Sunday, November 27, 2011

Swing vest

Seaming this little vest took 2 nights. Knitting the picot neckline and hiding the yarn ends took another night. Sewing the buttons and button loops and steam blocking it took one more night. So the finishing alone took 4 nights. This is fast for me, because I couldn't wait to get it done.

Pattern: Vest is from this Japanese magazine: ISBN 4939459629646
Yarn: RYC Cashcotton 4-ply 4 balls
Needles: 4 mm

I like how this yarn knits up into a fuzzy soft and extremely light fabric. Sadly it's discontinued.

There are many little details in this vest, like the ribbed cap sleeves. I like how they fit.

The lace yoke and picot neckline. I knitted a picot folded hem neckline because I didn't like the rolled stockinette neckline in the pattern. Instead of sewing down the inside hem, I knitted it onto the purl bumps on the inside. At first the picots kept getting skewed and I kept ripping trying to get it right. Then I realised the picots were skewed because the knit stitch and the purl bumps were not properly aligned because I couldn't see clearly and was skipping some purl bumps without realising it.. In the end I threaded a contrasting thread through the row of purl bumps so that I could see them better.

The button loops made by using blanket stitches over 2 loops of yarn. The buttons were a lucky find. Gunmetal grey buttons that have the same colour inside the scroll pattern as the yarn.

The back lace yoke. The photo in the magazine did not show the back so I didn't know that there was this pretty feature at first.

Edited to add another photo of the back yoke.

The swingy shape and 2 lace patterns on the "skirt" of the vest. By the way, the lace at the hem is the same as the lace at the yoke, although it looks different. I used to think that I prefer to wear plain stockinette sweaters rather than those with fussy intricate lace designs. Now, I'm not so sure. I think sometimes it's a matter of how and where the lace is placed and I guess my taste also changes over time. I really, really like everything about this vest :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

on the home stretch

This vest is on the home stretch, everything is seamed. I'm now in the middle of knitting the neckline and then there's the button loops left and hiding the yarn ends. I don't know when I can get round to buying the buttons. But I couldn't wait to show you this progress pic. I think I'm going to love this vest more than anything I've knitted!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

building a wardrobe, knitting & sewing

I was reminded of a couple of pointers on building a wardrobe from Chic Simple's Womens-Wardrobe and What Should I Wear.
  • Survey and Assess
    • Think about life needs. Currently that's work and home, so my clothing needs are for these 2 areas of my life - workdays and weekends
    • Wear what I feel good in. I like to wear simple clothes to work. I'm mostly jeans and tshirts on weekends but I'm open to more fun dressing on weekends
  • Dejunk and Recycle
    • Clear out items that are thread bare,out-dated or no longer fit.
  • Renew and Reinvest
    • Shop my closet. Re-mix clothes to give me new outfits
    • Renew. Refashion old items and make them new again 
    • Reinvest. I bought new black pants and pencil skirts for work at a recent sale. I like to wear separates for work and these new additions go with everything and will last for many seasons. 
To start off shopping my closet and re-mixing my clothes, I came up with this "new" weekend outfit. I should re-mix more often because it is fun to create new outifts from my old clothes.

  1. A racer back tank top that I shortened because the back hem was too long 
  2. My crochet vest
By the way, knitting and sewing fits nicely into this whole scheme of building a wardrobe. Take this vest (below) that I am knitting now, for example. When it is done, it will fill a gap in my wardrobe. I need a vest to go over a plain tshirt on weekends. I should hurry and knit up the 2 front pieces as soon as possible.

Monday, November 07, 2011

easy "claypot" chicken rice in rice cooker

The last 2 weekends have been somewhat exhausting. The last weekend in October was the fleamarket, which went well. Although I spent most of the time seated under the shade of an umbrella, it was a very hot day and I sweated buckets. At the end of the day I felt like I had run miles on the treadmill.

This weekend, we went to MacRitchie Reservoir to check out the treetops trail. It was a 5 km trek through a gravel nature trail to the tree tops suspension bridge and another 5 km trek around the reservoir to get back. The way back was more enjoyable and picturesque because part of it was a comfortable boardwalk beside the water. Nonetheless, it was a challenging 4 hour trek, as some parts of the trail were uphill and the ground was mostly muddy and slippery due to the rainy weather. I would not recommend this trail for young children and the elderly. Needless to say, I feel all sorts of aches and pain now. But I am glad we did it. It was much needed exercise for me :)

Since I have no knitting or sewing, I will show you our first attempt at cooking "claypot" chicken rice in the rice cooker. This is how it looked like in the rice cooker when it was done. By the way, this dish is traditionally cooked in a claypot, hence the name, claypot chicken rice.

There are lots of recipes for this if you google. I put 2 cups of washed short grain rice in the rice cooker and added the required amount of water. Next, I fried some slices of ginger and some cloves of peeled garlic, then added chopped chicken, a mixture of sesame oil, light and dark soya sauce into the pan and gave everything a quick stir fry, to give it a "fried fragrance", but not long enough to cook the chicken. The chicken mixture was added to the rice cooker and then the rice cooker was turned on. When the water in the rice cooker was beginning to boil off, I added sliced lap cheong (dried pork sausage), yuen cheong (dried liver sausage), sliced siew yoke (roast pork) and siow pai chye into the rice cooker. After the rice had cooked, and the rice cooker had turned to " keep warm" mode, I waited for about another 20 minutes for the vegetable to cook and soften.

I have heard about cooking claypot chicken rice in the rice cooker but I have not tried it before as I doubted that it would be tasty and feared that the chicken might not be sufficiently cooked. Well, my worries were unfounded. It turned out deliciously fragrant and the chicken was well-cooked. And, it isn't as oily as it looks. In fact, it is quite a healthy way of cooking because I didn't use any oil for cooking. Only sesame seed oil was used as seasoning. I'm definitely cooking this again as it is a simple one pot meal and my kids loved it. Next time we will skip the siew yoke and add shitake mushrooms and salted fish.