Two years later

Well, it’s been a while. After repetitive stress injuries forced me to give up knitting one more time, I got busy with non-knitting stuff and before I knew it I had stopped blogging. The past two years have included a very low-key wedding, a six-months stay in Italy, a family saga straddling four countries and two continents, a bureaucratic odyssey, another couple of curveballs, and now, finally, I am knitting again. The truth is, I can never stay away for too long. I may stop reading the blogs, looking at Ravelry, buying yarn, but sooner or later my hands feel better and I find myself opening my boxes of yarn, looking at color cards, and logging into Ravelry to check

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the new patterns and projects added during my absence. I am not sure that I want to get back to blogging on a regular basis, but I wanted to say Hi and Thank you to those of you who got in touch when I was in hiding. It’s good to be knitting again. What’s on my needles? A little scarf that I hope to finish in a couple

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of weeks. Until then, happy knitting to all of you out there holding needles.

Mosaic in the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy

Possibly my favorite mosaic in Ravenna, the starry sky in the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

Social again

Yesterday an invite to Google+ dropped in my email box and I got sucked right in. Thanks Andrea! After multi-quitting my social apps last year and making a slow comeback on Ravelry and restarting the blog, I still kept off Facebook like the plague. Now with Google+ I hope to set up a better system. I can tell already that I like it much better than Facebook; the circles alone are worth the switch. Let’s see… I already have a whopping five people in my circles and sent out invites to four more; Lady Gaga’s got nothing on me.

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To populate my account a bit I posted a few photos. Here’s what we did one night this week to celebrate Ben’s big birthday: Scuola di Pizza! It was a great treat for one evening to be at Mozza’s Scuola di Pizza for a demo on how to make pizza and a bit of hands on in shaping the dough. At the end our chef prepared ten different kinds of pizza and we all got to try each one. It was fabulous. I am hoping we can take the pasta class together at some point.

Going to the dark side

Japanese crochet books

Who would have thought?

After decades of ignoring anything crochet, two days ago I found myself at Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo (these things just happen to me) where a seriously depleted knitting shelf (emphasis on the singular) forced me to look around the other craft shelves and against my better judgement I picked up two crochet books.

Before the crochet crowd starts throwing rocks at me, let me explain that by “against my better judgement” I mean nothing disparaging regarding crochet, only that if you decide to learn a new skill, getting your trainer books in Japanese is not the sanest option.

In my defense I can say that my judgement had been impaired by a convergence of brain-draining factors:

— Constant construction work around the house for several weeks this time, with at least two weeks of sawing, cutting, rotating blades ablaze, dust and noise at record levels.

— A sudden spike in errands and things that needed to be done now, including medical and dental stuff. After yesterday’s radioactive pill I am positively glowing.

— A five-day-long smell attack on our house that made the place stink like a body farm in a bad CSI show. We suspect a rather large animal died under the house (we are on a slope and such spaces abound) and with temperatures in the 90s until two days ago… you get the picture. Well, finally the decomp smell subsided and we were enjoying an evening of TV and reading when a skunk decided to restore our olfactory environment to Code Red.

Tile cutting station

Tile cutting station conveniently located under my office window.

As you can see, it’s not that I am going gaga; I had objective reasons for not being at my best when I set foot in that Kinokuniya store.

Tile surgery

Tile surgery

But back to crochet. In case you wonder why I never had the urge before, the main reason is that to me the process of crocheting “hardens” the yarn. If the same yarn is used to knit or crochet, the knitted item will be softer and nicer to touch, and warmer to wear. As a result, until now the only crocheted items I liked were straw/rafia/cord bags and hats. On top of that, I never cared for the granny square look. Then a couple of weeks ago I happened to come across the photo of a shawl crocheted with Kidsilk Haze that looked as soft and fluffy as any knitted shawl. Time to revise my opinion of crochet, me thinks.

Any good crochet tutorial in English or Italian that you know of?
I get the gist of the individual Japanese symbols since I can look them up, but run into problems of interpretation when it comes to putting them together.

Any tips from the pros?

Ciao nonno

My grandfather died last night. He would have been a hundred years old in five weeks. My favorite memory of him goes back to when I was about two years old and he used to take me to nursery school on his bicycle

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and pick me up in the afternoon. On the way back, in spring and summer, we would stop at a park and pick up daisies and look for four-leaf-clovers. But the best part was when we sat on a bench and he pulled a horse hair from the lining of his jacket (he always wore a jacket and a hat). In those days men’s jackets had a stiff lining in the collar and shoulders and if you fiddled a bit with the fabric you could grab the end of those thick, shiny, black hairs. Then he would tear off a tiny piece of paper from whatever was at hand, twist it around one end of the horse hair, and make me a butterfly. Recreating that memory seemed the best way to honor his passing today. If you play around with different color paper, you can have fun with two or more butterflies chasing each other. There’s not much to it, really, but to me it’s magic. Grazie, nonno. ——— Ieri è morto il mio nonno. Fra cinque settimane avrebbe compiuto cent’anni. Il mio ricordo preferito del nonno è di quando avevo circa due anni e mi portava all’asilo nido in bicicletta. Al ritorno, durante la bella stagione, ci fermavamo ai giardini pubblici a cercare quadrifogli

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e raccogliere margheritine. Ma la parte migliore del pomeriggio era quando ci sedevamo su una panchina e il nonno tirava fuori un crine di cavallo dal risvolto della giacca (portava sempre la giacca e il cappello). A quei tempi le giacche da uomo avevamo un’imbottitura di crini di cavallo nel colletto e nelle spalle e con un po’ di sforzo si riusciva ad estrarre uno di quei crini neri e lucenti. Poi strappava un pezzettino di carta da quello che aveva sottomano, lo rigirava intorno al crine e mi faceva una farfallina. Ricreare quel ricordo mi è sembrato il modo migliore di onorare la sua memoria. Grazie nonno.

Taking stock

Thank you for the comments about Blueprint. The temperature went down significantly on Saturday and Sunday and I actually got to wear it; now it’ll go in the closet until the fall. It was a great self-directed workshop and I learned a lot, so I won’t beat myself up too much about the problems that jump out at me when I look at it and, especially, when I wear it. Some things I was able to troubleshoot; others I put down to experience — that thing you only get after you need it — and I am taking notes and filing for future use. About that, you’ll see some tales of caution in the next few days that I will then organize under the “Knitbits” page (that will appear in the top menu bar) to make them easy to find. I hope that you’ll find something useful in the mix. Among the tips/techniques that

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will show up first are: gauge swatches, color dominance, and grafting. The past few days have been more about taking stock than getting stuff done. For one thing, having finished a project that had sucked all my time for 6+ weeks, I had a bit of post-FO depression, then our house was taken over by construction workers and between that and the usual sleep problems, it’s been impossible for me to focus on anything.

Fixing the wall in the living room

Fixing the wall in the living room

All that shit that fell from the ceiling

All that shit that fell from the ceiling

the old door

The old door opening

the new door opening with an arch

and the new one

While this is going on, I am conducting a census of most of my knitting needles. Over the years I managed to scatter my needles in such a way that occasionally I buy sizes I already have and forget to procure the ones I need.
All my circulars

All my circulars (almost)

I had started to record sizes and length/width in Ravelry, but never quite got the whole job done because the interface does not provide all the sizes I use, and I’d rather keep all my information in one place. The only other thing I am doing now is knit some gauge swatches with Holst Garn Supersoft held double and Harrisville Design Shetland. The Blueprint hat got stalled because of a major goof and the pattern for the pullover is also languishing because now I have ideas for new things and my brain refuses to wrap up the old stuff. Oh, and I’ve been making and eating lots of apple cakes to make the most of

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Orangettes + reflections

Today is an anniversary of sorts: 19 years since I moved from Italy and the beginning of what promises to be another full year in Los Angeles. There are so many great things about living in Southern California, but I can’t shake the sense of loss at having been away for so long from the environment that shaped me. Every year on this day I reflect on my situation and it’s always a bittersweet affair.

To go with the event I made orangettes, candied orange peels dipped in chocolate (bittersweet of course) from a recipe at The Italian Dish.


My first orangettes

Oggi sono 19 anni che vivo in California e da come buttano le cose arriverò senzaltro a venti. Vivere qui presenta molti lati positivi ma non riesco a scuotermi di dosso il senso di perdita che provo quasi giornalmente per il semplice fatto che manco dai luoghi in cui sono cresciuta. Ogni anno, il 31 marzo è un giorno di riflessione ed è sempre una cosa dolce-amara.

Per l’occasione ho fatto delle scorzette di arancia candita al cioccolato (amaro naturalmente) da una ricetta sul blog The Italian Dish.

It was more work than I had bargained for, but so worth it. We’ve already tried the orangettes and they lived up to expectations. In between things I squeezed in an apple–yogurt cake so this will be a super-carb day.

Ci ho messo più tempo del previsto ma ne è valsa la pena. Abbiamo già provato le orangettes e si sono mostrate all’altezza della situazione. Fra una cosa e l’altra ho anche fatto una torta veloce alle mele e yogurt così oggi sarà una giornata ai carboidrati.

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