Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Yarn shop Hong Kong...

If you type this into Google you'll find a lot of between meetings today, I took the MTR to Causeway Bay to check out 2 of them. I found immense amounts of yarn, and some really really cheap stuff. But everything was packed into big clear bags, so the only way to touch it was to open the bags. I guess you have to know what you want and just go and look at the colors, because it's not really easy to browse there. I may check out one more shop near my hotel tomorrow, if I have time. I bought some Spanish mohair/wool/acrylic blend that felt kind of soft and looked nice when knit up -- I think it wants to be a scarf. I also bought 2 addi turbos -- I didn't even know what size they were (turns out 8 and 11) when I bought them, but they were so dang cheap I had to -- so I just picked 2 and went with it. Only $6 or $7 each, and they would have been much more in the states. I'm sure I'll find a use for them!

While I was working, Dave has been exploring HKG. Here's a pic of the big bronze Buddha on Lantau Island, where he went today. He also went to Ocean Park to see the 2 pandas there. I'm not a big fan of zoos, so I wasn't too disappointed to miss this. But don't worry, I did manage to have some fun too...for instance I went for a hot stone massage yesterday and tomorrow we will get foot massages before dinner with my friend. I promise I'm doing some work, though!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Xin chao, Hoi An

Any town that offers a limitless supply and variety of peasant shirts in just my size, customized to my exact fantastical whims, wins big ups in my book. Add friendly people, good food and sinfully cheap cold beer and I don't ever want to leave. It's not that I want to live here, I just don't want to leave...and I hearby declare that Vietnam is my new favorite country, knocking off my previous love, Thailand.

Even though it's been drizzling on and off since we arrived yesterday, our moods were so relaxed in this little town that the weather didn't matter. We started this morning walking through the Central Market, where all the women wanted to touch my arms and my white skin, tell me I had a beautiful face, and then try to sell me silk post cards, cinnamon cups or tiger balm. I tried to find some local yarn to bring home, and a nice lady took me into the back of a shop and showed me a bunch of acrylic stuff that I didn't really like. She said that's all they had in the town. So I passed, but at least I tried.

The big thing to do here is get clothing custom-made -- and Dave and I got really caught up in the tailor craze at Yayla. Especially started with a jacket and a shirt...then some pants...more shirts...another pair of pants to match the jacket...a skirt...almost (but not quite) $300 later and we need another suitcase. I couldn't believe how perfect Dave's jacket fit him when we went back to pick it up, so buoyed by his success, we had to buy more, and that's how we ran up such a bill. Plus, everyone of course wants you to buy more -- at one point I was surrounded by at least 5 women -- one measuring me, one writing down the numbers, 2 trying to find the exact skirt style I wanted in their big pile of JC Penny/Cosmo combo catalogues, and one alternately trying to give me a massage and demonstrate eyebrow threading on my leg. Our favorite shop was Yaly, where Sophie and Vicki gave us a lot of help and many, many suggestions for more things to buy...

Beyond the bustle of the tailor trade, this town is so peaceful and relaxing, with hardly any cars on the road, only motorbikes and bicycles. Most of the townspeople are involved with fishing in one way or another. We saw a baby buffalo along the river -- very cool!

There are also penty of laid back bars and restaurants with fantastic and cheap food line the river and the streets. Tonight it was kind of surreal to be sitting in one with Beatles music playing. It's weird to think about the war taking place here, only 30 years ago.

We spent a 1/2 day touring My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is basically a complex of temples that were heavily bombed by the US during the Vietnam War. These once rivaled the Angkor Complex, but the VC used it as a staging ground and in return, so it was a big target. We were the first ones there to wake up the gods that morning, and the legend says that this is very lucky. Also, we missed most of the tourists, who arrived in busloads just as we were leaving. We got to ride in a US Army jeep from 1968 from the entrance to the complex, which was pretty cool.

A big contributor to our love of this place is the hotel we are staying at, Hoi An Life Resort. It is definitely fancy, but so well-integrated into the environment that it doesn't feel removed from the town or country like a lot of upscale hotels in SE Asia do. I think it is my favorite hotel ever. Maybe I'm a little biased because we got a free welcome 1 hour hand and sole massage.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

No ATM in Cambodia...

...this is what Taa, our tour guide/driver in Siem Reap, told us. But in exchange for this relative remoteness, we had the privilege of climbing unsupervised over thousand year old carved steps, steeply ascending to smiling Buddha faces and views of the jungle...this place is so amazing. I can't believe the kind of access we had to these ancient treasures. As tourism grows, in a few short years, I'm sure the tourist access will be severely curtailed, i.e. more barriers, actually steps instead of crumbling stones to climb on, more protection of the carvings, etc. -- which is a really great thing -- but I'm glad we were here now. I mean, with very few limits, they basically let you lose to play archaeologist. There is some restoration going on now, to keep more carvings from crumbling, but they let some temples stay as they were, totally enmeshed in the jungle, because some of the tree roots have actually grown into the buildings, like in Ta Prom (Tomb Raider, anyone?)

They grow the cutest kids in the world (besides Sam) here. Besides being incredibly beautiful, this is an extremley poor country with an unfortunate recent past, a point driven further home by our tour guide in the war museum, who had been shot so many times and stepped on more land mines than I can remember -- he literally let us feel the shrapnel in his arm, he was missing a leg, blind in an eye -- his wife, father, mother, sister, brother, etc. were killed during the Khmer Rouge reign...and yet he was so gracious to show us around the weapons that had inflicted these tragedies on him and his loved ones. I can't even imagine...this year alone, in the Siem Reap region, 29 people were injured or killed by mines. It's just crazy.

But I don't mean to be overly depressing, because there are so many beautiful things about this country, including its people. All the children must study a language in school, and many of them choose English -- so Dave and I were privileged to spend a bit of time climbing after some creative and imaginative mini tour guides slightly off the main path near the temples, as they gave us their own version of history. And it was delightful to share some chewing gum with these little kids at Angkor Wat.

Right now we're in Hoi An, Vietnam, in an incredibly cute town which we are looking foward to seeing in the daylight. Sorry for my lack of clarity and lucidity in reflection, but the Tiger Beer is embarrassingly cheap. More later...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Airport hotel Hong Kong!

I'm sitting in the Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong, feeling kind of hungry because I slept through the 2nd meal on the flight. I thought I'd log in. I tried to do some knitting -- inspired by Jessamyn, I attempted a basketweave scarf for a gift, but it just didn't look right with the yarn I had (more alpaca -- this time from Suss. I have to big-up that store -- the employees are so sweat, the vibe is so relaxing, and the Suss yarns are actually very reasonably priced). The combination of tweed and basketweave also looked a little bumpy and feminine, and this is for a man, so I'm switching to a simple 4 x 1 ribbed pattern. As soon as I figured that out, I fell asleep. But here are some of my different needle size attempts. The final ribbed pattern is at the top near the needles.

Tomorrow we leave for Siem Reap, Cambodia, and then after a few days onto Hoi An, Vietnam, before returning to Hong Kong again for some business. Dave, luckily, has 2 straight weeks off!

Before we left we had to of course visit Sam & her family, after we dropped off the kitties at my parents' place. Tell me this isn't the cutest baby you've ever seen!

I'll try to post on our adventures, but maybe not until next week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Greta is done!

Last night I finished Greta! Yay! I just have to weave in a few ends and then block my beauty. I had a little bit of an issue with the three-needle bind-off, in that I omitted the "bind-off" part and just k2tog with the 3 needles...oops...and I had already broken off the yarn and couldn't figure out how to "un" k2tog. So I just tied on another strand and bound off again and it's all good. So I dedicate this posting to pics of me and Greta. Dave says I look like a woodsmen. I can't wait to wear this in public!

Monday, November 14, 2005


I finished the hood for Greta while sitting on the Great Lawn in Central Park yesterday (that's my friend Gregor trying to stretch my wings). It was such a beautiful day, and my new outdoor knitting sub-group member, Claudine, joined me and taught me the handy 3-needle bind-off, to save me from having to sew up the seem of the hood. She's working on a pair of lovely lacey socks on teeny tiny needles for her mom. I got back home and finished up the rest of the poncho, and put it on. It needs to be blocked, but still looks lovely and is quite warm. However, the hood was too big so I had to frog it. It's not easy to do that when you've already bound off, and I think I lost a lot of yarn and got a bunch more of it all fuzzed up. But it should be okay, I hope, since I'm making it smaller this time. I could just go without the hood, but I like hoods -- they make me feel very Lord of the Rings-ish, and I think maybe it will encourage Dave to be more like Viggo Mortensen in his Aragorn regalia.

On Saturday my freshly-married friends Cherisse & Steve had us over to their place in da Bronx for dinner and a raucous game of Beyond Balderdash with Jen and Joel. And the Irish defeated Navy for the 42nd straight time. I fear the winning streak is going to end when we least expect it, like next year...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Us!

4 years ago today, I got hitched to my hubby, Dave. It was a grand old party with fantabulous Fall weather, and tonight we're going out for a simple yet yummy Italian meal in the East Village to celebrate. Since we're going away next weekend, I didn't go too crazy with a gift, just got him a Fodor's Hong Kong book. And I'm trying to whip up a hat to match the alpaca scarf I made him in May, but I'm not sure it's going to fit. I know it looks skinny from the pic but the yarn is super stretchy (and super soft...)

The Greta poncho is really growing, and I love working with the yarn. I was secretly pleased at SnB on Tuesday when some random customer at The Point wanted to know where she could get my yarn. I think it's lovely, too!

I finally got my labels from Heirloom Labels, aren't they cute? I can't wait to apply them to my handmade goods.

In other big news, I had a little Soap and Knit party on Monday night to watch the debut of our SnB friend Nicole Forester as Cassie on Guiding Light. It was pretty cool to see someone we knew on the soaps! And we also found out that the fabulous Heather got a book contract to write a knitting book. I'm so proud of her, because she is awesome!

And that's all for now, folks!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

M-L-A O'Hara

My very good friend Emily got hitched to her special friend Brian this past weekend. She looked so incredibly happy, and many, many of our college friends made it to her wedding. It was a grand reunion and celebration. And bring out the babies! This was were it all switched know, when you first graduate, your friends start getting hitched and you worry about finding a date...then people start bringing fiances...then husbands/wives...and now kids. This was the wedding of the cute kids and pregnant friends (congrats, Franimal!)

Despite the fact that our flights got messed up and we ended up renting a car in Pittsburgh and driving home, arriving at 5AM, it was a grand old time. And don't worry, KNIT HAPPENED, but that update will come later as I'm running late for a meeting now. I will leave you with a cute pic of my guru wearing the Wavy Scarf birthday present. That's me with her and Renee, a guru of another sort -- she recently had an article and recipes published in Cooking Light, and I'm so proud of her!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy Birthday Red!

My knitting guru turns 31 today! (She's the one on the right. Incidentally, the one of the left is getting hitched this weekend, yay Emily!) My guru is the woman to whom I owe my obsession with the needles. She's always got time to explain something knitting-related, and the only person to whom spend more time talking is Dave. We walk each other home (her from yoga, me from wherever) even though she lives in DC and I'm in Manhattan. Don't worry, we talk about much more than knitting... I have gained so much from her friendship, and just wish we lived closer. Anyway, thanks for 13 years of fun, pontification and memories, and I look forward to many many more.

What more fitting gift for a knitting guru than something handmade? Voila, the Wavy Scarf from Knitty! Maybe Red will send me a pic of her actually wearing it, for blog viewers pleasure.