Jamie Sinz: June 2009

wanderer extraordinaire

My skyline

June 27, 2009 by Jamie

After the storm on Friday

After the storm on Friday

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.

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Knitting and Crochet Projects

June 26, 2009 by Jamie

Ripple Blanket

Ripple Blanket

Granny Square Blanket

Granny Square Blanket

Leaf Scarf

Leaf Scarf

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.

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A couple additions

June 24, 2009 by Jamie

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!!

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Happy Birthday Dad!

June 20, 2009 by Jamie

Exactly 1 year ago today

My Dad sitting on his John Deer lawn mower last year with two of his grand daughters.

Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday I miss you

Happy Birthday Dear Daddy

Happy Birthday to you!

I hope your wishes come true

I hope your wishes come true

Today, as you might have guessed, is my father’s birthday. These two photos are from last year when I was actually home and got to make him a cake!! I wish I could do the same this year, but he will be surrounded by family and loved ones at our family reunion for my Mom’s Mother’s side up in Manchester, TN. Again…I wish I was there. Hopefully we will be next year.

Family Reunion

Family Reunion at my Aunt Sally's

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Shanghai Markets: Dongtai Lu Antique Streets

June 19, 2009 by Jamie

Caligraphy Brushes

Calligraphy Brushes

One of my favorite things about living in Asia is the markets. I take that back. One of my favorite things about living anywhere, is the markets. In Nashville, I would go to the monthly Tennessee State Fairgrounds Flea Market with my mom. In Portland, I would go to the farmer’s market every Saturday and the Stars Antique Mall (basically an indoor market) on a regular basis. In Bangkok there is the Chatuchak Market. In Chiang Mai there is Talat Warawat and the Sunday Walking Street. In India, every street was a market. In Shanghai, my favorites so far are the Paper Market, Shanghaitan Mall, the street markets around Yu Yuan Gardens and the Dongtai Lu Antique Street Market.

I want to specifically talk about the Dongtai Lu Antique Street Market because it is FANTASTIC. Granted, most of the wares are not antiques. I know this because very few places in China that promote themselves to tourists actually have 100% genuine antique or name brand goods. It’s just the way it is. I also want to point out that I did not find this market because I looked at a tourist map. Wednesday afternoon I was riding my bike back from the Yu Yuan Gardens markets and turned down a street to avoid some construction, and there it was. Stall after stall selling small old-looking items….dishes, watches, clocks, caligraphy brushes, Mao propaganda posters, jewelry, miniature terra cotta warriors, books, small furniture….and the list goes on.

Obviously, I got off my bike and walked the streets slowly. If Nik had been with me, it would have driven him crazy. But he wasn’t, so I moseyed at my own pace. Besides the fact that I love looking at little collections of weird and beautiful things, the vendors at this market were incredibly nice. Many of them let me look at my leisure without bothering me. They even let me take photos without any argument. When I did show interest in something by touching it, they approached and simply watched and waited for me to talk to them. It was a pleasant change of pace where I felt like I was actually in charge of the exchange. I’m sure it is a manipulation technique that they have mastered over the years, but I appreciated the politeness. They also all smiled at me as I passed rather than ignore me or look at me with dollar signs glazing over their eyes. They weren’t vultures, they were simply people selling a collection of things that they liked and they hoped I liked too.

A very nice man selling chops among other things

A very nice man selling chops among other things

Dongtai Lu

Dongtai Lu

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A booth of wares

Propoganda posters and Idols

Propoganda posters and Idols

Red Boxes

Red Boxes

Mao Watch and other time pieces

Mao Watch and other time pieces

Bracelets

Bracelets

The triumphant warrior?

The triumphant warrior?

More jewelry and vases

More jewelry and vases

Beaded Necklaces

Beaded Necklaces

Another collection of items

Another collection of items

Cameras, cigarette boxes, etc.

Cameras, an abacus, chirping bird time pieces, badges...

I did end up buying one thing, a metal door knocker thing with a dragon’s head biting into a sword. I thought it was neat, and the lady said it was 120rmb ($17). I honestly had no intention of buying it and I was walking away telling her that I would come back, and then she said 40rmb ($5.80). I pondered, and she knew she had me. I didn’t even have to bargain and the price dropped by 60%, so I bought it. It is my little momento of the first day I went to Dongtai Lu. I’ve paid more than that for a bag of popcorn at the movie theater, and this sword eating dragon will stay with me forever!! Yep, I’m a sucker sometimes.

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