Sunday, December 28, 2008

Warm Ewe Up Swap - Question #1

Why did you learn to knit?

It was a long time ago. I was about 15 or so, and I don't remember all the details. I guess I was just curious, or else I wanted to get nice sweaters cheaper than I could buy them. I did know how to sew and embroider and do needlepoint (how Jane Austen-ish that sounds!) so knitting was a sort of natural progression.

I don't remember knowing anyone who knit. I taught myself using a little black and white pamphlet from Paton's. I do remember making a grey mohair vest, a brown cabled cardigan, and something green. I still have that vest :-)

I stopped knitting when I went to university, then returned to it years later when I was a busy career woman, as a way to de-stress.

Now I'm in my third wave of knitting, and rather obsessed...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Warm Ewe Up Swap Questionnaire

This is my first swap, and I'm really looking forward to it!

Yarn Swap Q&A

Do you knit or crochet, or both? How long have you been at the craft?
I knit, and I don’t crochet.
I first started knitting as a teenager, many moons ago (self taught). I dropped it while in college and went back to it in the eighties, when I was a busy career woman and mother, and I used it as a way to de-stress. Dropped it again until last year when I discovered an old knitting project (a UFO) that got misplaced during our move to Los Angeles 16 years ago. So I decided to pick it up again. Now I’m knitting all the time. So maybe 8 years, spread out over 30 plus years.

Do you spin?

What yarns/fibers are your favorites?
Love the hand painted, hand dyed yarns with their gorgeous and unique colors. (see my Ravelry stash). Like Koigu, Smooshy, Lorna’s Laces. Noro. Also like the soft ones. I prefer natural fibers: wool or mostly wool, alpaca, silk, cashmere. Good plain wool for felting.
I’m afraid I have developed some expensive tastes!

What yarns/fibers do you not like?
Not so much fond of acrylics. Don’t really like to knit with cotton, although I have used it and it turned out fine. It’s just less pleasant to work with.

What yarns/fibers would you like to try but haven’t?
Stuff I’ve heard about, on blogs or podcasts:
Wollemeise, Malabrigo, Hand Maiden Casbah

What are your favorite colors? Colors that you don’t like?

Like: Blues, Reds, grays, neutrals, especially heathers and tweeds. Autumn colors, deep jewel tones.
Dislike: Pink, purple, bright green, bright orange, bright yellow.

What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?
Socks, scarves, sweaters, felted bags.
(My Ravelry Queue and Projects page will give you a good idea)

What are you currently working on?
Socks in Koigu, a lace shawl in a mohair blend, a Noro striped scarf

What is your favorite FO? (Please post a picture if you have one.)
I made a huge afghan for my son and daughter-in-law, as a housewarming gift. It was a ton of work, took forever, but turned out great.

These are pix of the afghan.

Are there any techniques that you want to learn?
Being self-taught, I figure that I will eventually teach myself the things I want to know, but having said that, I’d like to learn intarsia and fair-isle knitting. Maybe some additional cast-ons, since I only use one cast-on for everything.

Do you have a yarn winder and/or swift?

How do you store your needles/hooks?
I use mostly circulars now, and I keep them in my knitting basket, by my seat in the family room. I have several of the Knitpicks Options and Harmony (interchangeable needles).
The straight needles are in a bag off in the corner of the family room. Note, I use 2 circs for socks; I don't use DPNs.

Do you collect anything?
I collect egg cups, mostly hand painted, that I pick up on my travels. Also hand painted plates that I put up on the wall (above the top of the kitchen cabinets).

Do you like sweets?
My favorite would be dark chocolate preferably imported (mainly because the ingredients tend to more real and natural). Fruity type candy is good too if there are real fruit ingredients, not all artificial chemicals. Coffee flavored is good too. Caramels, mints – not so much.

What are your favorite scents?
I love scents! My faves would be fruity, citrus-y ones. But I also like classic ones. Lavender is also a big favorite. Just nothing too cloyingly sweet.

Are you having a birthday during this swap?
Yes, March 1st.

Do you have any online wish lists? (Amazon, Loopy Ewe, etc.) Please include a link for your pal.
Yes I do. Here they are.

What is your living situation (Are you married? Do you have kids, pets, or both?)
I’m married, and have a grown-up married son. No pets.

Are you allergic to anything?

Is there anything else that you would like your pal to know?
I am a big coffee drinker. I don’t drink soft drinks, just coffee throughout the day. I prefer rich full-bodied coffee, but don’t like flavored coffees. I hardly ever drink tea.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a knitting interchange

I was at a cookie-decorating party on the weekend, the conversation somehow turned to knitting (I didn't bring it up, the hostess did.)
And so I showed one of the women there the hand-knit socks I was wearing.
She admired them and asked, how much would you charge to make me a pair?
I sighed, and said, if I charged even minumum wage it would be over $100.

And if I charged less, I would really be undervaluing my time, which would make *me* feel bad.
So I can't sell them.
I can only give them.

Weird, huh? But you understand.

I've already given away 9 pairs. Only kept one for myself.

My sister recently gushed about how wonderful the socks I just sent her were. This is them in the photo. (Broadripple pattern from
That feels nice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I did this summer - part 2

Here are a few more random notes and observations after a second week in Marseille (May 2008)

The leisurely lunch:
I really do have to admire the people here: nothing gets in the way of having a decent leisurely lunch. Last Friday we had a deliverable due, yet we still went out for a nice lunch at an outdoor café that was 2 subway stops away. A couple of the folks had a meeting nearby, that was why we went to that area. By 1:40 we still hadn’t been served our lunch. I said to the other IT people, “Isn’t your meeting at 2:00?”

A Blackberry was consulted, and yes indeed the meeting was at 2. They shrugged their shoulders in that expressive Gallic way, as if to say, “Well, what can you do, they’ll just have to wait.”
I love that !

The document was supposed to go to the US subsidiary, so when I informed them that Monday was a holiday, and they probably wouldn’t look at anything we sent on Friday until Tuesday anyway, they agreed we could send a rough draft on Friday and refine it on Monday.

Interesting expressions:
Where we say, “You can’t compare – it’s like apples and oranges”, they say “It’s like cabbages and carrots.” “C’est comme des choux et des carrottes.”

Going to the movies:
On Sunday it was a really rainy day, so instead of trying to sight-see, I impulsively decided to go to the movies. Indiana Jones was playing nearby, and I thought, with an action movie, even if I miss some of the dialogue I’ll still be able to follow the plot. This was the first time I saw a French movie without subtitles (in France they dub English-language movies – they don’t do subtitles), and I guess I did OK. I’m sure I missed some stuff though. Cate Blanchett speaking French with a Russian accent was a hoot. Two interesting things I noticed: snacks are sold out of vending machines, no candy counter with $5 popcorn and quart size Cokes. And they have booster seats for little kids so they can see the screen.

Lay’s potato chips come in great flavors here: Bolognaise, roast chicken and thyme, cheese, mustard pickles, ham & cheese, rosemary.
Don’t you want to try them all?

My Hotel:
So, I moved to the Holiday Inn on Sunday. It takes a good 3 hours - what with the packing, checking out, getting a taxi to the new place, and unpacking everything again. The apartment-hotel I had before wasn’t available this week. However the new place is so much nicer - it's at least a 3 1/2 star, if not a 4 star. It has a bar, a restaurant, and room service. The room is large, has a minibar, safe, electric kettle, and a nice big bathroom. And the air conditioning works! It is located in a quiet area though and I couldn't find an open restaurant in the neighborhood Sunday night. Had a VERY quiet meal in the hotel restaurant with only one other couple in attendance. Thanks to the mini-fridge I was able to buy some orange juice, cheese, crackers, cookies, etc to keep in the room and have a light breakfast in the mornings. It seems there are always trade-offs between location, amenities, and of course price. This week I’m back to eating dinner in restaurants and getting back to the room late, around 10 pm or so.

Lunch Conversation:
One of the customer people at lunch asked me about the US elections, the fact that we have a black and a woman candidate for the first time, etc. He asked me, what’s the deal with the primaries, how do they work. Man I don’t think I could have done it in English, much less in French. I told him I needed a PowerPoint presentation at least. But I gave a very simplified, and probably mangled, explanation, and I think it was OK. People seem really interested in the election. I talked about the concept of red states and blue states, that we have so many regional differences. And they were surprised to learn how old McCain is.

For the last 2 days it has been very windy. People inform me that this is not the Mistral, which is a cold wind, but a wind from North Africa, that brings sand along with it. Sure enough, you can feel the grit in the air, and the cars all look very dusty. It reminded me of one of my favorite songs from Joni Mitchell.

Carey by Joni Mitchell.
The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn't sleep
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it's really not my home ...

I wonder if she was here when she wrote that ? Wouldn’t that be cool, if it were true?

(Actually I found out she was in Greece at the time. Oh well. Romantic illusion dashed)

What I did this summer - Part 1

December 17, 2008

Hi everyone,
I just started this blog, and I don't know what it's going to turn out to be.

I thought I'd start with some stories and impressions from a work gig I did this past summer (2008) in Marseille France. I took an early retirement from my job in November 2007, and this was my first job as an independent.

Here are a few highlights and impressions from my first week working as an independent consultant. I’m a sub-contractor to {large IT firm} working for a French shipping company in Marseille.

My French seems to be pretty good, at least speaking it. Everyone understands me and I’ve had many compliments on my excellent French. I can even tell a joke in French. Understanding it is more of a challenge, especially when there is background noise or if I can’t see the people speaking. But a whole day of heavy concentration is quite exhausting, as if my energy is being drained at a faster rate than usual, so at the end of the day I’m really tired. And dinner takes at least 2 hours so I’ve been getting back to the hotel at 11 pm.

This week I have switched to a studio apartment-hotel, with a kitchen. Now I can buy groceries and make my own breakfast and dinner when I want, so it’s more flexible and comfortable. I don’t have to go out every night if I don’t feel like it.

The people at work seem nice and tell me to say when I don’t understand something, that they will switch to English. However their English isn’t very good and it’s even harder to understand. ;-)
The {IT company} guy introduced me to the client executive on my first day, and he (the client) said “So this is the goddess of BI (Business Intelligence) you’ve been telling me about?” Ha - I think they built me up a little too much. Although, maybe I should add that to my business cards. :-)

French people, when they come into work in the morning, go around and say good morning and shake hands with everyone, even people they don’t know (like me). Some people kiss on both cheeks instead of shaking hands. I’ve probably offended people by not doing that myself. They seem to work approximately from 9 am to 7 pm. I get to work easily by subway (Metro). There are a couple of little cafés nearby for lunch. Everyone goes out for lunch and it takes about an hour and a half. There’s a vending machine in the office, that has coffee, Perrier and Evian as well as snacks (madeleines as well as chocolate bars).

So, my first week went pretty well. After 3 weeks I will go back to LA for a few days, then we are running some data modeling workshops at their US offices. Then back to Marseille for the rest of June and July.
Marseille is not as pretty as Nice or Paris, more working-class I guess, but still interesting and there are lots of things to see on the weekends. It’s over a million people, and is the oldest city in Europe (founded by the Greeks in 600 BC).


More to come.

Thanks for stopping by!