Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sweater for Jasmine

The very first project I tried to knit when I took up knitting seven years ago was a sweater for myself. I learned that gauge is important and you shouldn’t just cast on however many stitches the pattern tells you and assume it will work. Since then, I’ve successfully knit two sweaters for Lloyd, but hadn’t really got around to making another one for myself until recently.

I got the pattern from here and used wool yarn. Since I was using wool, making a 3/4 length sleeve seemed a little silly so I extended the sleeves to full length. To do this, I measured my wrist diameter and converted it to the number of stitches needed. Then I measured the extra sleeve length and added two stitches each 3/4″ in order to reach the pattern size by the time I reached the “bottom” of their sleeve. This worked out surprisingly well. The only problem that I had is that my wrists are a lot smaller than my hands so the sweater is a bit difficult to take on and off. On the plus side, this also makes it really warm.

For the rest of the sweater, I just followed the pattern. The sweater is knit in four pieces: front, back, and two sleeves. I attached the front and back together before I took a picture, but the rest is documented pretty well.

The front and back seamed together.

The front and back seamed together.

I also added edging detail to the collar by picking up stitches all around the edge and knitting a couple of rows. It makes it look so much nicer!

I also added edging detail to the collar by picking up stitches all around the edge and knitting a couple of rows. I learned this from the knitting book and it makes it look so much nicer!

A sleeve as knit.

A sleeve as knit.

I do recommend pinning pieces together before you seam them. That way, the piece won't stretch more on one side then the other.

I do recommend pinning pieces together before you seam them. That way, the piece will stay relatively even as you go.

The finished sweater.

The finished sweater.

It actually fits!

It actually fits!

I really like this sweater, but it’s not really wool sweater weather in Sunnyvale anymore. I think I’ll have to make a warmer weather version – after I work through my sewing backlog.

Bike Mitts

Since it never really gets cold in the Bay Area, I find myself trying to solve weird clothing problems. This week’s problem is that when it below about 65 F, the backs of my hands really dry out no matter how much lotion I put on them. It’s too warm to wear actual gloves, so I took some inspiration from the ’80s and some left over yarn and made myself some biking mitts.

Mostly knit while watching cycling videos. We may have got a little excited about the start of the season.

Mostly knit while watching cycling videos. We may have got a little excited about the start of the season.

They were really easy to make and, after trying them out this morning, do a really good job preventing my hands from drying out. The pattern can be found here: BikingMitts.

I think this concludes the projects for keeping my hands warm for a while. On to something different!

Football Baby Rattle

I had made my niece a baseball bat rattle when she was born, so when my nephew was born I couldn’t leave him in the lurch; for his first Christmas I made him a football baby rattle. Since the Super Bowl is coming up this weekend, I thought that I would share how I made it.

Bet that you can't guess my Nephews name

Bet that you can’t guess my nephew’s name.

What you are going to need is some 3/4″ thick cherry, some 1-1/4″ cherry, and some 1/4″ maple lumber as your raw materials. For tools, you will need a wood clamp, a 1/2″ drill bit, a 1-3/8″ spade drill, some sandpaper, and a saw. I used a coping saw but any saw would work.

The bottom right drawing is the final version.

The bottom right drawing is the final version.

So the first step is to cut out all of the wood parts. You need to make the following:

– 2x 3/4″ thick cherry. 1-7/8″ Diameter with a 1/2″ diameter hole 3/8″ deep.
– 2x 1/4″ thick maple. 2″ Diameter with a 1/2″ through hole.
– 1x 3/4″ thick cherry. 2-1/8″ Diameter with a 1-3/8″ through hole.
– 1x 1-1/4″ thick cherry. 2-1/8″ Diameter with a 1-3/8″ through hole.

mmm Donuts.

Mmm donuts.

Now you stack up the wood in a clamp as shown in the picture below and glue it together.

As you can see I made the central cherry a little to large in diameter, but no worries you can just cut is away later.

As you can see, I made the central cherry a little too large in diameter, but no worries, you can just cut it away later.

Now you use a saw and rough cut away everything that won’t be part of the football later. Then for the really boring bit – sanding. It will take about an hour with 40 grit to rough it into shape. A good trick is pressing a 1/2″ bar though the central holes, then using a cordless drill as a primitive lathe.  After you rough it, go down all the way to about 200 grit paper.

Next step is filling the rattle with whole grain black pepper which will act as the rattle. Then you glue on the final 3/4″ cap as shown below.

The Final Gluing.

The final gluing.

When the glue has set, take your saw and rough cut the cap, then sand it 40-80-200. At this point, use 400 grit and give everything a nice smooth finish.

Now the rattle is done but for the final touches. To add the laces and the name, the first step is to sketch them on with pencil until you are happy with the layout; then you are going to burn the wood. To do this, I used a standard electronics soldering iron with a sharp tip and traced the pencil marks. Use a tip that you never soldered with. I keep one specially for wood burning.

So the final step is wood finishing. Now, there are not a lot of options for baby safe finishes so I just used food grade mineral oil with 2 applications a day for 3 days leading to a coat that has held up for a couple years and running in some other applications – at least for indoor and only gently chewed.

So there you are: a football baby rattle. One last work of caution, for children’s toy you should follow some rules, mainly no sharp points and not fitting through a 1-3/8″ diameter hole. Enjoy!

Bet that you can't guess my Nephews name

It’s Jackson.

Birthday Vest

A little over a year ago, my brother told me a story about wearing a denim shirt and a blue jeans. He said people were making fun of his “red neck tuxedo” and he thought, “What if I actually had a denim tuxedo? That would be kind of fun.” Thus, I decided to make him a blue jean tuxedo vest for his birthday.

It was actually a pretty fun project; I’d never made a tuxedo vest before or worked with denim. I started with a pattern for an Oxford shirt and modified from there. There was a lot of going back and forth between measuring Lloyd’s suit vest and then drafting corresponding shapes on some muslin. Weirdly, Lloyd has about the same torso width as both my brothers, so I made him try on the muslin mock up and tell me if it needed any changes. After a few tweeks, I got started on the actual vest.

This is the fabric I used for the back. I even put in an adjustable band. Mainly because my brother wasn't there to try it on.

This is the fabric I used for the back. I even put in an adjustable band. Mainly because my brother wasn’t there to try it on.

I found jean buttons for the vest!

I found jean buttons for the vest!

The finished product. The t-shirt and ripped up shorts, I think, set off this look particularly well.

The finished product. The t-shirt and ripped up shorts, I think, set off this look particularly well.

So definitely the most red neck thing I’ve ever made, but it was amusing. Hopefully my brother has as much fun with it as we did making it.

Alviso County Parks

One of the Santa Clara County Parks that we used to go to a fair bit, but haven’t been to in a while is Alviso. We tried kayaking down the Alviso Slough once; it was a 10 mile round trip in effectively a swampy ditch, not recommended. Most of the time we used it as a nice flat running circuit when we were training for a marathon.

We went back this weekend for a nice cycle and hike trip. It was an interesting day of a 20 mile bike there and back and a pleasant 10 mile hike when we were there. The park is one of the prettiest on the bay; you are walking on top of dikes surrounded by salt ponds and marshes. It is a bit hidden at the base of the bay, but worth finding.

The only issue is that they appear to be doing a lot of construction in the park itself now, and the main circuit trail is blocked up with construction equipment. Hopefully that will be finished soon and the park will go back to its serene self.

Construction :(

Construction :(

The Marshes are very full of birds, but they are usually impossible to see till they all pop out at once.

The marshes are very full of birds, but they are usually impossible to see till they all pop out at once.

The Salt ponds change colors based on what angle you see them from. This angle is a beautiful mirror blue.

The salt ponds change colors based on what angle you see them from. This angle is a beautiful mirror blue.

New Boat – Finished

Finally launched the new boat for the first time this year; the winds got over 5 mph at highish tides during daylight hours for the first time. The boat also now has a traditional bad joke name:”Sherwood” as in “sure would be nice to be out sailing”.

The boat sails pretty well and we went on a 3 mile round trip in 2 hours. Our GPS had us maxed out at 2 mph! That being said, the wind was from the north and the tide was flying to the north so our downwind water speed was probably more like 4 mph. It could tack alright upwind with the lug sail, maybe 50-60 deg off the wind. Also, after having spent Christmas sailing in a catamaran, the dinghy turns on a dime even if it doesn’t have the grunt of the cat.

So now we are going to try to find a good weather day to do a day trip around the South Bay – hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Finished boat in the backyard. I love the boat but I think that we might need a v3 on the sail.

Finished boat in the backyard. I love the boat, but I think that we might need a v3 on the sail.

A sailing selfie! One downside of a small (8'4") boat is it is a little cramped, especially as I am 6'4" tall.

A sailing selfie! One downside of a small (8’4″) boat is it is a little cramped, especially as I am 6’4″ tall.

We had to head in a little early than planned, as you can see it got a little foggy. We could only see 30 ft, and we actually sailed for about 10 minutes from when the fog rolled in till we made it close enough to see the shore again.

We had to head in a little earlier than planned; as you can see, it got a little foggy. We could only see 30 ft, and we actually sailed for about 10 minutes from when the fog rolled in till we made it close enough to see the shore again.

New York, New York (N40.82 W73.95)

We went to visit Jasmine’s brothers after New Years in New York and, as for our normal city visit, we hiked all over the place. I’m more used to midtown and downtown but, as he has lived in Harlem and Brooklyn, we saw a little bit of a different side of the city.  We went to a couple of good places to eat and drink; our favorites were:

Jin Ramen – In west Harlem, on par with our SF Ramen
Paulaner Brewery- On Bowery downtown, really good beer in a cool location
And a really good grits place in Brooklyn that I do not remember the name of.

As SF Giants fans we had to visit the old polo grounds in Manhatten where the NY Giants used to play. They left up some of the stairs which is cool. In a wierd turn of events it turns out my grandpa was a old NY Giants fan which is cool.

As SF Giants fans, we had to visit the old polo grounds in Manhattan where the NY Giants used to play. They left up some of the stairs, which is cool. In a weird turn of events, it turns out my grandpa was a old NY Giants fan which is cool.

We went super tourist and took our picture on the Brooklyn Bridge. I also photo-bombed someone on the other side.

We went super tourist and took our picture on the Brooklyn Bridge. I also photo-bombed someone on the other side.

We went on the Highline for a while and it was pretty nice. I love the repurchased industrial space as park concept.

We went on the Highline for a while and it was pretty nice. I love the repurposed industrial space as park concept.

Travel Knitting Update

While in North Carolina, I did a post about my travel knitting projects. I finished the green mitten and was pretty happy with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough yarn for the second mitten so this project is on hold until I get more yarn. However, I have the pattern written up here: EvergreenMittens.

I really like the evergreen design and I think that the cotton yarn makes these mitten perfect for winter in California - when it gets, well, coolish.

I really like the evergreen design and I think that the cotton yarn makes these mittens perfect for winter in California – when it gets, well, coolish.

Because I had some free time and I like having a project, I then used the yarn leftover from another Christmas present to make a second version of these mittens in red wool. I wish I was able to finish them when I was on the East Coast where it actually gets cold, but no such luck. I think this pair turned out better. The pattern for these are here: EvergreenMittensv2.

The second pair. I actually finished both of these.

The second pair. I actually finished both of these.

I was pretty happy with the way both of these mittens turned out, especially since this was my second attempt at making a pattern. I feel this is a skill that may prove a bit of distraction in the weeks to come.

Lloyd’s Birthday Dinner

One of the posts in my backlog is the meal that I made for Lloyd on his birthday. I didn’t go as all out as he did for my birthday, but I did make one of our favorite everyday meals.

Pie crust with sugar as an appetizer. I usually make this when I make quiche since the recipe makes two pie crust shells.

Pie crust with sugar as an appetizer. I usually make this when I make quiche since the recipe makes two pie crust shells.

Bacon and spinach quiche - Lloyd's favorite.

Bacon and spinach quiche – Lloyd’s favorite.

And ice cream cake for desert. I'm still working on my ice cream cake assembly skills, but it's only my forth ice cream cake.

And the traditional ice cream cake for dessert. I’m still working on my ice cream cake assembly skills, but it’s only my fourth ice cream cake.

Mount Cardigan (N43.65 W71.92)

We went up to New Hampshire to visit some old college friends and had a blast. We are both quite jealous of their home in the woods.

The view out of the kitchen window. Sometimes the Northeast feels this way. PS don't ask about the gnomes.

The view out of the kitchen window. Sometimes the Northeast feels this way. P.S. don’t ask about the gnomes.

We went on a walk and this is the view about 10 minutes from their hose. I'm officially jealous.

We went on a walk and this is the view about 10 minutes from their hose. I’m officially jealous.

But our hosts were under the weather with the flu and sent us on our way up one of their favorite local hikes: Mount Cardigan. We are used to a little bit of a snowy hike in the Sierras so, armed with a fair bit of borrowed cold weather gear, we went ahead up the mountain.

I did this hike before in the summer a couple of years ago, but this was Jasmine’s first time. I would say it is a very good standard Appalachian style hike up a hill and through a bunch of deciduous and evergreen forests. There is something really pleasant about hiking in the crisp winter through the woods and this time was no different. Also, New Hampshirites agreed as we saw probably 20 people and a fair number of dogs on the hike.

The one thing Mt. Cardigan has that is rare for the area is a bare top, I think due to a fire a couple of decades ago, and thus a commanding view. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the top as three quarters of the way up, we were stopped by an icy trail over a steep hill and we judged our proficiency with icy hikes to not be up to the task and thus turned around. This might be the first time I was prudent on a winter hike of my own volition; maybe I’m growing up.

The start of the trail (well after we hike down the mile of closed road)

The start of the trail (Well, after we hiked down the mile of closed road.).

There was alot of ice on the trail, but we used some borrowed microspikes, kind of snow chains for your feet, and they were very helpful and necissary

There was a lot of ice on the trail, but we used some borrowed microspikes, a kind of snow chains for your feet, and they were both very helpful and necessary.

The ice waterfalls where we turned around.

The ice waterfalls where we turned around.

And a picture of me for a change.

And a picture of me for a change.