Monday, January 26, 2009

Warm Ewe Up Swap - Question #3

What is your favorite way to keep warm when it’s snowing outside? (And if you live in a warm weather climate, what would you do to stay warm and cozy while it’s snowing?)

Well, I now live in LA, but I do remember those cold snowy days from when I lived in Toronto and Montreal. (Bbbrrrrr!)

What I used to do -- to avoid actually doing housework or laundry, heaven forbid -- was cooking and baking. Lots of healthy muffins that I could take to work for snacks, occasionally a nice banana bread, stuff like that. I also would make soups and stews, do some advance cooking so that on weeknights I just had to heat up food that was already cooked. Doesn't everyone do that?

I will still do this if it's a rainy day in LA. In fact yesterday (even though the weather was nice) I spent about 4 hours making lemon marmalade from my abundance of lemons off my own tree -- 9 jars! Tiring but very satisfying.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Warm Ewe Up Swap -- First Package

So exciting !
I’m pleased to say that my swap package arrived today.

There is: gorgeous yarn (Hand Maiden Mini Maiden, silk and wool in a beautiful rich red), the great Yarn Harlot calendar, a knitter's magnet, and some oh so cute stitch markers. I love them all, and I especially appreciate the Canadian content.
I don’t have any silk yarn so this one will be a new one for me. The colour is absolutely gorgeous – great choice!
I also don’t have any decorative stitch markers, I currently use the very practical plastic ones but these are so much nicer. Love the mittens and scarf and socks – so much fun. And the magnet is great – can’t wait to brandish that!

I should say it all arrived in a very timely manner – I had a bad day (my foot is sore and has swollen up for no apparent reason) and I was kind of grouchy when I arrived home. So it was a nice treat to find this package waiting for me.

Thanks, secret pal! Ya done good !!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Warm Ewe Up Swap - Question #2

If you could only knit or crochet with one brand of yarn for the rest of the year, what would it be and why?

Hmmm. This could go one of two ways. I could pick a solid workhorse yarn, like Cascade 220 or Knitpicks Wool of the Andes or Lamb’s Pride. That would work for a large variety of projects and I’d never run out of projects for my queue. I used Cascade for my big afghan project. See here.

But that eliminates sock yarn, which I enjoy using.

I have fondled... but have never used Malabrigo ( I just ordered some but it hasn’t arrived yet). But from what everyone is saying about it, it seems to be the softest, most luscious yarn around. And it comes in wonderful colors. Moreover, it comes in lace weight and sock weight as well as worsted, so there’s practically no limit to what I could make.

So, in conclusion, I would pick Malabrigo, in spite of never having worked with it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What I Did This Summer - Part 3

Hi everyone,

Here are a few more stories about my experiences in Marseilles.

Street market
Where I am staying now, I have a short walk to the Metro, and there is a street market that is just in the process of getting set up on the street as I go to work in the morning. They sell inexpensive clothes and shoes, kitchen gadgets, cosmetics, and food.
I can’t really stop as I’m on my way to work, but I’ve spotted nail polish for one euro, summer sandals for 5 or 6 euros, and lacy bras for 7.

But the greatest part is the food section: as I walk, I get alternate whiffs of sparkling fresh fish, tangy spiced olives, the sweet perfume of ripe melons, strawberries, and peaches, and the unmistakable aroma of fresh-baked croissants and baguettes. What a start to the day!


I have figured out that the difference between speaking French like a tourist and sounding really fluent is: adverbs, and plenty of them.
French people use them liberally sprinkled throughout their conversation even when there seems to be no real reason for them. Here are a few of my favorites.

A priori – this is Latin, and it means “first of all”. It is used everywhere, the way many people say “basically” in every second sentence without it meaning anything.
Tellement – really
Vachement – very
En plus – in addition
Plutot – rather
Neanmoins – nevertheless
Tout a fait – exactly
Donc – therefore
Surtout – especially

I try to use as many of these as I can in every conversation, and I feel very sophisticated when I do. ;-)
French intellectuals are known for constructing sentences entirely composed of adverbs !

Bus strike

Since I’ve been here, there have 2 bus strikes that were publicized in advance. Apparently about one in three bus routes were running, and on sporadic schedules. The Metro ran less frequently than usual, but I was still able to get to work OK.

But the one that was the most interesting happened last Saturday. Note this was a weekend not a work day. You wouldn’t think they’d get much sympathy, by interfering with people’s weekend plans, but what do I know?

We were at the beach and wanted to take the bus a bit further along the coast away from town, to see some notable sights that we had heard about – cliffs and lagoons and a little village at the end of the road.
After a few blocks, the bus driver suddenly made a U turn, and announced that he was on strike, and everyone had to get off.

We were not too happy about this (to say the least) because it was a hot day and we would have to walk a good 3 or 4 miles to get back to the nearest Metro station. Some of the passengers did get off, but some protested, “You can’t leave us here, you have to at least take us back to the depot”, while another offered him a bribe of 10 euros to take us back.

He called his supervisor and asked “what do I do, the passengers are refusing to get off”. He eventually relented and took us back to within a short distance of the Metro. I have no idea what the point was.

We stopped off for a cold drink. We happened to be close to the sports stadium, and we soon saw that a big match was taking place that day. (I thought it was soccer, but it turned out to be rugby). This stadium holds 60,000 people, and fans dressed in their team colours (blue and yellow) streamed past us by the 1000’s. Some had faces painted in the team colours, too. I don’t think they were going to let a bus strike keep them away !!

We then took the Metro back to the center of town. We still had a nice time, and explored the “old city” with its winding narrow streets, colorfully painted old houses and cafés, and shaded little squares with splashing fountains. Very picturesque.


The project in Marseille has run into some problems – some areas of the client management don’t agree that they need this project, and furthermore we’re going about it the wrong way, and what’s more they already did it last year…. Blah blah blah…

So the stuff I was supposed to work on, isn’t happening after all. They are shutting it down and I will be done as of June 27, instead of the planned date of July 31st. While I am losing out on a bunch of money, I do get to go on vacation sooner than planned, so I’m not all that heart broken. Hubby is here too, so we just have to decide where to go and how long to stay.

Really, now that I’ve been working 7 weeks straight, I need a vacation. ;-)

We were told of a website, , that has good last-minute deals for package travel, so we booked a one week trip to the Canary Islands.

Yeah, I barely knew where they were, too.
They are Spanish islands off the coast of Africa. Tenerife is an island you might have heard of.
This is an all inclusive thing, like a Club Med -- all meals, activities, transfers, flights, etc, are included in one price.

We leave on Sunday morning from Paris, so on Saturday we will get ourselves to Paris. When we return we are staying a few nights in a hotel in Normandy, then a quick stop in Paris, then home.
And that looks like it for my French adventure.
P.S. The sandy beach pic is of the Canary Islands, island of Fuerteventura.

Friday, January 2, 2009

S-L-O-W-E-S-T Knitter in History

This must be a record for l-o-n-g-e-s-t UFO to reach completion.

Here's the story:

When I moved from Toronto to LA, in 1992, a few things were just packed and moved in a haphazard fashion because hubby was doing the packing while I had already started my LA job.

So this is all his fault. :-)

I should also add that, as of the summer of 2007, I hadn't knitted anything in about 20 years. But I had just started thinking of going back to it. A couple of friends had mentioned that they were knitting, and, I don’t know, maybe it was something in the air.

So, when I found a bag of knitting stashed way in the back on a high shelf in the linen closet, that was the catalyst. The knitting was started, with about 8 inches done, the needles still in it, and there were 7 balls of yarn. It was cotton and acrylic (perfect for the SoCal climate), and a nubbly blend of off-white with multi-colored strands. I guess you’d call it bouclé. It’s called Emu Coolspun Confetti. Here’s a photo.

The sales slip was still in the bag - I bought it in 1987 !
Alas the pattern was nowhere to be found. From what I could tell, that yarn isn't sold any more. Now, I needed to find a pattern for it that only uses 7 balls.

Luckily I found *one* listing on eBay for a pattern book for this yarn. It was from England and I got it for 2 pounds plus shipping. So about $6 total. Not bad.

When it arrived, my son and his wife really yukked it up over the 1980’s hairstyles and fashions. But one of them was a simple short-sleeved tee, and it called for just the amount of yarn I had.

The more I looked at this pattern, the more sure I became – this was exactly the same pattern I had been knitting from back in 1987!!

So I literally picked up where I left off with my knitting and continued with the pattern. Fortunately, even though I have put on some weight in the hips region, I am the same size on top, so I could make the same size sweater.

I worked on it steadily and finished it in about a month. Make that 20 years and one month!

Here it is.

Oh and I do have a ball of yarn left over all!