Friday, April 25

Blueberry Shawl

I've been having trouble deciding whether to knit a new sweater using stash yarn or purchasing more Cascade 220 to remake Forecast. And if I do reknit Forecast, what color? (I could always choose to finish a work in progress, but that's never as fun as starting something new!) So I went browsing at A New Yarn which has a decent selection of C220, but not the color of the Japan sweater. They do have a different yarn in the most gorgeous blue (Sapphire in this link, I believe). That would make a wonderful sweater, but it would cost more than twice as much as a C220 version. And infinitely more than knitting a sweater from stash.

So instead I wandered around and looked at the odds and ends. A New Yarn is a non-profit yarn store that raises money for a Women's shelter. They stock some good basic yarns but also take donations. So you never know what odd balls of Rowan or Malabrigo will be scattered around. I found a skein of Shetland in a tweedy blue-purple. It has a really old looking label and the colorway is Blueberry --- not one I can find currently for sale.

It is probably not a coincidence that I chose a blue-purple colorway. Not exactly the same as the Japan Sweater, but pretty close.

In one week it became a Flower Basket Shawl. I chose this pattern because I wanted something I knew would be easy to do without stitch markers since I have kinda lost mine all over the house. I knew the pattern would be easy to memorize and I knew it would be easy to add pattern repeats to maximize using the available yarn.

US 7 addi lace needles
9 pattern repeats
86 grams, 340-350 yards used
blocks to 63 inch wingspan 24 inches deep (could have been blocked deeper with less wingspan as well)

Sunday, April 20

Friday, April 18

What now?

Thanks all for your comments and condolences on my sweater. I knew you would understand. And it's not like I knit Print o the Wave in cashmere only to lose it on a train. That was sad.

I packed lightly for Japan and the only sweater was my Forecast, which if you read my blog, you know I finished while I was there. I needed it mostly for the mountain visits, Takayama and Koyasan. And I did get to wear it both places. It was Cascade 220, easily replaceable. The knitting only took a couple weeks. I significantly modified the pattern with great results, but still have a couple things I would have liked to have done differently (like the collar) so I just might make another one.

The saddest part is losing the buttons. Nancy brought them back from her big Europe Adventure a couple years ago --- purchased in a little town near Nimes, France.

Tokyo Day 1, buttons

But losing the buttons isn't like I lost Nancy or anything.

Our last stop in Japan was Nagasaki. It got warm and I took off my sweater the afternoon we visited the A-bomb memorial, Peace Museum and Peace Park. When we got off the tram at the harbor, I realized the sweater was no longer in my bag. We contacted the tram line, we waited for that particular car to come back and checked, then I went back to the area and retraced all my steps. I didn't have time to contact the police lost and found, but our friend in Nagasaki said she would do so. As others have said, Japanese culture considers it important to return things via lost and found, so it is still possible that I will get it back. I just don't know where it fell out of the bag, so perhaps it ended up in a canal or something.

But what now? I am feeling the urge to reknit Forecast, but that would mean purchasing more yarn. I have yarn in my stash that would make fine sweaters, but nothing that would make a perfect Forecast.

Meanwhile, I've been uploading Japan photos to flickr. Haven't organized and culled them completely, yet. But my librarian knitter Cousin Jane (SockFetishist on ravelry) sleuthed them out already. If you don't want to wait for the polished slideshow, you can find them as well here.

I have also started uploading my mother in law's Japan photos. She let me take her camera's memory card home so I can get her started on flickr. It's great to see the different photos of the same places that she took, but the problem is, she took photos of me. And I am often wearing my sweater.

Wednesday, April 16

It could have been worse

It's not like I lost my passport or my husband or anything, just a sweater....

Back of sweater.

If you are ever in Nagasaki, would you keep an eye out for it, please?

Saturday, April 5

Kyoto, Sunday afternoon

We were up and out early today. Yesterday F & Z wanted to visit a garden at one of the big shrines, but the line was too long. Z went up to the guard and asked (in Japanese!) what time they opened in the morning, got a reply which he understood so the three of them were planning to get there at 8:30 this morning. I went instead to the coinlaundry (my choice). It's just a hole in the wall, but it has a raised wooden floor with a no shoes sign and convenient and clean slippers to wear. That way when you drop your clean clothes or your skein of yarn on the floor they don't get dirty.

Then I went to Nijo Castle, the nightingale floor castle (or maybe all of them have such floors?) For touring the inside, I think I was supposed to get with a group and stay with them, but it was really just a solid line of people and I was unobtrusively going a little slower and on my own. Towards the end though I got shunted into a group of English speakers. We were in the Shogun's private quarters and the scene showed the shogun and several lady attendants. One is offering the shogun a cup of tea. The guide said that she was an apprentice and if the shogun accepted the tea then she would become a lady attendant, but if not, then she "wasn't his cup of tea." Everyone laughed and started murmuring - so that's where the expression comes from --- but then the guide shouted out "Joke!" So I don't know but am curious if the etymology of the phrase is known. Perhaps one of my faithful readers who aren't paying 10 yen per minute for internet could look it up and leave a comment?

Because internet is not free, I am reading email and blogging, but haven't emailed anyone yet. So hello and thank you for the comments and I am thinking of you all and will talk to you later.

Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen. The first two are pretty useless and cannot be used in vending machines. Fortunately you don't get them often because almost everything with the included tax is a multiple of 10 yen. However there are some exceptions, like Family Mart coffee, so I did start collecting some 1 and 5 yen coins. Then today I was at a food stall and my bill was 1046 yen. And there was no one waiting so I counted out 46 yen in 1 and 5 yen pieces and handed her them and a 5000 yen bill. Then she said that she made a mistake and my bill was really 886 yen (at least that's what I think she said, since she spoke no English) so she handed me 4 1000 yen bills, my 46 yen and an additional 114 in coins. Sigh, so much for trying.

Next I went to the Kyoto International Manga Museum. I had thought that Zach would be interested but he said absolutely not. Well, I was on my own and it was nearby so I did. When I turned the corner and saw the courtyard I understood Zach's reason. CosPlay. What a cultural experience. I can see why he who scorns such would not want to be there and appear to accept it. But it was quite an interesting people watching experience for me.

The manga was not that interesting, there really wasn't much but a lot of books to read, but the building is a converted primary school built in 1869. It was lovely architecture. In the 1990s when enrollment had declined tremendously due to families with kids leaving the central downtown area, they made the painful decision to close and consolidate the elementary schools. One room in the museum was devoted to the history of the school and that's where I spent most of my short visit.

well, my time is about up, so I am off for now.


I am wearing my sweater with its fashionable three quarter length sleeves! I didn't weave in the ends entirely, just wove them up underneath so I can access them easily when we get home. But I have photos of me on the Philosopher's Walk with the cherry blossoms in full bloom modeling the sweater. While it shows the sweater well, I am all squinty and washed out because I was looking into the sun, but whatever. it was hard to find a spot to take the photo. Everyone in Japan was walking the Philosopher's Walk yesterday -- it being Saturday in the peak of the blossoms.

I don't love Kyoto, but that's ok. there's some lovely and wonderful sights, but right now really crowded. otherwise it seems to be all tony shopping and tony people. but tony shopping includes Avril Yarn Store. I had printed out the address and map from their website while back in Seattle, but it is all in Japanese so I had no idea where it was. I showed it to the hotel clerk who marked it on my map and it turned out to be just a few blocks away. It's in a small two story tony shopping building along with a kimono shop, antique jewelry and fancy dolls. And a TinTin shop which is worth about 5 minutes. I saw about three men sitting looking really bored and tired on the stairs or huddled in corners. Poor guys. While I browsed the yarn store my guys were off exploring and stumbling across a museum devoted to the history of the canals and waterworks of Kyoto. They had fun figuring out what it all meant since the explanations were all in Japanese. But engineering is engineering and they were in their element.

The Avril building had one last notable feature. It had a toilet (ie restroom) but only for ladies. And of all the Washlets I have run across in Japan theirs was the fanciest. As I entered the stall the lid automatically rose. The bidet controls were remote, up on the wall with easy access instead of down near the seat -- which was well heated. And this one not only had the usual array of washing features, it included a warm air dry.

Starbucks in Kyoto doesn't open until 8 AM, and I thought the 7AM opening in Tokyo was bad!

Tuesday, April 1

Thoughts before leaving Tokyo

First things first: While I have plenty of Casdade 220 in the appropriate color at home, I tried to pack lightly. So I have (had) one ball that I was pretty sure was plenty. But at the last minute, I picked up a partial ball as well as back-up. Well, I have about 30 rounds to go to finish the sleeve, and I have had to break into the reserves, but I think all will be well. I am not thrilled with the look of the first sleeve, but it is cute enough. I do think I have just enough yarn to make sleeve 2 look like sleeve one, and enough yarn in Seattle to redesign the cuffs later if I want.

Other thoughts as I wait for Starbucks to open and the rest of my family to wake and finish packing....

I had been afraid of Tokyo. Especially getting lost (addresses are non-existent) and getting confused on the subway and trains. The transportation has been very easy compared to my expectations. Just a few odd things, where we missed taking the train that arrived at the platform because we were not savvy enough or fast enough to tell if that really was our train. And there seems to be some hidden non-peak fare. While it is really easy for English speakers to get information from the maps, signs etc, I can find nothing in English about a non-peak fare. And several times while traveling non-peak hours we got our tickets back when we thought they would be just right. Then in some small print somewhere I saw a reference to a non-peak fare, but not what it is. A transportation tax on tourists. It isn't much and the subway runs well, so be it.

Stations have a ton of exits, all far away from each other, along with lots of spots to transfer to other trains. It could be very confusing. But there are mostly really good signs for finding your way to the correct exit. Yesterday though, at a station with 10 exits, I saw on the handy map that I wanted exit 6. So I followed all the signs to exit 6, but ended up at a point where I could still see signs for exits 1-5 and 7-10 but 6 had completely disappeared. Another map of the station showed that there was an exit 6 but not on that floor (?) and the stairs to get there were the stairs right behind me marked exit 7. I took the stairs, but no 6. Fortunately 7 was not far from my destination.

Lots of bikes, mostly on the sidewalk. I think there is a protocol for where to ride and where to walk on the sidewalks, but no one seems to follow it. No helmets. I saw one child in a front basket with one, but no one else, not even the other children being carried. They aren't traveling fast on their old-fashioned uprights so it might not be as much an issue, but I still would want a helmet myself.

They drive on the other side. Since we are not driving that doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, but it means that everyone walks on the left as well. Except for a few places in subway stations where the arrows all point to walking on the right.

Restaurant prices are good compared to US but the portions are smaller as well. But that's a Good Thing! We never feel wasteful or stuffed. And it means that we can try more things. Zach wanted both a bowl of french onion soup and a strawberry pancake for breakfast. In America that would have been too much food. (well, maybe not for him) but here it was fine. My mother in law had a cobb salad for lunch and declared it the best she's ever had. Not only the right size, but more interesting seasoning and more ingredients.


Good thing blogger autosaves, because some window in kana popped up with a message that I now think was something like "new updates installed, shutting down now" at least that's what happened. Oh well, I am back from the coffee run with scones for the rest, we need to eat and take a subway to the main train station this morning. With all our bags. Won't that be fun.

Still knitting

So, what do you think the odds are that in Tokyo I can find Cascade 220 in the same dyelot of the yarn I purchased two years ago at the Fiber Gallery in Seattle?

That's what I think, too.

I may have to shorten sleeve one to finish sleeve two, but I do not know for sure yet. Will try to keep you posted. But tomorrow we leave Tokyo for Takayama, a small town in the mountains and I doubt we will have internet access. And it will be cooler in Takayama. I plan to finish knitting on the train en route.

Lots of pictures to share, but they will all have to wait until we are home.