thoughts

May 12, 2008

shifting

clapotis

it has been almost three months since we arrived in connecticut. it is now spring. we see flowers and leaves everywhere. everyone is out on the street, hanging out. cotton prints, floral skirts. it’s wonderful and we are loving every bits of life in new england.

i had also take on a new position. and i’m thrilled to be where i am right now. this is probably the best place i can be in terms of having a career, and i’m really loving it. as such, i have shifted my focus away from craft. my knitting and sewing are no longer governing my life. i suppose it has its pros and cons, but surprisingly, i’m very much at peace with the transition.

this change of routine had led me to really think about what i want out of my craft. i think i want them always be something i would enjoy doing, and this portal would be the place where i would share them. i don’t really want to deviate from that, at least for now. and that probably includes not feeling somewhat guilty of letting this blog run dry.

it has been incredibly rewarding and humbling, being part of this online craft community. i have made several really good friends here and had the pleasure to meet a few in real life. hopefully, this interaction would only continue to grow and enrich my life as a crafter.

knitting was sporadic for the past couple months, to say the least, but my clapotis was progressing quite nicely. sewing wise, i was trying to hem a pair of jeans on my now two year old sewing machine, which did not go over very well. i’m starting to accept the limitation on my machine; it is after all, a beginner’s machine, not really designed for heavy duty fabrics.

this summer is going to be busy. my brother and his family will be in boston for work. they will stay for a few months. it’s going to be fun, spending time with family and exploring the loveliness of new england summer. we have a lot to look forward to.

February 04, 2008

what makes blue beautiful?

i have been thinking a lot about colors lately, and a lot about why i would find certain colors attractive, and why i am drawn to certain hues almost invariably given the opportunity. i have no aversion to any color families, i love them all, but most of the time, i end up with a stash full of blues, grays, creams and reds. it's really interesting, when you think about it.

however it gives me no aesthetic satisfaction or any sense of style, when i wear just blues, grays or reds. and i have such admiration for those high fashion girls who can always throw multitudes of colors together and accentuates the focal attention to that touch of bright blue, that spark of yellow... that unexpected violet.

so i started to think about complementing colors. what makes blue beautiful? is it yellow? or white? how about red? and how can i make gray not boring? do you think about those things when you pick up your favorite color to wear in the morning? or is it just me overly obsessing?

palma bag by drikaB

drikaB pouch

lately i'm very into bright colors, those suffocating, scream in your face type of bright colors. i'm drawn to yellow very much. and the boldness of yellow and purple and black and whites is just so amazing. and full of confidence, too. i'm also drawn to some greens. i'm never a huge fan of greens, but i ended up getting some of the most amazing handmade green bags from drikab. it's like spring, so effortlessly refreshing. drika is an amazing artist, the way she pairs up colors is ever so intriguing. and these whimsical bags are so beautifully made.

green & blue

and i found myself picking up these stack of blue/green cottons from kaffe fassett's collection. i'm not sure what the gingham is going to be, but they look so vintage. i'm thinking a pair of lounge pants with the green stripes, and a pin tuck shirt with the blue shot cotton. and one day, i'll make something yellowy to go with the blue.

green stripes, blue cotton, soft gingham

i also made an attempt to wear color tights, with my newly acquired bally flats. teal is beautiful by itself. but i think it looks even more teal with black. it draws you in. makes you love teal even more.

teal tights

October 02, 2006

those untold knitterly things...

i don't like to "knit in public", it is like an instant conversation piece. and if you know me, you know that i hate small talks. knitting to me is a relaxing hobby at home. i love knitting at home, with my familiar surroundings, music and all the accessible resources in my room.

when i fly, i would knit on the plane. a 10-15 hour time slot just calls for knitting. this would be the rare times when my knitting projects leave home.

i don't flaunt that i knit and sew or have a blog. especially in yarn stores or fabric stores. this goes with my philosophy of being a forever low key person (it's weird, i know.)

i don't think continental knitting will ever happen with me. it is so awkward in my hands.

sweaters are my favorite items to knit, they are classic. i sometime think knitting accessories and socks do not qualify as real knitting.

unfinished projects bother me. i tend to keep them at a minimum. i have three of them so far.

i never taught anyone how to knit, i have little patience and i was afraid that my teaching style would overshadow their potential passion for knitting.

my first skein of yarn was bought in a little yarn shop in new zealand. i still remember and still has those yarn in my stash. it reminds me the first time i learned to knit. as well as my life of the time.

i secretly hope that i'll meet my favorite knitting bloggers one day, i suspect we will be great friends.

if i can't decide my whole outfit with a particular knitting pattern, i would not knit it. however beautiful the pattern appears to be. that's why i rarely knit shawls, i don't know how to wear them!

July 22, 2006

more time

while i was at the DC meeting, i kept thinking why on earth have i not knit myself a light weight sweater like this, this or this... so can stay warm in the air conditioned room and still look business appropriate.

time, i need more of it. i have not been very productive as far as knitting goes. but really, i have great intentions to make some lovely looking tops this summer. like my butterfly, i did not touch it for almost six months. same with sewing, i now have all the fabrics and patterns to make several skirts and dresses, yet i am struggling to balance work, life, fun, cooking and exercise all in one little confined timeframe. aren't we all victims of not having enough time to do everything we want to.

still, though, there has been a period of my life when i was jobless. i had all the time in the world but my motivation to do anything other than being a couch potato was non-existent. it seems to me that life is all about having contrasts, a vacation is only attractive when it involves a job, a duty or a responsibility. a desire is only there when you can not freely explore life.

bleh, bleh, bleh... it is the third weekend in the row that i had to pop in the lab to handle my work. i'm off now to hang out with my girlfriend and then to the mall. if i do find a light weight sweater there please do not think that i've betrayed my knitting. thanks girls!

June 13, 2006

the right kind of yellow

DSCN5341-1.JPG

have you ever been through a phase of obsession? you must. for me, knitting is one, sewing... is another. but i am finding myself obsessing over citrus tones lately. i took hege's advice (you can always, always trust this norwegian girl) and went by intown quilters. the moment i walked in... i was in the fabric heaven! can't help but to curse myself for putting the visit off until last friday.

this softest yellow from kaffe fassett is going to be my first sewing project for a dress. a floaty, banana republic wannabe dress. yellow is so summer, so quaint and friendly. i love yellow so much that i am actually enjoying eating it. succulent oranges, exotic mangos, pina colada, coucous... even the most delicious sauvignon blanc from my adopted homeland. fabulous.

i washed the fabric this weekend, 100% cotton crumbled up pretty nicely... it is wrinkly in a cute way. i love it. the cotton was sheer and just the right thread count. but mostly, it feels soft. i love thie yellow fabric and i think it pairs sooo well with rowan's blue peony print, don't you agree?

i am not sure what the blue floral print is going to be, a wrap dress? a halter top? hmm... i may need to toss a coin.

today, i also came across camila engman's blog. she is an artist to me. an artist who has so fully incorporated her passion into her life, a stage that i aspired to be and can never reach. what do i want to be? with all these obsessions about knitting and sewing? am i just being carry away by the wave of popular culture?

i'm not sure. are you? do you know what you want out of your passion? some have chosen to be a designer, spinner or dyer. some may be just happily doing what others do, some, may precipiate towards the bottom of the lake.

i am still figuring it out. but one thing i can be sure of is that knitting and sewing have given me so much joy, they have the spotlight of my life right now and i'm not ready to give that up.

February 02, 2006

to distract you from a pictureless post

it is amazing to me how much stuff one can accumulate over time. this phenomenon is especially true when it comes to yarn. fiber enthusiast's biggest joy and deepest sin. our common lust for yarn. argh!

i thought i was being very good and self-discipline for my stash. i never really buy yarn on a whim, usually i would have a pattern in mind. or, i would search out a pattern to justify the purchase (yes, it does sound like an excuse to buy yarn!). anyway, over time, i accumulated some stash. the other day i was mentally sorting through my stash, oh my goodness, i have enough sock yarns to make myself 10 pairs of socks. wow! this does not include yarns earmarked for sweaters, accessories, etc, etc.

it is really out of control.

so my most important resolution this year: no more yarns for me. i need to knit them all up, clear out my storage bin. wear my sweaters, socks, hats and scarves to make my time and money worthwhile. yes, very purist of me. i think i am on the right track so far... it's february and have not purchased any yarns. whoo hoo!

and i don't like to sell off my yarn, if i loved them enough to buy them at one point, selling them feels like a betrayal to my own feelings. i don't need to deal with such guilt. i love my yarn, they remind me of my past and bare a hope of flourishing into a lovable product in my future.

January 18, 2006

would i keep knitting?

i often feel that hobbies are activities you do to complement the unhappiness in your life. hobbies are things you enjoy doing and feel passionate about. furstration and displeasure that generally associated with chores or jobs are not part of what hobbies offer. therefore, i think, a person's hobbies are a rough reflection of what she/he is seeking in life.

would i keep knitting if i win the lottery? i know i would quit my job instantly because my life would be better without this job. i would keep my husband, cats and families because i know life is not anything without them. but, would i quit knitting?

would you?

Continue reading "would i keep knitting?" »

December 12, 2005

excessive deliberation

so i have knitted more than a dozen socks for others, only now i have an open spot to knit one for myself, and have been thinking about what my first pair would be like for a while now. unfortunately it has not happened as my indecisive nature was particularly prominent for this project. i wanted the first pair to be somewhat special but had trapped in this thought too much that nothing seemed special. weird.


elfine's leaves

finally, i picked mac's handspun yarn to knit anna's elfine socks. it is a project completely enabled by knitbloggers, which qualifies as a special pair of socks.


conwy beginning. beautiful yarn with not so suitable pattern

actually, i started off wanting to knit conwy, but somehow the twining cabled pattern just did not show through this particular yarn. moreover, this coral color blue face leicester yarn reminds me of the foliage i never saw this year, elfine's leaf motifs seems to be a better choice than conwy. so far, i like how it looks. the handspun yarn is thick and thin, it is also twisted with a lighter shade of peach. the effect of such nature is really surprising as waves of colors come into life with progress.

searching for yarns and patterns can be blinding and it is hard to look beyond your realm of familiarity. and knitting being a creative hobby, i think it is important to break through this obstacle. how? have others shop for you. give them a criteria of what you are looking for, then see how others interpret such concept. look at other people's work for ideas (like, knitting blogs!), do not let the models on the magazines be your only guidelines to judge a project.

luckily, i have a secret pal who inspires me with gifts of her choices and tastes. thank you, laurie, for being a wonderful better pal.


variegated sock yarn among other knitterly delights

November 09, 2005

knitting companions

thank you, my dear readers, for loving my klaralund and socks. i so enjoy interacting with each of you and please know that you are a major part of my knitting and this journal. knitting is a somewhat solitary activity but knowing the existence of many passionate knitters alike is comforting to me.

i do try to incorporate other interests of mine into knitting and i am sure many of you do the same. the stitch and bitch groups, the knit nights, movies, books (this one is a bit difficult to me) and music. etc, etc. i am not a public knitter, not because of lack of interests but opportunities. i do not have a group of knitter friends here and i adore the comfort of my house and the company of my cats/husband. i like to knit at home. and because of that, my favorite knitting companion is movies.

perhaps that is yours, too; watching a good movie while you knit mindlessly. this entry, i would share some of my favorite movies and i would be happy to hear what yours are. it is very possible that we do share similar interests in movies.

number one favorite motion picture is not a movie but a bbc mini-series: pride and prejudice. i only had the chance to watch that recently, after hearing about this series for so long. can you love colin firth more? period drama is one of my favorites. the eloquent speech, vintage outfit and the limb-binding etiquettes... all are so fascinating to me. bonus part: it is a five hour mini-series, a lot of knitting can be accomplished.

i always love well made chinese films. if you also dig these sort of things, i think you may find films by yimou zhang ("hero", "house of flying dagger") and karwar wong ("in the mood for love", "2046") irresistible. it may seem like i am promoting my own culture, perhaps, but they are indeed great movies and i suggest you watch them with english subtitles and listening to chinese to get the full flavor.

there are more, but i may need to share them gradually with you. once a month, i am thinking.

i have casted on for both highgate and cobalt blue cardi. pictures as proof. i decided to cast on the cardi with the fancy tubular but they do not photograph well. tubular cast on gives the whole garment a little more depth and such quality sits really well with this over-cabled design. highgate has a variegated pink in the most subtle way. it is pretty and i am starting off with the sleeves as i need time to warm up to the cables.



the beginning of my two sweater projects this winter: cobalt blue cardi and highgate

November 02, 2005

meme* for knitting

*an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture*

i do not normally respond to meme but if the ones i received are interesting or relevant to the theme of this blog, i will make an exception. books, for one. knitting, definitely.


what is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
i am usually very liberal when it comes to spread the love for yarn. having said that, i only like natural fibers, or, blended fibers that are soft and pleasant to me. but what is my favorite yarn? mountain color's bearfoot for socks; du store alpakka's baby silk for sweaters and kidsilk haze for those special shawls, lace and luxurious little knits.

your favorite needles?
lantern moon rosewood. i prefer wood or bamboo needles.

the worst thing you've ever knit?
this is how i see my projects from the past. when a project was finished, that exact moment evoked a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and all of my love and pride. but as my knitting projects progress, i feel the same way to all of them and really only in the retrospect i would find flaws in them. however, it should not consequently denies that moment of passion in the past. as such, i really can not think of anything i have knitted that i just did not like. i may like some less, but i really don't hate them.

i gave this scarf to my sister earlier this year. when i visited her in HK later, this scarf is all curled up and fuzzy. i wish i had picked a better yarn for this project, though lopi lite is what the pattern specified. so, it was an unsuccessful knit/present. lesson learned. as my wisdom grows, i now have some levels of regret as my very first sweater was lost in a moment of ignorance on my part.

your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
there are several, but i am going to give this one to the wave skirt.

most valuable knitting technique?
all the finishing touches: seaming, grafting, blocking and washing.

best knit book or magazine?
my first *real* knitting book- big book of knitting by katarina buss. this is for more sentimental values. but i really love rowan magazines and interweave knits.

your favorite knit-a-long?
the honeymoon cami and my mini swap with nikkishell. and of course... the SYNO swap.

your favorite knitblogs?
the absolute favorite, fluffa!, without a doubt. becky's blog is the very first knitting blog i have read and the one that inspires me to start my own. there are way too many blogs i have later discovered and they are periodically updated on the sidebar. i am all for promoting new knitting blogs so here are some i'd love to share: knitwerk, saartje knits and craftoholic (the talented steph).

your favorite knitwear designer?
kim hargreaves. definitely.

the knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)
my SnB marsupial bag without the pouch. this is my one and only felted project. i love it just enough so i'd use it most days in the winter season and i'm not heart broken if it gets dirty or starts pilling like crazy (which sort of is already happening).

i am like the last batch of meme responders so i'm probably going to stop the tag here. but if becky, sara or francoise would like to humor me with their answers, please do.

September 07, 2005

can money buy your knitting?

i usually enjoy receiving compliments from friends and relatives about my knitting. however, such compliments sometimes followed by a can-you-make-one-for-me-as-well request, and that is usually when the headache starts.

perhaps i am just a stingy knitter, i often considered my knitted presents can only be offered, not requested. however, i would be more than happy to knit baby booties or a sweater for dear friends whom i shared intimate memories and times with. it becomes a different story if a friend sees my knitted sweater and loves it, and wants me to make another one for him/her.

knitting is my passion, but, in a term easier to be grasped, it is just one of my hobbies. i don’t knit for charity nor for profit. i knit for myself and sometimes, my family. or, if i want to gift someone a knitted item, it is usually for a good reason justified by me. just me!

sometimes i am a bit baffled as to how non-knitters perceive knitting. i wonder if they know that to request someone to knit for them is quite a colossal and serious request, and i wonder if they know that to knit a sweater from scratch usually costs more than a store-bought one. once a friend was utterly shocked to find that my willow cardigan costed more than $150 for the required yarn and pattern, not to mention the time to make it.

but, what if a friend who loves your knitting so much that he/she offers you money to knit? would you do it? i did a bit of math the other day to see how much money would make it worthwhile for such deal. set aside raw materials, it takes roughly three to five weeks to make a worsted weight sweater if i knit a couple hours a day at my schedule. i get paid more than minimum wage ($10/hr) at work, so, say it takes 50 hours to complete a sweater, it would cost more than $500 dollars labor alone to make it worthwhile in my greedy world. and that sounds outrageous. who would want to pay $500 for a sweater?

so, to answer this rhetorical question: would i knit for a cost? probably not. i guess money can not buy anything, at least not at whispering pine.

May 07, 2005

for the love of books... a book meme

a rabbit and a snake resting on our bookshelf. why? take a guess!

domesticat tagged me for a book meme...

total number of books in your house ... my husband and i are both book lovers. we buy books on regular basis so there are books everywhere in this house. not just books, magazines, too! i also have a habit of requesting catalogues from all over the place and look at them whenever i need inspiration for whatever obsessions i have at the time.

there are basically two types of books in this household. one belongs to my husband and these basically are fantasy novels of elves, hobbits, dragons, wizards... "lord of the ring"-ish type of books. another type belongs to me and these are of various topics. they can be biographies of famous or not so famous people, novels of mystery, romance, controversial topics, cookbooks of various style, light humors, comics books (actually, my husband owns those), resource tools etc.

in addition, i also have a collection of books in chinese. i prefer to read in chinese from time to time as i feel the essence of a story can sometimes lost during the translation, the oomph and the magic of a language is difficult to convert.

and of course, i have lately started a collection of knitting related books. they have the most of my love right now. my husband told me once that he feels like he needs to wash hands first before he touches my rowan magazines!


The last book you bought was ...
the snow fox: a novel by susan fromberg schaeffer
the accidental connoisseur : an irreverent journey through the wine world by lawrence osborne
postcards from the edge by carrie fisher

i bought these books to read on the plane for my earlier trip. i only got through a few pages of the first one and have not picked it back up yet as other things were taking up my time (ie, knitting).


The last book you read was ...
shopaholic & sister by sophie kinsella
oh, i love the shopaholic series. it's kind of lame, i know, but i really like light british novels! this may have something to do with my times spent in london. the humor and the use of words just so attractive to me. actually, my sister gave me this book, we share similar tastes in some books.


5 (or 6) books you often read or that mean a lot to you ...
hmm... memoirs of a geisha by arthur golden. i love novels about the east, especially in english. this book is very well written and very well plotted. i can see myself reading it over and over again.

the royal game & other stories by stefan zweig. i read one of the stories "a letter from an unknown woman" when i was about fourteen. i read it in chinese. since then i read it many times and every time i am amazed by his description of such poweful infatuation. it's a beautifully written story about a young woman felt in love and she bared such love to her death. i have yet to read it in english. i may feel differently about the story after i do.

a year in provence by peter mayle. this book, along with many other mayle's books, introduced me to the beautiful provence and made me felt in love with that place before i ever get a chance to visit there. all those lavender fields, french country cooking, southern french hospitality and sunday markets... don't you just feel the urge to immediately reserve a summer house and fly over there to experience it all? i do. all the time. mayle is a great writer, his light english humor and persuasive words are very attractive to me.

cooking for mr. latte by amanda hesser. i not only love the story between hesser and mr. latte, i also love how she integrated the stories with so many wonderful recipes. yes, it has great recipes! as an epicurean, i appreciate reading books about foodies!

garden of eden by ernest hemingway. books of hemingway often give a perception of being too literary and hard to follow. i don't think it should apply to this one (or a moveable feast). this is a story about triangular loves between man and woman. hemingway uses a simple story line to discuss intricate loves of human, though simple in plot, there is an abundance of beautifully described scene to make it a worth read.

what? no knitting books on the list? well, i read all the knitting books all the time so that in itself should deserve its own meme...


who are you going to pass this on to and why ...
erika (winter garden)
dani (knitting sunshines)
kris (s t r i k k e r)

*sorry if you are tagged twice, i should have followed your blog more closely*

why? i love their blogs, i may love their books, too.

April 21, 2005

why knitting?

have you ever wondered what is so intriguing about knitting? is it the thrill of knowing that you are capable of making something practical, personal and useful out of some seemingly useless balls of threads? is it the levels of accomplishment and satisfaction that the repetitive growing stitches can give you? or, is it the calmness that knitting provides, the moment that allows you to encapsulate in thoughts that belong only to yourself?

all of the above. at least for me, that is.

i would like to think that knitting is a very intimate activity between you and your yarn/needles. so much effort has put into and anticipation has been cultivated during the working process of a garment that you so desired. i think that is why i always feel reluctant to give my finished garments away as presents, because i fear that they will not be loved and cherished the same way if i were to be the one wearing it; i fear that they will just be tucked away and sold in the next yard sale. but most of all, i fear that whoever i gave my hand-knits to don’t understand what it is like to knit.

i am no philosopher and i am just merely sharing my worthless philosophical ideas of knitting. in a way, i hope everyone in the world would knit so we learn to cherish something you have worked hard for and to connect with your own individuality. and i like to think that we knitters are of a special breed. because we already know what it feels like to knit.

so, teach someone to knit. it is a very wonderful thing!

January 28, 2005

first

after much thoughtful consideration, i've decided to share my knitting passion with the world.

i picked up the needles for the first time in 1996, the gap year of my life, waiting to go to graduate school. bored with nothing to do, my mother had offered to teach me how to knit. i made my first sweater that year, with pure merino wool.

i did not like that sweater. i took no pictures, i showed it to nobody and i gave the sweater away without mentioning it was my creation. after the experience, i also packed away my knitting stuff and forgot i ever learned how to knit.

many years later, i rediscovered that this old craft possesses an undeniable charm and i am falling into the wonderful world of knitting. only this time, i am giving it my genuine love.


seedstitch hat for my nephew ethan (reynold's blizzard, US10 cir.)