An Excellent Adventure

What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Where to start?

When I last posted, it was almost the end of August and Alex and I and the kids were off to the ocean for our summer vacation. Fast forward a few days with a rushed drive home from the ocean culminating in an emergency appendectomy (husband), in which we drove all the way back from our ocean trip straight to an hospital ER door. Follow that up with a last-minute, unplanned change of schools for our 7-year old (more on that some other time). Next was my trip to Los Angeles for Vogue Knitting LIVE! 2011 (more on that later, also). After that, I was home for 4 days before my husband and I flew to San Jose for a tour of the Tesla factory. Sometimes it’s just easier starting with the most recent thing first, so I’ll focus on the San Jose trip today, as well as some knitting..

So, Alex and I left the fall gloom of Seattle and landed in San Jose on a hot, sunny day—the sun felt so good. On our way to the hotel we happened upon a Japanese neighborhood festival and grabbed lunch. We had a hearty meal at Gombei.

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I had broiled mackerel—amazingly moist and buttery—with a side of cool tofu with green onion and bonito flakes, and Alex had soba noodles on a bed of ice cubes, which we found pleasantly refreshing on a hot day.

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Before we left the festival, I bought a beautiful pair of Big Sur blue jade earrings.

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Later that day, we left for the Tesla factory.

What is Tesla? I can’t possibly get all the facts right, but it’s a car company founded by Elon Musk, and is on the verge of changing the way we think about electric cars. Gone are the images of little puttering electric cars that drive about as fast as a golf cart and have a range that takes you not much further than the confines of your city.

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The sedan Tesla, Model S, will seat 7 people, will be completely electric, have enough charge to go up to 300 miles, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. The current Tesla car, the Roadster, is a two-seat model, has a range of 245 miles, and accelerates 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

20111013-171627.jpgElon Musk, addressing the crowd.

It was quite an event, and we were there with a couple thousand future Model S owners for the tour and a ride in the Model S. The final version of the Model S has not been made yet and will not be available until 12 months from now, so we rode in a beta model. The test ride was fast, and demonstrated it maneuverability, low center of gravity (due to the lithium batteries on the bottom of the chassis), and responsive acceleration by taking it up to 70 in a short closed track. It was fun.

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Knitting. I been using-up my stash of Zephyr 2/18 in black, making Kozue, and I thought I’d have enough for it, but I don’t. Having bought the yarn about 10 years ago, I couldn’t possibly match dye lots, so I bought some in a different shade, Claret. I decided that it would be best to add bands of Claret in various placed throughout the shawl. I’ve put a sizable band near the end of it, and now I’ll add a thinner band to the beginning by cutting into the earlier rows and picking-up stitches. Why do I always have to do things the hard way?

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I’m trying to roll with the fact that final Kozue isn’t going to look the way I’d hoped it would, and find that inner easy-going me that never was, and love the new look.

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In The Black

Just to prove I am knitting, here’s photo of my newest work-in-progress, Kozue by Kristen Johnstone.

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It’s a super easy pattern and, other than a few rows of stitch pattern, it’s all stockinette. Nothing wrong with that, especially since it seems to fit my lifestyle these days. I would like to do something more challenging, but I just don’t have the time nor the concentration these days. Embrace the stockinette stitch, it is your friend, busy mom of two little people in the dog days of summer. Busy Mom. Busy, busy, busy.

Things I’ve been up to….
July was about summer camps for my son, though it’s up for debate whether he appreciated them and, truth be told, driving him hither and yon everyday just about did me in (thankfully, little sister had only one camp this summer). Upon remarking on just how busy we were, someone told me that this was just the way it’s going to be from here on. I maintain that not in my world will my children be so hyper-scheduled again, not if I can help it. Though I had a prescient moment back in June during the last week before the end of the school year indicating that I was in for a busy summer when I overheard another mom at a school event gripe that in a week her ability to accomplish anything would end until September. Wow. She was not kidding.

Pennsylvania sister-in-law and her daughter was in town for the first half of summer.

Cousin from France and her husband stopped by for a first visit. I’ve found that having small children in the family are a great lure for distant, long lost family members.

We made a family trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the train museum in Snoqualmie. The kids had a great time, of course, but my son enjoyed it more than he did three in 2008, and this was partly because with his sister along he had someone to enjoy it with. As a matter of fact, our 2008 trip was not very memorable, and thankfully this one was.

There were birthday parties, mine and my daughter’s (3!). Here are some pics from my birthday dinner at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle.

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This was some sort of heirloom tomato salad with some basil puree underneath it. Heaven.

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This was a scallop with beets, and it too, was delicious.

Birthday gift from my man: an external keyboard for my iPad 2. Love. It. Flip the iPad over and the keyboard becomes a hard protective case. Love. It. Love my man for thinking of this for me.

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Friend from California (NoCal, to be specific) came to town, and with her visit I realized how much I wished she and her family would move back here, but there’s no chance of that, they’re smitten with NoCal. She and her hubby are old friends of Alex’s from high school, and of all his friends, I enjoy them the most.

And if I didn’t need more to do, I volunteered to head our somewhat embattled neighborhood landscape committee; people are really passionate about our community gardens around here. Of course, for some reason I’ve taken the job so seriously that I’m actually doing some of the labor myself, including transplanting shrubs, pruning plants in-between visits by our landscape service and personally shoveling a 150 cubic foot pile of wood chips left to sit and moulder for the past 12 months. Call me crazy.

Not that it’s been all bad, because with August I’ve really enjoyed not rushing out the door every morning now that camps are done, and taking the kids to some fun stuff has been a blast. Although I could do without another trip to the zoo for the rest of my life. It’s a great zoo, don’t get me wrong, but a zoo is no place for elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions, tigers and bears, and I really saw how unhappy these big animals are, even in a modern, “humane” zoo. The trips to the parks and play areas have been fun and it’s been fun watching the kids really develop a relationship and enjoy one another’s company. Soon we leave for a few short days at the ocean, and we’re looking forward to it. It’s our only vacation this year, since although our kids loved our spring trip to Kauai in 2010, our daughter proved to us that we should’ve waited longer before traveling in a plane, because she pretty much screamed in terror much of the flight to and from. But we have our sights set on 2012, just you wait.

Still, not much time for knitting or blogging, but this will change, I think, when my son goes into first grade this fall and my daughter starts preschool. And with September comes my very first knitting convention. Yes, I will be going to Vogue Knitting LIVE this September, so this should be interesting. I’ve already warned Alex, knitters don’t leave these events empty-handed; he beginning to have nightmares about how he and the kids will have to move out if I bring more yarn home…

Final pic: One of our resident frogs hanging-out on the front porch window box.

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Hear that cracking sound?

That was the sound of my Western Washington amphibian-like skin cracking in the heat of the southern California sun over the weekend. Ahh, that felt nice….

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I’m back home today, but I was in LA for an extended weekend for a cousin’s wedding. I felt sorry for the souls I’d left behind back home, drowning in the cool, wet, soggy weather of the Pacific Northwest. Not really.

The newlyweds had a photo booth at the reception for guests to use as a memory book of their big day. Great idea.
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My mom was my traveling companion.

We met-up with Fluffbuff Francesca at Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan Beach, and Ben was there too. I got to drool over Francesca’s latest swatch, done on really tiny needles. I wonder what my mother thinks of my curious life as a knit-blogger?

Of course, while there, I loaded-up on Le Pain’s answer to Nutella to take home.
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I did almost no knitting the entire trip, save for the continuing, long, drawn-out process of binding-off Bird’s Eye of domesticshorthair lore (I started it 4 years ago), and that was only worked on in flight, coming and going. If it weren’t for my visit with Francesca, I could have said that I did nothing knitting-related; I didn’t visit a yarn store, I didn’t fondle a random skein of yarn, and I didn’t even buy a Japanese knitting book at Sanseido Books during a stop at Mitsuwa in Torrance. However, I did finish Wandering The Moor before I left home.
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(sorry for the bad, away-from-home photo)

I like it, and I love the un-scalloped edge for being different. When I finished it, I thought I’d messed-up because it was so small, it looked like something for my 6-year old, but once I blocked it, it opened-up and became adult-size.

Details
Pattern: Wandering the Moor Shawl by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (just over a skein)
Needles: US 6/4.0 mm

Today I actually had really really good answer for a change when a cashier at the market asked me if I did anything fun over the weekend.
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Latest Activity

Knitting:  Wandering the Moor shawl

Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. Had to unwind the pull-skein I’d made of it and ball it up because it kept getting tangled.

eBay Purchase: I think I got a bigger kick knowing that it came from a small town practically at the northernmost tip of Scotland.

Movie:  Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (3-D).  I actually liked this more than #2 and #3 Pirates movies. My knitting companion was Wandering the Moor. Why is it I always take dark knitting projects to work on in a movie theater?

Internet Find:  London Fruit & Herb Company Green Tea & Blackcurrant.  Love this stuff!  I first bought this tea in Canada and had been meting it out carefully over 4 years until I found it available at Mark T. Wendell Tea Company.

Eating:  Gluten-free pão de queijo (pronounced something like “pow d’ kayju”) from the local Brazilian espresso/soccer-viewing joint.  I’ve been gluten-free for about 3 months now and this cheesy tapioca bread has become my guilty pleasure, and it’s “guilty” because I’m also allergic to dairy, but no where near as much as I am to wheat. Recently discovered I’m also allergic to potatoes, corn and chocolate, but I ignore those allergies for obvious reasons.  I’ll get around to trying to bake my own once I get over my funk.

Happiness: My new bright red Fermob (I think it’s pronounced sort of like, “fayr-moe”) French bistro table and chairs; even on a dark rainy day they bring me joy.

Favorite Sight: Mount Rainier from Interstate 90 floating bridge in Seattle (I wasn’t driving).

Smelling: Lilacs at the kitchen window.

Planning: A quick trip to Los Angeles for a cousin’s June wedding.

And now, for something completely different…

It’s a finished object! Vine Lace Cardigan went amazingly fast, so fast that while working on the body, I was surprised to find that I had come to the bind-off. Of course, that was while I was at the Seattle Knitters Guild meeting listening to Jared Flood talk about his knitting and photography.

The beauty of Vince Lace is that not only is the pattern written so that it can be knit in one piece and from the top down, but it also calls for chunky yarn and therefore an equally chunky stitch gauge. This, I figured, this is the project for time-crunched me, and it was. After ripping-out the first 10 rows a few times because I kept misreading the instructions, the whole thing went along quite well. Before I knew it, it was done. I finished within in my projected time frame of 3-4 weeks, in fact, I was just one day over 3 weeks.

After all the knitting was done, it was tenderly steamed, buttered—oops, that was dinner—it was tenderly steamed and I tried it on. I couldn’t believe my eyes in seeing that one sleeve was about 1/2″ shorter than the other. I don’t know how that happened, but, oh well, I figured, No problem, since it was knit top-down, I’d just undo the offending sleeve’s bind-off and add a few more rows. Yet when I laid the two sleeves side-by-side one more time to see if my eyes were playing tricks on me, I saw that not only was the same sleeve a bit short, it was also vastly too narrow! No idea how that happened. I’m glad it was the same sleeve so that I wouldn’t have to re-do both. It was easy to do, and to be on the safe side as far as stitch count went, I took it all the way out, down to one row short of where the underarm was stitched to the body. That turned out to be a good move, because it was then in line with Row 41 of the instructions for the sleeves and a perfect re-starting point. Anyhow, the error was easily fixed and soon I was wearing the sweater.

Details
Pattern: #77 Vine Lace Top Down Cardigan by SweaterBabe (Ravelry link here)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky
Needles: US 11 (8.0 mm)

I think if I were to knit it again I would make a few changes. I would omit the waistline ribbing, because I think only the skinniest of women would look good with something that makes you look thicker in the middle, and I believe that omitting the ribbing will give it a more timeless classic look. I would also use a yarn that sheds less.  I have some old skeins of Lamb’s Pride Bulky from a few years ago, and they shed no where near as much as this stuff does; it’s like wearing a cat all day, and I shed wherever I go and on anyone I come into close contact with. The car now has mohair fuzz in it, and all around the house there are these mohair fuzz balls I keep picking up in addition to the usual cat fur, and my children go about the day sporting mohair on their clothes. Despite this, I still like the cardigan very much and thoroughly enjoy it.  It’s wonderfully comfortable and warm enough to be worn on it’s own when temps are moderately cool.

Before I dash off, here are pictures from our Thanksgiving dinner:

Wine-basted turkey---Yum!

Pecan Pie

Have a great rest of the weekend!

I’ve been busy….

When all else fails, start another project…. Vine Lace Cardigan (from Sweaterbabe.com) in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, Sable colorway.

Originally, I used my $30 Knit Picks gift certificate from Christmas for this project, and ordered Cadena in Thyme colorway for it.  To my dismay, Cadena was all in hanks instead of the skeins Wool of the Andes was in when I made Cabled Coat last year.  Despite that, I made a swatch of one skein and found that Cadena really wasn’t right for the project anyway and returned it.  In technical terms, Cadena didn’t have enough fluff to it, and when knit up to achieve the proper gauge, the resulting fabric was loose, holey and lacking character.

It’s nice yarn though, and is a pleasure to knit with on a project better suited for it.  The color was perfect: not quite deep olive green, not quite light brown, and somewhere in-between, but I’m also quite pleased with my color choice of Lamb’s Pride Bulky.

I’ve also started Shoulder Cozy from Wrap Style.


Actually, I started that sometime in September, swatching and swatching, trying to find the right gauge, but by the time I cast on for it, it was mid-October. I’m using stash yarn for this, which is Reynolds Smile in a green-yellow-teal multi colorway. Smile was supposed to be for crocheted slippers that never made it to the hook.

Meanwhile, I haven’t given up on Shawl Neck Cardigan, but it’s become my on-the-go project to carry in my purse. I’ve passed the halfway point on it, but it will probably be finished in January.

What else?  Here’s my order from Frenchy Bee:  a bottle of almond (orgeat) syrup for my coffee, chestnut paste as a topping for ice cream, 4 tins of Anis de Flavigny violet flavored drops or mints (not minty, but tastes like violets—an old favorite of mine).

Then, I needed to re-stock on my Vegemite, and tired of having to find a local place that carries it because supply is unpredictable, I boldly ordered a 400-gram jar of it from a vendor on Amazon.com.  Normally, I get a 150-gram jar but my kids have taken a liking to it, and even though they get just a scant amount on their toast every now and then, we’ve been going through my little jar quickly and since it lasts forever, I went for the big jar.

I shocked my family the other day, and made a full, real meal, the prime focus of which were these delicious split Rock Cornish Game Hens, broiled with a vinegar and broth sauce from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, Smashed Red Potatoes from marthastewart.com, and roasted broccolini from The Gastrokid Cookbook by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans.  The silence at the table was deafening as they feasted.

I’ve been going through stuff to get rid of, and one thing I came across was this helpful book that my dad gave to me a long, long time ago; I guess he was concerned that I wasn’t married yet.

That book always irks me.  Still.  Time to get rid of it.

Then there are the bags and bags of clothes for my daughter that have been passed on to us, and have been waiting for me to sort through.  The best item I found, which I find bewildering in so many ways:  a pink 100% cashmere sweater.  Cashmere.  In a 2-year old size.  Barely worn (I can imagine why).  Cashmere for a 2-year old?  Cashmere sweater given away.  We’ll take it.

We’re back into the rainy season.  I find it rather soothing to hear it on our roof, even though it makes for blurry views from the windows and dim lighting inside.

Whew! Back to school.

Heavenly trio: marocchino, Perrier, and croissant

I popped into French Bakery in Kirkland today for a quick bite to eat and a marocchino (an espresso drink), which Ms. Adventure’s in Italy so aptly called “Heaven in a Cup”. My son YM started preschool this week, and although I’ll miss him, it is a relief to me that he will be someplace to expend all that almost 5-year old energy in a safe, loving and supportive environment and under the guiding, patient and capable hands of his teachers, each of whom are my rock. You know, I think I learn more from his preschool teachers than he does.  So I took my daughter MR shopping at Sur La Table for a wedding gift for a friend: a Bialetti Moka Express.

Of course, the reason I went to French Bakery was to get a package of pre-ground Attibassi coffee to add to the wedding gift…or maybe that was the excuse to go there and have a croissant and a marocchino…okay, that’s the real reason I went. It was a lovely break, with YM in school and MR asleep in the Ergo carrier, it was 2:00 and I still hadn’t eaten lunch so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a rest during a busy day.  To the gift package I added a copy of the cookbook Pasta Harvest, by Janet Fletcher, which I bought gently used (really never used) through a seller on Amazon.com (I guess it’s out-of-print, because new books aren’t available).  As some of you may be familiar, I have used my copy a few times, and I am sure that the foodie groom and his bride will enjoy this book too.

The day ended well with Alex and I leaving the babysitter with MR and YM crying as we made our escape to a parent orientation meeting for preschool.  While there I was able to put in a few more rows on Shawl Neck Cardigan.

I don’t know, this thing is taking too long for me. My fingers are getting itchy to move onto something else. You know, something I can see finished before next summer. Maybe some gloves or a sweater in something truly satisfying like a nice bulky wool.

[Sorry for the cell phone pictures, but sometimes you have to make due.]