Friday, December 9, 2016

Kamakura pt 2 - Enter the Daibutsu

Connor is coming home tomorrow. It's been along three weeks without him, but I'm glad he was able to have so much fun with his brother when we wasn't at work.

Connor and his brother had gone to Kamakura earlier in their trip, hence the pt 1 (which is not on the blog), but Connor learned from his co-workers that he missed the main attraction: Daibutsu. I teased him mercilessly for missing the biggest statue around, so they went back to see it.

Connor:

Finally we saw Daibutsu after enduring a week and a half of criticism for not knowing about him the first time we were here.
Did you know that:
-Daibutsu means “Big Buddha”. (I asked a co-worker if the other Daibutsus are all big like this one. He said, “yes, Daibutsu is always big”.)
-He by far attracts more crowds than any other temple in Kamakura.
 -You can buy and drink beer at his temple (possibly contributing to the above).
-You can go inside him for 20 yen (which we did)
Now you know.

In 1923 a great earthquake destroyed the temple surrounding Daibutsu. Only Daibutsu and his shoes survived.

Mason is sitting at a traditional Japanese eating area, where kids and adults can come together as equals. He was tempted by the green tea ice cream, but this is also the place that sold beer.

After seeing Daibutsu we started hiking at the opposite end to finish of what we didn’t finish last time. Along the trail, we passed a small farm with a fence that was doing a poor job of keeping this chicken inside.

You either have it or you don’t. Saw this store sign and thought it the two phrases complimented each other quite well. Although I’m not sure what a store with this motto could actually sell….

They have cornbread! This place is just like Kentucky.
Note from Audry: Connor is from Kentucky. Also, he likes cornbread, not corn bread.

Thanks Connor, for that terrific report. Wish I could have seen Daibutsu myself. At least you aren't going to be mocked anymore for missing it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hanoke

Connor and his brother visited a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and got to experience geothermic baths. It's like they got to be in Spirited Away! Here is a bit more from their adventures.

Connor:

For some reason there is a Little Prince Museum in Hanoke, and it actually helped us figure out which bus to take to reach our hotel since they are right next door.

No one could tell us which bus went to Hanoke-Fuji Guest House, but when I told them we wanted to go to the LP Museum, they knew exactly where to go. Thanks Little Prince!

We found this banana a grocery in Hanoke. What’s that? Of course it is a banana. It even says so.

The evening that we arrived in Hanoke, we decided to try to hike somewhere nearby. "Mt. Kentucky” seemed like a good choice until we saw several hikers coming down the mountain covered up to their knees in mud. They just about begged us not to try it, and we quickly agreed.

Along the way up to Owakadani, we passed this strange tire in the middle of the trail. It is supported by a pipe coming out of the ground that you can peer down and see the bubbling hot water from a hot spring vein.

Owakadani close up. Downwind of all the steam and gas there appears to be a small town of hot spring workers.


Owakadani from a distance. We went through a museum that explained that hot volcanic material is mixed with water to create hot spring bath water, and it is then piped all over Hanoke. It takes a lot of work to make the magic happen.


We felt dumb after asking someone if that was Mt Fuji in the background. I don’t think this picture captures how large and imposing it was from even that distance.

Thanks for sharing, Connor!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Socks Are Marching One By One, Hurrah, Hurrah

I am getting so close to finishing my Concrete And Tulip socks, I can taste it. I'm about to put the cuff into the second sock. Once that is done, I'm going to rip out the cuff on the first sock and re-knit it with two more stripes included in the ribbing. I'm also thinking that I want to try a tubular cast off for these socks. I've never done one and I'm obsessive about how the stripes land, so it may take a few goes. Does anyone have a favorite tutorial for that style of cast off? I'm partial to step by steps with pictures.

As soon as the knee high socks are done, one of these three balls of Stray Cat Sock yarn will be knit. I'm thinking either knitting a pair of Geek Socks with Kiwi Christmas or perhaps a pair of Vanilla Lattes with Pahutukawa Tree. I might hold off on the Joyeux Noel ball for now.
Left to right: Kiwi Christmas, Pohutukawa Tree, Joyeux Noel

Meanwhile, the poor Hieroglyphic Socks have been in time out. I had to reknit the cuff three times before it matched the gauge on the first sock. Not sure what happened, but I ended up having to go up a needle size. 

And that is all that is on the needles! I have all sorts of yarn sitting out with patterns printed and ready to go, but for some reason, I find it difficult to cast on. Probably because everything I want to make needs a gauge swatch... ugh.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thou Shalt Buy Yarn

Ahem. I can explain.

I fell down hard. I was swearing up and down that I didn't need any more yarn and that no more yarn was going to enter the stash... but then the holiday themed yarn started to show up. I've been looking for the perfect Halloween self striping yarn and when I visited Wei Siew, I saw her knitting it (see the bottom image), and I broke the 10th commandment. But it was too late, the yarn wasn't on sale anymore. So I waited a year... and forgot about it until it was too late again! (We moved to a different apartment. After moving everything I was convinced that I didn't need to own any more things ever again.) This year the yarn showed up again.
The color formerly known as All Hallows Eve, now known as Trick Or Treat

Unfortunately for my wallet, so did a bunch of its friends. Shipping from New Zealand isn't cheap, so it made sense just to purchase all the yarn I could ever want in one go. And that is just what I did.
Center: Kiwi Christmas. Top center then moving clockwise: Trick Or Treat, Lilah, Joyeux Noel, Pohutukawa Tree, Goth Socks, Dusk

I also bought a complementary color for the Joyeux Noel ball. I want to recreate my Vintage Christmas socks. I still love those socks, but the red moved into the white and they don't look quite like they used to. Since I know how to fix the color better in my socks now, I'm hoping this pair's colors remains crisp. (There is something about our water that makes dye come out of socks. Especially yarns that have been dyed in the Pacific Northwest. I've had different yarn by different dyers all lose their color or bleed badly.) Plus, I've found Stray Cat Socks color stays quite bright after many washings.
I asked Tracy to dye up a good chocolatey brown to go with Joyeux Noel. I also sent her a picture of my Vintage Christmas socks. I think she did a lovely job.

I'm excited to cast on one of my 8 new wooly friends. Which which ball should I knit first?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Now Over To Our Correspondent In Japan

Hello all. It's been a hard week in the Bear Ears household. Connor's grandfather passed away, so he made a quick trip out to Kentucky for the funeral before coming back, spending a day with me, then jetting out to Japan for a three week business trip. His brother Mason is joining him out there, which I am thankful for. Mason has been diligently studying Japanese, which is helping Connor out a bunch. Meanwhile, I'm holding the fort down, seeing the occasional doctor, and also helping Scooter out after he had his surgery to remove several troublesome fatty tumors. (It turned out one was wrapped around his jugular vein, so it is good he got the surgery.)

Connor and I have been able to talk over the phone, which is great. We were actually speaking to each other during the big earthquake that hit Japan. (Somewhere between a 6.9 to 7.4 depending who is reporting.) He wasn't too close to the epicenter, but he was in his tall hotel building at the time and the swaying really worried him. Luckily he is safe. He sent me this amusing email and has given me permission to share. So today's post comes from Connor in Japan.

Connor:
This is our hotel, one of the tallest building in Japan, and certainly the tallest in Yokohama. Our room is on the 54th floor, which puts us in the top “thirdrant” (a new Masonism; think quadrant). We were swaying pretty hard during the earthquake, but Mason wasn’t worried because he read that our hotel was equipped with “tuned mass dampers” just for this kind of thing.

These are 1 yen pieces, worth less than a penny. They are so light weight, they have to be hollow and probably float on water. Mason went on for a good 5 minutes boasting about how he would never pick one up off the street. Later in the evening one of these fell out of his pocket and he panicked in case it had been a 5 yen piece.

Our bathroom is very weird. See exhibits A, B and C.

Exhibit A: There is an area of the bathroom mirror that never fogs after a shower.

Exhibit B: Our high-tech toilet.

The controls of our high-tech toilet. The seat temperature is regulated, so it always has the feel that someone just used it right before you.

Exhibit C: Our bathroom’s volume dial. What does this go to?! The toilet? Mason’s answer: "The speakers, of course.” Why does our bathroom need speakers?!

We found a noodle shop where we didn’t have to speak to anyone to order. You put your money in the machine and push a button that corresponds to your order, and out pops a ticket that you hand to the waitress.

Mason is looking forward to this snack he found at 7/11. We call it the “noodle dog”.

Thanks for your observations of Japan, Connor.!I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sweater, Sweater, Sock, Sock, Now I've Got The Knitting Shot

I have been dreaming of knitting sweaters, especially sweaters for me. The problem I've encountered is that my weight has been all over the place because of the mystery GI problems. In the last 8 months I've lost 20 pounds (9kg), but managed to gain back almost 5 (2kg). This has left me a little unsure as to where I'll ultimately land, so making an especially fitted sweater is out. I have, however, been eyeing the Iceland pattern from Rowan 42. I even started it once way back in 2010. (That yarn turned into the Fireside Sweater instead, which fit my wrong in the shoulders and now belongs to my Mum.) The only problem is that it either looks good on you or it doesn't. I checked out many different projects on ravelry, and I'm hoping that if I can make the waist hit higher, it will look flattering on me.

Meanwhile, since Connor is remaining the same size (and also I love him), I've also been wanting to make him a sweater. Wei Siew generously gifted me 5 balls of Mythral I needed when I was in New Zealand last. I wanted to do my best to honor her by not letting the yarn sit in stash for too long. I had envisioned a Walter Mitty style sweater, but something kept me from recreating it. I just didn't like how there were cables on the arms, but none on the body. It just seemed unbalanced. But recently Christina Danaee made a sweater that looked much more like what I wanted to make. And what do you know, she was also inspired by Walter Mitty.
I very conveniently own the same magazine that she used to make the sweater

As I agonize over sweater decisions, I have been plodding along on my socks. The Concrete and Tulip socks have gone pretty well so far, but still have some decisions attached to them. I got to the top of the cuff of the first sock and realized that I might want to make the ribbing a bit longer. Also, I've never done a tubular bind off, but that might be more appropriate for these socks since they are knee-high. I haven't quite worked out what I want to do, so I went ahead and started the second sock. I think I'll knit the second sock with the adjustments I want to make. If it doesn't work out, then I only have to rip out one sock to make them match... in theory.

The Hieroglyphic Socks are also being knit at a good pace. I find doing two handed color makes my hands sore after a certain number of rounds, so I just make sure to put a few rounds into them every day. They will get done slowly and steadily.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day

Today the neighbor kids are home and they have been making cookies. I could hear their laughter and I started to wonder if they knew why they had the day off from school. Then I started to think about my cousin, a veteran, and how I could maybe brighten his day. I felt a little silly sending a card. "Is it even worthwhile?" I wondered. I called up my Mum and she told me that no one has ever hated being told that they are appreciated. So I sat down, painted a flag on a thank-you card, and wrote what I admired about him and his commitment to our country.

It is only a small thing to do, but if you have a veteran in your life, I hope you all might be inspired to let them know that they are valued.

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