Saturday, March 31, 2007


Since beginning my lace shawl, I have not been able to stop thinking about stitch markers and how much I have come to like them in the past... week. Because of this, I have decided to make my own stitch markers. In the middle of the week, I bought the basics for what I needed to make some markers, and I am hooked. Today I bought more decorative beads and have been chugging out sets of markers in no time. I believe since yesterday I have made 14 sets with 5-7 markers in each set. By the end of this weekend, I hope to have my Etsy shop up and running. I am very excited about this, and already have a number of favorites.
So this is my shameless plug that you should check back and look for my Etsy shop to be up!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Most/Least Favorites...

My SP10 Hostess, Robin has asked her group to write about their most favorite and least favorite yarns, why, and what we have knit with them. I had a somewhat difficult time trying to decide which yarn I absolutely loved knitting with, and had to think pretty hard abaout it. One of my thoughts was Karabella Boise, because let's face it. Who doesn't love cashmere? However this yarn lost love points from me because if I made one teeny itty mistake, I had to tink back extremely carefully so that the stitches didn't felt together while frogging. Speaking of chashmere, I think Lana Grossa Pashmina would be one of my tops picks. This is very soft to knit with and is increadibly soft and lovely. The other yarn tied in first would be Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb. 50/50 silk and merino wool, I made a scarf out of this for my Mother in Law. It was so soft on my fingers and it just flew off the needles. I couldn't believe that blocking it would make it even softer, but it did. This stuff was incredible.

As for my least favorite yarrn, I would have to say hands down without a doubt it would be Lion Brand Suede. A few years ago in my knitting infacy, I saw an adorable pattern for a bolero that I wanted to make, and bought some Lion Suede. It would be my first attempt at making a fitted garnment (this is pre-sock making) other than a hat. It was going great; I had the front and back finished and was waiting to make the sleeves before seaming everything together, then I realized the back was an inch longer than the front, and I had to frog. This stuff is *awful* when it comes to frogging. It lost what little bounce it had, fuzz stripped off and left balding patches on the yarn, and when reknit, it was clear which section had been ripped once, twice, and three times. Before I was able to finish the sleeves, I shoved it in the bottom of my stash and left it there. For almost 2 years, before I finally cut my losses, pulled out the needles and stitch holders, and threw the thing into the garbage. It made my hands hurt trying to knit it was it was not at all fun.
I am not one to turn my nose at a yarn because it is acrylic, or a blend, or "fake", but not all man made yarns are created equal. There are good quality acrylics, and then there are the sad excuses for plastic yarn. The second is when the Lion Suede falls.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Last week I only went to one of my dance classes; dance movements. I decided that I didn't want to spend the other class struggling, since I knew we were going to be working on V's, and I am still trying to wrap my mind aorund how to flex one or the other hip flexor *without* lifting that leg. I promised myself that even though I was';t going to class I was still going to practice at home, and do my stretches and maybe run on the treadmill and do some weights in the weight room. Yeah right. Knitting got in the way. That and the fact that time runs away with no warning.
So I have not been to class in a week. Bad Kiwi. I did go again tonight though. And if I didn't know any better, I would think that I needed breaks from dancing more often! It was incredible. I felt the correct muscles contracting when I wanted them to. My balance was better than previously. And my turn out feels stronger and more controlled.
At the beginning of class, we warm up and do stretches, including splits to each side and when in belly dance, we'll even do a straddle. I have never done splits before or even attempted them before dancing at this school (note: I started at the end of September in 2005). Every class I have been working on getting into my splits properly and having both my hips facing forward instead of one opening out, as well as geting as low as possible. This of course means I am supporting myself on my hands at the same time. Today was no different than any other day; I was focusing on keeping my left hip down and forward while working on my right side split, when T walked up behind me and said in my ear "Don't be scared." as she placed her hands on my hips, nudged the left one further forward and pressed down. Holy!! I had dropped 3 inches, at least. I was more concentrated on breathing through the burn of opening and stretching to take a moment to look in the mirror to see how low I was, and truth be told, my eyes were closed through most of it. When we switched sides and worked on the left side split, I tried to mimic the same thing she had done and forced myself to go trhough my safety zone. My left calf was touching the floor, and looking in the mirror, I was only inches away from being in my full split. Woo!!!! I'm stretching! I am gaining more flexibility, and my dancing is going to improve because of this!
Who's excited? That would be me. :o)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Knitting in Progress

I have been in a posting frenzy the last week! But there has been so much interesting things that I can post pictures of instead of just babble about.
Once I finished the blanket, I picked up the Mt Tam Mitts that have been patiently wating for me. I would bring them to knit night to work on since, well.. the blanket was not portable. When I had last touched them, one was ready to start the thumb gusset, adn the other had the gusset in the making. This was the first time I had ever done a mitten/mitt/glove/whathaveyou, so I did not actually realize how long the gusset would be and how much yarn it would require. I actually thought it would be pretty short, so I used more yarn than I should have getting the main part of the mitt with the pattern knit before even starting the gusset part. On the first mitt, I managed to get a couple of rows past getting the gusset on scrap yarn before running out of yarn, but on the second one, I was maybe 3 or 4 rows short of getting the gusset onto scrap yarn before running out. I only need half a ball of yarn and maybe 30 minutes and both these beauties will be ready to be washed, blocked and worn. Even though it seems like they took forever because I was not constantly knitting them, they were very fast. Both main sections could be completed in one day, and both gussets (assuming I had enough yarn!) could be completed in another day.

My new project is, as I suggested in my last Stitches post, a lace project. I have decided to work on the Shoalwater Shawl from Fiber Trends. This was a pattern that I bought when I have *just* learned how to knit. After buying it thinking how cool it looked, I opened the insert and thought "what???". At that time I did not know how to read charts, and probably didn't know some of the stitches that I am using. Every time I started a new project since then, I have thought of this pattern, and how I was *eventually* going to work on it. So, why not now? Lace seems to be one of those things like socks, steeks, and short rows, that people are scared of doing. When talking about lace it is a gasp and a whisper because oh, it is so lovely but (in the whisper) it's so hard! If there is one thing about knitting that I don't understand, it is the fear of something new. I looked over the instructions before starting, checked out the charts (which now make *perfect* sense), and thought "awesome! bring it on". To me, lace is not that hard. It requires that you pay attention to what you're doing, stopping every now and then to make sure you have the right number of stitches, and just being careful in general. I also learned rather quickly that stitch markers and life lines are a necessity, luckily, a lesson not learned the hard way. I have not had to rip back to a lifeline far away ::spits through fingers:: and have finally found an appreciation for those dangly stitch markers I had randomly obtained from different places. For most things, I found the danglies to get in the way, but here I actually like the danglies better than the plain little stitch markers of which I ahve more than I know what to do with. I currently have 5 dangly markers and all of them are in use. In a few rows, I am going to end up needing more. I might be making a trip to the etsy stores before too long.

I am almost at the end of the second chart, and it is going so smoothly. If there is any knitting that I have done that was soothing and relaxing, this is it. The only thing I could see being a problem with this particular piece is that the yarn I am using most probably will not block. So unlike most lace knitting, what I see when this comes off the needles is what I will get. There will be no blooming and stretch. But hopefully in spite of all this it will still look fantastic.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Blanket Done!!

It's finished! I cast off last night and finished seaming it together and weaving in all the ends today. Hooray! I have less than half a ball left, so it will probably hang out in my stash with my scraps until I can figure out what to do with it. Now all I have to do is finish off the Mt Tam Mitts, and I can start something new. Hmm... what to do next. :o)

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Most of the winter I have been ignoring the plants on my balcony since it was winter, cooler, and I expected it to rain. Okay, so the rain part? Not so much. I am beginning to try to nurse my plants back to a flourishing and less dead state. Since it has started to get warmer, I have begun watering the plants more often, and more than half of my plants are thriving again. So are the pigeons that love hangning out on my deck. One of the things I was planning on doing this weekend was cleaning off the pigeon poop that is littered around. While watering one of the plants, I saw pigeon tail feathers close to the edge. I nudged the plant that was closest to the bird twice in order to get it to flutter off. While moving onto the strawberry plants, I continued to hear this odd chirping that sounded like it was coming from below me. I looked down to where I scared off the bird, and this is what I found:

I can't believe it! They made a nest and hatched babies! They look like they hatched only hours ago, at the most. Once I saw them I felt bad for scaring away the parent. I guess the pigeons win. I can't really shoo them off until the nestlings can fend for themselves, because really; who wants to be the one to orphan andkill little baby birds, even if they do grow up to be pesky pigeons?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Remember this?

Calling all children of the 80's or parents of children of the 80's.

Who remembers the Loops and Loom (or whatever the heck it was called). Somewhere between my childhood and the point where I learned to knit I had forgotten about this thing. The other day, I suddenly remembered it and that when my brother and I were still wearing those bright yellow short shorts with white piping along the edges and up the sides, this was the best. thing. ever. The connection was actually made when someone was talking about knitting looms and I thought how remarkably familiar they seemed.

It's basically this square red loom, I guess (is it just me or was everything in the 1980's red?) where a kid would be given these little loops of fabric. The loops themselves are hilarious. Maybe 200 different non matching colors of these loops of different sizes would be sold in one bag, and note: those that were not up to my standards would be left in the bag, so before a whole bag was empty the parents would be out to buy more. The loops would be stretched across the square in one direction and the others going in the other direction would be woven through before being stuck on the pegs on the other side. I think all my brother and I ever made were ugly mismatching colored square potholders with that one convenient loop left sticking out of a corner so that it could be hung on...whatever we were hanging potholders on at the time. And if that potholder wasn't used for its intended purpose, it was the biggest insult to our little child lives.
I seem to think my husband might also have made some of those. It was one of those great things that kids of the 80's spent way too much time not getting into trouble doing. Kind of like shrinky-dinks. Those kinds of things need to be brought back. Oh no. Not for today's kids. But for us. Since we can now truely appreciate them at this age.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rakkasah West

This weekend was amazing. I attended Rakkasah both Saturday and Sunday. Rakkasah is to Belly Dance as Stitches is to Knitting. Except bigger. It is the biggest belly dance festival in the world, with one of the festivals in Egypt coming in a close second, and lucky for me, it takes place in my backyard. I really don't even have to take the highway to get there and still make it in 10 minutes.. if I hit every red light along the way. Classes and workshops began last weekend, and continued into this weekend. The main room was full of vendors selling costumes, coins, DVD's, and anything belly dance related that you can imagine. There were two performance stages, the main stage and the cabaret stage, both of which were being occupied by one troupe or another from 11am to 7pm both Saturday and Sunday. Middle Eastern music was playing from every corner of the rooms; there was no escaping the sounds. It was incredible. Dancers and musicians from all over the world flew into my little corner of California specifically for this event. How do I begin to describe it?
First, the vendors. I was looking at costumes, and there are so many options, and quite a range of prices. There were $700 cabaret bra/belt/skirt sets that had the most intricate coin/beading/mirror/sequen designs. A lot of the Egyptian costumes had tassles hanging from various parts. There were harem pants of every style, vests, jackets, goth style, and tribal gear. Some costumes had shells, some were flashy and brights, others were velvety and had very old styles of beading and jewels. Saturday I was so overwhealmed by the world's belly dance convergence into one spot, that even though I was looking for a costume, I couldn't decide what style I wanted. I decided it would be best to wait until Sunday before making decisions so I had the night to think about what was being offered, what I like, and most especially what I could afford.
Interestingly enough, one of my co-workers also dances and she and her troupe were performing on Saturday. I managed to watch their amazing show, and then I wandered around with her getting insights into the different styles of music, costumes, zills, and other stuff. My troupe, Bal Anat, performed, and everyone was so lovely. Rashid performed a snake dance in which he lured a python out of a basket (who was more interested in staying curled up in the dark) and mimicked the smooth motions a snake would make. T performed a segment where she had 3 goblets set on the floor upside-down in front of her. She placed one foot flat on two of them and stood in releve on the third. Then she danced, still standing on the glasses. She even moved them like she was on shoes, turning to the side dancing to different sides of the audience. At one point, one glass moved in front of her while she had her toes each on a glass and did a straddle. Without her feet or legs touching the floor. How's that for inspiration?
Sunday I arrived in time to watch Suhaila perform with her band. It seemed everyone was gathered at the stage to watch. Having had the night (and the internet) to think about what style of costume I wanted it was less stressful looking at what the vendors had to offer. From one location I bought a black skirt with velvet, lace, and embroidery. From another I ended up getting a bra/belt set that looks almost exactly like this:

I have to wear my own skirt or pants with the pieces, but I fell in love with it almost immediately. Now I don't have an excuse to not perform with the class. Much like Stitches, this was a very inspiring weekend. I had a blast and I feel as though I grew just from being emersed in the dance and culture. If only every day were like that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

San Fran Knitting

If you live in the SF area, or if you like the SF area, you are a knitter, join this livejournal community.
It's brand spanking new, but it should rock.

Where Do UFOs Come From?

It's a problem most if not all knitters encounter at least once (or 100 times) in their knitting lives. It's the Cast on that becomes a WIP that gets pushed to the back burner that eventually becomes a UFO, never to be touched again. How does this happen? In some cases, it is because the knitter loves casting on and has ADD (the ADD part, much like me) and then they find another project to cast on, and it continues; many beginnings but no ends. Some people are actually organized enough with their multiple projects to have one for every occasion; the WIP for watching TV, the WIP for taking on the bus/train/out, the WIP for when you're angry, the WIP because you're bored with all the other WIPs. Those organized people probably have very few UFOs.
And then there are the projects from when we first learned how to knit. The 14 inch wide garter stitch scarf made of Red Heart (or some equivalent), every row a different tension, and it goes on for about 6 feet. These are UFOs that will most likely never be touched again, and for some people they are probably so buried in their stash (and other UFOs) that they don't even realize they are there. I have had at least one of those. I decided to make a cute little bolero, but the yarn was so painful to knit with, I gave up, stuffed it in the back of the bottm drawers and didn't touch it for over a year before ripping everything off the needles and throwing the whole thing away. (This is how I can claim I have no UFOs; they're trashed before anyone can account for them) I have either donated or thrown away yarn that I no longer have a desire to knit with, so the bolero problem, adn any others like it, has been pretty much solved.
So how can such a monogamous knitter begin to see a UFO waiting to happen? Take 18 balls of a bulky yarn, add in a cable pattern and the "Imma make a big blanket!!" attitute, stir and let settle for.... 2.5 months until 3.5 balls remain. I don't know what it is. I think the pattern is very nice; it has helped me look at cables and get good tension on them, and to be able to recognize where in the pattern I am and how many rows since the last cable I have knit. The yarn is nice and warm, and even in my apartment, it is still pretty cool, so it is not suffocating to knit. But I am so anxious to get this darned thing finished! My ADD is kicking in full gear and it is taking every amount of will power I have in me to not throw my hands up over my head, walk away and say "I give up!" I mean, really.. I have less than 4 balls left. How hard can it be to suck it up and chug out the last little bit? And as compared to socks when I knit for a solid hour on the blanket, I can see a few inches progress instead of only a few centimeters. Each time I pick it up, I think about the Fingerless mitts which are my knit night projects, since.. I mean really. Who wants to lug around 15 balls of bulky yarn every Thursday evening? And I think.. I need to get back to that gusset that I was working on. I am going to pull it all the way back from the start so I can use this other method of M1 so I don't get those nice little holes. And now it makes sense to me, and oh! This is going to be so fast once I finish this darned blanket! At which point I look at the blanket and *almost* consider binding off short and proclaiming "Look! I'm done! Isn't it great?!" Which would leave me with another problem; what to do with the remaining balls that were not used in the blanket.
This is how UFOs are born. If I were incapable of such restraint, I'd have cast on a lace shawl or that sweater I've been meaning to make, and the blanket would be shoved in a corner or left to the cats to sit on (like they don't do that already). So I force myself to finish, knowing that I'll be so happy when I do complete it. I'll throw myself a little party. I've got the wine ready. Here's to preventing UFOs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The weather here in California has become very spring-timey and nice, almost over night. It was still cool and dewey most of last week, and we're still hearing about the mudslide damage in San Francisco from the downpour of rain recently before that. When I walked in the dance studio last night it was warm. And since there were dancing bodies in there, it was slightly humid. Not too bad though, just barely enough to notice. The class size had to have been 23 or so which is a pretty big class for the space. Even compared to when I would dance in the summer with the 90°F temperature outside and fans blowing air on us as we dnced, I have never been dripping with sweat due to the first 10 minutes of warm up. Until last night. We breathe, stretch, and do push-ups and sit-ups/crunches to warm up before getting into "dance" warm up (tendues, plies etc.) and by the end of just warming up, I was wet. Last Tuesday it took the whole hour and 15 minutes to get as drippy as I was in the first 15 minutes. I don't think it was that K worked us out more than usual, but maybe with it being cooler previously we just weren't ready for the sauna that we were producing in the studio. The best feeling though is walking out of that place after class to feel the cold night air sucking the heat of our bodies. Mmmmm.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Something Fun

Just for kicks, I did a quiz.

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Merino Wool.You are very easygoing and sweet. People like to keep you close because you are so softhearted. You love to be comfortable and warm from your head to your toes.
Take this quiz!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Knit Therapy

It has been a very long week for this Kiwi bird. Work has been pretty rough lately due to important deadlines that are fast approaching and snuck up very quickly. This has only been impeding my knitting slightly. The blanket is coming along quite well, and with the progress I am making I think I should be finished in 2 weeks at the most. This will make me excedingly proud to bust about 18 balls of yarn out of my stash (and at the same time make room for more to find a home in my drawers). It will also be nice to have such a large and lovely item that I knit that can be displayed on my couch and cuddled under. Every day I look at the cable pattern and think how perfect it was for this yarn. I'll post more pictures when work is not completely exhausting me and I can gather enough energey to spread out the two sections and take a picture. Or when I'm not feeling as lazy as I do now.
Tonight was also knit night. I think I brough the blanket to one or two knit nights when it was still under 5 balls of yarn; anything more and it would be rediculous to attempt to carry around. Instead, I have been bringing a pair of Fingerless Mitts (*much* more portable) to work on while not at home. They are Mt Tam Fingerless Mitts by Lady Cashmere that have a lovely cable pattern in them. Even though i have been working on them very infrequently, each time I do I make a heck of a lot of progress in a very short amount of time. Unless of course we are talking about tonight. I was working on the thumb gusset and forgot to continue with my cable pattern. I think I am ending up tinking back 9 rounds, but of all nights, tonight I really didn't mind. Tonight was really a night of knitting therapy whether I was kniting or tinking. It was really nice just to feel the soft soft fluffy yarn in my hands, and it did help to destress from the week and enjoy creating (and then fixing). And now that I know what I am doing with this pattern, it is going to fly once I get going again. Maybe tomorrow.
Speaking of knit night, who remembers the Boise shawl I was so proud of? And the knit along? I have been doing my duty to reming the other ladies that for me once I finished, the knit along promptly turned into a knit alone since everyone has since put their shawls down. I'll be happy if even *one* other knit nighter finishes. And I'll stop harrassing everyone ;o) And don't blame my monogamous knitting... it was because of the surgery and my inability to get out of bed for almost a week. In either case....
Happy knitting.