It was like swimming in a fish tank with all sorts of salt water beauties swimming around and under us.  We're hoping to head back in that direction sometime in the next couple of days, and next time the camera will probably come with me.

Thank you to everyone who left nice words about Lotus.  They are much appreciated!  To anyone who likes the sweater but thinks it's too complicated to tackle, don't let the crochet or the fine gauge dissuade you -- it takes a little care, but it's not all that hard if you follow the instructions carefully.  Also, I know the Fine Milk Cotton is pretty spendy -- but I'm pretty sure that almost any sport weight cotton would work out just fine.  Rowan has a standard cotton 4 ply, and I believe Patons also has a yarn in the right weight range and I think both would be more affordable than the Fine Milk Cotton.

When I was packing for this trip, I brought very little in the way of fiber-related projects.  I packed Lotus and the supplies I needed to finish her up.   I packed the sock project I am working on using the Vesper Wee Skein kit, yarn for one additional pair of socks, should I finish up the Vesper sock, and a collection of perle cotton, an interchangeable crochet hook set and my Japanese Doily book.  It may not seem like it, but, for me, this was remarkably restrained.  With Lotus out of the way and my desire to knit wool socks dulled by tropical weather, I turned my attention to the doily book.

20090709_CrochetMotif.jpgI picked this motif somewhat at random, bt mostly because there were no complicated stitches to figure out.  Of course, it ended up having the crochet equivalent of bobbles (at the corners, they're a little hard to see), but I liked the end product even so. I crocheted the motif using 5/2 perle cotton on a size 3 steel crochet hook.  The motif is aboutt 6-7" in diameter and the perfect size for an actual doily.  The color changes are due to the fact that one little skein of perle cotton didn't go as far as I thought it would -- all those double crochet stitches eat up yarn pretty quickly.  I'll have to block it when I get home, but I think it will make a nice dresser decorationn.

With this one finished, I'm itching to start another one -- these things come together so fast, even on a small hook, and almost every row is different, so I'm finding it hard to put them down!

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Images of Kauai -- July 11, 2009


(click on images for full sized versions of photos)

top left: Anini Beach in the sunshine, top center: Opaekaa Falls, top left: Wailua River, bottom left: Wailua Falls, bottom center: bird in flight at Wailua Falls, bottom left: rock formation at Wailua Falls

The theme for Saturday was waterfalls.  Kauai gets a pretty stunning amount of rain every year.  Sometimes that rain gets in the way, but the locals will remind you that without the rain, there would not be the stunning collection of waterfalls that dot the upcountry. When John and I were here in 2006, we took an open doors helecopter flight that took us into a grotto where seven or eight falls had formed.  Many falls are hard to get to by car, but since having a toddler means that even simple hikes are complicated (and few trains in Kauai are the sort that have good surfaces and hand rails), we opted to take a look at a couple that we could get to with wheels instead of feel.  Wailua Falls is one of the more famous falls on the island, but I thought Opaekaa Falls was the more interesting to look at and to photograph (the angles I had for photographing Wailua Falls weren't all that great for the main overlook -- I suspect it's much better if you hike to the bottom of the falls). 

Most of the morning was cloudy and rainy (in fact, we got caught in something of a downpour at Opaekaa Falls) but the afternoon, as per usual, turned beautiful once we got back to the beach house and put Z down for her nap.  It was a picture perfect afternoon on the shores of Anini Beach. 
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(click on images for bigger)

top left: Z on the shores of Ke'e Beach, top center: photographers footprints washed away by Ke'e Beach waves, top right: NaPali Coastline as seen from Ke'e Beach, center left: waves over the reef at Ke'e Beach, center center: ancient rock on Ke'e Beach, center right: looking south down Ke'e Beach, bottom left: the deserted north end of Ke'e Beach

I have had requests for more beach and more sunsets.  And, in truth, those things were on my agenda, too.  In particular, a trip to Ke'e Beach, which is the beautiful beach "at the end of the road" to Hanalei -- quite literally, the 10 mile marker is actually on the beach.  Ke'e is a lovely beach, one of my favorites on Kauai.  It has a reef for snorkeling and is one of the few beaches that doesn't really require reef shoes or flip flops in the water to avoid rocks and coral since the bottom is sandy.  It's also a fine sand beach with a smattering of black sand mixed in, which makes it seem like "dirtier" sand than it really is.  We headed out after Z's nap so that we could dip in the water, snorkel and watch the sun go down.  Because the beach faces pretty much directly due west, it's an incredible place to watch the sun go down from.  Some folks claim you can occasionally view a green flash here -- unfortunately, we've never seen it, but that doesn't make the sunset any less lovely.  Supposedly, Ke'e is also a favorite location of green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals, but neither of those lovely creatures made an appearance while we were there, either.

Perhaps the nicest thing that happened on our visit to this beach, was having Z discover that she could wade into the water deeper than her thighs -- and that she liked it.  Z comes from a long line of water babies on my side (my parents grew up in the the lake side town of Ludington, MI and I spent much time there and on other Michigan coastlines) so I figured she'd find her inner fish eventually. 

Sunsets will find their way to the blog tomorrow... still haven't figured out the best way to show the series I shot.

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Three cheers for Flickr!  Sometimes I have cool options at my finger tips, but forget that they are there! (and would have never remembered if I hand't received a reminder that it was time to renew my pro account). I uploaded the entire series of pictures that I took of the sunset at Ke'e Beach (apologies for the few where the horizon shifted around -- I was trying to avoid that) and put them in a set so that I could create a slide show.  In my opinion, Ke'e Beach is one of the most beautiful places in the world to watch the sun go down.  If you're on Kauai, you have to treat yourself to a trip to this spot (there's plenty of parking) preferably with a bottle of wine and some bread and cheese.   These photos were taken using the maxium range for my telephoto lens.  John also gets a big round of applause for his role in this photo taking session -- he kept a tired, hungry toddler entertained while I shot them.  Much harder than sitting behind a camera. 

I got a perfect evening for taking the pictures -- started out with an almost cloudless sky.  One thing that you can count on in Kauai -- there almost certainly will be clouds in the evening, so sometimes sunsets can be hard to see and capture because they happen behind billowy curtains.  This night, conditions were almost perfect -- a few clouds snuck in right before the end and provided some lovely diffusion effects for the last rays of sunlight.
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The Last Day in Kauai

By the time this is posted, we'll be in the process of packing our bags and wrapping up our vacation.  My emotional state on these days is always a puzzle to me.  While I have gotten to the place where I feel good, feel that we have done almost as much as we can do with a young child on an island full of outdoor activities and am beginning to miss home, at the same time, the thought doing laundry, packing up and going home makes me feel both a bit surly and melancholy.  It reminds me of what I think of as "after the party syndrome" -- the big let down I usually feel after planning a big event and then watching all the guests leave.  I don't really mind the packing or the cleaning up, but I think there's some draining away of the kinetic energy that went into making the event or vacation happen.  All those things I was excited about are now wrapped up and gone until the next event or next vacation. 

I'm trying not to let these feeling take away the last moments of beauty that we have here.  As much as I love Chicago, and feel like I was supposed to be a Chicagoan, I also regularly wish that Chicago had stunning mountain views or ocean beaches and ocean breezes (of course, we have Lake Michigan, but it is not quite the same, and the west side of the lake is really the low quality shore... the place where sand has to be imported in every year).  Nothing makes me feel more serene than sitting on the shore of a restful beach (like Anini) feeling the breeze off the water and listening to the ocean sounds.   The city is my home, but it is not a place that brings me the spiritual well being that comes from staring up and a night sky full of stars, uninterrupted by city lights and sirens. But I often wonder if I find Kauai so delightful because it is the antithesis of Chicago -- a complete and polar opposite that forces me to dump my issues at the door simply by being completely unlike my day-to-day world.  I know that it is precious because it is not easily reached and time here is limited.  Certainly I will leave here with many good memories -- and looking forward to the next visit.

Since my last slide show with Flickr seemed to work well (and saved me a little bit of photo editing), I thought I'd wrap things up with another little show covering our last few days. Tuesday morning I managed to capture some pictures of the little crabs that live on the beach and we took a trip up Wailua River to the Fern Grotto. Wednesday we explored Lydgate Beach Park and the wonderful playground nearby (a place where Z could have played forever.  Thursday we went to Na Aina Ka -- a lovely, privately developed garden on the north shore of Kauai that is open to the public for tours and has a nice children's garden.


Friday will probably be mostly "dry" adventures (since we have to check out of our beach house at 10 AM and our flight out doesn't leave until 9 PM) and maybe a small family celebration of Z's 2nd birthday (official celebration to be held next weekend).

I wish all of you a lovely weekend.  I'll be back to my regular posting schedule and more fibery topics next week.  Thank you to all of you who checked in for my vacation photos.  In most ways they are for me more than for any one else, but it makes me happy to know that others enjoy them, too.
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Vesper on the Beach

My Vesper Wee Skein socks are coming along nicely.  This photo was taken using my fast 50 lens on Ke'e Beach (the western most beach on Kauai that is easy to get to -- also the beach I took the sunset pictures at) about an hour before sunset. I'm rather pleased with both the composition.  The sunlight was gorgeous and I actually did get to knit a few rows at the beach (though generally I find knitting at salt water beaches hard because of the minerals and humidity in the air) which watching Z splash around in the water.  Ke'e Beach was where Z really started to get her water mojo on and started to go into the water on her own, just because she wanted to. 

As you can tell from the first, completed socks, these socks are taller than my normal variety.  I decided that I was going to use up 4 repeats of each colorway on each sock (there are 8 total repeats of each colorway in each wee skein) so these socks come up over my calves a little bit.  Not quite knee socks.  I suspect if you wanted  knee socks, all you would need would be the remnants from another skein of Vesper and you'd probably be pretty close.  I had to do a little shaping as I got up to the calf area, I added two stitches to either side of the back every other stripe for a few stripes and then did every stripe for a bit and then left it once I'd gone up to 72 stitches (so I added about an inch to the circumference).  The ribbing was done using that last full color progression for the last color.

The second sock is now just past the heel -- not finished in Kauai, as I had hoped, but there were just too many other things to enjoy so I didn't feel too bad about that. 
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What I Did On My Summer Vacation


While my Vesper socks are lovely to me, they are not, perhaps, interesting blog fodder two days in a row.  Since I am not quite willing to put my vacation behind me (in fact, I am trying to store little bits of it inside me where I can call on it when I need some inner calm) I thought I'd share something I wrote on our last day in Kauai.  We'd just finished up a drive to the southern and western most end of the road on the island and gobbled down our last shave ice (the best we had the whole trip) and were letting Z have some play time in a wonderful park area near Lydgate Beach.  I pulled out my knitting/craft project journal and thought about that perennial question that every grade schooler gets to answer in September: "What Did I Do on my Summer Vacation?".  Here's a snapshot of that list:

  • Celebrated my baby girl's 2nd birthday by lighting up 30 sparklers on the beach.
  • Swam with an eel, an octopus and a green sea turtle while snorkeling.
  • Drank my coffee on the beach almost every morning.
  • Finished a milestone sweater project: Lotus
  • Watched my baby girl go from being unwilling to go in the water to running into the ocean up to her neck. 
  • Forgot about work.  Job?  Arlington Heights?  What Job?
  • Went to sleep almost every night listening to the rain fall.
  • Saw several beautiful rainbows.
  • Looked down into a valley from Wai Ale Ale.
  • Watched the sun go down over Ke'e Beach
  • Ate shave ice almost every day. Personal favorite flavor combination: pineapple and margarita over macadamia nut ice cream from JoJo's in Waimea.
  • Packed the lightest I've ever packed -- and still overpacked.  But it was still a major accomplishment. 
  • Got a really great tan (as long as you don't look at my pale belly) -- with sunscreen.
  • Lived up to my promise to John to make our vacation a bitch-free zone given his incredible baby wrangling on the flights out. 
  • Felt content about my world and grateful for all the good people and wonderful things in it.

These are small things, mostly, but this vacation, I think, was about teaching me to appreciate the small things and not to get hung up on what I couldn't do.  Having a child creates some vacation limits, but it also created some wonderful memories that only happened because those limits existed. I like to think that maybe part of growing up is being able  to accept what is in front of me instead of just always wishing for something I don't have or getting frustrated when I can't check off every box on my "to do" list. 

What about you?  Have you learned anything important so far this summer?  It doesn't have to have resulted from a vacation. 
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Sand Dollars and Starfish

After I blocked my crochet doiley motifs and pulled them off of my board, they reminded me of beach and reef creatures flattened out on the faded wood shore of my upstairs balcony.  These projects were experiments in packing light (a definitely success), playing with crochet (another success) and learning about how to pick the right hook for the 5/2 perle cotton I was using (again, another victory). 

I worked the blue/green/ecru motif with a US size 3 steel hook, the ecru and orange motif with a US size 5 steel hook and the pink and white motif with a US size 6 (maybe 7... my memory is bad and I was dithering a bit on it) steel hook.  The first motif was a little loosey goosey, the third motif, a bit too stiff, the motif crocheted with the size 5 hook was right on target and I think that motif is my favorite of the lot. 

20090723_CrochetDoilysRound.jpgI still have to weave the ends in (that's why the joining area looks a bit wonky in the center flower motif), but I think it blocked out well into a very nice approximation of the same motif in the book.  And not bad at all for my second attempt at crochet on tiny tiny hooks.  One thing that it took me a little while to learn was to make sure that I created my slip stitches on the short piece of the hook that was the right diameter instead of letting it ride to close to the base. 

I like this motif a great deal and it is not all that hard to construct, but it needed to be on a bigger hook -- it's much too firm.  I like the variegated effect quite a lot, though, and need to find a source of perle cotton on cones with similar color changes.

All in all, these were fun little projects, and I can totally see working multiple motifs up to use as a special dresser cover or other household decorator piece.  Surprisingly, working with the fine perle cotton was not all that much harder than the crochet I have done with yarn and bigger hooks. This book was a great purchase and I know that you'll be seeing more things from it in the future!
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Sand Dollars and Starfish

After I blocked my crochet doiley motifs and pulled them off of my board, they reminded me of beach and reef creatures flattened out on the faded wood shore of my upstairs balcony.  These projects were experiments in packing light (a definitely success), playing with crochet (another success) and learning about how to pick the right hook for the 5/2 perle cotton I was using (again, another victory). 

I worked the blue/green/ecru motif with a US size 3 steel hook, the ecru and orange motif with a US size 5 steel hook and the pink and white motif with a US size 6 (maybe 7... my memory is bad and I was dithering a bit on it) steel hook.  The first motif was a little loosey goosey, the third motif, a bit too stiff, the motif crocheted with the size 5 hook was right on target and I think that motif is my favorite of the lot. 

20090723_CrochetDoilysRound.jpgI still have to weave the ends in (that's why the joining area looks a bit wonky in the center flower motif), but I think it blocked out well into a very nice approximation of the same motif in the book.  And not bad at all for my second attempt at crochet on tiny tiny hooks.  One thing that it took me a little while to learn was to make sure that I created my slip stitches on the short piece of the hook that was the right diameter instead of letting it ride to close to the base. 

I like this motif a great deal and it is not all that hard to construct, but it needed to be on a bigger hook -- it's much too firm.  I like the variegated effect quite a lot, though, and need to find a source of perle cotton on cones with similar color changes.

All in all, these were fun little projects, and I can totally see working multiple motifs up to use as a special dresser cover or other household decorator piece.  Surprisingly, working with the fine perle cotton was not all that much harder than the crochet I have done with yarn and bigger hooks. This book was a great purchase and I know that you'll be seeing more things from it in the future!
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Rigid Heddle Waffle Weave

Yesterday I finished up a project that has been lingering on my rigid heddle loom for a while: a waffle weave towel worked in striped Sugar n' Cream (worsted weight cotton).  I've been interested in waffle weave and started this project to see the results in large gauge yarn.  In my weaving class, I'm starting another project, doing double weave waffle weave in 10/2 perle cotton -- fine yarn at the very other end of the spectrum.  What I thought would be most interesting about my rigid heddle project was seeing how the fabric changed from right after coming off of the loom to after it was finished (washed) under normal handling conditions. 

20090726_PreFinishedWaffle.jpg This is a close up of the pre-finished fabric.  There is visible texture and you can see how the threads move around and bend in areas near the warp and weft floats. 

20090726_FinishedWaffle.jpgThis is a close up of the fabric after finishing (which involved a regular trip through my washing machine and dryer).  The fabric is much more compact. It shrunk both width-wise and length-wise. Interestingly, the warp floats have spread apart, while the weft floats have gotten closer together and the overall texture is more indistinct.  The fabric feels think and thirsty.  After I finish up the ends, it will likely make a serviceable dish towel. 

You might remember that I used the same yarn in the warp as in the weft, hoping I would get interesting striping effects.  In this respect,I was mostly disappointed.  The warp stripes are hard to distinguish and the weft stripes are wide enough that you have to be looking for them to see them.  The overall effect is a pleasant mottled pastel fabric. 

This may be my last rigid heddle project for a while -- not because I don't enjoy it, but because my class project is large enough and challenging enough that I need to focus my weaving brain energy on it  for a while.  I also have couple of big knitting projects that need attention.  Now that Lotus is done, I've promised myself that I will get back to Z's Zebra Striper sweater so that she has it for the fall.

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Happy Two

On July 17th, my little girl turned two!  It's hard to believe that two years ago we were celebrating her arrival into this world.  She has changed so much since then.  In the last year she's transformed from baby to little girl.  Nothing shows that transformation more eloquently than the pictures that we took of her over the last year.

14 months

20090728_15months.jpg15 months

20090728_16months.jpg16 months

20090728_17months.jpg17 months

20090728_18months.jpg18 months

20090728_19months.jpg19 months

20090728_20months.jpg20 months

20090728_21months.jpg21 months

20090728_22months.jpg22 months

20090728_23months.jpg23 months

20090728_24months.jpg24 months

I am truly lucky to have such a wonderful little girl.  In my eyes, she is clever, beautiful, smart, sassy, determined and inquisitive.  She reminds me everyday of the incredible joy that she can find in the smallest of things. After 2 years, I am no less in awe of the beauty, drama and miracle that is human development.  And no less excited as I watch her grow more and more into who she is going to be.

I love you baby girl.  You have brought so much to my life.  And everyday you teach me to appreciate the little things, the happy moments that we live in.  I can't wait to see what the next year will bring, and to find out what else you will teach me.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Z!

First off, Ms. Z and I would like to say thank you for your birthday thoughts and compliments.  She has been asking for socks, so it is likely she will be modelling for me again sometime soon!

The reason she has been asking for socks, is the socks you see in the picture above.  Every time I pulled these out to work on while we were in Kauai, she would say "Mama is knitting socks!" John or I would ask her if she liked them "Yeahyeahyeah" she would say.  She was very interested in all the colors, I think. 

These socks are pretty much identical twins of each other except for a few things so minor you wouldn't notice unless I told you.  Interestingly enough, I did not do any measuring for the second sock -- I just started elements like the heel at the same place in the color progression as I had in the first one.  It's a testimony to the quality of the dyeing in this yarn that the 4 repeats that I used of each color for the first sock were pretty much exactly the same length as the 4 repeats in the second. 

This yarn is also a true pleasure to knit with.  It has a lovely soft hand and is generally not very splitty.  Of all the sock clubs I would consider joining, I think this one would be highest on my list.  I already have a second Wee Skein kit and a couple other skeins of Vesper waiting in the wings to be enjoyed -- though I think I might try to do something with a chevron sort of thing going on in my next pair to mix it up a bit.

20090730_WeeSkeinSocks2.jpgThese socks aren't quite knee-socks -- they come up to about mid-calf.  I wear a US women's size 8 shoe (my foot is about 9-3/4" long), so for me this is excellent yardage as well as a demonstration of why knitting toe-up socks can be a good way to maximize your yarn.  I had only a few inches left after binding off the second sock.  Repairs may be hard, but, given the striping, they would have been hard no matter what, so I just decided to use it all up and enjoy some stripey goodness.

I did some minimal shaping to accommodate my calf.  In the last two color strip segments I increased from 64 stitches around to 80 and the ribbing is pretty snug at the top, so they should stay up pretty well when they get their first real wearing.