A Knitter in Transition

My adventures - in knitting, marriage, and moving across hemispheres.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tails, Small & Large

Japanese lesson:
1. Tail: Shippo
2. Big: Oki
3. Small: Skoshi

So, first I'll talk about knitting, because that's what you're here for, right? Currently there are some things on the needles, namely the Eris cardigan and the Olympic-socks-of-which-we-do-not-speak. The Eris is laying in a wooly puddle on the coffee table patiently waiting for me to work on it. The OSOWWDNS's...well, let's just say they very nearly went to live with the fishies.

The only thing keeping me knitting are the projects I have in the future. I wouldn't want to get all out of practice for when they get here. The Lt says I have to finish both the cardigan and the OSOWWDNS's before I can cast on for the new stuff. I don't think he knows me very well. What knitter finishes one thing before she starts the next? What sense does that make? I guess it's a good thing it's travelling all the way from France!

I got on the Phildar site and ordered me up some French summer fun. No, there will be no Henri or Jacques joining me this summer, just some linen and viscose. (Only a knitter will read that sentence and say "ooo, linen!" instead of awwww-ing in pity and disappointment.) Here's what's on my horizon; a lacy open-work v-neck sweater (Printemps 2 no. 446, modele no. 09a), and a lacy cabled shrug (Printemps 2 no. 446, modele no. 28a).
The only thing is that the patterns will be in french. Oh well, I've been wanting to work on my french, right? Good thing I found these nifty translators.

OK, small tails: done. Large tails:

Yesterday the Lt and I went whale watching. Every year, humpback whales migrate through the East China Sea on their way north, right past Okinawa. So, we contributed to Eco-tourism, and went to check them out. We were not disappointed! It even stopped raining just for our tour. BTW, Dramamine Less Drowsy Formula ROCKS. These are some of my best photos, and they still don't capture the size and grace of the whales. Considering I was taking a picture of moving whales from a rocking AND moving forward boat, they came out pretty well.

We saw 3 whales, a mother & calf pair joined by another whale. We got to see them spyhopping and breaching. Imagine the strength it takes to propel 30 tons of whale out of the water!


It was amazing. They are so huge and seemed so gentle. At one point, the captain turned the boat off, and they came very close, maybe 10-15 yards away. They were relatively curious about us, checking us out.

They were the exact steely blue gray of the water, their markings were the exact color of the sky reflecting off of the water, and their dorsal fins are the exact shape of the waves. As if by design....

If you've ever tried to take action shots with a digital camera, you'll know it's all about timing. With a film camera, you push, it clicks. Not so much with the digi's. In a true feat of timing, I managed to catch a few shippo shots.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Better than Christmas

This has been one awesome goodie filled weekend chez moi. On Friday I forced myself out of the house because I was SURE there would be more than bills and crappy catalogs in the mailbox. THERE WAS!

I am the proud owner of my very own Amyville sushi stitchmarkers. Behold the almost intolerable level of cuteness:

These were right in my box, as they are small. But, there was also a little slip telling me they were holding another box for me. THERE'S MORE?!?!? Score! So I saunter up and hand the Marine my slip and ID, and he shimmies back with a tidy box marked "Yarn and Chocolate." Double Score! It's from my Secret Pal!! I do not lie to you when I say I did a little happy dance right there in the Military Post Office on Camp Foster, amidst several testosterone laden jarheads. Here's what I got:

There's three balls of ON-Line Merino Soft in a juicy tangerine color, and two balls of LIME green linen. To top it all off she's fattening me up with two bars of Perugina and Lindt dark chocolate. Um, Secret Pal? I LOVE YOU.

I think Secret Pals get a certain clairvoyance. This is my first SP, so I'm pretty sure I don't have the gift yet. But, I'm always reading blogs saying "how did my SP know....?" Well, how did MY SP know I'm dying to try out linen? Right now the linen is raw and crunchy and, quite frankly, zesty. It seems to want to become a tightly knitted bag that I may dip in starch so it has lots of structure. But, then again, I keep hearing about how soft linen gets after you wash it. I'm afraid to sacrifice even one little yard to swatch'n'wash as a test.

I don't know if you can tell in my awesome photo, but the merino yarn is very different. It's almost woven into a tiny little rope, with lots of stretch. It's got a great light feel to it, not like fuzzy or warm. I think this may end up in a tee so it will be warm in the A/C, but still crisp for the steamy sauna that Okinawa becomes May thru September. I'm thinking of putting it with bright white so that the colors really pop. Bonus, it has a great floral scent on it. Secret Pal, you smell nice.

Don't judge me, you all know you rub your new yarn on your cheek and sniff it to take in the wooly goodness. And if you don't, you should.

I also scored the Friends complete series on DVD via the Lt for Valentine's Day. That will come in handy for the olympics, as we don't yet have network TV. We're signed up, but not sure when it'll happen. My Olympic socks are coming right along. Here's a starting gate pic for you:

I forced myself to wait until Saturday morning to cast on, as the Lt and I suck at math, and couldn't figure out the time difference between Italy and Japan. Sad, but true.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You Might Wanna Sit Down for This One

An FO! What? She knits? Like with actual yarn and actual needles and actual k2tog's?

That's right, people. I knit. It's not just something I SAY I do. You know, like ruling the world and climbing Tibetan mountains.

Oh. Wiseguys. You want proof, you say? You can't handle the proof. (yes, I really just went there.)

I hereby christen this project: The Lt's Ancient Scarf.

I call it this because I really started it 5 years ago as my very first learn-to-knit scarf. You know, the very same garter stitch scarf we all learned to knit on. See, the thing is, I realized very early in my knitting career that I hate working in garter stitch. Did then, do today. So, I moved on to bigger and better things (a roll-brim baby hat in Noro Kureyon*) and blocked out the scarf.

*I learned to knit from a very progressive group of ladies at a FABULOUS teensy little yarn shop in New Orleans called the Quarter Stitch. They do not screw around with silly things like acrylic or patterns. My first pattern consisted of casting on "however many you feel like, sweetie." I learned to knit on hand-spun alpaca. My second project was in Noro Kureyon. What a luscious intro to yarn, eh?

ANYWAY...so I finally decided to finish the damn scarf. I dig it out of it's marination bag, and try to frog it, because every stitch was hideous. (And that's hard to accomplish on alpaca!) Well, the yarn was shot. OH NO!! This means I have to buy MORE alpaca!! Three delicious skeins (or was it 6?) of Blue Sky alpaca later, and this is what we've got. A thick fluffy gorgeous navy-grey-&-moss scarf for the Lt.

Some more pics and Japan stuff for you. These were all taken at/near the far northern tip of Okinawa, called Zanpa. It's gorgeous and blue and slate and really damn windy. Like, Chicago wind looks like a wussy little puff compared to this wind. The wind here is icy and biting and will cut through steel. Wool? This wind says "Bah" and waves it's paw at wool. I am not a fan of venturing out into this type of wind.

It happens that my husband has a particular affinity/obsession with taking horrendously unflattering photos of me suffering in this exact wind. Luckily for him, he brought me this beautiful lace scarf from Russia last summer. Not luckily for me, lace is full of holes. Here we see Russian Refugee Ashley:

There are photos of me from our trip up the California coast line where my lips are blue and my hair is blown literally horizontal from the wind.

However, he does have mad skilz capturing other items that look really beautiful in the wind. He got a lot of pretty shots of the coast line with cliffs and "roiling seas" and such, but the scale is just not done justice. I leave you with this postcard worthy shot:

Monday, February 06, 2006

In America You Might...

Hey Y'alls. I'm finally online at my very own townhouse with my very own computer in my very own spare bedroom/office/seasonal clothes storage/linen repository.

First things first: the Dale gift is DONE!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm wrapping it and sending it on it's long long journey today. It's too adorable, and now that it's done I'm inspired to give a more complicated Dale pattern a shot. We'll see.* I'll put up an official FO posting with pics and details when it's been received.

*There's a dilema here, as I've banned all gift knitting for 2006. 2006 is All About Ashley. As selfish as that sounds, in my 5 years of knitting I've worked myself up a whopping
-sock (just one, and TOO small, at that...)
-tank top.
Oh yeah, and a felted purse, but that's IT. Oh, and a camera case, but that's so small and was done with leftovers so, does it really even count? So, I don't think it's a terrible thing. But would knitting up a Dale pattern with advanced colorwork and steeks really be a gift when I really just want to see if I can pull it off while maintaining even the tiniest bit of a grip on reality?

Also, I've joined up in the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics. While there are some Captain Insane-O's out there knitting norwegian things with steeks and herrings and fjords, I have decided on a different challenge for myself: my first complete pair of socks. At my current knitting rate, it will be just that: a challenge. The Lt is quite proud that I've "decided to take my knitting to the competitive level."

Now, I've got to tell you about Japan. First, if you ever get the chance to go to Japan, you HAVE to. I realize it's a helluva splurge for the vast majority of us, but it's so awesome. You will laugh at everything you see. In a good natured and very culture-appreciative way of course. Here's some examples for you:

In America you might buy a Coke or Dr. Pepper at a drink machine. In Japan, you can find those, but you're more likely to find an assortment of green teas and coffees. The coffees are actually quite tasty. The green teas, not so much. In America, you might find this vending machine at the 7-11, in the mall, or at the post office. In Japan you find them literally on every street corner, with 2 in between. In America, you would never pull your car to the curb, thereby blocking traffic, while you take care of your caffeine jones. In Japan, this is de rigeur. (More on Japanese driving at a later date...)

In America, your van might be taller than you are. In Japan, that's just a silly American version.

In America, you might drive an EX. In Japan, you'll be behind the wheel of an Exciting Version.

In America, God help you if you drive a Daihatsu. In Japan, you can pimp it in a Daihatsu Naked. (BTW, those two characters at the top of the plate say Oki Nawa, and the yellow plate means it's a 3-cylinder.)

In America, it's highly frowned upon to drive your ATV to work. In Japan, whatever man.

In America, when out for a sushi dinner, you might have a tough time deciding between the rainbow roll and another tekka maki. In Japan, you have a whole other option: the Salted Sea Squirt.

Notice also the guppies over tofu in the the lower left corner. This is the most family-friendly pic I could give you. This same menu also included broiled pig toes and horse meat sashimi. Eeewww with a shivvvvvvver.

In America, Spam is sold everywhere, but no one knows who buys it. (Except in Hawaii, where it's everyone!) Here in Japan, Spam is a special special meat-type item, and can be found in very fancily wrapped gift boxes. (But then, so can Tide and Mr. Clean.) Just like in the States, they love flavored Spam.

I SO wish I had a pic of the Christmas Spam. But, the Japanese are EXTREMELY polite, and the Christmas Spam was on very prominent display in the middle of the store, and I was afraid they would think me a big-rude-uncouth-amazon-slash-honky if I was laughing and taking pics of their gift spam. So, I lurked in the spam aisle like a spam-criminal and took my little spam-porn photos.

And now, just because I ADORE this picture, here's one of me and my Lt.