Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hot off the blocking board!

 Here is my finished NaKniSweMo project--another sweater dress and later tunic top for my niece Leah.  It may not count because I don't think it is 50,000 stitches or more but I don't care.  I used some of the Kauni I bought in Estonia and some Madelinetosh I got in Reno this year.  I was so excited to be using the Kauni!  I know I will be knitting another one of these and next time I would use a slightly smaller needle.  I think Leah will need a slip of some sort or she will freeze to death.  The Madelinetosh is lovely and soft but the Kauni would be kind of itchy next to the skin so tights and a turtleneck would help in that department too.
 Here is a pair of socks I finished in October so they count for Socktober!  They are knit from Jitterbug yarn purchased in Helsinki and have lived in my weekend night shift sock knitting bag so the lion's share of them were knit on duty.  I felt a little guilty using such beautiful Colinette yarn for something that was going to go on my FEET but they knit up into some very pretty, soft and STURDY socks.  I have a lot left over from this skein and another whole skein in my stash, as well as 2 more skeins in another blue colorway!

It's Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas...

 Saturday morning baking for my night shift.  I don't think I've baked ginger cookies since last winter and I can't look at the dough at this stage and not think about Chef's chocolate salty balls.  Ha!
 I broke the laws of nature earlier this week and put up the tree before Thanksgiving.  I was hoping to get a really good deal on a grown up big girl tree at Joann's between my coupons and the sales but was let down.  All the ones I looked at between Michael's and Joann's were like $350ish and up and were all pre-lit trees.  So I just put up our little tree and covered it with 6 or 7 strands of lights and as many ornaments as I could cram onto it.
 I've always been a firm believer that busy is better and it certainly is a busy tree!  They say that for every Christmas light lit before Thanksgiving, a reindeer somewhere dies so I feel a bit guilty but I do love having the tree up!
 Even my kitchen towels are festive!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Blocking with Mom

I finished my NaKniSweMo project and soaked and blocked it this morning.  As long as I had the bucket and board out, I also blocked a pair of socks I finished last month and a cabled scarf I worked on throughout the summer.  I don't know what it is about pincushions, but Lopi is fascinated by them.  She goes after my sewing pincushion, my blocking pincushion, my embroidery pincushion, my hand sewing pincushion.  I turn my back for a second and she is throwing it around and there are pins everywhere.  She has even pulled quilting pins out of my quilts when I'm assembling them on the floor and chews on them.  I'm amazed she's never poked herself or even punctured herself through her cheeks.  I was kneeling on the floor pinning and keeping a close eye on her but she was eyeing that pincushion.  What a nerd.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Yarn in Krakow

 Of course when my mother and I were in Krakow, we had to go on a yarn hunt.  We'd found this list on Yelp only to discover it was total rubbish.  Pasmentaria Klebuszek at #46 Karmelicka street was the only viable yarn shop we found.  Lucky for us, we saw it every day at our Batorego tram stop.  We investigated almost all the shops on this Yelp list and most were non existent or if they did exist, they were a combination of hosiery (WHY that pairing?!?) and an extremely limited selection of yarns--as in maybe 20 skeins, all acrylic and 3 colors--I'm not exaggerating.
 So many of the shops in Krakow reminded me of St. Petersburg and Budapest.  You'd see these window box type advertisements when you looked for the street number.  Then you had to look for the main doorway/gate into the courtyard of the building.  So many apartments were also arranged like this. 
 Once you find the main door, you make your way down the hall into the courtyard and look for your business.
 This yarn shop was the most extensive we found.  The shop owner didn't speak much English but was very helpful in spite of the language barrier.  The store had signs and placards all over advertising Katia yarns.  I asked him if they sold only Katia yarns and he pointed out different brands throughout the store.  Some were Polish, some Czech, some English, "but no Turkish yarns," which struck me as funny.  In big chain craft stores in the US, all the acrylic blend yarns are made in Turkey.  That was just fine with me because I am very anti-acrylic when it comes to yarn!
 This shop also stocked embroidery and needlepoint kits and supplies.  We noticed right away kits for the current and former Pope.
 They also stocked ribbons, buttons, zippers, appliques, sewing thread, sequins, trims, crochet thread and cord, knitting needles, crochet hooks, beadwork findings, etc.  This shop was the most extensive of all handiwork shops we'd seen.
 Here is the proprietor with his assistant.  We gave him some candy after our transaction and I told him I'd write about him in my blog.  He paid me the best compliment when he said, "I appreciate you!"  We saw him a few days later on our way home from Wadowice on the tram but I was too shy to run up and greet  him.
 I bought 6 balls of superwash gradual color changing wool yarn for about $6.50ish/ball in 2 different colorways and 3 meters of beautiful folk edelweiss trim for $1.50ish/meter.  I took this picture against a Russian style shawl that I might use for a Christmas doily.  I can't be earnest enough, we checked all the shops on the Yelp list that lay in our paths during our travels and the only one worth the trip was # 46 Karmelicka.  I don't know what I'm going to knit from that yarn but it was my favorite from the shop!  And you can't beat such helpful staff!

Polish Pottery in Krakow

I went to the post office this afternoon to collect these two boxes.
What ever could they be?
Inside was the Polish pottery I purchased and had shipped whilst on our trip last month!  I already owned several pieces of this pattern (mosquito) that I'd collected over the years.  My mother gave me 4 dinner plates and a large serving bowl, I'd bought quite a few pieces on eBay and through other online vendors and I'd pick up the occasional piece on different trips here and there.  Polish pottery is beautiful dinner and bake ware.  It resists chipping and you can take it from freezer to oven.  You can get it in the US as I've stated above (I'm told TJ Max and Marshall's even carries it in some places) but it is expensive to buy it here.  Just like I'd travel to Iceland and Estonia to buy local yarn, I'd readily travel to Poland again to buy Polish pottery.
This is the fabulous shop Mila at #14 Slawkowska street.  I'd done some research before we left and contacted this shop and they insure and ship to the USA with UPS.  The prices were cheaper than the pieces we'd seen in the shops nearer to the square and they had a vast selection of pieces limited to a few different pottery designs--including my mosquito.  This store is a factory outlet (the pottery is made in Boleslaweic almost 375 km away) and whatever you saw in the shop, they could also order for you in whatever pattern you wanted.  They also sold different porcelain lines of dishes.  The gal at the shop was the same who'd answered my email and was so wonderfully helpful.  As I've said after many trips, we should have taken a picture with her.  We were even going to be clever and pack boxes, bubble wrap and packing supplies to ship dishes ourselves but when I learned this shop shipped, we abandoned the idea.
I chose 8 dinner plates to round out the 4 I already owned for a set of 12 place settings.  I also picked out 12 bread/dessert plates, 12 bowls, and 4 cups and saucers.  I already owned 4 cups and saucers and Mom made a good point that I'll probably never ever use a full 12 at one time.  The shop girl tallied everything up and gave me a slight discount because I'd ordered so many pieces and I was thrilled with the price.  You'd pay 4-5 times as much for it here in the States.  Then she totted up the shipping price...and it was almost as much as the dishes. 
I nearly soiled myself.  I hadn't expected it to cost that much.  I don't know what I was expecting but not that.  And then I started kicking myself that why hadn't we brought the boxes to ship it ourselves?  I was this close to apologizing for wasting the shop girl's time and canceling the order but then my ever sensible mother stepped in.  She pointed out that I had practically 12 place settings worth of heavy stoneware dishes and the UPS shipping was insured and guaranteed.  If we idiots had brought our own boxes, we'd be lugging the pottery home on the packed trams only to pack it like amateurs and then haul it back to the post office for willy nilly shipping.  By paying for the shipping, I was guaranteed professional packing and if anything arrived broken, it would be replaced or I'd be credited that amount back.  And if I'd tried to amass 12 place settings in the US, I'd pay 4-5 times as much for the dishes and STILL have to pay for shipping.  I'd only be able to afford to get a few pieces at a time and it would take 10 years to get my set of dishes.  It was worth it to buy it all at once here and now in Poland!  Looking back, I am SO glad I did it this way!

I felt slightly like I'd kicked Mother Nature in the teeth today because of all the packing materials that were used to ship my dishes but absolutely everything arrived without the slightest scratch!  I recommend this shop to everyone!  And you can contact them and order directly from them if there is a particular item you want.  They were so accommodating!  I took a bag full of fun-sized Pearson's Salted Nut Roll candies with us on the trip because they are made in St. Paul and carried them with us and handed them out as a local thank you to people who helped us out along our way on this trip.  We gave some to the shop gal and she seemed genuinely tickled when we gave them to her.  I need to take a picture of the dishes with a Salted Nut Roll and a sign in Polish saying Thank You!  This shop was fabulous!
It is worth mentioning that there was another Polish pottery place directly across the street from Mila and we did go in and patronize them.  Here is a photo of their showroom--unfortunately I didn't write down the name of the shop but they are literally across the street.  They had almost the exact same prices and they also ship guaranteed to the US but I chose to use Mila because they had an extensive line of my mosquito.  This shop had many more patterns of pottery available but not as many different pieces in each pattern.  I bought my two platters here.  They did have baskets of large Polish pottery beads and I bought 4 to put on the ends of the chain extensions of my ceiling fans!  That was another idea of my domestic goddess mother.  Now that my pottery has arrived, I will be working on putting it in it's permanent home in the china cabinet.  I did some cleaning today and put away the fall decorations and put out a few Christmas items.  When I have the china cabinet and sideboard decked out in holiday trimmings, I will post pictures of them!