Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gauge Is For Wussies

This Natalie Dee cartoon, "paid for by the making shitty sweaters association" was forwarded to me by non-knitter and fellow fountain pen fiend, the one and only grump, Bleubug. Click on image for larger view.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Knitting Tutorial Videos

I notice from my Feedjit widget that many folks visit my blog via the Knitting Tutorials on Youtube entry a looong time ago. An entire year later, I checked my entry out again, and realize the information I shared then was useful, but quite limited. Let me update it with this list of favorite tutorials:

The KnitWitch has a great variety of tutorials, from casting on to binding off, Magic Loop, knitting backwards and other very useful basic and not-so-basic techniques. I like her videos because she explains things well, has a good contrast between knitting and background, her videos are filmed with decent lighting and reasonably clear focus (as in not blurred, despite the realities of video compression), and her demonstration speed does not create anxiety or frustration in the knitter. Goes straight to the meat of the topic. Exactly what you need when you don't have your favorite knitting bible nearby but happen to be in front of the pc.

Cat Bordhi, who gave us the "knitting with two circular needles" technique, also has a number of very useful tutorials. If you knit Continental and want to learn useful stitches, this Youtube channel would be very useful for you. She chats rather than just instructs, and uses biggish yarn so that we can see clearly where things go. She also provides a summary at the end of each video, and especially where she splits technique videos into two parts. If you knit socks using Magic Loop or two circulars, many of her tutorials will be quite useful. As a sock knitter, I read patterns beforehand to figure out if there were techniques I needed to brush up on. I like that Cat explains how to make things even or neater-looking (I am filled with hope that I don't have to do much finishing because the work already looks neat the first time around).

There a million other knitting tutorials on Youtube, but I realize that

1) I prefer spoken word audio. Music should be discreet or be faded out in a timely manner.
2) I like having a contrast between background and yarn color so I can see clearly.
3) I appreciate summaries at the end of videos.
4) Judicious close-ups are wonderful, especially if it's a discussion-type demo between two people.

The last item describes Knitting Daily TV tutorial videos demonstrated by Interweave Knits' Eunny Jang. I have Jinky to thank for showing me the Estonian lace nupp tutorial episode featuring Eunny with knitting historian Nancy Bush.

Also on my list is Knitpicks on Youtube. Or you can visit their website directly.

There are many videos uploaded on Youtube daily, but some are are posted to display their makers' idiosyncracies than to actually teach something useful. This short list of ACTUAL USEFUL tutorial channels ought to help you avoid hair-pulling frustration and maintain your sense of humor for real life interaction. Of course, patience and diligent searching will produce tutorials to fit your particular needs.

Happy knitting!

Sending Some Love

To every person who works hard at their craft and reaps warm regard, I send love. To those who feel doubt that they will finish what they started, I send love and encouragement. To those who feel inadequate and are afraid to start, I send you love, and love of learning. To those who worry they can't afford to do things or feel they don't have the time or support, I send love and the Universe's abundance. To those who make mistakes I send love and the willingness to start all over and do right. To those who feel frustrated and angry, I send love and more love. To those who feel pain because they do too much of what they love, I send love and awareness of the need for balance. To those who suffer the unkindness of others, I send love and strength. To those who feel timid, I send love and a sense of adventure. To those who feel sad, I send love, friendship and ice cream. To those who are happy, I send love and opportunities to spread the joy.

I have been all of these. Thank you for everything. Now let's send love to Ste

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Knit-Related Wallpapers

I downloaded this from Lion Brand's recent selection. I guess it plays to my inherent wish to upholster that wire chair with its own knitted cover...

This one, by Knitpicks, I actually find useful (the other version of "Felici" is also pretty, but a bit too cool in terms of colors for my taste). Download your wallpapers here.

I looked at this wallpaper everyday and wondered why I bought the warmer, plummy colors of the lace sampler. I realized I should buy the above sampler as well.

Not to be outdone, Vogue Knitting shares the above shot, from their VK Stitchionary Volume 1. There are a few others to choose from as well.

Here's an urban legend designed to catch the fancy of many hot-blooded knitters, provided by Knitting On The Net:

(As far as Russell Crowe's reps know, he does NOT knit, but whoever did this sure has a sense of humor!)

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Lace Book! emailed me today. As someone who previously purchased Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia, I was now being offered Knits from the North Sea: Lace in the Shetland Tradition, by Carol Rasmussen Noble, now on pre-order.

When will the madness end? Hehehe. I think I'll wait until I read a review on The Panopticon, Grumperina, or Yarn Harlot. At this point my wallet and I are too timid.

Edited screenshot image courtesy of

Saturday, July 11, 2009

WIP: Lilo's Patterned Cami

This is the cami front I started while watching the Federer-Roddick Wimbledon final. Two more nights of tv knitting, and I finished it. There's no pattern - yet. I'll write it up afterwards. I just followed the shaping of one of Lilo's t-shirts with an inch added to the width, so she can wear it up to next year. I made the neckline a V to follow the pattern that just showed itself on the bottom panel.

Here's the back panel started. I ran out of variegated cotton so I had to return to the mall to buy another ball.

Anchor Lifestyles crochet cotton is pricier than my usual brands, Cannon and Monaco, about P52 (USD 1.07) compared to the usual P35 (USD 0.72). Mind you I'm comparing mall retail prices, since I'm not buying in bulk. Anchor, like Cannon and the local Red Heart, is made by Coats Manila Bay, Inc. "The only ISO 9001 certified thread company in the Philippines." This is the very lovely colorway KAM17 / 210783 / 65-PHHT. It's supposed to be a size 10 thread, but it's just very slightly thinner than Cannon or Monaco. Softer than Cannon, with more sophisticated colors.

I'm using US size 2 (2.75mm) bamboo circular needles, which give me a gauge of 9 stitches by 12 rows. I think my Addi or Inox 2.5mm circular needles would give roughly the same gauge. Again, it's all stockinette and shaping. No fancy stitches. It'll expand sideways to accommodate at least 10 months worth of child growth.

Stay tuned, folks, I might finish it by Wednesday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

On The Needles

My tank top, still only 1/3 of the front done, because...

I finished the front of Lilo's cami. I started it at the height of the Federer vs. Roddick game of the Wimbledon Finals, and finished it two days later, while watching re-runs of The X-Files. Started on the back part and need to buy one more ball of that colorway to be able to get that cami done. Yes, I made it up as I went along. Stockinette and shaping, mostly. Family feedback: cute so far. I hope the finished item looks good on her.

Lace wrap, shelved.

Practice lace for the hem of Lilo's cami. If this drives me nuts I'll crochet the hem.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Knittipina Report 003

What have I been up to?

[Before this I was derailed by a couple of vintage fountain pens I was restoring to working order. Maybe I should have a separate pen blog for that.]

I got a little tired of knitting the lace wrap thingy, so I'm putting that aside. I actually started a basic tank top that I am making from scratch (writing pattern as I go, but made with tips from Stitch 'N Bitch Nation and Teach Yourself Visually Knitting Design. Woke up very early last Friday with a low grade fever, and couldn't sleep, so I made me a schematic based on my favorite cotton v-neck t-shirt.

I knitted steadily, got my proportions wrong, and unraveled half my work. Today, since I am still recovering from that souvenir from the flu season, I discovered where I went wrong and am prepared to frog the whole thing. Yes, the masochistic Gravelcat will start all over again! This should be frustrating for most people, but you see I had a Eureka moment. Today my best friends are my yarn winder, my measuring tape, my calculator, and of course, my needles.

Worldwide Knit in Public Day was a no-go for me, as it wasn't wise to leave quarantine, what with the AH1N1 virus spreading in nearby schools. My friend May told me to stop knitting as I might be knitting continuously into the night. Yes, that danger is ever present, but then my fingers need rest too.

May you all knit in the best of health!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Addi Turbo Lace Needles at Dreams Glorietta 5

I finally got some Addi Turbo Lace needles!!! *Does the booty shake of joy*

They were PhP690 for the US size 00 (1.75mm). I know, it seems like a lot, but when the prices at online stores abroad plus shipping are still higher. This is a lifetime warranty TOOL, and therefore worth it.

I couldn't afford the US size 000 (1.50mm) yet, maybe later on. I wish there was a book I could get that contained just knitted lace borders, like there is for crochet. Yes, Nicky Epstein wrote several, but not all the titles are available locally. I'd like to learn the traditional kind, the kind you put on the edges of nightgowns or bedlinens. I could use DMC Petra for that. Or anything Egyptian cotton that's reasonably priced.

I also met Marivic, a very dedicated crocheter/knitter who also completed her Addi set one by one - because she goes to Dreams all the way from the province!

Dreams is in the new Glorietta 5 building near Rustan's Makati, on the 3rd floor, near the escalator.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dare To Knit In Public - In Manila

Lion Brand Notebook sent me a notice about this year's World Wide Knit In Public Day. I borrowed the really cool logo above from there.

It's actually TWO weekends this June - 13/14 and 20/21. Amy tried to organize something last year for our little corner of the world, but I wasn't able to join. This weekend is tight, it being my dad's birthday on Independence Day and all, but the weekend after might work. MIGHT.

The last time I knitted in public seems to be at the dentist's office. Er... no. I think it was actually at Cibo Shangrila. I was knitting a baby sock while having a leisurely coffee with a childhood friend. Unfortunately, there are no photos to mark that event. I was also a bit afraid of spilling coffee on my knitting. But the admiring glances of passersby were encouraging.

I wonder what my crafter friends are planning.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hooked on Crocheted String Bags

Ever since my cousin gave me a pretty & compact reusable shopping tote from the States (a nylon Enviro-sack, I think), I've been obsessed with making a crocheted version.

The first I made is of a thread locally available in Manila called Raylon #8/3-ply. It's based on a free pattern by Deborah Erbach Burger of Crochet: The Extraordinary Realm.

This bag is so roomy, I was once able to fit a king-sized cotton blanket in it while shopping at an Earth Day bazaar. This feature I love: when turned inside out, the bottom of the bag serves as a pouch for the expandable mesh portion.

Recently at Tru Value I saw the Envirosack and other similar products; the lowest-priced ones go for P199 (about USD5.50). My mesh bag, which holds twice as much, costs about P75 (about USD 1.50) for materials.

Currently I'm trying out other patterns with different locally available materials like Monaco cotton twine, which is cheaper & probably sturdier, but also just a bit bulkier than Raylon, which has a soft drape, silky sheen and folds away smaller.

(Cross-posted from Making Time for Joy blog)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meeting Another Raveler

I actually met Jinky of Life As A Stitcher before I met Mimi. Jinky and her family arrived for a summer vacation on the first week of May, and were a bit concerned that the rainy season had arrived early. On the other hand, they were thrilled about the possibility that their daughters could experience walking in the soft rain. They are based in Riyadh, where Jinky's husband works as an engineer - the idea of rain suddenly added another dimension to their trip.

Some time before Jinky's trip, I informed her that my cousin was flying to Manila from the US for our family reunion, and if there was anything she wanted to order by way of knitting paraphernalia or pattern book. Two items were on her wish list:

Knitpicks' Options set of interchangeable circular knitting needles

and Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia.

Jinky is an experienced, talented knitter. She collects paraphernalia, shares techniques and tips with friends, and has an amazing catalog of Finished Objects. She also loves lace, and in order to attempt beautiful shawl patterns like the ones you are looking at on the cover of Nancy Bush's book, you would need the interchangeable needles set. (The other needles and cables work as "lifelines" when you stretch out your work in progress.) Both items were quite light. The book is a trade paperback sized like a coffeetable book. When my cousin dropped them off, I realized that one day, I'd like to get both the set and the book for myself as well. The idea of making something that pretty is a challenge.

She gifted me with some Inox 2.5mm circular needles when we met - one of the most useful sizes for most of my projects. (Oh yes, it's funny how we knitters enable each other.) Thank you, Jinky!

Here is a photo of us outside Carolina's Megamall (we're smiling, not least because of the sign nearby that screamed "SALE"). With us was my sister Incredible Joie - they got along like a house on fire because Joy follows Jinky's crochet projects. Joy's blog is under construction and will soon cross-post in Knittipina. If you're a mommy, you'll understand why it's taking so long.

The crocheted item I'm holding is the camera case Joy made. I'll be seeing Jinky again soon before she returns to Riyadh, and destashing by giving her some pretty silky aqua Familia yarn I got in Divisoria (don't worry, I kept the silver).

This meeting fellow Ravelers is fun! I should do this more often! (I should also finish more projects, but then I'm at the mercy of my eyesight.)

Screen capture images courtesy of and

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Goodies from Knitting Daily!

I got this very interesting offer in the mail today, from Knitting Daily. Interweave Knits was offering the following pdf publications for FREE. Who was I to resist? My preferences:

7 Free Lace Knitted Patterns

5 Free Sock Knitting Patterns

Check out the other free patterns in the KD archive. Enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dreams Relocated?

I attended the FPN Philippines pen meet in Glorietta 2 last Saturday and was hoping I could show Jenny and Erika my favorite source for knitting yarns and paraphernalia. I mean, I thought, after raiding the gallery where Rudolph Lietz was disposing of his NOS Lamy Safaris, we could go down the escalator and choose something for Ik to learn knitting with. No such luck. Apparently Glorietta 2 ground floor was being renovated.

I vaguely heard something about Dreams moving to a location within Greenbelt 5. But isn't Greenbelt 5 the hotbed of branded luxury items??? I'll ask Jenny again. I mean to try teaching Ik to knit socks.

This morning I tried calling their existing landline, but that's not in service. I texted Ma'am Lilli (de Leon) to ask about where they put their new store, but so far have not received any reply. Anyway, when I do find out, I'll let you guys know.


UPDATE: My Ravelry friend Bheng of All Stitch Bright and Beautiful noted in the comments that it's now in GLORIETTA 5. I had no idea there was a Glorietta 5! I bought so much yarn last year and I haven't actually used them all up yet, so I haven't been back since my last guilty pleasure purchase of baby merino.

Ma'am Lilli finally replied, "Nice to hear from u. Yes we moved 2 Glorietta 5 3rd flr. Please come visit us. Our new store no. 856-0741."

Bheng, if you don't know how to knit socks yet, I would gladly teach you. Just get yourself some US size 1 / 2.25mm or 2.5mm circular needles 32" or 40" long, and we're good to go.

Olive Green Slippers by Mimi Alelis

Last December I am sure some of you saw my blog entry about a pair of plain cappuccino socks I made for crochet designer Mimi Alelis, here and on Ravelry. She made this lovely and snug-fitting pair of slippers for me in exchange, from my favorite color of mercerized cotton.

Here are the slippers, folded flat.

Add ImageAnd here they are, on me:

Do they fall off when I walk? No. Are they comfortable? Yes. My feet are narrow and flat, and these manage to fit me EXACTLY. The amazing thing is that, after months of exchanging messages on Ravelry, Mimi and I met for the very first time at Chocolate Kiss coffee shop at the University of the Philippines campus last Wednesday, May 20th. I'd never met a needlecraft designer before! In my excitement, I forgot to bring a camera. *knocks head against wall*

Mimi arrived carrying a box of threads, and she showed me the front half of the kid's dress she had knit. I was knitting pen tubes, with small-repeat lace stitches. My mom joined us briefly. We chatted and chatted until sunset arrived.

One day perhaps our small group of friends should have a Stitch n' Bitch Diliman hangout. Nothing but knitting, crochet, needlecraft and talk. And coffee/tea/juice. Amy (Dreaming Knitter) wasn't feeling well that day, and new mommy Gene (geneinthebattle) was busy with newborn Una. Yes, I know, it's funny we can talk crafting all day without really noticing we're doing it. But I guess it's the same with guys and cars.

Wishlist items: A living room for 12. A clean bathroom. A coffeemaker. A shelf with pattern books. A plate of cookies. Friends, needles, fiber, chat.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Help Needed for Lorelei Henson

Three years ago, my childhood classmate Lorelei ("Lyeh") discovered she had a brain tumor. She was operated on, but a year later the tumor reappeared. Ever since then she would suffer periodic intercranial pressure (liquid in her brain would accumulate, and not drain properly), for which she would be medicated.

Two weeks ago, she suffered a sudden increase in intercranial pressure, which nearly caused a major seizure. Lyeh's mother brought her to the hospital in time for an emergency lumbar tap (removal of spinal fluid for testing and analysis). They discovered that she was suffering from streptococcal (bacterial) meningitis, as a result of her weakened immune system. For the first four days she was in critical condition and nearly died. She was put on a severe cocktail of antibiotics and steroids via intravenous feed, and thus was confined in Delgado Clinic in Quezon City for twelve days.

As a result of this treatment, including laboratory tests and a second lumbar tap, her hospital bills reached unexpected heights. Afraid that her bill would balloon unnecessarily, Lyeh had herself discharged today, May 22. She has paid about half of her hospital bills from all her available direct sources of funds (family members), and has a remaining balance of PhP 75,000.00. She needs to pay the Delgado Clinic by June 3.

Our high school batch, UP Integrated School Class of 1984, is helping her raise money for that recent hospitalization. Her family is taking responsibility for her daily care, but needs to clear that amount in order to move forward.

Lyeh Henson is a single mother, with three children, and is not able to work given her current condition. She is recuperating at home, and is a patient of neurologist Dr. Senna Lim of St. Luke's Hospital and Delgado Clinic.

Please help Lyeh by contributing any amount to

Branch: Aurora Boulevard Branch, Quezon City, Philippines
Account Name: Lorelei Henson
Account Type: Current
Account Number: 00-902-001584-2

before or by June 3, 2009.

Thank you very much for any help you can give. You can help by circulating this entry in your blog. Lyeh needs her friends at this time, old and new.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knitful Thinking Wish Item: Vogue Knitbook

When I sign up to receive free patterns on sites, to post comments in their blogs, and to participate in their discussion boards, once in a while I get a very interesting email offer like this:

For a closer look at the fine print, click on the above image, which will take you to Vogue Knitting.

Occasionally I am lucky enough to find a knitting book on sale, but the average price would be around PhP150-250 for a softcover. Others (hardcover) would be discounted about 40-50% off from a retail price approaching PhP 1895. I actually ordered Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book at full retail price from Powerbooks, but then as it's supposed to be a lifetime "stitchionary" resource, I didn't mind. I also did not want to lose it in the mail.

(The US dollar's down to PhP 47.25, but I think I've spent too much on fountain pens. No new pens, inks or knitting paraphernalia for several months. You'll be proud of me, I have successfully avoided peeking on eBay and online marketplace for these things like I used to.)

I suppose once you get a Vogue Knitbook, a coffeetable-style Finished Objects glossy photobook from MyPublisher would not be far behind... (I'm a looooong ways away from that at this point.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cable Rib Ankle Socks

I finished these 2x2 cable socks some time after I finished Mimi's cappuccino socks. Well... I started them before Christmas, lay them down, misplaced them, found them again and finished them in January when I was having my thyroid woes. Nothing like keeping your hands busy to get your mind off things.

The cast-on is 64 sts, and I used Monaco crochet cotton with a US size 1 (2.25mm) pair of bamboo needles 40" long. My cable needle - badaboom! - is a bamboo toothpick 2.25mm in diameter. Very very nifty to use a bamboo toothpick, the stitches don't fall off as the surface of the bamboo holds the stitches well. Great for small-diameter portable projects. It follows the standard sock pattern, only I realized (quickly enough in the middle of knitting the first sock) my design error.

You may notice that the last cable columns on either edge of the sock front sort of blend into the stockinette of the underside. I was trying for symmetry, so to fit the cast-on, I inadvertently left the P2 column out. Next time I shall try for:

P1, cable, P2, K2, P2, cable, P2, K2, P2, cable, P2, K2, P2, cable, P1 = 32 (front)

Yes, it's very pretty with clogs and certain sandals.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Knittipina Report 002

Sometimes people go off their favorite activities for different reasons:

1) An alternate hobby has become their obsession. In an effort to simplify my life, I divided my interests into 3 main areas: gadgets, knitting, and fountain pens. For a good while, fountain pen collecting took over my daily thoughts. Once I started winning auctions on eBay I was, for a while, on a roll. When I tallied how much I had spent on fountain pens and inks and paper since the start of this year, I realized it was practically the equivalent of what I spent on knitting needles and yarns and pattern books last year. Prudence made me decide to stop and enjoy what I already owned for the meantime. (Since all my gadgets worked fine, there was no need to add to them, or to their accessories.)

2) Health issues. My thyroid was acting up, and I couldn't really concentrate much on projects. Now that my cyst has lessened in size, I no longer worry about it as much.

3) Travel. I brought my lace knitting with me from Cavite all the way to Laoag (practically the left coast of Luzon island) and back, for an international family reunion -- and managed to knit ONE INCH of pattern. Happily, it was much admired by my aunties, who have been knitting and crocheting since their teens. A couple of weeks later I brought the lace with me to the beach island of Boracay -- and managed to knit ANOTHER ONE INCH. Oh well, I was trying not to get any sunblock on my knitting. I did manage to knit on the beach front, and elicited the attention and conversation of a German lady on vacation.

Check out how far those trips were here on Encarta. Cavite is near Metro Manila, towards the bottom of Luzon. Laoag is on the top left of the island. And Boracay Island is just at the northern tip of Panay, across the city of Kalibo.

By the way, the summer stole is now around 24" in length.

4) Eyesight. The ear piece of my sexy librarian glasses broke off. This is what happens when you wrestle with little children. Fortunately, I have gotten new frames, although not as sexy as my old ones.

Enough with the excuses already! Suffice it to say that I have regained some of my knitting mojo since meeting up with Jinky (a friend from Ravelry), who recently arrived from abroad. We visited one of our favorite fabric-threads-notions superstores, Carolina's Megamall, and Jinky went home with some Monaco Raylon (200gms in cones) in really pretty colors.

Tonight, while watching a dvd I shall attempt to knit another inch or so of lace.

TDM's ribbed boyfriend socks are still stuck at the heel flap. I happened to choose a dark blue merino that makes it difficult for me to see my own stitches!

In the meantime, am planning to make some pink baby socks for Gene's newborn Una. And planning to finally meet up with Mimi, whose cappuccino socks have been with me since December.

Incredible Joie suffered a theft - some guy broke into her car while it was parked in front of her daughter's preschool, and stole her crochet WIP bag! She lost a set of crochet hooks and several squares for a baby blanket, plus a crochet reference book. Fortunately, except for the baby blanket squares, we were able to replace everything, even the broken car window. This didn't stop her... she has beaten me with her number of crochet Finished Objects. I may add some photos later, when she's organized her hard drive.

Cheers, friends :) I am knitting on!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Modelling Her Coral Top

I totally forgot that I had taken the following photo. My niece and favorite model was about to be fetched by her other grandma for their date to The Playroom:

This was the first child garment I had ever made successfully, which I blogged about here. I'm so pleased with this photo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Summer Lace

Not bad for three hours' work last night, eh? I was knitting while watching the very gothic season 2 of the BBC's mid-90s supernatural fantasy Hex. Ok, I did make some mistakes that way ("...k1, yo, k3, sl1, psso, k3... wait wait wait. Where did this @#$%^&*!!! 2-stitch HOLE come from?"). I actually ripped out 3 rows in episode 3 while Roxanne puts on a cross necklace to draw attention to her tempting cleavage and goes out to seduce her teacher, a young priest. By the time I had corrected myself and got the hang of the pattern, the deed was done and the priest was pondering his foray into sin.

Addi Turbo circular needles, 4.5mm
1 cone Monaco beige glace "Raylon" (it's softer than you think, and has a nice sheen)

Horseshoe Stitch Pattern
["One of many beautiful stitches that originated in the Shetland Islands in the nineteenth century, when gossamer laces were a favorite form of knitting."]
(page 305, Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, 1979 edition):

Multiple of 10 stitches plus 1

Row 1: K1, *yo, K3, sl1, K2tog, psso, K3, yo, K1*
Row 2 and alt rows: Purl
Row 3: K1, *K1, yo, K2, sl1, K2tog, psso, K2, yo, K2*
Row 5: K1, *K2, yo, K1, sl1, K2tog, psso, K1, yo, K3*
Row 7: K1, *K3, yo, sl1, K2tog, psso, K4*

To make the narrow wrap, knit 10 rows of garter stitch, then add 5 garter stitches at the beginning and end of each row as a selvedge. My wrap has a cast on of 61 sts, although to make it wider, you can make it 71 sts.

I figure the blocked and ironed finished item should measure something like 9" wide and 60" long. Perfect for when you want to go to the movies and still have to brave the heat of our summer sun after.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pen Tubes and Such

I knitted an apple green prototype pen tube for my Jinhao X750 (a fat black cigar with a B nib) as a prototype. Nice and soft, but thin. Also being crochet cotton it is always in danger of staining. Since January I have made three other prototypes in acrylic, two of which ended up like this:

and one of which turned out better knitted bottom-up. From now on I will make all my pen tubes that way. The more I do that method of casting on, the less complicated it gets. I suppose for someone who prefers to top-down socks one day I will actually be able to finish a bottom-up pair.

The attractive and spicy-looking crocheted gadget garment on the right of the green pen tube was made by Incredible Joie, for our shared Nikon Coolpix around first week of February. She used worsted weight Red Heart acrylic (must look for colorway in case someone asks later). Plus points: water doesn't seep in on an accidental spill, great cushioning, easy to find in deep dark bag.

I am trying to make a two-pen case. Some people of course might not think them presentable enough, but I actually use everything I have ever made, and if it works for my purposes, I will put them to good use.

Erika Knight's Classic Knits

Last Sunday my sister and I visited Bestsellers at the top floor of Robinson's Galleria extension. I have always struck gold in book sales there, and I found a copy of Erika Knight's Classic Knits that had lost its dustcover. Got it for Php250 (about USD 5).

Yes, this one.

Two days ago we visited the Fully Booked flagship store in The Fort, and the same book was going for PhP 1039 (about USD 21)! It was meant for me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

On The Needles

... are a pair of cable rib ankle socks, in light blue cotton. This is something I started last December but only managed to knit a couple of rows every now and then. The good thing is that I have finished one sock and am just past the heel on the other.

And then the 40" plastic cable and one bamboo needle decide to separate ways. AAARRRRRGHHHH!!! I will be gluing them back together tomorrow morning. Fortunately I have 32" needles for backup.

Did you know, standard bamboo toothpicks from the supermarket make great cable needles? They're actually a US size 1.

This is actually my second pair, the first one are already with Incredible Joie. Due to a stupid miscounting of stitches (yes, that'll teach me to cast one when I'm sleepy) I end up knitting 2 sets of 2x2 ribbing instead of purling them. Regular folks wouldn't notice, but I do, and I just finished them because I'd already gone and finished one. The one that's on the needles now have the correct number of stitches, knitted according to my handwritten notes.

I brought them with me to Baguio, but when your little niece always wants to be playing there's not much you can accomplish. I went back to them today, until the cable separation occurred.

I gave up and made myself a sandwich of Kiwifruit honey and Brie on wholewheat. THAT always works.

P. S. TDM's socks aren't even past the heel yet! That'll be good for another blog entry. The year started out pretty rough for me, I need to get back into a knitting frame of mind.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Time to Do the Dance of Joy

The cyst is benign! *Shakes mah bootay.*

My doctors are really good. Very reassuring. I went to see my endocrinologist yesterday morning and waited for my turn for three hours. The good news was worth it. The lump decreased in size significantly since the liquid was removed via aspiration. She prescribed some medicine that I have to take daily for three months, after which I go see her again.

Yes, I can eat broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustasa and pechay again! Apparently new studies report that they do not disrupt iodine absorption needed by the thyroid to produce its hormone. I love my leafy greens, and I need their vitamins too. The doctor just advised me to take my multivitamins at night so as not to conflict with the thyroid medicine in the morning.

Life is good and I want to enjoy it longer by keeping tabs on my health.

("So say we all." - Battlestar Galactica's Bill Adama.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Held at Needlepoint

Pardon the long online silence. I'd meant to write about the Boracay wedding I attended, about meeting with my local fountain pen group for the first time, about my cable knitted socks, about last weekend's trip to Baguio.

It was at Jun and Jangky's December 19 wedding that we discovered that I have a cyst growing on the left lobe of my thyroid. I spent a week not thinking about it (read: traffic, bank holiday, other reasons to procrastinate). Come January I went to my family doctor. He sent me off for blood tests and an ultrasound. I spent some time hunting for an endocrinologist. When I found her, she recommended that I undergo an FNAB (fine needle aspiration biopsy). For someone who has never been hospitalized ever, the word "biopsy" is a bit freaky. (It took a trip to Baguio for me to build up the right attitude and motivation for it. I found myself walking around Burnham Park in a haze of disbelief, leavened by spending time playing with my little niece on the grass.)

The two doctors (family and endocrinologist) both explained in general what would be done. Imagine the cyst is a rubber jackstone ball with fluid in it. The needle will enter the cyst and draw out as much liquid as possible. Sometimes the solids stick together without leaving a gap. Sometimes the liquid accumulation recurs. The liquid is then sent to the lab for tests, including one for the presence or absence of cancer cells. It's just like a blood test, you'll be fine, they said.

Of course I know I'd be fine. There was just that part of me that really could not process the visual of having a needle stuck in my neck. This is despite the fact that I am not a squeamish person and can look at an open wound without fainting. The way I felt about it is hard to describe, but if you've ever been so anxious and stressed about something that you end up uttering gibberish and giggling uncontrollably, that would be close.

Anyway, it's done. Thank goodness. The pathologist stuck me in the neck twice, in an attempt to remove all the liquid. The first time wasn't painful. The second one was a bit painful, because of the attempt to aspirate until no liquid remained. (Well, it doesn't beat having a tooth cavity drilled.) It was mercifully quick. She ended up with 15.5cc of liquid! That is being tested, and I go get the results on Friday. All I have to show for it are two puncture wounds and a bruise worthy of Twilight the movie. On Saturday I let the endocrinologist figure out how to manage the rest of the cyst.

Some of you know me as fearless and practical, keeping my head in emergencies, coming up with reserves of strength when needed. I used to think I was invincible, and that is an attitude of carefree youth. I'm still young, but then again I'm not that young. Or maybe I should say, in my mind I am younger than this body I inhabit. Perhaps that is more accurate. This body feels tired.

I feel relieved that the biopsy is done. I ate enough fried chicken and cream of potato and basil soup fpr lunch to compensate for my early morning stress. (There was no vanilla ice cream, alas.) Thanks to everyone here and in Facebook who put me in their prayer lists and sent me funny thoughts. I had the strangest thoughts going through my head while there was a needle stuck in my neck for the longest ten seconds ever.

All throughout I could not blog. I could only send emails, chat and write in my journal. I put my mind to writing to my snail mail group. During the time I could not blog I got four postcards in the mail from around the world. Lovely surprises in these electronic times! They cheered me up immensely. I've posted three postcards and three letters. There's something so satisfying about using my fountainpens and different colored inks on lovely paper, writing to people who appreciate the same things.

TDM even took me out for breakfast yesterday to cheer me up. (Pancake House's bacon waffles are great for cheering me up. Now if they had Nutella waffles, maybe you could bribe me to have myself stuck with a needle FOUR times!) Thank you, sweetheart.

Hopefully tonight I dream of myself playing with my niece on the Burnham Park grass. It wipes away my cares.