Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer's end

Its almost September which always signals the end of Summer for me and sort of the start of a new year too as its my birthday next Sunday. This year I'm spending my birthday partly in London as I'm going to the iknit show next Saturday and I will be flying back up on Sunday afternoon, hopefully after spending Sunday morning doing a little sightseeing. Its been quite a few years since I visited London other than passing through Heathrow, partly because I really can't handle the underground. I have a bit of a phobia of height but really more specifically Escalators, which the underground is full of. It doesn't matter so much this time as I've got the trip worked out so I don't have to use it and I'm staying very local to the show. The very exciting bit of this trip is that I'm going to see the Yarn Harlot speak. I really enjoy her books so it will be a thrill to hear her and there's going to be a lot of lovely yarn all in one place.

In Knitting news, I've finished another pair of socks, the 7th pair for Summer of Socks. I'm hoping that I might finish another pair but given that the deadline is Monday night, it is perhaps unlikely.

This pair are knitting in Lorna's laces shepherd sport in Georgetown. Very observant readers of my blog or Ravelry pages might note that I seem to have a thing about this shade of Lorna's laces as this is the 3rd pair I've finished in this shade and I still have more in my stash. I just love this shade.

Georgetown sportweight socks

More China pictures. As was pointed out in the comments, I was a little mistaken about the balloons, which are of course lanterns. After our mountain visit, we moved on to a local village called Buyang. Its a sort of model village place that they take tourist too but its a real village as well. We all spent a night there. Myself and one of the others (Gillian) ended up staying in the house of Director Sui, who is the village communist party chief, which was a interesting experience given that my Mandarin extends to Please, Thank you, counting to 5 and asking a taxi driver to switch on the meter in a taxi and the villagers didn't speak or understand any English. Inspite of that, we had a fabulous time and were treated so nicely. The food was amazing and we all got a bit drunk with the constant cry of Gambei (Cheers). Here's a picture of us all with our hosts.

It was then on to Qufu, Confucius's birthplace, where we visited his grave and the forest where his decendants are buried, each generation represented by stone animals, like those below.


And Confucius's grave itself. We also hired bikes, which was apparently illegal for us to do but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. We spent an hour or so cycling around the garlic fields out to a Mausoleum in the countryside and provided a lot of entertainment for hundreds of Chinese children on their way home for lunch. Apparently westerners on bicycles is the funniest thing ever lol.


The final picture today is of the next place we went - Nanjing and the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum. The weather was very Scottish that day and made me feel quite at home.


Its time for bed here. I've received a couple of blog award things which I've gratefully for and I'll write about them next time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Two out of three

Olympic knitting has continued around here for the past few days. I had set myself the target of knitting 2 hats plus a pair of wrist warmers during the Beijing games. It was quite an ambitious target given that I went back to work.

I almost did it. I've already shared my finished wrist warmers. Yesterday I managed to finish the first hat but late last night, I conceded defeat on the second one.

This is the finished hat. The pattern is Gretel by Ysolda Teague and its knitted in Kid classic by Rowan. I love both the yarn and the pattern.

Purple gretel hat

I'm only about half way through the other one but hopefully I should get it finished by the end of the week.

I had originally planned to have finished posting China pictures by the end of the Olympics but I appear to have run out of Olympics before I ran out of pictures so I'm going to post the remaining ones over the next week or so.

First up more street scenes from Xi'an. The balloons are for some sort of special event in a department store.


And next a classic Chinese mass bicycling picture from Xi'an.


After visiting Xi'an, we went on to visit Tai'an in Shandong province and went up Mount Taishan. Some of the tour group climbed these steps to get up the mount. Given that it was 35 degrees celsius that day, some of us (including me) took a cable car. Everything that is used or consumed at the top is carried up the steps by porters.


This is a picture of the tour group. The two blokes were the guides and the rest of us are a multi national group - two Australians, two English women, a Singapore Chinese woman and me from Scotland. This picture shows how steep the stairs are.


I had a slight moment on top of this mountain. Very occasionally I get vertigo with heights and I had a full blown panic attack on this weird path where the path dropped down suddenly. Thankfully I recovered quickly as the scenery was amazing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Catching up

I've been playing catch up for the past week as I finally went back to work last Wednesday. I'm not doing full time hours just yet but I'm completely worn out and I've spent the past few days catching up on sleep and household stuff.

Oh and I've been knitting a bit too. Ravelympic knitting has been taking up a lot of my time. For those who aren't on Ravelry, which is the best knitting website ever, the idea is that you set yourself some projects to start and finish during the current Olympics. There's lots of different events and teams to join. I've got one project in the Mitten medley event and two projects in the Hat dash. Teams aren't compulsary but I'm part of Team Tardis, which was started in the Doctor who themed Who knits group within Ravelry.

I've now completed the first one - My wrist warmers for the mitten medley event.

Rose's wrist warmer

And I've started the 2 hats. Both designs by Ysolda Teague.

Gretel hat

Gretel hat

Rose red hat. This is the same pattern that I knitted in purple previously.

Rose red hat

Hopefully I will get these finished before Sunday.

Most of the rest of my time has been devoted to watching the Olympics. The British Olympic team have performed spectactularly well this Olympics and there has been lots of medals to celebrate. The cyclists have been amazing, particularly Chris Hoy, who has won three gold medals in this Olympics alone. Considering that at the Atlanta Olympics, Britain only won one gold medal, whereas they've already won 16 golds this time, is awesome. And only 4 years till the Olympics arrive in London.

Today's pictures from China are from the city of Xi'an. Xi'an was such an interesting place to visit. Its most famous for the Terracotta warriors, which are an amazing sight to see. Everyone is different - different hairstyles, clothing, rank etc. You can't tell from the pictures but they were originally very highly coloured. You can still see tiny traces of colour on some of them


Xi'an has a significant muslim population who've been oppressed in the past. Apparently you must apply to the Communist party if you wish to join any religion, which is pretty bizarre. The Mosque in Xi'an is beautiful. The picture below shows one of the buildings.


Another amazing place in Xi'an is the Forest of Steles museum. Steles are stone carving of important documents and poetry so its kind of a library on stone. Its certainly the most amazing library I've ever visited.


Finally I have to thank Joy who nominated me for a blog award. Its lovely of her to do so. I think everyone that I would have nominated probably has one but I have a little thing on my sidebar which shows all the blogs I look at and I'm inspired by all of them in different ways so please all consider yourselves nominated.

I should also answer Dani's questions about the socks I knit. I almost exclusively wear knitted socks except at the gym. They are the comfiest socks I've ever worn and I don't find them any hotter than ordinary socks although Scotland isn't exactly the warmest country in the world. I do like the colourful aspect of them, it kind of cheers me up to see the bright socks on my feet.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday craftyness

I've taken a break from my Ravelympic knitting last night and today to finish up some other projects that are lingering around my flat.

First up is a necklace for my sister. It was her birthday last week but she's been away visiting her inlaws so I haven't seen her. Hopefully she will like it.

Heart necklace

I also finished up these felted flower pins for her too. They've been lying around for a week or so waiting for the pin backs to be attached.

Felted flowers

And finally something for me. I found a bracelet that I'd started making a while back so I thought I'd finish it up.

Crystal beaded bracelet

I did get down to some knitting tonight though and I finished up another pair of socks. Its another pair of Monkey socks in Yarn yard merino tencel in the shade birthday. I really love this pattern and the yarn is so very soft.

Yarn yard monkey socks

Finally more pictures from China. Today's pictures are of some recognisable places. First up, the Great wall.



I visited two different sections of the wall at Jinshanling and Simatai. Both of these sections are further out from Beijing that those that you often see in tourist programs and during the current coverage and as such they are less developed. The best thing about that is there are less people so its less hurried. Also its a lot less noisy. One of the major things that I noticed in China is just the sheer amount of noise. No one really seems to have a concept of quiet, probably simply due to the amount of people that are always around. Personal space also seems to be a bit of an alien concept too - it was a little disconcerting how close strangers wanted to get and at times, some people just walked up and started commenting on your appearance or the fact that you weren't Chinese or just start to ask lots of personal questions. Glasgow is kind of known for people coming up and telling you their life story on the bus but we are amateurs compared to the average Chinese person. Having said that, I don't think I met anyone the whole time I was there who wasn't polite, so very friendly and genuinely pleased to meet anyone visiting their country.

Secondly Tiananmen square.


I found Tiananmen square a very spooky place to visit. Perhaps it was just my imagination combined with the knowledge of what has happened there in the past but I felt uneasy and a little sad whilst I stood in the square. As you can see in the picture, the air is pretty smoky. You can feel it in your lungs and on your skin.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ravelympic progress

Today I've been mostly knitting and watching Olympic events on the television. I've been watching some of the swimming and gymnatics so far but I'm really looking forward to the Athletics and the Tennis starting I did also spend a bit of time tinking back last night as I forgot that my painkillers that I take at night for my back don't really mix very well with knitting cables as I'm apt to lose my place.

However I did manage to finish the first wrist warmer this evening. Again the colour is off on the picture, its much deeper and much more purple in person.

Wrist warmer 1 wip

Today's China pictures are from the Summer palace in Beijing. Its where the Imperial court went in the summer to escape the city. The grounds of it are absolutely massive and really popular with visitors. It was lovely and fresh there too - everything you hear about pollution in Beijing is true, you can just see the pollution in the air in the city centre. The building in the first picture is the stage of a theatre where actors would perform for the members of the court who were in a similar building nearby.



Friday, August 08, 2008

Nihao Beijing

This afternoon I've been watching the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Beijing. I've always been interested in the Olympics and usually watch a lot of the events. I was even born during the 1972 Munich Olympics, though as I was being born, the Olympics were facing their darkest days after the murder of athletes during a terrorist attack.

I would have loved to be in Beijing today for the opening ceremony. In 2000, I was lucky enough to spend 2 1/2 weeks visiting China and having spent time there, I knew that the opening ceremony would be amazing and it was. It was a little bizarre that they had a Scottish pipe band playing during the ceremony but most Chinese people I met were very interested in Scotland.

As part of the Olympics, I'm taking part in the 2008 Ravelympics. I've challenged myself to knit a pair of cabled wrist warmers and 2 cabled hats during the Olympics and I'm hopeful of success. I cast on the wrist warmers this afternoon.

The colour in the picture is off. The yarn is actually a light lilac/purple but my camera isn't the best at picking up purple for some reason. The pattern is Rose's wrist warmers and its a free pattern based on the wrist warmers that Billie Piper wore as Rose in Doctor Who.

Seeing Beijing on the television for the past few weeks has made me think about the trip I took there and I dug out the pictures that I took whilst I was there last night. I thought I would share some of them on my blog during the Olympics.

Both these pictures were taken at the Temple of heaven in Beijing. Like most older buildings in China, they were constructed without nails, just held together with the wood joints.



Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Exchange and update

I've received another exchange today. This is the first of a set of three that I've got coming up in the next month or so. I've sent off my half of the exchange to its recipient today a day late because I remembered late on Monday that I couldn't post it then in my town as it was a local holiday. I could have gone to the city post office if I'd remember early enough in the day as they have this holiday on a different day. Scotland has this weird summer bank holiday in July/August which is taken on different Mondays in different places and some businesses even now take the English bank holiday at the end of August instead to confuse everyone even more.

Anyway I was lucky enough to receive a lovely needle case and some other goodies from Tuula. I suspect she might have noticed my sock knitting habit given that she included some very pretty yarn.

Redwork exchange from Tuula

Speaking of knitting, I've been keeping my needles busy since my last post. First up, I finished a cotton top - Tomato by Wendy Bernard (Ravelry link)

Tomato top

And then there were some more socks.

Plain stockinette socks in Regia yarn

Two at a time socks

Some Hedera socks in Yarn yard sock yarn (Ravelry link to pattern)

Hedera socks

I must confess that I was so glad when I finished the Hedera socks. I love the way they look but I found them a bit tedious to knit by the end. The pattern reminds me of the lacy white socks I used to wear when I was a little girl.

That makes 5 finished pairs of socks for July which is pretty cool and certainly means I'm going to have plenty more socks to wear.