Friday, April 27, 2007

Thou shall not buy multicolored yarn...

Guess what, I bought sock yarn although I never knit sock.I'm such a sucker for nice coloured yarn - aaaah! I just know, all this beautiful skeins once knit up will lead to multicolored thingies, which I totally hate, and still, the temptation overwhelmed me and I bought two skeins from It looks gorgeous and many many people will like it, it's just - I'm not much into multi variegated yarn ("It's not you hon, it's me." :D).

If I had known the yarn (the skein on top) would look like this when wound into a ball I would not have bought it, probably :D (guess what, years ago I would have joyfully bought a multicolored ball, taken it home and then be thoroughly disappointed when I discovered that the ball looks nice, but that I nevertheless hated the mix of colors in the knitted item. Now I buy the skeins. I'm such a suuucker. :D). I'm saying probably, because regardless of what I knew I'm a hopeful optimist sometimes and I still ventured out and tried knitting a scarf with it, to be more precise an Argosy scarf. And guess what, I didn't like it. Surprise, surprise! :D I also am kind of sure that Noro would not be among my favorite yarns (blasphemy to write something like this on a knitting blog, I know, I know). And did I already say that I don't like tie-dye very much either? It gives me the same kind of shiver, not sure why.

Some people suffer from I-can-only-knit-one-sock-the-second-one-bores-
me-too-much-syndrome, I have not even managed to finish the one I started last year, the first one ever.The charm of handknit socks is somehow lost on me. I have started to like them a bit better though and alto to appreciate waering them in winter and at home. Still, I will probably never find that handknit socks and high heels or sandals go well together. Aside from my aesthic objections I also have trouble understanding the construction of socks. In four words - I don't get it. And that bugs me. As I was stuck with the yarn now, I decided to give socks another try and unravel the mystery of sock knitting. I rarely show pictures of projects in process, somehow I'm slow with taking pictures, but I will do now, hoping that someone will remember this one in a couple of months and ask me about its whereabout.

By the way, the second skein I gave to my mom, I'm kind of sure that I will not venture again for multi variegated yarn (I also don't have a ball winder - have fun, mom :D Ok, I did offer to wind the second skein into a ball for her, out of sheer curiosity to see how it would look like, but she declined my selfless offer).

And now - the sock (actually the pattern doesn't look that bad):

I'm somewhat afraid though that it's a bit tight, which demotivates me a bit (or is this just an excuse?).

I often think I need to stop doing things of which I know I will very very likely regret them in the future. Sometimes it's yarn, sometimes guys. Sometimes I curse my hopeful optimism. Well, not the optimism actually, more the irrational hope that things will turn out differently than they did before, the banging of your head against the wall believing that one day the wall will get a headache and not you. :D

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Finished: Another Flower Basket Shawl

Here's another Flower Basket Shawl, this time for me? I put it in a drawer as somehow I have the feeling this will be a gift again.

Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: Zephyr JaggerSpun 50% Merino, 50% Chinese Tussah silk, 2/18 lace weight,
630 yds/2 oz.
Color: white
$5.75, bought at

Amount: 2 oz. ball
Needles: 3 mm

Gauge: none, none, none :D

Dimensions: 124 cm wide, 59 cm from center to tip

Modifications: A couple of more repeats

Regarding my blocking method, I follow the Yarn Harlot's instructions, more or less. Not sure how much blocking wires cost and if they would be more helpful, but this method here works right for me as far as now.

She's watching me work. :) And seems completely unaware that a pin is pointing at her - eek. :o

On the manufacturer's website it says "dry cleaning only", but I have washed this in lukewarm water with Kookaburra and it was ok. I had washed it before, but thought this shawl deserves to be washed with something really nice (I know, I know, I had really high hopes for this woolwash :D It's not the stuff that will cure everything, but I guess it does a good job). When I washed it the first time and started rinsing I forgot that the water had cooled down and it seemed to me that I had slightly felted the shawl, but it turned out fine as you can see here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Two book reviews: "Fabulous Flirty Crochet" and "French for dummies"

So, I'm not much into crochet, it takes more time and requires more hand movement, but sometimes I will find patterns that are hard to resist, like in this book from Katherine Lee, "Fabulous Flirty Crochet". This book is full with fun and pretty designs and I really feel inspired to make some of the tops and scarfs.

The designer, Katherine Lee, has a website,, where you can buy many knitting and crochet patterns. I first saw one of her knitting patterns, a vest (looks more like a short dress to me though), on eBay and followed it to her website where I found this shawl, which looked really cute. I contacted her because I wanted some information about the yarn before buying and it turned out that it was the free pattern of the month - cool. :D (I recommend getting her newsletter as she will offer one pattern from her collection for free every month) I didn't really have the suitable yarn at home, but happened to find the original yarn on eBay (there are not only bad guys there :D). I think the shawl calls for six balls and I have only started with the second ball a while ago, so it will probably take a while until I will fnish it, especially since I do not feel like crocheting very often (it requires more concentration than knitting).

Before buying the book I read some of the reviews on Amazon and I was surprised to find that some people gave such negative reviews. One even called the designs cheap-looking?! Well, I'd say, if you're looking for something really really artsy, very very innovative, with a lot of complicated and cleverly constructed bits and pieces, then this is not the right book for you. If you look for nice, fresh and fairly easy crochet patterns, then I'd recommend it. The photographs are all in color (some seem to be a bit overexposed though with somewhat loud colors. Either that or someone did too many modifications with Photoshop) and you can see the details of the different designs well. The book is spiral-bound, which is great, because thus it will lie flat and not fall apart one day even if I open it on the same pages over and over again. The only thing I do not like about the book is the fact that she does not use charts, and I so hate written instructions, but that's about it. And the price is also ok.

The other book I want to talk about is not really about crochet, it's about learning French, but I was reminded about it the other day when I was thinking about the word "crochet", which is French, and how it is pronounced in English.
My English dictionary gives as phonetic transcription this:

while my French dictionary says this:

A while ago, my grandma sent me this book, "French for dummies", and I'd say, this book has not been written for dummies, but by dummies (as I've been taking a quick at the reviews when entering the website for the link I noticed that the book also got some really bad reviews from other readers). This book does not teach the correct phonetic transcription as you would find it in a dictionary, instead it teaches you to pronounce the words the American way, like [e] will become [ei] as in "say" or "pay" (
in my experience it's just how a lot of Americans speaking French sound. It makes me suddenly wonder how British sound when they speak French?), so that you will really sound like an American speaking French, which I'm sure most people who buy this book are not striving for. We may never speak a foreign language perfectly, but we certainly do not want to be taught to sound like a foreigner when speaking this language! I think if a foreign word has become a part of another language and has undergone changes in regard to spelling and/or pronunciation (such as "crochet") that's one thing, but teaching people who are learning another language to pronounce words like they would in their language is another.

There is one review on Amazon where the guy complains that he is not even able to pronounce "bonjour" correctly, because the book teaches him to pronounce it "boNzhoor". Let me give you some more examples:

juin (July) - joon
aoûte (August) - ah-oot
jeudi (Thursday) - joo-dee
The three "oo" stand for three (!) different sounds in French, yet they are represented by the same letters. And with the French word
"aoûte" you do not pronounce the "a" at all, it would really just sound like "oo(t)".

Another example:

jeudi (Thursday) - joo-dee
âge (age) - ahzh

They're not even consistent. Ugh. The "j" in "jeudi" and the "g" in "âge" should be pronounced the same way, hence the same spelling in the dummy phonetic system.

This book is so so so bad, it's really a waste of paper, which actually comes as a surprise, because the publisher, Berlitz, has a well-known reputation in the language instruction field, and they also claim that the authors are highly esteemed instructors (including one with a degree from Sorbonne). Maybe they should not have let them work on the Spanish, Italian and German for dummies books at the same time... It just upsets me when they publish books that teach such crap and sell it to people who are beginners and have no clue about this language, including basic things such as pronunciation, and as a consequence are totally unaware that they are taught nonsense.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pink top IV

I've started a fresh new attempt at this top, but honestly, I think I just don't like it! I've come to realize I don't really like knitting with cotton and specifically not with this one. It has a glitter thread and my needles get stuck there all the time. It is not a nice yarn to knit with... >:|

Capelet from Wrap Style

I've finally received my Kookaburra woolwash and started washing and blocking my finished projects. It is biodegradable (good for the environment), has lanolin (good for wool) and tea tree oil (according to the manufactruer good for killing dust mites, bacteria, fungi, etc and good for the skin), and you don't have to rinse (good for the lazy among us), but it's pricy (not good for my wallet). As you do not need that much it's probably ok. And they have a good customer service, so overall I think it's recommendable.

If you want more information about it, here's a review including a comparison with Eucalan in a washing test on Knitter's Review. In the review the author mentions the strong smell of the tea tree oil, but that might be a bit during the washing of the garment, but afterwards I didn't smell anything, nada, niente.

I'm going to cheat a bit and call this capelet a finished project although it is only sort of finished. I think I could wear it now (well, it needs a bit more blocking to keep the bottom edges from curling), but I'd still like to add one or two more pattern repeats (someday :D)

Pattern: Spiral Shell by Deborah Newton, from Wrap Style
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8, 100% extrafine merino wool, 90 m/50 g, 98 yds/1.75 oz
Color: #32 Light Pink
Price: $4.99 (I was lucky and it was on sale at
Amount: 4 balls (I had to frog one swatch, because I did not want to start a new ball for the last row of the ribbing part)
Needles: 5 mm
Gauge: two pattern repeats = 12 cm, 24 rows = 10 cm
Dimensions: 49 cm wide at the bottom, 40 cm wide at the top, 30 cm long

I would not really call the color "light pink", more like "peach" or "salmon". As you can see this yarn is fabulous for cables and for patterns with a lot of structure. It's a thick yarn that after washing becomes very soft and velvety, but still keeps its plastic structure.

And I have to repeat it once more, I really like this book. Usually I just don't like ponchos, but there are some in the book that look really cute. The capelets and wraps are also very nice. Buy it. :D


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