Category Archives: knitting

Iceland– bring a load of cash

Since my long ago days in university, I have longed to visit Iceland. Okay, it was initially inspired by the dozen or so very hot Icelanders who were recruited for our track and field team, but in the intervening decades, I’ve found out that Iceland has a lot more to recommend it than just really hot men.

For one, there’s knitting. Lots of knitting. Even men knit. I know other men knit, but even Franklin Habit isn’t as cool a name as Þórgnýr Thoroddsen. In fact, so many people knit, that hand-knit Icelandic sweaters can be had for very reasonable prices, even from the souvenir chains. I settled for some Lopi wool (okay, not the softest stuff) which I will eventually knit into a lopapeysa. I know, Freyja isn’t the most challenging of lopapeysur, but I know myself, and stranded knitting is not my thing.

Yarn bombing, Reykjavik style.
Yarn bombing, Reykjavik style.


There is also so much hand knitting, that you can score yourself a major deal at the Red Cross, or any other used clothing store. I was too cheap to splash out 25,000KR on a new sweater, but I did get a used one for 4,000KR. That’s less than we paid for a lunch of soup and coffee for two!

Hand-me-down hand-knit lopapeysa!
Hand-me-down hand-knit lopapeysa!

Bargain hunter tip: the Red Cross outside of the CBD has lower prices and a better shopping experience. As in, it (unlike the other location) does not resemble Filene’s Basement. Both locations are on Laugavegur: 12 and 116. Here are some other second hand shops in Reykjavik.

The Reykjavik Red Cross where you won't get in a slap fight over a sweater.
The Reykjavik Red Cross where you won’t get in a slap fight over a sweater.

While you are walking up to the good Red Cross, you can stop in at the Phallological  Museum. It’s a bit pricey (1000KR, I think), but it was raining, so it seemed like a good way to spend thirty minutes waiting for the weather to clear. It is surprisingly informational, but some of the displays are a bit odd– home decor fashioned from foreskin, anyone?

Horny old goat
Horny old goat

Another bargain hunter tip: stay in an apartment. It’s about the same cost as a hotel, but you have cooking and laundry facilities. Food is seriously expensive in Iceland. That 4,500KR lunch was not atypical. At one place, we paid 6,900KR for a bottle of wine that cost 7,000 won at Emart.

Caviar disguised as toothpaste. Approximate cost: $1 bajillion.
Caviar disguised as toothpaste. Approximate cost: $1 bajillion.

I’m sure there are hidden gems serving delicious food at reasonable prices, but we didn’t come across any of those. In fact, everywhere we ate, all we heard was English and German being spoken, even in little towns far from the usual tourist spots. It really seemed as if restaurants existed for the tourist trade, regardless of how out of the way they may be.

You can also bring in 4kg of food, 3l of wine, and a 12-pack of beer. We did not know that, and were flying Easyjet, so it didn’t really matter, so we did our shopping at the baggage claim duty free. It doesn’t really sell food, other than the usual assortment of chocolate, though.

We saw the sights, hiked, and watched soccer, but I’ll save all that for next time.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

As usual, way too long since my last post.

I finished up at Elite at the end of January and am halfway through my vacation. Today, after sweating for months when my FBI background check wouldn’t (and still hasn’t) come in, I went to immigration, and got my new visa with no background check needed. If only I had known that I didn’t need to spend all that money and hassle (mostly my mother got hassled, with several trips around Baton Rouge getting my local check and apostille) and stress over the missing FBI check. I mean, four months?! Come on!

As for my vacation, I’ve been pretty supremely unproductive. I have knit two sweaters: Owls (still needs eyes) and Amused, modified into a hoodie cardigan (still needs closures). Both were quick and easy knits, although, I didn’t really follow the patterns all that closely. For Owls, I basically only used the “owl” cable chart.

Busy Busy Busy

I can’t believe it’s been 6 weeks since my last post. And a pretty crap effort that one, as well. I’ve been busy getting ready for the KOTESOL International Conference, which is mere weeks away, and I’m woefully unprepared for.

I’ve also been getting the new semester going at work. We’ve been down two teachers, out of four. So, I’ve been taking up some of the slack. One of the teachers has arrived, so I’ve been training him this week. His wife arrives next week, so after I train her up, things should be smooth sailing for the last few months of my contract. That’s right, after how many years of saying I was ready for a change, I have given notice, asked for letters of recommendation, and started looking for a new job in earnest.

To that end, I have sent off my criminal background info, which my mother is once again being kind enough to help me get apostilled. I have also procured a Korean criminal background check. Ten years in Korea, and not a single felony. I must be an anomaly among foreign teachers. Oh, wait, it’s the Chinese-Koreans that make up the vast majority of foreign criminals. But I digress, the visit to Bundang CSI was awesome.

There is a huge sign, in English, going down the wall, announcing that they are the CSI office. I’ve seen all three CSI series, so I was expecting large, oddly-lit rooms with super-cool, ultra-high tech machinery. Haha. It had three cubicles, and the only “crime solving equipment” was the ink pad and roller, which the guy had search to find. But he found it, and printed up an English form, cutting into his lunch hour no less, so I have nothing but kind words for the Bundang CSI. 🙂

In my extended blogging break, I also went to Mokpo with Staf. I’ve got some pictures, but I haven’t even gone through them yet. Eventually… This is one he took on the ferry that goes around the 1004 islands off the coast there.

I also finished a Liesl sweater by the ultra-talented Ysolda Teague, but I haven’t even photographed it yet. I’ll see if I can get Staf to take some photos next time he’s here.

That’s about it. I’ve been crazy busy, but not with anything particularly blog-worthy. That, and Staf comes by the blog every now and again, so I shouldn’t talk about him. 😀

Slumber Parties: Not Just for Teenagers

Last night was Jackie‘s No Boys Allowed Slumber Party in scenic Cheonan. We grilled veggies (some fresh from Jackie’s garden), roasted marshmallows, and even shot some fireworks. They are sold at convenience stores here, so are presumably legal.

Jinksy somehow slipped in unnoticed…

Stephanie and I were ready for bed earlier than everybody else, so we stayed at Jinksy’s. We had a nice visit this morning before I headed back to the burbs.

The view from Jinksy’s apartment. Nice-uh. That’s the bonfire pit and the lake in the background.

On the home front, my cat has been getting acquainted with Stafford:

I’ve been doing a little (very little) knitting, too:

A hat, of course. Small projects are all I seem able to get done these days. This one’s for Stafford. I made one for myself first, as a gauge swatch, but I haven’t taken a photo of it. Hopefully, I can get a shot that’s a little clearer. The pattern is Turn a Square, by the brilliant Brooklyn Tweed.

School’s been keeping me pretty busy. This is the last week of regular SAT classes and the first week of summer camp. So, this week, I’ll have eight classes a day, but it’ll be back to six per day after that… unless some of the SAT students want one-on-one tutoring. I’ve let my strong preference against private classes be known, so we’ll see.

Overall, the SAT classes are going well. The kids are starting to get a little burnt out. Not that I blame them. The rockheads are starting to get discouraged, because their lackadaisical efforts aren’t raising their scores and the top students are over it, because they are already consistently scoring over 2200, so their scores aren’t going up that much. They’ve been keeping themselves amused, at least. On Friday, one of the students asked to change his name to Sanchez, and another suggested he change it to Dirty Sanchez. I tried not to laugh too openly, you know, since I was the adult in the room, but teachers need amusement, too.

Here a Ricetard, There a Ricetard, Everywhere a Ricetard

Mission accomplished!

I’ve actually done some knitting this week. At Stitch n Bitch yesterday, I made this:

I’m attempting grafting for the first time. I’ve failed twice so far, and if the third isn’t the charm, I’ll just do a lame three-needle bind off. It the Tychus pattern from Knitty, which I made in LSU purple and gold for my sister last year. It’s a quick knit– all short rows. I usually don’t knit anything twice, but the recipient chose the pattern.

I’m making this one for Aaron, perhaps my oldest podcast fan. Perhaps my only podcast fan… I think he’s gotten tired of hearing me moan and complain about my date-free existence. At any rate, he’s decided to both help me be less of a social retard and take math out of my axis of evil. The least I could do was make him a hat. And apparently, the most. 🙂

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s already mid-month! As usual “intensive” classes, held when students are ostensibly on holiday, are jam-packed with educational goodness. As a result, I’ve got a few bon mots from my sweet students. Here are some of my favorites:

Other than school, I’ve had a veritable flurry of brief visits. Week before last, my mother was here for a long weekend and today I had lunch with my step-father. He works for Delta, so he’s here for work. Mama was here for me. 🙂 I was working, so we didn’t get to do much, but it was still great to see her. My summer visit was cut short by the hurricane, as you may recall. I could link the post from September, but I probably won’t.

School is going well, considering the academic director got married yesterday. No major lapses in planning or fore-thought. A minor miracle here on the peninsula. I finished with my SAT classes, so I no longer have to think up rationalizations for the minutiae of English grammar on the fly.

Next week, I get to fast forward through a nude scene in the movie my middle school class is watching. It’s a class of boys, so I’m already snickering that they aren’t going to get to see the one part of the movie that would be interesting to them. Remember the films you watched in school? Wouldn’t a little nudity have made them more fun and interesting? Yeah.
My legs are dying at the moment. I’ve actually been sticking to my resolutions. No, not the one to randomly blackmail people that I put on my facebook page. My real resolutions: cut out processed foods and exercise. So far, I’ve learned that green smoothies are delicious, even if they look and sound vile; I’ve lost 3kg (yes, a sign of how far I have to go); and I’ve realized exactly how out of shape I had gotten. When I say it hurts to use stairs, I mean, up or down, three steps or three flights, I want to grimace in pain. By “want” of course, I mean that I probably am. Fortunately, I’m a foreigner, therefore, crazy. 🙂
I have actually been knitting, but I don’t have any good photos. A few weeks ago, I finished a February Lady Sweater in a lovely green. I finally got the buttons on after Mama left, but I still haven’t worn it in public. Maybe to next weeks’ SnB… I’m about 1/3 of the way finished with a Henley-style sweater (not from a pattern) in an eggplanty color. Aubergine, if you prefer. Dongdaemun was having a great sale on yarn, so I bought enough to make sweaters in four colors, including these two. 🙂 Now, I just have to make them. And finish them. And put buttons on them. And wear them in public.

To Be a Cat Lady or Not To Be a Cat Lady

A couple of years ago, I discovered a baby yarn that looks like terry cloth. Of course, not in Korea, just online. Since it was not locally available, naturally, I lusted after that yarn in an unnatural way. The only thing that stopped me from ordering a sweater’s worth (as in, adult sweater, for me) was that it was only available in hideous baby pastels.

Then, last weekend, at Dongdaemun, I saw something even better. What could be better than terry cloth yarn, you ask? Mink blanket yarn! It looks like gigantic pipe cleaner yarn, but feels like a mink blanket. And! It was available in a purple/ lavender/ white variegated colorway. I snapped up a sweater’s worth without even asking the price (so, undoubtedly got the foreigner/ rube “special”). Well, it IS NaNoSweMo, right? Right. and if it’s knit on 10mm needles, I can get it done in a month. Or a weekend. Whichever.

I will not take a photo, because it is a sweater which screams, “THIS IS WORN BY A DIVORCED CAT LADY!” I will say that it is an over-sized cardi and it took me about 10 hours to knit. My kind of sweater.

In addition to my sweater success (I thought I would run out of yarn, but I finished with about 1/2 a row’s worth left over), my weekend was full of surprises. One of which was unexpectedly having a favor for a friend turn into 350K with a promise of future paydays. 🙂 A little something to offset the won’s swan dive. I also used Korean today and… actually had a conversation. About politics. Okay,the guy obviously was experienced with foreigner Korean, but still…

AND I put off the church lady that has decided to be my friend, at least for another week…

I’m Ready to Have Something on the Needles

I haven’t had anything on the needles in a few weeks, since I finished this:

Like the error right there in the middle? It’s my nod to the Amish. 😉 I know you are also in awe of my ghetto lace blocking style. It works, though. This scarf was super-easy. It’s just two repeats of the tilting blocks stitch pattern. I did around 30 repeats. The yarn is Filatura di Crossa, I can’t remember the colorway, but it’s a nice autumnal blend of rusts and olive-y greens. It’s for my mom, as soon as I get it in the mail…

We had another contest on the SeoulPodcast, and here was the grand prize:

Not one, but two earpickers, an Englice dictionary, a “V-line” face massager, Korean stickers, some socks with gambling card images on them, and some random Korean candies.


We had Halloween at work this week. I forgot to take my camera one day, but here are a few kids from Wednesday.


I went to Yuldong Park to check out the foliage this past weekend. It was definitely not a date. 🙁 It was fun, anyway.

If you look closely, you can see that the bungee jump faces a huge church (above and slightly to the left of my head).

Don’t know what it is? Me, either.

Even the port-a-potties are nice. 🙂