Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When It Rains

When it rains, knitters would be happy to stay at home and knit.  Today is that kind of day --- dark, wet, and a perfect day to knit along with a cup of tea.  However, it is not the case for me.  I have been in denial of knitting because of this scarf.
The pattern is Aise by Espace Tricot. It is lace weight alpaca & silk and very airy.  It feels spectacular to touch.  It is going to have seven stockinet stitch panels with six lace connections.  I knit five panels, and I realized the stitch count was not right.  There should be horizontally 100 stitches, but mine has an odd number of stitches.  I noticed it late at night a couple of days ago.  I was very tired, and did not have any energy left to figure out if there is 99 stitches or 101 stitches.  Of course, I could not emotionally afford to rip it out because I had been working on it almost two months!

So, if I do not want to work on my knitting project, what would I do?  Luckily, I have a new obsession.  Tatting!  A friend of mine kindly took another friend of mine, my daughter and me to a tatting class last month.  I have knitted and crocheted quite some time by now, but never tatted.  We learnt needle tatting instead of shuttle tatting.  The needle is approximately five inches long and looks very intimidating.  It is one of those which I saw at a tatami mattress maker's shop when I was little.  I do not think I can bring it to the airplane. 
For me, tatting is a wildly interesting method to make garments.  There is core thread, and you keep wrapping it with working thread, and make rings and chains with occasional picots.  I am still leaning how to get simple medallions done correctly.  I think my work is getting a little better.

Here is a close-up.  How fun!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Quilts and Color at MFA

I went to MFA for "Quilts and Color, The Pilgrim and Roy Collection". 
I am not a quilter.  I do not know much about quilting.  To be honest, I went to view the show because everyone has been talking about. How did I found the quilts?  They are jaw dropping!  They are the complex geometric art with precision of stitches. 
Here are my favorites.
Feathered Diamond, Pennsylvania in 1890s.  From distance, it demonstrates its bod statement, and looks somewhat simple.  Chunky squares and triangles.  But look closely at the edges where pink and green meet.  The zigzags with complex stitch patterns!  Such an beautiful piece.  I have read in the English Home magazine that the combination of pink and apple green was considered as a good taste at some point.

Lend and Borrow, Pennsylvania in 1870s.  I thought the use of the colors are very whimsical and modern.  Many triangles again.  My daughter learnt how to calculate areas of triangles this semester at school, and has been learning Pythagorean Theorem at Kumon.  It might be fun for her to look at this.

 "Sunburst" by Mrs. Ephaim Scott, Pennsylvania in 1856.  Somehow, it reminds me of Japanese kimono patterns even if, I believe, they never used quilting techniques.  I love the green and pink edges and the sunburst patterns.  What I like most is the pink stars, which were probably appliqued.  I also like the T shape to accommodate bed posts.  It must have made a wonderful bed cover.  It was too funny that the family who owned it called this quilt "the ugly quilt".  I have to disagree.  Ephaim, you had a great taste!
Baltimore Album Quilt by Martha, Mary and Margaret Riley in 1847.  This might be the cutest and my most favorite among the quilts at the show.  Its color scheme is definitely Christmas from distance, but patterns inside have flowers and birds with yellow, blue and pink.  I do not think this piece was a geometrical challenge, though.  It is more like appliques.  I can sit in front to look at it all day.  I constantly found new details when I was there.  I wonder who used it?  A lucky girl?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I usually do not shop to make myself happy.  I mean I do not go out purposelessly and look for things.  When I shop, I am very goal oriented.  I shop because I need.  And I know what I need.

My husband gave me a $200 gift certificate from Newbury Yarns for Christmas.  For $200, you can buy very nice yarns, a lot of them.  I needed a well-sort-out plan to use this gift certificate.

I checked my favorites stored in my Ravelry account.  Examined what I like to knit, made a list, and revised the list multiple times. There are several things which I always admire and make me want to knit no matter what or when.   If I buy yarns for them, there will be no regrets.

I chose three patterns, and went to Newbury Yarns with my list in my hand, well actually my list was in my iphone.

The first one is Julie Hoover's Portis.  Portis is a very thin poncho.  The patter is here.  Although it requires only two colors, I plan to use three.  For Portis, I bought The Figre Company's Meadow.


The second one is Pickles's Coat with A Twist.  This sweater coat looks like something you could find at Anthropologie.   The patter is here.  I purchased Galler's Peruvian Weed, 100% superfine alpaca.  This yarn is amazing.  So light and squishy.  It would be a main one.  I still need to buy mohair to knit with.  But mohair?  It might be itchy.  I have to find alternatives.

The last one is Espace Tricot's Aise.  The pattern is here.  It is a light wrap.  I need some kind of wrap because I am always cold.  I like the fact that this wrap is very thin and perfect for air conditioned room in summer.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


The April Baby Shower event of the Knitting Guild was over.  After the previous failure, I chose a different pattern: Angela Turner's Premature Romper with Bunny Slippers.

The pattern was beautiful and classic, and almost scintillated when I was looking for patterns.  So sophisticated.  As a mother, the design made sense too because these rompers had wide openings, which would make it easier to put on, take off, and change diapers.  I was thrilled to come across with the pattern, and I had enough yarn.
Babies look great in them.  I hope whoever pick them up from MGH enjoys them on her/his baby.

The pattern has a simple bunny embroidery.  It was for me the first time to embroider on knitted garments.  I think he embroidery made the rompers from ordinary to spectacular.

The below is the photo from the Guild meeting.  I loved how baby items were displayed.  Mine displayed like this.    I did not get honorary mentions, though.  If I had knit matching booties, it might have...?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April Baby Shower

The Knitting Guild meeting is just around the corner, and we are going to have this wonderful event: April Baby Shower, which is a contest on knitted baby items.  Some will be for display.  Others will be donated to the MGH Newborn Family Unit. 

Every year, approximately 3,500 babies are delivered at MGH.  There are a number of families who have babies at MGH (or any other hospitals) going through difficult times and cannot afford baby clothing.  April Baby Shower is to be held to encourage the guild members to knit baby items for such families, so when families go home, they can have some clothes in hand which will keep babies warm.  I do not mind knitting baby items to donate.  They are adorable and quick.  An instant gratification! 

My plan was knitting two rompers: pink and lavender, and probably attach white angel wings.  I did a massive research for rompers, and finally chose one pattern.  Very satisfying.  Do I have enough yarn?  Check.  Do I have necessary needles?  Check.  Do I have all the knitting accessories?  Check.  Most importantly, do I understand the pattern?  Check. 

I started to knit a pink one.  It all went well from the beginning to almost to the end.  I was almost there. 

I finished the body, then I started edges of neck, arm holes and finished one leg hole.  And the yarn ran out.  Yes, that's it.  I have no more yarn. 

When I was knitting, I thought the body came out strangely large.  It was weird because my yarn was thinner than the pattern suggested, and so were needles.  Needless to say, I had a plenty of yarn. 

I was confused and wanted to investigate why, but I really do not have a time to do so right now.  The guild meeting is next Thursday.  I want to participate in the competition badly because whenever the guild has similar events, having my effort recognized is so nice. 

Luckily, I found another pattern last night.  This one is significantly smaller.  I started this one in lavender.  I still hope to make two.  If the latter pattern comes out good, I will rip the pink one above, and make the latter pattern in pink.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Strong wind has been making eerie sound all day long, and it has been gloomy since the morning.  It turned out to be an intensely sad day in Boston.

A fire at a brownstone.  Who could imagine a daylight fire at a narrow four story building calls for nine alarms and takes away lives of two firefighters?  

I am no expert, but for me, today's fire was a worst case scenario with many unfortunate conditions.  What if the low pressure took a little more western route and we had had massive wet snow or treacherous rain in the morning?  What if wind had not been so strong in the way I have never experienced?  What if wind had blown from the south rather than blowing straight from Charles River so it would not have fueled the fire with such a distructive intensity?

My thoughts extend to the families and friends of the deceased and the injured, and those bravely fought against the fire today.  I wish the residents who lost their homes get back normalcy as soon as possible.  We run into all kinds of disasters while we live.  We must not take it granted to have people around who are devoted to the public safety.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts on Flowers

I used to feel guilty about buying flowers.  Flowers do not last; wasting money, period.  But on the other hand, flowers do make me happy and enjoy a season which we are in. 
One of the positive aspects of wasting my time watching Downton Abbey is being inspired to keep fresh flowers at home (I actually drool on gorgeous bead work on ladies' dresses, and I really want to try to make one of those, but I have to try really hard to pull myself back.)  This season, tulips what florists carry are astonishing.  Not mentioning good old ones (my favorite), those wacky ones with wavy petals are so pretty.  I would love to take all home.
I wish I could afford to buy flowers from, let's say, Winston Flowers, weekly, but I know it will end as a dream.  I have to confess that I have to be economical and buy flowers not even from less expensive florists but from supermarkets (of course, for special occasions, I go to pricy florists,  I am saying this for my defense). Often, ones from supermarkets are just good enough for every day use.  Getting fresh ones is hit or miss.  If I am lucky to go home with not fresh looking dead ones but genuinely fresh ones, they last for quite some time.  Last year, a cheap bouquet of hydrangeas lasted a little shy of one month.  Because they lasted so long, I called them lovingly "my monster hydrangeas".
It has been smelling heavenly at home since I brought back a bouquet of lilies and roses from Trader Joe's two weeks ago.  Warm days are almost here.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tulip Vase

I do not remember when I learnt about tulip vases, but I wanted one for years and years and years...  Tulip vases were first manufactured in the Netherlands in the 17th century in the form of Delft blauw.  Nowadays, we could only find those in art museums.  I came across the below three years ago at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

Every now and then, I looked for one that I could afford, but needless to say, they were so expensive because of their historical value.  I quickly learnt that I was expected to spend at least $5,000. 
The other day, my inner soothsayer whispered me, "You shall find what you have been looking for long enough.  The tulip season has just begun.  Hint, hint."  And I found one and got it from Mystic Lily in MN through Etsy.

It is not Dutch but Italian.  It is not an antique but a vintage piece.  Although I feel the spouts are too few (only eight), I love it.  I cannot believe I own one.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Are you tired of the long cold winter?

Obviously, this winter in Boston is beyond anyone's patience.  I enjoy winter, but hello, today is the last day of February.  Couldn't it be a little bit warmer?  I am checking out weather reports of foreign cities, which we tend to assume their winter is much worse than ours.  Let's see...  It is 34 degrees in Moscow, fair.  What about St. Petersburg?  It is 36 degrees, fair.  How about our Boston?  It is 17F and sunny.  It is bright out in sort of scary way.  I wonder such brightness is because we are really close to spring or because it is one of those days when it is extremely cold because of the radiant cooling effect.

If the temperature is like this for the extended period of time, I simply cannot take out Missy long enough.  I put booties and a down jacket on her, take her out and come home ASAP.  She is clearly bored. 

I finished the baby blanket. Hooray!  It turned out fabulous. It was donated to MGH through the Knitting Guild last week. 

The scarf for my husband is still in progress.  I couldn't finish before Valentine's Day, and only a half way through.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Necessities for Long Cold Winter

This winter is substantially longer, wetter and colder than usual due to the polar vortex sessile above us.  I do not dislike winter, though.  In the past, I was miserable, but not so much lately.  Particularly this winter, I have chose to fully embrace the cold temperature and snow and rather enjoy it. 
It is true that winter is bothersome in many ways; not mentioning suffering from perpetual stiff shoulders from being cold, it takes enormous time to cover ourselves with numerous winter gears before walk out of the door.  I do not bother to wear gloves when I walk Missy, but I have to make sure to put a down jacket and rubber booties on her.  Because she does not like rubber booties and runs away and hides herself, preparing her for a walk has become abysmally time-consuming.  Somebody like me who was born to be lazy, the whole extra work could be unbearable from time to time.  Winter is frustrating after all, but I can make it comfortable at least...
When it comes to spending winter comfortably, I have realized not many things are necessary.  For me, there are four things which I cannot live without.
First, a very good pair of boots that keep my feet warm and dry.  This criterion is obvious, but there are so many winter boots that claim themselves waterproof but they are actually not.  Also, knee high boots with insulated materials are a must.  I wear Canada Pajar now.  I think my boots are water resistant rather than water proof despite the fact that I was told at the store the boots were perfectly water proof.  If I do not walk in the puddle long, they do the job.
Second, a nice long and snuggle down coat.  Mine is a three year old Kenneth Cole.  It was not expensive, but what is good about is tight around my hip and extends as long as my mid-calf.  I feel if I fall in the coat, I may not be able to get up by myself, but the tightness truly prevents cold air from coming inside. 
Third, a thick tight cowl which covers my ears and a lower half of my head, preferably, knit with a super bulky single pry yarn such as Lopi.  I have a cowl which I knit a while ago exactly like that.  It is thick and snuggle (because I did not have enough yarn).  It is wide enough (means a miscalculated gauge), so it covers a sizable part of my head.  I always think it looks like a neck brace but I receive complements on it so often.
The last one is sweaters that do not irritate my skin.  I used to have many gorgeous heavy wool sweaters, but no more.  They were so itchy and drove me literally crazy every time I wore them.  I sadly needed to get rid of them, which was very difficult for me who is a hoarder.  I ended up learning sweater materials good for me are not wool but merino (a kind of wool but) or softer such as cashmere, alpaca, silk, cotton.  Not being a yarn snob but after learning all of the things about what are in fleece, my discovery makes a total sense. 
I finished the knitting part of a baby blanket that I have been working on.  I only need to weave in ends. 

So many ends!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Blanket in Garter Stitch

I keep knitting the diagonal blanket.  The first half is done.  I am pleased how it is turning out despite the simple garter stitch that I am using.  Was it Bon Point who sold garter stitched baby outfit in beige years ago?  Or was it Jacardi?  I remember it was very chic.  I also like the edges.  It is nice and tapered.  I am thinking about adding crocheted edges in pink.  I am not certain if I should do it or not.  Of course, it will not look bad, but could it be more sophisticated without extra edging? 
Of course, Missy claims it to be hers.  What a strange dog!

She has been barking, and I do not know what she wants.  Look at her face.  She looked so determined.  Does she wants treats?

I started to wonder if she is looking at something.  She is practically staring and barking at the upper kitchen cabinets.  There is nothing that she can eat up there.



Friday, January 17, 2014


I went to a meeting of Boston Knitting Guild yesterday.  This is where we get together once a month.  It is Trinity Church of Boston.  Isn't the building beautiful?

The meeting was a lot of fun as always.  We had in-house workshops, and I took a diagonal knitting class.  My teacher who is also a guild member was absolutely fantastic.  When it comes to diagonal knitting, I think it is essential to understand the concept.  It is not hard once you get it, but if you don't get, it is very confusing.  Especially first four rows or so, you have to have a faith to what you are doing.  I found diagonal knitting theraputic.  It is a good project when you cannot follow an instruction, like when you are on a train or watching TV.  Would you check out what I learned?

I enjoy looking at how the garment grows.  This will be a baby blanket.  I think the combination of cream and white look really good.  I plan to donate this when it is done.  It will be beautiful.  I also use this as a decoy.  When my husband comes in a room when I am working on the scarf for him, I hide the scarf and pick up the blanket and knit.  This way, I pretend as if I work on the blanket all the time.

When I came home, guess what I saw?  My amaryllis took a nose dive because it was top heavy.  Our condo is very shady and there is no place where plants get enough sun.  The amaryllis grew white and as tall as 75cm.  It is a monster!


Three plump buds were gone, but it still has one remaining.  Hope it blooms beautifully soon.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Half Way to Spring

I heard today is a half way through to Spring meteorologically.  Our amaryllis missed a holiday blooming, but it is finally blooming!

8am: 1.5 cm wide!
2pm: 2.0 cm wide!
See the difference? 
Tomorrow is the day for a monthly meeting of Greater Boston Knitting Guild.  I had been to other knitting groups, but this one is the best.  The main purpose of the guild is learning.  What we learn is absolutely top notch.  We have fantastic guest speakers as well as workshops.  Also, the guild provides a variety of community outreach opportunities.  I know organizing and coordinating those takes time and requires an enormous amount of care.  I will donate a couple of hats for very young boys tomorrow.  I think the hats are really cute.  It is my pattern but I modified a pattern that I found in a book which was a gift from my friend.  I hope they will provide with a little warmth during the harsh New England winter. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cell Phone for Kids

When do you give your child her own cell phone?   What age is appropriate?  Of course, the answer is it depends.

I bought a smart phone to mine yesterday.  I did not think my daughter needed one everyday basis, but, once in a while, I wanted her to carry one.  For example, my daughter will join her choir group and go on an overnight tour this weekend.  The chaperones are experienced and extremely careful, so my daughter will be safe at all times.  Even though I do not have doubts about her safety, I think her ability to communicate with us will not make her feel she is isolated and will make her trip more fun.

So what am I still debating for?  I know what it is.  There are so many great things about smart phones, but they are oh so addictive.  We have been very fortunate to be able to shelter her from being in charge of cell phone use until now.  Yes, she has been playing with my iphone, but never ever had sole freedom for a long period of time.  Now she owns her smart phone.  Can she manage her desire well this weekend?   Or, will she come back as an anti-social jerk?  I am joking.  I did not lock hers in one or two year contract.  Hers is Gophone.  If I do not like it, I can get rid of the phone if I want to.  That is my safety net. 

And, hey, if you carry a phone, you can take a photo like this on the go. 

I think the red wreath on the wooden door is so cute!  I hope she comes back with lots of  nice photos.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Despite the nice weather yesterday, I spent most of my day at home grooming my dog Missy.  After the recent snow, rain and slush, Missy started to look filthy and neglected.  I also noticed that Missy's fur had gotten so many knots, which needed to be removed in order to prevent her from developing skin issues. 

I was so motivated to tackle the problem that I decided to thoroughly clean her.  I combed, trimmed and brushed forever, and then, I took her to our bath tub to shampoo.  Missy did not like the whole process at all.  She looked so sad and miserable.

The originally planned one hour bath turned out to be a three hour beauty session.  By the way, whenever I use or hear words like "beauty session" for pets, I curl my toes. It sounds too leisurely and a kind of embarrassing.  All right, I call it "a domestic animal health maintenance practice". 

I am so happy that most of the knots were gone.  Last time when we brought Missy to a groomer, I was charged $10+ just to remove knots in addition to her ordinary haircut.  I thought it was ridiculous to be charged for it, but I understand now.  It is a truly time consuming process.

Now she smells clean and is as beautiful as she should be.  I hope she feels much more comfortable because her legs and belly does not taste like salt anymore.  And her skin breathes well this way.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day One

If someone asks me if I like winter, I say yes.  I like snow and extreme cold temperatures as long as it is not too windy.  After living in New England for quite some time, I am well-geared up for the climate.  It looks like the snow this morning is about to end.  It will make a dog walk pleasant and picking up my kid later today easier.  Because it is in the mid 20F, it would be a perfect day to roast beef for supper.

I started to knit Julie Hoover's Doux scarf for my husband.  I have perfect alpaca yarn, and it will look great on him.  St. Valentine's Day is a little over one month away.  If I am diligent, I can finish it by then.