Monthly Archives: March 2017

A day in the Cambodian countryside.

Charles has been living in Phonm Penh off and on for many years and has befriended people over time. Today we went into the countryside to visit the home of Ro’s parents. Ro is in the middle between Charles and Chanras. It took a little over an hour to get to their home.

Apparently at least 10 other members of my extended family and their friends have enjoyed their hospitality over the years.
This platform became the table for a lovely meal, then we were invited to have a nap when the meal was cleared away.The meal consisted of three fish dishes, roast chicken, Khmer beef with green tomatoes and onions, a cabbage dish, mango salad, rice and homemade condiments.We all sat together cross legged on the platform to enjoy our meal.
On the tuktuk ride we stopped and bought some lotus seed pods and learned how to break them open like a pomegranate. You also have to peel the seeds. All in all a great day.


Yesterday we spent wandering round Saigon, starting with the very disturbing War Remnants Museum. It is all about the Vietnam war, starting with the French and continuing with the Americans.Our next stop was the Reunification Palace, a fabulous 1960’s building with amazing furnishings. Huge estate rooms and a grand staircase.From there we went to the central post office.It was designed by Eiffel, of tower fame.Attached to the post office was a McDonalds, so I did my traditional visit to see what the local item was. Pork with rice. Horrible, reconstituted pork.

24 hour bus ride…Still doing fine

Here in Southeast Asia, the sleeper bus is all the rage. We just finished an 844 km journey from Hoi An to Saigon, which took 24 hours. The bus was supposed to leave at 6 pm and it pulled into place and took on the bags then. Then the power trip started. They kept coming and opening the door, telling us to wait and leaving again. After an hour they let us on the bus but tried to bully us to the back “behind!,behind!”. It became obvious in the morning that they wanted their friends near the front. Fair enough, I suppose.The journey was long, but we knew it would be so we weren’t bothered at all. Snoozing off and on, waking up to see little vignettes, hills, towns,rice paddies and beaches. The seating is very civilized, each with their own pod. We have been on 4 different buses so far (we also had an 18 hour journey from Hanoi to Hoi An)and each of us has had two seats that come back up to sitting, many are broken.
We got spit off one bus not long after dawn and had to line up outside the next one for 45 minutes after our bags went on. At least it was beside a pretty river.

I am a sucker for those world heritage sites….

n.B. WordPress is apparently censored here, so it is intermittently available for posting
Today, we went on a day trip from Hoi An to the My Son temple complex. We took the swishy tour, so for $75 cnd, we had our own car and driver.As well as a tour guide, Lam, in the pink shirt. He was quite well informed and very pleasant.
We toured the ruins, a 3rd to 12th century Hindu site.Luckily we had been warned about the heat, and found surprisingly few other tourists, another thing we had been prepared for.
After the site, we went out to lunch at a “local food” restaurant (rice noodles with chicken) and ended with a boat back to the city …with a stop at the obligatory artisan village. Thankfully there was not much of a hard sell. Their hearts weren’t into it, probably the heat.

Home and away

The view from our living room window before we left on Friday
And after a mere 30 hour journey we are in Hanoi
Yesterday we went to the fine art museumToday the Temple of Literature
And the Ngoc Son Temple
On an island in Hoan Kiem Lake

Two shades of grey, Barbara

My sister Philippa has always been one of my biggest supporters. She is 18 months younger than me, but has been more mature since we were very young. When I was in pottery school, she used to buy my bowls so I could have a bit of spending money. She was a faithful reader of my early travel blogs, and may be the only person except Alan who has read every post of this blog. Penny, if you have too, I apologise in advance. Her request was a hat in shades of grey to match her new coat.

I did the light grey band first on straight needles, then picked up off both edges. I am still in the cable chapter, so my new standard is 120 stitches. I had 14 repeats of the Banana Tree, pg 269, so on the bottom edge of the banana tree band, I alternated between picking up 8, then 9 stitches per repeat to get to my 120. I did one repeat of the Wave of Honey Cable or Little Chain, pg 252, then started doing short rows so that I ended up with 3 repeats at the front and only one at the back. I then did 4 rows of garter stitch in black and cast off loosely. I decreased to 100 stitches for the garter stitch by knitting the purls between the cables together. This served two purposes. It decreased down to the 100 stitches needed for the plain knitting to have a similar tension as 120 stitches of cabling, and it bound the transitions of the short rows together to cinch the gaps.

For the top edge of the light grey band, I only picked up 7 stitches per repeat ..98 stitches which I then reduced to 96 in my first pattern row (16 x 6). I did twice through the little chain cable, before getting rid of every fourth, then every third and then every other cable. To get rid of a cable, I purled the first and last of the four knit stitches of the cable, and did a slip 1, k1, psso on the middle two, so I had 3 purls, one knit and 3 purls. Next row, I did p2tog, p1, p1 on top of the cable, p1, p2tog, bringing it down to 5 purls. Next row p2tog, p1, p2tog, down to 3 purls, then on the next row p2tog, p1. This way you get rid of one 6 stitch repeat over 4 rows. Looking at the finished picture, I think it may have been better to use the light grey to pick up the stitches, then switch to the dark grey after the pick up row. It does not really look messy in real life though, the camera accentuates the transition because of the difference in value of the two shades. As far as the travel plans go…we are at the gathering crap in a basket stage.

It’s no silk purse, Barbara

I was sick of looking at the Cathedral Pattern, pg 285 and The Anchor, pg 288 and wondering WTF am I going to do with these sow’s ears. No offence, Barbara. Fifty years ago, I could see a lovely little boys sweater with the anchor smack dab in the middle, so I know exactly why it was included in the book, but it was still weighing me down. The reason for the Cathedral pattern, on the other hand, completely escapes me. I see very little in the way of redeeming features here. I included the Trellis With Moss Stitch, pg 261 in the hat for a few reasons. It had ballpark the right number of stitches to match the other two patterns, I wasn’t fussed about it, and I figured it had a natural decrease I could bring into play at the top, if I started it at the right place (row 22). I have also decided not to worry that most of my last bunch of hats are a similar shape. I was pretty worried about a different shape in this context back in January. I will get on another kick soon enough, promise. The best thing about making the same general shape again, is that I just counted up the number of rows in the last couple of hats… 60…so I knew how much of the Traveling Rib Pattern (pg. 281) I could put at the bottom …9 rows. I am not going to give any details of how this hat was done, because I am pretty sure neither I nor anyone else will ever want to recreate it. I did cast on 120 stitches and I can see a hat in travelling rib alone that may be ok.
I did start cutting into the purl edges of the patterns to do the hat decreasing. I didn’t think this really changed the pattern integrity much.

We have booked a trip, Barbara

Yeah! going to travel again! We booked return tickets to Hanoi for three weeks starting on St Patrick’s day. Alan bought the Lonely Planet for that part of the world and we have been invited to a Khmer wedding at the end of March, but I am not much of a pre-planner, so that’s all she wrote so far. Travel is not real to me unless I actually have my feet on foreign soil. I think we will probably book a hotel for the first night in Hanoi though, because we arrive at 6.50 pm after 24 hours of travel, so it will be dark and we will be exhausted. I am thrilled to be travelling with my husband again. It has been 10 years since we took the kids on the 6 month trip and that was the last time I had him as a travelling companion for anything more than an excursion.

I vow to be smarter about my knitting this time so I don’t have to lug a bag of wool and hats around with me, like I did in Eastern Europe last year. I think I will just knit lace, since it is time consuming. I just have to remember to put in a lifeline in case the needles get confiscated at the airport. I just googled yarn shops in Hanoi so I can replace the needles if that particular horror happens.

For the knitters: For this hat, I did a Coin Cable, pg 261 to start. I cast on 120 stitches because cabling always draws the work in significantly. I made a design decision I regret, which was to stagger the cabling, even though this meant I had to leave 3 purl stitches between the cables. The Coin Cable stitch has a 6 row repeat with only one row having the cabling. I thought staggering the cable every second row would be good, making me need a multiple of 3 cables. I believe that because there is so much space between the cables, the staggered decrease is not shown to best advantage. I was concerned about this at the outset, but I had to leave at least 2 purl stitches between the cables because the stitch called for 2 purl stitches on each side of the 5 stitch cable, and if I only left these, it would mean a cast on of 105 (7 x 15) ..too few or 126, (7 x 18) ..too many? I knew leaving only one purl in between would have probably worked to show off the stagger, but I am pretty anal about following the Barbara Walker pattern stitches to the letter at least for one repeat, because adjusting them would put me on a slippery slope I cannot allow myself to get on. I might start “improving” the stitches willy-nilly and lose the integrity of the project completely. In retrospect, I think lining the cables up together and doing the twisting row in every cable at once would have been better. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. One thing I did do is when I was doing the last row of cabling on the first of the three sets of cables, I slipped the 5 stitches of the other 2 cables and caught the travelling thread on the next row, because I thought the cables would look too gapey at the top if I didn’t.

For the main part of the hat, I switched to Ribbed Cable, pg 253 and Hourglass Cable, pg 254. I needed to reduce down to 115, so I could have 5 repeats of each. I decided to do these cables together because they both use knit 1 back on every knit stitch. I know from bitter experience that it is REALLY easy to forget to do this once in a while, but I figured that if every knit stitch in the hat was a k1-b, I could remember, and muscle memory would be less likely to kick in. Also the matchy-matchy thing.

Note to self: I need to remember to photograph things before I rip back, so I can show you why I do it. I found that the transition was messy the first time I knit it, because I just went right into the new cables with no rows between. I ripped back to the end of the cabling and did two plain garter stitch rows, starting with a knit row, then a purl row, before starting the cabling. This cleaned up the transition somewhat. I also started the cabling on the Ribbed Cable two rows later so the aggressive cabling didn’t distort the top of the coin cables. You move 4 stitches over behind three stitches on the second row of the stitch, then every 10th row after. I waited to the fourth row. With the ripping back once in a while, I got pretty good at getting the stitches reoriented correctly. Easy to make a mistake on this because when you have knit in the back of a stitch and unknit it, the stitches are screwed up and twisted.

I started the decreasing on the hourglass cable. I decreased once on each side of the cable (10 stitches per round in total), every other round. The first decreases were done by purling the stitch I had to move out of the cable together with the stitch beside the cable, keeping a constant 2 purls between the two kinds of cable. This happened for 3 decreases, and brought the stitch count down from 115 to 85. For the next decrease, I knit the first stitch of the hourglass cable together with the first purl inside the cable through the back of both loops at the leading edge of the cable, then I moved the last purl outside of the cable, and purled it with the next stitch, like the previous 3 decreases on this side of the cable. This left me with 4 knit stitches in the cable. Next time, I slipped the first two stitches onto a cable needle and held then in front and knit through the back of the loops of the stitches on the front and back needles together, crossing them and reducing the number of stitches from 4 to two. Next time I only decreased once per cable, with a k2tog-tbl at the top. Next time it was p3tog on top of the cable. I switched the decreasing to the ribbed cable after this, and k3tog-tbl on the middle three stitches of the cable. After this, I did a k2tog-tbl a k1-b and a k2tog to bring the cable down to three stitches. The top of the hat was looking a bit like it could be too pointy if I wasn’t careful so I did a p3tog above the hourglass cable on the next round instead of doing a non-decrease round between. The very next round I did slip 1, k2tog psso. Then a round of p2tog, cut the thread and drew it through the loops.

...happy with the top!

…happy with the top!

I gotta say, for me the whole process of making hats is mainly about getting to the top, so I can figure out how to make a pretty decrease. This hat came REALLY close to being ripped out when I was half way, but if I only look at the top, I am happy. Maybe when I have this whole Barbara Walker thing finished, I can make an afghan of hat tops, just cast on the stitches and get rid of them like mandalas. It’s only a couple of years yet, eh? And now, just to see if anyone is paying attention, or reads to the end. Pretty exciting news this week. I contacted the current publisher of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns last Friday so I could contact Barbara Walker to ask her a question that I had been wondering about and ….she answered. I actually got two emails from her on Friday. I don’t know if she will ever look at the blog, but at least I told her what I was doing and that it existed. I contacted her because two of my sisters had been pressuring me of late to try to let her know I was doing this thing. I guess because I am always knitting something when they see me and they actually read the blog, so they know what I am knitting and why.