Friday, June 30, 2006

England: Day 1 - Stonehenge, and the perils of driving on the left

Last time we talked, I was arriving at Gatwick. After waiting almost 2 hours to get through immigration, I met my parents, which felt pretty cool. Meeting up in an international airport sounds so cosmopolitan. We retrieved our nemesis rental car, and the fun began...

We had quite ambitious plans for our first day, and I must admit they are entirely my fault. It was my suggestion that we spend the first night in Bath, because it's a great place and I was mistakenly remembering it as being closer to London than it actually is. Plus, my mother really wanted to go to Stonehenge, and it's on the way. Now, if you look at a map of England, you will quickly notice that Bath is pretty much all the way across the country from London. Of course, this not being a huge country, it's not really THAT far, but with no sleep and a foreign car/roads/etc, it's a long way. And of course we couldn't take the motorway, because we were "seeing the countryside." Tensions were high in the car, I must say. My dad was driving, I was navigating, and my mother was wisely sitting in the back. The driving was treacherous. If you've driven in England, and Europe in general, you know what I'm talking about here. The roads are really narrow (no shoulder whatsoever) and twisty (no visibility), and of course in England you're sitting on the wrong side of the car and driving on the wrong side of the road, and being forced to navigate confusing roundabouts every 2 miles. My dad developed an affinity for hitting curbs, which must be excused because they really popped out of nowhere (and served no obvious purpose). So, the first day driving was a bit rough, but my dad was a pro by the third day and no harn was done. Except maybe to my blood pressure on the first day...

We made it to Stonehenge in the afternoon and it was much better than I expected. I'd heard it was very commercial (which is true, but at least you can't really see that from the actual henge). The stones were big, bigger than I had imagined, and the area is really lovely. You can't get that close to the stones because the ground is fragile, but you're close enough. The whole time I had Eddie Izzard in my head (if you don't know his comedy, then you should. Hilarious. Highly recommended. Get Dressed to Kill first, that's my favorite, and the one with the Stonehenge bit). Of course everyone knows what Stonehenge looks like, but here is my version:

Stonehenge was also where I spotted my first sheep, recently sheared:

We then continued onto Bath...we arrived there that first day around 5:30, peak rush hour, and had no idea where the hotel was, aside from that it was somewhere near the Roman Baths. Did we find it? How long did that take? And was there a bathtub? We shall continue this story another day...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

England: The Flight

So I've decided that I'm going to discuss my recent trip to the Motherland in stages, with photos as appropriate, to distract you all from the fact that I haven't picked up the needles in anger in several weeks days. However, first I will amuse you with some sheep:

These lovely specimens belong later in the trip, but they're so cute, investigating the National Trust donation box...

The first couple day of the trip consisted of the flight to London. I flew to London via Houston, which is really NOT on the way from Seattle. On my first flight I must (sadly) admit that I watched (and sort of enjoyed) Aquamarine. The second flight is where the sock crisis that I referred to yesterday took place. Imagine it: You're on a plane, somewhere over the north Atlantic, at what your body thinks is about 2:30am. You've wrangled your way into the window seat by convincing the nice young lad that had the seat that his huge backpack wouldn't fit under that seat because there was some sort of plane part in there, but would under the middle seat (which he fell for, because you smiled sweetly, even though the bag ended up in the overhead bin, since it was huge and had a tripod attached. More on him later). You're all cozy, and you've watched two movies already (Failure to Launch and Firewall (have I mentioned how I love Paul Bettany?)) on your individual screen (god love 777s) because you don't sleep on planes. You decide you should knit, and go for the Clapotis because it requires less attention than a lace sock, and it's 2:30am and it's kind of dark. So, you reach in your bag, carefully, because the sock is in there, and out comes your hand with a DPN. That had, until recently, been attached to the sock. Are you picturing this? You mutter obscenities under your breath (hopefully - you have your iPod on so you're not really sure of the volume), and dig out the sock. In a stroke of luck, the stray needle has come out of the sole, not the lace. You thank someone upstairs and pray you can fix the sock (since you're closer than usual you figure this might be effective). You suck it up and start picking up stitches. It's not that bad, until the end, when you realize that some of the stitches have come unknit. But you can't face fixing that, so you just pick up what you can and decide you'll deal with it later. Much later. As in you still haven't looked at the sock and somehow also managed to lose one of your precious DPNs on the plane. Which was a good excuse for not working on the sock the whole trip. You work on the Clapotis a bit until Firewall comes on again, and you watch that, because you love Paul Bettany. Even when he's a bad guy. But especially in Wimbleton, which you watch the day you get home. And Master and Commander. But I digress...And then you start reading your book, Stiff, about the crazy things that happen to/are done to corpses, until you land.

That is the sock story. Really it's not that bad but I had to share it since it's part of why I didn't knit much on the trip. Back to the nice boy who gave me his seat on the plane. He was going to backpack around Europe, and he had no plans, knew not a soul, and spoke nothing but English (which is probably fine, really). His plan, the first night, I kid you not, was to camp in LONDON. Well, first he was going to walk from Gatwick to London, which is a LONG way, and then camp in a park in the city. The kind British woman next to him tried to convince him there were laws against that, but he was undeterred. I meant to get his email, just to find out what happened to him, but I forgot. I hope he makes it. He seemed a bit naive but, well, it takes all kinds. More tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm back!

I have returned from the UK in one piece! And I promise to tell you all about it, later, because right now I'm about to go home from lab and I don't have a proper long post in me. That and I don't have many photos of myself to share, since they were all taken with my dad's camera. However, I do have some great sheep photos that I'll post tomorrow, to distract you from the fact that there is no knitting. Yes, you read that correctly, no knitting. I knit 5 rows of the Clapotis in 10 days. 5 rows. That's pathetic. I don't even want to talk about it. When you hear more about the trip perhaps you will understand. There was also a sock crisis...aren't you so intrigued?!?
But, what I really want to do here today is acknowledge this lovely package I received the day I left for England, from my Dye-o-Rama swap pal, who I now know to be Lauren. She sent me all these lovely goodies: Here I have a giant Maine mug, with a fiesty looking lobster (how did she know I love huge mugs? I'm very excited about this!) There is also a Maine notepad and some soap, as well as the postcard and nifty knitting card you see. And, of course, some beautiful handdyed yarn! Not sure how well the colors turned out in the photo, but the yarn is several shades of light green, turquoise, and purple. I love it, it's just my colors, and now I have to find the perfect pattern to show it off. There was also a huge bag of Lemonheads, which went on the plane with me and disappeared rapidly. Don't tell my dentist! Thank you so much Lauren, I love everything you sent. And now I'm reminded that I've been wanting to go to Maine!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I'm all packed and ready to go! Last night I laid everything out:

It is possible that I'm crazy. Do most people lay stuff out like this? I should've taken a picture of the "planned outfits" list I made, but I didn't really want to admit to having made such a thing. The goal here was not to overpack, which is something I always do, yet looking at those little piles it doesn't seem possible that that is enough clothing for 10 days. I put it all in the suitcase and there is SO much room left (yarn? cool British shoes/clothes/purses?). I think I'm used to traveling in the winter when the clothes are bulkier, and that's why I don't think I have enough. Anyway...I also took a photo of the new black sandals I got, since I couldn't find one online:
These are super comfortable and I'm quite happy with them. Those green shoes peeking into the photo are my green Pumas. I have, I think, 6 pairs of Pumas, which might be out of hand, but how can you go wrong with bright comfortable sneakers? You can't! The green ones are the tamest ones I have...

I haven't decided what knitting I'll be taking with me. I was dismayed to learn that I won't be able to carry knitting on the plane on the way back to the States (different security in Europe, no knitting needles). I have tossed around the idea of finishing one of my green socks while I'm there (fingers crossed) and boarding the plane on the way back with my DPNs in my hair like hairsticks. No huge loss if they get taken. But, because I'm not a risk-taker and I don't want to get arrested or lose my precious needles, I'll probably just check them and retrieve them out of my suitcase as soon as I get to the US so I can knit on the Cleveland-Seattle leg. I'm going to take the Clapotis, which is mindless yet entertaining enough to keep me occupied, and probably the green socks. Thought about taking the teal Hike sweater (still just that one sleeve to go) but I'd have to take the other sleeve to make sure they were matching and I don't want to have anything extra. If I'm honest with myself I probably won't have that much knitting time aside from the plane and the Clapotis+socks will be plenty. I will try to yarn shop while I'm over there, but I haven't bothered to do any serious looking to find shops since I don't want to drag my parents around looking for yarn. If I find a store, I will go in it. If I see a farm with fiber-bearing animasl, I will suggest we pull over. If I stumble upon the Rowan factory, I will use whatever means necessary to get inside (short of getting arrested, of course. Can you knit in prison?).

It's been awhile since I've been to Europe, and I'm a huge Anglophile, so I'm really excited about this trip. I'll be gone 10 days, and I'm sure I won't be posting, so catch you all in a couple of weeks! Maybe with a finished Clapotis!?!?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

If the shoe fits...

I found shoes:

No, these are not flat black sandals. I also got some of those, but I can't find them anywhere on the internet, even though they are Born and every other shoe they make is on their webpage. They are very comfortable. Maybe I'll take a photo of them and add it later. Anyway, these little brown shoes are ones I've been lusting after since I first spotted them about a month ago. They fill another void in the shoe wardrobe (the not-clunky-or-flip-floppy brown sandal void). I love them. Walked around my apartment in them a fair bit last night to test them out. I'm not good at walking in heels - need to practice...

I also found an adorable brown dress, and a knee-length denim skirt that fits and doesn't make me look pregnant, which is a common problem with these things (for me at least). However, I did NOT find JEANS THAT WERE NOT 5 INCHES TOO LONG. Not that I'm bitter. I hate shopping for jeans. I'm 5'2". The ankle-length jeans are good for me, but most stores don't have them, and none of the 'trendy' jeans come in anything shorter than 32" inseams. When will the designers realize that a)we're not all 5'9", and b)we don't always want to wear 3" heels (cute sandals aside)?

Okay, I'm done ranting. There was no knitting since there was shopping and packing. Maybe tomorrow I will talk about knitting, since I'll be knitting for a couple of hours tonight. Probably fighting with the confusing stuffed bear directions...hopefully with Rachel's help!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Busy weekend

I'm tired. Last weekend was one of those non-relaxing types, the ones where you're almost relieved to go to work on Monday (note I said almost). Saturday morning we actually slept in until 9:00 (yes, that is sleeping in - we are early risers). Lounged around for a bit and decided I really had to get moving, so I went shoe shopping, on a mission for flat, black sandals that are not flip-flops. I'm going to England on Thursday (have I mentioned this?), and I want comfortable shoes to walk around in but I'd really rather not wear flip-flops. Now, let me disclose that I have what any sane person some might consider a lot of shoes. So you would think I would have the perfect shoes for any occasion. However, this never seems to be the case (the same is true of purses, of which I possibly have more than shoes). So I went on a quest. While I didn't find the perfect sandals (you'd think flat black would be easy, no?), I did find some nice black flat shoes (another hole in the shoe wardrobe filled), so I got them. At about 4:00, Dave decided that he would indeed do the race he'd been considering doing, so we packed up the car and headed out to Winthrop, WA, which is about 4.5 hours from Seattle. We left at 5:30. You can do the math but we got to the campground pretty late.
The race was a mess. It thundered and poured the whole 2.5 hours. Observe finish line photo: Also observe the big smile (only body part without mud - he had so much mud in his eyelashes it looked like mascara).

Dave came in 2nd in his race and was thrilled, and we had to stick around for the awards. As such, we didn't get home until 10:00 last night. But the drive was lovely, through North Cascades National Park and along the Ross Dam area. I love dams. Sadly we didn't have time to do the dam hike. Maybe next time. But there was scenery:There wasn't much knitting. In fact there wasn't any knitting, although I did take it along for the drive. We're having a knitting club meetnig tomorrow night so hopefully I'll accomplish something! I got an email from my dye-o-rama partner that she mailed my yarn today. I'm really excited to see it but it probably won't come until I get back from England. I mailed my Secret Pal her first package on Friday and I'm really excited to see if she likes it!

Now I'm off to Nordstrom to look for the elusive black sandals...

Friday, June 09, 2006

New project!!!

I love a new project, let me tell you. Which is why I'm always ending up with so many WIPs. I've been really busy the last couple of weeks preparing for a committee meeting (and going to Chicago, which wasn't really the best preparation but was more fun that making a powerpoint presentation). Therefore there hasn't been much knitting. The meeting went very well though, and now I can relax about it for awhile until I have to have another one (6 months? More? We'll see). But, last night I decided I really should get around to casting on something new. I'm making Baby Bobbi Bear for my friend Paula, who is having a baby in August. I bought the kit from Jimmy Beans Wools a couple of months ago, and it's just been gathering dust since August seemed so far away. However, when I got back from Chicago and saw Paula, it dawned on me that she's getting more pregnant every day and I'd best get a move on if I was going to finish this on time. So, I swatched and cast on, and after about 1.5 hours I had this:
However, now I'm a bit stuck since the pattern isn't exactly clear to me. It's written for "beginners with some experience," and I'm certainly beyond that stage, but I have no idea what I'm doing with this. So I put it down and got out the sock I'm working on, which was supposed to be my May Project Spectrum project (so I'm running a bit late - I've been busy). I'm loving these socks:

This photo really does not do the pattern (Elfine Socks) or the yarn (which I dyed!) justice. However, the most exciting thing about this is the holes. Even in this atrocious photo you can see that I have actual holes in my knitting. Now I know you're thinking, yes, obviously, why are you so excited about this? Well, I'll tell you. I've never really understood yarnovers. I've done them, oh yes, but I've always managed (apparently) to knit into the wrong loop of them in the next row, thus twisting them and mostly closing the lovely hole I'd just created. When I was working on these socks, I finally had a breakthrough and figured out what I've been doing wrong all these years. This breakthrough occurred on the plane on the way to Chicago, and I was so excited about it that I waxed on about it with my seatmates, who were both impressed with the sock in general although I think they failed to appreciate the importance of the yarnover breakthrough. But I'm excited about finally having holes in my knitting!!!

Isn't this a happy kitty?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Secret Pal Package!!!

I returned from my trip to Chicago to find this waiting for me!

This excellent batch of stuff is from my Secret Pal, who lives in San Francisco and whose name starts with (I think) K. She is very elusive on info about herself, but she's been great to me so far, and I'm really happy with my package. We have: Socks Socks Socks, which I've been eyeing for awhile since there are some really lovely lace sock patterns in there as well as some nice textured patterns. She also sent two types of Knit Picks sock yarn, some darning needles (which is great since I'm down to one and always worried I'm going to lose it! Now the case can be restocked). There is also a milk chocolate bar (yum!) and some treats for Oliver (which he is very excited about and has eaten some of already). Thank you secret pal, I love everything you sent! I really must get my first package in the mail. I've been busy and out of town, but that's no excuse!

My trip to Chicago was great. There will be more photos and stories later, but for now I leave you with some teasers. One of the things we did was go see the King Tut exhibit at the Field Museum, which was good but a little bit disappointing in that they didn't have the famous mask/necklace on display and it was very crowded. However, in the gift shop there was this:

And this:

I know that's a horrible photo of me, but that blinged-out headdress is spectacular, no?

The coolest new thing in Chicago has to be this:

There will be more 'bean' photos later. I loved it. I want one. I looked for a miniature, but couldn't find one :(

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tea Swap Package Arrived!

My tea swap package arrived yesterday! My spoiler was Jenn, and she sent me this lovely assortment of goodies:
I'm really excited about all of it - thanks Jenn!
I'm on my way out to the airport, but I had to share these photos!

Oliver really wants to come to Chicago with me:
And, I actually went to bed like this last night. Dave, ever patient with the knitting, thought it best to document the occasion. Note DPN in hair:
Have a good weekend everyone!