December 25, 2008

On Christmas Day

We found out that Santa brought my daughter a scooter, ate one cookie (we didn't serve him milk - I'm lactose intolerant... uh, ahem, I believe Santa is.)

And then, I found another package.   It was,

a music box from my husband and daughter, for me.

I cried.

Resolution 2009

1.  To participate in Sockdown:Ravelry! as much as I can, starting January.
2.  To spin more.  Considering my drop spindle is tucked deep in the bottom of my "craft" container, even a very small amount would make it.  
3.  To lose weight.  Seriously.  My upper body look exactly like my mom in my age (she had, no, still has,  much more cuter legs than mine.  Sad reality.)  Her diabetes, blood pressure problem, and hospital stays (twice this year) make me think about my health.  I'm completely healthy (had a check-up on August) besides overweight.  So was my mom when she was my age.

Happy holidays - my next post might not come up before mid-January. 

December 23, 2008

guilt-free

My husband's new iron set - a.k.a an indulgence to yarn buying. We both know well not to attack each other on buying reasonable amount of good tools. Reasonable, is a tricky word, and we know that well, too. On the course of rationalization to each other, I got some knowledge of the shape of golf clubs and my husband knows unneccesarily well about knitting needles.

December 22, 2008

from cell phone

Just trying a new device - posting from my cell phone in English doesn't seem practical,but this may make it easier for me to post pictures I take with cell phone.

Mittens mittens all the way

At mom's hospital, waiting for her surgery done, I was knitting a liner for this;
Casquette front
Yarn; tweed yarn from Avril Sanjo's bargain bin (840 JPY per skein - one skein made this)
Pattern; Casquette (キャスケット) by Clover Japan
Needle; US 7 circular needle

I love it.  My husband likes it.  My daughter says "mom, you're super cool and cute!".  I think I have to make one for each of them.

Yesterday, waiting between the visits to ICU, I finished the second mitten;
blue mitten with butterfly
Pattern; Annemor #2 in Selbuvotter by Terri Shea, with butterfly pattern from Butterfly Sock by Coriander and a little bit of flowers and veins added to make the stranding easier
Yarn; Knitpicks Essential (colorway; Gulfstream - blue) 20g and Kanebo Cattleya (colorway; 280 -pink) 14g
Needle; US 0 DPN (Brittany 5 inch - love this stuff)

Now I officially declare that I love mitten knitting.  Not gloves.  Before finishing these two, I had finished this;
swatch Selbu #1 done
Pattern; Annemor #7 in Selbuvotter by Terry Shea
Yarn; Ski yarn chu-boso, 1002 (natural white) 40g and 1003 (black) 26g
Needle; US 1 1/2 (2.50mm) DPN (Knitpicks Harmony DPNs.  I never regret buying the set.)

- and don't want to knit those fingers for a while.  One thumb per one mitten is OK.  Maybe I can do one or two fingers, but not four, and only one or two fingered glove surely looks stupid.  Artiodactyl Mitten?  NO.

I am trying out chu-boso (compatible to fingering weight in US standard) yarns from Japanese yarn manufacturer, a couple of them, to find out "my favorite, go-to yarn" in Japan.  I am not just knitting a swatch or two.  I will make mittens from the book above, Selbuvotter.

And before that, I have to make one fingerless pair because I made a promise to make a pair of these for my sister.
Mosaic Mitt
Pattern; Mosaic Mitts by Sandy Cushman, in Interweave Knits 2006 Holiday issue
Yarn; Knitpicks Essential, Navy, Pumpkin and Tuscany Multi
Needle; US 1 1/2 (2.50mm) circs - magic loop, if I remember correctly

My mother is recovering very well, to start talking yesterday afternoon.  So happy that I went ABC craft at Tennoji to get yarns for my sis's mitts and brim liner for my casquette, after I left the hospital late afternoon.

I have four mittens on my "next" list, thinking of it.  Two from Selbuvotter, one for my sis, and SpilliJane's lovely Heather's Mittens Pattern.  Looks like I never get sick of fingering yarn knitting.

December 21, 2008

the day after

Mom's surgery went well.  She is still under anesthesia, but the doctor is happy how the surgery went.

I got tons of knitting time yesterday, in the train and at the hospital.  Today, too, I hope.

My name is O-chica.  I am a Knitter.

December 19, 2008

escape

My mom undergoes an open heart surgery tomorrow.  I should be folding laundry and getting ready to go to the hospital before 9:00 am, getting 7:18 train (train station is right in front of our apartment, so this doesn't mean I have to wake up at 5:00).  

And what I do instead is taking Nerd Test.  
I am nerdier than 70% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!
And another (ver.2.0).
NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Light-Weight Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Hh.  I guess I'd better pack up my knitting project to take to the hospital and go to bed.

December 18, 2008

Ode for Rug

My mother is hospitalized since last Saturday, to ..uh, get her heart fixed (this is how I explain the matter to my daughter.)  Today, my daughter and I visit her at her hospital first time.   I have to use this morning wisely, because I have too much time to rush out (visiting is limited 14:00 - 19:00), too little time not to mind the clock (it will take 1.5 hr from my house to the hospital).

While making a batch of smoothies for my daughter's breakfast, I knocked off my trusty handy blender and spilled applesause/frozen raspberry/milk mixture on the floor.  Horrible.  And there he was.
rug
Rug.  Made from my daughter's baby clothes, cut and tied together "calamari" way in the Mason Dixon Knitting ( I coudn't find the right page to link with "calamari", but you know what I mean.)
It soaked up everything and the floor under it was almost dry.  I just threw it in the washer with several towels which also needed to get washed, hit the button, listened the sound telling me "laundry is done (only the washing part, though)" and took it to the balcony for drying.
laundry dryer
It's not common to have a laundry dryer for a household in Japan.  Except for wintertime in heavily snowed area of north-eastern part, we just don't need it. 

By the time we come home from the hospital, it will be dry and ready.  I love it.  Only this moment at this situation, I love it more than my husband.

December 12, 2008

Go-go

When I was a little girl, little girls wore wool cover shorts.  Everyone did.  And almost everyone hated them, was ashamed to have them on her bottom.  I, too, loathed them.  They itch.  They are too thick, too padded (though were knit with fine fingering yarn.)  They seemed to be the symbol of obedience, the focal point on those endless battle against THEM - parents, elders, authorities (of course, I didn't aware of that word at that time).

And now, thirty-some years later, I knit this;
Slide-a-go-go on Stitch frontSlide-a-go-go on Stitch back
Pattern; my own.  Trace my daughter's panties on a paper, measure it, and knit a little bigger.
Yarn; Kanebo Cattleya (207m/50g, 50% wool, 50% nylon) in brown(271), pink(280), white(201)
Needles; JP 2 (2.70mm) DPNs

I am pretty satisfied with the finished garment, but feel complicated about telling my daughter to put them on.  For now, she doesn't care.  She doesn't like them as socks, but treat them just like socks - doesn't put them on until the last minute before going to a playground, and takes  them off the moment she comes back home on a warmer day, but not so quick on a colder day.
I am afraid, and waiting for her to say "NO, mom, I do NOT wear them.  I hate them."  This is a kind of a tradition.  We have to pass it on to younger generation, no matter how they don't want it.  And when the time comes, they will give it to their own offsprings.  And we laugh together.  In order to laugh later, I have to bear the coming rejection.

About the needles, I felt a little nostalgic and had decided to use 5 DPNs to knit round.  And asked my mother for an instruction.  She told me to use a piece of paper (often it was a re-used wrapping paper) to transfer the targeted size ("pair of panties or pants, anything does").  I asked some gauge-related questions, how thick the yarn was, how many stitches she usually casted on, something like that.  Her answer was, "Ah, I machine-knit them, you know, so the gauge was never off.  I don't really remember the exact thickness of the yarn.. something with nylon, it's sure.  I just knit three or four pairs in one day, and grafted the crotches on the next day."
I felt I looked for "a traditional granma's pie recipe" and ended up making a medieval lard-rich savory pastry using a wood-fire oven.

It took longer than I first intended, set aside while I was busy on Christmas knitting.  I showed the finished one to my mom.  On the first look, she said "This crotch is too wide."  Just that.
THANK YOU.

Really.  Thank you.  Now I'm determined to make another, a better one.

Talking of what I didn't like, I didn't like socks, neither, when I was a little girl. They were always too toasty. I didn't like hats, neither. They were too itchy, even if it were made of cotton. I didn't hate mittens or gloves, but I just couldn't find them when I wanted them. It was OK, I had always pockets on my jacket.  And, I thought all the wool was itchy.

Ha-ha-ha.

December 02, 2008

Done, done, done and done. And more.

I finished this year's Christmas knitting.

Christmas Socks 2008 all

From left to right; plain 2x2 rib with Zwerger Garn Opal Regenwald / Rainforest (color 2033), Peace socks with Diana Collection Naif Mela (color 6655), Lighthouse Gansey Sock with Hamanaka Field (color 1), and Jaywalker with ONline Supersocke 100 Holiday Color (color 999).   I think it's just a coincidence, that all these four yarn has their colorways in number, not  something like "mystic forest green" or "fantasy cream" .

I had finished Jaywalker way back in July (or June?), as a tranquilizer-type knitting during the stress of moving.  The rest are done in November.  All of them was very satisfying to knit.  All different, all good, all not-so-free-of-worrying (do they fit??).

Am I sick of socks?  A little bit.  What I'm knitting right now is..Rainbow on the way
Another pair.  My daughter's 6-in foot socks with ShibuiKnits Socks (color 41301, number again!).  Plain, stockinette stitch socks with a little lacy ladder on sides.  This is not a holiday knitting.  She outgrew two pairs and kept patiently waiting for a new pair.  This is an everyday knitting.

After this, I'm going back to Swatch Selbu gloves
swatch selbu #1 right
which miraculously fits my husband.  Again, this is not a holiday knitting.  I'm just trying out new yarns.  This is a study knitting.

For mindless knitting, my daughter's knit cover shorts.  After those, I must be sick of fingering yarns.  Or not?  ... Anyway, I need a new hat.  A casquette with gorgeous tweed yarn from Avril.
casquette
This is hobby knitting.  Fun, and Joy.

'Tis the knitting season.

November 24, 2008

A new knitter

My daughter said that she wants to knit for the first time about a year ago, when we were at Hobby Lobby looking at yarns.  She picked up a ball of yarn.  I chose a set of DPNs and a circular needle, setting my mind NOT TO RUSH.  I said to myself, "She's just three years old." again and again.  Of course, she had forgot what she got when we went home.  It was OK.  From that day to the last week, she wanted to start knitting and got frustrated or bored while I was showing how to, on several occasions. 

Last Thursday, on November 20th 2008, she got it.  She said "I wanna knit, too."  (I was knitting, naturally.)  I made 15 or so stitches on "her needles" with "her yarn", let her sit on my lap and show her in English style, telling her "put the needle in, yarn over, needle comes under the stitch, and let the stitch go out of the needle.  In, Over, Under, Out."  She let me hold her hands, which is not her normal "I wanna do it, don't let me do it" attitude.  She was serious.  And after several stitches together, she made it solo.  

I told her dropping a stitch or putting a needle in wrong place (like into the yarn, splitting it) is not a big deal.  When she make a mistake, she can just fix it or start it again the right way.  She is now old enough to understand that.  I told her that when she got tired, she can just put her knitting down and have a rest or do something else,  and come back and pick it up later.  She got it.  

A new knitter has born.

On Saturday, at a golf range (my husband and she practice golf, me knitting), she got tired hitting the ball and being told to be a good girl, she wanted to knit.  I gave her a mini ball of leftover yarn and a pair of US 3 DPNs (CO 15 and knit one row, and gave it to her), she knit several stitches.
Yesterday, when she wanted to play games with Dad and he was busy watching soccer game or something, she wanted to knit.  She knit 10-20 stitches.  She already knows how to soothe herself by knitting.  

And yesterday, she picked up a dropped stitch by herself.  I saw she cleared a big step.  PICKED UP A DROPPED STITCH WITH A SMILE.  I can't be proud enough of my smart daughter.

Her first project looks like to be a garter stitch scarf for her best friend stuffed horse.  We started to make a jacket for him, but I made too many stitches.  ETA; A garter stitch scarf knit sideways, that is.  I am going to take on knitting most of it.  I think it's important for her to feel she made something for her loved one.  She doesn't need to do it all the way just by herself yet.  

November 18, 2008

Like grandma, like mom, like daughter

On Ravelry, I met tens of  great knitting friends.  Some lives pretty close.  I went out for a S'n'B last month and had tons of fun.  My daughter came with me, and was a very good girl throughout having a glass of chocolate milk and draw all of my friends there.
 Kansai SnB 10/26/08
She is not a very social type, but looked so comfortable just being with us, drinking and eating, minding her own business.  Wow.  A perfect S'n'B member at the tender age of four.

Last Sunday we had this month's S'n'B.  I had told about it to my mother.  The cafe we gather is verrry close to my mother's house (where I grew up), like 15 minutes on bicycle (not "Tour de France" type bike, but "commuters in Beijing" type).  She wanted to join us, weather permitted.  She could get there on subway, but adding up walking to the station, transition, walking from the station, it would be faster just walking there, 30 to 40 minutes or so.
The weather was not perfect, but OK for her to take her trusty old bicycle.

On Saturday, the day before S'n'B, my mom had called me in the morning. 
Mom; Uh, honey, I have a confession.  I guess I don't want to wait until Sunday.
Me; Uh-uh?
Mom; ... I bought yarn.
Me; Uh- Okey.  OK.  What's that yarn like? (I thought she gave up knitting and crocheting, but maybe she dug out her old needles and hooks to make something small....)
Mom; ...For you, honey.
Me; WHAT?!  What's the yarn like?
Mom; It's lovely pink and gray or blue and pale pink varigated, SO soft and the price was good.  What's more, a lady asked me if I really want that 10-ball pack because she would like to have it if I don't.  I just decided I HAD to have it the moment she asked me like that, and, ....
Me; ... repent thyself.

And I think I am as sinful as she is because I rejoiced to have free new yarn.

The yarn she bought is this;
Nikke solfa
Sorry, it doesn't show the yarn itself so clearly.  I found a color card here (color number 401) .  It's 100% merino, sports-DK weight.  One ball weighs 40 grams, I got 10 of them.

S'n'B was fun, as the last time, to see two of new friends.
I knit several rounds of Christmas Socks #2.  My daughter and mom had fun rolling up some fleece into felt balls and make bracelets with them.

November 06, 2008

Park bench skirt


Park bench skirt
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

Pattern; improvised - more like impromptu
yarn; Hamanaka Wanpaku Denis, leftover from Usahana plus one more each of purple and black.  672.5 yard total.  (wow, that's a lot.)
Hook; 3.75mm and 4.00mm aluminum

park bench skirt left side
Ta-Da!

I needed something to keep me warm at the playground for up to one hour, while my daughter doing her daily exercise climbing up the slide and so on. Something like pillow/bench pad and belly/lap warmer combined. It has to be machine washable, quick project.
Thus, crochet over skirt in worsted weight.

Roughly, my plan was like this;
Ch 8+3, dc 8 to make construction row. Keep on working to make 9sts width dc band to wrap my belly with about 2 in overwrap, with one (ch1, skip next st) button hole. Pick up and sc on one side and keep on working only the width just to wrap my belly. Change sc to hdc, and to dc after several rows each, changing colors when the yarn run out. When the work grow long enough, join and keep working in rounds.
Start tr row/round at hip bone, working 2 tr in one st on every 5 sts (20% increasing) once or twice. Keep working until it’s long enough, adding edging from Nicky Epstein’s Crocheting on the Edge book.

Not only I changed the stitches gradually to more airier ones, but also I changed the hook one size larger somewhere (I don't remember). It worked.
About edging. I stopped at the 3rd row (round) of wave ruffle pattern (p.67 of Crocheting on the Edge by Nicky Epstein), because I didn't want to go to buy one (or two?) more balls of yarn and it was frilly enough for me.

  park bench skirt frill 

I really wanted to make that curly ruffles. Make simple scarf or something and add this ruffle - mental note.I sewed on a pretty wide elastic on the wrong side at the top of waist band. I hope it keeps the skirt around my waist, not below my hip.


It is warm. I love, love, love its warmth.

It is warm.  And my right hand aches.  No more crochet for a while.

Now it's time to go back to my peaceful sock knitting.  May not be so peaceful because it's Christmas knitting, and I am planning at least three pairs before Dec. 10th (it has to be sent overseas).  Hum.

November 05, 2008

On historical day

Somehow, I grew up thinking that politics is dirty thing (although one of my father's cousin was a pretty famous politician in Japan).  I will never be a reader of political blog.  My adult common sense tells me I can't be uninterested in that sort of thing, but I can't keep my heart in it.  (I don't say "however hard I try", because I can't even try hard.)
I do vote.  I am a grown-up.  I do what I have to do.  Like laundry.

Yet, I know the choice made by the Americans is huge, and I feel I need to be interested in it.  My daughter's future may be there.  She was born in the US, has US passport.  Until she makes her choice on her nationality, both Japan and US can be her home country.

Well.

I don't like that "He is the ONE.  Follow him, and all will be good." atmosphere.
I don't like a skinny man.

Yet, I really, sincerely hope that the US is, and always be a great, strong and fair country.  I hope a great politician is not crushed under overhoping and overdemanding of innocent people.

And I still have a hope to see a female president of the US in my lifetime.  Go Sarah.  Hillary was a little bit of a disappointment.

October 30, 2008

Cauldron-ful of hot, black goo


Nori tsukudani
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

Halloween Post.

How do you feel about a pot of simmering black goo? It's made of sea weed.

....

It's "nori-no-tsukudani".
You see nori wrapping (or inside of) sushi roll. That's how nori looks like at the store. Paper-thin, dry, sometimes with seasoning. If you leave it in your pantry too long (more than a few months), it gets stale and loses aroma. But you can rescue it. Like me, found a couple of almost a year-old bags of pretty good quality ones the other day. (Yeah, I brought them to the USA this January when we spent holidays in Japan, kept them in the pantry, sent them back to Japan along with boxes of mac'n'cheese when we moved. I didn't know they are there until I unpack. Sigh.)

Tsukudani is a savory (with some sweetness, though) preserve made from almost any food, cooked with soy sauce and sugar or mirin. Nori no tsukudani is sold in bottles at any Japanese grocery store, and very popular. Japanese love it on a warm bowl of steamed rice. Store-bought one usually is not made from nori, but from aosa (also a kind of sea weed) for better aroma.
My childhood staple is this (the top one, sorry no English). They say their low-sodium, sweeter version is good on buttered toast. Sure it looks gross. Even for me.

Anyway, when you make it at your kitchen, beware of burning.  It's gooey. Hee-hee.

Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2008

mini witch


witch with wand
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

Pattern; Little Witch Finger Puppet, Free Crochet Pattern fro Lion Brand Yarn (Pattern Number; 80770AD)
Yarn; KnitPicks Palette, Black and Mint
Hook; US D/3 -3.25mm aluminum

My Halloween Project.

It looks Halloween has got a pretty good position in marketing calender in Japan. There's a whole orange and black section in every 100-yen shop (what there are looks exactly the same thing you'll find in Dollar shop in the US. - they all come from China anyway). Pumpkins on windows of cafes, doctor's offices, grocery stores and beauty salons. There's only one thing I miss - costume. You can't find cheap Indiana Jones' jacket. No Spiderman outfit. No Pirates of Caribbean beads-dangling-wig. No angel, no skeleton.
There are some cat tail clips and witches' hat hair bands, but no "real garments."

When my daughter told me "I am going to be an angel on Halloween Day!", it meant I had to make up some costume for her. Her last year's angel costume was just the right size for her. No hope she'll fit in it even just one arm. Maybe skirt part... if I sew in an elastic at waist.... I thought and thought, and came up with an idea to use my blouse (white, soft, shiny) and little sewing. I let her try on my blouse, but she didn't want to, finally declaiming "I don't want a costume."
WHAT?! What have I done to her? Did she just slip her tongue? Is it just a 4-yr-old's mood swing/ attention span? Or as she lost some of her "American-ness" ?

She can't go trick-or-treating on neighbors anyway (Halloween is not accepted in Japan to THAT level) .
There are other holiday events in Japan she would never see if we stayed in America, we can't have both Japanese and American events, whichever country we were. If we get something new, we lose something what we had. That's the way everything goes. You can't have them all. If you can choose what to have, you are lucky.

Maybe it's not a Japanese/American culture thing for her. She just didn't want to try what doesn't fit on her in the middle of her "camp out" (in our living room), just that. Maybe she demands to have it on Halloween Day, and I'll need to ust a lot of safety pins to fix it in a hurry.

Still, I feel sad (overly sad, I guess) for her that she has lost some of what she was born into.

This little witch does have a magic power to make me feel better. Her name is Hermione. (Yeah, easy. Or we can't remember all the names of the dolls we have.)

October 23, 2008

Usahana

Usahana on the lap

Pattern; Blue eyes - Usahana , in 「ハローキティとサンリオキャラクターの はじめよう!かんたんあみぐるみ」
Yarn;  Hamanaka Wanpaku Denis in 8 different colors (15g most - what to do with leftovers?)
Hook; JP 5/0, bamboo

The biggest challenge about this project is, making up my mind to get all the colors of same yarn.  Since I am in Japan, and the pattern calls for Japanese yarn, finding the exact yarn is not a problem.  It's the cost.  One ball costs about 400 yen.  Although I had one color from different project, 7 balls × 400 = 2,800 yen, means this doll costs almost $30.

After all, I couldn't resist to see my daughter's smile.  I am so happy now, seeing how delighted she got her.

FYI, white with blue polka dot skirt she is wearing was sewn by her Grandma (my mom in law).  She sews, I knit and crochet.  Never crush into each other.

For the leftovers, I am thinking of making this Totoro doll with the blue (used for right ear and eyes), and white from the pink and white hat.  (Yes, the pink for the doll and the hat is the same color.  No, I had to buy a new ball, because I had used up the leftover making a small small Tawashi and needed more for the doll anyway.)  I am having THAT feeling, yes.  That feeling I, am going,  to need, to buy another ball of those two colors because I run out of yarn in the last row.

October 18, 2008

Subs, continued

I went to Yoshikawa, a craft store which has, in my opinion, the best variety of yarn within my reach (means, where I can take my daughter with me and shop and still can cook that day) this Thursday.  A little bit disappointed with yarn selection, but got 13 skeins anyway - this project needs 8 colors, and, although I have one of them, I still needed other 7, a little upset when my daughter started crying over lost (= thrown away) VHS tapes of Hamtaro (she found button collections of Hamtaro caracters and remembered how much she loved the show), bought one each of  whole 48 colors of 20cm x 20cm felt cloth for projects from this and this books.

My disappointment was not about the store, but the yarn itself, mostly.  Looked like all the yarns from Hamanaka are too soft and smooth.  I am into more wooly, sticky and (probably) itchy yarns these days.  Of course soft and smooth and merino-ish yarn has a lot of beauty itself, but, it is not what I am looking for.  Especially for fingering to sports weight yarns I would assign to stranded colorwork project.  Hmm.  

Then, last night, I noticed I looked over one thing.
Woolland 7 is pretty wooly, sticky yarn which felts beautifully.  How about finer selection from Nikke Victor Yarns?  Isn't it the same, or similar fiber and make as thicker ones?  My only buying option for them is online yarn store like here.  It's OK.  Oh, I can't wait.  I will try one skein each of white and black, making Selbu mittens and gloves

How about a double-knit scarf with the soft chu-boso (fingering-compatible) Hamanaka yarn I bought anyway (because it's so soft!  Did I say I don't like soft yarn?  I LOVE soft yarn!!)?


October 15, 2008

Subs

Before I came bak to Japan, I was nervous and worried about a lot of, well, nothing.  Like, "Can we find a good pediatrician for my daughter?" (There're two pediatrician's offices within 5 minutes' walk.  The one who happened to be open when my daughter cut her palm during obon holidays is excellent.  Very open , informative, gentle and energetic.  It's totally my daughter's problem that she have to cry every time she sees him.  Overreacting.)  Like, "Can I find good cheese or baking supplies that I got used to in the USA?"  (Except for bacon, I can find good stuff, if I pay a little more than I used to. Or have no problem with Japanese product. Oh, Texas-thick bacon, I miss you so much.  So-called "bacon" in Japan looks like Spam with fat.)
I can get Quaker's oatmeal at nearby grocery store (Kyoto Co-op. Oh, they don't have English contents).  I can't find those rainbow colored Jell-O nor Mac'n'cheese in that blue box, but I don't miss them so much.  My daughter has a different opinion, though.

Anyway.

Now, it's time to go and find good "To-Go" yarns.

I think I have to find a good substitute for;
1. Cascade 220
2. Lily Sugar'n'Cream
3. KnitPicks Palette
and, 
4. Good and cheap acrylic yarn that I can knit/crochet Tawashis and toys without thinking how small my budget is.

A candidate for 1. is, Woolland 7 or Woolland 9 from Nikke Victor Yarn.  7 is a little finer and 9 is a little thicker than Cascade 220, but they have OK color variation (20 or 22 each) although not so bright as Cascade 220 (but, honestly, do I need that much color choice? Not really.)  I think I can manage with proper size choosing (like, making size L with thinner Woolland 7).

The real problem about 3. is, all the Japanese yarn looks too smooth and soft for Fair Isle style colorwork.  Maybe not.  I am going to try Hamanaka Junmou Chu-boso.

4. is not so hard to find at 100-yen shop, if you don't care about colors (usually very bright and crying out "I AM CHEAP!!").  Or, I would hit some online stores to look for a bargain price for  Piccolo or Bonny from Hamanaka.  

The hardest thing to find is, to my horror, 2.  So far, I have no luck.  Every yarn on Japanese market is either too thin or too "green".  I don't say no to organic yarns, "Go Green" movement nor caring the Mother Earth.  I use my cloth shopping bag for the groceries.  I just say NO to pay $7-$8 to get 120yards (one skein of Sugar'n'Cream) of cotton yarn.  I think it's good ecologically, because I am seriously considering to tear old T-shirts into strips, knitting bath mat and others with it.  Yay to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Thanks to Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Tomorrow, I am going to Yoshikawa (on B1 floor of Kyoto Tower - very odd place for a craft store, I would say.) to see those to-go-candidate yarns in person.  My daughter will be a good girl, because I promised to make a itty-bitty witch finger puppet for her.

Gotta make a shopping list.  Lengthy one, I am so sure.

October 14, 2008

Everything wooly

Kyoto has four seasons.

I knew that.  Yet I forgot that until I got frozen on a playground bench at 3 PM last Saturday while crocheting Tawashis, keeping an eye on my daughter.  I wore a long-sleeve and figured it would be warm enough.  I really have to remember how to get dressed in layers.

Now, I am looking at my queue on Ravelry again, rearranging it, adding Nether Garments by EZ in case I can't find leggings from UNIQRO nor MUJI.  Suddenly, I am feeling I don't have any yarn for my project. 

I am pretty sure my husband will ask for more pairs of socks.

October 07, 2008

pink and white and off

pink and white and Melonpanna
Pink and white
Pattern; Hat for an Adult by Anne Kubelik (on KnitList)
Yarn; Hamanaka Wanpaku Denis  colorway 2 (cream) and 9 (pink)Needles; JP 5 (3.6mm) 7" DPN set of 5
Made for; my daughter

My daughter started taking a swimming class this October.  She loves playing in the pool (with a floating, so far), and the Beijing Olympics inspired her.  We take JR to the next station, walk 5 minutes to the fitness club every Friday.   While waiting for a train on the elevated Tambaguchi station on the first day (rainy), I noticed she needs more warm clothes this fall/winter.  She has spent all her life in warm (too warm) Houston area, and has a whole cabinet-full of summer outfits.  Yes, she has two knitted hats and pairs of socks in wool and cotton jackets, but they are far from enough for around-freezing-temperature winter of Kyoto.  Wooly thoughts are rushing on me now.  She got two hand-me-down pullovers from her cousin.  How about leggings? Tomten jackets by EZ? 

Actually, she didn't need one more hat.  She just got hit by "I have to have this!" idea when we went to buy additional yarn for this project
log cabin on the way
and found this yarn.
hamanaka wanpaku 9
She refused to put the skein down, so I offered the easiest way to leave the store peacefully;  To make it into her hat.  Deal.
It's a 70% acrylic, 30% superwash wool casual yarn.  Not the softest yarn in the store, just was right in front of her (means; 80cm above the floor), and is PINK.
Although when asked, she says her favorite color is blue, she chooses pink a lot of times from wide variety of colors for her garments.  Girl.  I love you.

Back at home, we looked up patterns on Ravelry together and found one to fit both our tastes. The pattern was written as a text file in a fixed-width font (Courier? I love those typewriter-like look), chart and all.  I thought it was no problem.  Wrong.  I should have re-work the chart on a graph paper before CO.  Either I misread it or it is off.  The snowflakes look like they are pierced with a bamboo skewer.  Good thing my daughter doesn't care and color contrast is not strong.

I made a modification on the shape, leaving it as a rectangle and put a pompom on each corner, instead of sewing it up and make it cone-like shape.  I think I love Kitchener Stitch now.
The button on the left side is Melonpanna from her favorite TV show in Japan (next to Weather Forecast), Anpanman

Seeing I chugged it out just in two and a half days, and how gorgeous it looks on her, my husband suddenly realized that he walks 15 minutes from the station to his office everyday.  He also pointed out the fact that he walks either before the air warms up or after the sun went down.  OK.  I got an opportunity to make the chart right.  And he doesn't care it rectangle, would like it to be more conservative, toque style.  OK, OK. 

October 03, 2008

March of Dimes


March of Dimes
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

After all.

We had to say bye-bye to a lot of stuff we had in the US. Many of them went to donation, and some found a second life at my friend's. We received a little money on the course, to make things easier.

We longed to become parents for quite some time in Japan and couldn't make it, and moved to the US, and suddenly, had a beautiful, healthy daughter. We thought when we have opportunities, we would like to do something for the babies born in the US. Thus, all the proceedings of our (rather private) moving sales go to March of Dimes.

I managed to find a space for the PC desk (and our printer) last week. At last, we can print out the donation form and send a check.

I tried to hide all the personal information from the picture. Hope I did well.

September 29, 2008

American cupcake


cupcake
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

Pattern;Think Pink Cupcake (Pattern #: 70602AD) from Lion Brand website
Yarn; Lion Brand Cotton Ease (maize) for "cake" and Hamanaka Rosier for "icing"
Hook; US D

Patches is a toy kitten. My English teacher Ms. Suzy gave her to my daughter, as a farewell present. She meant that an American Kitten would become a great companion for an American-born Japanese girl traveling through America to Japan. One of the moving fuss-ups worked against her (and our) will, and Patches (named because her dress has cute patches and my daughter saw a kitten named Patches in Handy Manny a few days before) was shipped in a box, via surface. I felt so bad.

When I found these yarns in my "bits and pieces" bag in my stash and made this cake, my daughter decided it was for Patches. I didn't have any Styroform or cotton fillings, so I just rolled a small towel into a ball and finished the cake.

Looks a little too big for the little kitten, but, hey, she is an American girl kitten.  Can there be a "too big" cupcake for an American girl?

I miss you, Suzy. While I was unpacking, I cried when I took out your present for me (water pitcher with blue bonnet paintings). My daughter saw me crying and came to me, patting my back and said, "It's OK, Mom, you can talk her anytime on the phone."
4 years. Long enough to grow a child to appease her mom. I am almost crying again just thinking of it.

September 18, 2008

Hurricane Ike


Galveston 200806
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

This picture is taken in Galveston, TX this past June, about two and a half month before Hurricane Ike hit there.

My friends in The Woodlands, TX are suffering from power outages for about one week now.

Friends, my prayer is with y'all. Just don't know what else to send. A dozen AA batteries for each? Nah, it's not a time for a joke.

September 17, 2008

Big Girl Bag


Big Girl Bag after felting
Originally uploaded by O'Chica

Pattern; modification of a pattern for glass cases in Domino-Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro (Japanese title;ヴィヴィアンの楽しいドミノ編み 2001 文化出版局
Yarn; Cascade 220, leftover from Celtic Knot Afghan 7805(pink) 82g and 9422(red) 24g
Needle; Knit Picks Options circular, US 10, 24" and 40"

As I mentioned in last post, my daughter needs a bag for her hand towel and everything. Thus, this bag.  Just for small things for her to be prepared as a lady, however young she is.

Problem is, I made it too big for her and I can't find a good reason not to put her dolls in it. I have a strong feeling that this bag ends up on my shoulder a lot of times, being too heavy for her.
... I think there's just the amount of yarn for another, smaller bag left (40g of pink and 24g of red).

Tell the truth, I didn't like Domino knitting method so much. I think I just don't like to cut the yarn so often. This method is very much like piecework quilting for me. If the yarn is that short anyway, I would love to use it up this way. I can't decide which method I like less, entrelac or Domino knitting.  
... Striped bag, maybe.

September 10, 2008

ISO

Moving overseas means (almost) total renewal of appliances.  You have to buy from vacuum cleaner to refrigerator, not to mention TV.  And you have to bear the "are they newly-wed? Why is this girl speaking English?" look from the service person at appliance store. 

We are through.  Only a few things is left to buy.  They are...
・coffee grinder; we were going to bring the one we were using, but I dropped it on the stone floor and got a crack two weeks before the final shipment.  Now, we are doing with pre-ground.  Problem is, we brought KRUPS coffee maker (makes 10 cups) we got in the USA back here.  Usually, coffee makers sold in Japan has only 5-cup capacity, which leads most electric coffee grinder sold in Japan has only about 50g capacity.
・paper shredder; not the desktop model, since we have absolutely no space on our desk for a shredder, or, no home office desk to begin with.  We are doing all paper work on our small  dinner table, which itself is pretty common in a Japanese family.
・iron; except I'm in no hurry.  My husband's job doesn't require wearing jacket everyday.  And all of his dress shirts are wrinkle-free.  I only use iron for my quilting, which I don't think I can find a time for.  

Shopping these things can be a lot of fun itself, but doing this kind of things day in day out....  not really.  I am sick of looking up lists on Amazon.co.jp. and elsewhere.

I started knitting my daughter's everyday shoulder bag for felting using Domino knitting  (by Vivian Hoxbro).  She needs a plain, hands-free bag to carry a small towel, a clip to make it into an apron when she eats, and a pocket tissue.  Sometimes restrooms in public space doesn't have paper towel to dry our hands.  Most of the time they have warm-air-type dryer instead, but my daughter doesn't like winds blow onto her face.  It's understandable (but it sounds snobby a little when she says so).

September 06, 2008

Sleeping on my stash

My yarns are mostly assigned to certain projects.  I consider them not as "stash", but a long line of queued projects.  The exception is sock yarns, which I just bought and stocked them up because they are sock yarns.  But, hey, they describe themselves.  They are for socks.  I like my socks with nylon reinforcer, and I like other garments without, so I seldom use sock yarns for other project for socks.  

Now, my yarns are almost settled under our bed in one cardboard under-the-bed-organizing box and three huge Ziplock (am I supposed to insert ® here?)/Hefty (and here?) bags.  The box is for sock yarns with nylon/polyamide.  Three bags are for;
1. yarns which are clearly assigned to a project.  Some of them are on my Ravelry page as "hibernated", others are on queue.
2. yarns which are not assigned to a project.  Any leftovers go here, too.
3. knit/crochet related or not, anything I want it to be here.  My spindles and rovings are in this bag, too.

I had to make second category 1. bag, which is predicted.  
It turned out that the biggest group in 2. is crochet thread.  Oh.  I have not listed it up on Ravelry stash page.  I remembered now that I re-winded those thread balls to remove the cores, to reduce the volume before packing.  Still, I could make a pillow using them as stuffing.

And I have not touched my quilt fabric (torn and cut shirts remains) yet.

One month after moving in this house, the road to "Done!" is still far.


September 02, 2008

I thought I would never say this;

I don't have a time to knit.

My day is spent on unpacking and organizing and thinking of it.  Both my husband and I had known that we were going to face an impossible puzzle, like fitting 100 pieces to 50, or 20 pieces-space.  We are pretty cleverly working on it, and getting some sort of triumph on several tactical situations.  That's it.  We have started wrong.  We have too much stuff in a too small house. 
My during-my-daughter's-nap and after-the-dinner knitting time is mostly replaced by organizing the kitchen and dining space.  Cooking and eating is the most important activity at home after taking a good sleep.

Today, most of the empty boxes were taken away by the transportation company (I have been using the term "moving company", but they are not just that.)  Now we have an access to oshiire, Japanese traditional 'mattress closet'.  We made up our mind not to have voluminous traditional type mattress or futon (people, futon is not a word for a sleeper couch) and instead keep space-eating western style bed to sleep in, which means we have whole oshiire as a storage space and supplemental closet. 
I am thrilled to think about how we use our oshiire.  Thrilled, and at the same time, sick of it.  I need an oshiire fairy to help me.  Or oshiire monster.  Whoever works for me without telling me to reduce the amount of things we are trying to put in.

And in the meantime, we began looking for the kindergarten for our daughter. It's common to have a 3-yr kindergarten education here in Japan these days. It wasn't in my (and my husband's, we graduated high school in the same year) time. We decided two years like we had would be enough for her to get ready for an elementary school, means she will start next April.   If I didn't Google "Kyoto kindergarten" on Monday night, we wouldn't know we are behind.  What I found out was that Kyoto Private Kindergarten Association have limited the start of registration process at each kindergartens no earlier than September 1st, actual registration no earlier than October 1st.  Means September 2nd. is the day a lot of kindergartens have their first open schools for '09 registration.  
My husband and I had agreed that we would choose one in the walking distance from home.  I picked up two kindergartens to match that, and learned one of them are having an open school the next day, the other on this Saturday.  Phew.  We were almost behind.
One more thing we learned from a quick research on the internet is that there seems to be no big difference in the tuition between public and private, considering we probably can get some support from Kyoto city for having our daughter in a private kindergarten.

Anyway, my knitting time just kicked away by this research.

I am not totally away from knitting-related activity.  Finding a storage space for my stash is becoming a hot topic at last.  Uh.

August 27, 2008

Vassallo kick

... And I am breathing again.

I mean, I just got internet connection at home today.   Our apartment has a broadband connection.  I just don't know how I describe it in English.  Something with optic fiber and telephone outlet, but provided by the electricity company.  Tell you the truth, I am not so sure if I know how to describe it in Japanese, neither.  All I know for sure is they took more than three weeks to provide the service for us, even though they had all the device right here in the building  and we did have the service five years ago.  I can't even think of the reason why it took so long just to connect a little cable.

Anyway, I feel I started to function again.  I just don't know what to begin with.  Reading more than 120 blog posts I am behind?  Several address changes I should have done one month ago?  Sending e-mails to my friends who surely are worried of us doing OK?

Or this post?

July 30, 2008

Broken needle

While I was picking up and down my current project, I broke one of my Brittany sock needle (5 inch US 1 / 2.25 mm ).  It's a sad incident, but, they guarantee the replacement of broken needles for five years.  I am not sure if they send a replacement even to a foreign country, but, I'll try.   For your information, I found out I can keep on knitting with Japanese Standard 0 (2mm, but slightly thicker than US 0) instead of the broken one. 

Thanks for the jet lag, we are waking up considerably earlier than usual (6:00, which is not very early for many people. I know.) every day.  My daughter apparently is on the way of outgrowing naps.  She just can't miss the fun with her cousins, keeps up with big kids until dinner time, and falls asleep at around 8:00.  (It's important to let her bathe before her limit comes to keep her from itchy-scratchy back.  She already has heat rash from a lot of outdoor activities and still doesn't care about getting sweaty and dusty.)  I am supposed to have a good chunk of a knitting time every evening after she goes to bed, but, my eye lids get very heavy almost as soon as my daughter's does.  And my lap top is having a hard time keeping connected to the internet, which means there's not a lot of Ravelry time.  

July 28, 2008

Moving Update 7/28

We're in Japan. 
Now, staying at my husband's parents' house to shake off jet lags and wait for the customs to give a green light to our stuff.  And of course, to start making purchases, my cell phone, to begin with.

We're in Japan. For three days already.

July 24, 2008

Day 10 Newark

Breakfast; BW Delaney's (restaurant in the hotel) Blueberry Pancake, French toast with sausage, "Basic" (toast, eggs, bacon)

From Cobleskill to Cooperstown was slightly less than one hour's drive.  The road was local two-way Country Road.  I lost where we were on the map, but all things went well and my husband found a pretty good parking spot at only a few minute's walk from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

I felt electrified.  The history.  The tradition and the will to save it, and the passion to play.  I felt hot inside.
But at the same time, I felt I was in NY Yankees' territory.  I could have enjoyed much more if I were a Yankees' fan.  Later, I found out that my husband was feeling the same way.  Our conclusion is, the HoF must have been made first to enshrine the incredibly talented batter, Babe Ruth.  He must have been too good to just keep in memory.   People must have thought that they (we) need something special to record his greatness.  The rest of the exhibits just followed his memorials after that, we guess.  Anyway, it is a great place to visit for a baseball fan for sure.

Lunch; Autumn Cafe at Oneonta, NY  Hot Open Veggie, BLT, Plain Omelette 
Note; My husband has been in Oneonta before with his business.  He talked again and again about the curried fish he had at this Cafe.  We visited one of  family "legends", so to speak.

From Oneonta, it was only a driving to Newark, to be closer to the airport.
I took over the steering at a service center on I-90.  The weather was not good, raining on and off, sometimes very hard.
I started feeling a slight headache near Newark.  It was just impossible to give back the steering to my husband, so I just kept on driving, which was good, because I couldn't have navigate that complicated direction near the hotel, and my husband couldn't have find the right access road to the hotel under that construction and one-way madness.


It was a little past 7:00 after my husband picked up his last prescription medicine at nearby Walgreens and arrived at hotel.  We just went out for dinner, but I started to feel a little dizzy while driving, and my husband took the steering.  Thus, my driving days are over.  Maybe I was too tired.  Maybe it is my female hormone working weird.  I just didn't feel like driving anymore.  I am done.  I am not going to drive in Japan.  We will not even own a car; it is just too expensive and we don't need it.  I didn't become a good driver after all.

Dinner; Dennys (again)  Double cheese burger, Grilled chicken salad with Ranch dressing (again), Mac & cheese (again) with pineapple
It was almost 8:00 when we got to the restaurant.  My daughter ate almost all the food.  I am so sorry to made her that hungry.  She was happy anyway.

We are running out of clean clothes.  Our hotel doesn't have a guest laundry, so we dropped in at a K-mart and bought some underwear.  This kind of thing is what we can do now but couldn't do five years ago.  We learned a lot, we got used to living here a lot.  We are going to miss a lot of things for sure.

End milage; 2467.3 mile

1 day in America

Tomorrow, we are leaving the hotel at 7:30 to get the 11:10 flight to Narita, Tokyo.  I am not sure I have time to post anything at the airport, even if Wi-Fi is available.  This is going to be the last post from America. 

July 23, 2008

Day 9 Cobleskill

Last night, my daughter was too tired to eat well.  She did eat some noodle and rice, but that was it and it was 6:30 pm.  This morning when she woke up at 7:20, she was hungry.  Very hungry.

This is what she ate for breakfast; half the waffle (of waffle maker at breakfast buffet), one hard-boiled egg, 3/4 container of vanilla yogurt, a small cup of apple juice AND a half cup of milk, and 1/4 of a small apple.   Phew. 


Today was a day for a long drive.  From Toronto past Kingston, back to USA, to today's hotel at Cobleskill, NY.  We started at 8:30.

The weather was not so good. Rained on and off all the way.  We took turns on driving, long driving on highway.


Lunch; Cracker and Barrel (again) at Waterton, NY.  Tuesday's lunch special (meatloaf and mushed potato), sugar-cured ham, fried chicken tenders (again) with green beans, turnip greens, carrots and corn for sides  We chose almost the same vegetables for sides.  They are just great. 


And on highway again.  Except for the weather, it was like the day 5 and 6 mix-and-match.  My daughter could catch up a lot of sleep.  


I fell asleep after my husband took the steering at Oneida Service center. (Oh, I noticed the sign was "Service Centre" in Canada.)  When I woke up, he was making a left turn into a local street, under the sign that says "Cooperstown" with arrow pointing to the right.  I remembered that we have a reservation at a hotel in the town located about 40 minutes from Cooperstown, because the hotel in Cooperstown was ridiculously expensive.  We drove through the hilly farms to get the lovely town of Cobleskill.  The car was very low on gas, so it was a big relief to find a gas station after 5 minutes of looking-around-being-worried-what-if-this-town-doesn't-have-any-gas-station kind of driving.


Hotel; Best Western Inn of Cobleskill


As soon as you enter the front door, you smell pool.  My daughter was so excited.  Good thing we arrived before 5:00.  She went to pool with Dad, and I knit a little at pool side.


Dinner; BW Delaney's (restaurant in the hotel)  Pot roast and mashed potato, Chicken Bruchetta pasta, Fish and Chips, Cheesecake and icecream for deserts.

My husband has a soft spot on Pot roast.  He just loves it.  The best one he had was at a diner in Port Lavaca, TX.  He says mine comes the second (but far behind), and today's was the third best.  


After the dinner, my husband found a nearby playground and took the activity-depleted little Japanese girl there.  I went back to the room early, and read the e-mail from my knitting friend, Cynthia.  I was so happy that I got one yarn (Handmaiden) from her recommendation.


Tomorrow, we will visit the main purpose of this trip.  I am feeling sad from time to time since yesterday.  Tomorrow is practically the last day.  


2 days in America


July 22, 2008

Day 8 Toronto

Breakfast was leftover steak & potato for me and my husband, and cereal & milk and orange juice for my daughter. Apparently, our family is moving toward better way if a person is what he eats.

We visited Toronto Zoo first in the morning by car, stayed until a little past 1:00.  Our daughter had a really good time there, although she was staying up late until past 11:00 last night (got in the bed around 10:10, just couldn't make herself up to sleeping.  Partly, our fault as parents.)   
Lunch; Toronto Zoo Africa Restaurant pizza and chicken wings
Note; We are idiots. Didn't have more than 5-6 Canadian dollars (thinking we are going to pay with credit card for all the purchases and all), almost missed a lunch. The ATM machine looked shiny when I see it inside the Africa Restaurant. An afterthought, maybe they accepted American dollars at the Hamburger stand we cancelled all the order and got pissed off. Hunger makes our mind blurred. End Hunger. Seriously.

Took TTC from Scarborough Center (parked the car in mall parking lot) to King to visit Hockey Hall of Fame. I think I lost the extra money we withdrawn before the lunch (maybe with all the paper napkins down to trash). I couldn't find it at the subway station anyway, and withdrew again. The attendant at the train station booth looked pissed off by something. Maybe it was me. I didn't like him, too, anyway.

Hockey Hall of Fame was so clean and shiny. We had good time there, made a lot of purchase at the store, including my husband and daughter's Sidney Crosby black Penguins jersey.
We took our family's "Hockey Guy", Kuma-tan the Bruin with us, too. He looked really moved.
DSCF0090
After a break at Starbucks, walked to Queens to take a street car, took another at Spadina, got off at Nassau St. to go to Lettuce Knit. It was close to 5:30 when we arrived. I got these;
gotcha
allhemp6LUX, KPPPM in two colorways, Handmaiden Casbah, from upper left to right to down. 

We had a healthy Vietnamese supper at SaiGon Palace on Spadina, walked to Bathurst subway station, went back to Scarborough Center and went back to the hotel.

Dinner; Chicken noodle soup (Pho Ga),  Vietnamese Vermicelli with Grilled Beef,  Spring rolls, steamed rice
Note;  We are idiots.  We didn't have enough Canadian dollars (again) and had to make our payment partly with American dollars.  I feel very bad I didn't add enough tips.  The food was so good and the nutrition of the soup felt to sink down to the core of our body and spirit.  I swear I'll come back to Toronto someday as soon as possible to make up for it.

Toronto is a big city.  We had known that, but should have known better.

3 days in North America

July 21, 2008

Day 7 Toronto

We had leftover Chinese to-go for breakfast.  It was much better than it sounds, thanks to the quality of the food (not oily) and a little help from the hotel's breakfast buffet (Froot Loops and Milk for my daughter, apples to go).

Weather was not so good.  It began raining last night, and it still was hanging around us.
Today was the biggest "sight seeing" day in this trip.  Niagara Falls.
It was awesome.  Just "Wow. ......  WOW."  
If somebody watched us go American Falls and the Falls at Canada side, he might have thought we were not enjoying so much.  Well, we did enjoy and get very impressed, are very glad to come, but did not spend money for more than the parking fees (on both sides) and snacks, souvenir penny, and lunch.  We didn't ride any trolley or boat, didn't visit behind the falls, didn't go up to the observation tower.  My daughter (sometimes fearless, but considerably cautious almost all the time) was scared by the water and got worried about the trees stuck on the rocks under the bridge near the Falls.  My husband has an acrophobia.  We all got satisfied just by walking down to the river side, taking a look and feeling the mist and sound.  As my husband said, we all "filled up" by the atmosphere.

Lunch; at the Falls Souvenir shops area (Canada)  Burger, Hot dog 

From the Falls (I think I love this simple Canadian way of naming that natural wonder) ,  it was a smooth drive to Toronto.  The rain was coming down sometimes pretty hard.  We were glad to get to the hotel by 4:00.
Problem was, our room was not ready yet, and we found out that when we entered the room.  Very disappointed.  We had to take down all the baggages again to the lobby and wait for the housekeeping to be done.  My daughter and I went to the pool and my husband opened his laptop and checked the e-mail during the waiting.  In afterthought, it was a very useful time.  The room itself is very good.  We are so glad we are staying another night here tomorrow.

Dinner; The Keg (two buildings down along the street from the hotel)  Lobster and Steak, Sirloin Steaks, Billy Miner Pie (coffee icecream pie in chocolate crust and caramel sauce)
Note; Their service was excellent.  Their food was awesome.  The server lady offered celery&carrot sticks with orange wedges as salad for my daughter, whose good vegetable eating demand hasnot  been filled for several days.  She said (with daddy's suggestion) "Everything was good!" when we leave to the server with a big smile.

Hotel; Best Western Executive Inn

Tomorrow is a big day.  Zoo, Hockey Hall of Fame, and yarn shopping.

4 days in America (North America, correctly)

July 20, 2008

Day 6 Buffalo, NY

Last evening, after dinner, my daughter couldn't go to sleep without checking out the hotel pool (at 9:00 PM).  To cut it short, I had to promise her that we would come back first thing in the morning, but only if she can wake up with the alarm clock.  She did.  And I had to keep the promise.

Pro Football Hall of Fame was an amazing place.  The history, the passion, the record....  I had tears in my eyes in every exhibition room.  We spent more time than we had thought.

Lunch; Cracker&Barrel  Saturday's special chicken&rice, Chicken&dumplin', Fried chicken tender
Note; their vegetable sides were awesome. 

From Canton, OH to Buffalo, NY was about 4 hours' drive.  The weather was not perfect with lots of clouds.  We have not seen the Great Lakes yet.  Driving was great.

It has a pool, too.  Of course my daughter had to go to check it out.  We went to the pool 3 times in less than 24 hours.  I haven't done that for these 25 years. (I was in a synchronized swimming team back in my early 10's.  Back then in summer, it wasn't so uncommon spending more than 8 hours in the water everyday.)

Dinner; China King Chinese Restaurant  Egg drop soup,  Wanton soup,  Moo goo gai pan, Lo-main, Bean curd Szechuan style 
We had them To Go and ate at hotel room, bringing down pillows and sitting on the floor.  Yes, we need doses of Asian thing from time to time.

Tomorrow, we will drive to Toronto, Canada.  I need to do a little homework about its public transportation.

End milage; 1786.4 mile

5 days in America

July 19, 2008

Day 5 Canton, OH

On this trip, things look to be getting better and better.
The hotel had doughnuts (Krispy Kreme!) and muffins for breakfast, guest laundry was available for us in the morning, better yet, I got a free cycle.  They seemed to have a trouble on the machines, and I happened to be there at the time it got fixed.  I was just wondering when the empty washer's spinning cycle ends, if ever, when the repairman arrived.  I talked to him and he was kind enough to reset the machine.  He assured me it was OK that I didn't put my coins in, just I was lucky today (and suggested me to buy a lottery ticket with that one dollar meant to be used for laundry), and promised me he would leave the dryer so it would work just pushing the "start" button.  When I went back to the laundry room, the dryer was there just as he promised me as, but the price was raised from $0.75 to $1.  If my timing was not right, I would have paid $2 to finish my laundry (which is what I would do without complaint, though).  Only two dollars, but came with the conversation with the repairman, enough to make me ridiculously happy all day.

Start milage;1125.4 mile (not the odometer reading, but the "trip" meter.  Didn't bother to reset it.)
From Chicago to Canton, OH takes about 6 hours' drive, according to MapQuest driving direction.  Problem is, we move from Central Time Zone to Eastern Time Zone along the way.  Which means, we need at least 7 hours on the clock.  We started around 9:30.

Lunch;  McDonald's at service area on Interstate 90  Chicken nuggets,  Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich, 1/4 Pounder Burgers without cheese

Since the trip to Colorado last summer, Cars soundtrack CD is "the travel songs" for us.  I just don't know how many times we listened to it again and again, cruising at 70MPH on highways.  While our daughter is taking a nap, we would turn on the radio for a little change (usually a country music or 80's), but when she wake up, we just go back to the CD.
When our daughter was still a newborn, I used to sit right beside her child seat.  After I resumed driving, my husband always sat next to her in the backseat, not wanting to miss any minutes to be close to her.  Now it's a rule; one driver in the front, other two in the back.


Fried calamari, Eggplant parmigiano, Pesto tortellini, Spaghetti with butter

End milage; 1574.9 mile

Checking e-mails every night, I am starting to unsubscribe the newsletters from grocery stores, bookstores and online shopping sites who only ships for North America.  Wrapping up things is sad.  
6 days in America

July 18, 2008

Day 4 Chicago

Everything is going on now as we planned before.

Our daughter, fearless four year old slept on upper bunk last night.  We should have known that she wants it - she wanted a bunk bed so badly after we look around for her first big-girl bed, saying, "I want that 'two' bed!"  (We talked her into a regular, low, twin-size bed, with the condition of getting a Dora sheets and everything with it.)

Breakfast; dining car.  Vegetable omelette, Continental (oatmeal, croissant, banana, yogurt), French toast

We played cards, took a little morning nap, before lunch.

Lunch; dining car.  Burger, Turkey salad with cranberry sandwich

The train had delayed about one hour or so yesterday, and the delay was still not recovered.  It's not a big deal.  Trains delay here in the USA. 

When we arrived at Union Station at Chicago, it was a little past 4:30.  First plan was to take Metra and CTA to O'hare to rent a car, but the weight of our baggage had made us think again (during the train ride) to take a taxi.
It was around 5:00, so, naturally, there was a severe traffic situation, which was not so bad for my daughter who needed a nap to catch up sleep she should have had these two days.

Rent-a-car is a red Chevy Impala with a Florida license plate. When my daughter and I saw the car, we shouted "McQueen!' in unison.  He is going to carry us all the way from here to Newark Airport.  Tomorrow, if I don't forget, I will note the starting milage.

Dinner; Shoeless Joe's Sports Bar & Grill (next to the hotel)  Hey Batter Batter Cod, Today's Special (Chicken Parmigiana), beer for my husband.  He deserves a good brew.  Special came with Chocolate Sunday as a desert.  We all (kind of) celebrate the end of the train trip and beginning of the long drive.


7 days in America

Day 3 On the Train

I can never be too proud of my daughter.  I woke her up at 3:15 (though after all the re-arrangement, she went to bed at 10:40), saying, "Hey, wake up.  We're going to airport, take an airplane to catch the train."  She opened her eyes in the second she heard the word "train."  She rubbed her eyes, went to potty and started the day.

The taxi zipped through the early morning (midnight?) downtown LA to the LAX airport.  The airline was United Airways, that means we have to make each of our check-in baggage under 50 lbs with no exception nor negotiation.  After a little pick-and-drop, we managed it.  After the security check, which my daughter and I got picked up randomly for a close look-up, it was just a little waiting and breakfast smoothie from Starbucks for my daughter before getting on board.

My husband has an amazing statistics on getting delayed his flights.  About half of his flights get delayed.  I sincerely prayed to whoever has the holy power for arriving at Albuquerque on time.  My prayer was heard.  Getting there on time,  we could even take a luxurious time to take a southwestern breakfast at Albuquerque Airport.  From the airport to the Amtrak station was a short 4-mile ride on taxi, routing on the historic Route 66.

After that was like a happy ending of a cheap movie, backgrounded by tra-la-ri-la-la kind of a music.   We waited in the waiting room, the train came, and asking the conductors where our designated seat (which was a family room) is, welcomed by the conductor saying "so glad you folks show up!", calling to the travel agency (who had called to my husband at the train station to make sure everything is going on OK) that we were really really on the train.

Lunch; at dining car.  "Chef's special" (roast beef and mushed potato), chicken salad with cranberry sandwich, mac-and-cheese
Dinner; at dining car.  Flat-iron steak, roasted game hen.  For our daughter, chocolate ice cream for desert.  She well deserves it.

The landscape from the train window was amazing.  We drove to Colorado Springs from The Woodlands (30 miles north of Houston) last summer.  It was my husband's words during the drive , "Hey, I see a train track.  How I wish I could ride a train goin' on that!" which grew into  this train trip   (At that time, we didn't even know there runs a passenger train.)  The train went on the exact train track we saw from the car, the car we sold less than a week ago.  At that time, we didn't imagine that we would leave the USA in the next summer.  My daughter was on the way of potty training.  Long drive was a challenge.  Now, she managed to keep up on us with this crazy schedule change, carrying all the important stuff such as Handy Manny coloring book and a crayon box by herself in her Hello Kitty bag.  Time flies.  Child grows up.

I finished Back to Basic socks and casted on a pink scarf.

Sleeping; in Southwest Chief running through the state of Kansas.
No internet connection (exactly as expected.)  This post is done in Chicago.


8 days in America

July 16, 2008

Day 2 Los Angeles (plan B)

There were a lot of ups and downs today.

The breakfast at Radisson was awesome.  Of course, it costs a lot, but the quality is excellent.  The family we sat next to last night was there, too.  They are from French Polynesia, and speak only a little English.  We had a very friendly happy conversation, though.  Power of words and smiles. 

After that, we checked Hollywood & Highland, drove up and down to get a good shot of "HOLLYWOOD" sign.  We found a very nice playground near the sign and my daughter had a really good time at the slide.
Lunch was at Denny's.  Headed to Griffith Park to ride a miniature train at the Travel Town Museum, and ended up spending a lot of time climbing up and down on the real train exhibit.  
The Pacific Ocean on "this" side was ...  expensive to park, considering we were only going to take a two of pictures.  We decided it's not worth touching.  It's just the same sea water as we can go in Japan after all.

Took a light supper at Del Taco, headed to the Union Station.
There, my husband turned pale.  He remembered the departure time of the Southwest Chief wrong, and the train we had scheduled to ride already left.
He quickly recovered (not completely, of course) and contacted the travel agency, reserved a hotel for tonight, got the plain for Chicago tomorrow.  We were all felt sad.  My daughter kept asking me "Why the train gone?"  I felt awfully sorry for my husband and for my daughter.  They had been looking forward to this train trip, this exact two nights and three days for so long.  He had talked her countless times about the train trip.  I can't remember how many times my daughter said "I can't wait!"  It was my husband's (kind of) dream, the way-overdued  treat for himself.  Although it was his mistake, he doesn't deserve this disappointment.  I cried.  A little.  My daughter learned that sometimes even a grown-up cries.

But, later, the lady at the travel agency called back again and told us that we can catch the train if we fly to Albuquerque.  The catch is, we have to catch the 6:00 flight from LAX.  My husband asked me if we want to try, and I answered "yes, of course" in no time.  The flight to Chicago is cancelled, and the one to Albuquerque is ready.  Let's see if we can make it.  A taxi will pick us up at 3:45 at hotel. 


9 days in America

July 15, 2008

Day 1 Los Angeles

Yesterday was a big Good-bye day.  In the morning, we drove to Huntsville to say bye-bye and thank-you to Mr. Sam.  In the afternoon, I took my daughter to my "Italian sister"'s house.  We were classmates at ESL when I was pregnant.  She is from Italy, and I call her "my sister" because somehow I feel relaxed when she is with me.  Her husband, who used to be a pilot, had a stroke two years ago and lost the ability to walk, but he still is a man of quick humor.  I took the measurements on their feet (and of the teacher at the ESL class we met, who bought our TV, gave me a lot of presents and adopted all the rice and beans and flour left in my pantry).  I will try to make the most comfortable and well-fit pair of socks for them.

Today, we went to the post office to send a package to Japan (for ourselves. To reduce the amount of stuff we are going to carry all the way), and to the bank to deposit the check from Carmax.

And off we go.  To the 'Trans-Am Sports Pilgrimage Tour".

We flew from the George Bush International to LAX.  We all took a good nap during the flight.
Checked in the hotel, took Metro and picked up a rent-a-car at Hertz in Union Station.  Why bother going all the way to the train station, while we are right beside the airport?  Because we're going on a train trip tomorrow.  The sight from Metro was very interesting.
We were planning to go take a look at the Dodger Stadium and Rose Bowl before going back to hotel, but there was an accidental misdirection, and our daughter wanted to go to the pool.  We decided to go back directly to the hotel, take dinner at hotel restaurant and go to the hotel pool.  Only one miscalculation was we are no more in Texas.  The outside pool after 6:30 in the evening was too cold for me, but not so for my daughter, so I ended up developing whole upper armful of goose bumps.  


10 days in America

July 13, 2008

Scarf...

Second post of the day.

I felt somewhat wrong about NOT posting any knitting-related thing for a long time.  I am knitting (not for a few days but will break a fast right after posting this), but getting a little sick of knitting only socks, as I mentioned a while ago.  That is making me not so excited about picking up the needles after a hectic day for sure.

Today, I asked my daughter which of these two skeins she likes better for her next socks.  
As I (and my husband, too) expected, she chose the first one.  She says because it has blue (her favorite color) in it, and more than that, colorful.  "This one is just.... pink." was her word for the second one.
She said it's OK for her that I make a scarf, not her socks, with the pink one.

Hmm.  For this girl, "because it's just pink" is not a positive comment.

I will happily knit Omo scarf with the pink yarn, anyway.

Moving Update 7/12

On finishing up the finishing-up;
*Opened the key for the house cleaning crew.
*Brought a ladder, two armchairs, two folding tables and a recliner for outside use to my husband's co-worker who is also from Japan.
*Returned the keys to our wonderful landlord.
*Sold the car to Carmax.  Didn't know we can keep the license plates.  I was almost in tears looking at them.  It's like a farewell present from the car.
*Sold child seat to my friend.  That makes $77.20 to be donated to March of Dimes.  I feel a little bad about NOT donating all the proceeds from selling the car, but it is a college fund for our daughter.  We'll add some money to the donation check for sure, though.

A horrible mistake;
*My purse I used last time we went to Japan is not with me.  That means (or so I seriously hope) it is somewhere in the packed boxes and gone by ocean (more likely than by air), which means I won't get it back until late August or early September.
 I am really glad my husband didn't get mad to hear this news. He just assured me that it's OK because he has his Japanese bank card with him (and got a little nervous and got up to check it - I woke him up at 3:30 in the morning), and laughed a laugh that means "but I am never going to forget it- and I'll make a joke of it forever!"  ... Well, I think I really deserve it.

Not so horrible;
*Several things we didn't intend to take to Japan was neatly packed and shipped.  A pack of tennis balls, broiler pan which was in the oven when we moved in, a wall pocket in the pantry.  I am sure we'll find out some more when we receive the package.

To be ready for the trip;
*Asked a fellow Raveler (is it the right word? I need to find out.) for the tips on sightseeing in Toronto.  


One and a half day in Texas
12 days in America

July 12, 2008

Moving Update 7/11

What we did on these three days;
*... don't remember well.  Everything went very fast.
*Ate too much.  For sure.
*Brought a slide and a toy car to KidtoKid, got declined the car (three balls were in a new one, all gone), the slide made $15.20.
*Took our daughter to a check-up.  She got 4 shots for immunization.  She did very well at a vision screening and measuring (35 pounds, 39 inches) but didn't respond at hearing screening.  It might be just that she didn't understand the concept (very common in the children who just turned to 4), might be that she really has a problem in hearing.  She doesn't have any trouble in language or musical development, or so it looks like, that it's likely to be the former case.
*Drove to the airport, rent a car.  Turned out George Bush International has one of the best rent-a-car centers you can imagine.  My husband is looking forward to next business trip to his former office already.
*Emptied the fridge.  To me, who was raised by Japanese parents born before the WWII, throwing away the foods is a sin.  I am a sinner.  I even threw away a half-pint container half of ice cream.
*Tried to empty the pantry.  My former English teacher helped me, encouraging me to pass even an open box of rice to her.  She was raised by a father who went through the Depression, has the same idea about throwing away the food.  She saved me.
*And she bought our TV at $20.
*Brought the broken appliances to the recycle center.
*Packed some stuff.  Not a lot.
*Took pictures with my daughter and her teachers at the preschool. 
*What else...?  Oh, shipped everything at home.  The boxes finally counted more than 220 (including the 100 boxes shipped already on 6/20).
*Sold the fridge to one of the movers came today at $40.  He is the one whom we are the most thankful to other than close friends.  He took care of our stuff when we moved to the USA, to the house we have been living these two years, and today.  We can't think of a better person to pass our beloved refrigerator to.
*Returned a modem and a digital box to Comcast.
*Brought some appliances and the toy car which was rejected at KidtoKid to a Goodwill Donation Center.  I wanted to bring them to The Salvation Army, but Goodwill was the nearest and time was pressing.


Things I didn't do these three days;
*Knitting.
*Spinning.

There still are some things to be done here.   


2 days (and several hours) in Texas
13 days in America

July 09, 2008

Moving Update 7/8

What I did yesterday and today;
*Bought "little something for everybody in the family."
*Brought our car to Carmax and got an appraisal.
*Cancelled water service.
*Met my former English teacher at a gelato stand.  We talked,  ate gelato.  She got a kitten (toy) for my daughter as a birthday gift and a nice earthenware water jug for me as a farewell gift. 
*Invited to my husband's co-worker's house, who is also from Japan, is also going back to Japan at the end of this month and my husband's golf mate/mentor.  His wife is visiting here to help the moving and to go to a trip to Canada.  She is a good cook.  We had a very good time.
*Cancelled my cell phone contract.  It was to be expired this month anyway.
*Called to insurance company for the cancellation.  They are going to send me an e-mail and the reply to that e-mail will complete the process, according to the lady who helped me.  It looks too easy for me, but naturally, I don't have any complaint for that.
*Called to a friend to ask for her awesome Maple Fudge recipe.  She is actually the wife of my husband's boss, and we had met each other only once or twice.  She had given me her phone number when we first met, and I was keeping that like a charm.  (I asked her husband when we met last week for the number again, indirectly, by mentioning I wished I had asked her for the  Maple Fudge recipe.) Knowing for sure that I could call someone I know when I got in trouble is priceless.  Fortunately, we didn't get in any big trouble that I didn't call her until today.  But I wish I had talked with her more often.  I cried when I hung up.
*Brought clothes and books and some hardwares to Goodwill Donation Center.  The Salvation Army Donation Center has much cheerer atmosphere, but Goodwill was closer.
*Went to Kids to Kids to ask if I could bring in a slide (I was afraid it might be too big.)
*Talked to my daughter that I am going to bring the slide to a store tomorrow, that we have to say bye-bye to it.
*Bought light bulbs, but forgot about garbage bags.
*Still waiting for the mail from remodel company in Japan.  

I have to speed up selling/donating/throwing process for sure.  And I definitely have to start packing suitcases to bring to the trip.


3 days to the final shipment
6 days in Texas
16 days in America