Where Are They Now - 2KCBWDAY4

I was five years old when my family and I came to America from Vietnam. I don't remember much about the actual journey, but one memory stands out to this day: losing all of our possessions to the ocean during a transfer from one boat to another. So I have no pictures or memento from my life before my fifth year. That is probably why I tend to hoard all of my little boy's childhood keepsakes. That is why my most treasured finished object is a blanket that I had knitted for him when he was three years old.

It's just a simple log cabin blanket inspired by the one in the first Mason-Dixon knitting book. My son actually prefers a store bought one, and that's okay. The time and love I had put into making this little memory for his future was time well spent.


Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches - 2KCBWDAY3

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I have been looking forward to today's topic, mainly because I'm nosy and love to see other knitters' goodies and how they organize it. As for my own methods of dealing with the stash? Display the pretty and hide the rest would be a good way to sum it up. This is what greets me when I open the front door.

yes, the rooster watering can is also full of yarn

and Henry is still nagging me about his lack of limbs
Yarn and knitting needles at the ready, warm and welcoming. Plus I get to give unsuspecting visitors impromptu knitting lessons. The yarns change with the seasons and my mood. The rest of the stash is hidden away in my bedroom, mainly behind this large screen.


There are actually two more bins in the closet which were too heavy for me to lift. One of these days, I will attempt to catalog what I have. For now, the yarns are randomly thrown into what container has the most spare space. I am a little more organized when it comes to my knitting and crafting books. This is mainly due to my husband's insistence that we have a designated library space. Otherwise there would be books in the bathtub.

As for my beloved circulars and patterns, I try to throw them into their respective cases. Somehow, they still manage to end up underneath the couch.

Here is my pride and joy. It was a splurge, but I love it.

Namaste Zuma knitting bag in peacock
Want a peek inside?

Travel knitting essentials include 1) Namaste buddy case with various notions 2) Addi clicks 3) mini Stitchdots markers with sock purse 4) Knitterella notepad 5) mints 6) the knit kit 7) LaviShea lotion bar 8) lemon lip balm 9) pocketbac
and 10) a small travel project, of course!


Skill + 1UP - 2KCBWDAY2

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I am going to cheat a little bit with today's topic because looking over last year's projects, I was struck by how safe my knitting choices were. There were a lot of repeat knits and easy (but enjoyable) projects which required no new skills on my part. Although I did learn to knit with beads and made this bracelet for my mother-in-law for Christmas.

The skill that I am most proud of was achieved in February of this year. First, a little background. My aversion to sewing seams and various other finishing tasks is quite extreme and mostly have to do with past failures such as this one:

Notice the bulkiness of the "set-in sleeves", which were backstitched, overstitched and every darn way stitched in. Over the years, I have compensated for this fear of finishing by learning the art of avoidance. My preferred method for knitting sweaters is top-down or bottom-up, with little to no seaming involved. So the above failure was eventually frogged and turned into this:


Still, the fact that the majority of the patterns that I coveted was automatically dismissed because of the amount of finishing involved bugged me. I was living a knitting life of fear.

                                                      But then came Donut.

Donut the Sock Monster

Knitting this little guy taught me so much. As anyone who has made a toy knows, oftentimes there is a lot of fussy finishing and seaming involved. Assembling Donut to my youngest niece's exacting standards required the patience of Job. But look at those seams, properly mattress stitched in.

Never again will I be put off by the amount of seaming a project requires. Fear has turned into exciting possibilities!


A Tale of Two Yarns - 2KCBWDAY1

(I am super excited to be participating in the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week this year. Thanks to the talented Eskimimi Knits for putting this on. To read more posts on this topic, simply enter the code 2KCBWDAY1 into your search engine)

My criteria for choosing yarn is pretty straightforward and can be summed up in one question: Does this yarn move me in an elemental, sensory way? Usually the visual beauty of a yarn is what captures my attention first, followed closely by the way it feels to the touch. This method of choosing yarn has resulted in many impulse purchases of gorgeous but impractical skeins to which no projects have yet to be found. Case in point:

Farmgirl Chic wool/mohair yarn in "sunflowers" colorway
This beauty was bought as a result of a dangerous "just browsing" moment at my LYS. The gorgeous color was what drew me in. The yarn had a rustic, handspun glow to it that was impossible to resist. So I quickly snatched up 3 skeins and headed off home, envisioning myself wrapped in a warm, beautiful shawl, standing on a cliffside with the wind blowing my long locks away from my face and staring mysteriously into the distant sea. Reality struck when I took the skeins out of the bag and truly examined them for the first time. The weight of the yarn was more on the heavy worsted side, not a great option for a shawl. Also, the texture was pretty coarse, bordering on garden twine consistency. The color was still gorgeous, but any garment made from this would need 2 or even 3 layers of protection between it and my skin. What to do now? After frantically searching ravelry for project ideas, I remembered this Counterpane Carpet Bag which has been in my favorites for quite a while. With calm now restored and a purpose for the impulse buy found, I can truly enjoy it's beauty once again. Ironically, a yarn that has recently become a favorite was not one that I chose using the above criteria. In a way, I didn't even have a choice in it's purchase because my niece wanted me to knit her an Iris the Gourmet Monster for her birthday. The pattern is only available in a kit which included one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "big green monster" colorway
Wow, what a pleasant surprise to find a super wash merino wool yarn that did not have the chemically treated feel that is found in most super wash. The hand dyed color is beautiful, but it is the softness that is the main draw. So the lesson here is that a yarn can be appealing but it also needs a purpose to reach it's full beauty. Of course, it will probably take me years and a few hundred more impulse buys to learn this lesson!



Ever since last week, I've had the same phrase running over and over in my head: this too shall pass. On a personal level, it's because my little boy has had quite a few physical challenges to deal with recently, starting with a serious leg injury and ending with a bout of pneumonia. Thankfully, he's on the mend and is now grumpily bored instead of feverish. Boredom can be easily combatted by lots of TLC, music, movies and toys. The last few days have seen us happily camped out on my bed, him watching his movies and playing with his favorite cars and me knitting on whatever catches my interest. I was able to finish the textured shawl and will post a picture once it is blocked, probably next Friday. A little progress has been made on the green monster. I really have to tackle this one soon since my niece's birthday is next week.

monster body

I've also been reading this wonderful book filled with charming knitting related stories, patterns and recipes. The author writes with such warmth and wit.

A Knitter's Home Companion by Michelle Edwards

And uh, oh. Are those yarns in the picture above the beginnings of a new WIP? Indeed they are! Stripe Study by the talented Veera Valimaki has captured me completely. But I will try to be a good aunt and finish the monster first. Make sure to check out WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis. Warning: you might be tempted to cast on for a few more projects.

Japanese cherry blossoms courtesy of my husband's green thumb, Spring 2010

On a global level, "this too shall pass" has been a prayer in my mind every time I hear or see a story about what is happening in Japan. My husband and I were fortunate to visit Japan a few years before our son was born. For my husband, it was a sort of homecoming since he had spent many years there working and studying. For me, it was an enchanting first visit. I was in awe of the country's natural and artistic beauty. But mostly, I was charmed by the hospitality and kindness of all those we met. If anyone is interested, there are many great ways to help. The Red Cross has set up a Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami fund which you can donate to. Doctors Without Borders is also a great organization who is responding to the crisis. On a crafty note, Alicia Paulson has compiled a list of crafters who are helping to raise money. Kay Gardiner from Mason-Dixon Knitting posted a Mitered Crosses blanket pattern on ravelry with all proceeds going to Mercy Corps in their emergency relief efforts.


And the Winners are....

Caution ahead: there's another monster sighting in these parts. This one is from the pattern Iris the Gourmet Monster by the intrepid Rebecca Danger. He is only available in a kit which includes a skein of yummy Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. This green is very appropriate for a monster, don't you think? I need to crank him out by the end of the month for my oldest niece's birthday. Who knew that monsters were such a popular thing with tweens?

My workplace surprised us with a last minute Project which has pretty much taken over my life spare time. As a result, this was the only knitting that was done in the past week. At last there are pleats to my Turmeric.

Of course, all knitting on it has abruptly stopped because now there is the pressing question of what button to use. I have a special wooden one that I've been saving, but this one might also be a contender. If only all of life's decisions were as fun as picking out buttons and yarn.

Now for some contest business. Thank you for all the great comments. I really enjoyed reading about everyone's favorite crochet and knitting projects and as a result, added quite a few projects to my ever growing List. The winner of the Baby Blueprint Crochet book and Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic is Sanhita. The winner of the Shibui Knits Sock yarn is nursenikkiknits. Congratulations to you both and I will be in contact shortly through ravelry. If you didn't win this one, no worries! There will be a knitting book giveaway in the near future and maybe even more yarn! Have a great rest of the week and go check out these crafty bloggers at WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.


FO: Daybreak

One of my goals for this year is to knit things that I will actually wear. It seems like a simple enough resolution, but in actual practice pretty difficult, at least for me. I often get swept away by how a project is styled in a magazine or book and irrationally decide on the spot to cast on for it. Never mind that I will never look or dress at all like one of those romantic heroines in the Rowan magazines. At least I can have their sweater, right? But then that very same sweater ends up in the back of my closet, never to be worn more than a couple of times. This year, I am consciously editing my knitting choices to things that are more practical to my personal style or lack thereof. That's not to say that I will forgo all fantasy knitting...a girl can dream. But for my everyday outfit of jeans, t-shirt and sneakers, something like Daybreak is just the thing to add a little knitter's swagger to my steps.

It was such a fun and relaxing knit, requiring no drama at all.

 The end result is a warm, colorful and versatile accessory....

....that goes with my favorite kicks.

(hey, I hear there's a party over at Tami's blog! Go check out these cool FO's)


Spring Fever

I must have spring fever. That's the only thing that could explain my sudden urge to finally sew the seams on this sweater. It's been languishing in my UFO pile since July of last year. But I woke up this morning to a beautiful March day and was in need of some pretty spring colors and non-wool yarn. So, with a little help from these cuties and a couple of Tylenol's later....
....sleeves were achieved! This teal green color is hard to capture on camera. Now there's just the fun yoke section to knit. I've also been working away on my Textured Shawl, version 2.0. Much happier with the drape on this one.
Hope everyone is enjoying this first week of March. There's still time to enter into my first giveaway, if you haven't already. For more WIP fun, head on over to WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.



dark and stormy....
....or bright and sunny?
Not sure what to do with these impulse buys. For now, I'll just sit back and enjoy the weather.