Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A trip to Seoul

I apologize that I took only 4 pictures on my trip to Seoul on Sunday, but my camera ran out of batteries, and so I couldn't get as many photos as I wanted. I'll be going again this weekend, and I'll be sure to take more pictures then.

First, we got on the Seoul subway, which was very clean and nice, and the signs all had English on the bottom, for which we were grateful. I was with 12 other teachers, and we all scattered in groups of two or three.

The subway was empty at times, and fairly crowded at others.

We walked all around Namdaemun Market, which is acres of twisting alleyways filled with hawkers selling everything from knives to bathtowels.

And emerged from the market to see this enormous monument in the middle of a roundabout, the Korean version of the Arc de Triomphe. That's Janine, whom I drug around with me all day. We had lots of fun.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A trip to the Village

The town where the school is located is called Yong-in, and is about the same size as my hometown, Spanaway, WA. Several of us teachers took a trip down into the village just below the school.

There are some very large vegetable gardens on the way down. They're growing corn and tomatoes and melons.

Here's the sign to our school at the bottom of the hill.

We walked to a very small open market with about 15 stalls, one of which was selling fresh fish.

And we found a violin shop, where the owner was kind enough to let Christi play a Bach fugue on one of his violins.

Yesterday evening, the camp directors took us out to an authentic Korean barbecue. In front of the restaurant was an authentic shark pond with an authentic Korean pondkeeper.

We had a lot of fun.I got to cut up meat on a grate over glowing coals.

And everyone at our table was stuffed and happy.

I've done a bit of knitting here, which I will show you tomorow or the day after. I'm working on a water bottle cover with a strap so that I don't have to carry my water around in my hand all the time. I'm using Elann's Espirit in Rosetta. Pictures to come.

Friday, July 21, 2006

In Korea!

The flight was long. 12 hours. We crossed the interntional date line, so I woke up one morning on Tuesday and the next morning on Thursday. Or something like that. Anyway, we're here. There are 25 teachers in my group, all from the Seattle area. By the time this picture was taken on the bus, I had been up for far, far too long.

That's the Incheon Airport you can kind of see behind me. We rode on the bus for 2 hours to get to Yongin, a small, very new city surrounded by wooded hills. We stumbled into our room around 9 PM local time and fell into a stupor on the rock-hard Korean beds. Two days later, here is a picture of our room. I'm sharing with Christi, a fellow teacher and friend from high school.

Our room is pretty nice. Small, but sufficient. And we have our own bathroom and shower. The shower goes in 12-second spurts, and then you have to push the button again to get more water. It's hot, though. We're on the 7th floor of a 9-story dorm, one of two. This place is huge. We're on the campus of the Hanguk Academy of Foreign Studies, which is one of the most prestigious high schools in Korea. Here's the view of campus from the window of our room:

And here's the courtyard stretching out from the main entrance, graced by a few members of our group:

I'll be teaching English to the second-to-most-advanced level of kids, and the book I've been assigned is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which reminds me that I need to get back to writing lesson plans. More pictures later!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Of Shawls and Purses

So in the fury of packing for Korea, I've been very lax in posting my FOs. Here are two:


A lovely pattern. I knitted Kiri in Icelandic laceweight from my grandmother's stash (my grandmother attained SABLE* in about 1974). It blocked beautifully, as you can see. Instead of the very strange cast-off directed in the pattern, I did a crocheted cast-off as follows: (sc2tog, ch3) rep to end. The little loops created by this pinned out into a nice, lacy edging. A close-up:

And a close-up of the lace pattern:

All in all, a very satisfying knit. Due to this, I have caught the lace bug, and ordered two skeins of laceweight from handpaintedyarn.com for Icarus and a shawl of my own design based on the old Madeira lace motif. Icarus will be knitted in a variegated red-pink, and Madeira in variegated blue.

I also whipped up a purse out of some pretty green toile fabric I had on hand and a skein of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Fern.

I needed a purse for Korea that would fit in my carry-on bag and have a strap that I could sling diagonally across my body to discourage pickpockets. Not that Korea is full of pickpockets, but I always figure any large city, from San Francisco to Seoul, has its share. I sewed in what is, for me, an unusually successful zipper:

The pattern was quite simple, since I made it up as I went along. For the seed-stitch base, I cast on 30 stitches with a size 8 needle, then knit in seed stitch for an inch. I then picked up stitches around the edge of this rectangle with dpns and knit until I had a little box that was three inches deep. I cast off and worked a row of shrimp stitch (backwards single crochet) around the edge for firmness with a size F crochet hook.

For the strap I chained 150 with my size F, then worked back along the chain with single crochet, then worked all around that loooooong, thin rectangle with shrimp stitch.

I cut out two pieces of toile measuring 18" x 10" and lined them with iron-on interfacing. I sewed the two long sides and a short side together to make a pouch, then sewed off the two bottom corners at a 45 degree angle to give the pouch some depth. With the toile on the inside, I folded down the open edge of the pouch until the raw edge was 3 inches above the bottom, then whipstitched the knitted base to the raw edge. Voila, a self-lined purse. I sewed the handle around the top edge, then inserted a zipper, and I was done. A one-hour project.

I'll be in Korea for the next four weeks teaching English, but I'll try to post at least a couple of times while I'm there. The school where I'm working has wireless internet, and I'll be lugging along my laptop, camera, and knitting. I don't know if I'll be able to hit any Korean yarn shops, but I'll sure try.

*SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy