Stash enhancement - Japanese style

Hello! Hello! I know it seems like I fell off the end of the earth with regards to this blog but I'm back and I can't wait to show you all of the busy things that I've been up to!

We were a little jet-lagged upon finally arriving at our hotel (after landing in Tokyo at 5am!) but were pleasantly surprised to have this view of Mt. Fuji from our window!

We were a little jet-lagged upon finally arriving at our hotel (after landing in Tokyo at 5am!) but were pleasantly surprised to have this view of Mt. Fuji from our window!

The biggest thing was an actual holiday trip with Jordan to Japan! Granted, it was more of a holiday for me than for him as he was there for work, but I tagged along and spent my days hopping on trains and criss-crossing Tokyo to see a few sights and a lot of yarn and craft shops!

The final soup stage of a delicious shabyu shabyu dinner being served up.

The final soup stage of a delicious shabyu shabyu dinner being served up.

The Giant Buddha at Kamakura.

The Giant Buddha at Kamakura.

We had three very full, very lovely days at the end of the trip where we were able to do all kinds of touristy things and it was wonderful to relax together - especially knowing that Mr. H was well taken care of by Grandma and Grandpa back in London.

I know it looks like mostly yarn, but the books were heavily in favour as stash enhancement on this trip, they're just buried underneath!

I know it looks like mostly yarn, but the books were heavily in favour as stash enhancement on this trip, they're just buried underneath!

I'm planning another blog post on all of the various shops that I visited, but let's just say there were quite a few! And of course I tried to find something different from all of them. 

The latest issue of Keitodama.

The latest issue of Keitodama.

Knitting designers Arne and Carlos even have a regular column in Keitodama - that's how popular colourwork is!

Knitting designers Arne and Carlos even have a regular column in Keitodama - that's how popular colourwork is!

Apparently two years ago there was a large contingent of Japanese knitters and yarn store owners who traveled to the UK for Woolfest in Cumbria. It seems to have made an impression as the latest issue of Japanese knitting magazine Keitodama was all about Fair Isle and various stranded colourwork.

One of the shops I visited had put together a beautiful book on their trip to the UK which includes some beautiful patterns and gorgeous photographs. I can't read it, but I thought the photos and patterns were too wonderful to leave behind. It was also the only way to get a photo for the shawl kit that I bought! (You also couldn't get the pattern for the shawl without buying the kit, which is why four balls of Isager, that I can easily get in the UK, came home with me from Tokyo!).

Knitting socks Japanese style! There's one in here for a garter stitch sock knit flat and seamed on the side that I'm looking forward to deciphering.

Knitting socks Japanese style! There's one in here for a garter stitch sock knit flat and seamed on the side that I'm looking forward to deciphering.

Two-at-a-time sock tutorial.

Two-at-a-time sock tutorial.

You'll remember that I'm not really a sock knitter but in another of the shops I found the cutest book with a wide variety of sock patterns. I really liked this one as there are photo tutorials (many Japanese craft books and magazines I looked at followed this format) for some clever techniques, including two-at-a-time socks! Won't it be funny if this book pushes me over the edge into sock knitting?!

The rest of the books were on weaving, Japanese cloth folding (called Furoshiki - kind of like origami, but with fabric), and some stitch pattern books - which I was surprised took me until my last day to find a selection to choose from that I was happy with. I also picked up a couple of pattern books of a Japanese designer after seeing someone in a knitting circle knitting one of her shawls. The designs are really lovely with wonderful textures.

Funnily enough, of the yarn I bought, it is the Lotus brand, which I can't remember if I'd heard of or not before being there. It's a Chinese brand, as opposed to Japanese but it was so soft and wonderful (the red yarn is 100% mink, the other three skeins are 100% yak) that I decided it had to come home with me. As luck would have it, I've now figured out it is available in the UK! Oh well, so much for trying to find something different!

Almost finished ball 5 of 10 of the Noro Silk Garden I'm using to knit the  Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole .

Almost finished ball 5 of 10 of the Noro Silk Garden I'm using to knit the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole.

But since I was so busy touring in Tokyo, my own knitting languished (not that I minded!). I'm off to pay it some attention as I'm on a bit of a deadline knitting a thank you present for my mom for looking after Mr. H. Appropriately, I'm knitting it in Noro...

Freak out Friday

You know after you have a cold you run around like crazy trying to catch up on all. of. the. things.? Yeah, that's kind of how my end of week is going. 

  Still life of the chaos on my desk right now.

 Still life of the chaos on my desk right now.

There's the upcoming GLYC (ticket registration closes on 7 September - do you have your tickets?), I'm trying to get prepped for work-work once the kiddo is back at school (observe the "devoirs de vacances" that we've been working on), and managing my son's hockey team is proving to be a major time suck. I'm hoping it's just because of beginning of season registration chaos.

On top of all that I'm still knitting mini-socks (less than a dozen to go!) and am contemplating doing something with that grey, chunky Toft alpaca leftover for their upcoming contest.  And then there's that pesky swatch for my Owls sweater. Can all of my knitting mavens please weigh in on the gauge issue since it's not always my forte?

  Look how beautifully that colour varies in the yarn!

 Look how beautifully that colour varies in the yarn!

Pattern gauge: 6.5mm needles, 13 stitches and 20 rows = 4 inches (stocking stitch worked in the round)
Swatch pre-blocking: 6.5mm needles, 13 stitches and 19 rows = 4 inches (stocking stitch knit flat)
Swatch post-blocking: 6.5mm needles, 12 stitches and 20 rows = 4 inches (stocking stitch knit flat)
Sweater so far (not blocked, obviously):  6.5mm needles, 13 stitches and 19 rows = 4 inches (stocking stitch worked in the round)

I feel like I'm close enough gauge-wise that it's okay for me to continue but I don't want the knitting to end up distorting the owls if the sweater ends up stretching a bit. The sweater is meant to be slim-fitting, with two inches of negative ease, and the instructions are to knit the size closest to, or just below your actual body measurements. If I were to knit this on 6mm needles instead, I'm not sure if I would run the risk of the sweater coming out to small.

So, thoughts? 

Sigh. You're all going to make me swatch on smaller needles, aren't you? 

Weekend WIPs

It's been a pretty good weekend here. I had a knitting class yesterday (learning steeks! eek!) and my little dude was at a playdate. Today I'm reciprocating for my girlfriend and her daughter is here. Its our turn to have our playroom destroyed but it sounds like the kids are having a terrific time.

With the kids amusing themselves, it's given me time to get my project pages on Ravelry updated, start the laundry and see if I can't organize my craft room a little more. With Christmas knitting and then New Year start-itis plus actual work-work and filing and stuff that never finished getting sorted when I first finished the mom cave - my personal space has been overwhelmed. Thankfully, my DH and I landed on an awesome spot together for making things a little more organized around here. I'm looking forward to it. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here's what I've been working on:

Chevron Baby Blanket from Purl Soho knit in Blue Sky Alpacas organic worsted cotton.

Honey Cowl - free pattern from Madelinetosh. Knit in Viola Silky DK in graphite.

It's too cold to go outside today. I think I'm going to put another load in the washing machine and settle in with my knitting while watching the kids play. You?