4.29.2009

Morocco

We stayed in Marrakech for 6 days, but took two day trips. One across the Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate and one to Essaouira on the western coast.

Highlight pics from Morocco:

Gueliz, Marrakech's commerical district



Food stall in Jemma el Fna



Souks



Marrakech Museum of History and Art. The building is the actual attraction.



Marrakech Museum of History and Art. Very detailed decoration.



Knitting at our riad



Atlas Mountains (En route to Ouarzazate)



Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site



Holding a goat, they like to climb the Argan trees and eat the nuts. The Berber women use the Argan nuts to make cooking oils and cosmetics.



Essasouria



Essasouria is know as the 'Blue City', conversely Marrakech is known as the 'Red City'
(The reason apparent in the coloring of the buildings).



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View of Bab Doukala from our rooftop. Several times every day they sound the call to prayer.
It starts at 4:30 AM


Where we stayed:

Dar Vedra, a riad own by two Frenchmen. The staff was very nice and the riad was beautiful. Breakfast is included and if you'd like you can request lunch or dinner. We ate dinner there one night, the chicken and olives was fantastic.

Restruarants:

La Maison Arabe. We were intending to go to a different restaurant, but they were full and so we ended up here. We arrived about 8 and it was empty except for one other couple, but they were really anxious about whether we had a reservation or not. It did start getting busier about 8:30. They have live musicians (at least for dinner) and the beef and pear tagine was sooo good!

Dar Moha was the place we had intended to go, we ended up going on Saturday night instead. I recommend requesting a table in the garden when making your reservation. It is a prie fix menu. They only offer one starter, which we were told was a traditional Moroccan salad. It consisted of nearly a dozen small dishes of vegetables prepared in a variety of different methods, my favorite was the pumpkin. I'm not sure what was in it, but it was good.


Chez Chegrouni is right off the square (Jemaa el Fna) and it has good, cheap food. We went there the first night we arrived and went back for lunch later in the week.

A couple recommendations:

Take along a french dictionary or phrasebook. Next to Arabic and Berber French is the most common language. Most shop owners and waiters speak at least a little English, but it is common for restauarants to have menus only in French or Arabic.

If there is something you're planning to buy I'd research it first or ask the manager of your riad for advice beforehand. Bargaining is expected in the souks, so having an idea of what price to aim for helps. And knowing what the item should look like and its key features will help you to avoid buying a bogus item. Most of the people are nice and trustworthy, but like anywhere else in the world there are those that will take advantage of naive tourists.

Things I wish we'd done:


The only thing I wish we'd been able to do is go camping in the desert.

That and taken a picture of the cat we saw eating a chicken head.

If you're interested more photos of our trip can be seen here.

If you have any questions about Morocco leave a comment or send an e-mail to yarnymarn@gmail.com

4.23.2009

Sightless

Poor Monster Bear. He has no eyes.

Monster Bear


He's like Elijah Wood in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. You know that scene when Jim Carey keeps turning EW around to figure out who he is, but EW is faceless? Monster Bear is just like that.

Sort of.

Monster Bear


Don't worry though, Kogepan is comforting him.

Monster Bear is one of nine projects that I haven't completed.

WIP


I have 6 WIPs. Some I haven't even gotten around to taking pictures of.

Hibernating


And 3 projects that are in hibernation and may never be resurrected.

But Monster Bear is almost done!

I just have to get off my lazy butt and buy him some eyes, but I don't know where I should get them. Where in Manhattan do you buy eyes?

I'd like to get some like this:

Suncatcher Eyes



These are from Suncatcher Eyes. I would order from them, but I currently only need one pair. So until I set my sights (he hee) on another project that needs eyes I think Monster Bear will have to go without.

Monster Bear



Pattern: 'Little Monster Bear' by Wendy Gross Find Pattern on Raverly
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino in Dark Grey and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Mulled Wine, less than half a ball of each.
Needles: US 10

Started: January 20
Finished: January 21

Monster Bear was a really quick knit. The pattern called for a sz 10 needle, but if I were to make this again I'd use a smaller size. Even with the felting the stitches pull apart too much and reveal the stuffing.

On one arm I made a grey stripe for fun. I think that he turned out pretty cute.

If only he could see.

4.20.2009

Paris

Wow.

It's beautiful. The entire city looks like a museum. Parisians must be sorely disappointed when they come here.

We spent 4 days in Paris, 6 days in Marrakech, and returned to Paris for 1 day.

Here are a few highlight pics from our time in Paris.

Eiffel Tower


Pantheon


Notre Dame


Louvre


Louvre


Knitting outside Palace of Versailles


Gardens at Versailles


Apollo fountain in gardens of Versailles

Street in Paris

Where we stayed:

Hôtel Jardin Le Bréa located in the St. Germain neighborhood, very close to the Luxembourg Gardens. Very cute place, only 23 rooms and the staff was very nice and helpful. A recommendations from Brandon and Shotz(Thanks!)

Hotel du Louvre located next to the Louvre Museum. A Concorde hotel, very big and nice. Staff nice and professional. We had a great veiw too. The Louvre and tip of the Eiffel Tower on the left and the Opera on the right.

Restruarants:

View Larger Map


We ate our first meal at L'Arcade Cafe. It was a little place tucked in an alcove on a side street. The food was great, and the staff was very nice to us. It made our first night in Paris really special.

La Coupole, a 'classic, old school bistro' recommended by Michelle (Thanks!). The steak was yummy, but the wait was kind of long. We were warned that we should make a reservation, but had neglected to do so.

Creperie. It's a cute little place across from Hotel Le Brea. I wouldn't make a special trip to go there, but if you are in the neighborhood they have good food.

A couple recommendations:

First timers should definately see the Eiffel Tower. Its huge and pictures just don't do it justice. I can't say whether the view from the top is worth it, we didn't go up - I'm afraid of heights :)

The gardens of Versaille are amazing, but I wouldn't go inside the Palace/Museum. The line is looong and it wasn't very good. The gardens are very expansive (800 hectares, over 3 square miles) and they have music playing. If you're a student there is a discount.

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Look up to hours for the sites you'd like to see before you get there :) see below.

Things I wish I'd seen:
Trianon, Marie Antoinette's estate at Versaille. We didn't have time. I don't know if it's any good, but I'm interested.

The catacombs: showed up on Monday (the day we were leaving for Morocco) to discover that it isn't open on Mondays. And we wouldn't be able to get back there until the following Monday, so we were out of luck.

Musee d'Orsay: same issue not open on Mondays, we thought we might get there on the following Sunday, but no dice.

Paris was a wonderful city and I definately plan on going back.

If you're interested more photos of our trip can be seen here.

If you have any questions about Paris leave a comment or send an e-mail to yarnymarn@gmail.com

4.17.2009

Need some cute wall art?


Tollipop is having a giveaway. The grand prize is a set of 3 of her characters in the lovely blue frames pictured above. She is also giving away three Tollipop lockets. So cute! All you have to do is leave a comment on her blog. Hurry the giveaway ends tonight.

4.11.2009

KP interchangeables

KP Interchangables


I love my interchangeables! But they don't come without problems.

I got the nickel plated set. Spending the additional $10 for the wood just wasn't necessary for me.

Pros
  • Comes with two cable sizes
  • Cables have almost no memory
  • Smooth joins
  • Sharp needle points
  • Needle case included


Cons
  • Cables tend to pop out of metal bases
  • Nickel gets tarnished
  • Zipper pull on needle case is weak

KP Interchangables



I like the case that came with it, it has slots on the inside to put the needle tips in. The sizes aren't marked on the tips, but the board that they came attached to had the sizes printed on it so I cut it up and slid the pieces into the slots in the case and put the corresponding needle tips in the slot.

About 6 months after ordering the set the zipper pull on the case fell apart. I wasn't being rough with it, the metal just sort of crumbled. At first I wasn't going to do anything about it, but a few days later one of my cables detached from the metal screw base. This is a common problem with the KP interchangeables (I have also heard that the wooden needles also often come unglued from the metal bases). So I decided to call the customer service line 1-800-574-1323. KP was happy to replace both the cable and the needle case. And it only took about a week to get my replacements.

If you have any trouble with your set you should call customer service. In most cases they will replace the item. It is also important that they know about any quality issues so they can try to fix them.

$60 may seem like a lot of money to fork over at once, but it is worth it. Even with the problems.

4.06.2009

Project Bags

If you're on a budget, buying bags to keep your knitting projects in probably isn't one of your highest priorities (personally I'd rather spend my money on yarn).

I use several different types of bags to keep my projects in.

One. Plastic shopping bags from Borders Bookstore.

Borders bag with Hexacomb Cardigan

I like these suckers because they are little. Most of the projects I knit are on the smaller side, so these bags work great. They are also a little thicker than a normal plastic grocery bag from say Key Food or Cub. The downside is that even though they are thicker than the average plastic shopping bag they are still easily punctured by knitting needles. They are also fairly noisy, which may seem like a strange complaint when it comes to bags for your knitting, but believe me the crackling and rustling can get really annoying. This one is housing my hexacomb cardigan.

Two. Club Wedd organizer from Target.

Club Wedd organizer with Endpaper Mitts

When you are planning a wedding you get a lot of junk. Over 6 months after my wedding I'm still get a ton of junk mail and e-mails advertising DJ's, planning services, and caterers. One of the nice things about the junk is that some of it is actually pretty good quality. Thicker papers (nice for collages), ribbons wrapped around the junk (all sorts of uses there), and little bags with samples or in this case registry info.
This bag is really great for small knitting projects. It is made of a thin yet durable material with a snap closure. It also has a strap. So I hang the bag on my arm with the yarn inside and the tail hanging out of the bag. It is great when knitting while waiting for the train.

Three. Hand sewn bags. I have two.

DIY Tote

I made this one from remnants I found at the fabric store (Pattern is the DIY Tote bag from Stitch and Bitch Handbook). I actually use this to keep all my little project bags together. J hates all of my bags so if I can combine them in a bigger one it makes it "look" like I have less :)

Knitting bag made by 3littlebirds

This one I got from my swap partner. It is currently housing the yarn I'm planning to use for the Coraline cardigan by Ysolda Teague.

Dragonfly Box Bag


I really want to try making one of these box bags as seen on DragoKnitFly's blog.

The things I love about handsewn bags are:
You can customize the size and color and it is another way to channel your creative energies.

Keep your eyes open and you can find some great storage options for you knitting. I've even used a package that came from J's underwear.

4.02.2009

I'll be Out of the Office until the 13th...


J and I are leaving for our trip to Paris and Morocco, so I'll be gone until the 13th. I have a couple posts scheduled for while I'm away. And when I get back I'll have vacation pics and hopefully will have finished one of the two knitting projects I'm bringing with me.
A bientôt