Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gryffindor Hat

A big "Thank you," to the knitters (hi Cece!) who left comments about my hat woes. In the back of my mind I knew that the rows wouldn't stack up evenly, but I didn't realize it would look that wonky. I'm still debating whether or not to just keep on knitting it up or to frog it. My assistant at school thinks I should just turn it into a "design element" and duplicate stitch a lightning bolt over the jogs. Since I used Gryffindor colors, I guess that would make it a real Harry Potter hat!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Did I Mess Up?

I might have mentioned that I am knitting hats for the Charmed Knits knit-along. I got a late start on my knitting for the project, but I hope to make up for that once school lets out (yes, I am counting the days!) However, there seems to be a bump in the road:

Is this normal, or did I make a mistake somewhere? I have knitted hats in the round before, but I've never added stripes. Does this have to be frogged? Please say, "no." Should I just keep knitting along and hope the recipient will just hide this in the back? I'd actually feel funny giving this away as is, if I made a mistake that can be corrected. Any ideas?

Knitting Resources

Have you signed up for Knitting Daily? At this point, they only have the newsletter up, but there are free patterns accessible through links in the newsletter. Hey, free patterns, what can I say?

I stumbled upon a great site the other day, while searching for something completely different. TECHknitting is going to be on my summer reading list. The blog starts out with this explanation: "So, after 25 years of knitting, various knitting tricks have manifested themselves to me. And, after 25 years of knitting, these tricks, like a virus, are desperate to get out and infect other knitters." There is a handy index on the side, that can lead you to the help you might need.There is too much there for me to write about here, so go check it out! It will be well worth your time.

My Fear of Intarsia is Walloped by Sasha Kagan

Sasha Kagan came to my lys this weekend to teach a few classes. I decided to take her intarsia class, because color work (other than stripes) has kind of intimidated me. I never really liked the idea of weaving in all the ends when I was finished knitting a piece. Sasha's method carries the unused color along the back and weaves it in as you knit by wrapping it around the knit stitch. Because the other color is woven in, it doesn't "float" as you carry it along the back. The fabric is firmer and the back looks neater, too.

Of course, as with any new technique, there was a big, "huh?" factor. In between the sighs of frustration, someone commented that she felt like a beginner again. I was really glad she said that! It meant that I wasn't alone (as I crawled along at a snail's pace). I think it really helps if you can knit with both hands. Look Ma! I made me a swatch! The square shows how many rows it took me to "get it" and the top part is the beginning of a poppy. I really like her technique; you end up using a bit more yarn, but it looks neater and it saves you the time of weaving in.

Sasha also brought some samples from her new book, Crochet Inspiration. The book has a number of different patterns and motifs, from granny squares to lace and flowers.

Friday, May 25, 2007


A few weeks ago, I went to Napa with two of my friends from school for a girls day/night out. Since I live the furthest south, I volunteered to pick everyone up and do the driving. We were supposed to be heading out to the outlets, but somehow my navigators only directed me to the wineries. Funny how that happened..Now, this would be great if I drank, but I don't...I can't. One of the few Japanese traits my mother passed down to me was an affliction known as the Asian Flush, or as I prefer to call it, the Asian blush. (Really, what were they thinking by calling it Asian flush? So much inappropriate humor springs to mind. Sorry, I teach second grade...potty humor abounds. But I digress...) Apparently, I have a mutant gene that affects how my body breaks down alcohol. Whenever I drink, I turn red (sometimes burgundy - real pretty!), my face and ears get hot, and then I can feel my heart beating in my ears. On the bright side, I'll probably never be an alcoholic.

After a day of chauffeuring my friends and their ever escalating buzz around, I'm ashamed to say I was a little cranky. I really like Napa; I think it's beautiful up there, but c'mon, there is only so much "view" that one can enjoy! I began to wonder where in Napa a drinker and a non-drinker could go to have fun. The answer came from my student's mom who is in the wine business: Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts. They seem to have it all: wine and food tasting, organic gardens, concerts, art exhibitions, films, shopping, and dining. Copia was featured in the first season of Top Chef (love that show!), where they cooked in Julia's Kitchen.

Hmmm...Julia's Kitchen now has a lounge. With a happy hour. Maybe I can take them up there, get 'em snockered, and then we can play the game of Blackmail. Heh, sometimes not drinking can have its advantages.

5/29- Edit - If you're interested, we went to the V. Sattui winery in St. Helena and Mumm Napa.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is There a Support Group for This?

I seem to recall a poem that start with the lines, "Books to the ceiling, books to the floor." My "fiber" library is threatening to bust out of the bookcase. It appears that there are three things that I cannot get enough of: yarn, coffee, and books. At least they combine well...

I finally got a start on my knitting for the Charmed Knits knit-along. The knitting should go fast after the 1x1 ribbing. I really want to crank out a couple by next Monday, to make up for the procrastinating. I can't wait until this weekend, I can finally just sit and knit for a change!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lazy Sunday at the Hermitage

About a month ago, I finally got together with a friend of mine to exchange Christmas gifts. It took us four months, but we finally did it! She gave me this: It's a sandcastle bundt pan from Williams-Sonoma. Cute, isn't it? Unfortunately, I don't have kids and I bake cakes only about once or twice a year. Even though I felt guilty about it, I exchanged it for one of these. Now, I've never been a big pancake eater, but I have wanted one of these pans ever since I read about them in third grade (I am such a literature nerd! I tried to whittle once, after reading about it in the "Little House" books. Took off the top half of my thumbnail!)

I broke it out this morning. The hardest thing to do was to flip them over, so both sides would cook. I didn't have any applesauce to put in the middle, so I added pear sauce from Trader Joe's to about half of the ebelskivers. Evidently, you can stuff them with just about anything, provided you cover it with extra batter before you flip them over. They were a little crunchy on the outside and pretty tasty! Kind of like a cross between a silver dollar pancake and a jelly doughnut. I'm trying to figure out what else I can make in the pan... In the end, it was worth the guilt.

I spent the rest of the afternoon knitting (things I can't show yet, bummer) and trying to read the paper. I was getting help with the big words.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

50 Things to Eat Before You Die

One of the nice things about taking part in a swap is getting to know someone through their blog. This list from a BBC reader's poll was on my tea swap partner's blog. Maybe I'm wrong, but going through the list, I am convinced that most Americans are probably more adventurous eaters than people in the UK.

My Results:
1. Fresh fish - Yes.

2. Lobster - Yes.
3. Steak - Yes. I am a confirmed carnivore.
4. Thai food - Yes.
5. Chinese food - Yes.
6. Ice cream - There’s always room for ice cream.
7. Pizza - Who hasn’t eaten pizza? I love the spinach and mushroom one from Zachary's. If you're ever in the Bay Area, you should try it!
8.Crab - My favorite time of the year is when the start of crab season is announced on the news.
9. Curry - Yup.
10. Prawns - Check.
11. Moreton Bay Bugs - Do crayfish count? They look like they’re the same size.
12. Clam chowder - Always New England style on clam chowder Friday.
13. Barbecues - Mmmm. Roast beast! I’ve never met a barbecue I didn’t like. *If you ever get a chance to eat Brazilian barbecue (churrasco), do it!
14. Pancakes - Yep, but I prefer French toast or waffles.
15. Pasta - Yes!
16. Mussels - Yes.
17. Cheesecake- Yes.
18. Lamb - I think people either love lamb or hate it. I enjoy it; but then again, I pretty much like everything except liver, or fermented tofu, or lima beans, or...
19. Cream tea- Mmmm. Clotted cream and scones.
20. Alligator- No, but I bet it tastes like chicken.
21. Oysters - Yes. In winter, I love to eat them in stew.
22. Kangaroo - No.
23. Chocolate - Yes. Pretty much a given.
24. Sandwiches- Ditto.
25. Greek - Yes!
26. Burgers - Make mine medium rare with mushrooms on top.
27. Mexican food - Of course.
28. Squid- Yum! A workout for your teeth.
29. American diner breakfast - Do truck stops count?
30. Salmon- Eight years of my life were spent living in Oregon. There were times when I felt like the Bubba Blue (think Forest Gump) of salmon. I love smoked salmon when it's still warm from the smoker.
31. Venison - Had it. Moose was better. So was elk.
32. Guinea pig - Not Fluffy!
33. Shark - My parents lived in Hong Kong for 14 years. Shark fin is in many dishes. Kind of unavoidable when you’re trying to be polite.
34. Sushi - My people’s soul food. But what’s up with the cream cheese ones? That’s like adding fruit to bagel dough!
35. Paella - Yes. Fried rice, big whoop. Not crazy about it.
36. Barramundi - I don’t think so.
37. Reindeer - Rudolph? No way!
38. Kebab - I love chelo kebabs with a side of fattoush salad.
39. Scallops- Yes.
40. Australian meat pie - No. Isn’t it just a chicken pot pie with beef?
41. Mango - Yum.
42. Durian fruit - Oh, P.U.! If I have to hold my nose to eat it, chances are I won’t.
43. Octopus- Yep, Mom makes a great salad with cucumber, rice vinegar, and octopus.
44. Ribs - My favorite.
45. Roast beef - Yes. Just had some yesterday!
46. Tapas - Yes.
47. Jerk chicken/pork- Yes.
48. Haggis - Not in your life.
49. Caviar- Black, red, yellow, and green. You’re not a good Japanese girl if you don’t eat these.
50. Cornish Pastry- Yes. They sell them at my farmer’s market. I want to eat one in the UK someday.

So much of this list seems normal to me (well, except for durian and haggis, but they're not normal!) I keep thinking there should be more things on the list, like: sugar apples, jabuticaba, feijoada, bulgogi, Nutella crepes, or even a pastrami on rye from a great deli! What would be on your list?

Friday, May 18, 2007

I Just Don't Understand It

Now that Open House is over, I started to plan a relaxing summer. I wanted to get away for a while, since I haven't taken a vacation for a few years. Look what greeted me when I opened my mailbox today.

Yay. Yipee. Whoo-hoo. Don't get me wrong. I believe in doing my civic duty; I have served on a jury before and reported for service. However, I have lived in my house for almost seven years, and I've been called for jury duty every year, save one. This is a random drawing of names? I don't think so. Out of 671,791 registered voters in my county (and probably twice that registered with the DMV), I fail to understand why my name always comes up! My sister lives in an adjacent county and has never been called to serve; she does, however, manage to laugh at me whenever I get the summons. What a sweetheart (she's older, it's to be expected!) So now I have a decision to make - report for service and miss the last week of school, or defer service and put in long days (jury duty + writing sub. plans + commuting) during the school year?

I wonder if I can take knitting needles into the court house? Hmmmm......

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Knitter's Tea Swap 3

One of the good things about swaps is that it gives you something to write about in your blog when work has zapped your brain cells. I've been busy preparing for Open House at my school: cracking the whip, stressing out, finishing projects, stressing out, cleaning the classroom, and stressing out. There's a theme in there somewhere. As of tonight, it's finally over (whoo-hoo!). I don't know if I can utter a coherent sentence, but questions? I can do those.

Restrictions on type of tea?
I tend to prefer black teas over green or herbal teas. I enjoy drinking Darjeeling or Irish/Scottish Breakfast teas. I like Chai, if it isn't too sweet. When I drink green tea, I only drink Genmai Cha (green tea, roasted rice, & popcorn bits). My mom's Japanese, so this was always in the house. Every so often, I make green tea "lattes" at home using matcha. I like making my own because I can control the sweetness and mine don't have that funky melon flavor that Starbucks has (some flavors just aren't meant to go together!)
Treat preference?
I'm pretty easy to please; I like cookies, milk chocolate, and salty things. Not so crazy about dark chocolate or white chocolate.
Yarn color preference?
I like colors that are found in nature: ocean colors (greens & blues), autumn colors (reds,browns, & dark orange), and muted greens. I prefer subtle to bright.
Oh-and thanks to the Hello Kitty onslaught of 2006-2007, I really don't like pink.
Sock knitter?
I hope to be one by the end of summer break!

My swap partner (Hi Carol!) also added some questions:
How long have you been knitting?
My cousin taught me when I was in fifth grade. I knit some horrendous swatches and put away the needles until 2005, when I saw one of the school secretaries teaching another teacher. I bought some cheap yarn, went home, pulled out the needles, and started to teach myself from a child's craft book. Article Pract improved my technique and turned me into a knitter.
What is your favorite thing to knit?
During the school year, I like uncomplicated knitting projects: dishcloths, purses knitted in the round, scarves that don't require a spreadsheet to keep track of the stitches. I went through a period of baby hat knitting, because there were eight pregnancies in one year at my school. I found this pattern easy to adapt to whatever yarn I had handy.
How would you describe your style?
I like a mix of modern and vintage, especially if it has "clean lines" (as in Mission, Scandinavian, & Japanese). The same applies to my personal style; I like casual, comfortable clothes with a classic line. I'm not trendy. I don't like flowery or fussy things; I prefer "rustic" to country.
Favorite and least favorite scents?
Unscented? No, I like lighter, "clean," single-note, scents. I like jasmine, clary sage, and citrus scents. Even though it's sweet, I find the smell of honey comforting. I don't like heavy florals or "oriental" scents (Have you ever been trapped in a car with a woman who bathes in Opium? Blech!)


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Film at Eleven

Alert the media -- I went into a yarn store today and did not buy yarn.
Are the planets out of alignment? (Ha! Maybe I am, considering the neck cracking I received from my doctor yesterday.) I hope I didn't upset the balance of nature, given that I live in earthquake country. Oops, I shouldn't write things like that, it's bachi (bad luck). I'd better change the subject...

I made it into the Knitter's Tea Swap 3. : ) I was a little worried when Suzie wrote this on the blog:
P.S. The swap is closed to new swappers for this round--I'm sorry, I just can't take on any new people. Please stay tuned for KTS4!
Even though I had an invitation to join in, the paranoid part of me kept wondering if I was going to be "uninvited" because I was new. But no, I am happy to say that I did, in fact, get in and my swap partner already sent me a very nice email. Whew! Worries abated!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Knitting for a Cause, Part 2

After I joined the Charmed Knits Knit-along last week (making Harry Potter hats), I stumbled upon the 25 Things for Charity group. So I figured, "Hey, why not keep the momentum going?" If anyone is interested in projects, Knitting for Peace is a great book and on deep discount (7o% off) on Amazon at the moment. Who knew you could buy good karma for only $5.99?

L. G. has nothing to do with my knitting tonight; she's just keeping me company while I write.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Still Life With Coffee and Yarn

still life with yarn
Originally uploaded by Hapagirl Knits.
This is my submission for the second contest that the Knitter's Coffee Swap is running. I was trying to organize my yarn stash when I came up with the idea for this picture. I love this yarn; it's Cascade's "The Heathers". The different brown tones in the yarn reminded me of coffee, so I threw it in the coffee pot, added my favorite mug, and some knitting I've been working on (the flower is the camellia from Noni Design).

I guess I should name the photo, "Things to do With a Broken Coffee Pot." Can you see the crack on the bottom? So sad.

So Much for the Yarn Diet

misti alpaca hand dyed
misti alpaca hand dyed,
originally uploaded by
Hapagirl Knits.
It's funny how selective willpower can be. If I'm on a diet (and not stressed out), I'm pretty good at resisting chocolate, cake, chips, etc. The thought of all the exercise I would have to do to reverse the effects of overindulgence usually keeps me in check ("I have to do how many minutes on the stair climber to get rid of this?").

Why isn't it ever that simple with yarn? My inner dialogue always seems to fail me. "Put it back. You told yourself you wouldn't buy any more yarn." I sigh and put it back. I take another lap around the yarn shop. Funny, I end up right in front of the magical skein in question. The colors are so pretty. (Warning: Embarrassing admission follows.) I pet the yarn. (whimper) But it's so soft. I like it. "No, you're on a yarn diet, remember? You have uku billion (pidgin for plenty) skeins at home. Where are you going to store it, anyway? Go find some yarn for your swap partner." I do the shopping I'm supposed to do and end up in front of the Misti Alpaca again. I just can't help myself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Socks, Socks, Socks

I almost called this post, "To Sock, or Not to Sock," but I think that might sound a bit perverse. Yeah, like writing that in the body of the blog makes it any better. (Note to self: don't blog when you should be sleeping).

My coffee swap partner knits the most fabulous socks. I'm jealous - she knits them fast, too. I've been wanting to try to knit socks. In fact, I have some books. I even have some sock yarn. So, you think I would at least try. But. I'm. Chicken.

Summer project: learn or teach myself how to knit socks. Questions: DPNs or circulars? Magic Loop or 2 circulars? Knit one at a time or both together? Any ideas/recommendations?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Knitting for a Cause

I wanted to kick start my knitting, so I've joined the Charmed Knits Knit-Along. I will be making hats inspired by the Harry Potter movies. They will be sending their hats to Warm Woolies, who will, in turn, distribute the hats. Funny enough, Article Pract (one of my favorite yarn stores) is also knitting for this organization. Warm Woolies has donated knitted articles to orphanages around the world, but what really clinched the deal for me was finding out that they donate to the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations (home of the Brule and Oglala Sioux) in South Dakota.

I remember driving through the reservation during summer visits to my dad's family (Dad was a farm boy turned accountant. It was his ticket off the farm). Most of these road trips were in the late 70's/early 80's when things were really bad on the reservation. It isn't something that is easily forgotten. It's been a while since I've been back to South Dakota; I had hoped things had improved, however I don't think they have. According to information on the Warm Woolies site, the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations have the lowest per capita income in the U.S. . . . I sit here shaking my head, thinking how shameful that is. It's hard enough coping with the weather in South Dakota (blizzards in winter, heat wave & drought in the summer); I can't imagine having to do that while living in substandard conditions.

Loosely translated, Lakota means "alliance of friends". Why not join an alliance of knitters and help keep someone warm this winter?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Gratuitous Cat Photo

Originally uploaded by Hapagirl Knits.

I've been messing around on this page's sidebar so much that I haven't blogged for a few days. I've actually been doing some knitting too (amazing, isn't it?) In the meantime, here's Zoey, about to make a break for it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Nice Night to Knit

It's cold and grey outside; the rain is slowly coursing down my windows. It's a perfect night to stay in and try to make a dent in my pile of unfinished objects. A good idea, since I am on a yarn diet until I actually finish something.

But first,
Knitting Psychos put out a call to Bay Area knitters to see if there are any knitting groups in the Dublin/Pleasanton area. If anyone knows of one give her a shout (or me too, for that matter). I don't know of any groups, but here are some yarn stores I frequent in the East Bay/Tri-Valley area:

1) Article Pract in Oakland - My cousin taught me how to knit. I forgot. I taught myself to knit...badly.
Article Pract taught me how to knit, and an obsession was born. One thing I love about this store is that no one makes me feel like an idiot when I ask a question. They have a good selection of yarns in various price points and a whole wall of needles and hooks, both wooden and nickel plate. The store offers free help twice a week and their classes are great!

2) Knit This! Purl That! in Pleasanton - This store used to be called Main Street Knits. The store has a new owner, a new look, and (obviously) a new name. If you like
Noni patterns, Knit This! Purl That! not only has the designs, but will be carrying everything you need to make the bags or flowers as specified by the designer. The owner is changing up the yarn selection by bringing in Lorna's Laces, Malabrigo, TOFUtsies, and Araucania yarns. I'm eager to see how the shop changes.

3) Stash in Berkeley - My sister always makes me drive over to see her, so why not occasionally throw in some yarn buying while I'm in the area?
Stash has a nice selection of Manos, among other things. The last time I was there, I was really impressed with the amount of sock yarn they had in stock. I may have to learn how to knit socks soon.....

4) Fashion-Knit in Walnut Creek - I stop in here every so often when I have to be in Walnut Creek. Nice store, helpful people.

5) Skein Lane in El Cerrito - Unfortunately, the retail end of this business closed last year, but classes and workshops are still offered through Skein Lane Studio.

I live about five miles away from my
local yarn store. Suffice to say, there are reasons why I drive out of my way for yarn, rather than go to my lys.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hello Kitty Hell?

Save me....they're multiplying...like rabbits.

The Shrine o'Kitty expands thanks to a sweet 8 year old who loves her teacher.
Makes me want to go goth.

Waiting for Inspiration to Strike

So much yarn...so little knitting going on...

Whenever I start a new hobby, I have a tendency to be really enthusiastic and want to get my hands on the things I need to make what I envision. Consequently, I have a hard time passing yarn up. I really like the colors of Manos del Uruguay, especially the variegated red skeins and the ocean colored skeins. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure what I am going to make, since I have the bad habit of only buying enough for a scarf. What can I make with two skeins of Manos? A hat? No, my head is ginormous and I look like a goober in hats. Some wrist warmers maybe? I wonder if it is enough to make something felted.

The yarn is actually brighter than this, I think I needed daylight for them to really "pop."

I'm lucky to live in the Bay Area, because Artfibers is in the city. (Given what happened on Sunday, I'm lucky that I don't have that commute!) Their Kyoto yarn is so soft and beautiful. It's 69% silk, 25% superkid mohair, and 6% extrafine wool. I love it...and of course, only enough for a scarf!

Honestly, I really am capable of knitting more than large rectangles. During the school year, I want something mindless to work on. No, make that mindless work with quick gratification. For me, scarves pretty much fill that description. Any suggestions?