Strawberry Sundae

Thank you everyone who donated to HKDR over the last 2 weeks! You raised HK$2860 – about £225! Woot!! We’re almost halfway to goal in just two weeks. This week’s draw was won by Rebecca-Anne. I’ve emailed you for your address but if you haven’t received my email please get in touch.

Despite the torture on Sunday, we had a lovely weekend. We were able to greet a long lost friend and pull out our beloved waffle maker.

We had an indulgent breakfast on Sunday, topping our waffles with whipped cream, a sprinkle of icing sugar, sliced bananas and maple syrup….mmmmm.

Even Deuce was able to indulge himself by sneakily scoffing Strawberry’s left over food.  I think he may, just may, look a little shamefaced here.  Or maybe that’s his ‘I’m hungry feed me’ face. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

But the best part of the weekend was DH agreeing that we should officially make little Strawberry a part of our family!  Today I spoke with the Foster Coordinator at HKDR and we’ve made all the arrangements. The paperwork has been signed, and we’ll be sending over the adoption fee tonight. I think the little one has done her work in absolutely charming DH. She adores him and her little tail frantically wags whenever she sees him. I’m absolutely thrilled – as you can tell I’m completely in love with her and I think Deuce is on his way too.

I’ve also got a little confession to make – I’ve been calling her by a different name, which will become her official name now: Mei Mei. The Mei is from the Chinese word for Strawberry (草莓 – cao mei) and is also a homonym for ‘little sister’. Right now my two little black monkeys are snoozing away in the corner of the kitchen; my heart just melts. 🙂 I love that Mei Mei has an international peanut gallery cheering her on. She is doing so much better, getting stronger every day and I’m sure that part of this has to do with all the well wishes she is getting.

A short video to close, from this morning with DH and his feet – you can see how much she adores him!

Boxes & Vampires

Our boxes and furniture were delivered on Thursday so finally the flat is feeling a little more ‘homely’.  The moving guys arrived and unloaded a couple boxes.

Then they unloaded a few more. Then a few more.  Pretty soon our entire lounge and kitchen were filled with them.  95 boxes in total!

The movers were really quick and put together our shelves and bed so we’re left with sorting out the books and linens.

Our lounge looks like this for the time being – once we have things put away, we’ll get the few bits and bobs still needed (coffee table, dining table & chairs, rug, and lights!) and then hang our pictures. Looking forward to all that getting sorted.  I’m not sure when the nesting instinct kicks in from pregnancy, but it sure hasn’t yet. I mean, I’m definitely glad we have a sofa, but do I have an uncontrollable urge to open the rest of our boxes and put everything away? Nope. Not an iota. The whole prospect is just overwhelming….. maybe once we have our bookshelves filled and there is some space to put the stuff from the boxes…

Friday I had an appointment with my OBY where we did all my bloods which will be the third time I’ve had blood taken for prenatal tests. I had them done twice in London.  First time in preparation for taking my results to HK, but despite waiting at the surgery for the nurse for over 3 hours, and having vials of blood extracted, apparently only midwives are allowed to take the blood that is processed for prenatal tests.  So then when I had a midwife appointment, they took the blood for prenatal stuff again.  I was also given a glucose test in London, and then again on Friday here which was one of those tests where I had blood taken three times over three hours.   I felt like I was donating blood to a vampire blood bank – they took about 12 vials of blood in total.  Boy was I happy to leave the hospital.

Strawberry is still delighting me and causing Deuce a bit of consternation.  Deuce occasionally will sit with his back to her, and she’ll nibble on him until he gets annoyed and leaves his comfy spot.  They make a little progress every day.  When I brought her home on a week ago she weighed 800 grams.  She put on 30 grams at the vets on Sunday night.  When we weighed her again on Thursday when I took her back for a check up, she was 1000 grams. Was so pleased.  Yesterday however, she started to have tummy troubles again, and despite weighing 1100 grams on Friday morning, this morning she was down a little to 1060 grams.  I’m hoping it’s just from stress (from washing her paws… she really doesn’t enjoy it) or antibiotics (she’s on those twice a day) as she’s eating well, is bright and playful and when she is awake totters around quite happily.  Will see what the vet says later today.

I’ve put up a little ticker on the sidebar to track the donations going to Hong Kong Dog Rescue.  So far we’ve raised HK$1280 for Hong Kong Dog Rescue in a week. Thanks so much to everyone.  I am sure if she could transcend the time/space continuum, little Strawberry would totter over and nibble your ear in thanks.

My goal is £500 which gives long term care for two doggies, or neuters a dozen dogs, or feeds a dog for almost 3 years. You can donate as little as HK$80 (about £6.50 or US$11) which licenses a dog and gives a rabies vaccination too (all dogs in HK must be licensed. Just like mountain bikes!!). Every little counts. So thank you watching out for and taking care of Strawberry and other rescue dogs like her.

If you do donate, let me know the amount as I keep a tally on my blog. And when we hit £500 I’ll do a draw of all the people who donated and one lucky person will get a pair of custom fit socks handknit by yours truly. More details here.

And lest we forget the season – Hallowe’en is upon us! Even here at our apartment complex they’ve gotten into the spirit and have put out a huge jack-o-lantern complete with scary spiders!  Haha but just in case we forgot where we were – see the yellow sign?

Here’s the close up. Yup – another Do Not.  Made me want to deliberately place my hand on the hallowed pumpkin JUST BECAUSE.  Juvenile, moi?

A Potbellied Strawberry & Prize Draws

After the vet saw Strawberry yesterday, he decided to keep her overnight to make sure she was eating – he was worried about her diarrhea and that she hadn’t put on any weight in a week, plus all her other maladies (paws, tail, nail bed, etc).  Needless to say I spent all Sunday and through the night worrying about her and hoping she was going to come out on top.

She showed them how teeny warriors fight their battles and ate half a tin of Recovery at the vets – a special high calorie food for convalescing dogs – enough to reassure the vet that despite some watery poops she’s eating enough to counterbalance the loss.  After a mere 24 hours with her, and another 24 hours not with her, I was inordinately happy to see her again.  Funny how puppies can wriggle their way into our hearts.  When I picked her up she was very vocal with me, talking (perhaps berating me for leaving her?) and rolling onto her back for a belly rub.  She’s managed to wolf down another quarter tin of  Recovery when I got her home which is fab.  She only weights .83 kg, and put on the .03kg last night which is great.  She’s now got a great potbelly – which is exactly what she should have.  😀

When I was picking her up the Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) van pulled up outside the vets and out came 5 dogs that had been rescued from the government pound.  You can tell these aren’t wild dogs living in the bush – alot are from pet shops or breeders. There was a shih tzu and an 8 year old pug among the group.

It’s so sad – according to Sally the reason given by owners for surrendering their dog to the government kennels (where I understand if a dog isn’t claimed by their owner in 4 days, they are destroyed) fall mainly into four categories:

1) owners are leaving the country or moving to/already live somewhere dogs aren’t allowed;

2) owners are having/just had a baby;

3) owners have allergies; or

4) the dog is old and/or sick.

I can understand perhaps leaving a pet behind with family or with a good home if where you were moving to was not a good environment for a pet (ie living in the bush with gorillas).  But outright abandonment to almost certain death?  I just can’t wrap my head around it.  Thank goodness for HKDR and other rescue organisations for doing what they do.

I asked the vet what Strawberry’s treatment has cost thus far – with two stays at the vet hospital, special food, antibiotics, worming medicine, etc – and was told that the last week’s vet bills have totted up to $HK1265 (approx £100).  Since HKDR started in 2002, it has rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed over 5,000 abandoned dogs.  Every one is neutered or spayed, vaccinated & microchipped. It’s a huge undertaking and a big cost.  And of course, HKDR being a charity is run entirely on donations.

To help HKDR continue to do the great things it does, it would make my heart swell with joy if my dear readers – knitters, family & friends – could join forces and raise some money for HKDR. The donations page for HKDR is here.  There are a lot of affordable levels of donations – ranging from HK$80 (about £6) under “Dog Care” for Rabies Vaccination and Licence, and up to regular monthly donations (all through Paypal).  If you do donate, email me (replacing AT with @) with the amount, and I’ll keep a running tally on the sidebar.  My goal is to raise £500 for HKDR.

As a little enticement, I have 10 copies of my book Socktopus to give away.  Every 2 weeks (or more often if there are lots of people donating!) I will do a draw from all the people who have donated (and emailed me) and send out a signed copy of my book to the winner.  When we hit the goal of £500, I will do a draw from ALL the names. The prize is a pair of hand knit socks – knit by me, just for the fabulous footsies of the winning name.

Last and First

First off, winner of Carol Feller’s new book.  Thank you to everyone who commented. The winner of the book is – Lisa from the UK! I’ve emailed you for your address, but if you haven’t received it please can you email me your address using the Contact tab above. Thanks!

On Saturday before I left for HK Loop in London hosted a book launch and signing for my new book “Socktopus”. So much fun! Cake from Bittersweet Baker and knitters from all over – Sweden, Norfolk, Chicago, and London to name a few. Very exciting.

Photo shamelessly slurped from Josiekitten!

The launch party was so much fun – and was followed by a last hurrah pub dinner with some of my favourite knitting peeps.

A really lovely way to spend my last evening in London. Big hugs!

First day in Hong Kong has been pretty uneventful – took Deuce for a walk in the local landscaped park thingie – met some dogs with their carers – a mix of domestic helpers and owners. Lovely people.  I’ll be bumping into them regularly I imagine.  Took Deuce to a vet whose method of feeding pills I really didn’t like – he tried to shove a pill down Deuce’s throat by forcing his mouth open and pushing the pill as far back in his throat as possible. If he’d bothered to ask me before doing that I could have told him to give me the pill to take home (a little coating of cheese does wonders….).  I was kind of proud of Deuce for spitting the pill up whole.  A bit freaky here is the danger of tick fever – apparently ticks are a big problem.  Deuce was given a tick collar which absolutely stinks – on top of his regular Frontline drops.  I’ve decided against the collar since I find the smell really offensive.  I think I’ll have to bite the bullet and do a daily check instead and tweeze any buggers off. Bleck.

Blueberry update: bump at 23 weeks. I’m definitely past looking like I’ve eaten a big meal and moved into pregnant territory.  So far so good. 🙂


Contemporary Irish Knits

Just before I headed off to LA, I received this gem in the post:

Carol Feller invited me to be part the international blog tour of her first book Contemporary Irish Knits. Having seen some of her gorgeous designs in The Twist Collective and Interweave Knits, and knowing from her classes at Knit Nation 2011 that she has a penchant for seamless construction and innovative structural design (I think a background in engineering and art are to thank for this), I naturally jumped a the chance.  Following on from Stephanie Tallent’s interview, it’s now my turn to review her book.  If you want to follow the tour, the next stop is Michelle Miller. The full Tour is listed below.

15/9/2011 Stephen West
17/9/2011 Hoxton Handmade
21/9/2011 Shannon Okey
23/9/2011 Rosemary Hill
25/9/2011 Ann Kingstone
27/9/2011 Marly Bird
29/9/2011 JC Briar
1/10/2011 Woolly Wormhead
3/10/2011 Anne Hanson
7/10/2011 Stephannie Tallent
11/10/2011 Alice Yu
13/10/2011 Michelle Miller
15/10/2011 Deirdre Thornton
17/10/2011 Ilga Leja

Carol’s take on tradition is much like my own; that instead of a relic of the past, tradition is actually a creation of our own heritage, that is, a part of us that we create into something new and meaningful.  I was surprised to learn that Aran knitting is not a centuries old Irish craft – but instead, like Bohus sweaters, arose out of financial necessity in the 1950s and were knit primarily by women for family income.   Despite its relative youth, its impact has been such that Aran knitting is now a typically Irish tradition.  Carol embraces this and infuses it with her own creativity, making garments which are shaped and flattering for more 21st century tastes.

Contemporary Irish Knits
© Joseph Feller

What makes this book stand out is the background information Carol provides alongside her designs; Contemporary Irish Knits is effectively a comfy armchair voyage into the heart of Irish knitting tradition. Three sections of the book are dedicated to the remaining mills in Ireland which continue to produce hand knitting yarns.  Each section has a review of the mill’s yarns, including how to use the qualities of each yarn to their best advantage (for example, sticky yarn for steeking, firmer yarn for structure and shape, and nepps for colour and texture). Paired with a peek inside each mill are Carol’s designs, each using the showcased mill’s yarns.  True to Carol’s take on tradition, she doesn’t ignore tradition in the making; the final section is dedicated to contemporary Irish hand dyers – Dublin Dye Company and Hedgehog Fibres. Again Carol provides a pair of designs for each dyer’s yarns, a cowl and fingerless gloves for Dublin Dye Company and a hat and matching fingerless gloves for Hedgehog Fibres.

Coming from an engineering background, it’s no surprise that the garments themselves are engineered so that the textured elements of the garments run along parts of the body where thicker or firmer fabric won’t have a detrimental effect on fit – nicely set shoulders, properly fitted waists and underarms are all cleverly integrated into a well thought out design. Carol doesn’t just keep with women’s cardigans -no, no! Not so dull here – the garments range from shawls, to fingerless gloves, men’s jumpers, boy’s vests, little girl’s shrugs – something for everyone as you can see from the photos above. Each women’s garment has 7 sizes to work from, the men’s and children’s garments have 5. In addition to these, Carol also provides excellent tips on shaping and fitting to your size, for women, children and men.

Along with clear charts and schematics to size each garment Carol helpfully gives not just the finished measurements but also the suggested measurements of the wearer to give the knitter an idea of the ease each garment should have – vital when it comes to textured garments since cables can make the fabric quite thick and thus affect how much ease one should have for a comfortable and flattering fit.

Leave a comment at the end of this post by 9pm BST Friday 15 October for a chance to win a copy of Contemporary Irish Knits generously donated by Carol Feller.  You can also purchase the book here.

Don’t forget to visit Michelle’s tour stop on the 13th!

Lucky Sunday Winners

Since deciding to do ‘Lucky Sunday‘ posts I’ve been spending some time thinking about things that make me feel lucky. Well, this week, I’m feeling pretty lucky that my mom is more stubborn than I am. Sounds a bit odd, I know. Let me explain.

My cousin F sent me a link to an article from the Wall Street Journal about Chinese moms.  The article, written by a Chinese mom, describes a certain type of Chinese parent. The type who thinks that anything less than 100% is abject failure. The type who doesn’t allow their kids to do much in the way of non-school socialising (ie no sleep overs, no sports teams, no lollygagging around or watching TV).  The parenting style she describes makes pageant moms seem about as pushy as a limp noodle.  While I did have classmates whose moms were like those described, I hasten to clarify that my mom wasn’t.  I was always allowed to sleep over at friends, attend birthday parties, or go away on school trips. I knew about Saturday Night Live (though rarely watched it since I’ve never been a night owl, not because I wasn’t allowed), and watched cartoons, TV after school and in the evenings. I could have been in the school play had I wanted, and I could choose my extra curricular activities (er, except piano. I had to learn the piano). So my mom in most of the particulars was nothing like the Chinese mom described in the article.

But how Amy Chua (the author of the article) describes how she wouldn’t give up on her daughter mastering a skill, how she sat at the piano with her daughter and drilled her over and over and over again until her daughter was able to play a piece, that kind of persistence, determination, and let’s face it, sheer stubborness, that my mom had in spades.

She did this for me with math – I came home one day with a bad score on my math test.  I must have been 7 or 8. My mom immediately set up a revision schedule, made flash cards, and drilled me every day after school on my times table. She drilled me until I could recite it backwards in my sleep. Needless to say, my math grades improved dramatically. Knowing the timetable like the back of my hand helped me gain confidence in the subject, and I never had problems in maths class again.

But the heroic nature of her stubborness really shined when it came to Chinese school. Imagine, just about every Saturday between 8 and 13, I threw a tantrum. Tears, hissy fits, all that accompanies a teeny-bopper tantrum, you name I did it. In public, in private, in front of her friends, there was no discrimination. Everywhere was game. I hated going to Chinese school. It cut into my precious Saturday morning doing…. whatever a teeny-bopper does on a Saturday. Cartoons, talking on the phone, staring off into space and mooning after a-ha. Important stuff like that. But did my mom give in? Did she throw in the towel and let me lollygag my Saturday mornings away? Nope. Not once. Not ever. It was non-negotiable. Didn’t matter how much I whined, cried, begged, demanded, threatened, cajoled, nothing moved her. And once I grew out of the tantrums, and particularly when I hit university, boy was I ever thankful that she never gave in. l could speak Chinese and even read and write it. The skill was useful at university. When I traveled. Even when applying for jobs. As a direct result of my mom’s awe inspiring refusal to relent, despite overwhelming evidence that I really wasn’t enjoying Chinese school at all, the skills I learned those teary Saturday mornings helped me win a scholarship year in Beijing after uni – an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Okay maybe world peace, or having Aaron Hotchner as my boss, but you know you what I mean.

So moral of my story: having/being a stubborn mom can be a Good Thing.  And reading that article, let me also throw in too that I feel lucky I got to watch TV.  Otherwise I would not have a deep and abiding appreciation for cheesy TV shows like the A-Team, Little House on the Prairie, and Magnum PI. I would not have learned things like ‘Just Say No’ from ABC Afterschool Specials, or the theme songs to such classic shows such as Transformers (more than meets the eye!), Jem, Thundercats & He-man (by the power of Grayskull, I have the power!).  Or have such great sound bites as: Yabba-dabba doo!  Watchootalkinabout? I pity the fool! committed to memory for eternity.  Oh the cultural riches. 😉

And finally, if you’ve read this far into my random wafflings, you deserve a piece of cake! Or a waffle! And you deserve to know who won the Name That Skein Contest.  Thank you too to everyone who commented.  I loved the suggestions and it was a tough choice!  After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally settled on three names that I felt sang best with the colourways.  Without further ado, the winning names are:

JWM's Rain, Wind & Wool

Cockatoo Mockatoo


Thank you to Carie for ‘JMW’s Rain Wind & Wool’, Linda for ‘Cockatoo Mockatoo’ (I’ve taken a little poetic licence with it, I hope you don’t mind!), and Martine for ‘Ayame’. I’ll pop your skeins out too you in the post this week.