Piadina romagnola

Piadina romagnola

Hey, thanks for the comments and emails. :) While the knitting languishes in a dark corner, I am trying to figure out where to put my energies next, ’cause by the way my jeans don’t fit anymore it’s clear that I need to do at least

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something that does not involve food. In January I tried 16 new recipes; in February 17. This can’t go on, though Ben is not complaining. YET. Maybe he will when his jeans stop fitting.

Piadina e coppa

Piadina e coppa

Someone suggested I revive an old idea that I explored briefly in my old food blog (tantarobina) — teaching a

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little bit of Italian. I remember that preparing those few posts took a lot of time and planning, but I did enjoy it. I am not sure if I would have an audience… are there really that many people trying to learn Italian? Most people I know are more interested in Spanish, but then this is California and that makes a lot of sense.

Piadina romagnola

Let's not count the calories, shall we?

I think my dough is ready to be rolled. Making my very first piadina today. We’ll see how that goes. ___ My piadina was not perfect, but definitely edible. In fact, we consumed most of

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it. Buon appetito!

A collar by any other name…

I refuse to call it cowl. The word irks me, to the point that I’ve resisted knitting one until now, I suspect, because of the name. Don’t ask me why; I haven’t the faintest idea. I know

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a woman who breaks into hives if anyone says “moist”. Do you have a word that makes you want to scream? Please tell me — I need to know that I am not insane.

Collar or cowl?

Collar or cowl?

This is a mindless knitting project so I don’t care that it goes slowly. And even for a unitasker like me, it does not preclude conversation.
stitch detail

A stitch I made up

I might even finish it this month.
the other side

The other side

Yeah, yeah… all of you fast knitters snickering in the background. I know it’s only the 3rd of the month.

We love Maru

Knitters beware: no knitting contents ahead. It’s all about language, with some cattitude sprinkled in for good measure.

A few days ago I discovered Livemocha, a website where people interested in learning foreign languages can find and help each other. So now, every day before breakfast, I submit a short written or recorded exercise hoping that someone will review it, and in turn I review someone else’s submission (in Italian or English). It’s not like attending a highly structured language course, but it’s helping me already. I also found a few Japanese movies on Netflix and two weekly TV programs of half an hour each that I am now recording. I have no idea what they are even talking about but get ridiculously excited when I recognize a word — about once every 2-3 minutes.
Hey, that’s how I learned English; TV and mystery books. Hm, I wonder if mystery books in Japanese would work. When I was doing that I was living in the UK and was surrounded by people speaking English, a combo I can’t reproduce now with Japanese.

And talking about things Japanese, I am starting to work on the Japanese captions on Maru’s blog.
Maru‘s is the only blog with daily posts that I subscribe to. In fact, I get antsy when the daily post doesn’t happen, as this past weekend when I had to go without my Maru fix for 3 days. Who is Maru? Hm, you must lead an even more sheltered life than I do. Maru is a British shorthair cat (though his human insists on calling him a Scottish Fold, which clearly he is not) that looks and acts very much like our Kelvin. The only difference is that he is an only cat and has the run of his Japanese household with a female human who seems entirely dedicated to him to the exclusion of anything else. Maru is charming and playful and spoiled and his human takes pictures and videos of him every day. Nothing extravagant so far; we get the same kind of entertainment around here times two. The thing that makes Maru’s blog irresistible is the combination of Maru’s antics and his human’s funny English, for lack of a better term.

[Maru] Wow, it nears me. I escape!
[Human] Maru knows well the turn that I clean.

[Human] Hey Maru, you seem to be a freshly-severed head.
[Maru] My head and buttocks are well ventilated
[Human] Maru often relaxes with this style recently.

If Monty Python were Japanese, this woman would be one of them.

Ben, who has also added Maru to his daily routine, suspects that this has nothing to do with language skills and that the woman sounds exactly the same in Japanese. My Japanese is still too inadequate for me to be able to disprove him.



Maru:[This is a fake fish again!]

OK, better go do something productive now.

Gold quest

No, really. The man has gone off gold prospecting in Northern California for a long weekend with two of his oldest friends. This

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is his big birthday year after all, and Scuola di pizza was our own celebration, while the quest for gold is his manly pursuit for a long weekend of driving, bending under the sun in creeks panning for gold, going back to a cabin for the night with the comfort of beer and scotch and brotherly company. I contributed two trays of slow roasted tomatoes to the cause and gracefully declined the invitation so I can spend four days knitting, reading, watching tv, and overloading on kitty love while indulging my pledge to consume almost as much alcohol as the guys — my booze of choice being wine, of course. And since I can’t drink without food, there will need to be substantial dinners as well. <non-sequitur> By the way, is there a word in English that translates the Italian companatico? Italian has this expression — pane e companatico — which means “bread and that which goes with bread.” Basically, companatico means any food that is not bread and all the attempts at translations I found online are, well, wrong. I should start a list of untranslatable words; I amuse myself in odd ways. </non-sequitur> To kick off the long weekend in style, I visited two yarn stores and bought four balls of Classic Elite Kumara that I plan to turn into a huge wintery scarf. I did say huge, right?

Classic Elite Kumara

Classic Elite Kumara

What else is new? Yesterday I sent off the pattern I’ve been working on for a first round of tech edits so my test knitters can get a better first draft to knit from. I am also putting in some time into learning my kanji, mostly at breakfast, before I have to deal with issues of tiles and grout color and type, toilet sizes, cabinetry, and the like. Will the construction downstairs ever

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end? Oh, and I am obsessing again about different cast-on and bind-off methods. Which brings me to the big question of the day: does anyone know of a matching bind-off for the Channel Islands cast-on? I’ve seen suggestions to use a tubular bind-off, but it doesn’t look all that close to me. I am starting to look at picot bind-off techniques instead. Hmmm, what is the correct plural version of cast-on: “cast-ons” or “casts-on?”

This & that

If you live in New Zealand and are looking for a canine companion (Gaby, this is for you), head over to doggelganger to find your match. You can upload a photo or have a snapshot taken by a webcam on the site. Doggelganger will match your facial features to their database of puppies/dogs for adoption. I love it when a good thing is also fun. I know, I don’t live in NZ and we are not ready for a dog yet, but it was fun.


Doggelganger matching my face to the NZ puppy database


My canine match is a 6-month puppy named Max.

No knitting news of note because I’ve been derailed by the new round of construction around the house which this time involves considerable legwork to choose and buy materials. I’ve been swatching a little in the evenings and coordinating a bit of testing with my lovely helpers. The only intensive thing going on at the moment is my new found interest in the Japanese language. This time my goals are less lofty — I am never going to learn to actually speak Japanese unless I find a way to be exposed to it daily — and a lot more practical. I am looking at all my Japanese knitting books to get a hang of how Japanese patterns work and slowly compiling my own Japanese-English knitting dictionary with the help of books, various online glossaries and tutorials, and the wonderful Japanese Knitting and Crochet group on Ravelry. Why? Hm, I don’t have a good answer. Japanese is one of the constants in my life, like knitting. I may abandon it for a year or two, but it always comes back. As a way of practicing what I am learning, I am starting to translate my PIP into Japanese. OK, not really translate; “labeling” might be a more accurate term. I am also trying to condense the pattern and looking at how the Japanese do it. There’s a lot to be learned there. My next patterns are not, repeat not, going to be as long as the first one. And just so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time looking at cute puppies, I leave you with something useful.

  • 目 = stitch
  • 段 = row

If this wets your appetite for more knitterly Japanese, check out these resources: Dancing Barefoot: multi-instalment tutorial in how to read

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Japanese knitting and crochet patterns. Fleegle: Japanese Knitting Symbol Primer. Select Yarn: How to interpret a Japanese knitting book. The Translation pulldown menu has several useful pages.

Kiri Kari (Estonian knitted toys)

I am sure you’ve already seen several pictures from this book on various blogs, but I can’t help myself ’cause I’m in love. My all time favorite creatures from Kiri Kari are the foxes and the piggies. So now in addition to Japanese and Swedish I need

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to learn Estonian. Good luck with that… at a first glance Estonian looks like encrypted text. After another look, it looks like seriously encrypted text.

Volpine nel bosco

Volpine nel bosco

Aren’t these the most charming sausage foxes you’ve ever seen? volpina
Sole on the line

I've always wanted to hang a sole to dry.

Estonian knitted piggy

The cutest piggy

Estonian knitting patterns

Pages and pages of traditional Estonian knitting patterns.



Shaping instructions

Shaping instructions

Estonian kitty puppet

Estonian kitty puppet

Kiri Kari, by Anu Raud and Anu Kotli Published 2010 148 pages Language: Estonian ISBN 978-9985-9964-1-6 Purchased from Krisostomus. It was packaged very carefully and arrived in perfect conditions. This made my day.

I need to learn Swedish

Most of the things I am currently intrigued by originate either in Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, or other subarctic areas such as Iceland and the Shetland islands. Considering the smörgåsbord of languages spoken across those areas, Swedish seems my best starting point to attempt a language attack, as it has the largest number of native speakers and is widely understood throughout Norway, Denmark, and even Finland. In the past year I have read many books by Henning Mankell (all the Kurt Wallander novels available in English) and the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Not that I plan to read novels in Swedish any time soon, but I often wish that I could read Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish blogs and last

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year, when Julekuler came out and all the Scandinavians on Ravelry were knitting those cute Christmas tree decorations, I was left salivating. They tell me that Julekuler is being translated into English and will be published in the US in July of this year. Guess what I’ll be knitting this summer? And every time a new Marianne Isager book is published, it takes at least a couple of years for the English version to follow. For Strik a la carte it took a lot longer than that. What’s an Italian/English speaking knitter to do?

Strik a la carte, y Marianne Isager

Strik a la carte (2004), by Marianne Isager. Republished in English as Classic Knits in 2009.

While I consider the likelihood of learning enough Swedish to decipher knitting instructions, I savor a few Swedish blogs written in English (Tack, Asplund!) and keep myself entertained with Google Translate for the rest.

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