Moebius cast-on experiments

I’ve spent all morning messing around with moebius cast-ons, and I ended up finding a technique that gave me a neat centre to work out from for my next double knit experiment. It is quite convoluted, though.

They look the same but I swear this is the front and back of my work

First, I tried just doing the normal moebius cast-on, the only one I could find when googling, except with 2 colours at once.

I hope you enjoy my pajama pants in the background, because there will be a lot of that

At first it seemed promising, the front of my work looked the way I wanted –

The back, however, got these weird loops around the stitches. They’re for whenever my yarns had gotten twisted together, and I untwisted it to knit the colour I wanted. I guess hypothetically this method would work fine, if you’re some kind of knitting master genius who manages to keep their 2 colours from ever crossing.

No :c

So, I figured I need a way to make sure my yarns don’t get twisted together on my needles. This is where it begins to get weird. I cast on each colour on a separate set of needles, and then knit them together onto my main needles.

Red is main, and green is temporary aid. I did not notice at the time that the stitch markers are too big to stay in place on the green set and are sliding all over the place

I knit them together, knitting the red and purling the green.

Purl in front. On my first try, the ones getting purled were in the back, and everything was chaos.
I don’t have 2 sets of needles the same gauge or length, so green is smaller and thinner. My tention is always too weak on my purls anyway so it works out.
The useless end of the green needle going along for the ride. It stays with the beginning of the round.
Also if everything looks weird and backwards it’s because I’m left-handed (or because I knit continental, if you’re used to seeing the other kind)

Everything worked out until I finished the first round, and it was time to do the stitches that had previously been the bottom row. To get the moebius twist, the purl colour has to go to the back now. This means that instead of moving the yarn to the front for purls and to the back for knits like one normally would, it moves to the middle of the two needles for purls. It got pretty tight in there but it’s doable.

I did eventually realise that I don’t need the loose end of the short set of needles to be in the middle there. It did get trapped inside my first 5 or so stitches before I realised what I was doing. Also, of course I didn’t notice at the time that my headphone wire was in the picture.

I tried to take a couple of pictures to show how the purl stitch is done, but also I’m not a very good photographer (or blogger. Or knitter. Or explainer, as I’m sure has become abundantly clear by now)

This is why I’m not a photogrpahy blog
Oh yes I understand perfectly now thank you
Featuring the end of the bonus needle, dangling hopelessly out of the beginning of the round

I was going to end with some pictures of the end result, but I only have 2 rows done so far and I already put those pictures on the top of this post. Sooo, um, the end?

Counting Japanese Books

One of the first kanji most Japanese students learn is 本. It’s nice and non-intimidating, with only 5 strokes. Plus, you need it to write “Japan” and “Japanese”, so you’ll need it for getting fancy and titling your notebook 日本語 or letting everybody know that you’re 日本語を勉強しています. While it has a bunch of meanings, you easily remember that one of them is “book” because books are made of trees and this kanji is only one stroke away from the one for “tree”, plus it means “origin” too and books originate from trees, and everything is nice and logical and you’ve totally got a great grasp on this whole situation.

Now you, hypothetical strawman reader, have advanced in your studies. You’ve just discovered the complexity of Japanese counters. Instead of everything being “one thing, two things”, there are all these different suffixes you gotta learn depending on the thing you’re counting. One flat object, two small animals, three big animals (yup, big and small animals have different counters. It’s America’s fault, I think I’ll write about that next). Skimming the list of counters, you finally see one you recognise. 本! Of course, this must be how you count books! After all, it does mean book!


本, hon, is the counter for “long, cylindrical objects”. You know what’s neither long nor cylindrical? That’s right, books. The correct way to count books is 冊 satsu. And speaking of kanji pronounced “satsu”, there’s also 札 which means bill (as in 千円札, 1000 yen bill). I just tried to look up whether bills would be counted with 札, or with 枚 (the counter usually used for paper and other flat objects like pizza), but googling 千円札 数え方 just gave me video demonstrations of how to do that fancy bill flicking counting thing they do in stores here. My old manager tried to teach me once, but gave up upon realising I’m cripplingly left-handed. Digressions aside, let’s think about long cylindrical objects.

Oh, I know! You naïvely exclaim, dear strawman, how about chopsticks! Those are long and cylindrical, right? Next time your Japanese friends act amazed that you managed to transfer a whole piece of food all the way from your plate into your mouthhole without incident, you can further blow their minds with some amazingly accurate counting skills, and count the chopsticks with 本 hon.

Oh my sweet summer child.

No? Not hon? Oh of course, chopsticks come in pairs. They must use soku 足, the counter for pairs! Wrong again. Just like books are important enough to get their own special counter (bet you didn’t think my digressions would come full circle), chopsticks also get their own words. If you wanna sound really impressive, count them with 膳 zen, that’s 一膳 ichizen per pair.

Finally, let me leave you with a story about counting pairs. You may have recognised the counter for pairs as the kanji for foot, when read ashi. In Japanese class, we learned this meaning much earlier than we learned it as a counter. My classmate once saw a pair of shoes for sale. The price tag stated the price per 足. As we were not yet aware of the “pairs” meaning, she assumed that price per 足 = price per foot, i.e. the sign was listing the price per shoe and the pair would cost twice as much. I do love the idea of going to the store to buy a single shoe.

A Scary Kanji Homonym

恐い and 怖い, both read “kowai”, both translate as “scary”. The difference between these two is quite subtle.

First off, I just did some light googling to double check the accuracy of what my Japanese friend told me when I insisted he come up with a difference (this was over a year ago so I wanted to make sure I remembered correctly). The first few results insisted that there’s no difference, and recommended to stick with 怖い as it will almost never be incorrect. The third page I consulted did suggest a difference that mostly lines up with what I’d been told, but only when using another reading for 恐; in this case, 恐ろしい (osoroshii).

Let’s start with what my friend told me. After I threw many examples of scary things at him, and insisted he tell me which kanji applied, we reached a conclusion (ghost? 怖い。dinosaur? 恐い。ghost dinosaur? I guess 怖い now please go away). We settled on 怖い being for abstract threats, and 恐い for physical ones. In other words, 恐い物、怖い事。

I honestly thought I had it all figured out until I did my double checking-research just before starting to write this. The conclusion of the link from my second paragraph had a subtle difference. Here, 怖い is for subjectively scary things, and 恐ろしい for objectively scary ones. I suppose my previous conclusion still stands, as a ghost is subjectively scary and a dinosaur would be objectively so.

Speaking of dinosaurs, that’s also how I keep these two kanji apart. Whenever I need to remember which one is for physical intimidation, I think of the word for dinosaur: 恐竜 (kyouryuu). Literally translated that says Fear Dragon, which certainly sounds like something that would be physically and objectively intimidating.

Finally, you can smoosh both kanji together into a new word, 恐怖。It means fear, and I think it’s a noun (I haven’t studied grammatical terms since elementary school, and my 9 year old self was not into paying attention. Thanks a lot, Past Self). This is a trend I often come across on my Kanji Homonym Deciphering Quest – two words with almost the same meaning and the same reading, combined into a word with a similar but more broad meaning.


There were several years between the time I first learned the word segue, and the first time I saw it spelled. I did, however, know at the time what a Segway was. So, for years until I encountered it in writing, my adolescent little ESL brain assumed they were the same word. I used to imagine a tiny guy driving a Segway from one topic to the next, and I honestly believed this was what the word meant. Segwaying into the next topic.

初めて versus 始めて

初めて and 始めて, both read “hajimete”. These were my first encounter with Kanji that are homonyms, and nearly but not quite synonyms. I believe they were taught to us as the former meaning “start”, and the latter meaning “begin” (or maybe it was the other way around). Perhaps the difference is immidiately obvious to native English speakers and it’s just my ESL-ness showing, but at the time I thought start and begin were synonyms anyway, and had the most frustrating time figuring out the difference.

After drilling any Japanese person I came across for long-winded explanations, I finally found a simple way to distinguish them that I could easily remember.

初 is for discrete time, and 始 for continuous time. So for example, 最初 (saisho) means first time (versus the second time, third, last). 始め is the beginning, like the beginning of class. 初 for situations that span first to last, 始 for beginning to end.

Did that adequately explain it at all or just make it more confusing?

This is just my understanding of the difference, it’s very possible that I’m completely wrong. They are also close enough in meaning that nobody will be confused if you use the wrong one, I think.

Is it necessary to be this in-depth in kanji studies, and analyse near synonym pairs for minute differences in nuance? Of course not. I just have a wildly inefficient studying style, where I procrastinate by insisting on really mastering one single word instead of spending my time on useful knowledge. Similarly, Japanese is great if you’re into etymology, because you also get to consider kanji radicals.

I have a bunch more homonym kanji pairs, I might write about some more eventually – if I write about them, that means my time studying them won’t have been a complete waste, right?

Incidentally, I did have to look up discreet vs discrete for that third paragraph. Discrete is the one I know from math class as the opposite of continuous, and discreet is the one about subtle behaviour.

Moebius Double Knit Scarf

My experiment to determine if moebius and double knitting could be combined is complete!

Here’s the result – please excuse my messy sofa background.

Let’s all pretend the misalignment of the 2 rows of snowflakes is on purpose and not because I cast on one stitch too many and realised too late, please and thank you

It turned out much better than I was expecting. I tried to take some pictures to show the length.

I don’t own any full length mirrors and my phone’s front facing camera loves to disort images. I took this using the back facing camera and a mirror to make sure I was aiming it somewhat correctly, please excuse my arms all over the place.
Looped around twice, same awkward photo technique.

I’m the least pleased with the cast-on method I used. This involved a crochet hook and basically making a crochet chain around the needles, and left this weird border that was protruding on one side and caving in on the other.

The cast-off worked out much better. I just googled double knit cast-off and followed this video. It would look even better if my tension weren’t all over the place.

Overall I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and hopefully the weather will stay cold enough for me to get some use out of it!

…In other news, I just discovered that if I start a new blog post on my phone, upload all the images I want, save it as a draft, finish writing it and publish from my computer, and then open the app where my draft post is still open, my post seems to get un-published and revert back to its draft form. This has been a valuable learning experience.

Sakura Chocolate Milk with Strawberry Jelly

Valentine’s day has passed, which means it’s time for stores to replace the chocolate with more spring-themed sweets. I found this drink at the Family Mart by work.

That’s sakura and chocolate flavoured milk with strawberry jelly. I do find the packaging quite attractive.

As for the flavour, it tasted about as appetizing as it sounds, honestly – it was like sweetened milk with chunks in it. I couldn’t really taste the sakura (not that I’m quite sure what that should taste like anyway), and definitely didn’t taste the chocolate. The jelly added a texture that made my boyfriend compare it to curdled milk.

It was an enlightening experience and I’m gonna stick to my ice coffees for now.