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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Paquin

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Pattern: Paquin Cable & Bobble Scarf (see below)
Yarn: Filati Italian Collection Tebe Extrafine Merino, color 15028, 4 balls
Needles: 4.0 mm (US6)
Finished size, blocked: 83" x 9" (211 cm x 23 cm)
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Here's Scarf #7 in my series of cable scarves. Notice the theme in my naming scheme? Yeah, I'm not very original when it comes to names. I've been trying to type up this pattern since February. Things on this end are moving like molasses on a cold winters day. Besides my personal issues, not feeling very well and some hand/wrist/arm issues (due to knitting? typing?), Miss M has also decided to give up on her afternoon naps. This means I have to entertain her instead of getting a little break during the day. Oh well, I knew it would eventually happen, I just wish it didn't happen so soon. I do wish she was better at playing independently when I'm around; she does that fine when DH is watching her (and I am out of the house). She's always been extra clingy around me.



The scarf is knit in two halves, each half knit from edge to center and then grafted together at the center using Kitchener Stitch (see here for directions, or here for video), because I had symmetry issues and wanted the pattern to look right-side-up when both ends are hanging in front. I normally hate seaming, but my desire for symmetry won out. I had to bang my head against the wall when I was attaching the 4th ball and finally realized that I was using 100% wool and could have spit spliced 2nd ball. That doesn't mean that I only had 6 ends to weave in. I actually had more because I found 3 knots out of 4 balls. I was not too happy about those odds. And of course, 2 of those knots occurred before I realized I could just spit splice them. This is one of many places that can show you how to spit slice.

This was my first time working with this yarn. It is listed as DK weight yarn but feels on the lighter/thinner end to me, almost like sport weight. It's definitely lighter than any of the other DK weight yarns I've worked with. This is really soft yarn, which is expected of "merino" wool. I love it. I just wished I had bought more of it. One thing that surprised me was how much it stretched after blocking. My scarf was 69 inches x 7 inches before blocking, I thought that was a good length when I stopped knitting it. I knew it might stretch a bit during blocking, but never imagined that it would stretch to 83 inches x 9 inches!!! It is way longer than I intended it to be. Must remember in the future that this yarn stretches like crazy.



Oh, I have to share this photo of the scarf blocking because it shows the quilting pins I picked up to use as blocking pins. See those little round yellow pin heads? Those are my new blocking pins. Melanie suggested wrapping some pins in a damp paper towel to test for rustproofness. They did pass the damp paper towel test. Yay! The rusty T-pins I used to use are getting tossed out.





Paquin Scarf Pattern
Paquin Scarf Pattern from Box.net (no registration required, just click on link & save file)
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My series of cable scarves...

Persephone Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2006/12/persephone.html
Ariel Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2007/04/ariel.html
Miranda Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2007/06/miranda-scarf.html
Osiris Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2007/09/osiris.html
Bernadette Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2007/11/bernadette.html
Regina Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2007/12/regina.html
Paquin Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/03/paquin.html
Beaumonde Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/04/beaumonde.html
Shadow Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/04/shadow.html
Hera Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/08/hera-scarf-pattern.html
Triumph Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/08/triumph-cable-scarf-pattern.html
Ezra Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/09/ezra-cable-scarf-pattern.html
Sihnon Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/10/sihnon.html
Londinium Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/10/londinium.html
St. Albans Valentine Cable Scarf:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/11/scarf-15.html


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Stitches used in this scarf include:
Pattern 180, NKSL pg 117
Seed Stitch, BW1 pg 11


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Yarn Info:
Filati Italian Collection Tebe Extrafine Merino
100% Extrafine Merino Wool
Hand Wash/ Dry Flat
23 st/4 inches 3.75 mm (US 5)
140 m (153 yards) per 50g (1.75 oz) ball
$6.95 USD

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stormy Weather



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When it rains, it pours. The storm was brewing since Good Friday, with some drizzle and light rain. Then the brunt of it happened on Easter Day, and boy was it a WHAMMO of a storm. I think there was a slight misunderstanding when my doctor told me to carry an umbrella around in my purse. I think I was supposed to interpret that to mean holding the umbrella open over my head at all times (and maybe even wearing gore-tex parka, pants, plus waterproof hat, gloves & boots!). Not one of those mini/compact wimpy umbrellas you pick up at the chain drug store in an emergency, but a strong durable one that won't flip over in the wind. One with strong ribs, maybe 16 ribs instead of the usual 8 ribs. I was so glad to be home when the brunt of the storm hit that evening. It definitely would have been awkward if I were out and about, even if it were near home (at the supermarket, library, etc). I now understand why my doctor said, "you wouldn't want to be at work when it happens." It was a long and sleepless night for me. I had the cramps from hell, however I was pleased at managing with 500 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead of resorting to the Vicodin my doctor prescribed for me (although I do have to wonder whether the Vicodin might have helped me sleep better). The storm finally did subside by morning, and I'm hoping that this is it. I can deal with some light rain, but I'm not sure about the next big wave if there is one. I didn't think of it at the time but probably should have asked my doctor whether this was going to be a multi-wave storm and how long it would last. I'm feeling a little sad, but am moving from denial to acceptance which is a good thing, I think.

I do have some knitting to share with you as soon as I get around to feeling my old self. I'm too tired right now. I know I have some knitting to share, but my mind is drawing a blank right now as to what it was. I also have a new pattern to share with you, it is part of my series of cable scarves. I've been meaning to type this up since February! I promise to get it posted before the next Ice Age.

I did manage to meet up with Vicki on Saturday and finally gave her the three cable bags we've been working on (cable bag #1, cable bag #2, cable bag #3). I thought we were going to do some sort of wooden handle, but we've decided to go with a knit strap for the bags so that they can be shoulder bags instead of clutches. Vicki is going to line the bags and seam them. Then I'll see how much strap I can knit out of the leftover yarn. I suppose I should mention that this project has been in the works since March 2006 -- eeks, has it really been 2 years? Things move slowly over here. But stay tuned, you might even get to see these bags completed before the year is over. :-)

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Embossed Leaves

Note:
1. More Free Patterns can be seen along the sidebar (on right side),
or you can use the Free Patterns label to view all posts.
2. Free Pseudo-Patterns or Pattern Outlines can be found using the Free Pseudo-Patterns label.

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Pattern: Embossed Leaves (see below)
Yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream, Delft Blue color, 1 ball
Needles: 4.5 mm (US7)
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This is a follow up to the Embossed Twining Vine Leaf Cloth, where I attempted to fill in the negative space on either side of the center panel. So I perused my BWs and stumbled upon the Embossed Leaf Pattern in BW1 which looked like it would be a nice match with the Embossed Twining Vine Leaf Pattern. I had to tweak the Embossed Leaf Pattern a bit since I didn't want a staggered allover leaf pattern. I changed it to a single panel of embossed leaves and placed them around the center panel.

I must knit funny because I couldn't get the center panel to come out well when I knit it using the directions in my stitch dictionary. I had to tweak it a bit to get it to look neater; you can read about my tweaks here. I was happy to find that the leaf pattern I chose to go around the center panel did not require any tweaking, it looked fine to me knit from the instructions as-is.

I think the center panel stands out better without the leaves on either side, however I can also see how some people might find all that reverse stockinette stitch on either side to be rather blah looking.

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Pattern: Embossed Leaves (see below)
Yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream, Soft Violet color, 1 ball
Needles: 4.5 mm (US7)



Embossed Leaves Cloth
© Designed by S.M. Kahn, March 2008
Smariek Knits -=<>=- http://smariek.blogspot.com

YARN & NEEDLE:

Lily Sugar & Cream kitchen cotton yarn, 1 ball
4.5 mm (US7)

NOTES:

B4 (4-stitch border) = Knit 4 stitches
K = Knit
K2Tog = Knit 2 Together

KRL = Knit Right Loop is done as follows:
1. Insert right-hand needle into right loop of stitch just below next stitch, place it onto the left-hand needle and knit it.
2. Knit first stitch on the left-hand needle.
(Video for KRL can be found here)

M1F (Make One Front) = From the front, lift the running thread between the stitch just worked and the next stitch with the left needle, then knit into the back loop of this stitch.
(Video for M1F can be found here)

P = Purl

Purl Inc = Purl Increase is done as follows:
1. Purl into the top loop of the stitch in the row below the first stitch on left-hand needle (inserting needle point downward from front, not through the stitch from behind).
2. Purl into the first stitch on the left-hand needle.

P2Tog = Purl 2 Together
S2KP = Slip 2 stitches together, Knit 1 stitch, Pass 2 slipped stitches over
SSK = Slip, Slip, Knit
YO = Yarn Over


PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS:

Cast on 42 stitches.
Knit 6 rows.

Row 1: B4, K9, P5, K4, P3, K13, B4
Row 2: B4, P4, P7, P2Tog, KRL, K2, P4, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, P5, K1, P3, B4
Row 3: B4, K3, P1, K5, P7, K4, P2, K1, P1, K8, P1, K3, B4
Row 4: B4, P3, M1F, K1, M1F, P6, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, K2, P4, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P5, M1F, K1, M1F, P3, B4

Row 5: B4, K3, P3, K5, P9, K4, P2, K2, P1, K7, P3, K3, B4
Row 6: B4, P3, (K1, YO) twice, K2, P5, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, P1, K2, P4, SSK, K5, K2Tog, P5, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P3, B4
Row 7: B4, K3, P5, K5, P7, K4, P2, K3, P1, K6, P5, K3, b4
Row 8: B4, P3, K2, (YO, K1) twice, K1, P4, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, P2, K2, P4, SSK, K3, K2Tog, P5, K2, (YO, K1) twice, K1, P3, B4

Row 9: B4, K3, P7, K5, P5, K4, P2, K4, P1, K5, P7, K3, B4
Row 10: B4, P3, K2, S2KP, K2, P5, YO, K1, YO, P4, K2, P4, SSK, K1, P2Tog, P5, K2, S2KP, K2, P3, B4
Row 11: B4, K3, P5, K5, P3, K4, P2, K4, P3, K5, P5, K3, B4
Row 12: B4, P3, K1, S2KP, K1, P5, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P4, K1, KRL, P2Tog, P2, S2KP, P5, K1, S2KP, K1, P3, B4

Row 13: B4, K3, P3, K9, P3, K4, P5, K5, P3, K3, B4
Row 14: B4, P3, S2KP, P5, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, P4, K1, KRL, K1, P2Tog, P7, S2KP, P3, B4
Row 15: B4, K3, P1, K8, P1, K1, P2, K4, P7, K5, P1, K3, B4
Row 16: B4, P9, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P4, K2, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P10, B4

Row 17: B4, K11, P1, K2, P2, K4, P9, K9, B4
Row 18: B4, P3, K1, P5, SSK, K5, K2Tog, P4, K2, P1, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P5, K1, P3, B4
Row 19: B4, K3, P1, K6, P1, K3, P2, K4, P7, K5, P1, K3, B4
Row 20: B4, P3, M1F, K1, M1F, P5, SSK, K3, K2Tog, P4, K2, P2, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P4, M1F, K1, M1F, P3, B4

Row 21: B4, K3, P3, K5, P1, K4, P2, K4, P5, K5, P3, K3, B4
Row 22: B4, P3, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P5, SSK, K1, K2Tog, P4, K2, P4, YO, K1, YO, P5, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P3, B4
Row 23: B4, K3, P5, K5, P3, K4, P2, K4, P3, K5, P5, K3, B4
Row 24: B4, P3, K2, (YO, K1) twice, K1, P5, S2KP, P2, P2Tog, K1, KRL, P4, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P5, K2, (YO, K1) twice, K1, P3, B4

Row 25: B4, K3, P7, K5, P5, K4, P3, K9, P7, K3, B4
Row 26: B4, P3, K2, S2KP, K2, P7, P2Tog, KRl, K2, P4, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, P5, K2, S2KP, K2, P3, B4
Row 27: B4, K3, P5, K5, P7, K4, P2, K1, P1, K8, P5, K3, B4
Row 28: B4, P3, K1, S2KP, K1, P6, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, K2, P4, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P5, K1, S2KP, K1, P3, B4

Row 29: B4, K3, P3, K5, P9, K4, P2, K2, P1, K7, P3, K3, B4
Row 30: B4, P3, S2KP, P5, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, P1, K2, P4, SSK, K5, K2Tog, P5, S2KP, P3, B4
Row 31: B4, K3, P1, K5, P7, K4, P2, K3, P1, K6, P1, K3, B4
Row 32: B4, P8, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, P2, K2, P4, SSK, K3, K2Tog, P9, B4

Row 33: B4, K9, P5, K4, P2, K4, P1, K9, B4
Row 34: B4, P3, K1, P5, YO, K1, YO, P4, K2, P4, SSK, K1, K2Tog, P5, K1, P3, B4
Row 35: B4, K3, P1, K5, P3, K4, P2, K4, P3, K5, P1, K3, B4
Row 36: B4, P3, M1F, K1, M1F, P5, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P4, K1, KRL, P2Tog, P2, S2KP, P5, M1F, K1, M1F, P3, B4

Row 37: B4, K3, P3, K9, P3, K4, P5, K5, P3, K3, B4
Row 38: B4, P3, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P5, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, P4, K1, KRL, K1, P2Tog, P7, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P3, B4
Row 39: B4, K3, P5, K8, P1, K1, P2, K4, P7, K5, P5, K3, B4
Row 40: B4, P3, K2, (YO, K1) twice, K1, P5, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P4, K2, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P6, K2, (YO, K1) twice, K1, P3, B4

Row 41: B4, K3, P7, K7, P1, K2, P2, K4, P9, K5, P7, K3, B4
Row 42: B4, P2, K2, S2KP, K2, P5, SSK, K5, K2Tog, P4, K2, P1, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P5, K2, S2KP, K2, P3, B4
Row 43: B4, K3, P5, K6, P1, K3, P2, K4, P7, K5, P5, K3, B4
Row 44: B4, P3, K1, S2KP, K1, P5, SSK, K3, K2Tog, P4, K2, P2, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P4, K1, S2KP, K1, P3, B3

Row 45: B4, K3, P3, K5, P1, K4, P2, K4, P5, K5, P3, K3, B4
Row 46: B4, P3, S2KP, P5, SSK, K1, K2Tog, P4, K2, P4, YO, K1, YO, P5, S2KP, P3, B4
Row 47: B4, K3, P1, K5, P3, K4, P2, K4, P3, K5, P1, K3, B4
Row 48: B4, P9, S2KP, P2, P2Tog, K1, KRL, P4, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P9, B4

Knit 5 rows.
Bind off. Weave in ends. Block slightly.
(Hint: use your fingers to gently press down the purl stitches around the leaves to help make the leaves "pop" more.)


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Stitches used in this cloth include:
Embossed Leaf Pattern, BW1 pg 152
Embossed Twining Vine Leaf, BW2 pg 238
Garter Stitch, BW1 pg 10
Reverse Stocknitte Stitch, MT pg 3


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Monday, March 17, 2008

Vest progress

First I want to thank everyone for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers, in email & comments to my last blog post. I appreciate it, and it is in some ways reassuring to know that others have also gone through this before, and that a successful pregnancy can follow.

Mini update. I just discovered that my appt next week on Friday with Dr H had to be rescheduled because she'll be at the hospital (on call? surgery? I forget what it was), and so my appt is the following Friday in April. Dr H only works part time, 2 to 3 days out of the week, so it is difficult to get an appt or get rescheduled.

I haven't been online much lately, I've just been in my own little world. I've started to learn Mandarin (Chinese) because it is the language my in-laws speak. I'm sure Miss M has picked up on some Mandarin during her visits. I'm also teaching her a few words here and there. It's cute when she says things in Mandarin, even if she mispronounces them. It is definitely not so cute when I mispronounce words.

I've been distracting myself with this little word quiz site, FreeRice, which donates 20 grains of rice for every word you get correct. So far I have donated 28,220 grains of rice. Not a whole lot when you think about how many grains are in a bowl of rice. This site can be amusing for the logophile. Although I find it addictive, I'm also disappointed at the number of words I don't know. I've only made it up to level 48, and I think there are 55 total. One neat little word that popped up on the quiz is "flocculent". :-)

If you're interested in words, here are some books that can be fun to browse through:

Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heifetz Byrne. My copy is from 1974, back when many paperback books were small (and this one only cost $3.50 back then). I'm not sure why books have gotten wider, taller, and thicker over the decades. My book is definitely showing some wear. The spine has split apart, and the middle section/pages of the book has completely separated from the book. I have to be careful not to lose any of the pages. She updated the book some number of years back and renamed it The Word Lover's Dictionary. I can't seem to find either at the bookstore, so they are not easy to find. I would like to get a new copy.

Peter Bowler has a series of word books, the first is The Superior Person's Book of Words. There are two follow up books to this one. I have never seen any of them at the bookstore though.

One book you will find at a bookstore today is Barbara Ann Kipfer's Word Nerd. It's worth a perusal the next time you're camped out at the bookstore.

Flipping through books like these is easy and fun. It's definitely easier than dragging out the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Mine seems to gather more dust sitting on the shelf.

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We celebrated Miss M's birthday. At 3 yrs, she definitely gets the birthday concept, particularly the presents and cake. I haven't sorted through all the photos yet, I'm waiting to get the photos from my inlaws' camera so I can amalgamate them with ours and then go through them together.

Miss M colored Easter Eggs for the very first time today. Ok, it's been decades since I last did this, but those Paas coloring kits seem a whole lot fancier than I remember them to be. They come in so many flavors now! I chose a simple one for Miss M, the Zoo-Fun flavor, just 6 colors and stickers for her to decorate with. That should be plenty for a 3 yr old.

I had forgotten what it was like. It wasn't as fun as I imagined it to be. There was too much waiting involved. Drop the color tablet in a bit of water and wait for it to dissolve. This takes a while, and it must seem much longer to an impatient 3 yr old. Then you add more water, and drop an egg in. Now what? You wait. And wait. We distracted Miss M by having her open one of her presents, her first Playdoh. She had lots of fun with that. Then we came back to the eggs. You take them out and wait for them to dry. Sigh, more waiting. Finally, after lunch, we get to decorate them with the stickers. The photo above shows the first 6 she did. Yes, the green one is cracked on top, she dropped it. Oops. A few more eggs are bathing in some colored water, so she'll have some more to decorate later.

--<>--

Ok, I guess I should have a little knitting content in this blog post ...



I seem to be working on my Mom's vest for forever, it certainly feels that way. I finished the back section of the vest, you can see most of it here. And then I was humming along with the left front section, which you see above, until the piece measured 10 inches long. This is where I need to start the arm hole shaping. Having knit the back section, it made it so much easier to know exactly where to stop for 10" length. With the yarn substitution (lighter than yarn for pattern) and the way I knit (which is not to gauge cuz I still haven't figured out how to do that), I just had to knit until I got to the Third Block, 4th repeat. In other words, stop after working the 16th row of the Third Block, or in other words, Row 4 for the 4th time. (Each block is worked for 5 repeats or 20 rows)

Ok, now I sat down to try to make heads or tails out of the arm hole shaping instructions. The vest pattern is here, and it says:

AT THE SAME TIME, when piece measures 10" from beg, shape armhole and neck as foll: Next row (RS) Keeping pat as est, bind off 7 sts, work to last 3 sts, k2tog, k 1 (neck edge). After 3½" of Third Block pat has been completed, rep First Block and Second Block pats each for 3½", dec 1 st at armhole edge every other row 7 times; AT THE SAME TIME, cont to dec 1 st, 1 st from neck edge every 4th row 11 more times -- 21 sts. When 3½" of last Second Block has been completed, bind off all sts.
Since I knew (1) exactly where I stopped before starting the armhole shaping, (2) that I needed to work 20 rows for each Block (to get the 3.5" I need), and (3) that I need to work up to 20 rows of Block 2 before bind off, I decided to jot down the Block # / Row # I need to knit going forward from this point until bind off row, noting decreases where they need to be done. I did this for the Back Section too, cuz I apparently can't follow the block pattern AND remember where to do the decreases otherwise.

So here is how I worked it out:

17. Block 3, Row 1: BO 7 ... K2Tog, K1
18. Block 3, Row 2
19. Block 3, Row 3: SSK ...
20: Block 3, Row 4

1. Block 1, Row 1: SSK ... K2Tog, K1
2. Block 1, Row 2
3. Block 1, Row 3: SSK ...
4. Block 1, Row 4
5. Block 1, Row 1: SSK ... K2Tog, K1
6. Block 1, Row 2
7. Block 1, Row 3: SSK ...
8. Block 1, Row 4
9. Block 1, Row 1: SSK ... K2Tog, K1
10: Block 1, Row 2
11: Block 1, Row 3: SSK ... (this ends the "dec 1 st every other row 7 times" part)
12: Block 1, Row 4
13: Block 1, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1
14: Block 1, Row 2
15: Block 1, Row 3
16: Block 1, Row 4
17: Block 1, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1
18: Block 1, Row 2
19: Block 1, Row 3
20: Block 1, Row 4

1. Block 2, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1
2. Block 2, Row 2
3. Block 2, Row 3
4. Block 2, Row 4
5. Block 2, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1
6. Block 2, Row 2
7. Block 2, Row 3
8. Block 2, Row 4
9. Block 2, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1
10. Block 2, Row 2
11. Block 2, Row 3
12. Block 2, Row 4
13. Block 2, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1
14. Block 2, Row 2
15. Block 2, Row 3
16. Block 2, Row 4
17. Block 2, Row 1: .... K2Tog, K1 (this marks the 10th time of "AT THE SAME TIME, cont to dec 1 st, 1 st from neck edge every 4th row")
18. Block 2, Row 2
19. Block 2, Row 3
20. Block 2, Row 4
then Bind Off noxt row.


Do you see the problem???

I would only work the neck edge decrease 10 more times instead of the specified 11 more times. I haven't yet decided whether to go ahead and knit it this way, leaving 22 sts on the needle before binding off (instead of the specified 21 sts). Or whether I should work the K2Tog decrease in the bind off row ... is that even kosher?

I'm feeling unmotivated again...

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Grieving

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This is just an update on what's been happening with me, which may be TMI or of no interest to anyone who is looking for knitting content. If this is the case, then skip this post, scroll further down and read the next one.
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I went to the lab last Thurs and Sat for my quantitative HCG blood tests. The Thurs one went fine. On Sat, I made the mistake of looking at what was being done, saw this BIG vial, and got lightheaded. Look away. Look away. Never look at what they're doing. Why did I look this time?

I got a phone call this morning from Dr. H's office asking me to come in. So I rounded up the traveling circus and we headed over to the medical building. According to all the dates, I am at 10 weeks. Dr. H told me that my HCG levels were ~55,000, which is normal for this time. She removed a polyp and said that this was most likely the cause of my bleeding. Did a Pap. So far so good. But then we went to the Ultrasound... the machine registered 8.5 weeks and no heartbeat. No heartbeat! Dr. H said that it stopped growing about 1.5 weeks ago, and at this stage it is due to chromosomal defect. I can't tell you how I felt when I heard this news. We wanted another baby and it took us such a long time to actually conceive, so this felt like a major blow. Another concern I have is that I am in my late 30's so it's not getting any easier (and the risks are increasing).

Dr. H gave me the option of letting the natural miscarriage take its course, which should happen within 2 weeks, or choosing a D&C with or without general anesthesia. She said that the natural course would be painful, more painful than when Aunt Flo visits, but that it shouldn't be too bad for someone who has gone through natural childbirth without epidural. But then, she also said the same thing about D&C without general anesthesia, and also mentioned that many teens go through D&C at PP without any. I decided to let nature run its course and see if it'll flush everything out on its own. I have a follow up appt with Dr. H to see whether the natural process was complete, and if not, then she would do a D&C to remove anything left over. She also prescribed some Vicodin for any miscarriage pain I'll feel. I'm hoping it won't be so bad that I will need to use them. Since we don't know exactly when this will happen, she advised staying close to home.

One more thing, and it is a stupid thing. Dr. H asked me what my blood type was. I know I've been told what it is many times. I just can't remember what it is. So she ordered a blood test to find out. So yes, I got poked 3 times within 5 days. What fun.

I was so proud of myself for managing to hold back the tears until I got into the car (after stopping by the lab for the blood test after seeing Dr. H). I'm trying to take it easy now. I was trying to think of how to break the news to my Mom, when she called while I was giving Miss M her lunch. The first thing she said was that I shouldn't have done any heavy lifting, should have done this, shouldn't have done that, said I probably drank too much green tea, etc. She has her own ideas about why things happen or don't happen. She's superstitious and went on to tell me about things that happened during the first 15 days of the Chinese New Year. It's challenging to make her understand something medical/scientific in simple terms that she would understand, especially when I am unable to explain it in Chinese.

Must try to look at the bright side. An Oct 8 due date isn't very good when peak raking season in my town (or rather, on my street) starts that month. Imagine a 9 month pregnant woman raking leaves! Not gonna happen. And raking certainly wouldn't happen after baby is born in that month either. So this is just a chance for us to try again for a Spring 2009 baby. Yeah, that's it...


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Embossed Twining Vine Leaf

Note:
1. More Free Patterns can be seen along the sidebar (on right side),
or you can use the Free Patterns label to view all posts.
2. Free Pseudo-Patterns or Pattern Outlines can be found using the Free Pseudo-Patterns label.


Note: You can see the follow-up cloth to this one,
Embossed Leaves, which has additional embossed leaves around the center panel, here:
http://smariek.blogspot.com/2008/03/embossed-leaves.html

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Pattern: Embossed Twining Vine Leaf (with slight tweaks, see below)
Yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream, Softly Taupe color, 1 ball
Needles: 4.5 mm (US7)


If you don't want to read the story behind this dishcloth, then just scroll down to the bottom where I give an outline of how I made the cloth.


A little while ago, Peggy M emailed me to ask whether I had used the Embossed Twining Vine Leaf pattern from BW2 pg 138. She was trying to use it in a baby blanket and mentioned having some problems reduplicating one of the second leaves without changing the pattern, which in turn threw everything off in the row and caused holes when decreasing. I have often stopped on that pattern while flipping through my BWs, but I never got around to doing anything with it. (There is something similar in HG5, which is a 20 stitch panel instead of the BW 26 stitch panel.) Well, I thought now is as good a time to give the pattern a whirl to see how it knit up. Perhaps there was an error in the pattern. I'd have to knit it up to get a better feel for the pattern.



So I grabbed a remnant ball of kitchen cotton yarn and went at it. As you can see from the photo above, I was short a few rows. See that dangling end of yarn at the top? That's what I had left. I didn't even get to knit the top border and bind off. I wasn't sure I'd have enough yarn. I thought making a short bottom border would help, but it clearly wasn't enough. I probably also should have made it a bit narrower too. So I put the stitches onto waste yarn to photograph what I did manage to knit up; this will ultimately get frogged and reincarnated into a smaller dishcloth.

I didn't find any errors in the pattern, however I could see some pitfalls if you're not paying attention.

1. Mind those Yarn Overs, especially wrapping the yarn all the way around when doing a YO before a purl stitch (such as in Row 10 and Row 22).

2. Mind those increases. There are 3 different types of increases in the pattern. (I changed all three decreases, and condensed it down to two decreases (one Knit Increase, one Purl Increase), read further for more info).

3. The three decreases are pretty straight forward (K2Tog, SSK, P2Tog), just pay attention to where they have to be done. Also need to make sure you do the double decreases on Row 12 and Row 24, but I think it's obvious when you get to the tip of the leaf.




If you look closely, the upper part looks slightly neater than the lower part. What particularly bugged me were the big gaping holes to the left of the right leaf branch (red arrow in photo below), so I tweaked a bit to get it to look less obvious (blue arrow in photo below). I also didn't care for how untidy the left leaf branch looked (pink arrow in photo below), but I think my tweaks must have improved it cuz it looks better in the upper one (purple arrow in photo below). The main stem running up the center is probably neater on the upper part too, but it's not as noticeable an improvement.




I discovered sometime after row 15-ish of the pattern that I didn't like how the pattern handled increases and decreases. I can't say exactly where I started, but somewhere along the way I did change the way I did the Purl Increase, KFB and M1F instructions.

So I did this for the Purl Increase (in place of "purl into front and back" of next stitch):
1. Purl into the top loop of the stitch in the row below the first stitch on left-hand needle (inserting needle point downward from front, not through the stitch from behind).
2. Purl into the first stitch on the left-hand needle.

I did KRL (Knit Right Loop) for the Knit Increase on Row 2 and Row 14 (in place of "knit into front and back" of stitch):
1. Insert right-hand needle into right loop of stitch just below next stitch, place it onto the left-hand needle and knit it.
2. Knit first stitch on the left-hand needle.

And I did step #1 of KRL in place of the M1 (aka M1F) on Row 12 and Row 24.

I believe some combination of these tweaks helped make the upper portion look a bit more tidy than the lower portion. I pulled out another ball of kitchen cotton yarn, a brand new full ball, and made another one. I applied my tweaks to this taupe colored cloth. You can compare the results of the taupe colored cloth below with the experimental green cloth above:





Here's an outline of what I did to make this dishcloth:

Abbreviations:
B4 = (4-stitch border) Knit 4 stitches
K = knit
K2Tog = knit 2 together
KRL = Knit Right Loop (see above for step instructions)
P = purl
Purl Inc = Purl Increase (see above for step instructions)
P2Tog = purl 2 together
S2KP = Slip 2 stitches together, Knit 1 stitch, Pass 2 slipped stitches over
SSK = slip, slip, knit

Cast on 44 stitches.
Knit for 6 rows.

Work 2 repeats of pattern:
Row 1: B4, K10, P5, K4, P3, K14, B4
Row 2: B4, P12, P2Tog, KRL, K2, P4, K2 YO, K1, YO, K2, P10, B4
Row 3: B4, K10, P7, K4, P2, K1, P1, K13, B4
Row 4: B4, P11, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, K2, P4, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P10, B4
Row 5: B4, K10, P9, K4, P2, K2, P1, K12, B4
Row 6: B4, P10, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, P1, K2, P4, SSK, K5, K2Tog, P10, B4
Row 7: B4, K10, P7, K4, P2, K3, P1, K11, B4
Row 8: B4, P9, P2Tog, K1, Purl Inc, P2, K2, P4, SSK, K3, K2Tog, P10, B4
Row 9: B4, K10, P5, K4, P2, K4, P1, K10, B4
Row 10: B4, P10, YO, K1, YO, P4, K2, P4, SSK, K1, K2Tog, P10, B4
Row 11: B4, K10, P3, K4, P2, K4, P3, K10, B4
Row 12: B4, P10, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P4, K1, KRL, P2Tog, P2, S2KP, P10, B4
Row 13: B4, K14, P3, K4, P5, K10, B4
Row 14: B4, P10, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, P4, K1, KRL, K1, P2Tog, P12, B4
Row 15: B4, K13, P1, K1, P2, K4, P7, K10, B4
Row 16: B4, P10, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, P4, K2, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P11, B4
Row 17: B4, K12, P1, K2, P2, K4, P9, K10, B4
Row 18: B4, P10, SSK, K5, K2Tog, P4, K2, P1, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P10, B4
Row 19: B4, K11, P1, K3, P2, K4, P7, K10, B4
Row 20: B4, P10, SSK, K3, K2Tog, P4, K2, P2, Purl Inc, K1, P2Tog, P9, B4
Row 21: B4, K10, P1, K4, P2, K4, P5, K10, B4
Row 22: B4, P10, SSK, K1, K2Tog, P4, K2, P4, YO, K1, YO, P10, B4
Row 23: B4, K10, P3, K4, P2, K4, P3, K10, B4
Row 24: B4, P10, S2KP, P2, P2Tog, K1, KRL, P4, (K1, YO) twice, K1, P10, B4

Knit 5 rows.
Bind off. Weave in ends. Block slightly.
(Hint: use your fingers to gently press down the purl stitches around the leaves to help make the leaves "pop" more.)

Stitches used in this cloth include:
Embossed Twining Vine Leaf, BW2 pg 238
Garter Stitch, BW1 pg 10
Reverse Stocknitte Stitch, MT pg 3


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The dreaded M word

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I have been a little worried lately due to some spotting over recent weeks, however I understand that a bit of spotting in the early weeks of pregnancy could be normal. Yesterday, I finally called Dr. H's office to inquire whether this was normal. (I still haven't seen Dr. H yet, my first appt with her is on March 21) Dr. H wasn't going to be in the office until next Wed (she works 2.5 day per week) so they forwarded my question to the on-call doctor. I later got a call back from Dr. H2 recommending a blood test to test if something was going up or down. Didn't catch what it was, but I assume it's that pregnancy hormone. Didn't catch the name of the blood test either, quantitative somethingorother, but I assume it's just a fancy name for "pregnancy blood test". So I thought I might mosey on over to the lab sometime today if Miss M felt like going out. What has gotten me a bit worried is Dr. H2's mention of possible miscarriage. Eeks! That was not something that had crossed my mind at all. Perhaps all this time while I've had this feeling of being pregnant, it was really more a feeling that something was wrong. I wouldn't know the difference. I'm trying not to worry, just do the blood test and wait for the results...

This morning I got a call from someone at Dr. H2's office asking whether I was going to pick up the paperwork before going to the lab, and also when I was going to do the blood test. I mentioned that I would be at the medical building on Thurs (this is to remove stitches from my biopsy last month) so it would be convenient to do the blood test on that day. Then she told me that I would have to follow up with another blood test on Sat; she clarified that there would be 2 blood tests. I hadn't picked up on that little detail when I spoke to Dr. H2 last night. What I didn't understand was why I couldn't take the blood test today (Tues) and then follow up with another on Thurs (since the Thurs/Sat combination was also 2 days apart). She told me that if I did the blood test today (Tues), then I would have to do the followup blood test on Friday. Whatever. It'll just be easier to do it on Thurs/Sat.

Dr. C called me last week to give me the results on the biopsy. Good news, it wasn't cancerous. It's so nice to get some good news. However she told me that the pathologist also mentioned that the mole looked "moderately atypical" and recommended somethingorother, forget the exact terminology but the gist of it is that they want to cut around the mole site a little more just to be safe. I'm not yet sure I want to do this on Thurs when I get the stitches removed. The area seems to be healing nicely, however the skin around that area has gotten a bit sensitive due to the adhesive on the bandages that I've been changing every day.

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The inlaws took Miss M last Saturday for a sleepover, so DH & I got some couple time together. :-) We thought we'd see a movie -- a current movie playing in the movie theater -- something we hadn't done since The Illusionist. But nothing really jumped out at us as a must-see, so we didn't go. We did manage to have dinner out, just the two of us, without Miss M. That's another thing we hadn't done in ages. It felt so weird not to have Miss M around.

We went to Amber India Restaurant in Mountain View, CA. This is my first Indian restaurant since I moved to the new house and it was really really good! We had the Tandoori Mixed Grill and the Navratan Korma. The first is a combo of Tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, kebab-e-khas (lamb), prawn kebab and seekh kebab (lamb) served on a sizzler. I have to say that I loved the kebab-e-khas the best, next time I'll just get a plateful of that. The other dish is mixed veggies with nuts cooked in a creamy sauce. Everything was delicious and of course we got some naan too. Can't get enough of naan. I need to try some other Indian restaurants in the area...

Well, that's pretty much what's been going on in my world lately. I haven't made much progress on Mom's vest. I am so sick of looking at the color of that yarn. And my eyes tend to get tired whenever I work on it. Gosh, it really would be so much easier to buy her a vest.


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Monday, March 03, 2008

After 2.25 years...

... I have finally finished the Baby Blanket I started in December 2005. Many babies have been born since I started the project. What has this project taught me? I have learned that I can never finish big projects by deadline. Just don't try it. Don't even start. However I can start another big blanket for a yet-to-be-announced baby who will be born three or more years from now. If I start that now, then it'll be done in time for such a baby. I've seen other people whip up baby blankets in no time. I have to wonder how they do it.




Pattern: Elegantly Simple Baby Blanket
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby, denim blue
Needle: 4.5 mm (US7)

This is the same blanket I made before, in pink, back in June 2005. I must admit that it was easier to knit the second time around. I remember how difficult it was to figure out the lace row instructions, and I only managed it with the help of the helpful ladies at the Knitting About.Com forums.



I thought I would never finish the blanket. When I got to the end of the 2nd ball of yarn, I had to make a decision. Is the blanket large enough? Did I want to go find another ball of this same yarn? Or did I just want to bind off and be done with it. After working on this for over 2 years, the latter won without a contest. I bound off and pulled out the lifelines. I need to smooth out the blanket because it's a bit bunched up funny where the lifelines had been in place for way longer than they should have been.

The blanket is 44 inches x 24 inches, and almost covers the surface of our coffee table. It's not a very proportional rectangle, but I think it'll be ok. In the photo above, you can see how much yarn there was left over (upper left). All I need to do is weave in 4 ends.

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Yarn info:
Fibre Content: Acrylic
Made In: Canada
Care: Machine Wash and Dry
Gauge: 22 st/4 inches 4.25 mm (US6)
Yardage: 455 yds
Size: 140 gm
Price: $4.89

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fun contest

Go to The Bag Lady and The Pro and check out this fun little contest about bloggers who share their patterns. It's real easy, just post a comment with a link to a blogger who shares their patterns. And please don't forget to tell them that I sent you. :-)

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