Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Let's Play Charades!

One word. Two syllables. Sounds like parades.

Pattern: Charades, from I May Be Knitting a Ranch House.

Cast on: June 17

Finished: July 27

Yarn: Whimzy Pinzy Creations 2 Socks At Once, in Tea Roses. A beautiful combination of pink and lavender, in a wonderfully soft superwash merino.

Needles: Us 2 Addi turbos

Notes: I felt like these took forever, but I think taking a 3 week vacation in the middle of knitting a pair of socks makes it feel like longer.

The Charades pattern is simple, easy, and make a beautiful finished product. I love these socks, and will probably make another Charade at some point, after I get through all the other sock patterns I have on my list!

I finished the first sock while in Europe, and knit the second mostly on the plane on the way home. I forced myself to sit down and work on the other sock last night, and discovered I only really had the toe left! I finished in an hour or so, and did the photo shoot tonight before dinner, in some excellent light.

I love that our mantle makes just about the perfect light box (the first photo was taken there). I'll have to buy some new yarn to take its portrait there!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Europa, Europa, Cont.

When we last left our weary travelers, they were in Florence, admiring the beauty that is Michaeangelo's David.

Next stop... Nice, France! We took the train along the Italian coast to Genoa, paid our respects to Christopher Columbus, and continued along the French coast through Monaco to Nice. Nice is very nice. The water is bright blue and warm, the waves are fun, the antique market is great, and the fountains are pretty. There are better beaches around (Nice's are rocky - smooth rocks, but fist sized rocks nonetheless), and there are less touristy places around, and there is probably better food around (see the "touristy" part), but all in all, a lovely place to spend a couple of days.

We took a day trip to Aix-en-Provence, to see the Provincial countryside and a smaller town in Provence. We missed the flea markets, but did see some lovely fountains.

And then onto Paris!! The train to Paris was wonderful- the French sure know how to run a train system. (President Obama, please take note.) The first thing we did was run straight to the Eiffel Tower. Then, of course, we ate some bread and wine. This cafe looked out at the Seine and the Ile de la Cite.

In Paris, we stayed with a wonderful French family who had been Mike's host family when he studied abroad in high school. Although he hadn't seen them in almost a decade, the family was most welcoming and friendly. We stayed in a guest cottage on their property, and they even took Mike & me up to their vacation home on the North coast on the English Channel. It was very windy and cold the first day (reminded me of the East Coast, Cape Cod area), so we took advantage and flew a kite. A double-stringed stunt kite, even!

On Bastille Day, we took advantage of the Louvre having free entrance, then took a boat ride down the Seine at sunset. We got to see gorgeous light on all the old buildings and bridges. Then, right when the boat got back to its dock, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, the tower light up with sparkles and the fireworks show started! I don't have any photos because my battery was dying and I don't have a tripod, so fireworks photos don't come out very well. But, you'll just have to believe me that it was the most amazing fireworks show I've ever seen!

All in all, it was a magical, wonderful vacation. We took over 1,200 pictures, and I narrowed the show down to 250 over on Shutterfly. Feel free to wander over there if these few photos have whet your appetite for more.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome Home!

What a trip! I had an amazing time, and have many wonderful stories to tell and photos to share. Not so much knitting, though. I finished one Charade and got through the heel of the second.

First things first. We left our camera in Boston in our frantic rush to make our plane, which we realized was taking off much earlier than we thought. Like, five hours earlier. We realized this 45 minutes before it took off. Luckily, the people at Aer Lingus rock and got us on the next flight, 1/2 an hour later. And luckily our friends in Boston also rock and express mailed our camera to us in Tuscany. Which is where these photos were taken.

We stayed at Spannocchia, a family run agritourism farm / bed & breakfast, that is preserving the 700 year old Tuscan farming way of life, and working to be totally sustainable and self-sufficient. And they make the best olive oil I've ever tasted in my life. So amazing.

The photo on the right is a castle we hiked to called The Castle That Only God Knows, and it's where (wait for it)... Mike and I got engaged! I asked him on top of one of the towers. It was beautiful and romantic and wonderful, and we managed to keep it a secret for the whole rest of the trip until we met up with my mom and brother and told our moms and siblings at the same time. Magic.

Then we went to Rome. We saw the Coliseum and the Pantheon. Other things we saw included the Palazzo Venetzia, much art at the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevia fountain, and delicious wine. I wish I had gone to Rome right after high school, when I knew more about art.

While Rome was beautiful and all the old buildings were amazing, it was also very hot and very crowded. I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed all the other places we went to.

Florence was our next stop. We saw the Duomo, which has many more amazing things about it than just its dome, and the David, which is incredibly impressive. We ate some amazing paninis in Florence, and also saw some recreations of Leonardo's inventions (a bicycle and a drawbridge) and a page out of one of his sketchbooks. I loved Florence and would definitely go again.

Stay tuned for more...