Invigorating Forests

June 30, 2008

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It is hot at the moment in Portland… very hot. How happy I was when knitter friend Eileen invited me to hike down Salmon river over at the Mount Hood area!

What beautiful nature we are fortunate to dwell in… truly beautiful. And we are so lucky to have this on planet Earth.

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The next day, another friend of mine, Chayo, invited me to take a stroll in Forest Park. She wanted to show me her favorite meditation spot:

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I took the picture while sitting on a rock… and oh my, the energy over there is just so invigorating!

Thank you so much my precious friends…nature is truly beautiful.

As for knitting

After the slight disappointment of my previous project, I quickly moved on to another one. I simply cannot stand the orange any longer and when I saw this at Sally’s, I was mesmerized:

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It is a dk weight bamboo by Farmhouse yarns called Bonnie’s Bamboo. The Ivory colorway stole my heart and I quickly cooked up a tunic design with a tiny bit of lace.

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I know, it is yet another tunic, but you know what? I just love tunics… It really works well for me! I hope this one will turn out satisfactory.

This tunic will have a base A-line only with a bit more decreases at the waist. It is going to be an easy, slightly boring knit, but this is just perfect because while knitting this simple project, I am cooking up other designs with bamboo yarn. It is very entertaining to me, I dream away while my knitting needles make that soothing clickety-clack sound.

How I love knitting… My word, how I love it.

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Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Cute Design, Wrong Fiber

June 27, 2008

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I finished my Bamboo Summer Top… and I am not happy with the outcome. The design may be cute, however, the bamboo fiber I chose to work with is very beautiful but simply not the right fiber for this particulair design.

First of all, though I love the color of this bamboo yarn and I loved working with this color. But to actually wear it? Eh, not my cup of tea.

Secondly, though it looks kind of cute at first sight, I stronly have the feeling that I am not doing the bamboo any justice. The design is simply too fitted for this beautiful bamboo that so wants to drape! I have the feeling that I am forcing the bamboo into a design in which it simply cannot bloom and be itself.

Bamboo is cracking my brain

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Ah, this bamboo thing is cracking my brain. In a good way! It is challenging me to find a different design for it. I am up for the challenge and simply cannot wait to write up a pattern which will be excellent for bamboo’s drape…

I don’t think I will work with the same orange bamboo again. I will choose a different bamboo yarn, with a color that is more suitable for me to wear.

What I will do with this particular one I knitted up, you might wonder?

Rippit, rippit, rippit… to the frogpond it goes!

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Onward to Bamboo

June 24, 2008

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I have been wearing my Linen Summer Tunic for the past few days now… It feels so good, I just don’t want to take it off! I have been ironing it every single day too so that it shines so beautifully and it looks crisp and tidy! While ironing my top, my eye fell on two balls of yarn that have been living in my stash forever: South West Trading variegated 100% Bamboo….

Shiney and oh so drapy

My very first project with this wonderful bamboo yarn was my first feather and fan scarf. Remember this one?

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I had some of this bamboo leftover AND I had 2 balls of bright orange sitting in my stash. I decided to work with the orange color and I quickly made a swatch with the green leftovers.

This bamboo yarn is so delicious to work with… it is buttery soft, lofty, cool to the touch, drapy and oh so shiny. I simply love it and would recommend this yarn for summery tops anytime.

There is an important thing you should know though: this yarn grows in length considerably once you wash it! When I knit up my gauge swatch, it was 9.5 inch by 9.5 inch and after washing the dimensions were 8.0 inch by 11 (!) inch.

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What to make with just two balls of South West Trading Bamboo?

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I knew immediately what to make with this yarn. I want to make a close fitted and shorter version of my Linen Summer Tunic!

All of my calculations are based on the gauge swatch that I made. All the information I need is right there in the gauge swatch and I begin playing with the numbers. Let’s take a closer look:

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My gauge is 6 st = 1 inch and my row gauge is 7 rows = 1 inch

First question is: How do you know how much stitches to cast on?

This top will be knitted bottom up. As you can see in the drawing, my upper hip circumference is 33 inch. My gauge is 6 stitches to an inch so: 6 stitches x 33 inch = 198 stitches. I round this number to 200.

Voila! My pattern starts with the following words: Cast on 200 stitches.

Second question: You will have to decrease from upper hip to waist. How do you know how much to decrease and with how many intervals?

Let’s look at the drawing again. My upper hip measures 33 inch, and my waist measures 28 inch. This entails that I have to decrease with (33-28=) 5 inch which equals 30 stitches.

I also know that per decrease row I will decrease 4 stitches at a time. So how many rows will I have to decrease in total? 30 divided by 4 = 7.5 I will round this to 7 rows.

This means that I will have to space 7 decrease rows over the length from my upper hips to my waist. Some more calculations show me that I have to write the following:

Knit 3 rows. On the 4th row decrease. Repeat this decrease row 6 more times every 4th row.

Anyhoo, I won’t bore you with more math, I just wanted to show you the first steps that I take in writing out a pattern.

I love quick knits!

This one is going to be a real quick one too… I started two days ago with this project and I am already half way! YAY!

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Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Finished: Linen Summer Tunic

June 21, 2008

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Pattern: My own design. However, neckline was inspired by Leah Tunic.
Yarn: 2.5 skeins of Euroflax Wetspun Linen by Louet
Needles: Addi’s circ 32″ US 6
Cast on date: Sunday, June 15, 2008
Cast off date: Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quickest Project…ever!

It only took me 6 days…6 days! I am amazed myself. This wonderful wonderful linen just made me knit on turbospeed and I couldn’t help myself. All I wanted to do is knit. Sweeeet.

For this little design I actually made the math happen before I started to knit. Rather than have the design organically grow, I wanted to have my figures down so that I would not have to face too much ripping out like with my top “Attitude”.

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I first measured the circumference of my hips and added 1 inch. Then I measured my chest.

Hip + 1 inch = 42 inch

Chest = 36 inch

I knitted this top from the bottom up and common sense shows me that I needed to decrease from hip to chest with 6 inches (42-36=6).

Some more math and calculations showed me that if I wanted the tunic to gradually decrease, I had to make decreases 8 times, every 14th row. Easy peasy.

Neckline

Initially, I wanted to make a deep V-neckline both in front and back. However, once I held the unfinished garment against my body, I quickly noticed that linen wants to drape. So I thought, why not let it be what it wants to be and I decided to shift from V-neckline to softly draped neckline.

How great my joy was when I bumped into this Leah Tunic design while perusing the net. I incorporated the neckline used in the Leah Tunic design, into my own. Thanks so much Purl Bee for sharing this design. And thanks so much Leah, for giving me inspiration for the neckline!

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Bouncy and flouncy nature of Linen

I simply adore linen’s drapey characther. It bounces and flounces so beautifully and one can especially see it at the neckline and at the bottom part of my tunic. I love love love it!

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After I casted off, I threw my tunic in the washer and then in the dryer. Once out of the dryer I stretched out my garment vertically. You see, I wanted my stitches to elongate… Linen seems to be so pretty that way. Finally, I ironed my tunic making sure pulling the garment even more vertically.

It came out so lovely!

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I can wear this tunic with some pants, I can wear it as a beach dress over my bikini and I can wear it as a nightie. I wish you all could feel how deliciously it caresses the skin… sigh. Great for hot weather!

I am very happy with the outcome of this casual and leisurely garment!

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Bounce and Flounce

June 17, 2008

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For the past few days, I have been playing around with Euroflax Linen. What fun we had together!

You all know by now that I love to make swatches. I want to get to know the yarn better, feel and see its character. Often times, I just make a swatch and then put it aside because my curiosity has been satisfied and it stops right there.

But every now and then, I am truly encaptured by a yarn. Euroflax is one of those yarns… it truly speaks to me… in a very seductive manner.

Playing with the material while phantasizing about a design

Me and Euroflax Linen have been fooling around for the last few days. I have knitted several swatches with different needle sizes. I also have washed the swatches several times and tossed them in the dryer several times… oh, it is just amazing how soft and pretty it comes out!

I held the swatches close to my body, see how it behaves… I danced with my swatches, just to see how it bounces and flounces… I stroked it gently and am amazed by its sheen and softness. Dear reader, I am in love.

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Then comes the stage of phantasizing about what to make with this yarn… I have cracked my brain, flipped through several books and searched through numerous magazines. A kimono? A dolman type sweater? Maybe a tanktop? Long sleeves? Short sleeves?

This phantasizing and dreaming stage… love it…

Finally, I decided to make a A-line loose fitted tunic, with deep V-neck and no sleeves. I want it to bounce and flounce around my body!

So to the drawing table it goes and do the math to determine how much to cast on, where to decrease, where to cast off for armhole shaping and shaping of the deep V-neck. And when the figures all line up and all makes sense, I just want to do a happy dance.

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I am very happy with my new project. I am simply in love and just can’t stop knitting…

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On another note…

Have you by any chance seen the latest designs of Kim Hargreaves? Her latest book Nectar came out:

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Hargreave’s design are timeless and so very classy as always. She is one of my favorite knitwear designers.

The one design that stole my heart is called Jasmine. I love it so much and seriously want to knit it!

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To view all 21 designs click here. Go and take a look, you won’t be disappointed…

Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!


Excited by Linen

June 11, 2008

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First of all thank you so much for all the nice comments on my top “Attitude”. It is so incredibly rewarding and so nice to receive compliments from other knitters!

Now that I have completed a project, it is time to dream about the next one… What next one? I still have so many unfinished projects! Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know…

Can I at least play with some yarn, then? Make a swatch? And just dream?

Euroflax by Louet: Wet Spun Linen

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I have never ever given it any thought. I have touched it, arranged it neatly in the yarnshop, sold it to costumers but never ever was I interested myself. That is untill yesterday.

When I passed by it, it just talked to me. I picked up a little skein and I just had to take it home with me!

At first this Euroflax by Louet seemed a bit harsh to the touch, but once washed with a bit of conditioner and then thrown in the dryer (yes, you read that correctly, just toss it in the dryer) with some fabric softener sheets, it is just fine to work with. And the sheen… it has a beautiful sheen to it!

I quickly handwound the skein into a ball and eagerly casted on… I just love the way it feels… it is cool to the touch, has a sturdy feel to it, and I am simply taken by this beautiful sportsweight linen…

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Day dreaming about numerous possibilities

Ah… this stage in the creative process I like almost the best. Nothing is set in stone yet, all is still fluid and the possibilities plentiful.

What size needles to use for my swatches? Recommended needle size #2 to #3 or use a much bigger needle for a more open knit?

What garment comes to mind when knitting up my swatch? Tanktop? Tunic? Short sleeves? Long sleeves? Or no sleeves at all?

All I know at this stage is that I want a summery garment with an fairly open knit so that it will let in cool Summer breezes! Oh the thought of feeling the coolness of linen on my skin during a hot Summer’s day!

I want a garment that hangs freely and relaxed on my body, no tightness, no fittednes. It will be a leisurely garment, that has room for movement and of course it must have that elegant and feminine touch. Mandatory.

Now if you all will excuse me… I got some design brewing to do…

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Thank you for reading and untill the next entry!


Finished: A top called “Attitude”

June 7, 2008

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Pattern: My own design based on Tubey! I named the top: Attitude.
Yarn: 5 skeins of Venezia Worsted
Needles: Addi’s circ 24″ US 5 and #7
Cast on date: November 21 , 2007
Cast off date: June 7 , 2008

Hurray! She is finished!

My, my… It sure has been a journey with this one! Because of all the attitude this top gave me, I accordingly named her “Attitude”.

Readers who have been frequenting this blog for a while, might remember it all started lasted november when I had an idea for a top design.

Choosing Venezia Cascade Worsted

My design was inspired by Cassie Rovitti’s Tubey Sweater as seen on Knitty.com.
After I drew out the design, I started swatching, casted on and soon enough I was well on my way.

Start of the shrug on dpns finished shrug Ribbing k1,p1 full twist HF4


Trials and Tribulations

This top gave me some serious attitude. The first bump in the road was when I increased waaaay too many stitches for gathering!

Too much pleads

Ooff, all the ripping back that I had to do… numerous times!

Rip rip rip

Seriously… this project gave me a headache more than once…

Happy with the endresult

Looks good, huh? I am happy!

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I am so glad to finalize this project… It took me a long time to finish it!

If you want to read all entries on this project click here.

Here is a close up:

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Yay, I am so proud of myself!

Thanks for sticking with me on this one everybody… and thanks you so much for your tips and encouraging words. I really appreciate that, you all kept me going.

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Thank you for reading and untill the next entry!


In which a Coconut evokes Memories and Ponderings

June 6, 2008

 

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Just the other day, I was craving for a traditional Javanese dish prepared with freshly grated coconut. I was so happy to find some fresh coconut at my grocery store and could not wait to prepare my Javanese dish!

As I am getting ready in my kitchen to crack open the hard shell of the coconut, I could not foresee that the whole handling and preparing process of my craved after dish, would evoke strong and loving memories of my parents and ponderings about my great grandmother.

Cascade of Memories

A fresh coconut contains water inside of it. When you shake the coconut firmly you can hear the water going back and forth. Before I crack the nut open I make sure to poke a hole with an icepick in one of the “eyes”, drain the delicious liquid, and then crack it open with a hammer in order to release its yummy white “flesh”.

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While I watch the coconut break open into two pieces, I suddenly see my mother and father standing in the kitchen of our old appartment in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My father is cracking open a coconut, while my mother patiently waits, her bowl and grate tool right at her side on the kitchen’s countertop.

Funny how memories are suddenly summoned like that…

As I am releasing pieces of coconut from the broken hard shell, I remember how my father did that too, with a frown on his forehead out of mere concentration. As soon as the pieces are all peeled and cleaned, he passes them to my mother who then starts grating.

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Just like my mother I have my bowl and tool ready and I start grating. The movement of my right hand holding a piece of coconut going up and down the grate tool is repetitive and together with the grating sound, my mind is put in a state of ease and I ponder about the family recipe I am about to make.

A written recipe I have not, all instructions have been passed down by spoken word. As I wonder why the recipe has never been written down, I realize that my great grandmother never knew how to read and write. Born in the poorest part of West Java, Indonesia, she never received proper education and remained illiterate for the rest of her life.

My right hand is still going up and down the grate tool, and the pristine white grated cococnut is accumulating in my bowl. In the same speed, questions start to accumulate in my head regarding my family’s history.

Pondering about my great grandmother

Great Grand Mother

In early 1900 at the very tender age of barely 17 years old, my great grandmother was taken against her will to a ship called Djebres & Prins Willem. This boat was destined to sail to a country she did not know even existed called Suriname where she and many other Javanese people were destined to work on the sugar cane plantations.

Was she scared during her journey at sea? Did she make friends during her journey? Did they cry together and comfort eachother, telling each other that everything is going to be allright and that they will return to their families really really soon?

And when she finally arrived in Suriname, South America, what emotions and feelings would run through her whole being? Would she ask her self: “Where am I? Why am I taken here? When can I go back home to my family?”

I pause grating for a moment, hang my head and cry for my great grandmother. She never returned to Java, Indonesia and was never to see her family again as long as she lived.

How I wish I can talk to her now. How I wish I can tell her my ongoing story. I would tell her that I have grown to become a confident, well educated, well spoken young woman. I would tell her that I speak several western languages but only master two of those languages: Dutch and English.

I would tell her that just like her, my parents crossed an ocean to go to a far away country called the Netherlands. I on my turn traveled even further to the United States of America. The significant difference, however, is that neither my parents or myself traveled against our wills. We were free to make that choice ourselves.

I would tell her that her forced travel, trials and tribulations have not been for naught.

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The recipe you might wonder..?

I may share little knitting patterns.
I may share pattern tutorials.
I may share my knowledge of knitting.
I may share stories.
I may share pictures.

However, a family recipe that has been passed down for generations… I will share not.

So I just leave you with a photo of beautifully, hand grated coconut, ready to be transformed into a yummy traditional Javanese dish.

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Thanks for reading and until the next entry..!


Here we go again

June 2, 2008

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For the past couple of days I have been working on my grey top… I wish I could write to you this: “Hurray, she’s finished!”.

However… I lament. Dang it. Here we go again with this top…. Again not to my liking!

I made too much side increases at the end which resulted in way too much flare! Sigh. I know with how many intervals to increase to avoid too much flare, yet I did not apply it.

I could leave it like this, and simply don’t care. But I know I will not wear it. And dang it, I am going to wear this thing!!! So rip rip rip it went. AGAIN.

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That’s what you get when you want to knit a garment without a pattern!

Chase away the grey

Needless to say that I am not in a good mood tonight. I am so done with this top! “Stop it with the attitude already”, I want to say to her! Bah…

Oh well, let’s chase the grey away by looking at some pictures I took last weekend!

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Thanks for reading and untill the next entry!