Sunday, December 13, 2009

Whoaaaaaaaaaa too long! Too long.

I used up all my writing mojo in November by participating in NaNoWriMo. I didn't win, but I had a great time and might keep working on my story... it's moody, and I had fun letting it be my structure. My days are so loose, it's satisfying to have something I want to build sensibly, with purpose.

I'm working again, just a couple days a week, for friends of mine who are very busy and have an 18 month old daughter. That's fun. She's a pretty intense kid. I truly enjoy my time with her, though the parents are worried that it's a drag. I'm not sure how to tell them that two days a week is really not work at all. They're paying me for it, after all. Ha!

I still want to write up my memories from Monza, mostly because I didn't find much in the way of useful guides when I was prepping for my trip. Things to continue on later:

- trains (are so great)
- hotels (I would have stayed in Monza if possible, but Milano is fine)
- what days you want to be at the track (Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)
- how much you're going to be walking (a lot)
- how much sunscreen you'll need (a lot)
- how badly you need to remember to bring an umbrella and a jacket and maybe a giant plastic tarp (quite)
- how fun it is (so very, very, very!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

the myth

When I was preparing for my recent two week trip to Italy, I spent a lot of time thinking about what clothes to bring. I knew I wanted to pack as light as possible, but I also knew that I wanted to look nice. Adding complexity was the fact that our trip would encompass several very different activities - including 4 days of attending the Formula 1 race at Monza - and autumn weather that included some forecast rain.

So, a few things were clear. I needed a raincoat, shoes to walk in, at least one dress, and a nice pair of heels. Beyond that, I felt pretty stuck.

Of course my response was to hit the internet! And somehow I came at it with the expectation of somehow researching what young-ish Italian women wear. And reader, this was where things went badly. The internet told me a few things, and upon arriving in Italy, I had to admit that some of them were pretty much crap. I should have known better about quite a few of them - no nail polish? please.

As you'll see if you crawl the Internet, Italian women are known worldwide for their good sense of style - namely, flattering not only your body but your age and particular look. There's a reason they're known for this, and for the most part the professional women, and those above about 35 stick to the mantras of neutral colors, well made items, natural fibers and an expert fit. But: trends are huge. I'd forgotten just how huge since my last trip. Teenage and 20-ish girls have a uniform of inexpensive pieces right now: lowtop Chucks in white, colors or patterns; tight jeans either grey or heavily distressed, and usually with lots of detailing like extra seams and zippers; a long tunic top layered over a camisole; a wide, heavy belt cinched over the hips; a close-fitting leather, nylon or canvas bomber jacket; dyed black long hair pulled into a high, flat-ironed ponytail with long side swept bangs; plenty of eyeliner. There you go. Add a black and white keffiyeh, an enormous leather handbag with multiple handles, some punches of hot pink and you're set. More? Midcalf suede boot (either tight and with a heel or slouchy and flat), totally flat gladiator sandal, tunic with black leggings.

What I did find useful:
- a simple dress in a solid color
- slim jeans
- cute basic strappy sandals with a heel or at least a wedge (and if you can get one with a little adornment, so much the better)
- classic pumps with a pretty heel
- large, finely woven wool or silk wrap

What I didn't:
- bootcut jeans
- clogs (they're not cool anywhere, but they're really not cool there)
- merino cardigan sweater (really not cool, at all, and an immediate dumpy-maker)

What I wore almost every day:
- a tunic length grey and black striped tshirt-weight cotton cardigan with no closures

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm on my last day of a two week trip to Italy... just a quick note to get down a few topics I'd like to write on when I'm back home:

1. The Myth of What Italian Ladies Wear
2. Things I brought that were useful; things I brought that were not
3. How to deal with trains
4. My advice on going to Monza for Formula 1

Sunday, July 26, 2009

new little shawl ideas

The Swallowtail has been a total hit - it's a gorgeous color, the perfect size for me, and people love looking it over and checking out those nupps in the lily in the valley section.

And of course, I'm now thinking what other lovely lace shawl to start next! I'm thinking something similar in size, probably another triangle. I was pretty doubtful of the shape at first finishing it, but the more I wear it the better I like having the little tails to wrap around my shoulders and neck, to tuck in and keep the whole thing in place.

I have two skeins of Ecco Cashmere given me by my lovely aunt, in a natural white, and I also have two skeins of beautiful Curious Creek Wasonga sock yarn in Toto (black/grey) and Ruby Slippers (bright, bright reds). I'd love to do something fun and cheerful - would I be nuts to do another Swallowtail? The red deserves a very lively pattern, and I think I'd wear something made from that quite a lot as a colorful counterpoint to my black jacket and dark jeans self-imposed uniform.

Others I've found in my Ravelry searches include the Shetland Triangle, Ene's Scarf, Fountain Pen Shawl...

Or maybe a small Wing O' The Moth in that black and grey would be just perfect and moody. Hmmm.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


swallowtail, ladylike
Originally uploaded by annachristine
I've finally completed a triangular lace shawl! My first, the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. What a beauty. I used Malabrigo sock, in the colorway Lettuce, which I bought from Eat.Sleep.Knit in my first purchase from them (but not my last!). I didn't find the nupps too hard, but I was definitely using the wrong needles. Someday I'll have a set of pointy lace needles in every size up to about a US7, and my life will be complete.

Things are going well out here, we had a lovely barbeque on Saturday to celebrate T's birthday. The weather wasn't the best, but we pulled out the propane heater, braved the overcast clouds, and ate more than our fair share of meat, quite a lot of which was smoked all day in one of our TWO smokers! Pork shoulder, beef shoulder, 5 racks of ribs, brisket, a dozen sausages, and 6 pork tenderloins... and that's just what we made at the house. More ribs, burgers, sausages, and various dishes arrived with our guests, not to mention the cookies and cupcakes. Mmmm. We drank beer, tequila, and Pimm's Cups and made merry for quite a while. Great day, and a very happy birthday!

Originally uploaded by annachristine

We also have the lovely Bailey back with us for a little while. I'm working with her every day on her leash skills - she's 6, so she's a little calmer and quicker to tire out, and that makes it so much easier to teach her. It's really fun and we have a great time together. Today we conquered a local hill, very steep, I could feel my shin muscles tugging right off their bones. Tuesday night though we went to the beach, all together, and it was just heaven.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby knits ahoy! I've jumped right into the baby knits for the year, considering there are at least 3 children on the way just in my small circle of friends and family. I got a couple balls of Shine Sport for those parents who need a machine wash, machine dry yarn, and a few of GGH Maxima for those who can do the air dry thing. I'm also looking over my quilting fabrics and considering attempting a cute crib quilt... maybe one of those broken nine patches that have become a trend lately.

First up, though, is a pretty purple February Baby Sweater. Can't go wrong with that. I'm about to sit down and watch the Formula One race from this weekend, and knit!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Holy cow! I am a lucky girl this week. First I was among some folks who won a draw at Mim Knits, celebrating Miriam's birthday and the release and re-release of some of her fabulous designs (her new Nefertiti wrap... mmmmm, I have not the words). And just now, I scratched off the little Lotto ticket included in my recent Eat.Sleep.Knit order (delicious Shibui sock and Malabrigo sock)... and it looks like I won a $100 credit! Whaaaaaaat?

Suffice to say this is a great start to summer. Happy June, indeed! Thanks to Miriam and Erin for offering such awesome rewards to their customers and fans.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Originally uploaded by annachristine
Whoops, I've gotten behind! Things have been quite busy for me here; this weekend included a lot of family time which was fun and hectic. Sunday we had a mother's day brunch thing at my boyfriend's brother's place, and that was really nice. T's other brother brought his new puppy, who is a ~4 month old Boston Terrier, totally incorrigible. She's a kick and never stops moving! We hung out on the couch eating waffles and frittata, lots of fruit, blueberry crumble.... delicious. Here's little Molly, in motion as usual. This is one of my experiments with actions, I think this one came from Totally Rad Actions, and I think it's pretty fun. It definitely gives a nice summertime saturation flavor, which is appropriate seeing as how this was a lovely hot day.

We went straight from there to my brother's house for a housewarming / birthday celebration. I turned 30 last week so we combined my bday with their wonderful new home, and had friends and family over to help celebrate it all. It was a gorgeous day, very hot and sunny, though their house is directly across from the Golden Gate so quite a bit of nice ocean breeze makes it over the water to them. We had two toddlers in attendance, one 17 months old and the other 19 months, who were just besotted with each other - walked after the other saying, "baby!", gave lemons from the yard back and forth to each other, traded lots of hugs! Both are white blonde, blue eyed babes and it was quite a match. I have some pictures, but hesitate to put snaps of other people's children online.... so you'll just have to use your imagination.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Originally uploaded by annachristine
What a weekend. On Saturday, we saw the premiere of the movie that Thomas has been working so hard on for the last 3+ years. I'd managed to avoid almost any information about Up, and I'm glad I did. What an amazing picture! Bring your hankies and the person you love the most in the world, because you're going to want to squeeze them very tightly when you see it.

We got to watch it in the beautiful, historic Paramount Theater in Oakland, and if I thought that would be hard to top, we then walked a couple blocks over to the even more beautiful, recently restored Fox Theater. Incredible. I'm so glad to see downtown Oakland getting a few of its gems back in working order. It was awfully strange to walk in this parade of fancy dressed-up party people through sketchy-ass Oakland, though, with police and private security standing between us and the street. We felt kind of like wildebeest. With broken ankles. Don't make me run!

Originally uploaded by annachristine
The party at the Fox was fun; big band swing when we got there, DJs later; food and big bars (with short waits, hoorah). We got stuck in one room for most of the night, and it actually worked out great - people kept coming by and would stop to talk, so I got to see so many of my friends and congratulate all the folks who worked on the movie. They should be so, so proud. Those folks really set the bar. After most of our chatting, we finally made our way to the dance floor, where all hell broke loose. All I can say is there was some doing of the robot, some break dancing, and a whole lot of hip-thrusting, jacket-swinging, steam-letting-off.

Sunday was great too; I booked an extra night at the hotel room so that we wouldn't have to get up at any particular time, and so I could drop Thomas off at work Monday without having to drive home and then back again.  I miss Berkeley/North Oakland so much sometimes; we walked a lot and there was so much to walk to - local bakery, Peet's Coffee, and then Wood Tavern for dinner on Sunday afternoon.  The walks were a real highlight of our stay.  We were delighted by all the trees, by the different architecture in every single house, by the gardens that were obviously so planned and loved (and a few that weren't, but still somehow had a beauty and proliferation that's unusual in our neighborhood).  It was the perfect temperature, sunny and maybe 68, with a tiny breeze.  We had debated bringing our bikes, or Thomas's at least, since Tunnel Road is a perfect loop for a nice little ride.  In the end we went with the lazy, rejuvenating rest option.  Delicious.

Monday, April 13, 2009

cowl bandwagon

woodland shawl - cowl
Originally uploaded by annachristine
I finally got with it, as far as "with it" goes in the knitting community, and made a cowl. I promptly gave it away, but here I was yesterday, binding off my newest lace shawl to make a short little cowl for myself.

The woodland shawl pattern as written out by Nikol Lohr is really simple and lovely. I can see it being used in a lot of different knit garments. Here it is all laid out in its blocking glory, held tight by welding wires. All I have to do now is decide whether to seam, or add buttons.

Yarn is Dream In Color - Smooshy, colorway Strange Harvest. I was fondling it at Purlescence when the evil, evil Jasmin told me the following:

"Oh... that color! It looks so good on you! You are one of three people I know on this planet who can wear that color so well."

I never had a chance.

queen silvia
Originally uploaded by annachristine
I've also started this - Queen Silvia, from the incredible Knitted Lace of Estonia. I've just gotten through the first repeat and I am loving it much more than I expected. I started the project as a challenge to myself. I've been looking for things to do that will work my brain, and somehow playing Scrabble on Facebook just wasn't serving all my needs (plus, I kept getting my ass handed to me). Working through this stitch pattern in a swatch was addictive - watching the tiny little stitches line up over and over is still magic to me, and in lace it's even better. Instant gratification, as long as you're gratified by a few rows at a time.

This is working up relatively small, which I'm happy about, since I'm on the short end of the bell curve. Knit on Addi lace needles, out of Yarn Place Gentle (only 5% cashmere but I swear I can feel it).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another gray day out here in the Richmond... we've been spoiled lately by really excellent sunny weather, so I can't complain now that the rain is back. Yesterday we had someone out to trim the trees on our sidewalk strip, and I was very impressed by his abilities to climb and saw and chop despite pretty consistent heavy rainfall. He did leave after the first tree and will be back again for the other; it was just too wet and chilly. Still quite impressive to me as I sat inside with my coffee and throw pillows.

I am definitely ready for spring, as evidenced by my recent purchase of samples from (I love perfume samples as a really cheap and easy treat. I've ordered samples from Aedes in the past, too, and have been impressed with each shop's selection.) This time around I tried a few by Commes des Garçons, who are known for being totally out there, just avante garde and really unusual. The scents I tried were Play, Rhubarb, and Sequoia. Sequoia was a little disappointing because it was so heavily cedar wood, and I just don't think of redwoods and cedars as smelling the same. At all. I'll have to try it again, on a cool foggy day, and see if my first impression stands up. Rhubarb I found simple and delicious, a possible full bottle buy, and Play was extremely interesting. I will have to try that one again as well, but on a sunny bright day. It's positively carbonated!

In a decidedly non-spring move, I've also been knitting quite a bit. There are babies on the way (none mine, mind you!), and little hats and socks to be completed. I also have two three lace projects on the needles, all of which I am enjoying immensely. There's Obstacles (rav) for Mr T, in a lovely color In Vino Veritas. Also a little woodland shawl based item for myself (it might be a cowl, I'm not sure yet) in an insanely gorgeous gold-green squishy delicious yarn. And finally the intimidating but very do-able Queen Silvia shawl (rav) which is going to take most of this year, if not all of it plus some of the next. It's so lovely that I don't mind - someday it will be a truly cherished piece of "omg, I did that?" knitting.

And in one more breakneck turn of topics, Formula One: I'm very disappointed by the decision to bring MacLaren in front of the FIA for possible fines. Backstory is that last year's world champion did something during this year's first race that was... questionable, but not obviously wrong. When asked by the media, he gave one account, and then when asked by the race stewards, he gave a different one, probably under instruction from his management. His team have already been docked all points for that race, and a senior member of his organization has been fired. Now the rulesmakers want to punish them further. I am no MacLaren fan, but I don't understand this. It sheds suspicious light on the FIA World Motor Sport Council, encouraging the existing perceptions that a) they truly support MacLaren's rival team Ferrari and aren't particularly neutral at all, or b) there is some institutional racism at play (the driver who provided false accounts is Lewis Hamilton, the first black driver in F1). Neither is flattering to the sport and I hope that they allow the current punishment, the removal of points, to stand as sufficient.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Someday, when the time is right, I will treat myself to a pair of these. Oh yes. The day will come.

(Ooooh, perfect for my things before I die list.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Greatest breakfast around here was once a ton of tiny pancakes, or dare I say pikelets, or maybe silver dollars, made with butter and served with Grade B (the darkest and the tastiest) maple syrup that we bought in Vermont. But, times being as they are and my pants fitting as they do, I've moved over to the healthier option of Greek yogurt. Fage 2% with a Tb of honey is pretty much golden delicious. T has been on a heck of a tea craze for the last month or so, so we have been having nice hot Irish tea with a splash of milk. I can drink a lot more of it than I can of coffee, without getting those little heart blips that signal too much caffeine going on.

This morning, though, Thomas broke out a serious recipe and made us some blueberry muffins from scratch. I might have to go steal a third... I'll call it my lunch.

Nom, nom.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

bienvenue a le coing

Today has started off well. Mr T is out on his bike, while I'm hanging with the laundry and hoping it doesn't rain on him. I made myself a little treat, too. It was a very small treat; I made a pot of my favorite coffee, with fresh beans roasted right in Emeryville, then warmed and whisked a cup of milk.  Together they made a nice morning start. I just put on White Chalk, and it's a very good accompaniment despite being dark dark dark.

The rest of the day, I'd really like to make something. I have two hanks of beautiful fabric, and I want to make something from them that I can touch and see every day... but they're a little too cute to make clothes from (they have owls on them. Owls with hearts on thars!). Maybe a little handbag, maybe a set of napkins?

I'm also hemming and hawing before I launch into my next big knitting project, the Queen Sylvia shawl from Nancy Bush's amazing Knitted Lace of Estonia. I started a little swatch on US2 needles, and it was quite nice but opaque; I think the open texture is actually pretty important with this shawl so I'm going to try US3s next. Luckily, cross fingers, the nupps don't appear to be too hard for me, hoorah. I'd love to tackle this incredible project with the goal of finishing within the year... might be a little ambitious.

About Me

I live near the ocean and the park.

My favorite thing in the park is the buffalo. I didn't believe the first person who told me there were buffalo in the middle of San Francisco, but there they are, and now I live a mere four blocks from them.

I love Japanese maple trees, especially the golden leafed ones. My mother, her mother, and HER mother were (are) all amazing gardeners. I'm not there yet, but I do like trying.

I love dogs, too. The dog in the picture on the front page there is not my dog, unfortunately. She belongs to my grandfather and is occasionally a very good girl.

My undergraduate degree is in geology. I thought very hard about graduate school in Albuquerque, but ultimately went another direction.

I spent 6 years living in Minnesota, one summer living in Colorado, and 5 months living on the east coast of Italy. The rest has pretty much been California.

I'm a 5th generation Californian, if my math is right.