July 2003 Archives

Haut de Cagne

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Yep, I'm back! I had a wonderful time in France, and would definitely recommend Nice and its surroundings to others thinking about a European vacation spot.

Our trip started out in Haut de Cagne -- one of the medieval "perched villages" that sits on one of the hills above the Mediterranean to the west of Nice (the website link is in French, but you don't need to speak French to enjoy the lovely pictures of the town). We stayed at a bed and breakfast "Les Terrasses du Soleil" and were treated to an extremely pleasant and peaceful start to our vacation.

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The Bougainvillea that you see in this picture was a hallmark of Haut de Cagne. Everywhere we went in this little village we found huge sweeps of vivid magenta and green.

The picture on top of this post is the view we had from the large terrace attached to our room. I got to work on Charlotte's Web, inspired by this view. Here's how far I got on Charlotte while we were there:

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Actually, this is how far I got on Charlotte during the whole trip. Most of the work was done in Haut de Cagne because we did a few long walks and touristy things, but mostly focused on relaxing. For me this meant Charlotte, for John this meant a lot of Civilization III: Play the World.

I'll should probably mention now that that John and I are not very good at remembering to take pictures on our vacations... so if you want to see more of what things looked like where we stayed, check out the links I put in.

But we did do more than knit and play video games. Here's a picture of me (with my wonderful daypack) trying to work out my rudimentary French skills in the Chateau Grimaldi -- a castle/museum that was built ~1300 AD that is the center of Haut de Cagne:

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Here's a link to some 360 degree panarama shots provided by the tourism council (just click the orange button at the top of the page that says "visite virtuelle". Select "Chateau Grimaldi" from the pull down list to see some more interior shots of the castle.

And here's a shot of John sitting on a wall overlooking Cagne-sur-Mer and Le Cros de Cagne next to La Chapelle Notre Dame de Protection, a 14th century church that was literally next door to our bed and breakfast.

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We stayed in Haut de Cagne from the 29th until the 4th and would certainly go back again. There's not a lot of things to see he Haut de Cagne (after you see the castle), but there are a number of good restaurants and the views are spectacular, and you feel like you've walked back into time. I'll put up some of our pictures in Nice and Monaco in tomorrow's post, since we have a lot more of those!

Finally, you migh be wondering what happened with my Brilla tank top. I got it seamed and started doing the crochet edging around the neck and armholes. It's one row of single crochet followed by a row of reverse single crochet. But I found that it didn't really have a nice effect and left off of it to deal with when I got home. Here's a picture of the whole top:

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Which fit me quite well without any edging work. Here's a detail of the top where you can see the crochet edging around the neck (single and reverse single) and one armhole (single crochet only because I really didn't like the way the fabric was pulling and rippling with the single and reverse single together.

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It is not completely obvious, but the crocheted armhole edge is rolling up. I'm thinking I may try to block it to see if I can get it to lay flat. I'm very tempted to rip it out completely, but I am thinking I will probably need something there to support the structure of the garment. Any opinions, comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Nice, Part I

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I won't have too much knitting content today, but I will have a few more vacation pictures. We spent the second half of our vacation in Nice, at Le Meridien (the hotel was nice, but didn't have a lot of French character... reminded me of a Hilton). The picture above is a shot of the Baie des Anges and the Promenade des Anglais. The Mediterranean is a beautiful blue color that lives up to the description "azure". One thing that was very different for me as far as beaches are concerned is that this beach is totally comprised of rock. Nice for sunbathing (no gritty sand to get mixed in your sunscreen) but not so nice for going in the water, as it's hard to stand and walk on the rocks.

Nice has incredible history. It's been the location of Roman and Greek settlements, and the food has many Italian elements. One of the focal points of the city is the remains of an old fortress originally settled by the Greeks, and destroyed by Louis XIV, referred to as "Le Chateau". Our second day in Nice, John and I decided to wander up to the top to see what we could see. Le Chateau is roughly in the center of Nice and separates the old side from the side with the harbor.

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The picture to the left is a view down into Vieux Nice (Old Nice), the part of the city build on the lower western side of Le Chateau. Vieux Nice has a number of wonderful restaurants, and several good places to get ice cream. Apparently, Vieux Nice used to be something of a slum, but now it is becoming kind of trendy again. It's a neat area, filled with funky little art shops and restaurants with tables filling streets that feel like alleyways. Probably the best thing about our hotel is that it gave us easy access to the beach and Vieux Nice, so John could get his gelato fix every night.

I loved the food -- how can you beat pasta and rich sauces? Probably our two favorite restaurants in Nice were La Meranda, a small place started by a chef who used to work at Chantacler in the Negresco (an extremely tony Belle Epoque hotel) and Chez Juliette, which reminded us of some fun and funky places in Chicago. Of course, we weren't there long enough to dine in anything more than a small selection of places. Local specialties include "Beignets des Fleurs de Courgette" (batter dipped zucchini flowers -- which taste better than they sound like they would) and Rattatoullie (sort of a roasted vegetable salad). In addition to great food, there's also great, affordable wine. I couldn't imagine a restaurant in Chicago where I could get a wonderful bottle of Cote du Rhone for $14!

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This is a picture of Vieux Nice looking down from Le Chateau. The dome in the middle is the Church of St. Reparate (sp?), the patron saint of Nice. We visited several old churches in Haut de Cagne, Nice and Monaco (way more churches than we would normally visit in any 10 day perioid in the US) and even though we are luke warm in our religion at best, it's hard not to feel inspired by these places, if only because they have stood for so long and are homes to incredible art work. It didn't seem very respectful to take pictures inside these places, so I don't have any to show.

On the other side of Le Chateau is a harbor where the ferries come in.

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John and I spent quite a while in the park that is now on top of the hill that used to be home to a fortress. There were so many extraordinary views of Nice and the Mediterranean that we found it hard to come down. It was great fun to watch one of the big car ferries come in and unload. It was such a nice place to spend time, that I wished that I had brought a book with me so that I could sit and enjoy the breezes and the scenery (I stopped doing much knitting when we got to Nice because I got obsessed with reading the Harry Potter series... I bought the first book at O'hare when I got worried I wouldn't have enough to read, finished it in Haut de Cagne, and then bought the next 3 once we got to Nice... I'm now waiting for the fifth book to arrive from Amazon!)

I'll close with this final picture:

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John and I at the top of Le Chateau, overlooking the Baie des Anges and Vieux Nice.

Nice, Part II: Cimiez

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The next part of our wanderings through Nice took us to Cimiez, a "suburb" of Nice that is just to the north of central Nice. Unlike Chicago, suburb is a relative term. John and I just took a northernly uphill walk and had no problem getting there on foot. While Le Chateau marks the place of an ancient Greek settlement (by the way, the name of the city of Nice is derived from the winged goddess "Nike"), Cimiez is located on what used to be an old Roman settlement, Cemenelum.

Cimiez, in addition to being a pretty swanky suburb, by standards American or French, is home to some neat things to see. Our first stop was Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, the centerpiece church of a 16th century Franciscan monestary. ("Eglise" was one of the new words I added to my French vocabulary, it means "church"). John and I didn't visit the museum associated with the monestary, but we did take time to take a look at the church and peek inside... after all, it was Sunday, and we thought we might be able to earn some "extra credit points" with John's (very Polish, very Catholic) mom if we at least went in and took a look.

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John snapped this picture before we realized that cameras were not supposed to be used inside the church. It gives an idea of how beautiful and how much art surrounds the average parishoner in one of these old churches (and this church was hardly unusual). It was a lot darker inside than the picture suggests, and made us realize why people might have gone to mass in the morning instead of at night: it was a lot easier to see what you were doing without a lot of candles. One thing that also struck me was the lack of a big crucifix at the front of the church (there was a very significant one towards the back). Crucifixes feature quite prominently at the front of American Catholic Churches, and it made me wonder when the shift occurred, since we noticed this absence in several French churches. The churches we visited also seemed to have a lot of side chapels dedicated to particular saints or events in Christian mythology. Even though I don't practice much, from a historical perspective, I found these churches fascinating (I almost majored in history during college, but worried about my job prospects...).

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The gardens next to the church were as lovely and as tranquil as the church itself. John took this picture of me at the entry to the garden (I should point out that John took most of these lovely pictures... I only took the few where you see him by himself). In addition to sporting my handy daypack, I am also modeling my peasant top, which was perfect for the sojourn up the hill in warmish weather. Rarely have I been so pleased with one of my knitting accomplishments. Even though it is an incredibly simple garment, it is one of the most unique in my current wardrobe, and it makes me happy when I wear it (by the way... KnitPicks has Porto Cervo in Jeans on Clearance, if you're looking to make this top.)

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We would have spent more time in this beautiful little fountain sanctuary if there had been a little more shade. It would have been a lovely place to settle in with a book and just soak in the peacefulness.

The next stop on our tour of Cimiez was the Musee Matisse, which is housed in a 17th century villa that we didn't seem to get a picture of. (One very useful fact when travelling in France is that the museums are free on the first Sunday of every month -- we didn't learn this until we got there, but we were happy to take advantage of it!). One of my favorite things about the Art Institute of Chicago (if you've never been, it's a must when you come to Chicago) is the large collection of French artists that are featured there, including Matisse. The Musee Matisse is quite small by comparison to the AIC, but had great exhibits. I particularly liked the one featuring his designs for the Chapelle du Rosaire, which included a mock up of the chapel itself, and sketches of the artwork.

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After a brief stop for an ice cream and water break, John and I started off to look more closely at the Roman ruins of Cemenelum. (Here's a link to a little Roman history). I liked this picture a great deal because of the juxtaposition of the ruins of this ancient Roman arena with upscale French suburbia (which was also once the trendy get-a-way for weathy English travellers as well). There's not too much left of this amphitheatre that once featured gladiatorial combat, but you can almost imagine what it must have been like.

The arena sits outside of the rest of the ruins that are protected by the Musee d'Archeologie. This museum, in spite of its ancient subject material, is a relatively airy and modern building (and unlike the Musee Matisse, seemed to have turned on its air conditioning).

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Probably one of the most difficult things for John and I when we went to these museums was our rusty French. I could read most things and get the general idea of what was going on, but I really wished that I had a better vocabulary and could remember more general grammar. Even so, we learned a lot here about the Roman empire and the structure of Roman settlements. John was fascinated about the process of heating the baths.

The picture above is some of the remaining substructure to the baths. One thing that we liked very much is that we could wander around in and actually touch the remains of this old settlement. Makes you appreciate the durability of Roman masonry work, but also made me wonder what would still be standing in Chicago 1600 years from now. Will people be fascinated by old hotels, shopping malls, and the remains of the Navy Pier ferris wheel?

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The largest structure left standing is the main bathhouse. It's at least two stories tall and its kind of neat to think that they took the time to put in decorative brickwork to make the place more enjoyable to hang out in. When you get up close to the brick and mortar work you can almost imagine people building this place brick by brick and the work it must have required.

Now the structures only inhabitants are pigeons ("oh la la, les pigeons!", to quote an older French lady who was examining the place while we were there). No matter where you go, the sky rats seem to follow.

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This last picture was taken inside the bath house (John found a creative place to put the camera so we could take a timer shot). I'm not sure what we're looking at (maybe keeping an eye out for divebombing pigeons), but I thought it was good for giving you a closer look at the brickwork.

Lest you think that I've done no knitting at all since coming back from France, I'll also throw in a quick update on my current projects. After feeling terribly guilty about the unfinished state of Pebbles, I've gone back to working on the sleeve. I think I'm about 2/3rd done with the left sleeve now... I like the way moss stitch looks, but I'm not sure I'll be diving into another major project that is all moss stitch and worked in a very inelastic fiber. I'll probably put up a pic after I get the sleeve finished.

I also succumbed to extreme temptation this morning and placed an order at Elann for 9 balls of Filatura di Crossa Tai in "Tapestry" so that I can do yet another top out of the Filatura Summer 2003 book. I really tried to resist, but at almost half off, I figured it was my only chance. I saw one of the tops knit up when I was at Ruhama's and just fell in love. Nothing like a good floor sample to sell yarn!

Monaco

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Ah, here I am at the last stop in our trip. We decided that we would hop the bus to Monaco for the last day of our vacation. We didn't have any particular goals in mind about where we wanted to go in Monaco, it just seemed like an interesting place to spend the afternoon.

John and I didn't rent a car for the entire trip. Generally speaking, unless we're in the U.S. neither of us gets too excited about driving in a place where we really don't know the rules of the road. And I have to say that the southern French are pretty aggressive drivers -- they put your average Chicagoan to shame! It didn't take us very long at all to figure out that it wasn't safe to step out into a crosswalk, even if the "walk" signal was present. Taxis are very expensive, so we defaulted to the easiest means of transport: the bus. The main bus line takes you to almost all the main cities you could want to visit: Nice, Grasse, Antibes, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Menton. Unlike Chicago buses, the buses in France were comfortable touring buses with big windows so that we could take in the sites. You definitely don't need to rent a car in the Cote d'Azure, even if you want to travel a bit and take in the sites.

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The picture above is me trying to figure out where we are. Another very handy thing about French cities is the tourism information centers. All of them have free maps of the surrounding area -- very useful for people from places where the streets run more or less north-south and east-west.

The picture to the right is the harbor -- if you have an ultra luxe yacht, this is definitely the place to dock it. Some of these boats must have had more square footage than my house! You can also see a little bit of Monaco in the background. It's a very overbuilt place with expensive buildings and shops absolutely everywhere.

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Our only real desitnation goal for the day was the Aquarium. Yep, forget palaces and wax museums, give me fish! It's not a huge aquarium (the upper half is dedicated to the sport fishing expeditions of the Monaco royality, the lower two floors contain a beautiful reef tank and examples of fish from a variety of areas, including the local Mediterranean species. The picture to the left was taken of the same harbor the boats are in from the top of the aquarium.

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This picture really has no tourist value whatsoever, but I thought it was a neat pic -- they had a tube tank containing a bunch of small, schooling fish (I should remember the name of the species, because it's a common one, but I don't). John took it without a flash so as to avoid spooking the fish. He actually took quite a lot of fish pictures, but since you can find fish pictures almost anywhere, I'm just going to post the one and leave it at that.

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There are some surprising things on the upper floors of the aquarium. One of them is an enormous whale skeleton (part of the trophy fishing collection) that makes you appreciate how big whales really are (there are also a number of other skeletons of smaller whales and dolphins, and all sorts of pickled sea creatures are in bottles along the walls.) Another is this stuffed polar bear (one of my few pictoral contributions to our trip). Not only is the bear an unexpected find, but John is also smiling in this picture!

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Of course, no trip to a new city would be complete without a visit to a local cathedral. Not too far from the aquarium we were able to find one! Pictured here you can see the Cathedral de Monaco. We decided to avoid taking pictures inside (since there were people using the church as a house of worship and not just a tourist site), but we enjoyed the lovely artwork inside. This is the cathedral wherein the Monaco royal family is entombed. You can find Princess Grace's final resting place here along with a few other royal tombs. Not surprisingly, there were fresh flowers where Grace was laid to rest. Her memory obviously lives on long after her departure from the living.

The cathedral is on the edge of the old part of the city. I think if John and I hadn't already spent plenty of time in Cagne and Nice, we would have found it wonderfully quaint and decided to take pictures. But what we realized instead was that these quaint little areas are just the French equivalents of tourist traps, complete with t-shirt shops and places to buy panini and ice cream. Still pretty, but we decided not worth burning any more digital film on ("oh look, John -- another picture of narrow streets and quaint little houses!"... John and I have habit of taking lots of pictures of the same types of things while we are on vacation and then not being able to remember what they were.).

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Such is the case with the artwork we discovered inside a little church just off the touristy area. I wish I had saved our map of Monaco so I could find the name of this lovely little sanctuary. Both of us were struck by the artwork on the ceiling and the statuary around the altar.

We figured that no trip to Monaco could possibly be complete without getting a look at the famous Casino de Monte Carlo. We aren't gamblers, but we've seen enough movies to be intrigued. Our walk back from the area around the aquarium took us by trendy shops and through some lovely gardens. We also had an interesting revelation about Monaco.

Remember how I mentioned that Nice drivers were not all that respectful of pedestrians in crosswalks? Well, Monaco is completely different. There aren't all that many actual stop lights, but there are quite a few pedestrian crosswalks. We more or less only had to think about stepping out into a crosswalk and the cars would stop! We have no idea why the driving styles are so different in Monaco... all we could come up with was better manners and expensive liability insurance for cars. But it was definitely nice not having to worry so much when we crossed the street.

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I'll close this post and the Southern France travelogue with this shot of John in front of the Casino. He looks quite cross. Could it be because he wasn't dressed correctly for the Casino? Could it be because he has to fly back to Chicago soon? Could it be that his wife didn't tell him when to smile? The world may never know...

For some additional neat pictures of Monaco, check out this link

Brilla Top

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Here's tank top number two from the Filatura di Crossa Spring/Summer Collection 2003. The tank top is made out of Filatura di Crossa Brilla, color 388. I love this color because it's got enough blue in it to go well with my skin color and depending on the lighting, it looks blue or grey. It has a lovely iridescence that is hard to tell from photos (except for the fact that it is very hard to see stitch detailing when you have to use a flash).

Brilla's a Cotton/Viscose blend and it has a very nice smooth feeling against the skin (important because this top is not completely bra-friendly, given the strap positioning. I found it easy to knit with as well. It can split, but only if you work at it. It says it's handwash. I suspect that when I need to, this top will go into the gentle cycle on my machine.

Right now, I am a total fan of this Filatura pattern book. Both patterns that I have done from it have provided rapid gratification. Not only that, but I have found the instructions to be relatively clear and easy to follow -- and the end product quite satisfying. Good for beginners and easy for more experienced folks. My only complaint is their yardage estimates. I think that they are not at all generous enough. I had scraps of yarn from the first project I did, and if I hadn't modified this pattern a little, I think I would have run into the same problem.

Fortunately, the modifcations that I made were to make the shape of the top a little more compatible with my shape. I shortened the body of the top by an inch so that I didn't get too much drape over my hips, which usually isn't too flattering for me. I also changed the edging on the armholes.

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The pattern calls for a row of single crochet and a row of reverse single crochet around the neck and armholes. I left it around the neck, but removed it completely from the arm holes. Even after agressive blocking, the armholes still rolled on the edges with the crochet. I just didn't like it. (You can see a little bit of the rolling behavior on the neckline). When I took it out, I decided that the armholes didn't really need any edging, at least in my opinion. I also felt that the crochet edging took away from the cable detail, which was why I liked the top in the first place

This last shot shows the top off in profile. I don't suppose I really need to post another shot, and the colors aren't terribly accurate, but I also just like the picture for some reason I can't quite put my finger on.

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What's up next.... well, Elann.com has gotten me hooked twice this week... once on some Tai and today on some St. Tropez... so I'll be doing at least two more tops out of the Filatura book, along with working on Charlotte.

Other news... I had the pleasure of getting to meet one of my knitting neighbors -- Bonnie Marie Burns of ChicKnits, who happens to share a Chicago neighborhood with yours truly. She and Julie and I all met up at Letizia's Natural Bakery on Division tonight for a little knitting and chatting get together. What a great evening! It was definitely a pleasure to meet and knit a while with Bonnie Marie (and it's always fun to hang out with Julie!). I love having interesting and inspiring creative neighbors!

Tai

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Introducing my newest stash addition... Tai, from Filatura di Crossa in the Tapestry colorway (color #59).

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Tai is a 55% cotton, 25% polyamide, 15% viscose blend. It doesn't look like much the way I've shown it in the picture above, and I have to admit, that if I'd just seen it in a store, all by itself, I probably would have looked at it (I'm a crow and it's a shiny yarn, after all) but I wouldn't have had a problem walking away from it since it retails for about $9 US a skein and I would have had no idea what to do with it and no idea how it knit up.

But that, of course, is the beauty of store models. Even seeing this pattern in the Filatura Spring/Summer 2003 book didn't sell me on the yarn. In fact, I passed right over the pattern. It was the store model at Ruhama's in Milwaukee that got my attention and made me want to do something with this yarn. In fact, if the stuff hadn't been $9 a skein in the store, I would have bought it right there and then, but I was already buying the Porto Cervo in Jeans for the Peasant Top and another $72 just didn't seem all that reasonable at the time.

So I put the Tai on my "if I find a good deal" list and started looking around eBay and other places. Nada. Nothing. Oh well, I figured, I've got lots of yarn and lots of projects.

And then Elann put the Tai Oddballs up for $4.95 US a skein -- for $45 I could now have the top (and a little back up yarn since the Filatura patterns don't seem to have the world's best yarn estimations) and not feel bad about the cost. Elann still has more of this lovely yarn, although the selection is slimming.

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The yarn arrived just in time for me to swatch it at my Thursday night kitting get-together, and I started the project in earnest last night on my Denise needles. (As an aside... conceptually I like the Denise needles a lot, but I am finding that since I am a pretty tight knitter, that the yarns I use have a tendency to snag just a little bit over the joining areas, so I haven't been able to use them for as many projects as I would like. I don't think I am going to give up buying AddiTurbos just yet, spring cord or not).

I got about 5" done last night while reading through the Knitting Bloggers ring. Tai knits up pretty well without having to have too much attentione paid to it. You do have to be a little carefuld, however, because of the thick and thin areas in the yarn, you end up with loops of different widths. It can be easy to lose a narrow loop next to a wide one.

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This yarn has a lovely soft metallic iridescence that I didn't notice until I started knitting with it. The picture above is a closeup of the larger knitted piece. It's simple stockinette. I love the way that the thick and thin areas seem to almost alternate so that you get a almost ribbing like texture from the fabric. This project is knit on size 10s, so it knits up fast. I'm hoping maybe I can finish the back this weekend...

Tai Back

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Well, here's the back of the Filatura Tai top. You can see by looking at it that the shaping is extremely challenging (wink, wink). Yep. Cast on 76 stitches, knit in stockinette for 10.5 inches, BO two at each side and knit until the final bind off.

I've started on the front, which is exactly the same as the back. The sleeves are even more exciting -- rectangles of stockinette. Given the general level of excitement in these pieces, I might not show too many more pictures until the thing is ready for finishing.

Definitely a good, mostly mindless knitting project that will hopefully turn into something wonderful.

I did take time out to do a little brainstorming. I had, what I hope, is a neat idea for something that could be a Knitty submission. We'll see. I need to make a little test project to see if I can do what I want to. If I can't it'll be the subject of a post... if not, who knows?

Added 22 July 2003 because I forgot to mention it last night: One more thing, before I forget... the best thing about Tai is that it is not a ribbon yarn -- it's actually one of those woven tube yarns. As such, no twisting problems at all. It's smooth and soft and even a little stretchy.

Tai Front

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Last night (while doing some work for home that mostly involves monitoring one of our servers that happens to be in a remote location) I finished the front of the boatneck Tai top. No pictures, it looks the same as the back piece. For some reason, the knitting seemed to take longer, although I suspect it probably didn't, I just had the weekend to work on the back. Tonight I'll cast on the first of the sleeves, and see how good my rectangular knitting is.

Right now my house is very quiet. John is away on business and his mother has moved back to her own house. On one hand, I am happy that John and I are the only inhabitants of our abode. On the other hand, she came to stay with us because of concerns we had about her living in her own space. So we're still concerned about her, but are hopeful that things will work out okay.

I'm also balancing out my knitting with a bit of reading. So far I've got three books on my nightstand...

The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (I'm reading it for the Knitting Bloggers Reading Group).

The Bug: A Novel, by Ellen Ullman (loaned to me by a friend at work).

In the Beginning Was the Command Line, by Neal Stephenson (loaned to me by a friend at work).

So far I am finding Life of Pi interesting, but I am not sure I am enjoying the book yet. I guess because I didn't pick the book out myself, I am reading it with a much more clinical eye than I would be otherwise. The other two fall squarely into the genre of "geek lit". I am not sure quite what to make of The Bug at the moment. Some of it rings true, some of it rings over the top, and some of it comes too close to home for comfort. I just started Command Line which is more an essay on OS and user environments on computers by the guy that wrote Cryptonomicon (which, if you haven't read, is fabulous).

Finishing Question

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I'm working on the first sleeve of my Tai top now...I'm about midway through, so I feel like I'm almost coming into the home stretch. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have all the knitting completed. (It was supposed to take me a little longer, because I wanted to go on a knitting expedition with Julie today, but a little stomach bug intervened early this morning and I figure it would be better for me to rest up a little). And then something occurred to me. Should I use a strand of Tai to seam up this top or should I use something else?

This leads me to a more general question that I would love to get input from anyone and everyone from: how do you decide what yarn/fiber to seam up your knitwear with? Up until this point I have never seamed any garment with a different yarn than the one it is worked in, to avoid color differences.

All Tai'd Up!

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I'm going to make up for my last few pictureless posts with a very picture heavy entry. My apologies to anyone with a slow connection. This is my victory dance for this project, so I'm showing off the finish, which is (hopefully) more interesting than the individual pieces of the top (as displayed above after I had joined the shoulders).

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Thanks to everyone from the last post who offered suggestions about how to deal with difficult yarn when seaming. After I spent some time inspecting the Tai, I decided that I was going to try to do the finishing work with it. It doesn't break easily, and it's slippery enough to slide well past itself, so I thought it might be worth it to give it ago. I was also worried that anything else might be visible in the fabric.

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I actually found the finishing to be much more challenging than the knitting. It was very difficult for me to determine where stitches actually began an ended because of the yarn and the texture it creates. So I was pretty pleased with the results. The pictures above show 1) the seam where the shoulders and a sleeve join and 2) the sleeve joined to the body of the top. This yarn hides a lot of flaws, even if it makes them easy to create.

And here's the top all finished except for the neck fringe (all the ends woven in and everything!):

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And here's the finished product, with fringe. I did my fringes all the way around the neckline, as called for, but I decided to only use three strands instead of 6 because I 6 strands seemed to thick for the fringe and I thought it would be a little gaudier than I wanted (assuming a shimmery top is not already a little gaudy).

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I do like the way the top hangs. All knit up, the top does have a little bit of a weighty feel to it -- a reminder of the cotton content in the yarn. The drape is quite nice and the fringe actually looks pretty good sitting at the neck.

Before I talk about the detail images (and before I forget), I'd like to mention that I think the finishing instructions were pretty good -- at least as far as the order of processing occurs. I like set-in sleeve patterns where they have you join the sleeves to the armhole before doing other seaming, since I think its a lot easier to get something put together that looks right.

Here's a closeup of the fringe at the neck:

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I am a little concerned that the fringe will come unattached over time -- the yarn is a little slippery and the strands are only 5" long and it's quite hard to get the fringe attached tightly. Only time will tell. I have a feeling that this will be one of my very much "handwash" tops.

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This is a closeup of the elbow-end of the sleeves, which are 1/2 length. If I were to change anything on the top, I'd go back and do the same thing around the bottom edge of the top.

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This is another closeup of the stockinette fabric. It's almost impossible to see in the finished top pictures, but these little open spaces appear randomly throughout the fabric adding a little more texture to an already-texture rich stockinette stitch. I definitely got more of them on the front piece than on the back, it's possible I loosened up a little bit more and got more of them, or it just could have been random.

All the detail shots were taken outside so that the natural colors would come out better. Under indoor light, this top takes on a very yellow/orange look, which is impossible for me to wear. In the outside light more of the blues and pinks show up.

Finally... here's a little victory shot of me in the top:

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It's the perfect length for me (long waisted people may want to add an extra inch or so if doing this top), all unsightly straps are covered, and it's eminently to-workable (meaning not too see-through or too short).

Because the last two Filatura top patterns were a light light on the yarn predictions, and because I ordered from Elann, I decided to order one more skein than called for for my size. Of course, this time I didn't even touch that extra ball, and only a little of the last that I started. So I guess they aren't consistently off with their yardage predictions.

Overall, I'm quite pleased! This is my third, almost hassle free, top done out of this pattern book -- I feel like I've gotten my money's worth here. Not only because I like the results, but because the patterns haven't made me crazy while I worked on the top.

St. Tropez

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So what's up next? Well, in my continuing efforts to be a poster-child for Filatura di Crossa novelty yarn, I swatched up some St. Tropez that I purchased from Elann when it showed up not to long ago at a price I was unable to say no to (I'm slowly but surely edging my way towards that $500 mark). The color you see above is color #104 - primarily a rich blue spectrum red with flecks of pink, brown, black, gold and mauve. This yarn is 40% cotton, 40% viscose, 10% acrylic and 10% polyamide.

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I think you can describe this yarn as a boucle style yarn with a few short cotton eyelashes thrown in for good measure. What appeals to me most is its texture.

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The swatch was done in stockinette 16 stitches wide, 22 rows to 4" x 4". I did this swatch twice -- after the garter stitch edging I initially used on it flattened it down and made it difficult to get a good gauge measurement. It's still not easy to see the stitches, which I predict will either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how easy it is for me to drop them -- I usually love yarns whose textures hide flaws since I don't enjoy ripping very much.

I knit up the swatch on my US 8 (5.0) AdditTurbos -- I thought it would catch too much on my bamboos or my Denise needles. As always, my Addis came through for me. The project I am going to do with this yarn only takes three skeins (supposedly) and I'm curious to see how well I'll like it after I'm done. The yarn flows through my hand well enough, but likes to get caught on itself, making tensioning a little more effort. Also, it's really easy to knit into the stich below, or pick up something that shouldn't be picked up. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices for fun texture.

So what is it I am going to make? Well, here comes pattern number 4 from the Filatura di Crossa Spring/Summer 2003 book (BTW... their new fall patterns are out... click here to go to their website and check them out. I think I am going to need to pick up the Stacy Charles Fall 2003 book sometime soon.)

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I'm going to cast on for this top tonight. The only thing I will be doing differently is that I will be leaving out the stripes in the yoke area. Call me cheap, but I just wasn't willing to go out and spend another $8 on a skein of yarn for a few thin stripes. Mine will be solid St. Tropez. I'm hoping that it will knit up in the "wicked fast" category so that I can enjoy it soon and have a chance to work on a couple more summer tops.

As an aside... I wore my Tai top to work today... this is definitely going to be a favorite for me. It held its shape well and feels really nice against my skin. It breathes pretty well, too. Probably the only problem I had was that it does snag when it comes in contact with things that can hook it -- like my rings -- so I need to pay attention to what I am doing when I wear it.

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