Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First handspun FO

I am blogging a bit less frequently than before recently. Here is the reason why...

Can you see why yet? Yes, my cat is sitting on my computer all the time!

'Hey, are you talking about me? Don't blame me! It is not the real reason!'

Well, ok! It is not the real reason. The real reason is, I have been quite busy recently. Working, studying the Cat Behaviourist course, planning on Christmas knitting, charity knitting, learning to sew, etc. Have been really busy indeed. But you can see one of the FO here today.

Do you remember these?

Yes, my first successfully spun yarn. I have winded them up to become this.

And now, it has become this!

Pattern from the book Spin to Knit, very flexible pattern to show off the energized single that beginner tend to make. Very happy with the project and very happy with the fact that I can successfully spin yarn that can be made into useable item. The experience is unbelievable.

What's next? Tons of project lining up to be done for Christmas. I am not making this up, photo here to prove...

(No, the cat is not helping...)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yarn Cat at Wicklow Mountains

Last Saturday, Yarncat went on a Wicklow Tour with the man and the sister.

It was such an amazing experience that I can't even put my feeling in words. To try to do so, I can only tell you - the images of the landscape is still haunting me and today is Tuesday.
Have a look:

I really can't tell you how beautiful the place is. The truth is, even the photos I have uploaded here are not doing the justice how beautiful the landscape truly is. All I can say is, GO just GO, you will be stunned.

If you are going to go on the tour, my piece of advice is, go on this one.

The thing is, there are so many different companies in the market for Wicklow Tour that you get to see all the competitors lining up along O'Connell Street (note to non-Irish readers: the main street of Dublin) at 9 am. You might wonder what is so different about the one I joined?

The difference is I can almost swear it is the best of a tour you can ask for! I am never a tour person, I have joined ONE tour in my life when I was 17 and then I am done! I hate tours, I like to have freedom to wonder around, to have my own adventure, to look for places to see, restaurant to try out, etc. But the Unplugged is so good that I don't feel I am stressed, I am not treated like chickens, and I actually get MORE by joining this tour then going there by myself. The reason is their organisation is excellent. They give you enough free time without too much free time leaving you hanging around bored, the guide is smart, funny and not one time saying something that I found bullshit. He also DJ at the same time on the bus! Playing Ronnie Drew and all sort of Irish songs that go with the landscape at the right time! I swear, at a few point, all these Irishness surrounding me by the music, the green, the idea of me being in this incredible combination of all wet my eyes. I am not exaggrating. Our guide was Damien who was an engineer who have traveled all over the world, he talked about Ireland, environmental issue, Irish people, sometimes actually life in general. It is one of the few talkative people I encounter in my life that I actually want to hear more what he needs to say, that say it all.

Of course, to an obsessive knitter, a tour without yarn is something missed out. There was yarn alright.

The shot of the yarn shelf is actually inside a local woolen mill. Apart from yarn (which is actually a very minor marketing item for them I guess), most of the space instead the shop is selling tourist souvenirs. There is also a coffee shop inside...

Yep, you don't have to rub your eyes, it is not an illusion, it was a spinning wheel...close up...

To anyone of you concerned, I didn't buy anything coz their yarn are in packages and I still got enough Irish wool from Aran Islands for a while.

Apart from final product, you can even get to be close with the producers!

You can get even closer...

Or even closer...

Finally, I think it is one of the biggest jokes I have ever experienced in my life...a lake that looks like a pint of guinness!!! I am not making this up, look at that!!!

I have no religion belief whatsoever, but I guess there must be some 'power' somewhere to bring Irish people such a joke. I mean, it wouldn't be as funny if the lake is somewhere else, right? I wonder who has this idea...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cat Behaviourist

Back to school season is on.

Yarncat has joined in the flock to go back to school as well! Yes, I finally did it. I am enrolled to a long distance course on Cat Behaviour with an UK institute. I am officially a part-time student again!

Though I am excited about the future of studying my beloved animals, I am also hit by the amount of bill await for me to pay for the course. Course fee, books, potential travels to animal shelters, conference, etc. Still, I think it worth to try out to do something that I really care and hopefully can get a career out of it.

I am very well aware of the fact that I might have to hang on to a more conventional office job to put food on table all of my life and my animal caring career will never come to a full-time capacity.

BUT, BUT, believe me, it will make your office day goes so much faster if you know there is something else waiting for you in the evening; where you are the boss and you are doing something that you really care.

I will keep you guys update on my pursuing of a career as a Cat Lady.

In the meantime, I wish somebody can tell me how did it happen…

What was he thinking or doing that causes this?

Let’s have a brainstorming here, should we?

1. He was playing and suddenly wanted to go to the bathroom…
2. He was playing while going to the bathroom…
3. He thinks the bathroom wants to play…
4. All of the above

A more artistic photo might help your brainstorming.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yarncat in Spain

I love Spain, I have been there many times, have been more cities in Spain than I realised.

Places Yarncat have been visited in Spain

Click to enlarge

Yet, I keep going back. Food is tasty, meal times are weird, people are special and the weather is lovely. If you have been Spain, you should know what I mean. If you have never been Spain, what are you waiting for? You should go there as soon as possible!

Of course, for many knitters nowadays, a trip to a foreign country is not complete without a local Stitch N Bitch and yarn shopping. Yarncat won’t disappoint you, I have done that both.

Helen is the first friend I made when I moved to Paris. I met her on the second day of my Parisian life and since then, we have been good friends. She moved to Marbella on 2006 and it is my second time to go visit her. (When is she going to come visit? Helen! Are you reading this now?)

So here are some photos I took from Marbella:

Streets of Marbella
(I start to type in orange here to get a Spanish mood, hohohoho)

Orange Square: You got quite a few nice restaurant here where you can eat staring at the orange from the oranges trees around you.

Then you have this beautiful church...

...which is obviously multilingual!

Helen is living up on hill of Marbella, overlooking the sea. If you really pay attention, you can see the triangle of sea from this photo that I took on the balcony of her sitting room. Of course the socks were there too!

Here is where I had tapas, drinks and a bit of knitting before going to the beach. Man you can't go to the beach right then, look the sun! I don't want to die from skin cancer at the age of 30! (I am 28.)

La siesta! See? The street is dead, no kidding...

Before going on my trip, I have been in touch with a fellow Raveler Rachel who lives in the surrounding of Marbella area. I asked her if there is any local Stitch N Bitch and if she knows any LYS around. Turns out there is no regular local Stitch N Bitch so we decided to meet up and do our own for once!

It was a lovely lovely afternoon I have spent with Rachel. She has shown me her LYS and the limited yarn resource she could get from other places -- Chinese hardware stores...

As many of us have already talked about how knitting has linked people from different culture, different background together regardless of lifestyle, nationality, gender, etc. Meeting a complete stranger from Ravelry and turned out to be a lovely experience is yet again a proof of just that. (Rachel, if you are reading this, thank you very much again for the wonderful afternoon, gracias!)

I know I know, you have been waiting for the yarn purchase, here you have it:

The items on the right, are laceweight viscose yarn in gold, green and self-striping purple (at least I believe, I won't know how the colour change turns out right now, will I?) There is even little picture tell you how to pull the yarn out! Duh!

Surprisely, both of them are Italian. I didn't get any Spanish yarn. Too much novelty and I wasn't in the mood for merino. (Reminder: 35 degrees out there)

The 3 balls on the left are self-striping COTTON yarn. You might not understand why I am so excited about this yarn. Then go out and try to buy 100% cotton sock yarn and get back to me. Even better, you can try to find 100% cotton self-striping sock yarn, then you will understand how difficult to find them. You might ask, 'why do you need to buy 100% cotton then?' I'll go, 'ask my man!' He said his feet don't feel very good in any artificial material, so there...

Since I am desperate to know if there is a way I can get more of this yarn, better a stable source of supply of it if it turns out great, so I went to the website of this company and found out their major business seems to be spinning yarn for industrial use. If anyone of you know the contrary or know any source to buy this yarn, please leave a comment.

LYS in Marbella:
There are two places to buy yarn in Marbella-
1. Merceria Mari Carmen
Huerta Chica, 5

It is where I got the yarn in the photo above. The gentleman in the shop is very nice. However, he is kind of old-school. Like he told me, the laceweight yarn will be too thin to make anything but crochet. When I asked him, how about lace? Then he was like, 'er...' then shrugged. He is also into selling me novelty yarn, just kept piling them on. But he is nice though.

2. Merceria Mis Labores

Av. Nabeul, 6

I didn't successfully get into this shop since it's opening hour is from 08:30 to 14:00. But I saw from their window that they stocked Katia and some Spanish merino.

To end this entry, I have a few tips about yarn purchase in Spain.
1. Please be prepared that a lot of yarn stores are still using the "behind the counter" system, so you won't be able to touch the yarn freely.
2. They have odd opening hours, because of Siesta and stuff.
3. When you ask people direction to the yarn store in limited Spanish and showing them your knitting from your bag, they will look at you bizarrely. Don't ask me how do I know that.