Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Knitting in Patterns

Here's my final picture with model included:
I'm quite proud of this one.  It took a re-think of another pattern, some teeth gnashing, Ends and finishing, and more finishing. But the icing on the cake is when you see it 'in (on) the flesh'!
Ta dah!
Luckily, she likes this pose... Perfect show off the sweater pose!
The Pattern is from Rauma 093R, Design Baby.
And the Pattern is called "Helm√łnstret genser" or Fully Patterned Sweater.
The one on the right, but how cute is the one on the left???
Yarn:   Lanett by Sandnes Garn, Fingering / 4 ply, 100% Merino 213 yards / 50 grams
Other details on Ravelry.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Luxor Blog Five

Luxor:  Random notes
Traffic barriers:  Lanes were often blocked partially by metal barriers which made for a slalom type drive over most streets and roads, city or rural.  I discovered that some of them were for check points, and others were in place of signs for intersections.
Along the Nile, with mixed traffic.

No rules for driving...nor walking.  The streets are filled, no lanes, just fit yourself through, and act like you don't care!  I was with a Finnish family of four, and a guide, for an evening stroll through the streets and bazaar.  The first thing I noticed as we crossed the street in front of the hotel was no crosswalks.  None.  No markings on the street pavement nor signs.  A few flashing arrow lights at round-abouts, or maybe they were just intersections.  No one seemed to pay attention, plus, as we took our first steps into the street, there was NO traffic!  I had watched from the hotel balcony, as the streets were jammed with cars, trucks, and horse drawn carriages...and the cacophony of voices and horns.  But at 6:15 PM, it was surprisingly deserted.  I remembered then that the sunset call to prayers was about 15 minutes previously, and sure enough, 5 minutes later, it was jammed with traffic again.  We didn't use the sidewalk, since most vendors and most people were camped out in chairs, and going about their business.  My Finnish family was horrified that they were expected to follow our guide into traffic with little hesitation.  It was a great experience
Driving out of Luxor, barriers were placed where any side road activity might be, slowing traffic in case a sugar cane wagon, pulled by donkeys, needed to make a turn.
Narrow rail line to collect wagons of sugar cane crossing the main highways.

What I saw:

  • Ibis picking face of cow
  • Donkeys. Carts. 
  • Sugar cane. It's mandatory to grow sugar cane in this area. Cotton in the north.
  • One bridge over the Nile.  ONE!  Opened in 1998...ferries used exclusively before then.
  • Wheat three crops a year.
Load of sugar cane

Families can be self sufficient.  Most people have access to a family plot for growing food, like tomatoes and for grazing.

Sent from my iPod

Friday, February 24, 2012

Luxor blog four

Who would believe that I could be sitting on a deck chair on a floating pool on the Nile? Of course I'm knitting. The sky is cloudless, the water is bluer than the sky, there's a chilly breeze, and everyone is more tan than I.

I've seen pictures of this place but now I see it as true. Ships are passing. Big tour ships of three decks and sail boats looking suspiciously Egyptian.
We tourists on this float are relaxing from the chaos outside on the street. The vendors and horse and buggy rides. A woman pulls out cross stitch while her husband is reading the last pages of a James Patterson novel. I feel colonial.

Mid-afternoon call to prayer erupts first behind me then another and another up and down the river. A great sing song bouncing off the water.
I'd like to think that I have paid attention in geography class, and know:  Egypt would be a desert without the Nile, and it's the only source of water.  Somehow, the full meaning of those statements was never impressed on me.  I now know that there is NO rain, and therefore, the Nile IS the only source of water.  Yes, wells can be dug, but very deep ones.  We drove from the east coast on the Red Sea to the Nile and there was nothing growing until we got within 10 miles of the Nile.  It's all watered my canals.
The similarities of Egypt and the desert Southwest where I live are many.  Shocking!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Three

Days on the Red Sea coast with a toddler

Our days revolve around a lazy schedule of going to the beach: dig in the sand, look at what is at the water's edge, a snorkel tour for me, knitting a few rows under the parasol. A stroll back to the room for lunch and nap time. Most days we all nap. Then a trip to the hotel pool. Sometimes we reverse the order to combat boredom. Oh yeah, we aren't bored! The sun and wind have been perfect most days. Sunny enough to make the temperature rise, and windy enough to keep us from baking. Our pasty white skin has a beige cast that is only discernible when we strip down. Otherwise we are looking healthy. Tanned? No, but what most white people look like in the winter months. (I come from pale Irish stock.)

Snorkeling is definitely my entertainment. I'm tickled that the Makadi Bay has reefs and beautiful fish right off the beach. There are three areas that are roped off, so that boats don't run into them. Several days I went in at low tide. It's a pleasure to just put on a mask at the shore and go. Even though I've gone six days in a row, I love swimming with the fish, noticing a particularly colorful big one, or dozens of black and white zebra stripped ones, or the many sting rays that shuffle along on the bottom. They can be a bit spooky, because they appear so menacing. Their bright blue spots look lethal, and I try to avoid passing right over them, if I can. Today I saw an eel, and yesterday there was a puffy unattractive guy lurking around a rock. I was passing him when I thought I'll circle back and have another look. When I did, he had circled around the rock too and was facing me as I approached a second time. He was watching me!

Knitting! Just you wait! I'm knitting the craziest little pullover, with faux layered sleeves in orange and yellow stripes, and purple trim. Yep! Just imagine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blog two

Egypt  A desert adventure for all my sweethearts! Wow! Sore legs. Tomorrow I expect I'll be really stiff getting up and down.  For being the typical athletic knitter... Know anyone? (a new oxymoron) ... In one six hour period I stepped up into the back of a jeep 80 times (or at least a few dozen), I was jiggled for hours over sand washboard non-roads, hiked my leg up well above my waist to get on top of a camel, bobbed and lurched to hold balance, climbed a rocky out crop to see the sunset a second time, took amazing pictures, and fell into bed.  I still have no solution for sending and applying photos to this blog at this time.  Didn't feel too bad this morning, so I took a swim and snorkel in the Red Sea bay. Fascinating what is just under the surface. All kinds of excursions are offered and few mention that it's not THAT cold. The water is about 21 C. I don't use a wet suit and have great faith in the buoyancy of salt water. What about sting rays? With blue spots. How dangerous are they? They look pretty menacing. I try to quietly glide by. Took some pictures. You can find three good sized reefs right from the beach and lots of individual small ones.  If I can get up tomorrow, I'll have another look. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Is it silly to fix?

Is it silly to spend ... time on fixing one stitch?
Does it really bother you? Will you look at that stitch and seek it out? Stare at it and point it out to other knitters so they will know that YOU know it's there?
Answer: you should probably fix it sooner rather than later. Usually it takes me a row or a few dozen before it becomes like an ache you can't ignore.
I just had one of those moments. Happens all the time, really. I'm knitting 2 row stripes. I'm trying to be super careful about the "jog" and the disguise thereof. I have seven stripes, plus one row of new color and I'm admiring how well it's turning out. I'm thinking, "This looks dang good!" Why haven't I been doing this slip one stitch technique before? And I've been admiring every row all along. Then I notice at this eighth stripe that ONE stitch looks larger than the others. It's the last stitch of the previous color and it looks ... BIG. Some of the other "last" stitches do too but not like this one. So I begin to work it down to size. Ah! Perfect! But now I have an extra hunk of yarn on the backside just hanging there and taunting me with it's potential to go back where it came from. It could work its way back and become a big stitch again or worse, make my first stitch, which will be slipped, into an Enormous stitch.
I'm feeling pretty good right now. I ONLY had to rip back one row. I feel that's such an improvement on previous behaviors, I didn't mind it at all.
(Again, I have beautiful photos, which will appear in a later blog.  Give me two weeks! Then check out Ravelry.)
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Blog one

From somewhere between the desert and the sea. On the edge of both really. I have a lovely picture of the desert from our balcony.  Alas, I have no way of showing it to you.  Maybe in two weeks.
Below our third floor balcony is a watchman guarding the perimeter of Makadi City. I noticed him the first evening, standing and sitting. Easily bribable, keeping intruders from the desert out. There is a 'serious' checkpoint into and out of this compound on the bay. We rolled right through on the bus last night after a 20 minute ride on dark, well paved roads with a round-about (traffic circle) halfway from the airport. I happened to view it from the right as we were approaching and held my breath as I witnessed two buses barreling down at top speed from another highway. I wondered briefly about rules, decided there weren't any and we exited on the other side with the two buses long gone in front of us.
My well traveled daughter expects that all drivers are dangerous and refuses to take her toddler anywhere unless it's an emergency. (She's very content with her home city buses with seat belts and child seats.) Today, on day one, she left her toddler sleeping in the other room to brave Egyptian culture, bank, checkpoints, taxi and grocery store to forage for us.
We have a little efficiency apartment with separate bedroom and microwave, and even though there are ten restaurants within walking distance, we intended to eat 'in' much of the time. The only 'real' grocery store is a 20 minute taxi ride away. I wished her luck and I hope to see her again!
What's it like? We came from miserable snow and melting snow and rain and hoped it would be perfect bathing weather. It isn't but it sure isn't bad. On a scale of one to ten where one is the worst weather in the world and ten is the most beautiful this is an eight. It's very windy which I think contributes to the sun being obscured. There have been moments of bright sun and they are lovely but I could use some heat. It's certainly nice to be outside but not in my summer clothing. I can tell that if the wind were to stop everyone would be shedding a layer and jumping in the pool. On a scale of one to ten with our lowest expectations being a one I would give it a six. This is less than 24 hours after arrival. Hoping for better!
Sent from my iPod
PS.  Daughter returned with groceries that will keep us happy for ... maybe 2 weeks!  Her "limosine" driver was in suit and tie.  Very impressive!  Texting all the way, but on a double lane highway, with traffic in the other direction so far away that only fear of running into sand.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two against three

What about Mozart?  I bet many of you heard about Mozart towards the end of January.  Anyone?  January 27 seems to be the time Mozart is most performed, because it marks his birthday.  My hubs has gotten together with two other musicians and proclaimed there would be "Celebration Concerts" and that the first one would be last weekend.  Two concerts of all Mozart.
I haven't played Mozart since... well, a VERY long time.  I always liked Mozart.  Something rather simplistic and lovely to listen to, so I was delighted to have a marimba playing friend suggest we play a Sonata.  We can make it work, I thought.
When I read through the piece, I was delighted again that it wouldn't take the tar out of me to get it ready, and (AND, a big and) it was ALL two against three, when it wasn't three against four.  As the days went by, I began to regret I was playing with someone (a percussionist) who had strong opinions about anyone other than a percussionist playing triplets.  Turns out, he saved me!  I think he made me a better player, keeping it steady himself, and imposing his impeccable rhythmic talent on me.  Truth be told, we didn't practice together... No, the one time we could find the time and place, the piano was SO out of tune, it sounded like we were playing it two very unrelated keys.  It was so painful that I couldn't bear more than twice through (and I couldn't listen).  The morning of the concert, we had the opportunity to really play and enjoy the piece.  It was very nice, and I gave a little background to the audience before we started.
As we all know now (from previous speakers) that Mozart was exploited by his father for his talent.  The piece we are going to perform is Kochel 14 which means he was really little.  In fact, he was eight years old when this was written.  Mozart had been hauled off to London to perform for royalty, and hopefully follow in his countryman's footsteps, Handel, but he really didn't catch on.  Papa Mozart became ill and didn't want little Wolfgang banging on instruments, so he had to be content to secretly write some music that he hoped wouldn't be seen by papa.  This meant that there were several pieces that papa never got to correct.  They were eventually discovered and published in the early 1900's, and they weren't... so.... nice.  But this piece we are playing is from a set of Sonatas that he wrote with papa's help, for harpsichord and violin.  (I look around at the marimba and piano.)  Well, we do what we can.  Doug will explain. (Doug takes over and gives a little info on the marimba.)
What I didn't say is that I think papa had just given little Wolfgang a lesson in playing two against three, and instructed him to write a piece that would use it.  What am I talking about?
Most music has a feel for "two", like walking:  One, two, one, two.    Imagine that we had three feet;  Walking would sound like, One, two, three, one two three.  Now imagine a couple walking along with arms around each others waists, and one of them is two legged, and the other is three legged.  They want to stay together, so they walk so that their left legs hit the pavement at the same time.  Can you imagine how crazy that would look (besides the obvious three legs) with the three legged person trying to keep up with the two?  That's what musicians do when composers want that feel of three but write a melody in two, or vice versa.  That's what pianists do, sometimes with one hand playing in threes and the other in two, and sometimes three and two in the same hand.  Think of little Mozart:  Eight years old.
Here's the music:  Link to Mozart Sonata.  I couldn't get it to be pictured here.
Marimba:  A beautiful sound.

Concert Mozart
1756. London 1764. Sonata for harpsichord and violin k.14

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Knit Nite without me?

I guess it does exist and here's the proof: It was a wild night at Kay's! K knit knee warmers. Do knees have cup sizes like bras? Sorry no pic. Y untangled a skein of knotted yarn. No pic. D showed off pix of another yeti --- with baby enclosed. MB regaled us with tales of learning to knit in Latvia. No patterns. Is it Latvian? J knitting two socks at a time so furiously she broke her needle! More pictures to follow in previous posts (scroll down)

J's sticks

Super Destructible Knitting

B's Knitting

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Day and a Half

Remember I told everyone of my wonderful plan to ease into another time zone or two?  The plan was to go to bed early and get up early. Or earlier every day, adjusting an hour or half hour earlier every night until I had moved my body along into thinking that I could sleep at 7 pm instead of eleven or midnight (which is my habit). Seems like a great plan until you try to implement it and remain normal. My biggest glitch was moving concert times and rehearsals to an earlier time. That doesn't I didn't get very far except I got really tired from getting up early. That remained on schedule. I really thought I could sleep at 7 pm but I miscalculated.  On the day of travel, when I was to sleep on a plane that took off in the early evening and seven hours later landed in the morning I discovered that my optimal sleep time fell between 5:30 and 9 pm. Yes, my friends, I indeed could sleep well but not before 9 and by 11pm I was out in the cruel world of a new day of security and customs. The good news: it was a seven hour flight instead of eight. The bad news: I lost that hour of sleep. Then I made a few bad decisions which made me feel stoopid immediately. Was it lack of sleep? I'll blame it on that.
 It all revolved around some expensive hand soap. My daughter has me hooked on L'Occitane hand soap and shower oil. I pretty much disapprove of spending extravagantly on such things that go down the drain, but it is beautiful stuff. The Verbena fragrance is especially wonderful, and the lavender is no slouch. It's not readily available in the rural Southwest so I was a moth to a flame when I had hours to spare in the Newark airport and I walked past a shop dedicated to just their products. Yes, I walked past and somewhere down the concourse I stopped and went back. I almost left empty-handed and then I bought a bottle of shower oil and a refill pouch of hand soap.
I was half a mile down the concourse when it hit me... Liquids. HOW could I be so stupid? I mulled over several scenarios, assured myself that I was within the secured area, and packed them away in my carry on. I didn't think about it again until ten hours later and I was landing in Copenhagen and an announcement was made that continuing passengers had to go through security screening. A moment of panic, but then I thought they really meant passport control... I was wrong.
After miles of corridor and ups and downs, I rounded a corner and there was a security screening. I thought one more desperate thought that the Danes aren't really as picky as the USA and I should be able to slide by. One thing I have learned is that if you don't confess first and they find something, then you're in for a whole lot of trouble so I picked a nice young agent who looked to be (possibly) more sympathetic to a grandmother than maybe an older bitter guy, and I announced I had some liquids. He says it's ok as long as they are under 100 ml. I said I had bought them at the Newark airport, and he said its ok as long as they are in a sealed bag. Crap. I assured him that they weren't sealed and he said, let's have a look. Of course they were 500 and 250 ml and he carefully scrutinized the labels. People behind me were backing up and changing lanes... I gave some more lame excuses and begged him not to take them away and we appeared to be at a stalemate. After a few seconds of silence and a deep breath, he suggested I go out the exit, and check in my bag. This seemed like my only alternative... So I picked up my things and back tracked slowly to the passport control, wondering if it was worth $36. (I really like those products.) I had a five hour layover so I assured myself I could sacrifice a little time. I waited in line for the passport stamp. I wasn't even asked where I was going so I was spared an explanation of why I was exiting. Then I went to two ticket counters before I found the self-check-in. I printed out a boarding pass (which I didnt have up to that point) and a baggage check label and went to stand in line to drop off my bag. I let people by me. I was regretting this decision. I had checked two 40+ pound suitcases and now I was going to send along my little soft shoulder bag to accompany them, along with other tonnage. With two naked little plastic containers of liquid... What are the chances that it would be seen again? Or that it would be dripping soap all over everyone else's bags.
I imagined the stares at the other end. This is going through my head as I'm on the floor pulling things out and stuffing in my precious neck pillow. I would miss that pillow for the next five hours. Maybe forever. The pillow, in fact, is rather sturdy and it boosted my confidence that it would withstand the pressure of hundreds of pounds of luggage being thrown on top of it. I checked it and walked away. During the next hour I stood in a line with jostling Danes, vying for the best and quickest way though security. This consisted of two neat lines converging into a five foot wide mob of bodies with oversized carry-ons which evolved into a large area with two security screeners. At this time I discovered I was carrying an empty water bottle. I had been sucking down water for the past 20 hours. I really wanted to keep the bottle so I wouldn't have to break the bank (after my $36 purchase) and buy another water. As I got within ear shot of the agent I held up the empty bottle and timidly asked if empty was ok. (I had just passed a huge container labeled "bottles" and I was feeling pretty beaten up.) To my surprise, she answered ok and I smiled and told her that's the best news I'd had all morning. During that half hour I recounted the reason I was in that line and I remembered... my camera. It was still in the bottom of the checked bag. Oh well!
This was a camera that had been handed around the family, traveled around the world at least once, had been dropped from a moving car onto the icy road on a remote island and returned to its owner by people who recognized their neighbors in some of the images. It had appeared to have weathered all that yet a month later, when it was submerged in the Caribbean, it completely shut down. This camera had been repaired and seemed good as new and now was being placed at the bottom of a container with everyone else's luggage on top of it. I am quite sure I was the first to check in. Doomed, I thought, to be saturated with liquid soap. THAT was certainly worth more than my $36. I tried not to think about it anymore. It was out of my hands and there was a possibility that it would be fine. No one but me knew all this so I could pick it up at the other end and throw away the evidence.
 Drum roll, please!
There it was, on the carousel, appearing to be intact, and under no duress. In fact, I snickered at the baggage drop agent as he explained he was sticking a tiny bar code label directly on the fabric in case the main tag came off. A Sticker on a canvas bag? No way! But there was the big tag and the little sticker, all looking like it had been carefully placed in its own private compartment.
I didn't remember it looking this good!

 The sun was shining outside. A rare occurrence for this part of the world.  I didn't dare open it until I had transported it by bus to the city and by hand down the street to my daughter's apartment. I got a kiss on the cheek from my granddaughter, my daughter was SO happy to have the soaps and I was so happy to give them to her and take pictures too!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sleeping in Denmark

What do you want the most after 20 hours of air travel?  A place to put your feet up!  
After elbowing crowds of Danes to get here, I found this retreat:  The comfy-est place in ALL the world's airports for weary non-first class travelers. Reclining chairs with attached foot rest covered in clear vinyl so you don't have to remove your shoes.  Got 2 hours of shut-eye!  CPH, between terminals A and B.  
Gotta love those Danes!
Now in day 4 of time zone travel, I sleep between 10 PM and midnight, then 2 - 8 AM.  Could be worse. I'm not falling asleep during the day!


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