Georgetown, Penang was an amazing place to spend a long weekend - textures, colors, and a fantastic blending of different Asian cultures. If you ever find yourself in Penang, make sure to visit the Blue Mansion. Built by merchant Chow Fat Tze, It's an amazing blend of Chinese and Art Nouveau and the perfect space to breathe in some history.
I had a lovely winter holiday in Portland, and wanted to share a few highlights with you today.
1. I got to have coffee with Leethal!
2. I finished one of three colorway samples for a collaboration with Lee. I'm dyeing up some lovely light and fluffy hand-spun yarn from the Qinghai Spinner's Cooperative to make kits - more on this very, very soon!
3. I loved this tiger rug! I was thinking it could be really fun to make a dimensional rya rug with a fluffy animal on a plain-weave ground.
4. Sweet little terraria in a window. I love these miniature worlds.
5. At the Whiskey Soda Lounge, talking business with my two favorite guys.
6. Cheesecake from Ken's Artisan Bakery. Just wow.
What were your favorite moments over the holidays?
There are lots of pictures I didn't take, mostly because (a) white water rafting is not all that compatible with cameras, and (b) I'm a big chicken and paranoid about drowning electronics.
The story starts in Portland with me, my Dad, and a big white rental van.
We loaded in the boat, the rowing frame, oars, cooler, dry boxes, dry bags for clothes and sleeping bags, emergency and repair equipment, food, water, and beer for seven days on the water. We then drove to Walla Walla, and on to White Bird, Idaho.
Once permits and car shuttle what-not were handled, we drove to the Hammer Creek Recreation site. We inflated the boat, assembled the rowing frame, strapped in the dry boxes and cargo net, met up with the rest of our group (1 uncle, 3 cousins, 2 girlfriends, 2 family friends accompanied by 2 kids and 1 dog) and got ready to go.
Here's what the boats look like. They're tougher than you might think. On day 2, my dad and I got "wrapped" on a rock in the middle of a rapid called "The Maze."
All the marked rapids have names, including such notables as "Lorna's Lulu," "Bodacious Bounce," "Demon's Drop," and the ominous "Bung Hole" and (even worse) "Lower Bung Hole."
"The Maze" was tricky to negotiate with lots of shallow areas and big boulders, and we got stuck on a submerged boulder. The raft tipped forward at an alarming angle, there was a rasping sound as the coated fabric of the raft scraped on the rock, and suddenly we stopped moving.
(Insert huge adrenaline rush here).
Attempts to use an oar to pry the raft off the rock failed, and getting out and pulling on the front rope (while standing in a very strong current on precarious slippery rocks) failed as well. We missed two rope-tosses from another boats in the group, and with the help of a quick current, were quickly beyond the help of others.
Thus began the comical part of the self-rescue: the jumping up and down bit. Since the raft frame is rigid, you can increase the amount of water flowing under the raft by jumping on the low side. After lots of jumping up and down and heaving and hauling of the cargo net, we were off and moving again.
After a day of excitement and panic, it's nice to enjoy the comfort of an awesome camp kitchen, courtesy of the very excellent Uncle Ralph.
The Lower Salmon is a great river for camping because of its beaches - soft grey sand that mostly uninterrupted by rocks and boulders. The wilderness in the area is close to pristine. Rafters are generally good about the whole "leave no trace" thing, and the BLM makes sure you're packing out everything you brought. Including your poop. No joke.
There is lots of nature to enjoy along the way, especially at the camp sites.
I took a bunch of macro photos of various flora along the way.
We saw some fauna as well!
This was the first trip where I've seen mountain sheep so near to the water.
The trip was an absolute treat - Good people, beautiful weather, beautiful country.
I hope to do it again next year!
This week's things: Thing 1: Make bread and butter pickles. Things 2: Make 12 squares for indigo quilt. Thing 3: Remaining 12 projects to Ravelry.
Last week's things:
Thing 2: Win! I uploaded several finished objects to Ravelry.
You can see them here on Infinite Twist's Ravelry page.
What are your three things this week?
True to everything I'd heard, it's an absolutely beautiful building, and well-worth the bumpy five hour drive to Agra.
I found lots of design inspiration in the carvings, inlays, and even the floor tiles, and wanted to share these images with you. I hope you enjoy them!
The first place I went was Delhi Haat. They have more than 15 food stalls, each representing cuisine from India's various states. I had papadums and parathas stuffed with paneer (cheese), plus raita and various sauces. Amazing!
The most unexpected thing I ate was spicy tapioca. There was a lot of lime-leaf involved, so this had a great citrusy flavor.
I also indulged my love of street food at Central Market in Lajpat Nagar. Lentil fritters with grated radish and a green herb I couldn't identify, and chole (spicy chickpeas) and fry bread.
The best and least photogenic meal (sorry, no picture) was at Karim's. They have a number of locations, but the one near Chandni Chowk had great atmosphere. The butter chicken was heavenly, and the biryani was spectacular. If you're in Delhi, Karim's is not to be missed.
I visited the spice market in Chandni Chowk and got up close and personal with with elements behind the amazing flavors in Indian cuisine, including nutmeg flowers, which I'd never seen before.
I'm bringing a number of different spices home, and hoping to recreate some of these meals.
Greetings from India! I'm on a working vacation this week in textile paradise. In between stuffing my face with samosas and parathas, I spent a few hours yesterday wandering about the Qutb Minar complex.
It's an amazing 12th century archeological site featuring the most amazing stone work I've ever seen. You're not supposed to touch anything, but you can wander around at will and get up close to the various pillars, niches, and arches.
Mark and I decided to do some "traditional" travel over the May Holiday, and booked ourselves a resort package on Hainan Island. We usually do more "adventure" travel and eat a lot of street food, so this trip was an interesting change.
We read a bunch of books, swam in the ocean, collected shells, ate grilled fish and veggies on the beach, and both came home with amazing sunburns. The key factor in the sunburn fiasco was failure on my part to read the directions on our sunblock - it was not waterproof, and had also probably already expired. Lesson learned.
In any case, it was a lovely lazy time and I think we'll be doing more of this kind of thing in the future.
A couple of months ago, I went to Australia for the first time. It was a work trip, but I ended up with one day on my own to check things out - starting with an obligatory trip to see the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney's gulls are a bit different from the American variety. Strangely, they sound an awful lot like the gulls from "Finding Nemo."
I very much enjoyed Sydney's architecture, including lots of older houses with stunning gingerbread trim.
There were also some lovely gardens and interesting plants. As the seasons are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, you can see flower varieties associated with high summer in the dead of winter.
The other thing I did was to spend the afternoon at the Sydney aquarium. The creatures were really cool, but the aquarium was full of very excited (i.e. screaming) children and smelled like pee... Pee and popcorn. At least the occupants of the aquarium don't have to smell the unique odor of the facility.
It was a lovely touristy day, and I'm thrilled to have gotten to see Sydney with someone else paying for the airfare.
I made some pillows to match the indigo quilt from textiles I bought during my visit to Sapa in Vietnam.
This green one is made from the center panel from an embroidered apron.
This pink one is made from a bunch of collar tabs. The tabs were finished on three sides, so I just folded down the unfinished side and top-stitched them. Quick and easy!
The last pillow is made from a bunch of odds and ends.
I did this one in something like a log cabin technique.
All in all, I'm really happy with how they turned out, especially since the guest bed is currently in use as a sofa. The pillows are making the living room bright and festive.
Alert: Shameless promotion of a project I'm involved in! Below is a fundraising flyer from Shokay for the new Spinner's Cooperative in Qinghai. Last year, I did several trainings for the spinners of Hei Me He (archive post here).
Rather that just buying yarn directly from the spinners, Shokay and I are helping the spinners form their own co-op. The plan is for the co-op to be self-sustaining within two years. We're all working to help the co-op grow to include more women and provide more livelihood work in Qinghai.
If you'd like to get more information on supporting this program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Francisco was wonderful. A bit stressful with the scary news that the cat was ill, but still wonderful. Despite having been to the SF Bay Area many times, I haven't spent much time in the city itself. This situation was remedied on this trip.
I took a number of long walks through the neighborhood, and was continuously blown away by the amazing public art. This wonderful mural is on the Women's Building.
This rainbow-colored candy shop was a feast for the eyes as well as the palette. In addition to candy, they had epic macarons. I tried a "rose geranium" flavored one - it was light and chewy and full or unique flavor.
Based on the hoodies, tees, and other merch, Zeitgeist appears to have updated its slogan to "Hangovers installed and serviced" which I'm quite fond of. The previous motto ("warm beer, cold women") was also quite good.
These are the wonderful "Dashing" fingerless mitts from Knitty. The (free!) pattern is here. I did a yarn substitution, and made these using Shokay's Shambala yarn, which is 100% yak down and worked out great - soft, cozy, and warm.
These guys stayed behind with our wonderful hostess, who made everything possible. Thanks, LM!
Dandy was doing much better, and then things took a nasty turn. His blood work on Monday was relatively normal for a cat with CRF, and I thought I was going to be able to bring him home today. This morning, he had what the vet described as a "hypoxic episode." It looks like there is some underlying heart problem which has been masked by his kidney medication.
I got to see him this afternoon, and he's in pretty bad shape, although it's hard to say how much of that is residual side effects from this morning's round of meds. I brought over a blanket from his favorite sunny spot, and he seemed to really enjoy the smell of something familiar. The vet thinks I can bring him home tomorrow, although there's no saying how long he'll be with us - maybe a few weeks. In any case, I'm looking forward to getting him back into familiar surroundings for however much time we have left.
Thanks for keeping him in your thoughts.
I had the opportunity to visit Portland, Oregon last week. It couldn't have been more lovely. We walked around all over the city, ate a lot of great food, and drank a significant amount of amazing local beer. The culinary highlight (alas, no photo) was a plate of venison osso bucco served with nettles and spaetzle - this is definitely a foodie's paradise. To my great surprise, Spring had already arrived. I was prepared for grey and rainy, but there were daffodils and tulips coming up everywhere, and cherry and plum trees in full bloom. We even got one warm, sunny, perfect blue-sky day with no rain. Shocking!
Portlandia jokes aside, I can clearly see why this city has attracted so much attention in the past few years: great bookstores, lots of green space, amazing food and beverage, and lots of yarn and craft shops.
Speaking of shopping, I was a mere 1.5 pounds under my 100 pound luggage limit on my flight down to the Bay Area - Quite the close call.
It was pure delight to see so many green, growing things when Spring hasn't quite made it to my part of the world yet. I'm feeling inspired to make some changes to my gardening routine and see if I can bring a bit of Portland's garden scene home.
Bringing the yarn and fabric scene home is already taken care of. ;)
These tender green shoots are making me deeply happy. I bought several packs of gourd seeds on last October's trip to Yunnan province. By "pack," I mean several unmarked plastic bags. There was a very nice lady selling gourds and melons and plants, and she had a basket full of seeds and I figured what the heck - it was worth a try.
The seeds lived in the refrigerator all winter and I planted them about two weeks ago. So far, the germination rate looks to be low - I planted about 25 seeds, and five sprouts have come up. We'll see how this all shakes out. Anway, I'm very grateful for the five little shoots I have.
With Spring nearly here and weather conditions in Qinghai improving, I'm starting to prepare for my next visit to the Spinners at the end of April. I'm really excited. This weekend, I went through my copious stash of hand-dyed fiber and put together color combinations to ship out ahead of the trip.
I also pulled out all the un-dyed fiber stashed in various places around the house and studio. I made combo packs with different rovings, fleeces, mohair locks, and silk noil, weighed everything, and the dyeing has now commenced.
I'm experimenting with dyeing some local wool from Qinghai. The sheep out there are interesting critters. They're fine-boned and quite pretty animals, and they are dual-coated (they have a layer of long guard hairs plus a layer of shorter, downy fibers).
The weird part for me is how soft the wool is - I'm used to dealing with dual-coated fleeces where the guard hairs are itchy and nasty. In addition, the wool is taking dye really well and I'm getting nice rich colors.
I'll post some pictures of the dyed wool once all the boring colors are out of the way. I'm working on black, dark grey, and dark brown today, and it's not exactly photogenic. There's green and blue in my future, and I'll make sure to post pictures.
As skirt weather finally approaches, I wanted to update two sailor-style denim skirts I had made last year at the fabric market. I swapped out their plain black plastic buttons for vintage naval beauties from the Paris flea market. I'm thrilled with how the buttons go with the contrast stitching.
The quilt is made from embroidery panels and scraps from last October's trip to Yunnan.
I believe these pieces were going to be made into embroidered shoes.
I'm feeling about 95% happy with how this turned out, but I'm not sure quite what's missing. I'm hoping that adding some pillows to the room will tie the room together.
In any case, it's done for now. Done is the new perfect.
Pursuit of Craftiness will soon be expanding to be more than just my blog. I've been finding too many great textiles and yarns to keep it all to myself - it's time to start sharing the goodies. Starting in March, I'll be posting hand-spun yarn and indigo quilting fabrics on etsy. The most fun part of launching has been thinking about logos and labels. I knew I wanted a hand-crafted look, but wasn't sure how to do that in Illustrator. The answer simple and serendipitous - go low-tech.
Anyway, they make beautiful hand-carved wooden stamps and other wooden goodies including moon-cake molds. They have a great selection of pre-made stamps with room for your name, and also do custom work.
The dad of the family does the carving, and the mom and daughter run the shop.
They turned some less-than expert drawings of mine into tiny works of art. I couldn't be happier with the results.
If you happen to be in Hanoi, make sure to pay them a visit.