Skating Along on Veste Croisée

Things are skating along on La Droguerie’s Veste Croisée and I finished the back last night and it looks good.  Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t look good, I missed the light today and had to use a flash. I guess it’s getting to be that time of year for bad light.

I went to Skate America figure skating competition today in Everett and cast on for the right front while there. I hadn’t been to an international figure skating competition in eons because they rarely come anywhere near my area, so when I heard that Skate America was coming, it seemed like a rare opportunity not to be missed. My mom, sister and two sisters-in-law packed into a car and went. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I made due with that modern age stand-by, the cell phone camera.

This is the right front all in a jumble after a few hours at Skate America:

Can you see Brian Orser? That's the back of his head just above the rail on the right. I know you're impressed.

Three great skaters facing the media: Yukari Nakano, Kim Yu-Na and Miki Ando.

All eyes on the gold-medalist Kim Yu-Na.

Knitting at a skating competition isn’t as simple as I thought it would be because I had to stop to applaud every jump and because people don’t stay still very long, so I stopped countless times to let my row-mates through, my own group being the particularly restless.

It’s Boys’ Night Out…

Meaning that my husband took our son out for their monthly evening out to: Red Robin and Apple Store to play with any devices our son can get his hands on. And that would mean that I take myself out to dinner. Usually Japanese. Probably with raw fish in it. Yum. But instead, I find myself holed-up in front of the computer with the two girl cats, Olivia and Phinney awaiting they’re next opportunity to sit in my lap (Zephyr, the male cat has also taken his leave for the evening and gone out to risk life and limb to roam the woods among the wild things).

I’m looking at old pictures. Being officially fall now, I recall my last trip to Washington D.C. in October 2003 and visiting Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market where I saw these beautiful pumpkin bouquets.

It was easily one of the best farmers’ markets I’d ever been to.

And then I found some more pictures I took on that trip.

Mini pumpkins over an Alexandria, VA door.

Cute or what? She lives in a D.C. museum.

The longest escalators I'd ever seen. These are in the D.C. subway system and they are so long, they freaked me out.

Raid on Antibes*

Finally got my Mac back after the techs at Apple had their hands on it for some warranty work, and now I can access my pictures from the trip to Europe.

My knitting traveling companions were Bird’s Eye Shawl and Kusha Kusha Scarf, which I cast on for during the trip. I worked on Bird’s Eye for much of the first week, and then cast on for Kusha Kusha toward the end of the first week (during a day trip to Volterra, Italy). Taking lace on a touring trip is probably not the best idea and I knew it going in, but I didn’t have anything else easier and as small to carry, so Bird’s Eye was the primary candidate, and it turned out to be a lifesaver for the flight to Europe because I ended-up in a seat with a non-functioning personal video screen, and a non-functioning light, so it was Bird’s Eye for much of the 9-hour flight (I had a little clip-on LED book light to use to see with). Luckily I brought everything for Kusha Kusha, as that was definitely the better project for touring with.

Kusha Kusha in Antibes, France

Antibes looks much better without knitting in front of it. No?

Do you think the guy with the really big boat is worried about global warming and the price of gas?

Jolly Jail Birds

I couldn’t resist this picture. They were penned-up in this cage in front of a shop along Voie Georges Pompidou in Paris. By the way, how do you know which bank is Left Bank and which is the Right Bank in Paris? From what perspective are they left and right?

By the way, my apologies for claiming that there was a Beard Papa in Portland, Oregon, if that sent anyone else scurrying for information on the locale as it did Super Eggplant blogger Mariko. For some reason I thought I’d been told that there was one there. However, despite her dismay in finding no Beard Papa to be had in her town, Mariko informed me that Beard Papa’s website states that there will be a Beard Papa in Lynnwood, Washington in November in addition to the one in Seattle’s Uwajimaya. Parking shouldn’t be a problem, which is good because my husband still owes me my meter money stash.

*Not to be confused with the Peter Finch film, Raid on Entebbe, and this sort of play on names assumes the mispronunciation of Antibes. Sorry.

Papa’s got a brand new beard.

Went to my favorite noodle place for lunch the other day, Samurai Noodle. Located in Seattle’s Uwajimaya Village in Chinatown, or really just outside Uwajimaya next to the store’s loading dock on 5th Ave. S., so you have to enter from the outside (yes, they validate parking for the Uwajimaya lot), this place is among a handful of cool new places that have recently opened—surely, you’ve been to Unicorn Crepes (Japanese crepes) at 421 6th Ave. S. already. Samurai serves great ramen, and though it seats only about 18 people, it doesn’t keep the faithful away and they wait quietly and patiently, often outside, for a place to sit. Yes, but this isn’t about Samurai or Unicorn, it’s about the new kid in town, Beard Papa’s.

For years I’ve listened to my husband go on about this place and when he caught wind that Beard Papa, which can be found in California, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada, was finally opening in Seattle, I knew that it would put an end my having to hear about their cream puffs. Little did I know that I would go to desperate measures for the puffy balls of cream-filled pastry my husband so craved.

So, after lunch I head into Uwajimaya to discover that the object of my husband’s gastronomic desire was open for business, and I take my place in line. What to order? Beard Papa’s made it simple, offering cream puffs in three flavors, vanilla (original), matcha, and chocolate, so I decide on one of each. But then the little handwritten sign at the cash register stops me short: cash only. I have $1 and some loose change in my wallet and they are $2.15 each plus tax, I’ve come about 20 miles in from the suburbs so who knows when I’ll be back next, I’d already texted my husband that it’s open, I’m now beyond the point of turning back and I can’t go home empty-handed now. So harkening back to the day when as a kid I would deplete my savings to buy a new toy, I emptied the contents of my wallet into my hand and counted every cent, but still came 20-cents short of one cream puff. Aaarrrggghhh!!! To make it more frustrating. it was now 1:45 and I had to be home by 2:30 to relieve my mother who was babysitting my son, and at this point I could still make it home in time, but then my husband and those blasted cream puffs!!! Bank machine was out of the question, since I make it a point to not remember the PIN or keep the PIN with me so I don’t use it. So I run out to the car and dig up my meter money and come up with just enough for two cream puffs (matcha and chocolate). Well, it made a good story as I explained to my mother why I was 15 minutes late, although somehow “late due to cream puffs” didn’t seem to impress her much. Oh, and the cream puffs are quite nice.

Behold: The Cream Puff

My Mac is out of wack.

We took my Mac to see the genuises at the Apple Store Genius Bar today and they said they’d get it back to us in about 5 days! Little do they know, but all of my pictures are on the Mac and I have some posts to write. I’ll have to get creative about posting without my computer, so I’m posting from my iPhone using the WordPress app. and the Camera Bag app.

We had lunch at Blue C Sushi today (“McBlueCSushi”), which seemed pretty darn good after not having Asian food for a few weeks; it’s a belted sushi place that serves mostly cooked Japanese food. This picture is lunch at Blue C today using Camera Bag’s “Cinema” photo setting.

The next photo, using the phone’s built-in camera app., is of my newest project, La Droguerie’s “Veste Croisée” (“Folded Crossed* Jacket”, according to my French dictionary, which suits the final product’s design) in La Droguerie’s house yarns of Alpaca and Plumette (70% super kid mohair, 30% polyamide), both in an aubergine shade. This the first 6 cm of the sweater in the dreamiest of yarn—sooo luxuriously soft. I translated the pattern easily using a French dictionary and Chez Plum’s French Knitting Dictionary. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, and we’ll see if it ends up with eight arms and three collars!

*[Update:  er, according to my French dictionary croisé can mean folded or crossed, but that croisée means crossing–hey, I was jet-lagged when I translated it, and besides, I don’t speak French.]

Some things I puzzled over while in Europe

Back on home turf now, I am reflecting on the trip.  Bear with me and allow me to blather on.

I never could figure out what the typical work day was like.  I mean, it seemed that morning rush hour was about 7:00-9:00, and then everything shuts down for about 2-3 hours in the middle of the day, and then evening rush hour seemed to be around 5:00-6:00.

Something I didn’t notice when I was in Italy a few years ago, but I did this time, was that everywhere we went, the wooden shutters were closed on the windows on peoples’ homes, no matter how high up and away from peering eyes and now matter what the weather or how fantastic the view.  I saw this repeatedly throughout Tuscany and France.  In Switzerland, I didn’t see shutters much at all, and instead people had pretty lace curtains in their windows everywhere (much nicer than shutters, I think).  Window covering is something I’m rather sensitive about because where I live, when the sun even suggests it might make an appearance, people close their curtains, whereas I leave them open as much as possible, unless the weather is just too hot that day.  I don’t know why I saw this so much in Italy and France, but I found it rather curious.

Trying to speak the local language.  This trip my Italian was not up to speed, and let’s not even sum-up my French, but I tried to say what I could in both languages and I tried to say it well. Unfortunately, I suffer from something like stage fright:  when I have to speak in a foreign language, I trip over my own tongue, my mouth freezes, words that I know disappear from my brain, the words get all jumbled, or worse yet, any and all languages I’ve ever learned a bit of get intermingled and I end up mixing-up Spanish, Italian, French and American Sign Language.  Stage fright even happens in American Sign Language when I have the occasion to communicate with someone deaf, which happens a few times a year when my deaf sister-in-law and her deaf husband come to town; luckily they have a good sense of humor and just laugh at me.  But in Europe, the funny thing was that people were more than happy to try speaking English to me.  At first I found this disappointing, and I have been told that people often do this because they “don’t have time to wait for foreigners to say what they want”, that may be the case, but after a while I decided that maybe they also wanted the excuse to practice their English on me.  One waiter in Avignon (France) even admitted that he likes to practice his English when he can.  So, by the end of the trip in Switzerland and France whenever someone spoke English to me, I continued to practice my French, that is, what very little I could.  So I’d have these funny interactions with someone where they’d speak English and I’d say “Oui”  “Merci” “Bon jour” and “Au revoir” or whatever else I could throw in as much as possible.

Food. Why is the food selection and quality often so much better in Europe?  Why is the chocolate better over there?  Why is the coffee better?  Don’t tell me that it’s because of the location and the ambiance, I don’t succumb to aesthetics that easily, besides, I’ve had great espresso, fresh squeezed orange juice, and panini in gas stations on the side of the highway Italy.  Why is it that what is often sold as French bread in U.S. markets it just Wonder Bread disguised as a baguette?  Why is that what is sold as a croissant in U.S. markets doesn’t even come close to the real deal (thankfully, there are finally a few French bakeries in the Seattle area that are changing this)? Why are the eggs found in the refrigerated section in the market here, but in Europe they are on a regular store shelf?  Aside from cheese, why do we have so many dairy products in the market?  We went to markets to find a small bottle of milk, and found milk hard to come by, and in some cases, nonexistent.  Could it be that we don’t need to drink as much milk as we’ve been lead to believe?  Could it be that maybe Europeans eat sufficient cheese to supplement their calcium intake?  Why do we need hormones and genetically engineered food products in this country?  Why are restaurants that sell mega-portions and bland-tasting desserts big enough for 4 people so popular in the U.S.?  Why is many people’s idea of a good Italian dinner a place like The Olive Garden?  Why do we settle for less?

Lunch in Paris

We are in Paris: ate lunch at Au Pied de Cochon ( I had mussels prepared Provençal style and they were amazing! They gave us these cute little meringue piggies after creme brûlée for dessert; it’s the only picture of our lunch, since we were such little piggies.

Went to La Droguerie before lunch (it’s right around the corner from Au Pied de Cochon)—the Paris yarn place—loved it.  Bought a project; couldn’t resist.  La Droguerie sells only house yarns and they are displayed as hanging hanks along the walls, so it’s a bit limited in yarn diversity, but it sells a gazillion buttons and beads and tons of amazing ribbons and the guy who helped me get my order started told me they carry over 100 different shades of alpaca to choose from.  I picked the project of choice from one displayed, then picked the shade of alpaca I wanted it in and he selected the accompanying mohair yarn for it. Waited for them to “prepare” it because you don’t just pick the skeins of yarn and buy it, instead they are kept in back somewhere and wound it off to order there.  So I waited with the small crowd awaiting their orders by the cashier who sits in a glass booth.  I guess some knitters resort to violence when their projects don’t arrive in a timely manner?!  Just kidding.  There was a camraderie among the group of customers around the cashier, that added to the whole experience—to be part of a group in different country connected by the love of crafting—and they like the sample sweater on my when I tried it on.  Wonderful store and it seems enough of the staff were able to help me using English, thank goodness, since I can’t speak more than a few words in French.  After waiting about 15 minutes, voilà!!  My project arrived in the form of four large balls of the two different yarns wound together (sort of like a 2-ply—sorry, I don’t spin so I don’t know the right term) in a bag with the relevant pattern (in French, of course, but it’s all stockinette stitch so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out).  Unfortunately, you can’t buy the shop patterns without buying the yarn for the project, so I had to lust after another project from afar.  But I did buy a book of accessories to knit in French, Mes Accessoires Signés: La Droguerie, but something tells me it won’t be sitting on the shelf with the Japanese pattern books awaiting the translation that’ll never happen, as I may be able to translate the French.

We’ve eaten our piggies and must go. Au revoir!