Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pattern: Stripey Fingerless Mitts

Today a knitter asked me how many stitches I cast on for this project.  And I totally forgot about this pair of mitts I made 2 years ago.  I looked at my notes and realized I had most of the pattern written, even in different sizes.  

To make up for my slipping mojo of blogging since the election, I decided to post the pattern here.
Disclaimer, the pattern has not been test knitted, nor tech edited like I usually do.
Downloadable PDF link is provided below. 

I hope you all have a great 2017 ahead and stay warm for the winter.
My needles are busy, but I'm a bit lazy about taking photos lately.  I promise I will get back to blogging more. 

Stripey Fingerless Mitts

Sizes  Small (Medium, Large)
7 ½” (8”,  8 ½” ) around  x 12 ½” tall  / 19 (20.5, 21.5) cm around x 32 cm tall.
Yarn  Fingering Weight
Needles  US #2 / 2.75 mm  or change needle to obtain gauge
Gauge  28 stitches x 40 rows =  4” x 4” /  10 cm x 10 cm
  • ·         Knit mitten in round from cuff to fingers.
  • ·         Put thumb sts on waste yarn to be worked later.
  • ·         Continue to knit in round to fingers.
  • ·         Work thumb stitches in round.

k  knit
p  purl
st(s)  stitch(es)
CO  Cast On
BO  Bind Off
rep  repeat
pm  place marker
sm  slip marker

Illustration Link
A photo illustraion showing the process of making thumb opening:

Stripey Fingerless Mitts

With yarn A, CO 52 (56, 60) sts, join in round and pm for beginning of round.
Next round: sm, [k1, p1] to end.
Repeat last round for 5 more rounds.

Join yarn B and k 2 rounds in yarn B.
K 2 rounds in yarn A.
Repeat last 4 rounds for 14 more times.
Cut yarn B, work with yarn A only from this point on.

K 32 rounds, lengthen or shorten here.

Next round, thumb opening:
Right mitten:  k1, k8 with a 15” / 38 cm scrap yarn, slip the 8 knitted sts in scrap yarn back to left needle, k the 8 sts again with original yarn, continue with original yarn and k to end of round.
Left mitten:  k17 (19, 21), k8 with a 15” / 38 cm scrap yarn, slip the 8 knitted sts in scrap yarn back to left needle, k the 8 sts again with original yarn, continue with original yarn and k to end of round.

K 19 rounds.
Next round, decrease:  [k11 (12, 13), k2tog] 4 times.  –  total 48 (52, 56) sts
Next round:  [k1, p1] to end.
Rep last round for 4 more rounds.
BO all sts in pattern.

Pick up 8 stitches below the scrap yarn,  and pick up8 sts above the scrap yarn with second needle.
Pull out the scrap yarn.

Next round:
Right mitten:  begin at the stitches above the gap, k8, pick up and k 2 corner sts,  continue to k8 of the stitches below the gap, pick up and k 2 corner sts.  –  total 20 sts
Left Mitten:  begin at the stitches below the gap, k8, pick up and k 2 corner sts,  continue to k8 of the stitches above the gap, pick up and k 2 corner sts.  –  total 20 sts

K 9 more rounds.

Next round: [k1, p1] to end.
Rep last round for 4 more rounds.
BO all sts in pattern.

Weave in all ends.
Block the mittens to shape. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thank you!

Thank you all for your pattern purchase in November.
A donation of 60% of pattern sales was made to Planned Parenthood this week.

Monday, November 14, 2016

RIP, Ms Ifill

Just when I thought it cannot get worse. RIP Gwen Ifill

Ms Ifill, thank you so very much for the best, and exemplary journalism you'd provided.
Washington Week is the only program both Paul and I must tune in every week.  It just won't be the same without your presence.

I can't even express my sorrow.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sad and Scarry

On Tuesday morning, I woke up with  a big smile on my face.  I thought to myself, "we're going to make history today!"

After voting, Paul and I went out to brunch, and we talked about how much we'll miss Obama, but so excited about our first woman president.

Little did we realize HOW MUCH we really are going to miss President Obama.
The unthinkable happened,

I have been oscillating between anger and feeling despair since Tuesday evening.  I cannot stop crying. I never thought an election would make me so emotional.  Even back when George W Bush was elected I was pissed off but I never cried.

I realized I live in a country where half of the people may not see or want me as equal.  I realized half of the people can overlook or condone bigotry and hatred and voted for someone who has built his campaign based on hatred towards people like me.

Now, I am not OK with the talk of moving forward, working together.  The pain is too raw.
I can't, because I can't change who I am, a minority immigrant woman. I can't come to terms with knowing many of my neighbor, my coworkers, my students voted for bigotry.

On Wednesday,  I got few emails from colleagues about work.  They continued with their normal life while I felt like the world is falling apart.  I dragged myself to work.  I had to nod my head while they're excited about getting new computers for the classrooms. I was so numb. Students chatted, joked, though no one talked about politics, but no one acted like things were out of ordinary.  A Bernie Bro student said, "you must be upset."  I wanted to scream at him "FUCK YOU!" but I just ignored him and walked away.

No, I don't want to hear why half of the country voted the way they did.  Good for them that they can feel safe in a country that is taking a huge step backward in time when minorities, women, and LGBTQ were not treated as equal.  But we don't, we don't feel safe, so I don't care, not now, why they voted the man who spew all kinds of hate into power.

No, I don't want to hear about how Bernie or others could win.  Don't tell me shattering the glass ceiling is secondary.  It upsets me to hear that the only way to fight sexism is with an old white man.

I can't stop feeling very emotional.
One thing I can do is:

I will be donating 60% of pattern sales from November 2016 to Planned Parenthood. 
This is the place where I got my first annual check up in my early 20s, also the first place I got my birth control pills for free.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I'm with Her

I got a new hat pattern - I'm with Her.  It's free and available via Ravelry

Did you hear Michelle Obama's speech yesterday? If you haven't, you should. Both Paul and I had tears in our eyes listening to our first lady.

But, this hat is not just about against Trump and all the vile things he'd said and done.  It's about supporting a very qualified candidate who also happens to be a woman.

I have a lot of respect for Hillary's grit.  She may not come across as a warm and sweet mom and grandma the way our society expects woman to be like, but she is tough, intelligent, knowledgeable, and eperienced.

She fought for universal health care, a very important issue to me, when she was the first lady and knowing well she'd be the target of much hate.  She endured a lot of mud slinging since then and is still willing to do the job as our president.  She is my president.  I'm with Her.

After Hillary's term as president, I would like to nominate Michelle Obama as our president in 8 years :)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trip of a Life Time - Part 4

After Thimphu, we proceeded to Phobjikha Valley.  The drive was 8 hours over mostly unpaved road. We had to applaud our driver Nangay's skill.  Most of the time we were driving along cliff side, and 2 way traffic on mostly single lane, unpaved road.  We all got slightly nervous when coupla times the van got a bit stuck in the mud. Fortunately, it only started raining the last 1/4 of the way so the road wasn't as muddy as it could've been.

View from Dochu La looking out into the Himalaya range

Vendors selling produce along the side of the road. 
Our driver Nangay bought a giant cucumber and shared it with us.

We started very early in the morning, and drove over Dochu La pass, had lunch in Punaka, and continued on to Gangtey.  It was raining and late in the day when we arrived at our hotel. The stay at Gangtey Lodge was amazing, and the most awesome part was we were the only guest for the 2 days we were there. The view of the Phobjikha valley was beyond breathtaking, just endlessly green.  

view from the hotel

view from my room.  Even though I'm really not a bath tub person,
 I did soak in it for 5 minutes.

The next day we visited the Gangtey Goemba temple. It was on top of small hill with a tiny village leading up to it.

Then the real highlight was our hike through the valley, passing the area where Black Neck Cranes would migrate in November.  The hike was easy and beautiful.  It first went through potato fields, then through the woods, and then back on more pastures.  This was probably my favorite hike of all the places we went, and the only hike where we saw no other tourists at all, just us.

tiny village of Gangtey led to Gangtey Goemba.

a house in the village

Gangtey Goemba

Most tourists don't make it to Phobjikha because it takes so long to get there and the road condition is not the most comfortable.  Once we're there, it was such a treat to be away from the more well-trodden places.  It was quiet, beautiful, and peaceful. Even our guide Deechan said she would love to live in Phobjikha one day. She joked that maybe she can marry someone from here.  She also pointed out people in Phobjikha look slightly different (not that I could tell the differences immediately) because they're nomad origin and they have more reddish cheeks, more similar to the Tibetan look I suppose.

Farmers harvesting potatoes.  It immediately made me think of Van Gogh's drawing

Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha was truly a gem that made the long and rough drive really worth it.  The whole Bhutan was like being in Shangri-La, but Phobjikha tops all for me. It also didn't hurt that half of the time we were there it was gently misty, then it was sunny and beautiful during our hike until the last 10 minutes when it started to drizzle. I felt like I walking in a dream.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Trip of A Life Time - Part 3

Cheri Goemba

On the second day in Thimphu, we hiked up to Tango-Cheri Goemba, a monstary and Buddhism college that was at the outskirt of the capital.

The hike was not long, about 45 minutes or so, but it was steep.  By the time we got to the monastery, everyone was feeling the steepness and the altitude. Our guide made the driver hike up with us.  Halfway up the driver wanted to turn around. We kept up cheering him along, he finally made it to the monastery with us.

As we were touring the monastery, a foreign young lady walked by and said to us if we'd like to see their work of conservation of ancient wall paintings.  She exclaimed that they very rarely get tourists coming by because no one knows they're there working.

A team of about half a dozen young people from around the world were working on the conservation of the ancient wall painting in the monastery.  I got to chat with few of them and asked about their conservation work and their findings, as well as the material the wall was painted originally.  They all recently got their master degrees in Conservation from University of London.  They had been coming to the Goemba for few years now and 4 month each time. While the conservation work cured, they'd go to other conservation sites around the world.

I was very impressed. I was also envious of their work.  Every morning they'd hike up the mountain and work on the beautiful old paintings.

It really was a neat experience to see them working.  I had been to backrooms of museums to tour restorations but I'd never seen conservation on site until now. Also, having many art friends myself also meant having to listen to egos. Often, that ego was paired with an arrogance of caring about nothing else in art but what was immediately relevant. It was sad that this disregard and willful ignorance of art older than 50 years old seemed to be not uncommon among artists that I know. It was even more disturbing to notice many college art programs fostered that notion of caring about only the hot and the trendy art.  So the chanced encounter with these young people from England, China, Korea, Columbia, etc, working on the conservation felt really good. It was a treat to chat with people that have a deep appreciation of art and culture and worked in painstakingly slow pace, no rush, no ego. It was a total treat to see the paintings that most tourists are unaware of. Our guide Deechan said she'd never been to that part of the temple and never seen the paintings all these years of taking tourists to the Goemba.  The colors used on these paintings were derived from the natural pigments were much more subdued than the bright, saturated colors that tend to be used in the newer temples in Bhutan. The overall composition were the most beautiful and thoughtful one I've seen in the the whole trip to Bhutan.

I don't have any photo to share how amazingly beautiful the paintings were as no photographing were understandably  allowed in any temples.

local Bhutanese visiting the Goemba

After lunch back in town, we visited the ongoing building site of the big Buddha statue and its temple.
The project was funded by a millionaire from Hong Kong. People of Thimphu seemed to be happy with the shiny giant golden Buddha being built on the mountain visible from the city

The last visit of the day was to Trashii Chhoe Dzong, where both the Thimphu administrative government and the leading temple were located. We had to put on our long sleeve shirts to visit Dzongs.  Dzongs were basically fort structures that housed both municipal government as well as the main official temple of the area with large courtyards between the buildings that often held festivals. This one in Thimphu was impressive. This was also where the king of Bhutan worked. His modest palace was right next door. Speaking of the king, Bhutanese really love and revere their king. The king's picture was everywhere in the country.

Deechan explained to us that Bhutanese don't have last names. Only the royals have last name, so it wouldn't be proper and respectful if commoners have last names.

Trashii Chhoe Dzong

After returning to the hotel, we walked around the one block downtown nearby.  Yes, the downtown of capital of Bhutan basically was just one block, and no traffic light.  In fact, there was no traffic light in the entire country. In the late afternoon the downtown was happening with many young people walking around. Many stores were like corner store type that sell soda, cookies, etc. Some were clothing stores, and there were quite a few cell phone fixing places, only a handful of souvenir stores on the block.  We bought some drinks and chips and headed back to the hotel to hunker down for the evening as there was not much to do at night. I asked Deechan what do young people like herself do at night, she smiled and said, "Karaoke." 

She warned us not to walk around downtown after dark because all the stray dogs would come out. She said there is probably more stray dogs than people in Bhutan. The good thing is, according to the guide, city governments are starting to spay and neuter the stray dogs.  If a dog's ear is clipped that means the dog has been fixed.

We started noticing our guide Deechan would pat any stray dog that came up to her, and sometimes she would feed them. She would talk to the cats, dogs, cows and chat with old folks. She laughed and said, "I'm loud, that's why the old people all like me. They can hear me."  She said many people feed stray dogs.  Temples feed stray dogs too.  

Downtown Thimphu

Dogs chilling in the afternoon on Thimphu street

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Saddle Shoulder Sweater

A quick interruption to my travel post.  I finished a new sweater.

The yarn was Knit One Crochet Too Brae Tweed.  Needles US #7.
I wish the neck didn't stretch out so it wouldn't be so floppy when buttoned.  Oh well.

It was knitted in round from top down in one piece.  No sewing. yeepee.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Trip of a Lifetime - Part 2

Then Bhutan!!
Bhutan, oh Bhutan. I've been back home for 3 weeks now.  It was not only because the busy new semester with the most stupid drama after drama created unnecessarily by people (what an unfortunate way to be welcomed back,) but I just couldn't figure out a way to write about my trip properly.

I'm certain part of me have changed because of this trip. It was like I'd peered into an alternative world that showed a different way of living. And that way of living leads a deeper sense of contentment and thus a stronger appreciation of life.

After Taiwan, it was so nice to be somewhere not nearly as humid.  Bhutan was a lot dryer, though not as super dry as here in Nevada, but very pleasant to walk around.  Coming from about the similar altitude of 6000 to 7000 ft above sea level, I felt right at home.  

Yes, Bhutan, in many ways reminded me of Tahoe, but with taller and steeper mountains and wider range of greeneires besides evergreens.  Bhutan was so green, and mountains everywhere.  I have never been to Tibet, but according to Ellen, Tibet was much more desolated landscape in contrast to the greens in Bhutan. Most of the towns we visited were situated deep in narrow valleys carved by the rivers over time.

You can't talk about Bhutan without talking about the landscape because that is what made the culture and its people.  Bhutanese' relationship to the land is very different than what we're used to.  Rather than seeing land as something to take advantage of or to be conquered, there's is a deep respect, and there is a humbleness towards the land. This was obvious in the way our guide talked about places.

Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan

We flew from Taipei into Bangkok and changed flight there.  Bhutan airline is currently the only airline that flies into Bhutan.  Its current route starts at Bangkok with a quick stop in Kolkata in India, and lands in Paro.  

On the flight, I chatted with the young Bhutanese man who sat next to me.  He told me the education in Bhutan is free for all its citizens.  If grades are good, the government would pay for college education oversea.  Many young people choose to go to India and sometimes Thailand for college education. In return they'd work in public sectors for at least few years upon finishing their education oversea.  Also, basic health care is free for the entire country.  That was the first time in my life I'd ever heard people talk about their love of their government. I came to find out during the trip that sentiment seems to be shared by the entire country. Everyone in Bhutan believes their government is taking good care of them (of course, we didn't go to South Bhutan where there was the history of Nepalese speaking people being kicked out of the country.)

I'd flown into many places in my life, but never had I seen an airport where every passenger that got out of the plane being so enthralled with the landscape around.  Everyone stood on the tarmac and was taking photos of the view around.  It felt magical to land in the middle of beautiful mountains and clear sky as the backdrop as if we're indeed landed in Shagri-la.

Paro Airport

Paro Airport

Our guide, Deechan, greeted us after we exited the custom. She turned out to be this amazingly wonderful, knowlwedgeble, fun, easy-going, and kind, young lady we absolutely adored. Our driver was Nangay, a big, quiet guy with shy smiles that reminded me of my brother.  Both Deechan and Nangay accompanied us the entire trip. Our group was small, just the 4 of us plus the guide and driver.

On our drive from Paron to Thimphu, the capital, we stopped by a roadside temple that had a suspended chainlink bridge over a roaring river that swinged quite a bit as we walked across. It was our first encounter with the many, many temples we visited on our trip.
Deechan said to me, "All my years of taking people here, I'd never seen anyone who was fearless and just confidently walked across the bridge the way you did."  I laughed, maybe I had plenty of confidence in Bhutanese engineering, or maybe I was just too excited to be fearful.

At Thimphu, we had a late lunch at a restaurants that was obviously catered to tourists only.  I later learned that there just are not many local restaurants as Bhutanese people don't really go out to eat. We had our first introduction to Ema Datsi, the most common Bhutanese dish with chili peppers cooked in watery cheese sauce.  Ellen and I instantly became addicted to it.  Later in the market, we saw stalls after stalls selling chili peppers of all kinds.

Market in Thimphu

incense stall

After lunch we visited National Memorial Chorten.  The place was quite happening. Many old folks like to come here to pray and hang out.  Deechan joked that if people need to find their Grandma or Grandpa in the middle of the day, they'd try to come here first.  At the Chorten, I had my first introduction to walking clock-wise around the prayer wheel 3 times that's unique to the Himalayan Buddhism.

National Memorial chorten