Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Trip to California

I just came back from 10 day trip. First half was visiting my folks and going with mom to her chemo session, the second half was a trip to L.A. with little sis.

It was a relief to see mom more relaxed and optimistic than the first time she went through chemo 4 years ago. She'd switched doctor and facility to the Kaiser at Santa Clara. The drug she is dosing has a lot less side effect. The upbeat energy at the oncology department was also refreshing with the friendly nurses and staff.  In contrast to the more gloomy and somber feel of her previous hospital, this place felt a lot more comfortable and bright. The nurses took time to chat with patients while doing the prepping. It definitely felt more personable.  Mom was in such relaxed and even cheerful mood. One nurse who was also from Taiwan stopped by to chat with mom in Mandarin and told us all the fun things she did during her recent visit to Taiwan. The chatting and visit brought comfort to mom. Judging by the amount of food she ate at the restaurant and the frozen yogurt at the yogurt shop afterwards, she was definitely feeling much better this time around.

During my few days in SF I also visited de Young museum and even forked out $10 extra in addition to the $10 general admission for the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit.  Spoiled by free admission to great museums  in Washington, DC, I found the high admission prices in SF ridiculous (SF Museum of Modern Art is $18 general admission for adult! needless to say it has been ages since I last visited it.)  I'd worked at museums and ever since I began teaching I always try to get students to visit local museums, so I'm a firm believer that museums should be made affordable to the public as educational institutions, and not just one day a month.  It says a great deal about a city by the way museums are run.

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox now.

After reading so many praises of the Gaultier show, I must confess, I was disappointed. Maybe it was because I'm no fashionista, nor a big fan of his particular aesthetics. While everyone thought the show thrilling and exciting, I found the projected faces on the mannequin and the rotating runway of mannequins dated and Disneyland-like. The curating direction was really not impressive to me, overcrowding of displays. But I guess a show about fashion is vastly different than an art show. So the conical bra bustier that Madonna so iconically made famous did not interest me, I did find one garment amazing, and of course it was a knitted/crocheted piece.

(photos slurped from web and I cannot remember the site, sorry)

While I didn't find the Gaultier show inspiring (and I think I may be the only person who'd visited the show feeling that way,) I absolutely loved the Anatolian Kilim exhibit going on quietly at the second floor of the museum.  I was also completely taken by its Oceanic Art Collection.  The colors in combination with the designs of the kilims on display were so beautiful. The curating of the kilims was sublime. It allowed each piece room to breath and to talk to each other.  A really, really enchanting experience.  

I must say I'd never looked at Oceanic Art as closely before.  My jaw kept dropping after seeing every piece.  The delicate lines with the bold geometric designs, and the unity of simple form of each object was a total treat to me.  I vowed to study more on Oceanic Art.  


Judy and I headed to LA bright early on a Sunday morning.  With zero traffic, it took us 5 hours to get from Bay Area to LA.  Judy did all the driving, and I had no idea how fast she was going.

While she was at her workshop/class on Monday.  I walked from our hotel to the LA County Arboretum.  It was only a little over 2 miles but my shoulder got seriously burned by the sun 'cause I'd completely forgotten to bring a hat and wear sleeved shirt like I always do while hiking.  

It was my first time visiting that arboretum and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I spent the afternoon there walking around before heading back to the hotel.

We did a lot of eating during this trip.  Tons of good Taiwanese food (street style food specifically) in L.A.  Judy used to lived in the area so she knew all the places to go. We each packed on about 3-5 lbs this trip, that was how much we ate.  I don't even get any decent Chinese food here in Tahoe, let along Taiwanese food. According to Judy and everyone else in my family, the Taiwanese food places in L.A. are way better than ones in SF.  

We drove out to Huntington beach the next day. What a great feeling to just chill out at the beach. 

When the two of us are together, it's guaranteed to be very silly, goofy, and somewhat crazy time and tons of chatting, and of course eating.  

Here are some pictures I took at the Arboretum

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Paul came home from work yesterday and told me the flowers are in full bloom near Carson Pass.  

With the weather forecast in the 90s and predictably tons of wildflower hikers, I got up early, and did my usual wake up ritual of checking emails, reading news, etc while drinking my coffee. Then quickly packed up a snack and water, I left the house around 7 and got to the parking lot at Carson Pass around 7:40 for my returning hike to Winnemucca Lake.

I was very pleased to see only 4 other cars at the lot. It was a perfect day and perfect time to start the hike. The uphill section was mostly in shade during the early hours, and once I got to the open there was constant light breeze to cool down. A very easy yet rewarding hike.

Wildflowers were everywhere along the trail.  And the most abundant was 1/4 mile before Winnemucca Lake.  Because of getting there early I had it all to myself.  It was completely intoxicating.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Afterthought Leaves Tee

Lately, I had been distracted from knitting. Wild flowers were blooming, Tour de Fleece, July 4th and other other gatherings.  Half of my summer passed!  But I must say I'd immensely enjoyed all the wonderful distractions.

This sweater lingered on the needles for weeks.  Continuing my effort to knit down stash, I unraveled a ridiculously looking half done sweater from 3 summers ago and started anew.  As soft as the yarn was, the odd texture of this Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria made knitting not particularly enjoyable.  So the plan was to knit the most straight forward simple short sleeve Tee to use up some yarn.  And I did just that.  Knitted top-down in round, with sort of a boatneck, or I should say in French "bateau" to pretend it's more chic, raglan sleeves, it should've been a lot faster knit than the three weeks it took me. 

As my luck would have it, unintentional stripes again!! Seriously!!?? I cannot blame anyone, not even myself this time, because the yarn did not come with dye lot numbers. Not bummed since I wasn't as invested in the project, and the stripes came out almost in exact alternating dark and light, so it looked fine. Or maybe I'm already getting so used to it?

Three weeks was not a long time for making a sweater, but it felt like a long time, considering I used only 580 yards of yarn. I watched the first season of Luther on Netflix while knitting this.  

After binding off the main body, I was so ready to be done with it. I tried it on in front of the mirror and saw two yarn ends hanging from the neck. All of sudden I saw the idea of two leaves hanging at the same spots, hence the afterthought decoration to this otherwise unexciting sweater.    

I finished the sleeves in no time and began making little leaves and crocheted onto the sweater the vertical line. Voila, (ha, another French word, see how determined I am to make this chic,) the tee went from plain to a little less plain in 30 minutes.  

In the end, I'm liking this tee a lot more than I expected.  Even though the yarn wasn't the funnest to knit with, the finished fabric is super, duper soft and comfy against skin. And I mean soft like an old towel soft. I even threw the Tee in the dryer, and no problem at all. I already wore it around town this morning.

It's too basic of a tee to list as a pattern, but I still want to share it. 

Disclaimer: Summer is all about lazy. I am too lazy to run an additional test knit group. This pattern is not test knitted nor tech edited, though I double checked my calculations. I am also too lazy to draw schematics but the two major measurements (chest and neck opening) are provided.

So here is the simplest Tee:

Afterthought Leaves T


  • Top-down in round. 
  • 5 rounds of garter sts for borders (garter borders tend to row a little bit, but it should improve after blocking, or you may opt for ribbing instead.) 
  • Rest of the sweater is all simple St sts, perfect for watching good movies/tv. 
  • Raglan sleeves.
  • Leaves are knitted as separate pieces after the sweater is completed and crochected onto the sweater. 

Sizes: 32” (34”, 37”, 39”, 41”, 44”, 47”, 50”) measurements of the chest on garment.
Neck opening measurements: 19” (20”, 21”, 21.5”, 22.5”, 23.5”, 25.5”, 25.5”)

Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria, Color #215 Spice, 5 skeins = 580 yards. About 530 (550, 570, 580, 610, 650, 680, 730) yards for each size. 
Needles: US #5
Gauge: 17 sts x 28 rows = 4”x4”
k – knit.   p –purl. 
CO - cast on.  BO - bind off. 
st – stitch.   rep – repeat.
kf&b  – k into front then into back of the same st.
kfbf - knit into front, then into back, then into front again of the same st (2 sts increased).  
pm - place marker.   sm - slip marker.   rm - remove marker,
m1L - increase one st by make 1 left.   m1R - increase one st by make 1 right.  
ssk - slip slip knit the 2 slipped sts together.    k2tog - knit 2 sts together. 
s2kp - slip 2 sts as if to knit together then knit next st and pass the 2 slipped sts over the knitted st.

CO 82 (86, 88, 92, 96, 100, 108, 108) sts.
Join in round, careful not to twist.
k 1 round.
p 1 round.
Rep last 2 rounds once.

Next round: *pm, k0 (0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1), kf&b 5 times, k0 (0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1), pm, k1, pm, k34 (36, 37, 39, 41, 41, 45, 45), pm, k1, pm, rep from * once.  Total 92 (96, 98, 102, 106, 110, 118, 118) sts.

Next round:  k all sts.
Next round: * sm, k to next marker, m1L, sm, k1, sm, m1R, rep from * 3 more times.
Repeat last 2 rounds 14 (15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25) more times and total  212 (224, 242, 254, 266, 286, 302, 326) sts.
k all rounds evenly until 6.5” (6.5”, 7”, 7”, 7.5”, 8.5”, 9.5”, 11”) from CO edge.  It’s a good time to try it on and see if this armhole length needs to be shortened or lengthened.

Next round: *k to next marker, rm, slip next st onto waste yarn, rm (remove marker), slip 40 (42, 46, 48, 50, 56, 58, 64) sleeve sts onto waste yarn, rm, slip next st onto waste yarn, rm, use backward loop method and CO 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5) sts, pm for side seam, CO 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5) sts, rep from * once more. -Total 136 (144, 158, 166, 174, 186, 198, 214) sts on needles and 42 (44, 48, 50, 52, 58, 60, 66) sts for each sleeve on waste yarn.

k all rounds ‘til 5.5” from underarm (or 2.5” above narrowest part of waistline.)
Next round: *sm, k1, k2tog, k to 3 sts before next marker, ssk, k1, rep from * once more.
k 5 rounds.
Rep last 6 rounds 2 more times.
k 2 rounds.
Next round: *sm, k1, m1R, k to 1 st before next marker, m1L, k1, rep from * once more.
k 6 rounds.
Rep last 7 rounds 2 more times.
k all rounds ‘till 14” from underarm or until desired length.
p 1 round.
k 1 round.
Rep last 2 rounds once more.
k 1 round.
BO all sts purl-wise.

Begin at the center of the 6 underarm CO sts, PU the last 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5)  of the 4 (4, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 10) sts, slip 42 (44, 48, 50, 52, 58, 60, 66) sleeve sts from waste yarn onto same needles, PU the first 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5)  of the 4 (4, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 10) underarm CO sts. – Total 46 (48, 54, 56, 58, 66, 68, 78) sts.
Join yarn.
Next round: k 16 (17, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 32), (k2tog, k1)5 times, k15 (16, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 31) – Total 41 (43. 49. 51. 53. 61. 63. 73) sts.
p 1 round.
k 1 round.
Rep last 2 rounds once more.
k 1 round.
BO all sts purl-wise.

Do the same for the second sleeve.

CO 1 st and leave at least 15” tail.
Next row (RS): kfbf –Total 3 sts.
Next row(WS): p3.
Next row (RS): k1, m1L, k1, m1R, k1.
Next row (WS): p5.
Next row (RS): k1, m1L, k3, m1R, k1.
Next row (WS): p7.
Next row (RS): k1, m1L, k5, m1R, k1.
Next row (WS): p9.
Next row (RS): k9.
Next row (WS): p9.
Next row (RS): ssk, k1, yo, s2kp, yo, k1, k2tog.
Next row (WS): p7.
Next row (RS): ssk, yo, s2kp, yo, k2tog.
Next row (WS): p5.
Next row (RS): ssk, s2kp, k2tog.
Next row (WS): p3.
Next row (RS): s2kp.
Do NOT cut yarn.
Place the leaf at desired spot.
Use single crochet and continue to crochet up a column towards the neckband -  Make one single crochet every other row by crocheting through the center of a st into the bar at the base together with the chain on hook, skip the st above, and crochet into the next one above for the next single crochet.  When reaching the top, cut yarn and pull the end through the last loop and weave in on the WS.

Use tail from CO to sew the leaf in place along edges.
Make more leaves if desired.
Weave in ends.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Meiss Meadow

After eating way too much on July 4th,  I went for a hike yesterday to Meiss Meadow.
Drove up to 89 (Luther Pass) and parked at Big Meadow Trailhead Lot, and from the lot I crossed the highway to begin the hike south towards Round Lake. It is also a small section of Tahoe Rim Trail.  First was some switchbacks going uphill for 1/2 mile to reach the fork of Meiss Meadow/Round Lake, and Scotts Lake.

The meadow was special to me because we took Cody there once.  He was such a good trooper.  For a 15 pound 13 year old little dog he trudged on uphill without any complaints.  The particular memory we had of that place was when we reached the stream at the meadow he walked right into the water and laid down.  Both Paul and I dropped our jaws,  Cody absolutely hated going near any water.  He was hot from the climb.  That was the only time I'd ever seen him getting into water voluntarily. 

So I got to the meadow and stood by the stream for a short while, missing Cody.

Then I continued on towards Round Lake.  Wild flowers were blooming everywhere.  Once I passed the meadown, it was uphill for about 1.5 mile.  It then started to drop down.  I began the descent for 10 minutes and decided to turn around instead of going all the way down to the lake.  I cold tell my legs weren't up for the climb on the way back, even though the lake was only less than a mile away.  I kept on seeing groups after groups of people heading towards the lake and was glad to bail out of the traffic zone.

After walking back through the meadow again and at the fork, I went onto Scotts Lake trail rather than back to the car.  A nice decision considering I did not encounter a single person on that trail.  The climb arrived at the same high elevation as the other trail.  I hiked probably another 2 miles before I turned around, nearly a mile short of Scotts Lake.  Didn't get to any lake, but didn't care either.  I  probably did total 8 miles in 4 hours and stated about 7250 ft at trail head and the highest point on either trail I got to was about 8000 ft.

My legs were pretty sore last night so no Tour de Fleece spinning from me for one day. Hopefully I'll do some of that today.