Friday, March 30, 2012

A month's time

Around a month ago, we were regularly walking on the lake.

About three weeks ago, we went cross-country skiing.

Sammy helped.
A week later, Sammy was in the lake instead of on it.

And in another week, the grass was green and the trees and flowers were budding.

Hey that's my shoe!

These people haven't done jack to their lawn in at least a year, and yet pretty flowers happen anyway.

What a weird winter. On the one hand, I'm enjoying being able to wear short-sleeves, on the other hand, it's totally ominous and creepy.

I've actually been doing a fair amount of knitting over the past month, but for some reason have kept it a secret. I mean, it's not really a secret, but I think I was subconsciously dubious as to whether or not it would work, and kind of confused as to why I was doing it in the first place.

It started with the revelation that I don't particularly care for this sweater. I never even bothered having someone take a picture of me actually in it. I've worn it a total of one time, and I felt a little like a jackass the entire day. The fabric is heavy and ultimately it's too big. I remember thinking that I liked it when I finished it (after several iterations of ripping apart and fixing), but now I'm thinking that I was suffering from a form of knitting Stockholm syndrome. So when I saw a sale on Tilli Tomas yarn back in November, I picked up a sweater appropriate amount with the seed of an idea.

Sammy opened the yarn shipment while I was at work. He does love yarn.

Thanks for your 'help'.

About a month ago, I decided that I would bite the bullet and try the same sweater again (#10 Tunis). But it also seemed kind of stupid to possibly get burned again. I just re-read my review of the pattern on Ravelry and it's bordering on brutal. I really hated the sweater. So I wasn't entirely sure it was going to work, nor entirely sure why I was doing it in the first place. Sometimes once you finish a pattern though, you realize what you (think you) needed to do to make it work.

I worked up most of the torso while I was in Japan, and spent the lion's share of a delayed-sit-on-the-tarmac-for-hours-flight picking up the sleeves (Orlando: worst conference venue EVER--the flight home was the cherry on the shit sundae). Just the neckline remains.

I'm willing to declare success only with the addition of a question mark (success?). Got to get that neckline before I start counting chickens in earnest.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Holy error, Batman!

Mistakes are a part of life...that I absolutely despise. My parents tell stories about how when I was a kid, I wouldn't put pen to paper on a puzzle or maze until I had figured out the solution first, for fear of having the wrong answer documented (and people wonder why I'm a neurotic adult).

So it pains me to have to bring you some errata on the Powder 8 Socks. Eagle-eyed knitter Michelle clued me in that the stitch counts in the section for the foot were off by four. I present to you the corrected lines.

The Foot section:

Round 6: K17 (19, 21, 23), P1, mC4F, P1, K18 (22, 26, 30), P1, mC4F, P1, K17 (19, 21, 23).
Round 10: K17 (19, 21, 23), P1, mC4B, P1, K18 (22, 26, 30), P1, mC4B, P1,
K17 (19, 21, 23).

I'm going to correct the pdf and send a copy to those of you who have purchased the pattern within the next week or so. If you don't see one in your inbox soon, please contact me. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Asian Invasion: Part III, Sapporo, Japan

Last stop, Sapporo, eponymous city of beer fame. We had some more stupid-Americans-with-too-much-shit exploits right off the bat. Once we arrived in downtown Sapporo, we had the option of taking the subway or the train to our hotel. I posited that the train might be nice, because the doors would probably stay open longer so we could drag all our stuff on and off easier than the subway.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly (well, smooth-ish--they didn't really have any luggage storage so we were taking up an entire corner of a car) until we reached our stop much sooner than anticipated. Our friend said, hey, no problem: each of us should just take one piece of luggage off at a time. I said nah, I can get both of mine at once. So I exit onto the platform, one other piece gets dropped off, and as I'm standing outside the train door swish shut. I see our friend desperately trying to pull them apart (he later reported that there was a sign that depicted smashed fingers and a crying face on the door, so he didn't try to stick his hands in there as they were closing) and my husband still struggling with his bags in the middle of the train car as the train starts to pull out of the station.

Extra train ride without me.

I'm stuck there on the platform with three ginormous suitcases, realizing that when they take the train back to the station, they're going to get off on the other side. I used my engineering ingenuity (i.e. brute force and some kicking) and made it downstairs to wait in the station.

Snow in the city.

By this point I really wanted to visit a yarn shop. Really, really wanted to. The copilot thought he had a lead on one from a blog post that was a few years old. So out we went.

First we got off the wrong subway stop, and started walking in the wrong direction, as one does. It was that sloppy wet kind of snow, so we were pretty much soaked after about a half an hour, and relieved to find ourselves in an outdoor shopping area with a roof.

We're pretty sure this is where the shop was supposed to be....but couldn't find it. Alas, we tried really, really hard until I was exhausted and bitchy (more than normal). It's difficult to get directions when you don't know the words or even how to describe 'knitting store'. Epic knit fail.

 We braved the public transportation yet again to get to a ski hill just outside of Sapporo called Teine. It was a short train ride and then a regular city bus. We also timed how long the train doors stood open at our original stop: 46 seconds.

Ski commute part subway.
Ski commute part bus.
We don't have anything comparable in the US that we could think of, where you could live in a large city and take a short (~30 min) trip using public transportation to a ski resort. You could tell who was going where, as the skiers were carrying all their gear. We were the only ones without our equipment in bags or covered up, so we may have been committing a public transport faux pas.

You could not only see the city:

But also the ocean.

Another powder day under our belts.

Our friend had ordered some little cards before the trip that explained his peanut allergy in Japanese--they said stuff like "Does this food have peanuts in it?", "Has this been cooked in peanut oil?", "Was this prepared in a place that also prepares peanuts?", and on the other side explained the allergy. Unfortunately it made it sound a little more dire than it actually was, saying "I will need immediate medical attention if I consume peanuts, or something that has been prepared around peanuts", which was accurate up until the last bit. It wasn't really that big of a deal as long as the food didn't actually contain peanuts.

He had fine luck with the cards until that last night, where our waitress spoke virtually no English. She took the cards to the chef and returned with only the words, "Sorry, no guarantee" and snatched up the food the waiter had brought us. Basically she was convinced that we ALL were deathly allergic to peanuts, and we all were going to need immediate medical attention if we ate something that had even touched a something that had once touched a peanut--and was hence refusing to serve any of us any food. We went across the street to a tempura place. He didn't show them his cards.

Time to go home.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Asian Invasion: Part II and a half, Furano, Japan

We planned to do a backcountry day with a guide while we were in Furano. The first day we arrived, we got a message saying that the date we had planned to backcountry was forecast to have severe weather, and we might have to cancel. When the day came, our guide was still unsure if going out would be a good idea. We tried to drive to the usual starting point, and found an unplowed road.

We decided to give it a go despite the high winds, with the idea that we could give up if it totally blew (see what I did there?). We parked in front of a local resident's house, and he came out to see us off. He also brought out hot baked potatoes wrapped in newspaper for us when we returned (I think the house was situated next to a potato farm, the area is well known for potatoes, corn and melons). At first I was a little perplexed--a plain baked potato?--but upon tasting it, it was more like ooh, a plain baked potato!! The region is known for their spuds for a reason.

Actually, he came out to say the Japanese equivalent of 'seriously, you're going out in this weather??' He's the guy in blue talking to our guide, who's in red. I think he was a little worried.
Our guide was a Japanese woman, which was really neat considering we were expecting a burly white guy (as all of our guides have been in the past). Norie was a total badass.

Hiking down the road.
Our snowboarding friend had to use snowshoes for the hike, since as you can probably imagine, snowboards are worthless for going uphill. The snowshoes Norie had brought for him were a little too small in surface area and he kept sinking into the snow, which was hilarious for everyone except him.

After a couple hours of hiking, we took a break for lunch. At that point were were at a relatively high altitude and it was getting cold!

Nom nom convenience store lunch.

Norie dug a snow pit to test the snowpack stability. She wasn't entirely pleased with the results, so she chose a fairly conservative route for the descent.

Snowpit for stability tests.
But it was still sweet.

All smiles after the initial descent.

Snowboarders also have to be careful not to end up on flat or uphill terrain, something our friend got into trouble with a few times and had to hike uphill. This even happened in the resort, as their runs are seemingly not designed with snowboarders in mind. Again, amusing for everyone else.

We ended the day early and spent a nice amount of time warming up in our inn's onsen, traditional Japanese mineral baths. I don't have any photos of the pools, since clothes are verboten in the onsen. Nobody wants to see that. 

Since it snowed throughout our backcountry day into the night, resort skiing at Furano the next day was a ridiculously nice powder day. As I sit here in Madison where it is 65 (!!!) outside, it seems like a long time ago.

My favorite meal of the trip was that night, at a Japanese hot pot restaurant. The idea is, they bring you food and you cook it in the pot at your table--but we were totally clueless and our waitress had to show us how to do everything.

Best...beef...ever. You were supposed to dip it in raw egg before you ate it, which sounds bizarre and tastes totally awesome.

The extremely specific, itemized receipt.

 It has to be said: I really miss the toilet. It had a heated seat, had multiple shower-your-butt options, and in general made me excited to use the john. I want to have one of these babies imported when we buy a house.

I miss you, friend--we'll be together again someday.

Onward to Sapporo...