Monday, July 27, 2009


Even though both the British and the American speak English, they often use different terms for the same thing. For example: what the British calls crisps, the American calls chips. Chips to the British are French fries to the American.

I thought patchwork is patchwork, right? Not so. I just learn that what the British refers to as patchwork, the American calls it English Paper Piecing. American patch-work is generally machine-stitched together in geometrical blocks. English patchwork uses small patches such as hexagons and is usually worked by hand.

My patchwork is of the English variety. I know, on and off…I have been working on it over the years, sooooooooooo s-l-o-w. I picked it up again and made good progress though over the weekend.
I actually did a calculation and worked out that I roughly need 730 pieces. I have done 157 patches, just 573 more hexagons to go…not long now. One can always hope, right?

Friday, July 24, 2009


It has been so hot lately. In the first two weeks of July it was around 96ºf/36ºc during the day and it only went down to 90ºf/32ºc after ten o'clock at night. It is humid too. This week is slightly better; 90ºf/32ºc now and it will be about 84ºf/29ºc in late evening.

Too hot to play with wool right now, so I am giving knitting a break, done some sewing instead. Made two sets of night wear, good for this hot weather.
Simplicity 9505 (F & H)
McCall’s 4956 (C & D)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sewing Machines

I was giving my sewing machines a good clean up and oiling before doing some sewing. Just thought I would tell you about two bright ideas that friends have shared with me.

1: It's a good idea to have a piece of scrap fabric for each machine.
Whenever the machine is not in use, place the fabric between the presser foot and the needle plate and rest the foot. This prevents metal rubbing against metal and helps to prolong the life of the feed-dog teeth.
2: Have a mat for each machine. I made mine from a scrap of kitchen flooring material. I think it is called linoleum or sheet vinyl.

I turned the smaller mat to show the right side of the material. The right side touches the table and the machine sits on the wrong side.
When the machine sits on the mat, you can easily move it about; the heavy machine just simply glides away. Yet it is perfectly stationary when it is in use.
This way, you can easily create room to focus on your work without having to lift the machine, a real back saver.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wild Life in Our Garden – Squirrel Food

Squirrel – what do they eat?
Would your answer be...acorn? But the oak tree that has acorn does not grow here; it is too hot for them. We have many palm trees though and they are flowering now. This palm tree has already finished flowering and is producing big bunches of seeds. The seed turns red as it ripens and the squirrels here love them.
As usual Poppy was busy chasing squirrels this morning. In a hurry to get away from Poppy, the little squirrel dropped his breakfast. It’s the green one on the left. The middle one which has been completely hollowed out and the red one must have been last night’s dinner.
So, what do squirrel eat? Now, I would say that it all depends on where they live.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Shopping

I have been doing a bit of internet shopping for knitting and craft books, and a few sewing patterns. I usually buy my books from but not this time. I found better offers elsewhere.
KnitPicks offers 40% discount on all their books. I purchased “Knitting in the Old Way” from them which is cheaper than Amazon. I came across KnitPicks summer book sale by chance, so glad I did because I managed to buy the books I wanted at a really good price. Their book sale ends August 17.

YesAsia has a good selection of Japanese and Chinese craft/crochet books and their prices are nothing like what some ebay sellers are charging. The nice thing about YesAsia is that they offer free international shipping once your order is over US$39. Right now, they have a free shipping promotion for everything. It is air mail too, so it’s pretty fast.

I simply couldn’t resist when I saw this doggie book. It is written in Japanese though. Japanese language incorporates many Chinese characters so I read all the Chinese writing, but that’s only a small part. To overcome this language problem, I first scan the pattern instruction using HP Document Viewer into editable Japanese text, then copy and paste it onto GoogleTranslate so that I could read it in English. The rough translation plus the crochet charts printed on the book really help.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blue Berry Socks

When I want to knit in the rounds, I have always used 4 double pointed knitting needles. They normally sold them in sets of fours in the old days (in Hong Kong and in the UK).

After I moved to the U.S. I started using 5 double pointed knitting needles. Go with the flow, I thought, they come in sets of fives here.

Then I came across a discussion forum in Ravelry about knitting in the rounds with magic loops…Magic? I was intrigued.

It’s high time I learn a new knitting technique. I picked out my pattern for a pair of socks and cast on, knitting from the cuff down.
When it came to the parts where no shaping is involved, I was so tempted to move the socks to double pointed needles because I know I could do the knitting faster, but I persisted with this magic loops method.
I didn’t expect the feel good factor when I finished knitting; both socks came off the needles together. It was great.
I must say, I like this magic loops business, think I will use this technique more often from now on.

* * * * * *
Materials: Double Knitting Yarn
Knitting needle size: 3.25mm
Patterns: Berry Season (page 32) from 2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Epic Elephant Task

When I was working in the accounting department with a UK finance company, the finance director sent the whole department for training in Time Management. That was the first time I came across the term - an “elephant task”. An elephant task, our trainer told us, is a task that is so big, so overwhelming, involves so much effort and time, and very often it is something we want to avoid…so we keep putting it off. But it is also something that must be done if we stand any chance of achieving our goals.

Among my craft projects, I have three projects that are of the elephant size category: a patchwork, a table cloth and a spider wrap.

I first saw the spider pattern back in the 80's. It was far too complicated, and the size of the projcet was too overwhelming, so I carefully removed it from the magazine and safely stored it away…I thought one day.After I had purchased my first spinning wheel I started spinning the yarn required for this project. I showed the pattern to my husband but realised he doesn’t like spiders at all. So I gave up the bed cover but thought a spider shawl would still be nice. Over the years I kept spinning the yarn for the spider wrap, but somehow I always ended up using the yarn for something else.

It’s like I have a mental block, the shawl has become such a big elephant task, I have been putting it off and putting it off….well no more. May this year, I cast on the spider wrap. Hurrah! I have just finished my first spider. If I finish this in 2009 I might even enter it into the “Grand Prize - Epic FO” challenge. On Ravelry the finish-or-frog-it group issued a year-long challenge where you pick a project that you simply can’t frog, but that you’ve ignored for too long. This is a challenging pattern that requires dedication, concentration and determination.

Well, my spider wrap is certainly epic but not so daunting anymore. I am off to do some spinning now for 8 more spiders.