Bad At Sports

Musings on crafts, cooking, travel and books…but not a bat or ball in sight

Baby Boom – Pint-Sized Knits January 6, 2013

There’s been quite a baby boom in my office; six or so months ago a pregnancy was announced on an almost weekly basis and now most of them are ready to pop (or just have).

This has inspired me to buy a bunch of baby wool and knit cute little pastelly bits and bobs. My needles were clacking through most of December and this is what I produced.

I bought a couple of balls of Sirdar Snuggly baby bamboo DK (“skittle” – dark blue) and  Sublime baby cotton kapok DK in yellow, green and grey (“mashed banana”, “scoop” and”tin soldier” –  quite a few of these are half price at Black Sheep Wools at the moment). Both yarns are the same tension (28 rows by 22 sts) so perfect to work together.

I actually bought some circular needles to knit hats and booties with, but without thinking I bought 3o cm long ones which were way too long for tiny heads and feet. Luckily as well as being able to search for patterns by tension, yarn type, age and other useful things,Ravelry lets you select different knit “attributes”, so I just selected “seamed” patterns only.

Two of my colleagues were keeping the sex of their babies a surprise so pinks and blues were off the cards. I found this “purl stripes”  hat pattern that I made in a neutral yellow.

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Was feeling a bit more ambitious (note the “intermediate” skill level on this one!)  so decided to try colour work for the first time with this Intarsia hat. It may have been running before I could walk because something went very wrong with the colourwork circles. I did consider pretending it was an abstract pattern, but then slapped myself on the wrist for being so lazy and just came up with my more suited to beginner square pattern. Apart from that, colourwork was pretty easy.

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Booties were next – I completely fell in love with this pattern and made them again in green and yellow for another present. Lastly were these baby mittens for a friend’s little boy. I was pretty surprised when another friend told me that her baby would yank on their own hair while incessantly crying – not linking the hair pulling with the pain. They had to put socks on her hands so she couldn’t do herself any damage. With that in mind I thought these mittens would be a practical gift. Though they say to knit in the round, I just followed the instructions and seamed at the end.

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So that’s it for me for the baby knitting for the moment, although I did buy a bunch of baby yarn in the sales in preparation for the next baby boom…

 

How I ended up in Japan November 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — badatsports @ 11:01 pm

I read my husband Tim’s recent post with interest where he outlines most people’s bafflement to his devotion to LA, a city that leaves me and the majority of visitors cold.  However no one seems to question his or my deep affection for Japan. He studied Asian Studies at university, I was born in the UK but my mum is Japanese  – it was natural that we would take time out after university and teach English in Japan for a few years after graduating. Plus, people generally accept that Japan is cool.

But Japan was actually my second choice for a gap year. Pfft I had been there like four times already; I’d been to the temples in Kyoto, eaten Kobe beef and been scared silly by Michael Jackson in 3D at Tokyo Disneyland. I don’t know if I was still bitter about Sleeping Beauty’s castle being a gift shop or it was just a twenty year old’s conviction that I’d “been there done that”, but I thought that Italy would be a more exotic and fun country for a gap year. Japan was a mercenary choice for me – there was no need to take or pay for a TEFL course to teach there. I could also breeze through the interview by earnestly repeating how much I wanted to learn about my culture.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit how precocious I was back then thinking I knew it all – I didn’t even put  city preferences as I had no idea what any of them were actually like.

But I found Japan completely intoxicating – my first full time job living in a new exotic country. Visiting your grandparents in a suburb is a completely different experience to exploring a city with a bunch of kids your age. I had never learnt Japanese – I could speak it up till I went to school but the teachers couldn’t deal with me mixing my English and Japanese. They told my mum to stop, but she valiantly continued. Then the cheeky buggers told me to tell my mum to stop talking to me in Japanese and all chances of me being bi-lingual were scuppered. So I spent quite a while being clueless. Tonight I went back through emails I sent to friends just after I arrived and relived the pain of this:

“I spent 5 minutes talking to someone in Japanese to hear them say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.”
And my first day at the school I was working at:

“Yesterday was my first day and didn’t get off to a promising start.  I turned up and there was only one teacher that only spoke Japanese and kept saying “but…why are you here? What are we supposed to do with you?” I think he thought I’d just turned up for fun, and to throw them in a tizzy.

Apparently the Board of Education hadn’t even told them I was coming.  They had to phone the JTE (Japanese teacher of English) at home and get him to come into work.  They all spent a long time looking alternately exasperated pissed off and confused while I apologised profusely that they didn’t know I was coming.  In the end Hayami sensei took me on a city tour. We went to a temple and saw some amazing Japanese art, then to Shimonoseki, which is on Honshu island.  We went by car under a tunnel so that was pretty cool.  We had a look round the famous fish market, and had lunch there.

Half way through this very tasty fried fish he informed me it was fugu.  Any fans of The Simpson’s will know why I was rather concerned.  Apparently as a final test fugu chefs must prepare and eat the liver…the most poisonous part of the blowfish. Also, the best chefs are supposed to leave just enough poison to make your lips tingle.  I thought mine did a bit but it was probably all psychological.”
I did get my bearings eventually and fell in love with the place. And I did learn about my culture – but not really through the sumo (watching not participating), temple visits or tea ceremonies. By living and working there I feel like I now understand my grandparents better (literally  – I can say more than 5 words to them now) and  I understand more why my mum left.

Tim and I went back for a visit for the first time since we lived there last month, and it’s stirred up some serious self indulgent nostalgia. Please forgive me! Next posts will be about the trip.

 

Long time no speak January 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — badatsports @ 8:48 pm

I’ve decided to start this blog up again, but it seemed a bit strange to just launch back into it without addressing the months of silence…just like how I feel the need to apologise to a friend  for a longer than normal gap between emails or explain to the receptionist why I haven’t set foot in the gym for a year (or so I imagine I would have to if I actually had a gym membership).

Of course, like with the friends and the fictional gym there are valid reasons for this. I started a new, demanding and more “grown up” job in May and there were a host of exciting things (my husband’s many well earned successes, some of my American family moving to Edinburgh to name a couple) to keep me busy.

But a big reason – and this is why I feel guilty – is procrastination.

I spend far too much time playing games on the internet, idly browsing Facebook and watching TV shows aimed at teenagers. This must stop! The warning signs of a short attention span started in childhood  – by the age of 13 I had  a dusty violin (played it for a couple of years but gave up when I didn’t like the teacher), jewellery making kit (never looked as good as the picture on the box), knitting needles and wool, a flower press (can’t remember why I found that interesting in the first place) and other attempts at hobbies piled up in a cupboard never again to see the light of day.

So, I’m going to try to update this reasonably often, finish the half knitted cardigan that’s been hanging around and really get to grip with the practical use of shutter speed and aperture.

Wish me luck!