Archive for March 2010

Quiet achiever

Bottom’s Up has been the tortoise to the Somerset hare, knitting wise. Somerset has at least had one mention on this blog and was knit up very quickly, slowing only because of my aversion to picking up stitches for the collar. Despite starting it in January, Bottom’s Up hasn’t been mentioned here at all and has trudged along, being mostly 1×1 twisted rib in the round, knitted on my work commute.

That’s pretty much where the tortoise and the hare analogy ends. Except if I can’t find my darning needles to weave in the ends on Somerset soon, in which case Bottom’s Up will be finished first.


Anyway! This project has been my first encounter knitting with linen yarn (Louet Euroflax Sport). I was somewhat wary after reading how hard some had found it to work with, but I don’t think it’s too bad. The lack of give means it’s a bit unforgiving tension-wise, but once in a rhythm it looks pretty good, and the knitted fabric feels quite nice.

The pattern itself is pretty arduous, but that lends itself well to commute, movie, or anything that provides distraction from the relentless ribbing. I hope I don’t sound too down on the pattern, as there’s absolutely nothing wrong with how it was written. I just overestimated my patience for ribbing, one of my least favourite knitting activities, even with the warnings in the pattern about it.

I’m perhaps a little premature in writing this as I’ve not finished it yet, but if you are looking to make Bottom’s Up, beware of the rib! Alternatively, if you’re a fan of ribbing, this is most definitely the project for you.

New boots

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Inspired by one of our lovely Tokyo hosts, I recently picked up a pair of cheery gumboots in anticipation of wetter weather. Luckily for me, the sunflowers in my backyard match my boots perfectly, and provided a good photo op.

These are the first gumboots I’ve owned as an adult. They’re not quite as shooshy as the gumboots I used to have that had smiley faces on the soles (quite frankly someone needs to do something about making adult-sized gumboots with smiley faces on the soles), but despite that drawback, I still like them a lot.

Unluckily for me, the gumboots turned up a week after the big storms. No matter though, I will impatiently wait for puddles I can slosh around in and mud to trample through.

So. Japan. (aka settle in, this is a long post)

We loved it to bits.

We went to museums…

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… and to temples


Ate crazy food


Shopped. A lot


Relived some of my childhood


Saw snow falling in Tokyo (a relatively unusual event, apparently)


and wandered around aimlessly.


We only really covered Tokyo and Kyoto in the two weeks we were there, but we’re very keen to go back and explore.

Our Japanese language skills are virtually non-existent, but we were able to get around fine. Everyone we had to converse with was very polite and helpful and we learnt to never underrate the usefulness of mime to get past the language barrier.

As vegetarians, we did have some trouble finding food but managed OK. Positive notable mentions include Deva Deva in Kichijoji, Cafe Proverbs 15:17 in Kyoto, Eat more greens in Azabu and the numerous convenience stores for their delicious and cheap kombu onigiri. A dishonourable mention goes to Disneyland — there was only one place that served vegetarian food, but it had to be purchased as part of a three course meal. Three course meals aren’t conducive to cramming in as many rides as possible into a day.


Craftwise, I did something possibly quite blasphemous. I did not buy any yarn. I did see some lovely (and not so lovely – Sean Sheep novelty yarn, to be exact!) yarn about, but decided to hold out for fabric. I came back with a lot of linen and could have come back with more. Next time, I’ll have to travel during warmer months so I can pack less and take more back! We also visited possibly the most wonderful shop in the world, Rollo in Kyoto which sold vintage trim, buttons and beads. It was a funny little shop, open funny hours, but if I was ever to open a shop, I would want it to be like Rollo. I loved it.

There is so much more I could say about Japan, but feel I have rabbited on enough. However, I’d like to finish with some tips for people who are planning to visit Japan in the future.


If you are planning to spend most of your time in Tokyo, think carefully about buying a Japan Rail Pass. They can be used on the above ground JR lines, but are of most use if you plan to tour around Japan. We purchased 14 day passes, when we should have bought a 7 day pass for use when going to Kyoto.

When in Tokyo, I highly recommend getting a Pasmo or Suica card for travel on the Subway. We were lucky in that our hosts had some spare passes we could top up, which meant we didn’t need to worry about buying subway tickets. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, I highly recommend Tokyo Metro 09 to help with commuting from place to place. It works offline, so doesn’t cost you anything data wise, and we found it very very useful. The app cost AUD$1.19.

In Kyoto, the best way to get around is by bus, using a 500 yen daily pass in conjunction with a Bus Navi, a map with all the routes and major sights.


As mentioned previously, we did have a little trouble being vegetarian, but we still ate well. Happy Cow has good listings of vegetarian/vegan places to eat, and we relied on it heavily. There is an app that uses Happy Cow listings, but requires the use of an internet connection so we didn’t use it while away.

If all else fails, there are convenience stores everywhere, which sell really quite cheap and pretty healthy food. We ate a lot of onigiri and plain inari, but didn’t get sick of it.


There seems to be an insatiable appetite for shopping in Tokyo, and it’s really hard not to get swept up in it. The guide we relied on most was the Tokyo Shopping Guide from Asking For Trouble. There’s also a great Tokyo shopping post on The Lark.


It’s really quite hard to come up with a ‘must do’ list, but some of the highlights for us were the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka (buy your ticket before getting to Japan), the view from the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi and Ginkaku-ji (temple of the silver pavillion) in Kyoto. A special mention must go to Hakone, a day trip from Tokyo. There is lots to see and do there, but it’s worth setting aside a good portion of a day to see the Hakone Open Air Museum. It’s one of the best museums I have ever been to, hands down.

Despite the above list, possibly the best thing you can do while in Tokyo or Kyoto though is just wander around. You can stumble across some wonderful treasures.

So, that’s our Japan trip summed up in one, very long for this blog, blog post. If you’ve ever considered going to Japan, I highly recommend it. It’s a really wonderful place.


Before indulging in a Japan roundup post, I should mention how I went in the recent Ravelympics. Sad to say, I didn’t complete my project. This wasn’t much of a surprise, as the only real knitting time I thought I would have during the Olympics was on the plane to Japan and a couple of longer train rides. What did surprise me was how little I achieved.


I made a mistake early on, and even the smallest mistake with Henry, unless caught very early, means a whole lot of ripping back. My enthusiasm drained pretty quickly at that point. On top of that, it appears I misunderstood the rules for taking knitting needles on international flights. Soon after takeoff, I was told knitting on the plane was not allowed as the change to the prohibited item list only applied to domestic flights. This didn’t seem right to me, as I’d heard of others knitting on international flights departing from Australia without issue, but thought it best not to argue.

So yes, my Ravelympics effort was a bit of a washout. That’s perfectly all right though, Henry will now be my project for the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. Given that’s still months away, it’s a much more relaxed goal and should (!!) be easily achievable.

Despite my previous claim about not having much time for knitting over the past couple of weeks, a little bit of knitting did occur; enough to finish off this fellow:


Elijah by Ysolda Teague
Approximately 100 grams of Lincraft Balmoral Tweed
Black embroidery thread
3.25mm double pointed needles
Started: February 2010
Finished: February 2010
Ravelryed: here

He was made as a thank you gift to our wonderful hosts in Tokyo. He was mostly done before we left, but his eyes and ears were finished while away. The only differences between this Elijah and previous Elijahs were slightly larger needles, accommodating for the slightly heavier yarn used (a 10 ply was used this time rather than the 8 ply used previously). I also used a little bit less stuffing, which makes him a bit easier to pose.

As this is the third time I’ve made Elijah, it’s hard to say whether this is now the end of my Elijah career. It would be good to try different patterns for toys as gifts, but at the same time it’s hard to go past him as he’s a fun and interesting pattern to knit, with such cute results.