It is not the typical postcard Shanghai skyline with all the new towers, but it is the skyline I look out to every single day. Some days I cannot believe I live here. I live in China. I live in a really big city. Kind of an ugly city, but cool in its own way. Crazy.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much on here, but I like to knit. I started slowly back in 2004, then really picked it up when I moved into downtown Portland and had the most amazing knitting shop, Lint, just a few blocks away. At the time, I already had the basics down, so I took one of Lint’s classes on intarsia & felting with the amazing Leigh Radford of Alterknits fame. She is a wonderful teacher, and in that class I learned that I was knitting completely backwards!! No wonder I couldn’t do the stitch combinations in any of the cool books I had just bought. (A note to anyone just learning to knit…if it’s extremely difficult, you’re probably doing it wrong and find an experienced knitter to watch and learn from.)
One of the main reasons I took this class was because intarsia is a form of knitting similar to fair aisle (think big thick scandinavian sweaters with mooses and trees) where you incorporate several different colors into your piece. At the time, I didn’t think intarsia would be as complicated as fair aisle, but it was. All of my colors were tangled together and everything was a mess. Needless to say, this class was the first time I had ever used two colors together. Unfortunately, it was also my last.
Instead I have focused on more complicated stitch patterns and textures like the leaf scarf above. In hindsight, it was a good move for me because I was able to develop the technical skills of knitting rather than get side tracked by the pretty colors. Until now.
A few weeks ago, I taught myself how to crochet (once you can knit, crocheting is a breeze). As I learned the different stitches I kept wanting to switch colors, so I did. For the Granny Square Blanket, now that I step back and look at it, the purple, blues and grey are all pretty value-neutral. Even though I’ve never taken a color theory class, I know that it’s too flat. I think I did a little bit better with the Ripple Blanket, but the colors are predictable and primary. I still like it, but I’m going to learn from my mistakes and continue looking for inspiration. Eventually I’ll have a cohesive color strategy for every project BEFORE I start…wouldn’t’ that be nice?
What about that Leaf Scarf? Well, I started it in 2007 during my first trip to Dallas with Nik. His mom took me to her favorite yarn shop and said I could pick any yarn I wanted!!! Two hours later, we both had a huge bag full of yarn (for some reason, everything in the store was 50% off), and this fantastic green wool was her Christmas gift to me. Ever since then I seem to only be able to work on it during the holidays. I think I even carried it to Thailand, but didn’t touch it. I love the pattern and have learned a lot from it, but it requires my full attention, so it’s going slowly. I think I’ve done two leaves since we arrived in China, but have obviously been distracted by my new found passion for color. Hopefully I’ll finish it before this holiday season so that I can actually wear it.
My favorite Knitting resources:
www.purlbee.com – a knitting and patchwork blog from Purl Soho in New York. Great tutorials, projects and inspiration. It’s kind of my pseudo local knitting shop because there aren’t any in Shanghai.
www.ravelry.com – A knit and crochet community. Full of patterns and projects from professionals AND people like me. My name on ravelry is “Tenn” as in Tennessee.
Just thought I would point out a few new things on my website that can be found just over there on the sidebar –>
The first is a section I’m calling “Thoughts On…”. I just finished writing my thoughts about China, and I’m hoping to finish my thoughts about Thailand, India, Portland, Tennessee, and Europe sometime soon. The reason I’m adding this section is that I’m often asked “Why did you decide to move to _____?” Or, “Why did you go ____?” In Portland, my short answer was, “I moved here because I wanted to walk to work.” In China, it’s “I want to see the country now because it’s going to be completely different in 20 years.” These answers are completely honest, but there’s more to it than that.
The second section is called “City Guides”, and it’s just that. Guides to Cities. Each guide will be a list of places (parks, restaurants, shops, streets, markets, etc.) I frequent in the city that I live as well as links to blog posts I’ve written and websites for the venue if one exists. I’ve started with Shanghai because it’s the freshest in my mind, and I will continue to update it. Eventually, I hope to do Chiang Mai and Portland as well. My goal is to show you the spots that are still exciting to me after living here for a while because that’s what we’re all looking for, right? The places that are tried and true that you might not find in guidebooks and aren’t overrun with tourists.
I hope that someone somewhere finds these useful, and if you do, please let me know! If you think they’re crap, you can tell me that too….just make sure you tell me what’s crap about it so I can make it better. Enjoy!!