Amy Artisan

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Category: Italy

In tutto il traguardo

…Across the finish line…

On Thursday evening I finished my Olympic shawl as the men’s beach volleyball gold medal match began – it took 45 minutes to work my way across the final row. On Friday evening, I gave the shawl a good soak and then used my blocking wires to transform a lumpy mound of yarn into a flowing shawl. This morning I snapped a few pictures of the finished product & then wrapped the shawl around my shoulders as I enjoyed my breakfast before starting my day. I look forward to wearing this in the coming weeks.

Estate Italiana

I’ve decided to call this shawl Estate Italiana (Italian Summer) – the colorway (Trevi) and pattern (Capri) conjure up memories the great trip to Italy in the summer of 2005.

Now, back to the many projects on my needles – some “knit for others,” some early Christmas gifts, maybe some fall/winter accessories to prepare for cooler days, always some socks. And also back to a project that has been off my needles – it is time to finish up my first sweater – all that remains is blocking, seaming & the armhole/neck bands. Hopefully I will be revealing the sweater in the coming weeks!

Ah Capri!

I had a few ideas for my “C is for…” post. However, the recent winter weather monotony (40″ + of snow so far, 3 1/2 hour commutes in a snow storm, getting stuck in the ice/snow banks in the alley while backing into the garage, the ever changing obstacle course of avoiding monster potholes, etc.) has me longing for warmer weather and sunnier days. I have decided that C is for a memory I have mentioned before.

C is for CAPRI

Ah Capri!

As our summer 2005 trip to Italy & Greece drew near, Jen, Greg, Rebecca & I each had different parts of the itinerary that we were looking forward to the most. Collectively, I think that the day trip out to Capri seemed like it would be something fun but we didn’t have a lot of expectations for the day. Looking back, the few hours that we spent on the island were a definite highlight for me – not because of any one “big” thing but the combination of all the little things.

On Saturday morning we left Rome and took our tour bus down to Naples to catch the 11:10 ferry to Capri. As soon as we arrived at Capri we transferred to smaller boats to go to the Blue Grotto. The crowds of tourists waiting to transfer into the small row boats to go into the Blue Grotto were large; however, before long the 4 of us were climbing into a small row boat – our guide was wearing a Chicago marathon t-shirt. His aunt was from Chicago and had sent the t-shirt – we let him know we were from Chicago & I think the Chicago connection provided us with a much longer time inside the grotto.

Blue Grotto

After the Blue Grotto, we had a bit of free time on the island before we would ferry back to Sorrento. Once we were in the town of Capri our first stop was lunch outside on the square by the belltower. We enjoyed many tastes of Italy: Caprese Salad, Pizza Margherita and of course Gelato.

Capri Lunch

With our tour director we walked to the other side of the island and saw the local botanical garden. How fun it was to see favorite flowers including lantana and angel trumpets flourishing there.  While in the garden, I quickly snapped a picture that has become a constant reminder of a perfect summer vacation day – the rock formations of I Faraglioni off the coast. In the remaining time, Rebecca wanted to visit the local perfumery, Carthusia to pick up some of their legendary perfume. We walked into the perfumery and the lovely scents of flowers and citrus wafted through the air. Rebecca, Jen & I each selected a scent to remind us of the essence of Capri.

Capri Flowers

Before long it was time to take the funicular railway back down to the harbor and board our ferry to Sorrento. One of these days I will visit Capri again. Until then, I infuse bits of Capri into my world. In Harbor Country I found an antique etching of the Capri Harbor that now hangs on the wall. “The” picture continues to be my computer wallpaper and currently is the header for this blog. When I dab on my Mediterrano perfume the scent returns me to the island. In the midst of the winter gray of the last week I’ve enjoyed a taste of Capri – my version of Pizza Margherita and lemon sorbet for dessert.

Blue Crayons from nature’s crayon box

Ah Capri!

As a kid, the blue crayons in a Crayola box of 64 meant blue skies and blue waters in my drawings. One year ago this week was the start of the fabulous summer vacation to Italy  & Greece. As I look through the hundreds of pictures that we took in 8 days I am amazed at how much blue pops out of the pictures – skies and waters. As a Project Spectrum blue digital collage I’ve pulled together some of the bluest pictures from our trip. The blues in these pictures are the perfect backdrop for the great sites we saw – natural and manmade.

Blue Italy & Greece

A few details about the pictures…

The picture at the top of this post is my favorite one from the trip – I Faraglioni off the coast of Capri. Since I returned from the trip it has almost continually been the wallpaper on my work laptop – with several different clients I’ve had to project presentations from my laptop in meetings & the picture never fails to start a conversation.

Other scenes from the trip: the Pope’s apartment & St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City; looking across the Forum from the Coliseum in Rome; Lots of Capri – including waiting to go in the Blue Grotto; Sorrento; Pompeii ruins; views coming into Greece via ferry; along the coast of Greece; ancient Delphi; the Acropolis & original Olympic Stadium in Athens…

A Cup of Tea…A Cup of Memories…

When I saw the link for a Knitters Tea Swap I knew I had to sign up for that. When asked which I prefer, coffee or tea, I say both – each has their time & place in my world.

Knitters Tea Swap

Suzie, the swap hostess asked us to show our tea stash – so that was the catalyst for this post. As I was contemplating what to write about my stash ideas kept coming & coming so I thought it would make a good post here instead of just a quick post on the KTS blog. (Greetings to my fellow KTS pals who have stopped by!)

My Tea Mosaic

When I look at this mosaic of tea items what do I see?

  • Constant Comment is always in my stash because it was always at home – it is a frequent “go to tea” when I can’t decide what I want or when I’m not feeling well. The smell of Constant Comment reminds me of my mom in her robe at the kitchen table with breakfast ready for us when I was growing up – she would have a her hands wrapped around a mug of tea and frequently have a kitty in her lap.
  • My NPR mugs from assorted membership drives – I first discovered NPR when I was in college & didn’t have a TV in my room. On my daily commutes to work NPR is on the radio – I know it’s a bad commute when the 2 hour loop kicks in & I hear a story repeated.
  • Babingtons Tea – memories of my Italy & Greece trip last summer (see below).
  • I bought my white teapot on clearance at Pottery Barn 9 years ago (before it became ‘POTTERY BARN’) – I love the simple & classic shape of it.
  • The electric tea kettle – boiling water in an instant. I’ve only had one for the last 3 years…it is great, how did I live without it?
  • Pomegranate Pizazz – while not technically a tea because it is fruit & herbs only it is my favorite iced tea these days. I’m rarely without a pitcher of it made up & ready to go in the fridge.
  • Sweet vs. Unsweet? Upon moving to Georgia in high school I was quickly introduced to the world of “sweet tea” when ordering iced tea. Sweet iced tea is definitely not my cup of tea! It is pretty much simple syrup with a bit of tea – in high school I worked at Chick-fil-A & had to make gallons of it (one of their highlights) & was amazed at the amount of sugar that was put in a 5 gallon tub. I also learned that it is hard for sweet tea restaurants to make decent unsweet tea – they think you can brew the unsweet tea for as long as you do the sweet stuff – basically, keep the bags in forever or until you remember them. I prefer my iced tea unsweet but like a smidge of sweet in the hot tea.
  • A bit of kitsch – My tea stirrers are cocktail swizzle sticks in fun tropical themes. They are stored in an extra Arizona Iced Tea instant tea tin – pre-PomPizazz this was a great iced tea to always have on hand.
  • VarieTEA – My stash has quite an assortment of brands, types, flavors, etc. I’m always picking up something new to try.
  • Lottsa Mugs! This doesn’t even count the 8 mugs from my dinnerware & I think I may have a few extras in storage in the basement. One of the pluses of having a lot of mugs is that you’ll always have clean ones are the ready for a quick pot of tea – whether by myself or in the company of family & friends.

As I was pulling things together from the stash, I also started thinking about the wonderful tea time memories with family and friends – so I thought I’d include a few highlight memories in this post as well. I don’t have digital pictures from all these memories but here are a few pictures.

In May 1999 my family took a wonderful vacation to Bermuda. One afternoon we enjoyed traditional afternoon tea at the Lighthouse Tearoom at the Bermuda Lighthouse. We had a lovely view of the surroundings, a wonderful tea menu and many great memories that we still recall today. In fact, whenever we talk about going back to Bermuda (soon) we have afternoon tea on our list to do again.

Tea at the Peninsula

Here in Chicago I’ve experienced afternoon tea at 2 downtown hotels. The first place I tried was the Drake Hotel – it was a beautiful room filled with dark wood and live music. The first tea was a baby shower in 2003 for a friend that had moved away. The second tea was a birthday celebration with a friend later that year. The next hotel I tried is definitely my favorite hotel tea – The Peninsula Chicago. Both times that I have been have been “Kansas Sister” outings when Rebec has been in town. The first time was a surprise birthday present for the younger sisters. The second time was in December 2004 – we had a sisters afternoon that started with the Jackie O exhibit at the Field Museum and ended with tea in the Peninsula lobby that was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Afternoon Tea in Rome

While on our Italy/Greece trip last summer we also managed to have a lovely afternoon tea – although, I must confess we chose iced coffee (cafe fria) as our refreshment from the hot Roman sun. Our day in Rome was nonstop – in line for the Vatican Museum at 7:30 AM and on the go from there (through the Coliseum and forum and then a walking tour). We had been looking forward to seeing the Spanish Steps – visions of Audrey Hepburn & Roman Holiday definitely shaped that. So we come to the steps and in a word we were disappointed – the steps were overflowing with people (which we expected because it was tourist season) and the church at the top of the steps was being renovated so the scaffolding was covered in nearly obscene advertisements. We had a bit of free time in the area & discovered Babington’s Tea Room just to the left of the steps (when looking up them). So while the kids were thrilled to fill up at the golden McDonald’s on the other side of the steps and do some shopping (Bennetton, seriously) we enjoyed a respite from the heat & bustle. On our way out the door we each picked up some tea to bring back with us as well as a cup and saucer.

I’m always on the lookout for new teas & new tea experiences – what are some of your favorites?

Ah Capri!

In the 2006 Knitting Olympics Lace event is Amy Artisan with The Capri Shawl!

Capri!

(Pardon the “lack of natural light” pictures – when the weather is warmer I may post some pictures of Capri “in action” outside.)

The Details
Pattern: Capri Shawl from Morehouse Farms

Yarn: Aqua Morehouse Merino Lace

Needles: Brittany Birch – US10 – 14″

Cast On: Friday, February 10th (2nd Cast On: Sunday, February 12th)
Bind Off: Sunday, February 19th

Customizations: I spaced the triangles 20 stitches apart since I was knitting during the 20th Winter Olympics. The “open” triangle is 10 rows because my 2005 Italy/Greece trip was 10 days long.

Notes: Overall this was a fun project – even with the assorted detours that I had to take on the route to Capri. As I mentioned earlier, the pattern had very light instructions for adding additional triangles into the design & I had to come up with my own notes for how to do them. (I’ll be happy to share the Amy Arithmetic if anyone wants it for future reference.) Looking at the blocked & finished shawl I notice some bobbles (not the intentional knit ones – the “oops” ones) that will not be making an appearance in future lace projects – but they are part of the process of learning something new. Previously I had mentioned that this was knitting tight & I would probably use size 10 needles (instead of the recommended 9) for any future knits of this pattern – after the blocking it doesn’t look as tight so I might use the 9s again.

Capri in Repose

I can’t wait to wear this shawl! Wrapping it around me this evening brought a huge smile to my face – this is the first knitwear that I’ve completed for myself that wasn’t a scarf or a hat.

Since I finished knitting the shawl I’ve decided that the color of the yarn, while still representing a favorite color from my Italy/Greece trip, is closer to the color of the water along the Greek coast instead of Capri. Here is a picture of the water that will give you a better representation of the yarn color.

The water along the coast of Greece

And here is the artistic shot of the Shawl draped over my computer that currently has the Greek Water picture as my desktop wallpaper.

Capri & the computer

Beyond Capri…what has the Knitting Olympics taught me? I can knit to a deadline if I have to – but I’m not sure that’s how I want to approach my knitting. (Must start on Christmas gifts now!) I enjoy having a couple of things going so that if boredom sets in I can switch to something different. I’m ready to try some more new things – at first glance this pattern seemed so much like my standard baby blanket pattern; however, it managed to trip me up more than once & yet I was still able to get it done.

p.s. Dad continues to make progress in his Needlepoint Olympics – sometime in the future (currently no ETA) you all will get to see his finished object!

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