Dyeing to know.

Okay, so a friend of ours who lives in Russia stopped by for a chat the other day with his Russian wife and, of course I just had mention my Orenburg shawl to her. Blank stare. And then she realized that I was talking about the shawls of Oh-rrhen-boorrg, and we proceeded from there. It’s funny how you learn to say a foreign word in you’re own native language, and then someone who speaks the language associated with that word corrects you, and you just realize, “Well, duh! How stupid of me to pronounce it with American English pronunciation!” I know, if you don’t speak that language, how are you to really know how it is properly pronounced? But then, one of my favorite obsessions throughout my life has been linguistics (I guess I should’ve majored in that in college). Okay, back to the shawl.

After we got my pronunciation of Orenburg closer to what it should sound like, I showed her my shawl. Her reaction was immediate: “But this is not the traditional color!”

“I know.” I wailed, and went on to explain how it is that I ended-up with that color.

So this brings me to the title of this post, because I’m thinking I should dye the shawl: what I’ve done so far and the other hanks of Orenburg. Is that crazy? Probably. I think of crazy things like this often. I suppose it’s possible, but I’ve never done anything that crazy. Well, maybe.

I’ve found that the Orenburg (a.k.a., Grand Duchess) is just too challenging for me at the end of the day when my attention span is less, my eyes are tired and my patience is greatly lacking, so Cabled Coat has become my evening project, and as bonus, when I make a mistake the yarn is a lot more forgiving. But Grand Duchess is the primary project I’d work on if I had more time.

Cabled Coat is coming along…slowly. I really would like to finish it; the design is so interesting. This is one side panel, and it would’ve been further along, but I frogged most of it a week ago when I realized I’d misinterpreted the instructions, once again. I hope I’m doing it right. I think it’s right….

Below is Matcha Market Bag. Not much to say about it, except that I like the stitch pattern:

Bird’s Eye (not pictured) is sitting at the bottom of my bag; a jealous child thinking it’s been forgotten. I’m letting her cool her jets.

Mucha Matcha

On a recent trip to Palm Springs, I visited The Ultimate Point (no web site) at its new location in a strip mall (46600 Washington Street, Suite 2, La Quinta, CA 92253, phone 760-777-9876) and was delighted to find a helpful staff, a nice range of yarns, and an excellent selection of knitting and crocheting books. During my visit, collected around a couple of tables was a comfortable group of knitters pleasantly chatting away and as I made myself busy among the tempting skeins and books, the group covered a vast range of non-knitting and personal topics, causing all to erupt in laughter from time to time, with occasional apologies to me the lone shopper of the moment. Visiting yarn stores is a precarious activity for those of us in the needle arts, as there is always another project to start, and I am no exception. At least this time I had the sense to get something small and easy to do: Hemp Market Bag, a store pattern utilizing three balls of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy. I chose the color Vivid Green and so, cast on my Matcha Market Bag, seen below at a visit to Espresso Vivace Alley 24 in Seattle.

By the way, Espresso Vivace is the closest I’ve come to true Italian espresso in the land that gave birth to Starbucks, and judging by the reviews I am not alone in that estimation, but don’t go by the reviews on its web site only, the reviews on Yelp.com give it a fairly resounding “bravissimo”.

Lately, though, espresso is starting to share the driving of my engine fueled by caffeine with green tea and its variations, one of which is the often misunderstood matcha.

“Misunderstood?,” you ask.

“What’s misunderstood about a green foamy drink that is bitter enough to make me want to run to the dentist for a good tooth drilling?”

Let me back up and explain. I am going through that delightful change in a woman’s life, menopause, specifically hot flashes, and let me tell you, if you are a woman and have never suffered these, you can definitely count yourself very lucky. Hot flashes are a cruel joke on women, second only to menstrual cramps. However, I have found that drinking green tea of any sort has helped decrease the frequency and intensity of my ever-so-merciless hot flashes, of which I have suffered with off and on for a few years now. I can’t say that you, should also run out to your nearest store and load up on green tea, because it does seem to be a “results may vary” situation since I know women who drink green tea and still suffer. For me, the key seems to be to sip on any green tea such as genmaicha or bancha a few times a day, as long as it isn’t much later than about 6 o’clock in the evening (I don’t want the caffeine to keep me up). For those times when I don’t have time to sip 12 ounces of green tea, I’ll literally whip up some frothy matcha. I caution you on the matcha, because if you buy it just about anywhere outside of Japan, I think you can pretty much be guaranteed to swear it off forever. Freshness is key, and the more fresh it is the more likely it is to not be so bitter; there’s no telling how long a little tin of matcha has been sitting on a store shelf. When launching into my mission of matcha, I made the mistake of buying it locally and gagged on the tea when I made it at home; it was painfully bitter. However, I sourced it on-line and found a farm in Kyoto, Japan called Hibiki-an from which I bought Super Premium matcha and was not disappointed. Hibiki-an’s matcha arrived in good time and the taste is super smooth, without any of the bitterness experienced in my local purchase. If ordering matcha seems a bit extreme (I think “extreme” is my middle name), any green tea from your local supermarket will help the cause.

Of course, despite all this talk of green tea which is so much better for your health, as you can see I still have not sworn-off the coffee completely, I just get it with half the caffeine. Some things never change.