Friday, 30 April 2010

New Household Member

Copper has just joined our household. We got him as a companion for Aimee, because we thought she needed a playmate.

He's a congenial little guy, supposedly part pug and part pomeranian.

Amazingly they are doing well together and Copper even ignores the kitties.

It's nice to have another guy in the family!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Yet Another Interlude

Since I screwed up my shawl yesterday, I haven't been knitting today, so here are a few recent photos - a robin that seems to have nested in the tree by the drive way and some of the drawings I've been doing since I started making myself do at least one picture a day.

My model is very still and thus easy to draw. I hope she doesn't start charging for her services!

You can tell I'm running out of models when I start doing TV and movie stars! Still, there is something fascinating about their faces.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Interlude - Yard Birds (but no rock and roll) and knitting

I've been too tired and busy to write about Beijing recently, but have had a few spare moments in the yard and have noticed the change in birds. The red wings have their epaulettes back and look much less dreary now.

The wood ducks in the pond by the mail box have returned and taken up residency at the back of the pond. It looks like they are wearing plastic eyewear to me - as if they placed buttons over their eyes to protect their identity. Maybe they are superstars of the Anatidae world.

And the bluebirds are back.

I'm a bit too proud of this shot, because I'm not the best of bird photographers and they usually eschew my paparazzo-style of ambush photography. Come to look at it, do you detect a slight note of disdain in that not so complacent eye?

And of course here is the state of my current knitting project. I'm not too happy with the line caused by the two needle cast on that I had to use instead of a  yarn provisional cast on while I was on the plane.

I'm including a close up shot so that the beads can be detected. I'm hoping they'll add a glint of sparkle here and there on the finished project, but of course it is so hard to tell until the finishing. (If you click on the image you just might be able to see them better, but then again who knows!!!)

This is the Diva Romana shrug that I started in the plane to Japan and that I am transmuting into a shawl without sleeves because I have limited yarn. It currently measures 24 inches wide and 17 inches long and is made in Cherry Tree Hill Possum lace weight yarn.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


I got all this really cool yarn in Japan and China, so what am I playing with right now, you might ask.  Hmm, well there's the wire.....

and the cheap yarn I decided to use for learning to do double knitting with....

(Here's the other side of the double knitting). (It's a Traditional Turkish sock pattern published by Anna Zilboorg in the 2010 edition of Knitting Traditions).

and I haven't touched any of the fancy cashmere. silk or yak that I bought in Asia!

No, I don't know what is wrong with me!! I did get back to my Possum DivaRomana and here is where I am on that:

Sittin' Pretty in the Forbidden City

 When we last left our intrepid knitters they had just disembarked from the bus and were just about to enter the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City (  in Chinese) or the Purple Forbidden City as it is more properly translated, was the Imperial Palace from the Ming dynasty until the Qing dynasty.

Begun in 1406, the complex took some 15 years to build with over a million workers. It is an incredibly large 7,800,000+ square feet of grounds covered in ancient buildings.  The whole city s surrounded by magnificent tall walls that are 26 feet high and 28 feet deep. This is then surrounded by a huge moat. To get into the city there are several gates that have to be passed through.

As we entered, we encountered this cute little guy whose parents worked  near the main gate.

We entered at the main gate in the south from Tiananmen square, through the Meridian gate, and were fortunate to be there at a time when there weren't too many people. Here is the next gate, the gate of Supreme Harmony characterized by its two wings and sweeping horizontal style.

The weather was beautiful and free of most of the brownish pollution haze that sometimes hangs over the city.  It was cool (You can see remnants of snow piled in Wumen gate square), but glorious!

The complex has more than 980 buildings, all built in the historic Ming style, 

...recognizable from the curved roofs and beautifully painted ornamentation contrasted by the Chinese red as primary color.

The Gate of Supreme Harmony leads to the Halls of Harmony via beautiful balustrades of marble.

Five bridges cross the Inner Golden Water River.

Here you can see the two side wings of the Gate of Supreme Harmony across the square.

Here is a detail of the roof construction. Done completely without nails.

The Imperial yellow roof tiles demarcate this as buildings for the Emperor.

Here is a closer look at some of the painted details of the roofs.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is accessed via three tiers of marble steps and is surrounded by bronze incense burners.

The Hall is notable for its Dragon motifs. Here a long marble relief of the five toe dragon motif of the Ming dynasty stretches up beside the steps of one of the marble tiers.

While we were climbing hte steps, we encountered this man in his Mao jacket.

Lily was very keen for me to get a shot of him, but he was pretty nimble and I couldn't get very close.

Unfortunately in my pictures you can't really see the characteristic four pocket styling of the jacket and I think was starting to feel like a Stalker was after him as I not too convincingly tried to pretend I was shooting every pillar and pot that he happened to come close to.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is one of the largest wooden structures in China.

The interiors however of the buildings were mostly empty. The artifacts I understand are now in museums in Taiwan.

One can perhaps be glad that they were saved the ravages of the revolution and we must be thankful to Zhou En Lai for bringing troops to protect the Palace from the overactive zeal of revolutionary patriots.

Outside the hall we encountered this young man.

The view from the Hall of Supreme Harmony was of course harmonious.

It seemed by far to be the most visited building in the city. Here Rita surveys the view from the top of the steps.

Word has it, that these beautiful pots were marred when soldiers came and scratched the gold off with their swords. You can still see the strokes of the offending weapons memorialized in the surface.

I found the lines of the terracing absolutely fascinating albeit not terribly harmonious.

It was a network of dazzling white marble and shadows.

The red of the buildings was so impressive. Imagine seeing dozens of them together in one location.

We moved through to the back of the Hall and began to set our sights on other buildings.

In the distance at the other end of the grounds past the sparkling yellow roofs, we could see some other structure up in the hills.

There was SO much to see. I was particularly taken by this wall next to the Heavenly Purity Gate. I have no idea what the various remaining buildings we saw are, but the vastness of it all was stunning.

After tromping around for a while it was only natural to get a little tired. Ours was not the only group taking a rest.

Rita, Lois, Mary Anne and Lily take a breather halfway through the City.

The Courtesan quarters were quite picuresque and appropriately now filled with stores.

Unfortunatley there was little time to shop, so it was peek in and then go see something else.

I can just imagine these residences in their former days of glory.

The city was a maze f paths and doorways and buildings.

Even as the detail overwhelmed , it still impressed.

A floral image can be seen in the pebbles of this sidewalk.

The Imperial gardens in the North end of the complex were delightful. There was a huge rock garden as well as more traditional Chinese gardens.

This building is Yang Xing Zhai for the Study of the Cultivation of Nature.

This could be the Pavillion of One Thousand Autumns. There are two such pavillions in the garden. The other is the Pavillion of the Myriad Springs.

The gardens had many stately, grand old trees and I was very sorry we did not have more time to explore both the garden and the other buildings in the complex.

The interiors here were also empty but beautifully painted.

The garden had open buildings as well.

As we headed out there were still fascinating new things to see.

And then there it was, the Gate of Divine Might, the northern entrance to the park and the place we would leave the Forbidden City.

In back you could see the South Gate  and Wanchun Pavillion on the hill flanked by the  JIfang and Guanmiao Pavillions.

We had neither the time nor the energy to climb up to Wanchun, but we appreciated the beauty of the structure as we hurried back to our bus.

We were not through with Beijing, but we certainly felt we had gotten to know it a little bit better after seeing the Purple Forbidden City.

For more information and a great birds eye view of the City I highly recommend Wikimapia . You can click on the buildings and often learn a little about them as well as see what some of them look like.

The adventures had only just begun and we were contented and sat back in the bus fondling our yarn and wondering what else could possibly impress us. (Little di we know!!)