Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekend meditations

I had a trying though satisfying week and I was exhausted by Friday. I was a speaker at a conference held in town so I was commuting to and from the conference location. That in itself was not too bad. But I had 3-4 speaking slots each day and I had to haul my laptop around. The standing on my feet during the talks and walking around carrying the laptop all day did me in. My feet HURT at the end of each day.

Therefore I am relaxing this weekend. I have no plans to go out anywhere. My husband is out with some out of town colleagues and I have the apartment to myself. Guess what I am doing?
Yes, I pulled the Hansen out and am starting to spin the second single of the Fiber Optic Autumn gradient. Yay!

And that is an empty bobbin on the Hansen. Isn't it a wonderful sight?

During the course of the week, I continued knitting the Self Stripe Study and also pulled out some spindles.
The Neal Brand Tibetan spins beautifully in the Jennie the Potter spider bowl. We have a colleague of my husband staying with us this weekend. It turns out that he knits. So I took out a bit of fiber to show him how to spin on a spindle. We tried it on the Kuchulu but it is too small and backspins too quickly for him. Plus I am spinning some very fine yarn on there. So I took out some other fiber and the Golding and showed him how to spin some thicker yarn.
This is a rainbow colored top so I may chain ply it. Not sure yet. But it might be a good way to learn ply on the fly

The ubiquitous flower photo:
Our houseguest brought me these last night and I don't have a vase in the house. So they are in a jug that came with my mixer/blender. I think it is for the juicer attachment.

Summer is definitely arriving. It is incredibly humid here. The floors feel as if they have glue on them. So the air-conditioning gets turned on for a bit to clear the humidity. We tried opening the windows. We get a lovely breeze and cross-ventilation in the apartment. It is very well designed for that. But it brings in the humidity and mosquitoes! On the 20th floor! How do they get up there?

So we turn on the a/c for an hour or so and then keep all the doors/windows closed to keep the humidity out. It works quite well. Also a sign of summer - the cooler on the water dispenser has been turned on so we get cold water from it.
See the green light on the right? That means the cooling option is on. We haven't turned on the heating option because we don't use enough hot water. It is easier to just heat some in our kettle when we need it for tea. At work, both the cold and hot water is turned on and I just get hot water for tea and cold water to drink right from the dispenser.
再见! or good-bye till next time!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Beautiful sights!

As promised, here is another update. Today we went to an Indian food festival at the Cool Docks. It looks as if there is a weekend market there so we browsed through some of the stalls, ate a very good chocolate cupcake and some Indian food. The Indian food was just OK but I got cards from the restaurants so we know where to go in the future. We ended it with gelato as it is a hot day!

My hope was that we would run into some fellow Indians and we did. I connected with a very nice young couple from our part of India. She has promised to get me connected into the Indian associations here.

Back to last weekend. We went to the Yu Yuan Garden complex. The garden itself is a lovely landscaped Chinese garden with buildings from the 17th century. Outside it, there is a very touristy set of shops and restaurants. The architecture is what one would consider typically Chinese.

We got off the Metro and walked for a bit before we reached a street with bronze dragon light posts.
This is a very crowded area. Lots of cars and people.
The buildings all have that pagoda roof.

All of these are buildings with shops on the ground level and restaurants or more shops above. There are, however, a number of familiar sights.
As you go further into the complex, I spotted this lovely ceiling decoration.
At the very center of the complex, next to the garden wall, there is a lake with a tea house in the middle. It is reached by way of a crooked bridge. Apparently evil spirits cannot navigate crooked bridges.

The bridge was packed with people, most of whom were taking photos. So it took a while to navigate and take our own photos. But in the process, I saw these lovely carved steps.
And did a double take at the little tortoise at the bottom. You don't see it? Wait, I took a close-up.
By the time we got all the way to the other end of the bridge, he had climbed up onto the steps.  Another shot of the lake.
Once you cross the lake, you are at the entrance to the gardens themselves. Since there is a ticket to go into the garden, there is a slightly smaller crowd inside.
And now I am out of words. I am going to just present the beautiful landscaping in the garden and leave you to enjoy it. It really was a fabulous retreat right in the middle of a big city.
See that building under construction to the left of the pagoda roof? That is the tall skyscraper near my office that is being built - you've seen it before in my photos. I took this photo to highlight the juxtaposition of old and new in Shanghai.

There were also lovely mosaics on  the floor at the gateways;
Carp in the pool;
A sale of Tibetan arts;
Grass growing on rooftops;
and more lovely landscaping.
Everywhere there are places to sit and take in the vista. I could live in a place like this. You can feel your blood pressure drop as you walk around.

Unfortunately, we had to leave. We wound our way back to the exit and the crowds on the crooked bridge and backtracked to the Metro station and came home. The garden is definitely a place to visit again.

And now for some fibery news. I picked up my Kuchulu again and started spinning. I am spinning some Briar Rose Cormo on it.
It is a nice change from plying on the Swan, which is getting really boring. I can only do a little bit at a time.

Lastly, this is the current state of the Self Stripe Shawl.
The stripes are definitely subtle but I love the look.

Now, back to the fiber world...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A shawl, or two, and a long walk

This is going to be a long post. And I may do another one right away. I have a lot to share and I am going to be busy next week. There is a conference here and I am speaking so many times at this conference that I doubt I will have any energy when I get back home.

One shawl, two shawl...
The Spring shawl is blocked and done. It is too warm to wear it here so it will have to wait till the fall or if I go somewhere that is cooler.
It is light as a feather and extremely soft.
I am so amazed at the stitch definition in the lace weight yarn.

I love knitting with my handspun so I promptly started another. That is the second shawl in today's post.
You probably remember the skein on the left. It is the Briar Rose Polwarth I spun last year. The right hand yarn is Briar Rose Sea Pearl that is also dyed by Chris Roosier. The colors are exactly the same but the difference in the base and in the fact that one is dyed in the fiber and the other is dyed in the yarn makes it different enough. I decided I needed something simple. I went through a bunch of ideas in my head. Originally I was going to do a Faroese shawl with the wool on top and the merino/tencel on the bottom. But somehow that didn't click with me. I combed through my Ravelry favorites and finally settled on a Stripe Study. It will be a tone-on-tone stripe. I wasn't sure if it would work but it is coming out fabulously.

Here is the yarn all wound up.
You can see the difference in the colors and the way the light reflects off the different fiber.
And it is exactly as I had hoped. Sometimes the stripes show and sometimes they don't.
I love knitting it and am making a lot of progress. I have about 3 more stripes done.

And now onto the walk.
Last Saturday, we took a guided tour around the French Concession. Shanghai at one point was divided up among the British, the Germans and the French (and maybe others?). The tour was in our Eyewitness Guide to Shanghai and Beijing. What follows is what we discovered on the walk, not necessarily what the walk highlights.

We started at the Old China Hand Reading Room.
It is a bookstore and tea/coffee shop. We just looked in the window. A little further down, we saw a bridal boutique that reminded me of the bridal couple we saw on the Bund and our little conversation about white.
We came across a lovely little park that seemed to be devoted to the various forms of Chinese opera.

Outside the park, there were plaques about various styles of Chinese opera.
Inside, we discovered a lovely oasis. I love this about Shanghai. There are parks everywhere. And each one is a little gem.
See the group of people behind the kids on the right? They asked us where we were from and we had a little chat with them.

At the far end were some walls with opera masks on them.
After sitting for a bit in the park and enjoying it, we walked on. We passed a couple of buildings that were called out in the walk and then I ran into...
two yarn stores. This is the second one. The first one took me completely by surprise. It was just a yarn store. This one is half yarn store and half clothing and soft goods. See the boxes of yarn in the foreground? I didn't stop to browse. I picked up cards, which are in Chinese but useful to show to a cab driver, and left.

We walked down a narrow set of alley ways that have little shops in them. They are mostly for tourists so we didn't do much more than just walk through them. I didn't take any photos there. After that we stopped to get a cup of coffee and some pudding for lunch. The sandwiches weren't vegetarian and they were sold out of their savory tarts.

Streets in the French Concession look like this. They are wonderful to walk on.
Looking the other way...
The houses are also lovely. Not all of them are in great shape. They vary from fairly run down to extremely posh. Some have heritage plaques on them.
This is the house that the plaque refers to. It is now a library.

We stopped by a much larger park - Fuxing Park. This was originally laid out by the French but maintained beautifully today.
There were people sitting and enjoying the day, kids biking and roller blading, and groups playing a game we didn't recognize and also card games. These games appeared to be serious because there were crowds standing around them and watching.

There were roses everywhere.
We also walked by the first Chinese premier Zhou En Lai's house. It is a museum and you can go in.
Another view.
Sun Yat Sen - who founded the Chinese Republic - also lived in the French Concession. Here is his house, which is now a museum also.
That is the statue of him up front.

We also walked past a former Russian Orthodox church.
After that we ended up on the main drag in the French Concession - Huaihai Lu. And we were immediately thrust into a very familiar world.
But there are sweet seats combined with flower planters. This is what it looks like when you are sitting on one of the seats.
The stores go from H&M (above) to very upscale.
We continued down one of the side streets and came across a bust of Rabindranath Tagore. That was a total surprise.
Once we were done, we took the Metro back home. That allowed me to take these photos of the acrylic barriers at the edge of the platform, keeping people from falling onto the tracks.
The door on the platform opens first and then the door of the train. And I got one photo without the train.
Those bright lights behind are advertising on screens.

So that was a quick trip around the French Concession. Next up, we'll be paying a visit to YuYuan Gardens. YuYuan Garden is redundant as Yuan means garden. So technically it is either Yu Yuan or Yu Garden. But everyone here says YuYuan Garden. Even the Metro says so.

So stay tuned.