September 30, 2009

On not using a dryer

We have a washing machine. But not a laundry dryer.
We have small ACs for our living/dining room and each of two bedrooms. And we turn them on only when we think we need to adjust the room temperature or humidity. OF COURSE we turn them off when we go out, even just for a grocery shopping. They are not a central AC for the whole house which keeps on working even while the house is empty and waiting for a new buyer.

Now, after staying in southeast Texas for 5 years, I know that would sound somewhat pre-historic or uncivilized for a lot of Americans. I understand that.
When we moved to the US, I learned it's not allowed to dry my laundry outside (like on the balcony) at our apartment. I learned we are basically only supposed to adjust the thermostat and toggle cool/warm switch on our AC, only from time to time. We bought a washer and a dryer at BEST BUY, and found out the temperature comfortable for both me (who like it warmer) and my husband (who like it cooler). We got used to it.

I have read about a Japanese lady who married to an American and was living in New Mexico (or Arizona. Somewhere in the Southwest.), who couldn't dare to use "excess and meaningless energy" for drying their laundry and tried drying bed linens in their backyard. I understood her way of thinking, but couldn't agree her with "Americans are wrong, Japanese are right about saving energy" kind of implication she was trying to make.

Yes, saving energy is very important and urgent issue for us all. I don't deny that. But, there are reasons for any "common" way of life. That Japanese lady finally admitted that not using a dryer makes bed sheets so hard (because of the hard water they have from the tap) almost unable to sleep on, and gave up. I really think it's necessary to use a dryer in snowy winter of Northern countries to keep the family healthy. I know for a fact that turning the AC off in southeast Texas in summer temperature (which starts in March and doesn't end even in October) can be a serious health threats for elders and infants.

In Japan, energy is expensive. We try to use less energy not because it saves the earth. We do it just to save money.
I have my September bill for electricity (charges for 8/11~9/9, the second most usage in this year) here. We used 372 kWh and owe 8,145 yen (about 90 US$) to them. I tried to figure out how much we would pay if we were in Texas, and visited Entergy web site. They have "A typical residential bill calculation, using 1000 kWh of electricity usage." Ha. We are not even on a same ground. (FYI, the model bill says the price is $86.47. Roughly speaking, the same cost for three times more usage.)

While thinking about this, my trusty washer told me the load is done with a lovely melody (I guess it's a phrase from some famous Classic music. Please don't ask me further.) I got my damp laundry out and brought them to the balcony, hung them on the clothes line (bar, actually) to make this scene;
laundry 10/1/09

We have restrictions for the laundry drying on the balcony in the apartment rules, not to let the laundries seen from outside nor to hang mattresses/rugs on the fence. Otherwise, we would buy one of these and hang our laundries as high as possible.
Like my husband's maternal grandmother (may her soul in peace), we like to hang our laundry as close as to the sun, "so it will dry quickly." My husband says she believed that the closer, the quicker.

Even though he laughs off her "not-so-scientific" reasoning, his laugh is a very warm one. We believe in the antiseptic power of the sunshine. The belief takes the form of a knowledge about ultraviolet, but I'd say it's a primitive awe we have to the sun. I think it's the way we worship the sun in everyday life.
The same kind of awe to the air itself can be the reason we turn off AC and let breezes in.

So, call us uncivilized. In the sense we haven't lost our indigenous, primitive eyes to the nature, we are.

September 09, 2009

Catching up

It's about time to be productive again. The high for today is expected to stay under 30 Celsius (=86 Fahrenheit). As my mom said yesterday (on text message! Hooray for her!), we have survived another summer.

I blogged on Aug.3rd that I got a lovely book "Amigurumi sweets"(changed the title translation). The taiyaki pattern was irresistible, so I just started right away at their home.
It took only a small piece (like 10g or so) of fingering-DK cotton yarn I had on hand and half a day. I gave it to my mother-in-law. She is a good crafter herself. She quilts and sews garments & toys mostly, but doesn't crochet or knit ( knows how to, though. ) We have our own niches, which is really, really good for us both, I guess. Although I am invading her field by making stuffs for my daughter myself, I'm not so comfortable like her with sewing. It's like I'm just learning a language to make myself useful, and she has grown up with that.

Now, about taiyaki. Traditionally, taiyaki is not white. It is made of flour-based batter, have red-bean paste (usually tsubu-an) inside and is cooked up on a mold shaped like fish. Naturally, tan-colored.
Recently, white variation is getting popular. The batter is made from tapioca flour, and cooks up really chewy.
White taiyaki
This is real white taiyaki. There's a shop near my daughter's kindergarten, and we gave it a try for the first time the other day.
It was good, but not so great like people's talking. For red bean paste filling, my husband and I like traditional flour batter far better. Custard cream or chocolate cream fillings, more and more often seen with flour-based ones, go better with white ones. May make a good breakfast. But as a snack, I prefer "normal" one.

Anyway, you see how good the crochet taiyaki pattern is. This is what I made (posted again).
white "taiyaki"

My sock knittings were on hold during the summer. I didn't have enough time nor mental energy to pick them up after spending a day with my daughter (we had a lot of fun every single day, for the record). Instead, I was making a few hand towels with cotton yarns which I didn't bother adding to my Ravelry stash page, because I was so sure I wasn't going use the same yarn again. It's not that they are horrible, just not so attractive. They are something that get mixed up and fades out in your memory. And you'll never miss them.

I am slowly making a come back to garment knitting these couple of weeks, at last.
I finished these;
blue sky socks
Pattern; Poseidon Socks by Elinor Brown
Yarn; KnitPicks Essential in Gulfstream (as suggested in the pattern)
Needles; US 1 1/2 circulars (two of them)
I knit them one at a time, because I didn't want to have two small leftover balls.

thick brown socks
Pattern; Whitby by Nancy Bush, in her great book Knitting on the Road.
Yarn; Bob Sleigh from a Japanese company no longer exists. Sports/DK weight.
Needles; KnitPicks Harmony DPN, size US 2 1/2 (2.75mm).
I started them as my Sockdown! challenge for June, but gave up finishing them before time limit. They knit fast once I resumed, the pattern is just right to have them around (not too boring, not too complicated). I tried adding wooly nylon in a non-matching color to the heel flap and the toe, and I am OK with the tweedy effect. The only problem with this pair is, they itch. I think I can cope with it by wearing them over another pair, by making these "room boots".

I also finished a scarf for my daughter, but I'll blog about it on my next post.

And now, my daughter is back in her kindergarten, I'm having an ICW, intensive cleaning week. It includes we give in and bring in a floor-to-ceiling shelf to the tatami room (no, it's not so classic-looking as the photo on Wikipedia page). We are waiting it to be delivered while I'm picking up every toys on the floor and throwing away some of my daughters "works" (after taking pictures of it), vacuuming the floor... you know, putting back our house in a state it's supposed to be all the summer.

Now on my needles are;
raspberry choco kitten swatch
Colette pullover for me. Pic is just a swatch. I started this project on March, and now the body is on hold before knitting sleeves and joined to make the yoke. It's a good bedroom knitting for me.

I also casted on a pair of gloves for my mother-in-law. Like this one;
twisted glove
These work for me so good, to put laundry on the line outside on the balcony in wintertime. I made them with KnitPicks Essential, which is machine washable. I'm using SockEase from Lion Brand, which also is machine washable, for MIL's. I got her handprint when we visited them in May. I'm using Brittany 5 inch DPNs for this project very comfortably. After trying magic loop and two-circs, I found out my favorite is DPNs. For now, at least.

After that, I'll start a pair of fingerless mitts for my sister-in-law.

After that, a pair of socks for my husband (very possibly Earl Grey by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) with the yarn my dear friend Janet sent me.

After that, well, maybe another pair of socks.

I think I have started counting down the days to Christmas already.