Friday, June 29, 2007

Best $50 spent!

What was the greatest purchase of your life? It may be the most expensive, the most value for the dollar, the most enjoyment to dollar ratio, etc. Whatever it is, it is the greatest purchase of your life for personal reasons only understandable by you.

For me, I would have to say my ukulele. I love it! Always wanted to have one but a few years back a musician friend of mine wanted to go check out Steve's downtown and we walked in out of the blue. I was drawn to the ukuleles instantly and picked out the second cheapest one they had, but it still had a decent sound. It was definitely less than $50 though I can't remember how much exactly. I may have even kept the recept in the little gig bag I ordered for it on E-bay.

Although it is supposed to be so easy to play, I've never had much patience for practice (piano, guitar, etc.). Yet, anytime I pick it up and start plinking away, it just makes me smile. It's an instant mood enhancer/lifter. The sound it makes is delicate and beautiful. I can't tell if there's a community around here for other enthusiasts. I did however come across an amazing website last night. How I missed it before after all the nights looking for ukulele related material is beyond me but Dr. Uke has very good tips for practicing. He also has a great collection of songsheets with audio, tabs & lyrics for wonderful songs for the ukulele. Any beginner or lover of the ukulele should check out his site. Thank you Dr. Uke!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Barcelona Bag

When I made a size M Barcelona Bolero from the Lion Brand pattern, I was left with almost a whole ball of Homespun. I already used about 20 ft to sew up the seams of the bolero, so I can't return a slightly used ball of yarn! That's when I decided to design a matching bag/cluch to the bolero. It really just takes the same stitch patterns on the bolero and applies it to a simple bag shape. This is my first pattern, give me some feedback please. Hope you like it!

DIMENSIONS - 12.5" wide X 7.0" deep w/o handles (make handles as long as you want)

1 ball x Homespun®: Barley - 6 oz/170g, 185 yd/167m (98% acrylic, 2% polyester)
16" Circular Needles Size 10 (6mm) *I knit everything with Denise needles
2 x Stitch Markers
Yarn Needle

13 sts + 18 rows = 4 in. [10 cm] in Broken Rib pattern.

Broken Rib
Row 1: (RS) knit all
Row 2: (WS) * K3, p2, rep from *
Rep Rows 1 & 2.

Round B-Rib
Row 1: (RS) knit all
Row 2: (RS) * P3, k2, rep from *
Rep Rows 1 & 2.

Open Stitch
Row 1: K1, * YO, k2tog, rep from * to last st, k1.
Rep Row 1.

1) When increasing, be sure to incorporate new sts into pattern as established.
2) This only used up about 2/3 of my leftover ball of Homespun, so if you want to make a slightly bigger bag, just adjust the increases or knit more rounds so your base and sides are bigger. If you do make a bigger bag, I suggest making the trim more than 10 rows to balance how it looks on the bag.
3) I used Size 9 needles to get a tighter weave but the size should be similar enough with Size 10 needles.

Base (18 rows)
CO 25 st. R1: Work in Broken Rib.
R2: start Broken Rib with last st of patt (p1), cont patt to end. Inc 1 at beg & end of RS rows 4 times, starting on R3 - 33 st. Cont 9 more rows in patt, dec 1 at beg & end of RS rows 4 times starting on R11 - 25 st. BO.

Sides (30 rows in the round)
Lay base so RS faces up. Pick up 33 st along one side of bag base, try to pick up st to match st in patt on base, place marker - half round. Repeat on other side. Work 33 st in Round B-Rib for half round, stop at marker, repeat Round B-Rib on remaining half round to make one full round. As tubular structure forms, RS should be on the inside. Cont for 25 rounds. Inc 1 at beg & end of half round on both sides every other row 3 times - 78 stitches. BO. Flip piece inside out so that RS is now facing out.

Trim (10 rows)
Pick up 39 st on one side. Work in Open Stitch for 10 rows. BO. Repeat on other side. Sew sides of Trim together. Alternatively, you can just pick up 78 sts and work in 10 rounds of Open Stitch.

Make two 6 st I-cords to lengths of your preference. Sew ends of I-cords to seam between Round B-Rib & Open stitch.

Grab a magnetic clasp and something from the odds & ends bin from the fabric store to sew yourself a lining for a nice finished touch!

Tip: Make the lining no taller than the Open Stitch & Round B-Rib seam to ensure that it is still hidden.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer backyard fun!

My mom moved into a new house recently and had her deck finished this past weekend. The wood is quite nice (don't know what kind it is). It is smooth, comfortable and stepping on it barefoot, it feels like sauna wood. They were getting everything ready for a housewarming party with some friends this Saturday and enlisted my help with the assembly of a few key items for summer backyard fun. Friday night, I built the barbeque with my mom's boyfriend in a little under 2 hours.

Saturday, I put together the patio chairs on my own while he was out running errands for the party. When he came back, we put together the table together then spent almost 4 more hours on the gazebo. The thing was kind of a pain because we made a mistake at some point and had to figure out what we did wrong but the end result with the addition of the black rattan furniture is just awesome.

I'm quite proud of myself for being handy enough. In fact, to continue my handy-woman's weekend, I took apart my scooter today to see where the carburetor is so next weekend, I will learn to clean it from my bf.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Another thing to do!

I have been putting off doing maintenance on the Ruckus because I wasn't going to get a license or insurance. But that's not gonna stop me from riding around in the small streets...where all the youn'uns are. After a long winter of sitting there, I have a bunch of stuff to do to it or it might not even start. I know roommate & bf know how to do it because they do it for their bikes too but they already went through 2 bikes, have 1 more to do and I'm sure they don't want to deal with my dinky scooter. It would be good for me to learn anyways. I have a manual at home that I need to read and understand. From reading forums & sites, here's a list of what needs to be changed, cleaned or checked:

1) oil
2) oil filter screen
3) rear end fluid
4) air filter
5) air filter seals
6) carb
7) spark plug
8) radiator flush - not sure what that even means
9) tire pressure
10) brakes
11) mirrors - some dude backed out of a parking spot and hit bf, knocking him and scooter down, snapped the mirror right off!

You know, by the time I figure out and do all this, it'll be winter again.

Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!

Ebay shopping counts as a hobby! $45 after shipping & handling for 2 pairs of shoes ain't bad!

They're simple & cute. Sensible but versatile. I think that's $ well spent.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Twitchin' for Knittin'

Only 1 day of not having a knitting project on hand, I was already itching to knit. I know my afghan isn't done yet but it's more of a long term project. Yesterday was spent mostly looking through patterns for inspiration to design a matching bag to my mom's bolero. I made a stop at Bouclair to check out the fabric selection for the purse lining and to see if they sold purse handles, clasps, etc. They did not. Their fabric selection was somewhat disappointing, maybe it was the way things were displayed. It's also more of a curtain/upholstery fabric type of place. A lot of it were heavy and "duller" decor fabrics. Unfortunately the only other fabric store around here is Fabricland, it's pretty messy but hopefully it'll have what I am thinking of. A run to Michael's will also be neccesary for purse hardware.

I also picked up 2 reserved books from the library hoping there would be something of interest in there.
1) Nicky Epstein's Knitting for Your Home: Afghans, Pillows, and Accents - by Nicky Epstein

2) One Skein: 30 Quick Projects to Knit and Crochet - by Leigh Radford

Alas, it was not what I had hoped for.

I am frustrated by the projects in a lot of books or online. Granted I have never paid for a pattern just yet but with all the knitters out there, you'd think there would be more decent free patterns available or is everybody too busy selling out, writing books? I mean, those books are very well put together with lots of nice pictures but many patterns in them aren't really worth buying. The design of the project isn't that creative and the stitch pattern is far from difficult.

When you knit for yourself or other people, you want them to actually wear it out, right? Knitting, while it has that wonderful sentimental value, shouldn't be for just that. A lot of these projects would only be proudly worn & used in public by other knitters. I just don't think this should be such a closed circle. Maybe that's why the art of knitting is dying. The designs just aren't that appealing. The very nice patterns on sale seem far too difficult for novice knitters to aspire to make. The goal just seems too far fetched. In reality, a few small but interesting projects teaching & building on specific skills geared towards a better understanding of knitting as a whole would allow for a faster "graduation" to more complicated projects.

There needs to be better books & websites out there. Actually, the magazines in circulation aren't bad, like Vogue, Knit.1 & Interweave Knits. Wendy Bernard designs some very practical but beautiful pieces and her blog Knit and Tonic is a good read. I wish someone would write a book of patterns/projects designed in lessons.

(ps. Before I started ranting, I meant to say that in 1 day of NOT knitting, I realized I needed to make 3 bags as my next projects. 1 - mom, 1 - yoga mat, 1 - best friend in UK)

Monday, June 4, 2007

~ My Barcelona ~

Here it is! My finished Barcelona bolero. I showed it to the eventual owner of this tonight when I visit my mom. She was quite happy about it. I still say it doesn't really fit her properly but a mother will love whatever her daughter knits her.

Anyways, I was kind of miffed because the pattern was for M, and it is clearly a S. Also it said to use 4 balls of Homespun and this took 3.01 balls. I was down to my last 2 rows when I had to start the last ball, and then let's say about 15 feet to do the seams. So now I have one slightly used ball of yarn that I can't return. The first to add to my virgin stash. OR, i was thinking, maybe I can make a one ball clutch using the same stitch pattern motif to go with it.

I was thinking of something like this so that means I need to get mini dowels and head down to the fabric store to find some nice lining. I'm not a big fan of the ribbon, although this is a better/classier version already. Some designs have a very cutesy ribbon and I just don't think that would suit my mom. As I still have very little experience in knitting, designing this will be quite a rewarding challenge. There are some other clutch patterns like this out there but I think the resulting clutch is flat. I have some studying and sketching to do.

Here're some other nice examples but probably too much sewing involved for me right now.
1) Frisky Hand Knit Clutch
2) Determined Cable Knit Clutch
3) Cabled Clutch Purse (pattern)

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Very Local Yarn Shop

Having known of this LYS for almost 2 months now, I finally stopped in after work yesterday. The saleslady was very nice and helpful, almost too much for my taste as I was hoping to be a loner and browse the different types of yarn to inspire myself on the next project. The store is very small so that wouldn't have been possible anyways. The selection of yarn is impressive for an operation of such a small size. You can see everything in the store as soon as you walk in but the stacked cubby hole shelving and neatly packed in yarn balls allow for plenty of variety in colors and types. It has a small number of knitting tools and notions for sale as well as a decent selection of pattern books. My only gripe is that prices are not displayed transparently and it forces me to go through the embarassing motions of asking for a price, ultimately feeling cheap in the process. Then again, I have never been to a real yarn store aside from the big chain craft stores so maybe no independently owned yarn store shows their prices.

Anyways, I hope Knitters Attic does well for themselves as it is really the only yarn store north of Toronto before Aurora, except the Chinese ones at Pacific Mall in Markham. I hear the prices there are expensive. It can service a wide area of knitting fanatics if they exist here. With the proper promotion and word of mouth, they should be around for quite some time. Best of luck to them! The best part is, it's less than 5 minutes walk from our house if I just wanted to go!