Friday, August 31, 2012

Vogue Knitting 30th Anniversary

This fall, Vogue Knitting is celebrating 30 years of publication, and had a talk and trunk show at Knitty City earlier this week.
The theme of the issue and for the main story is pearls since that is the traditional gift given at a 30th anniversary. There was even a special edition Pearl yarn by Zealana which is a blend of pearl and tencel.
Source: String Yarns
I missed out on that but got to check out the sample knit in the yarn which was very soft and drapey.

I left for Knitty City about an hour before I wanted to arrive but got there in a record 30 minutes.  Before the talk, we were commandeered for a special photo outside.
Knitty City is part of the Big Break for Small Business OPEN competition over on Facebook - there is still time to vote! Go over there now.

After that, the garments from the Vogue issue began to appear. The cover outfit was designed by Nicki Epstein, and it was quite something to see them in person.
Wedding Dress by Nicki Epstein on the left,
Pearl Bodice by Mari Lynn Patrick and Lace and Pearl Capelet by Shirley Paden on the right
In addition to the pearl themed garments, there were other garments and accessories from the other stories in the issue. Lisa and I loved the gloves and fingerless mitts on display.
Dark blue: Cabled Mittens by Lily Kate France
Light Blue: Wristers by Debbie Bliss
Sadly, I lost a photo that had me wearing the Cowl Neck Top by Nora Gaughn and my friend Ashley, wearing the Cap-Sleeve Cardi by Sarah Hatton - those were very nice patterns, and the orange in the sample cowl sweater went really well with my skin tone.

Before the trunk show, there was a slideshow showing all the patterns from the issue in detail, as well as a little bit of Vogue history which was really interesting. The trunk show was a lot of fun; I am going back to Knitty City tonight for the Malabrigo talk and tasting, so I plan get more photos of the garments on display.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Refreshers

Over the past several years, I have realized that I like to drink soda only for the "fizzy factor" - the carbonated, bubbly aspect of soda.

I think the love of the "fizzy factor" is due to the fact that I rarely had soda growing up and was only as a treat (adult-onset diabetes runs in both mine and The Aussie's families; things like soda, cake and cookies were a rarity). As an adult with my own place I first thought to myself, "I can buy whatever I want!" Hence the soda phase. 

Since I have been trying to eat healthier, I switched from soda to seltzer water, and otherwise natural sodas. One of my favorites is Whole Foods' 365 Ginger Ale. The Aussie is more for the root beer. 

Nevertheless, when San Pellegrino's sparkling soda's became more widespread in Astoria this summer, I couldn't resist. 
I have tried all four flavors - lemon, orange, grapefruit and blood orange, but the last one is my favorite. My supermarket only started carrying it; as they only had the first two. 

It's a nice little treat on a summer day, especially with a sandwich. 
Ham, asiago and arugula with mayonaise.

Revisiting Italy: Rome

So many things to see in Rome - we were always on the move.
Panorama, Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain 
More gelato at Piazza Navona
Pantheon
Skipped the 3 hour long queue to get into the Vatican Museums.
School of Athens, Vatican Museums
La Pieta, St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Square
Snuck a picture of the Sistine Chapel
Spanish Steps
Panorama, Colisseum 
Castel Sant'Angelo, heading back from Trastevere
And so ends the honeymoon recap. I want to recap some more of my other travel adventures, especially the travel that I did from 2006-2008 when I lived in Japan (with trips to South Korea, Philippines and Australia, and tons of Japanese cities). What do you think? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Revisiting Italy: Florence

Florence was small and rainy. We ordered our tickets to see the David online (as we did for everything we went to in Italy, saved alot of time on lines) and wandered around the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale.
Duomo at sunset.
Duomo, Hipstamatic Style
Gelato. It became progressively more expensive as we headed to Rome. 
Carousel at the Piazza Repubblica
At the San Lorenzo Market - my priorities were bags and scarves...
...while The Aussie's was truffles and prosciutto at the Food Hall. 
Rainy at the Ponte Vecchio
Panorama, Palazzo Vecchio
Train station
Italian countryside as seen from the Eurostar on our way to Rome. 

Revisiting Italy: Venice

The closest I ever got to sharing photos of my honeymoon was just a preview post back on my old blog. Without further ado, here are the highlights of our honeymoon to Italy in August 2010, starting with Venice.

Panorama, Venetian Lagoon 
First day in Venice.
Narrow alleys. 
Grand Canal
Narrow waterways
Gondolas on the Grand Canal
Murano
Murano
On our way to the Palace of the Doges
Courtyard, Palace of the Doges

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dreaming of Prague

The Aussie had it in his head after our trip to Turks and Caicos this past July that he wanted to go again in December for his birthday.

The thing is, T&C is completely booked at Christmas. Seems like everyone was going to their timeshares and hotel properties (a dream of ours is to own a place at a resort in T&C) during Christmas break. In addition, my job is such that my vacations are set in stone and we can go on vacation when school is on break. An upside because I get a really nice amount of vacation, but a downside because it's hard to travel during "off seasons."

Brooklyn Limestone's travel tips are really inspirational, especially the tip on traveling just for a few days as opposed to two weeks. I'd like to add my own onto that: if you do plan to go somewhere for two weeks, go somewhere where there are multiple destinations.

 Case in point: when The Aussie and I went on our honeymoon to Italy in 2010, we went to Venice, Florence and Rome over the course of 10 days. Three cities in one shot is not so bad. I still have yet to do a roundup photo post of that trip! I should get on that.

Returning to the Christmas holidays, The Aussie still wanted to go somewhere. ANYWHERE. I am of the "Let's go wherever is cheapest" school which makes travel planning more random and fun.

Prague was not really so random - it was actually a toss-up between it and T&C for July. It also was a toss-up between sight-seeing and relaxing on a beach and the latter won out.

The city was still on our minds because for one thing it's not on the Euro which makes it cheaper, and second it was the one city that was not bombed during WWII.

That means there is gorgeous architecture to be seen, especially the Prague Astronomical Clock:
Source: myxabyxe's flickr photostream
And the medieval architecture:
Source: Atul Nagar's flickr photostream
There are also really fun places to go to - there is the Gastronomy Museum, which is perfect for a foodie like The Aussie (and in a 14th century building so even more awesome architecture to look at) and the Museum of Decorative Arts. I also want to see a ballet or an opera, especially at the Prague State Opera.
Source: one-thirteen's flickr photostream
After some research, we were able to price a trip with a hotel near the Old City for 12/25 to 12/31 within our budget. If it doesn't work out, we have a whole list of other cities in Europe to consider during that time period.

We hope to book by the end of September; in the meantime, I'll be dreaming of walking along the Charles bridge on a crisp winter evening.

Plied.

I finished plying my first handspun using the wheel yesterday afternoon.
Yarn Specifications
Ratio: 8
Fiber: Northbound Knitting Blue Faced Leicester
in the colorway Wine and Debauch
Weight: TBD
Yardage: TBD

Photo Specifications
f4.5, 1/5, ISO Auto, Daylight White Balance

It was a bit of an adventure, involving me trying to coordinate my body - I was so used to spinning in one direction that when it came to the other, it was a bit tricky trying to force my body to go in the direction needed to ply. Say you spin the yarn with the wheel going clockwise. When you ply, you need to have the wheel going counterclockwise. I kept getting that mixed up.
In addition, I had the single on the drop spindle and some extra fiber. I put the yarn on the spindle manually onto the bobbin and tried to spin onto it. The single couldn't really handle it, so I left it alone, and spun the rest of my fiber onto the last bobbin. Then I spliced the singles together and kept spinning and only have a bit left over which I will use to practice Navajo plying with.
The weight and the yardage specs are TBD because I just ordered a 2-yard niddy noddy; I only have a one yard (which I purchased when I first started spinning) and it makes really small skeins. Once the new niddy arrives, I'll get a better estimate of the yardage and weight.

Up next: more spinning. While this is intended as a gift, the next braid is actually intended for a project that is going to be part of a very special blog tour! Details to come shortly.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Say Hello to My New Toy

This is my new spinning wheel. It is a Lendrum, double treadle (for the non spinners, that means pedals for both of my feet to pedal on as opposed to just one, better for my knees) which is made in Canada.
Spinning is a lot more meditative than knitting; once you get into the groove, you can just go on auto-pilot. It is definitely potato-chippy, I just cannot stop. The only reason why I stop is three-fold: one, I have to rest my wrists.

 Yes, both wrists now. I hold the fiber with my left hand and draft with the right, so I have to make sure that my right wrist is parallel to the floor so it is not at a funky angle and causes undue strain. The left wrist is also parallel, but just rests on my thigh while I spin. I have to get The Aussie to get photos and video of me spinning because I think my technique is off.

Second, I stop because I run out of fiber and have to get extra. That is a typical reason.

Third, I have to make sure that Adele is not near the wheel. She has a reputation of needle chewing and as of right now, I really cannot keep the wheel alone. That is, I have to still supervise Adele; when I am in the room and the wheel is not, that is not really ideal.

Nevertheless, while both Ollie and Adele have expressed some interest, they have backed off from the wheel. Even The Aussie was transfixed by me spinning - that first night he just looked at the wheel trying to figure out how it worked.

I bet he was also trying to figure out how to make one just as good and 4 times as cheap as mine just using bicycle parts. We have enough lying around (short of PVC pipe) to actually make a wheel. When I first started making noises about buying a wheel, he said he would make it.

Somewhat thankfully (I REALLY wanted the Lendrum), that did not happen and since Thursday I have been spinning happily and working on my technique. There were some snafus to begin with (me + colonial fiber = frustration), and there was a point where the fiber was so underspun and weak that I had to cut it off the bobbin. This weekend, I definitely made progress.
One thing that I am still stuck on is a name. I have no idea what to name my wheel, which according to Lisa, is definitely a she.

As for the photos, here are the specs: 1/10, f6.3 (for indoor settings with daylight this is my favorite combination),  ISO on Auto, and Automatic White Balance. I forgot to change the white balance setting but I think the photos still came out nice.