Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Working With Color

Tunisian Carpet Bag
Originally uploaded by ladylinoleum
Whew! This week has definitely gotten away from me! I've been playing catch up at work and home, trying to dig out from two weeks of travel. I meant to post much earlier in the week, but you all know how it goes. Busy, busy, busy!

At any rate, my career life is nuts to say the least. Not only do I toil about the cube farm by day, but my second career of teaching crocheting and knitting is really starting to take off. I have students most weekends now. I even have "regulars". Very cool!

Let's hear it for the "yarn farm"!


Okay, so this weekend I am teaching a new workshop. This one will focus on working with color for knitters. We will explore the vast frontier of charts, bobbins, intarsia and fair isle! Should be fun! If you're in the Los Angeles area and you have the need to knit with a bazillion colors at once, come on by!

For more information contact:
Abuelita's Knitting and Needlepoint
1012 B Mission Street
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Outside London - The All Day Tour!

Sorry for the abrupt halt of my London travel posts. We moved onto Paris and the "free wifi" at the hotel never worked. At any rate, I'm home. I'm also fried. However, I have a long weekend to recover AND catch you all up on my travel experiences.

So, where were we? Ah yes, London! Well, aside from working each day out of the London office and eating my way about town by night, I did manage to get in a bit of R&R before hopping a train to Paris. One of my work colleagues and I decided to spend a day away from the UK cube farm in order to try and see a bit of the countryside. We grabbed my husband and boarded a bus bound for the west of England!

First stop, Bath!

Although there is much to see in this fair city, our tour was to drop us off at the Roman Spa for a few hours before moving onto the next locale.

Our visit did not disappoint as the site itself is huge, taking the tourist from street level down into the subterranean structure of the Spa itself. There were artifacts galore and the handy audio guide was my companion throughout the visit, highlighting points of interest as I snaked my way about the maze of stone and thermal hot springs.

I was definitely drawn to the mosaics. Think intarsia charts peeps!

And I have a thing for ginormous heads...

Needless to say, what I found to be the most interesting artifacts were the spinning and weaving tools that had been excavated around the site...

Today's spinning and weaving tools have changed little. You know the old cliche, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, definitely applies.

Upon completion of our tour de spa, we were back on the bus traveling to stop numero dos, Salisbury Cathedral, home of the Magna Carta and "one of the finest medieval Cathedrals in Britain"!

The exterior is stunning in size and scope. Riddled with details, one could spend the whole day meandering about the edifice uncovering architectural characteristics galore.

Once inside, the sheer size of the structure hit home. I was awed. My few pictures hardly do the place justice, but here's a few anyway...

Did you catch that altar piece above? Yeah, well, needlepoint is alive and well at Salisbury Cathedral. After noticing that particular altar piece, I began to notice a plethora of needlepoint chair cushions as well. Each one a piece of art...

I love needlepoint. If I weren't currently knitting, crocheting, weaving, dyeing and spinning, I'd definitely be doing a bit of needlepoint. However, I'm just a tad too busy.

Moving right along.

After basking in the glow of the Magna Carta, we made our way back the bus for our final stop, Stonehenge!

How about a round of applause for managing to snap a pic devoid of my fellow tourists???

Although, normally, I hate these one day touristic extravaganzas, this one was totally tolerable. Because of my work schedule, it was my best hope to see some of the heritage sites about Britain.

Next post is all about France...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

London Highlights - LOTR Musical

Long-time readers will know that I'm not afraid of getting a little touchy feely with my inner geek. I love plopping my arse into my chair after a difficult day at the cube farm, only to turn on the tube and hang out with Picard and crew on the Bridge of the Starship Enterprise or fly around BSG doing a bit of viper patrol with Starbuck or, as is often the case, traipse around Middle Earth trying to lose that freaky dude, Gollum. Um, yeah.

Anyway, I figured that my inner geek would be taking a vacay on this trip as I'd be working quite a bit and well, Sci Fi isn't exactly readily available in the channel line-up of most hotels. They don't know what they're missing...At any rate, you can imagine how happy my geeky self became after spotting a theater poster when having breakfast at an outdoor cafe in Leicester Square on Sunday for Lord Of The Rings Musical!

Oh yeah...Not leaving London until I've seen that! After all, I have a history with the Fellowship people!

Let's look into LadyLinoleum's LOTR file, shall we?

1. I own all of Tolkien's tomes. Okay, they aren't first additions or anything, but these texts are special to me nonetheless. Well read and well loved.

2. I have maps of Middle Earth. Hey, they could come in handy. You never know!!

2. I own all three Peter Jackson films. The extended versions. Hell, I even own the Rankin/Bass cartoons.

3. I flew to New Zealand to visit Hobbiton. Okay, I didn't specifically go to New Zealand to pay homage to hobbit holes. However, it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip!

4. I attended the One Ring Con in Burbank just over a year ago. I even paid to have my pic taken with Andy Serkis (Gollum himself) along with a few of my Gollum hats.

5. Speaking of Gollum headgear...Yes, I designed it to be worn at the One Ring Con.

6. A few years ago, friends and I attended the Lord of the Rings Symphony performed at the Hollywood Bowl. No, we didn't wear elvish attire...Jeesh.

7. I wear THE one ring each and every day.

8. I wear Gollum too.

9. I think that Middle Earth looked quite snazzy on stage.

It's all making sense right about now, correct?

Okay, as we can see above, I'm a bit biased when it comes to the subject of LOTR, but truly, the musical was great! Nothing like watching Gollum, Gandalf and four little dudes with hairy feet dance about stage belting out tunes!


Oh, whatever. I liked it and that's all that matters.

So there!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

London - Day Two

When I was told that I was to go to London and Paris for work, I asked (insisted actually) my boss if I could pad the trip with a bit of free time as a 10 to 12 hour journey each way via airliner is a commitment to be sure. He agreed (thankfully) and my colleagues and I hopped a flight last Friday, arriving in the late afternoon last Saturday, leaving us free to explore the city on Sunday before putting noses to the grindstone on Monday at the office.

Sunday was a beautiful day in this fair city, sunny and warm (hot really), perfect for taking to the streets on foot and exploring. Random exploration would not do however, as I had an overall plan. I longed to go to Tate Modern and peruse floor after floor of creative genius, much of which I'd only seen previously in my art historical texts during college. This was my day to experience the work in person!

In the morning, I grabbed one of my travel companions and we set off for a bit of breakfast before crossing the Waterloo Bridge to the opposite side of the Thames in order to make our way to the Tate. Upon reaching the facing shore we were inundated by throngs of people enjoying the sunshine, watching any one of the many street performances taking place, clamoring to hop aboard the London Eye for panoramic view of the city, just generally enjoying the touristic riches available to them on such a fine day. Despite the crowd, I was able to discern a few banners flanking the front of the County Hall Gallery emblazoned with the name Dali. Intrigued, my colleague and I moved to investigate.

One of the many performers along the water.

London Eye.

Upon entry to the building, we each forked over 11 pounds and made our way to the entrance of the Dali Universe. Mind you, my expectations were quite low regarding the happenstance we were about to partake in. Fortunately, I was more than pleasantly surprised once moving through what could only be characterized as a tunnel, painted black, marked by both image and the ever-quotable verbiage set forth by the Surrealist master, to the exhibition. The space beyond was literally filled with paintings, prints and sculptures made by the hand of Salvador himself.

How did I not know about this place?

We perused image after image ranging from the tight, expertly detailed work Dali is most known for to lose, painterly fare that took me by surprise. Wicked wit, erotic machinations and clever unconventions, image after image. Dali was a genius.

Art appetite moist, I was ready for the lengthy tromp along the Thames to the Tate. Along the way, my colleague and I stopped into many a waterside pup for a pint of cider in an effort to stave off the humidity and heat, which was fast becoming oppressive. (It was actually hotter in London than in hometown Los Angeles last weekend!) An hour and some change later we were standing in front of the mighty Tate Modern (my new favorite place on the planet)!

Tower at the front of the Tate.

The edifice alone is awe-inspiring. Yet strolling among the works contained inside was positively astounding. Now, I'm not exactly an art neophyte. To the contrary, I have two degrees in fine art. I've been to museums and galleries around the globe. Actually, I'm pretty jaded when it comes to looking at, speaking about, experiencing art in all of its many forms. However, as "old hat" as the world of art is for moi, I did, in fact, lose my ability to form words at the mecca of modern as I feasted eyes upon some of my favorite creations by some of my favorite artists: Duchamp's Fountain and Nude Descending a Staircase; Kapoor's Ishi's Light; Judd's untitled steel homage to the rectangle (hey, just call me a square); Giacometti's Standing Woman and of course a little Bacon. There was so much to see. So much that I loved, have always loved for that matter. The experience will stay with me for some time to come.

One really works up an appetite when one is in the presence of great artistic wonders. It was finally time to hit the hotel, wash off the heat of the day and ready ourselves to tie on the feedbag! Eating well is a feature of all my travels, business or pleasure, and Sunday evening's spectacular meal was a perfect example of this essential experience.

Hubby's flight had arrived just in time to join my co-workers and me for a lovely meal at Veeraswamy. This legendary locale is an outstanding example of east meets west decor. The place is beautiful, filled with color, glitz and glam. Very cool space, indeed. We sat adjacent to one of the floor to ceiling windows, allowing our party a bird's eye view of the bustling street below.

Veeraswamy's grand interior.

We began our meal with round of cocktails. While half our party chose to imbibe some fairly pedestrian alcoholic fare, two of us felt a bit more adventurous, choosing to indulge in lychee and rose water martinis. Can you say sweet and refreshing?

Next up a host of family style dishes such as Nizami Murgh (a Hyderabadi dish consisting of chicken breast and koftas with pine nut, lemon and rose petal), spicy Saag (by far, my favorite spinach dish ever), Sukhe Aloo (you say potatooo, I say potaaato), Kolhapuri Kofta (deep fried veggie croquettes in a savory brown sauce), Bombay Dal (mild yellow lentils spiced to perfection) and multiple orders of Naan. We ended the meal with a plump pot of chai, mango sorbet and banana kulfi to share. Another good meal to be sure.

As we strolled back to the hotel after dinner, I reflected upon the days events, feeling blessed to have had the experiences and readying myself for the week ahead. More to come folks!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

London - Day One

It's actually the beginning of Day Two, Sunday. However, seeing as we flew in yesterday at around 2:45, spent an inordinate amount of time (at least an hour and some change!) in the customs queue at Heathrow, drove into city center and got settled into our hotel, finally taking off on foot for dinner at about 6:30, I was just too damn tired to post last night after inhaling my meal.

However, I will always endure the rigors of a 10 hour flight to this destination as it 'tis one of my favorite cities on the planet! As long as I can stay awake upon arrival until a ripe-for-bedtime hour, I can enjoy London's pleasures relatively jet-lag free the rest of the week. I know, I have to actually go into work Monday through Thursday, but that will not stop me from enjoying myself!

Speaking of enjoying myself, I didn't do much of that last week. Hence, no posts. I was busy readying myself for two weeks worth of travel, tying up loose ends at the office, oh, and crocheting six enormous items for Crochet Today magazine! Literally, no free time. I plan to make up for last week's misery, by painting the town RED this week. Yes, indeedy.

Now, back last night. My two work colleagues and I were, needless to say, famished upon our arrival at the hotel. So, immediately following brief dates with our respective showers, we three met in the lobby and proceeded to a lovely restaurant around the corner from our home away from home, Al Duca, on recommendation from the hotel's concierge.

Nothing like kicking off two weeks of travel with a fine meal. Al Duca's delights were just the sort that the god Hermes would have partaken in upon exiting his chariot after a long journey!
We began with glasses of chianti and an amuse bouche consisting of a dollop of gorgonzola cream atop a roasted walnut with a sprig of dill. Lovely.

Our second foodie delight was Melanzane grigliate con burrata e olive nere (Char-grilled auberine with creamy mozzarella and black olives). This dish consisted of a generous slice of warm grilled eggplant topped with a healthy portion of THE most creamy burrata I've had the pleasure of tasting. Drizzled with olive oil tinged by its grassy origins, freshly ground black pepper and dotted about with olives nicoise, it was heavenly.

I had the Saltinbocca di branzino con patate n ovelle e scalogno marinato (Sea bass fillet wrapped with Parma ham, sage, sauteed new potatoes and pickled shallots) as my main course. Just remember, everything is better wrapped in bacon! Sea bass is hardly an exception. Cooked and seasoned flawlessly, I inhaled my perfectly portioned fillets. The skin of the fish was as crisp as the ham it was wrapped in, while the meat was tender and sweet. Underneath the fillets were lovely golden shallots and tender browned new potatoes. Mouthwatering.

I ended my meal with two small crepes, one filled with my daughter's fave toast topper, Nutella. The other infused with a lemony sweet ricotta. Yum!

This little bistro is definitely worth a try should you find yourself near Picadilly Circus AND you'd like to avoid some of the more tourist infested locales.

Okay folks, got to jet. Day Two awaits!