Monthly Archives: March 2016

White peacocks

We went on a day trip to the St. Naum monastery. It was a lovely 30 km drive around Lake Ohrid. We were waiting at the bus stop with a woman from China and a taxi driver offered to take us for the same price as the bus. He was a great guy, a font of information and obviously loved talking to foriegners about their homes to get an understanding of the world at large. He met us when we were finished and brought us back too.IMG_20160331_121206it was a lovely setting with lots of peacocks both regular IMG_20160331_122714and white wandering around. A couple of days ago a guy told me they were mating when he was there, but that seemed to be over, sadly.IMG_20160331_122346
There was an old churchIMG_20160331_130340
Nice inside tooIMG_20160331_125806

Ohrid..calm and beautiful

We thought we were taking an 11 am bus, but when we arrived at the ticket booth at 9.58 we were hustled onto a 10 o’clock bus. It was a lovely 3 hour drive through the mountains. We took a taxi for $2 to our hostel. It has a beautiful view from the balcony.IMG_20160330_150022That this picture doesn’t do justice. We had to wait for the owner to show but Niel Young was playing so who cares? After settling in we went for a walk in rhe old world heritage site neighbourhood and it really deserves it’s designation. Tiny winding cobblestone streets leading toIMG_20160330_154635a roman amphitheatre
IMG_20160330_161047an ancient city gate
IMG_20160330_162557with city walls leading to a fortIMG_20160330_163013with great views
IMG_20160330_170016then down the hill to the church of St. John the theologian. Apparently the most photographed structure in Macedonua. The light was wrong for the most classic shot. There was lots more great stuff in the old part. The town is beautiful and feels like the air is drugged. I am glad wr came now, it is probably overrun in the summer.

Skopje and environs

I took a really pleasant day trip today to Matka Canyon. It was at the end of a city bus line (#60) and cost $1 each way to get there. Then it was a short walk past a power damIMG_20160329_114259
Just after the dam, you can get on a boatIMG_20160329_124724
This putts up the river through the canyonIMG_20160329_130503
Where you visit a caveIMG_20160329_125659
Apparently the cave is popular with divers. When I got back, Charles and I went for supper in the old quarter and wandered round a bit.IMG_20160329_181235
On the way home we passed along the new/old waterfront buildings. One was still under constructionIMG_20160329_185840
It is this really bizarre development project with huge buildings meant to look like old ones. A German we were talking to likened it to Disneyland.

Setting a gruelling pace

Even with the hiccups at the beginning of the trip, we are more than making progress. This morning we woke up in Pristina, Kosovo, yesterday morning it was Belgrade, Serbia and now we are in Skopje, Macedonia. Granted, they all used to be in Yugoslavia. I think I have convinced Charles to spend at least three nights in Macedonia before heading to Greece. This morning we took a walk before leaving Pristina.IMG_20160328_090420This statue is at the end of Mother Theresa boulevard (she was born 100 km away in Skopje)
IMG_20160328_102031This is the monument symbolizing the new nation after the war
IMG_20160328_103339We went up the clock tower on Mother Theresa Cathedral (only one euro and it has an elevator) and got good views if the city including
IMG_20160328_104101the national library…wierd and wonderful building
IMG_20160328_110541and surely no visit to Pristina would be complete without visiting the Bill Clinton statue on his boulevard, just off George Bush Boulevard.

A bit of Barbara in Belgrade

IMG_20160326_151201This is the first project I have finished on the road. Sorry, no good place to take pics.IMG_20160326_151138
We are in Belgrade for the day. We got here on an overnight train. Found accomodation, then went for a walk around their citadel. IMG_20160326_111406
It is a great place, fought over a lot in the past..IMG_20160326_111627
Used as a city park nowIMG_20160326_104147
And with great views of the rivers meetingIMG_20160326_111824
Barbara stuff: Little Herringbone,pg. 98, then Fretwork Pattern, pg. 82

A bit of walk round Budapest (well Pest anyway)

We had a plan…go get overnight train tickets to Ljubljana, Slovenia, then walk round killing time till then. Turns out there is no overnight train so we took the subway 9 stops to the bus station to find the next bus is Tuesday.  We returned to the train station and bought overnight tickets to Belgrade instead and went for the walk.IMG_20160325_144115
We thought this was the opera house, but it turns out it was only AN opera house around the corner from the real one.Don Quixote was across the street.IMG_20160325_144400
We found the real one IMG_20160325_145416
The front had lots of adds so i took a picture of the roofline. Then we continuef on to St. Stephen’s Basilica:IMG_20160325_150202
Then the Grand Synagogue:IMG_20160325_153450
Next up..the market…really nice oneIMG_20160325_161302
Coukdn’t get a good picture outside…maybe when I come back. It is right beside the Danube IMG_20160325_161947
Then we walked back past the Parliament buildingsIMG_20160325_172531
And that’s all she wrote.

Budapest health system…sadly I know too much

Our first day in Budapest was spent mostly navigating the health system to get a bleeding ulcer diagnosed for my brother. An ulcer which arguably should have been looked into before we left Canada, but oh well. He had had symptoms for a week which he had been hoping would miracurously disappear. Needless to say, they didn’t and got really fired up by the travelling. I had very little sleep on the metal-mesh benches which were available once the er waiting room cleared a bit around 3am.IMG_20160323_201910
We were in the er for over 12 hours and actually got what we needed, a diagnosis and a prescription, after the gastroenterologist started their shift and was available for a consult. IMG_20160324_065336
The main problen, as I see it after commiserating with locals who spoke English, was the incredibly unhelpful ward clerks who felt no obligation to communicate with anyone except their colleagues. The local Hungarians felt as isolated and frustrated as we did, so it was not a language barrier deal. But then again, I have never been a ward clerk, so maybe there is another excuse.IMG_20160324_080613This is the subway stop near our hotel. It is deep underground, not London tube deep, but deepish. We took a bus, then a subway in from the airport and saw much which seemed to be soviet era housing. The end of the line subway stop has some renovation issues, and many stops on the line are having work done.IMG_20160323_104049
Our hotel has virtually nothing to recommend it except it exists and we found it. IMG_20160323_155430
Okay, it is in a pretty, old building too. Maybe I will do some internet previews going forward. Gotta catch up with the world of today after all.

Why do I travel?

I am going to be out of the country for 6 weeks.  I am not sure how often I will be posting knitting.  I expect to be posting mostly travel posts for a while.valuables Why put up with all the discomfort and frustration?  The knowledge that my IBS may get fired up enough to scare me into thinking it will never calm down again?  The stress of not being able to find a room when you have stumbled into a town where it is Holy Week and they have an important cathedral, or there is a conference in town taking up all the hotel space (luckily they don’t usually compete for the lowest end of the hotel market, but you never know). The fact that everything I have with me for weeks on end has to fit into a suitcase that is (23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm or 9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in) … that is .05 cubic meters or 1.75 cubic feet, including an apnea machine that I really need to sleep. Not to mention the fact that the apnea machine needs electricity, which can be unreliable or even non-existent.first layer main pocket

I do it because every day I see things I wouldn’t get to see at home.  Different foods and cultures and architecture.  Different people and traffic patterns.  Different crops in the fields, sometimes difficult to figure out.  World Heritage sites. Mountains, rivers, oceans. Sunrises and sunsets that don’t have my neighbours’ houses blocking layer, main pocket

I also do it because I am hoping to once again see something that strikes me personally as so beautiful that I get an aching and profound sense of future loss for the present moment.  I know I can’t remain where I am, but I will never be there again.  I can only really remember this happening three times in my life.  Twenty five years ago on a mountainside in Nepal while hiking the Annapurna circuit.  In the Uffizi museum in Florence, Italy while standing in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, also 25 years ago now.  And finally on top of one of the pyramids in Tikal, 5 years ago, looking out at the rainforest canopy with other pyramids poking out and a rainstorm coming (someone from the star wars franchise obviously shared this one with me and put it in the movies).  I don’t know when and if it will ever happen again, but I continue to hope for it, and know my only hope is to pocket of packI have decided to show you all that I take for a 6 week trip.  I started a wish list in a laundry basket on the dining room table.  I rejected the dress, because my brother Charles in unlikely to want to go anywhere that would be appropriate.  IMG_20160322_084711

I don’t stint on socks, underwear and over the counter medications.IMG_20151008_090929

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patricks

No Barbara today…just ribbing and stockinette, with a bit of intarsia.St. Patricks

Mum stayed over last night and was using words like “interesting” and “different”.  This morning she said it looked much better in the light.

St Patricks

not entirely happy with the pot of gold…or the seam beside it but’s done

St. Patricks

Originally I was going to knit the rainbow in, but I lost heart and just crocheted it separately and sewed it

I used 10 points of decrease and decreased with knit 8 knit 2 together around, one plain round, then k7, k2tog, one plain round, etc. until I did just k2 together around.  I kept going with the k2tog another time and finished off the 5 stitches by running the tail through.

Changing on the fly, Barbara

gillianknits.comIt is one thing to see the little knitted black and white photo of a stitch in The Book, and it is another thing entirely to expect myself to instantly imagine a hat that works for the stitch.  It does happen sometimes, like the tam using the triangular stitch last week.  I just had to keep faith in the vision and carry it through.  I must say I was pretty chuffed with the final project, although several people have laughed when I modelled it for them.  A few others, however, share my

For this particular hat,  knew I was doing the Dots and Dashes from page 81 all along, but the hat changed several times before it finished.  I cast on 100 stitches and did the garter stitch rainbow,  I increased to 110 stitches because of the anticipated draw-in of the colour work and thought I would do the dots and dashes in black for a while, then do a rainbow somewhere in the same stitch and go back to black, like the last hat where I subbed the rainbow in for one repeat, and resulted in a hat I was OK with.  As soon as I started the pattern, I realized that plan was not going to fly.  I had thought that the garter stitch dots and dashes rainbow would echo that in the border and things would be OK, but I realized it just wasn’t going to work somehow.  I then thought I would just go with black dots and dashes to the top and put a topper to echo the base.  I kept going, but after a couple of inches, my vision was fading again.  Too busy, with not enough strength in the pattern to carry a whole hat.  It was definitely proving to be a “smaller doses” pattern stitch.

I decided to go to black for the bulk of the hat, which would tone it down and hopefully show off the dots and dashes a bit.   I looked at the next stitch in each of the chapters that dealt with single colours.  Giant Diamond Pattern, pg 32 was the winner.  I had to decrease to 105 stitches to get to  7 repeats of the pattern.  It is just a simple knit/purl pattern so there is no draw in at all and has a 15 stitch repeat, 90 would be too few for an adult hat, 105 is on the large side, but so be it.  I used 7 points of decrease and stacked the sl 1, k2tog, psso’s on top of each other above the big purled diamonds of the last row of the pattern.  I decreased every other row to 21 stitches.  i then did knit 1, k2tog knit 2, knit 2 together around and ended up with 15 stitches and did a garter stitch rainbow again, then went back to the base and filled in with black.  It has a bit of a Mulan vibe, but I am binge watching Once Upon a Time at the moment.  They have a lot of knitting I wish I had