Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I went to Stitches Midwest a week ago Saturday. It was the first time I had been to Stitches, and I had a good time. Even though I didn't take any classes, I did get to meet a couple authors and see some of their creations in person. It was fun looking at and touching the huge variety of yarns.

I now have yarn for MMario's KAL in January. I got some lace yarn from Skaska Designs in Fort Collins, Colorado -- where I went to university way back when -- and where it seems to me the "Knit One, Kill Two" mysteries take place. ;)

I got a book "Knit One Below", signed by the author.

And, I also got some yarn (Colrain) from Webs for a couple of sweaters. Unfortunately, I guessed wrong on the amount of yarn needed (despite being given a card at Stitches listing usual yardages for different projects). So, I ordered more yarn from Webs the next day. The order is still pending. I wrote this too soon...
The order is still listed as "open", but today I received all the yarn I had ordered.

Wavelet socksI've also been working on finishing the second sock of the pair for socks I test knitted. It's great at stash busting. In fact, I got to the bottom of my sock yarn bin and found some Wavelet Socks. I had knit the first one as a test knit. But, I had knit the second of the pair longer than the first -- just to use up yarn -- and had planned to reknit the first to match. Well, I finally have. Here's what they look like -- in KnitPicks Essential (now Stroll) Tweed flint and size 1 needles.

I did so well at stash busting sock yarn that I decided to order some more -- partly to finish up Fjordland to the length I wanted. I ordered from KnitPicks this past Sunday.

In knitting Fjordland, I rediscovered something that I knew from knitting dishcloths -- purl patterns turn out better when knit with a smaller needle. -- The Fjordland pattern turns out so much better when knit with size 1 needles instead of size 2. Size 1 is what I generally use for KnitPicks Essential (aka Stroll) yarn. I often go up a size when doing colorwork. But, I needed to go down a size again (back to size 1) when doing colorwork with a purl pattern.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

a scarf mystery CAL

First, an update: I'm finishing up some old projects. I'm finishing up the second sock in a pair to some test knits (Great Plains and after that Fjordland from Chrissy Gardiner's book and Crevasse by Angela Johnson). I've got some tv knitting to work on -- scalloped placemats, one pictured. And I'm working off and on, on a shawl - Inconceivable by Katherine Vaughan.

So, of course, when I heard about a mystery Peacock Scarf CAL coming up, I had to sign up. Sign up deadline is September 12th. -- I haven't done much crocheting for a while.

My final big project is to try to put a new back onto a quilt my MIL made about 20 years ago. The top (squares of double-knit fabric) looks good, but the back is falling apart. So, with the help of Diane Wold's book on quilting (We knew each other in Carolina.) and the quiltville chat Yahoo group, I'm going to try to refinish the back and edges.

Friday, September 04, 2009

China - Day 14

Monday, July 27
a 37-hour day

This was our last day in China. DD's flight was in the morning. Our flight wasn't until late afternoon -- which meant that even though we'd cross the International Date Line, we didn't go forward to Tuesday before going back to Monday. Though, it is possible we may have gone back to Sunday before returning to Monday again. DS2 thinks it's most likely that we went forward to Tuesday before crossing the date line. ... It's academic since we slept most of the way back, and DD's flight didn't cross the Date Line. For us, midnight in Beijing to midnight in Chicago was 37 hours.

We had some time to wait before going to the airport and so went to the pedestrian street near the hotel. There were a lot of kiosks on the street. And yes, there are some US-based chains in China. We even tried them out. Papa John's in Shanghai was excellent. But, Pizza Hut in Beijing wasn't. KFC in Beijing was one of the best we'd been to anywhere. We ate at a different KFC than in the picture. That one was too crowded. (We needed to occasional break from Chinese food. And those three were the only times we went to non-Chinese restaurants.) In the evening, kiosks along this street sell unusual foods such as star fish.

And speaking of food, some usual foods in China are unusual to us. We bought some blueberry-flavored Pringles at an airport. A person in our group bought what he thought was a lime frozen ice pop but was actually pea-soup flavored.

... I see from my previous posts that I hadn't included any pics of lions -- which is odd since people on the tour were kidding me that I was trying to take a pic of every lion statue in China. So, here's one. It's from the Ghost City on the Yangtze. And, yes, there is a carved ball inside the lion's mouth. That's fairly common.

We learned a little Chinese. "hello" = ni hao. "thank you" = xei xei (shay shay). The symbol for China is a box with a vertical line through it. Entrance is a lower case lambda followed by a box. Exit is double lower case omega followed by a box. The family and I didn't figure out the symbol for sun (a ladder with 3 rungs or 2 boxes stacked atop each other) until we had a Firefly marathon. And, at least in southern China, a common greeting translates to "have you eaten" -- due to food shortages in the Great Leap Forward.

Our visit to China was great. It was sad when it was time to leave.

Edited to add a couple more pics. ... The first is a picture of water buffalo - taken outside of Wuhan - on our way to where we'd try to view the eclipse. There is a water buffalo grazing to the front of the picture. There are several more in the mid distance.

And here is a picture of a traffic light in Chongqing. We saw traffic lights like these in many of the larger cities. There were countdowns for both green and red lights.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

China - Day 13

Sunday, July 26
Ming Dynasty Tombs
the Great Wall of China

Our last full day in China was another day packed with things to see and do. Our first stop was a cloisonne showroom. Cloisonne patterns are formed by soldering copper wire on top of a copper object. Glazes are then added and the object fired and polished several times. Here is a picture of glaze being added to a vase.

Our next stop was the Ming Dynasty Tombs. There are quite a few large statues on the Sacred (or Spirit) Way leading to the tomb area. Different animals as well as officials guard the path. Here is a pic of an elephant resting from his guard duty. We supposed that guards were needed because the path is straight instead of angled. We also learned that lions are mythological creatures -- or, at least, the lions prominent in Chinese statuary. (This was the only place I saw any birds in China. In fact, there were bird feeders on the grounds. We didn't see any pigeons at all in our stay in China.)

Next was the highlight of the trip, a visit to the Great Wall of China. I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the wall. But, it was even more imposing than I had imagined. Here is a pic of the wall near the Badaling Gate.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped along the highway so we could get out and take pictures of the Bird's Nest, the Beijing National Stadium. It must have been a popular place to stop -- since there was someone there selling kites.

That evening we had a dinner of Peking Duck at the Beijing Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. The dinner was underwhelming after all the excellent food we had in China.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

China - Day 12

Saturday, July 25

Saturday started out with a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. This being a Saturday, there were large crowds there. In Tiananmen Square, people were lined up to visit Mao's mausoleum. The mausoleum is large with a gold yellow colored roof (which color, in previous times, had been reserved for the emperor).

(We tried to figure out where the student stood in front of a tank quite a few years back. And there was a wide street next to the square. .... Our tour guide didn't volunteer the info.)

Others, like us, were on their way to visit the Forbidden City. The first pic is a portrait of Mao hanging over the Tiananmen Gate entrance to the Imperial Palace grounds. We went through this gate and then the Meridian Gate, the southern entrance to the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City is huge (178 acres -- .6 miles long by .47 miles wide). It took us a couple of hours to go from the southern entrance to the northern one. And we didn't look at even half the buildings there. In the background is the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

Here is one of the thrones inside the grounds -- in the Hall of Supreme Harmony, I think. It was the most popular of the sights there.

We also visited the Hall of Mental Cultivation, the Imperial Telephone Bureau, and the Imperial Garden among other sights there.

After lunch, we went to the Summer Palace. This picture of the palace was taken from Kunming Lake, which was created in order to get enough earth to create the hill on which the palace sits.

In the evening, we attended a show at the Beijing Night Theater. It included fabulous costumes, dancing, and acrobatic performances.