Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallow's Eve (aka MagKnits Eve)

Yes, I am once again counting down until my socks are published, but this time I have the correct month. It's *really* tomorrow.

That means that today is the last day of Socktoberfest. My final pair of socks is for my secret pal and is not actually finished, yet. So, here is a WIP shot. The pattern is from a Sock Knitter's Challenge e-book I got from a yahoo group. It is a modified version of Hatsuyo's Lace Socks. I've been a busy little bee with my secret pal. I've never done a swap before, so I'm worried that she won't like the stuff I put together for her. I sent her some green sock yarn (hopefully in a shade she likes). The etsy vendor was so nice (http://spindlecatstudio.etsy.com/). I was worried that she would actually send it to me (from the US) so I'd then have to send it right back to the US. So she emailed a couple of times to make sure there was no mistake and even offered (after I had paid) to write a card to my pal. Now I just hope my pal likes the yarn as much as I now like the vendor. Have I mentioned that MY pal is Estonian and a published designer? How cool is that?

How lovely is this packaging?

Look what the mailman brought me yesterday. A whole pile of yarn, including 5 skeins of Noro, 7 skeins of Shimmer in the most beautiful shades of turquoise, 5 skeins of lace weight yarn in turquoise, purple, and pale, pale gray, and 1 skein of Dr. Fish. As I've written before, overall I've been completely disappointed with the self-striping experience. I think I just wanted them because I like variegated yarns and I can't get self-striping yarns locally (the grass is always greener...). That said, I have wanted a skein of Dr. Fish for like a year, but the shipping is always almost the same amount as the yarn and this is the first time I've found enough yarn including the Dr. Fish to justify the shipping. Not in the photo, are 5 sock magazines. Now my head is full of new project ideas.

The knitting has to wait a bit, though. I'm pretty wrapped up in work at the moment, or work-related things. This past weekend was the annual international conference here in Seoul (a two-day conference full of English-teaching goodness). I left Friday evening exhausted, but really feeling like I've been doing the right thing in class. As I have written before, my school began a new program at my suggestion this semester using extensive reading (chapter books/ novels) instead of traditional reading textbooks. At the conference there were at least a dozen presentations on the benefits of extensive reading, last year there may have been one-- probably by a publisher trying to push their line of level-graded readers. I'm so cutting edge (HA!). Now I just need to convince my school that the students that are not native level speakers would benefit more from graded readers than the chapter books they are reading now. I know a guy who works for a publisher-- pushing their graded readers ;-) -- and he offered to come and give a presentation to the mothers to explain why lower level books will improve their reading faster. We don't even live in the same place.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Carrefour say Roundeyes steal

No that's not fortune cookie wisdom, it seems to be the truth. So, here's what happened. I was shopping at Carrefour today, as I do at least once a week, if not five times. Mainly because it's a block from my house, but it also has a good selection of "Western" stuff and their fruits and vegetables only cost an arm, as opposed to an arm and a leg, like everywhere else.

But I digress. So, I'm acknowledging the greeter as I walk in, when a manager-type RUNS over to me to help her tell me to put my (very-small-purse-sized) backpack in a locker. Did he think I was going to get beligerent with her? Maybe just force my way past? We teachers are a rough bunch, don't mess with us, or you'll get the wrong end of the board marker, let me tell you. So, I stow my purse, as I always do when asked (about 20% of the time) and go in. Where I see EVERY OTHER WOMAN has her purse. Now, don't get me wrong, they aren't tiny backpacks, secured across their backs, no these are the much more stylish 30-gallon totes (Mary-Kate-style) slung over their wrists.

This can only lead me to one conclusion. As a professional in my mid-thirties, I must be profiled as a shoplifter. OR Roundeyes steal.

I was not *too* steaming mad until I passed not one but three packs of teenagers who all had their messenger bags across their shoulders. I look more likely to steal than groups of teenagers?!!! What was that guy smoking?

I usually try not to take Koreans (incredibly blatant) prejudices too personally. I'm from the South and was brought up to believe prejudice was the sign of ignorance/ stupidity and such people weren't going to become less prejudiced until they became less stupid. However, it is this kind of thing that is hard to overlook.

So, I am faced with a dilemma. Do I do what I think is right and take my business elsewhere? Or do I suck it up and go there because it's convenient? Time will tell I suppose.

Maybe I'm just testy because I'm meat-deprived. I haven't eaten meat all week. Somewhat coincidentally, I have just finished Fast Food Nation and feel rather revolted about all the meat I have eaten in the past. I read The Jungle years ago, but assumed, foolishly, as it turns out, that changes were made in the last century. EEK is all I have to say. On the other hand, I really like cheeseburgers. I really think I'm going to have to learn to love less processed foods, though.

To top my day off, I dyed some yarn and a 1" section all the way through didn't take the dye, because I had the skein bound too tightly. The rest of it is really nice, though. I think I'm going to knit it up and then redye the finished product if it looks bad.

It's been a bad week for knitting in general. I knit an entire pair of socks that I'm going to frog and reknit, because my experiment with afterthought heels was a crashing failure. They look pretty good, but they don't fit comfortably. On the positive side, I'll have two sock-length pieces of yarn, so I may give two-at-a-time socks a try. I've started three other socks this week and a scarf and ripped them all. Tomorrow is another day. I've got progress reports to write and various and sundry other paperwork, but when that is done, I'll start something new.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Asparagus and Rhubarb

Here are my beautiful socks from the faboo Jan-Knits (http://jan-knit.blogspot.com/ ). Blogger is still refusing to upload my photos, so I'll try linking to Flickr.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Stick a DPN in me

I'm done. After a week of holiday on postal life support, the plug has been pulled. That's right, the Asparagus and Rhubarb Socks of Doom arrived today. Much thanks to Jan-Knits, they are lovely (decorations!) and comfy and dare I say, look much nicer than the ones I made. Sorry, Jess! Obviously they are too thick to wear with shoes, they are the perfect size for wearing on winter nights (or Sundays) around the house. Now I have a reason to look forward to the cold!

I wanted to post a pic, but Blogger is being ornery. I'll try again later.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chuseok at the Korean Folk Village

Ahhhh, Chuseok. It always gets translated as Korean Thanksgiving, but it's so much more. For Koreans, they all meet at the grandmother or oldest son's house for several days of feasting and going "to the mountains" (where people were traditionally buried) and bowing to their ancestors. There is a ritual done with an altar of food and the bowing and it's all a big deal.

For us foreign types, it's a big long break from work. Which makes up for the one day for Christmas and nothing for Easter. Most Koreans are Christians these days, but most of them don't even know the Korean word for Easter. Anyway...

I went to the folk village, which sounds like a horrid tourist trap, but most of which is tastefully done. There are people in traditional dress demonstrating traditional tasks like making fans, baling hay, spinning and weaving, etc etc etc. It's a massive place. I hadn't been in a few years and it's gotten much bigger (and more expensive), I think because two very popular period dramas were filmed there.

Even though I've been five or six times now, I really enjoy it. It's very quiet and peaceful, even though it's almost as crowded as anywhere else in Korea. I think it's the trees and lack of stereo speakers and people yelling at you to buy something.

We saw two drum line shows. I'm not much of a fan of traditional music of any kind, but Korean drums are pleasant, even with the high pitched gongs and even higher pitched horn. Anyway, all the drummers dance as they play. Some have to make a ribbon on their hat go in circles or the big feather go up and down as they are dancing and playing. Periodically, the gongers (is that what they are called?) also do no-hand cartwheels as they play. The youngest player (one of two high school students) had to do a solo. He played while hopping laterally over his ribbon as well as various moves that looked suspiciously like break dancing. It was like that event in gymnastics, but he had to play his gong the whole time.

At the end of the day, a huge moon was rising. Chuseok follows the Lunar calendar, so it's always at the full moon.

Here's a truckload of photos. There are more, but I'll post them later.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Socktoberfest Meme

When did you start making socks?
Not that long ago, actually. Less than a year, I'm pretty sure.

Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I taught myself. I saw some great socks on people's blogs and I thought *I can do that* and I did.

What was your first pair?
My first pair was a pair of anklets based on a free pattern at alison.knitsmith.us I just changed it to a k2p2 rib. I made anklets because I only bought a 50g skein of yarn and didn't know how far it would go. They were toe up, short-row heel.

How have they "held up" over time?
Pretty well. The yarn has pilled a LOT, but I still wear them;-).

What would you have done differently?
I would have made them taller, but they are great for summer.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
I don't have a large selection here and postage is pretty outrageous from most international shops, so I tend to use Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband. I got a big box of Fortissima yarn from a German Ebay shop and LOVE it. It's very stretchy. The colors aren't great, so I overdye a lot of it.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I only ever use 2 circs.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Either or. Short row requires less thought, but flaps look nicer (IMHO).

How many pairs have you made?
Not really sure. More than a dozen less than two. I've also got one or two (no more than three, for sure) singles waiting for a mate.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Secret Pal 9

Okay. let's see if I can answer all of these. There are sooooo many questions, my attention span may be maxed out. In that case, I'll do some now and add more when the mood strikes. Also, it's nearly midnight and I'm taking some of the new teachers at school to the Folk Village bright and early tomorrow. Celebrate the biggest local holiday of the year by introducing them to some of the culture and history. Any buy stuff to take home in December. They've got the best souvenirs (and the lowest prices) in the country. But I digress. You wouldn't really know that I teach writing, would you? Trust me, I have much higher standards for my students.;-)

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
I don't really have a favorite. I've just discovered a sock yarn that is wool/ silk and it is soooo soft. I'm not really a snob, although I prefer not to use acrylic, that's because I don't like the look of it. That unnatural sheen can be seen a mile away.
What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Unnaturally shiny ones :-) and felting/ bleeding yarns. I do not live a life of leisure. My knitting time will not be cut into by hand washing (unless it's really fabulous yarn). Although I'm not super sensitive, I prefer yarns that aren't scratchy or "hard" feeling (you know what I mean).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
At the moment, a big plastic bin where they are mostly in a tangled mess if they are not in use.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
I learned to knit in the late 80's when I was an exchange student in Germany. My host mother taught me to knit a few days after I arrived. The first time I cast on, I made a sweater with no gauge swatch. It set an early precedent- both not to worry if I'm up to the task or not and not to swatch-- I accept that I have to frog more than swatchers, and I can live with that.
Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I'm intermediate. I can do stuff, but I prefer not to do things that require too much concentration, because my attention wanders and I usually knit while doing other things.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Not at this time, but that could change.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I like vanilla, but I'm not really a scent person. (I don't wear perfume and I try to buy unscented detergents, soaps, etc. I'm not anti-scent, it's just not my thing.)

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I am trying to end my addiction to chocolate/ sugar/ artificial sweetener. I really don't see how crack could be better than dark, orange chocolate (but I won't try it just in case).

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I sometimes work on a quilt (the same one for two years now, not even getting close to being pieced) and I've taken traditional Korean sewing classes (like quilting, but with silk to make small items).

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I listen mostly to modern country (the kind that sounds like Southern rock), Southern rock, and older (60's- 80's) rock and pop.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I like deeper jewel tones, like emerald, sapphire, ruby... I generally don't care for pastels or orange. These days, I'm really into dark teal.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am recently separated, no children, except my cat, Knievel. Yes, like Evel. He was about two before he could jump from one surface to another without falling and used to only nap on the edge of things. He frequently proved that cats don't always land on their feet. So, he got named Native American style. If you are too young to remember Evel Knievel, he was a stuntman who did spectacular stunts, but broke every bone in his body along the way.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes, I do not tolerate the cold well. My hometown doesn't get snow and I've never adapted.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I go through phases where I'll just knit one thing. Sometimes it is sweaters or afghans, right now it's socks.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Hahaha. On the needles- two pairs of socks, two sweaters, a scarf and a lace stole.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Duh! I knit. I love handmade gifts (knit or otherwise).

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I only use circs. Right now, I use bamboo, because that's what is available here. In the States, I would usually use aluminum.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
No, I'm trying to resist- winding doesn't kill me and I know I would just use it as an excuse to increase my stash.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
About 1.5-2 years. It's "finished", but I don't like the way the collar came out, so I won't wear it. It's still in my knitting bin so I can rip out the collar and do it over. An afternoon's work, but I can't seem to make myself do it.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving)- it's going on now. It's a three-day event that Koreans go visit their ancestors graves, so it's like everyone is out of town but me (well, because they are out of town). It's quiet and peaceful, which is rare in Korea.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
yarn and knitting paraphernalia ;-)

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I can't find any lace books here and I would like to find a nice shawl/ stole pattern to use with some Helen's Laces I got for my mother. I don't subscribe to any magazines, because the international rates are so high for something sight unseen. Recently knitting magazines have become available from some bookstores here, too.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like to learn to be a better finisher, but that's more patience than technique. I'm not really into intarsia/ fair isle...

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I am a sock knitter. I wear a US women's 7-8 (23cm from heel to longest toe), regular width.

23. When is your birthday?
I'm a Gemini.

My goodness that took me a long time. Taciturn I'm not.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ummm... October and November are different months

After a bit of sleuthwork (aka checking old emails) I have discovered the reason I am not in the October MagKnits- I will be in the November MagKnits. Have I mentioned that my memory is not the best?

MagKnits minus me

Okay, the new MagKnits is out, and my socks are nowhere to be seen. Waaah! Do they accept more than they use or what? Inquiring minds want to know.

I've got my Sock Wars target's address, so those shall be posted tomorrow along with a little Korean sussy. Do people still say that word? It's a something that's a nothing, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I've just baked some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, so I think I'll go have a cookie or three and contemplate why my socks are missing.

I'm *almost* finished with the Kitty submission. A coworker saw the finished object when I took modeled pics of it and wants the pattern in Korean. She's only made a scarf before, so I'll have to give her knitting directions (in Korean) with the pattern. ACK!