Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catie: Sick days and socks

I've been sick.  Not super sick, just a sore throat and some coughing, but enough to make me unable to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time and enough to make me miserable.  I woke up yesterday morning, fully intending to do nothing all day but take Mucinex and lay on the couch.

But then there was a knock at the door, and, as is his custom, Han Sam came galloping in, merrily shouting, "Anyanghaseyo!" (Hello).  He just wanted to get the money for the water bill, but he also wanted to talk.  These days, he cares less and less that we don't speak Korean, trundling ahead with hand and full body motions to rival a mime.  We love him.

Good thing, too, because he always manages to burst in at the worst possible moment.

Yesterday, he wanted me to:

A.) Go to the hospital for my cough.  It's just down the road, he said.  Very important.  It was easiest, so I told him I had already been (I hadn't and would never go for a cough this minor...) and that everything was fine.  The more I respond affirmatively to everything he says, the less he repeats himself.  Although... that means I end up in some crazy situations sometimes.  It's pretty fun for me, though, who am I kidding?

B.) Come downstairs to knit with Oenni (say it: oh-NEE).  That's what he calls his wife (to me).  It's not her name, but it's the affectionate Korean word for a woman who is older than you.  I didn't feel like knitting and was still in my pajamas, so I made lots of faces and told him I was in no condition to go out.

This did not deter him, however, and he started saying, "Sigsa, sigsa!"  Which, for our purposes, usually means, "But we'll feed you!"

They know I love food.

I gave him no definitive answer, although I was trying to say no, and he left to get us change for the water bill.

Next, Oenni showed up.  With a bag full of yarn and knitting needles and our water bill change.  This time, it became apparent that she wanted to me to knit with her.

"But I'm sick and I look terrible," I said.

"But I'll feed you!" she said.

We repeated this back and forth, several times.  I gave in.

It should be mentioned that, with me working, all we have in the house for food right now is kimchi, yogurt, peanut butter and a heel of stale bread (and a lot of ingredients that I wasn't up to cooking), so their offer to feed me was entirely unfair.  There was no way I could refuse.

Plus, she makes good food.

So, I got dressed, took my knitting and went downstairs.  The food was delicious.  A vegetable, meat (beef or pork?) soup, kimchi, several other fermented side dishes, and rice.  They didn't have enough rice for me, so Oenni ran next door to our neighbor's restaurant and got me a little bowl.  Rice is often considered the main course in a meal, so it's very important.

I was sick, as I had said over and over, so they dumped a bunch of dried seaweed into my rice.  I am quite partial to the right sorts of seaweed and, thankfully, this was the right sort.  Salty, a little bit sweet, with toasted sesame seeds.  Delicious.  What am I going to do without Korean food?

After dinner, we had coffee and songpyeon (gluey rice cake).  I normally don't like songpyeon.  It's not entirely unlike trying to eat a rubber bouncy ball.  Although, to clarify, it sticks to your teeth in ways that a rubber bouncy ball could never.  So, maybe more of a rubber bouncy ball crossed with a marshmallow.

Songpyeon, with pine needles

But it's a Korean delicacy.  They think it is so delicious the kids can sometimes hardly breathe when they talk about it.  It is like holiday pie is to me.  A-mazing.

It sometimes has funky flavors that make me gag (on top of the fact that you can't actually chew it, you can just kind of chew on it), but this was straight out of the pot, with sesame seed filling that tasted like peanut butter.  We had to pick off all the pine needles, one by one, that are there to keep the pieces from sticking together.  A sticky process, but a good cultural experience.  Songpyeon is also much more delicious when homemade, I think.  When homemade and still hot.

All through dinner, they were talking about knitting, pointing at their feet and saying things real fast in Korean.  I was supposed to understand something, but I was sick and still coming off the Mucinex I'd taken the night before.  It wasn't clicking

After dinner, Han Sam left and Oenni and I went out front, to the ginseng shop, to knit.  At this point, it finally became apparent that she wanted me to teach her to knit socks.

Out of crochet cotton.

On size 8 circular needles.

"Okay, this isn't going to work," I said.


"You can't use these needles," I said.  "They're too big."

"Go get yours," she said.

So, I went and got some needles and, while I was at it, some leftover sock yarn because I couldn't, in good conscience, try to teach someone to make socks out of shiny, crochet cotton.

I showed her how wool yarn is able to stretch - boing, boing - and cotton doesn't - snap - so, wool is better.  She's a good knitter, and got it right away.

Interestingly, this may have been the easiest time I've ever had, teaching someone to knit socks.   So many people think socks will be a good first knitting project (they aren't, just some FYI) and there's not a LOT to learn when knitting socks, but you do have to be able to do about 4 basic things that can be a stretch for someone who's never encountered them.

So, she already had the actual knitting knowledge, all I had to do was show her a funny cast on, and try to explain that you increase twice, at either side, every other round.  It took her some time to get it (I don't know why, I kept saying it over and over again in English!!), but when she did, her whole face lit up and she smiled real big.

"You mean you (a bunch of Korean)!"

"Yes!" I said.  And hoped that all that Korean had meant, "Increase twice, at either side, every other round."

She was very excited and, when Han Sam invited all the other women shop keepers over for the songpyeon leftovers, Oenni was proudly showing them her sock toe, and they were all aghast.  Korea doesn't really have double pointed needles, especially not in Song Gang-dong.  And no one has time to knit, especially not socks, which you can get on every corner for about a buck a pair.  So, everyone was very interested.

"Knit your own socks?  Crazy!" they kept saying.

But, as Han Sam pantomimed over and over again, hand knit socks are much better (thumbs up) than acrylic socks (frowny face, shaking head).  Even his toe socks, which he adores and wears on a daily basis, got a frowny face.  He told me that hopefully Oenni will knit him socks now and also that pink (the sock yarn I gave her was pink) was his favorite color.  An admission that is evidenced by the fact that she's also knitting him a pink and green striped, cabled sweater right now...  It's awesome.

Anyway, it was a really, really marvelous sick day, in spite of the fact that I felt terrible.  They also gave me some sort of pink, hot tea-ish drink.  But more in the vein of citron "tea" (which is like orange flavored honey mixed with water), so not really tea at all.  It tasted like cranberry juice, maybe, or cranberry apple.  It probably comes from one of the red boxes that line their ginseng shop shelves.  I think it's for sick people because it made me feel better.  But then, I think ice cream is for sick people because it makes me feel better...

Oenni sent me home with the leftover songpyeon and told me she would let me know when she was ready to turn the heel.  She made sure to say, "Thank you!" in both English and Korean, multiple times.

It may have been the best day I've had in a while.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Catie: Here you go, Mom!

First of all, yesterday was not a good day for a photo-op.  I'd been cooking Chuseok dinner and even though it wasn't hot outside, the kitchen was hot, so I look kind of awesome.

And by, "awesome", I mean, "not awesome".

Anyway, these are the things I've been knitting over the past few months because my Mom keeps asking me to post them.

It's been a sort of knitting frenzy around here.

Multnomah, pattern by Kate Flagg
This is my Multnomah Shawl, made from some sort of sock yarn I got off The Yarn and Fiber Company's website.  It looked completely different in person than online (not entirely in a good way) and I wanted something that would keep the colors from pooling into giant patches of pink and blue.  

It still looks a little like a fraternal twin baby shower exploded... but I like the Multnomah pattern.

The crazy sock yarn also bled like CRAZY when I washed it the first time.  When I laid it out to block on our bed, it stained the sheets (I shouldn't have put it there, though).  Don't know what that was all about, but I won't be buying it again.

This is another Multnomah that I made for Natalie, but I did a lot fewer lace repeats and added stripes.  Made from Brown Sheep Fingering (from my Mom!), 100% wool.

Brown Sheep Fingering is pretty fine, I think.  Even for a fingering weight yarn.  It made a very airy fabric when I knit it on size 4 needles.  I like the result.

And I have a real huge thing going for feather and fan lace right now.

This is my Daybreak shawl.  I knit it for me.  It's bigger than the other two because the Daybreak has a pretty long "wingspan".  I added a feather and fan border because I love it so much, instead of the Daybreak border.  I may make another Daybreak and do it properly this time, but I love this one and I wear it out and around the house a lot.

It's starting to get cooler outside and perfect for a light shawl -- finally!

Daybreak shawl, pattern by Stephen West
I knit it out of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint sock yarn (the oranges and yellows) and Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, I think.  They bled together in a real weird way because I didn't notice that the Misti Alpaca had the same color as the Ultra Alpaca... blah, blah, blah... anyway, I'm okay with it now.

I also used a bit of Korean "sock" yarn at the bottom (the grey stripes).  I just wanted to see if I would like it better than the bleeding Misti Alpaca...  This shawl is kind of a disaster, really.  It's a wonder I love it so much.

The feather and fan border, all blocked out.

Bella Mittens, pattern by Marielle Henault and
Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, pattern by Natalie Larson

This is not a super good picture of the knitted things, but these are my Bella Mittens and Star Crossed hat.  I don't do Twilight.. things, but I liked these mittens because the cables make them warmer and they're really long so they'll stay under my coat.  And I am holding an apple, because.. apparently, it's a thing you do with Twilight.  It felt appropriate.  That's the Daybreak again, too.  I love it.

I knit both the hat and mittens out of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, which is soft and yummy (and hairy!  Don't wear black while knitting with Lamb's Pride).  Mom sent me two skeins of it and I forgot to check the dye lots until it was too late and the mittens were finished.  I doubt anyone else will notice that much, but there is a line across the wrist of the right hand mitten.

Endpaper Mitts, pattern by Eunny Jang

A blurry picture of my Endpaper Mitts.  Knit with Ultra Alpaca Fine (the off-white) and more of the Lamb's Pride fingering in olive green from Natalie's Multnomah.  They're a little tight (one of my first stranded/colorwork projects), so I really need to find someone with small hands, I think.  I like them a lot, though.

Sorry the picture is blurry, my photographer was getting fed up with my shenanigans.

I know.  Me?  Shenanigans?

Cabled Cowl, inspired by Olga Buraya-Kefelian's Cabled Cowl

Another blurry picture.  This one is my Cabled Cowl.  I didn't use the pattern (we couldn't afford it, haha), but I took a good, long look and figured it out.  So. much. cabling.  It took me months to finish the scarf itself (mostly because I kept getting burnt out on cabling) and only this last week did I do the finishing, like knitting button loops and sewing on the buttons.

It grew a lot when I washed and blocked it.  In the future, I will wait until my things are washed and blocked to sew on buttons, but it worked out okay this time.  I think it's pretty and it can go two ways!

It's not covered in buttons, though.. like it looks here.

Another blurry picture!  And dark, too.  There was a lot going on yesterday.  This is my Noro Silk Garden Infinity Scarf.  I pretty much made it up.  It's just 41 sts in 1x1 ribbing with two full skeins of Silk Garden, kitchenered together.  I like it okay, but it's more for function.

This is Ben's infinity scarf that I made him for our anniversary.  It's gold and purple (incidentally, his college's colors... oops) and I didn't have a pattern for it either.  I cast on the same amount of stitches as I did for mine (above), and did seed stitch in real wide stripes.  I like it.  I think he does, too, maybe.

That is all for now!  I'm currently knitting a Hemlock Ring shawl in vintage Munro Spun wool.  It's a little moth eaten, so the back of it is a bit of a nightmare, but I'm no Master Knitter, so I'm okay with it.

Anyway, there you go, Mom.  All the things I've been knitting.

 Or at least most of them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Catie: Lily

There is a little girl in my 102 Writing class named Lily.  She is very small, and only 11 years old (10 in Western years).  The 102 class is getting very close to fluent and her English may be the best.  Everyone else in her level is more between 12-15, which makes her look even smaller.

She says and writes a lot of very cute and thoughtful things.  Like the other day when she took my hand and looked up at me.  "Will you walk me to the elevator?"  Her voice is very young and she has a heavy lisp.  If I could take her home, I would.  Lately, she's been teaching me how to use my mobile phone.  She gave me her phone number yesterday so I could, "call her if I think to do it."  Today, she set my phone background to a picture of Rilakkuma, a very popular Japanese bear.

This is her essay from today.  I'm in love with Korean English (Kongrish).  It just makes so much more logical sense than proper English.

Should dangerous sports be banned?

I think dangerous sports be banned with these reasons; because of it is dangerous and traveling is dangerous.

The first reason is very dangerous.  It's harm to players and harm to family of players.  As well as if we hurted.  There will have very much money for hospital bills!

The second reason is that travling is dangerous.  Swiming from country to country yo could be die.  Another going and hiking fall is dangerous country.  And some times other countries have bad healthi care.

In summary, if there had dangerous sports, I should banned it because of it is dangerous and traveling is dangerous.

I think I will adopt her.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ben: Notes From The Weekly Meeting

Things that Nicole says in our weekly meetings are often baffling and hilarious. For example:

We have to assure the thought, the thing.

We must have big concern of the certain student. (But which student?!)

All is well that ends up.

This is the work for kinda service.

If you have some asking or concern for yourself, just let me know.

You must make classes tight. Very tight!

Receive them with your warm hands.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ben: Pin is the Bloon!

We were learning about machines in class last week, so I had my kids design and draw their own "Mouse Trap" style machines. Kevin drew this, and it is by far the best one. His prize (that he doesn't know about) is that it gets to go on our blog! It reads:

Tom is eat milk. Pin is the bloon. The switch is on and boat is move. Have a fire. Have a fire. Tom is die.

Since he drew it Catie and I have been running around saying "Pin is the bloon, have a fire have a fire!" at random. We think it's pretty hilarious.

Ben: What I've been reading

Catie has finally convinced me that I need to buy myself books at least once a month so that don't drive myself (and her) crazy with my lack of reading material restlessness. Last month for my birthday I bought:

The City and the City by China Mieville

China Mieville is, in my humble opinion, by far the most talent science fiction author currently writing. His books are always some combinations of postmodernist steam/cyberpunk with a strong dose of weirdness through in. He is able to paint incredibly vivid and very different worlds, without the usual wooden expositions that sink so many promising science fiction books into "It was a blue alien world with four moons and .4 Earth gravity." His narratives, like his worlds, are a complicated mess that somehow come across as intrigues and addictive, not headache inducing nonsense that requires a flowchart to follow.

Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber

The book is split between the perspective of an ant colony (actually three ants within the colony) and a human family. Strangely the author does a better job humanizing the ants than making the actual human relatable characters. The end was fairly disappointing, but it was worth reading for all the neat descriptions of his imagined ant society.

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
This book pretends that instead of merely killing 1 out of every 3 people, in this book the plague kills 99 percent of Western Europe, leading to a very different history. I thought it was an interesting read, especially considering how much the real plague change the world. One out of every three people died over the less than 20 years, which would be the equivalent of 100 million people dieing in modern America. I'm always amazed that there was any society left in Europe after the plague swept through. The writing is less than exciting, but the alternative history is fun to read.

This month I'm going in a more non-fiction direction with my purchases, since I'm about science fiction-ed out for now. My parents are also sending me the backlog of New Yorkers, Economists, and Atlantics that have been piling up in their living room (thank you Mom and Dad!), so July will be a much more educational month than June was.

Ben: Making things is fun

I've run completely out of Kroy sock yarn (and other sock yarn too, I just like Kroy the best). I stole some of Catie with the promise that she could have the resulting socks so long as I could knit them. Here's what I made:

Catie's pair are on the right, and my last pair (from our current yarn stash) are on the left. I haven't weaved the ends into mine yet, but they are otherwise finished. While I was working on my second sock I was waiting for the bus to take me to work. When I got on the bus the lady behind me starting yelling at me and pointing out the door. I looked and saw that my yarn was trailing out the door. I jumped off the bus and ran down the street, gathering up my yarn for a full block until I found my ball of yarn sitting in the gutter (which was, thankfully, the only clean and dry gutter in Korea). I then ran back to the bus, where the bemused bus driver was waiting for me. The mess I made with my yarn took me the rest of the day at work to untangle. My Korean co-teacher, Landon, kept encouraging me to just cut the tangle since it was taking so long, but I successfully resisted and save all my yarn.

Since I'm all out of sock yarn, I've started working on my first sweeter. This picture is terrible (on account of me being a lousy photographer). I'm just about ready to join the pieces together. I'm pretty excited since this is my very first sweeter ever. I've been working on it nonstop for two and a half weeks, but now the complicated joining and decreasing begins. Hopefully by the time I've finished with it my previously blogged books and magazines will have arrived, because I've taken about all the yarn Catie will let me steal from her!

Here's a much better picture of what the sweater should look like when it's finished: