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Archive for August, 2006

Based on some insider’s advice from Elise‘s husband, Evan and I made our way to Berkeley on Saturday. On the drive over, we listened to TAL where David Sedaris spoke about his life in Paris and how it is infinitely more interesting to find the place that sells hand-painted organ replicas than to visit famous landmarks. While we didn’t find a place that sells wooden backbones or hearts, it was a nice framework for the day.

We began our visit to Berkeley with a trip to Top Dog on Durant to partake in some “of the world’s best sausages.” It began with orders to “get inside and stop clogging up the sidewalk.” We obliged and were rewarded with a tasty treat.

After “breakfast”, we headed over to check out Berkeley’s campus. I visited Berkeley in 2000 as a prospective graduate student and was surprised by how much I remembered. During the drive over, I had read about how Berkeley has the largest triceratops skull on record as well as a full T-rex skeleton. We made our way over to the Life Sciences building to check it out.

Once inside the building, we discovered that the Paleontology museum is no longer open to the public. They put a clam shell as big as a man’s torso just inside the window stating this fact to taunt us and the other dinosaur seeking public. We were also able to peak through the library window (closed on the weekend during summer sessions) and take a distant gander at the triceratops skull. I think it was pretty big.

Luckily, in the lobby of the building they had these on display.

After grabbing a slice of pizza at Blondie’s (super simple pizza, super yummy), and headed over the Berkeley Bowl. For those of you that haven’t been to the Berkeley Bowl, it has a HUGE amount of organic produce and a million sources/varieties of the produce items. While I admit that I am not completely acclimated to city-life, I think most people would be amazed by the number of people aggressively seeking produce on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I planned to take photos of the vast array of produce (like whole aisles of tomatoes, a million kinds of sweet potatoes, the juicy 99 cent baskets of organic strawberries), but I was afraid of getting in the way of the masses.

Next on our tour was The Cheeseboard. I had read that this is the place to go if you need friendly advice on cheese buying. The also have a rule that you have to try (and be happy with) any cheese before you buy it. Since returning from France three years ago I have been desperate to replicate our cheese experience from our honeymoon. The staff did not disappoint as I was sent on my merry way with two rounds of Le chatelain and a couple of baguettes.

After a few more stops, including the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory (arrived too late for the tour, but checked out the gift shop) and a fairly new (I think) shopping area on fourth street to check out the new home of Cody’s books (it had a kind of Powell’s vibe, but no used books and way smaller), we ended our day at the Berkeley Rose Garden.

While the roses are at the end of their season, it was a lovely site. I had hoped to stay until sunset, but since it was still nearly two hours away, we headed home, alongside the fog (I swear the fog here is a living, breathing being), where we re-created our favorite honeymoon meal: Camembert baguette sandwiches, red wine, and le petit ecolier cookies. It was a wonderful reminder of our time in France and a delicious day in Berkeley.

the fog

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Second Sock Syndrome Swap

I apologize for my non-knitting readers for posting about yet another knitting swap thing. In this swap, you knit one sock, and then send it on along with the supplies to knit the other half of the pair.

1. What are you favorite sock yarns? Anything soft, not bulky.

2. What are your least favorite sock yarns? Anything you just cannot use? I’ll knit with just about anything within reason.

3. What method do you prefer to use (DPN’s, 2 circs, 1 circ, etc.) I’ve been knitting with two circulars. I’m open to trying new methods, however.

4. Is there any method that you cannot use? I’m not a big fan of using DPNs, because I put down and pick up my work so many times I often drop the needles out of the work when I use DPNs.

5. What are you favorite colors? I’ll wear socks that are pretty much any color, so if there is something you’ve really wanted to try, but wouldn’t want to wear, knit it up and send it along. I would say however, that I am typically not really into pastel colors (baby pink, baby blue, etc).

6. Are you a beginner, intermediate, or more advanced sock knitter? I would say that I am an intermediate sock knitter at this point.

7. Any other info you want to share (such as other likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc)? Things that I like to do other than knit? I love to read, bake (and sometimes cook), travel, and explore the bay area, my new home. I love things related to the arts (it balances out the scientist in me, I think).

8. What size is your foot (so your partner can create the right size sock)? I wear a 7 1/2 wide.

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Art and stuff

I want to write about our lovely trip to Berkeley yesterday, but I’ve been ruminating about my day in San Francisco last week and want to post something about it.

We began last Saturday by visiting the de Young museum.   They had an exhibit on Chicano art that I had been really wanting to see.  One of the first set of paintings you see upon entering the exhibition are by Carlos Almaraz, depicting a series of car accidents.  I knew immediately that the art in this collection was going to hit me in the gut and in the heart in a way that the Monet paintings from the other weekend just couldn’t.  Part of the reason that the exhibit had so much impact on me was how current the themes of the art are, things that have happened in my lifetime.  This is not the art that you typically see in museums.  While interpreting these current themes, many of the artists juxtapose the beautiful with the horrific, especially the painting Pool Party by John Valadez.

We also visited an exhibit of the quilts of Gee’s Bend.  In this isolated community southwest of Selma, Alabama, women reinterpreted many classic quilt patterns in new ways.  What is especially unique about the quilt makers in this community is that they actively encouraged new quilters to design and build their quilts their own way.

What struck me after visiting these exhibits back to back was how much these artists put so much of themselves in what they do and then they bravely put it out there for everyone to see.  It was quite the reminder to me to do the same.  I am very much an observer of life more than a liver of life.  My goal as I grow older is to become more of a liver, someone that puts my ideas out there in the world.

The second half of the day was spent in the Mission district, where we enjoyed lovely paninis and INCREDIBLE tarts from Tartine.

We also took a tour of Mission Dolores, the oldest surviving building in San Francisco.  The church itself was beautiful, but I appreciated the cemetary most of all.  So many young, young women are buried there.   Most of them were mothers, immigrants from Ireland, and younger than me when they died.

Tomorrow, I will post about my much less melancholy trip to Berkeley, where we ate good food and saw cool things.

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Pure Wonderfulness

I received my package from my knit sock kit swap pal, Kellie, on Friday. Here’s what the package looked like when I first opened it:

The bag that she made me was handknit and then felted. She crisscrossed the bag’s handles, so you can hold it any which way.

Pinned to the outside of the bag were twelve(!) handmade stitch markers that coordinated with the bag.

The yarn that she sent she personally handpainted and it is beautiful. It contains all of the colors that I wear from day to day so when I make socks from the yarn they will go with everything. I can’t wait to start knitting using the pattern that she sent. She modified this pattern for lace top, toe up socks to fit my foot measurements, with extra tips along the way.

I’ve really been wanting to try some toe up socks (while I train for Sock Wars 2006) and I am extra excited to knit some socks with a lace pattern, as all the socks I have been knitting lately are modified ribbing patterns.

Not only did she send a lovely bag, beautiful stitchmakers and wonderful, handpainted yarn, she sent me chocolate, licorice, licorice tea and a bounty of knitting accouterments. She even thought to send waste yarn for the provisional cast-on in the pattern.

I was super lucky to end up with Kellie as my partner. She spoiled me to the nth degree.

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Leggy Creations

Becky, one of the knitting bloggers that I read regularly, started a new business selling one of a kind decoupage sock blockers. When I saw the pair below, I just had to buy them.

She named them brotweiler blockers, and if you look at them closely you can make out a few bay area references, like Alcatraz and a pumpkin festival similar to one that takes place every year in Half Moon Bay.

I ordered them last week and they arrived on Monday. They smell like wood (yum!), they are cute as can be, and I think that they will work perfectly for blocking women’s socks. Here they are, modeling the socks I finished for my dad this past weekend.

Thank you, Becky, for creating a product that marries utility and art so beautifully.

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Having had an overly social week last week, I had to balance it out by mostly hanging out at home, finishing the socks for my dad.

Since I’ve enjoyed participating in the knit sock kit swap, I’ve joined two new swaps, the funky scarf swap and sock wars. I’m really looking forward to them.

The one time I did get out of the house this weekend, Evan and I went to the movie “Little Miss Sunshine.” I haven’t seen a movie I have enjoyed this much in a long time. This review sums up my thoughts on the film, but in summary I highly, highly recommend it. Go and see this movie.

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Let’s get the allergy part out of the way. Are you allergic to any fibers?
Nope.

Do you prefer any fibers over others?
Anything that isn’t too scratchy or too plastic feeling

Thinking back to Scout’s post about what funky means to you, post an image of something that you think is funky!

This is Barton Fish. Evan gave him to me for our second anniversary and he is definitely funky.

Would you prefer funky yarn or a funky pattern?
Either one.

What are your favorite colors?
I love rich colors, like plum, olive, raspberry, blueberry, garnet, and bright colors like pink, kiwi, aqua.

What is your favorite piece of art?
I really love the art of Lori Rase Hall.

What colors would you never have up close to your pretty face?
I can’t really wear super bright warm colors, like yellow and orange. I’m a pale, but pink cheeked, blue eyed blonde (although my step-sister’s husband would say that I have brown hair as it is not white blonde). Cool colors, heathery colors, and jewel colors look best on me.

Would you prefer an actual scarf or a cowl?
A scarf, unless a cowl truly inspires you.

When you wear a scarf do you prefer a wider/shorter scarf or a thin/long scarf?
I prefer a thin/long scarf.

What is the climate like where you live?
The bay area is pretty temperate all year.

Would you prefer a functional scarf (to keep you warm) or one just to funk-up your wardrobe?
Either. While it is fairly warm all year here, I often prefer wearing a scarf to wearing a jacket.

What else would you like your partner to know about you?
I’m super excited to be participating in this swap.

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