Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Milkweed it is!

Thanks for the suggestions. I think because of the yardage requirements, it will be Milkweed for the Jenny Cook hand-dyed. But, in going through my stash, I found some beautifully soft bamboo blend sock yarn given to me by a visiting friend, and it is absolutely perfect for Aestlight. Yay for shopping from stash!

But first I have to finish this last design for Fyberspates. It just needs a couple of days of monogamous knitting and it'll be done. Then I can go to work on Milkweed while writing up and editing the pattern.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Thanks for the comments about the driving instructor. I'm glad to know that I wasn't overreacting or being too "special snowflake" about the whole taking the wheel thing. I will probably call the driving school and ask for another instructor. I don't blame the school itself- after all, my last instructor worked for them and was awesome. The Limey thinks I should complain about the latest person and demand my money back, but I don't think I'll go that far.

So, then, next thing I'd like some of your opinions on. I still have some loverly hand-dyed alpaca/silk sock yarn from Jenny Cook left from the two skeins I bought in Hay. I want to make one of these new-fangled shawlettes with it. I made the Anti-Funk with one partial skein and, because I love the gartery goodness of this yarn, I've narrowed it down to two garter-based designs.

Milkweed, by Laura Chau:

or Aestlight, by Gudrun Johnston:

To be perfectly honest with myself, I probably don't have enough yardage for Aestlight, even the smaller size. But I do so love that little bit of lace!

Whaddy'all think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Different teaching style or batshit crazy?

During the April/May/June visitors/moving madness, I had stopped my driving lessons. I'd done a good 18 hours and was at the point where we were just doing practice tests on the known testing routes so my instructor could give me pointers on what I had to improve on (mainly checking the damned mirrors in an overly cautious and -most importantly- obviously noticeable way). I'd passed my theory test with flying colours. Basically, I was getting pretty good and just needed to polish up a few things.

As stuff has settled down, I decided to schedule my last two pre-paid hours here in Oxford, with another instructor, obviously.

Now, I admit my first instructor, Paul, was great, and maybe I'm spoiled. But this Oxford person's teaching just did not gel with me at all. You all will have to tell me if this is normal driving instructor behaviour.

  • She kept taking the steering wheel! She'd grab it from her side and start moving the car I'm supposedly driving. Paul never did this.

  • She used her passenger-side brake and clutch all the time. It got so that when I went to use any of the pedals, I wasn't sure what I'd find. In the 18 hours of lessons I had with Paul, I remember him using his controls exactly twice.

  • She seemed skittish and overly cautious. She wanted me to go really, really slowly and then to slow down even more if a car even looked like it was going to come near us, even if it had its own nice, wide lane. I realize this is a judgement call, but we barely got into third gear the whole two hours. I did more than that in the first lesson I had with Paul.

So: normal driving instructor behaviour, and I was just spoiled before? Or is she crazy?

(I hasten to add that we got along fine, and she was a perfectly nice person. Plus, she was professional, gave me a few good pointers, and said she'd been a driving instructor for seven years. So she can't be totally off, right?)

Either way, I can't imagine taking any more lessons from her. Luckily, I've finished my pre-paid hours with this driving school. Should I call them and ask for lessons with another instructor? Or should I take the really cowardly way out and use another driving school?

Monday, July 06, 2009


I will spare you the pictures of the central square and the crazily awesome architecture. Instead, I will list a few observations.

These people are serious about their beer.

You couldn't spit without hitting a brauhaus or biergarten. And we had gorgeous weather, so brauhaus (-es? -er?) and entire cafes and restaurants conducted their business outdoors. I quite liked the weisse beers I tried- I found them sweet and aromatic. Although I cannot drink them by the litre. Alcoholic drinks should not be measured in litres! Petrol and water come in litres, not beer!

These people are serious about their meat.

Bavaria does not seem to be a place that recognizes the fact that people might sometimes feel they've had enough pork and beef. However, I definitely didn't starve. Here, at Der Pschorr (at one corner of the Viktualienmarkt), I had some pike perch, on a bed of some beautifully done risotto.

But it was definitely hard going sometimes. The Limey was in Munich for a conference, and I attended the conference dinners and barbecues. This is the only time I've ever been at gatherings such as this where no effort whatsoever was made to accommodate vegetarians. I'm not vegetarian (see fish, above), and luckily I'm not picky. At the fancy conference dinner, I ate soup, salad and veggies and gave The Limey my portion of meat (so he was happy), and at the barbecue, I ate crisps and bread.

One of the great things for me about travelling when I don't know the local language is ordering random stuff off the menu to see what you get. Like I said, I'm not picky, although not eating most meat does limit this pleasure somewhat. However, ordering from the dessert menu is always safe.

These people are serious about their dirndls.

When I first saw these in a shop window, I thought, Haha, good tourist trap. But then I noticed them everywhere: in department stores that seem to to cater largely to the locals; in shops outside of the more central touristy areas. So it can't all be souvenir tat. That purple one with the peacock feathers costs EUR2200! But, except for waitresses at the brauhauser, I didn't see anyone actually wearing one. A friend of mine said that you do see more of the traditional costumes around Oktoberfest time. I did see gentlemen "of a certain age" wearing the old-skool lapel-less jackets with the small collars. I think those look really good, actually. We should have bought one for The Limey.

In all, I had a really good few days wandering around the city. The public transport was easy to use, I could get by with a half-dozen words of German, people were helpful. I do like Berlin better, but that could be because I had my own personal tour guide and translator with me there.

And now for the knitty portion of the trip review.
Non-knitters, you can stop reading now.

I know what's on everyone's minds: Wollmeise.

Okay, well. Okay. Now, I've never bought or even seen any Wollmeise yarn in person. I like touching and feeling new yarns, so I hardly ever buy stuff off t'internets. But I'd heard good things about the yarn, so I figured I'd make some sort of effort to see it. What a rollercoaster ride- it went something like this:

:) Going to Germany! Wollmeise is German! I'll be able to get some at the yarn shops!

:( Wollmeise doesn't sell in shops, even in her native land.

:) But she sells in markets! I can navigate the Deutsche Bahn website to get to a market!

:( No markets are scheduled for the few days I'm in Germany.

:) But what's this?! She has an actual physical, bricks-and-mortar shop! And it's only 30 minutes by train from Munich! And it opened for business last month!

:( But it's not scheduled to open any of the days I'm in Munich!

So I'm afraid there is no Wollmeise experience to report. I did wander around the city to find some yarn shops. Unfortunately, two of them were closed when I found them, but I did get into Lanaiolo.

They had a good selection of GGH yarns, a little bit of Rowan (KSH, natch) and Debbie Bliss. Some other cashmere, mohair, alpaca blends and such. Basically, though, it was way too hot to even think of those fibres. I was on the hunt for summer fibres for a dress. I eventually bought some GGH Safari, a linen/nylon blend- but maybe not enough for a whole dress? (Stop me if you've heard that before...) I think I'll be able to do something with a constrasting colour, though.