Stitchy McYarnpants

Confessions of a husband-neglecting, cat-shooing, yarn-hoarding knitaholic. But in a good way.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Elongated Debriefing

For every action, there is a reaction. And for every vacation, there are ramifications (and, according to the rhyming dictionary, you also need to deal with abdication, adjudication, altercation, complication, confiscation, demarcation, desiccation, dislocation, invocation, gasification, medication, obfuscation, relocation, suffocation, and vindication) It seems like every time I go away, it takes at least as long as the vacation to get myself back in gear. This time was no different.

But you know what? I’m not going to bother rehashing the past couple of weeks of tiredness and workload and yadda yadda. I was going to go on about it, but what’s the point? It’s pretty boring, nothing earth-shattering. Just me feeling kind of blah and out of it. But I did finally manage to get my vacation pictures uploaded and labeled, so check ‘em out! Hopefully this link works, someone be a dear and let me know if it doesn’t.

I feel like I waited too long to blog about Spain. It seems like it was months ago. But what I do remember was that it was a-freaking-mazing! I highly recommend it. This is the actual trip we took and it was just what I hoped it would be. I’d actually go again on the same trip with Jon because I really think he would love it. He’s not big on traveling and I was sort of checking this trip out to see if it would be his kind of thing. It totally would. The Cortijo (the inn) was amazing with a great staff, fantastic food every night, and a plethora of cats and dogs for the cuddling. The tour guide was a really good guy with a pleasant, laid back personality, even if he did cheat at Speed Scrabble (seriously, just because it's on the Sound of Music soundtrack does not mean that "fa" is a word. Neither are "re" and "la"). And the 10 or so other people that were on the tour with us were delightful. Charlene and I were the only Americans and I have to say, it was really refreshing to be the one with the accent. There were people from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. Three people were traveling alone, which always seemed a little scary to me. But once you witness the dynamic of the tour group, it makes perfect sense. Forging new relationships in strange lands seems the way to go!

As for the region itself, it’s hard for me to describe southern Spain. Sweeping vistas, rolling countryside, and a herd of sheep led past the Cortijo twice a day! (I checked and they looked like meat sheep, not wool sheep.) And we just don’t have the same kind of architecture here, so walking into a palace where every room is covered in hand-painted tiles and incredibly detailed carvings of intricate design, it’s a little hard to process. That’s another reason I’d like to go back. Now that I’ve looked at it, I think I’d have an easier time actually seeing it the second time around.

I think the place that had the most effect one me was the Mezquita in Cordoba. It was the site of many a conquering, but during it’s last conquering in 1236, it was switched over to a Christian establishment. Later, in the 16th century, they tarted it all up with the notion that God really digs the bling. It was like an arms race between rich people to prove who loved God more. Jesus would have hated the whole thing. The artistry and craftsmanship were astounding, but it was so over the top that it kind of left a bad taste in your mouth. It was sad and beautiful and disturbing and hilarious and sickening and awe-inspiring, all at the same time.

And of course, the food was to die for! Between all the walking and the fresh, unprocessed food, I definitely came back in better shape than when I left. (But fret not. I've undone all that good and am back to my couch-potatoey goodness.) Tapas is a great way to eat, they just keep bringing plates of this and that to the table. Since the tour guide ordered it for us all the time, we never knew what was coming next or when it would end. There were plates of cheese, thinly sliced ham special to the region, roasted peppers in olive oil, chicken croquettes, meatballs, chorizo, seafood, fresh asparagus, tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, and lots of other delicious nibbly things. And they always served lunch with pitchers of sangria, beer, and orange juice. Imagine that. Entire pitchers of fresh orange juice. Not those little tiny glasses that are metered out here in the US.

We also went to London for five days and had a blast. There is SO much to do there, I definitely need to go back. We did mostly touristy stuff and all your hints, tips, and suggestions really helped. We took a double-decker tour to get the layout of the land, went to the V&A, the London Eye, Tower of London, Harrods, Marks and Spenser’s food stores, and walked around a lot. We also saw Ewan in Guys and Dolls. The seats were spitting distance, you could actually see them spitting! He was adorable, as we all knew he would be. We even waited at the exit for a while to get his autograph, but he never came out. Well, he probably did eventually, but we didn’t hang around for it. We also saw Rob Lowe in a production of A Few Good Men. We got half price tickets in the morning. It was ok, but I’m partial to showy musicals myself. It was fun to see Sodapop in person. We didn’t wait out back, so I don’t know if he graced the public with his presence.

But there was one highlight of my trip that I cannot overlook. I knit the manager of the Cortijo her first scarf. Ever. She saw me knitting the basket weave scarf and asked if I could make her something. “Of course!” I exclaimed. But I needed yarn. The next day, she had two skeins of Katia Sherpa. It’s pretty thick and I did my best with the size 7’s I had with me, but it was no go. I needed bigger needles. The next day, she brought me size 10’s! And every day, she and the other girls who work there would check on my progress. It was so sweet and funny, they totally need to be knitbloggers. I ended up knitting an entire skein and ripping it out because I stupidly thought the stockinette stitch would lay flat for this special occasion. But I managed to finish it just in the nick of time. I even made a little matching scarf for her sister’s dog, Tina, with a few yards of leftover yarn. I don’t have a good picture of the finished object, but Charlene might, I need to ask her. But here is me in the process of knitting it. Just look at that luscious tan! And you can see that I’m knitting directly off the first scarf as I rip it. It turned out well and Nieve looked really pretty in it. The colors were perfect for her. It has a garter stich edging and was mostly stockinette except for a single cable way off to one side. It still curled a bit, but I didn't ahve time to block it. She didn;t seem to mind.

Since I’ve been back, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to knit. I’ve made some headway on Clapotis and I’m really liking it! I was further inspired by Caryn’s Clap-in-progress, so I’m hoping to finish it in the next few weeks. I was in a knitting-induced trance during the increasing and lost track of the number of pattern repeats I had done. I went a little too far, so it’s wider than it should be. I’m hoping I won’t run out of yarn and plan on making it a little shorter to make up for the extra width. I could get more yarn, but since it’s hand-dyed, who knows what the next skein will look like. We shall see.

My darling sister-in-law also gave me 4 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, so I’m looking forward to making a soft winter scarf for myself. I know, how many scarves do I need? A LOT! That’s how many.

OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!! I almost forgot! I can’t believe I almost forgot! Right before I left, I won! I won! I won Wendy’s Peacock Shawl in the Give a Little contest. Can you stand it? Look at this beauty! And trust me, I’m guarding it with my life. I’m also sending a bunch of patterns to Kim from SanityKnits. She won them in the Give a Little contest!

Whew! That was long! Thanks for hanging in there!


Blogger Wendy said...

Peacock looks happy to be with you! :-)

12/05/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Carole said...

Sounds like a great trip although you have made me hungry. And thirsty for Sangria.
I was so happy to see you win that shawl! Someone I know! How cool!

12/05/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger SheCrochets said...

The mosaics and architecture are wonderful! Thanks for sharing the photos.

12/05/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Megann said...

The pictures of your trip are stunning. Thanks for sharing them.

12/05/2005 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Martita said...

What is the deal with the tiny little glasses of orange juice we get here in the States? Is orange juice so expensive it has to be metered out in shot glasses or something?

12/05/2005 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

What a great trip - I wanna go! Love that "hee hee" re the "giant organ" photo.

12/05/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Fiber Fetish said...

I have two thoughts to share after looking at your vacation photos...

1) We don't know how to build things here in the US


2) I can buy 4x6 copies of your vacation pics for .15 each. Wow.

12/05/2005 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger maryse said...

i love europe i really do. and i want to go to spain now. pitchers of sangria! giant organs!

12/05/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous melanie said...

The Jimmy Beckons picture is freakin awesome!!

12/05/2005 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to stop the slideshow - too beautiful and jealous-making. I so envy you!

12/05/2005 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Wendie said...

What is it about Spanish doors? Oh they just make me swoon. I think I was meant to be in Spain...damn empty piggy bank!

12/05/2005 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your photos were spectacular-i had no idea spain was so beautiful. thankyou for taking me to a place i will never be able to actually visit. You have just a wonderful eye and vision.

12/06/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Bookish Wendy said...

So glad you're back safe. I needed a Stitchy fix. I'm definitely looking into this tour group thing. Rob is not a seasoned traveller and this may be just the ticket!

12/06/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Sneaksleep said...

Mmmmmm, tapas... I think it's awesome that you knit a scarf for Nieve. And totally off topic, but today for the first time, I realized that the sub-header of your blog actually says "cat-SHOOing" and not "cat-shooTing" as I had always read it up till now. It's nice to realize you're not really a cat hater. :)

12/06/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger ErLeCa said...

I love that you knit the manager a scarf! That is just too cute! I'm sure she loved it!

12/06/2005 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I like the idea that your tour group was mostly single people traveling alone. Was that on purpose? And they were not all over the age of 70, either, which is also nice. I'd be interested in something like that, I think....

12/06/2005 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Elena said...

I don't want to rain on your parade or nothin', but according to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (3rd Ed), fa is a word. So are all the other Sound of Music classics. D'oh! (or is that do?)

12/07/2005 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Gorgeous pictures! Though my favorite is you knitting :-)

And way to go on scoring the shawl! Makes giving even a little bit sweeter, doesn't it?

12/08/2005 03:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Maisie (the shamazing lady) said...

Trip sounds cool! I went to Spain a few years back, but not for long, and I was like 8 or 9 so I probably didn't appreciate it fully. So glad you're back!

12/08/2005 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Lynae said...

I lived in Spain my senior year of college and sadly haven't been made me remember everything I LOVE about that country!

12/10/2005 10:34:00 PM  

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