Tuesday, September 25, 2007

definately autumn

This week, I have been very happy that I finished my hat since I have worn it every day. It is definitely autumn. The mornings have been a bit more brisk and the evenings have that distinct chill in them. Today I headed home about 6:30 and the sun was setting! There are also very pretty leaves on the ground and trees.

Now, I really need to finish my "slipper socks" and make the hand warmers so that my hands don't freeze as I wait for the bus...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another F.O.

Much to my happiness, knitting needles are allowed on planes. In Berlin, I brought a couple things with me since I didn't know what I would want to work on. However, I didn't do much knitting except on the plane so I ended up having too much yarn and too many needles with me. I didn't want to repeat this on our trip home so I planned one project with the thought that I would knit on the plane over there but not on the way back. This turned out to be true but I still ended up at a yarn shop buying yarn and needles for a going back project...

So, I looked through my stash and the patterns that I had printed off as "to do" projects. The baby alpaca that I got in Berlin was calling to me. I wanted to work with it. And I had found a pattern for a hat in a similar weight yarn with the same meterage as my alpaca so I decided that this would be the project for the trip. It would be my first attempt at a lace pattern and seemed pretty simple.

On the plane, after take-off, I cast on and worked the first couple rows. I then got into the lace part and had a mental blank on what a yarn over was. See, I thought that it had a knit stitch with it. After a couple rows and doing mental math, I realized that it was just the position of the yarn. So, I ripped the whole thing out And then John started asking questions about how I was knitting the hat. He asked why I couldn't knit it from the top down since I wasn't sure that I would have enough yarn and a different color would look better on the "brim" than on the top. In an attempt to explain why it wouldn't work, I realized that it just might work and I wanted to try it. So, I cast on a few stitches and then worked the pattern backwards, increasing with yarn overs instead of decreasing on the crown. I got it figured out (improvised really) and quite like the way I did the increases because I think it works well with the rest of the hat.

I got most of the hat done on the plane journey home but not quite. Since we had a delay going back to Dublin, I decided that I would finish it off at the airport. I knit until it was the length that I wanted and then cast off as loosely as I could. However it didn't fit anymore!! The cast off was too tight. I was disappointed but looked at the way the cast off stitches looked and realized that I could take them out since I hadn't woven the ends in yet. I put it away until we got back to Dublin and then took out the cast off, knit another row and cast off again with MUCH bigger needles. And now I love it. And a friend likes it so much she asked me to make her one and I am going to try it in silk even though I've been told sick hats don't have "structure." Since I don't know what that means and the alpaca doesn't really have structure either, I'm going to try it...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Buses and trains...

Yesterday, I left work a bit later than I had planned and of course traffic was mental. I got on the first bus that stopped by work (not the route that went to my final destination). Since I was going to knitting group, I needed to get to the dart and was going to miss the one that would get me there on time (not that I need to be there on time but I had wanted the girls' opinions on some wedding stuff before the group started). So, the bus stops on O'Connell street and the driver announced that it was the next stop would be Trinity College. On a whim, I asked the driver if the Trinity stop was closer to Tara Street of Pearse Street station. He said it was about halfway between the two but he would be going near Pearse if I stayed on the bus. He then asked me to go check to see if there was anyone upstairs so I did. Still not sure why he asked that. He then told me to stay on the bus and dropped me directly in front of Pearse station. I looked up at the bus stop sign and it seemed to be on his route. Anyway, I got off the bus, into Pearse and up to the platform and the train that I thought I had missed was arriving! I got on the train and made it only a few minutes later than I wanted to be.

This morning, I was running a bit late and it was raining (of course). I was standing in city centre waiting for a bus. I had waited about 15 minutes (unusual for me) and saw one of the buses that I could take. I jogged down to the stop and got to it as the bus pulled away. It barely stopped enough for the people to get off the bus! A guy who was also waiting for a bus knocked on the door of the bus (I am sure that the driver had seen us running for the bus), the driver waved his hands at him and said something. He didn't look happy. He then paused a bit and I thought he was going to let us on the bus. Nope, he pulled away! A couple minutes later, another bus pulled up (two of the same route one behind the other of course) and I got on the second bus because it was emptier. At least it was one of the fast routes. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


While home, we frequently heard ads on the radio for a Motivation show. At first, we thought that the ads were a joke because the radio station does this sometimes. Well, that and the ads were so ridiculous. I looked up the show online and the information seems to be for businesses that want to motivate their employees through incentives and rewards.

As I've blogged about before, everyone needs intrinsic and extrinsic rewards in their work. This show seems to focus on the tangible extrinsic rewards. It doesn't appear to address any non-monetary related rewards. In my experience, it isn't monetary (or travel) incentives that increase motivation. It is about how a company treats its employees.

If management decides to change someone's job without asking them or telling them until they show up to work one day, motivation/morale is going to be low. If management keeps changing your workload every couple months because clients are complaining that they haven't had the service in the contract that they signed with your company, morale is going to be low. If you work really hard and complete a project on an unreasonable deadline that saves the company a lot of money and you don't get a personal thank you from any management, you aren't going to be very motivated to do a good job. If you lose your desk to a new hire when you have been in the company a few years, you aren't going to have high morale. If you have to share voice mail with other people when clients are supposed to be able to leave confidential information for you, morale will suffer. If management decides to move people's offices around and you get moved into an office so cramped that you can't move your chair without bumping someone while another department has twice the space and half the people, you probably aren't going to be that motivated. If your boss schedules you for a two hour meeting on a Friday (repeatedly), you aren't going to be that happy. If you boss tells a coworker that she can leave a couple hours early one day and make up the time later and 10 minutes later tells you that she doesn't have the authority to let you go an hour early to make a flight, you aren't going to be very motivated. If your boss tells you that she doesn't want to be a supervisor anymore (or never wanted to be one), your motivation may go down. If you repeatedly go to "cheer leading sessions" where upper management tells you everything is great while the company's going bankrupt or being bought out, your motivation isn't going to be high. When you spend a couple hours to have a meeting to prepare for another meeting where the same things will be discussed and nothing decided, employees may get a bit frustrated or apathetic. If your coworkers refuse to share materials or help you with clients even though you help them out and they use your materials regularly, your morale may go down.

Now, I'd like to see a conference that actually address some of the reasons for employee apathy...

(Note, this list is a compilation of many people's jobs.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

We have plans!

Today we returned from a week home. It was great to see people but it was more of a business trip of sorts. We had the mission to see how much wedding planning we could do in a week. On Monday, we saw the reception site and met the coordinator for our reception. We also interviewed a photographer and had dinner with friends. On Tuesday we met the pastor who will perform the ceremony and John got to see the church (I used to go there when I lived in the area). We were supposed to meet another photographer but she is moving out of the area next year so she canceled our appointment.

On Wednesday morning, we met with another photographer before I got my hair cut and colored. I really liked his eye but then I knew that to some extent because I had found him online and looked at his portfolio before the appointment. Wednesday night, we had dinner with John's mom and brother.

On Thursday, we met with the florist that I used to go to when I lived in the area. I used to stop by on Fridays to buy a rose. If I had a tough week, I'd buy more flowers. As I kept coming in, they got to know me a bit and would sometimes let me go in the back to pick whatever flowers I wanted (as long as they weren't for a wedding). Since I was in there often enough, I got to see what their work was like for weddings. I also use them whenever I send flowers in the area and people always compliment the flowers. During the meeting, I showed the woman my wedding idea book and she told me what would work or not. When I showed her examples of dresses that I was considering and she went into the back and came back with a perfect bouquet for my bouquet. It was exactly what I wanted. Then we talked about the other bouquets and the table centerpieces and again, she went into the back and came back with a perfect bouquet. It was wonderful. It was the colors that we wanted and had many of my preferred flowers in it! And the price was even in line with the budget (which I hadn't told them my budget beforehand)!

We met with a different florist on Friday but they didn't seem to hear what I wanted and didn't go make up examples for me to see. They were nice, but just not as personal as the one we are going to go with.

On Saturday, we went dress shopping! Two of my bridesmaids went to one shop to scope out dresses. They then met my sister and me at the shop we were at and I had just finished trying on dresses. After I had made a decision on my dress, we decided to go see if another shop had a particular bridesmaid dress for my sister to try on. We ended up back at the first shop which happened to have the one dress that I had liked and was on the list to try on. but the first shop didn't have On a whim and since we were there, I tried in on. And Renee and J liked it better than the other one. And it looks fabulous. But then both options look fabulous, just in different ways.

Saturday night we went to my favorite pizza place with a big group of plans. All in all, a great trip home...

Friday, September 07, 2007

I say it's my birthday!

OK, my birthday was last week, but I think I get a week to celebrate. :) It was a lovely birthday as well. We were supposed to be home for it but had to change our plans to accommodate a wedding (and by going home at a different time, I get to see my sister). Anyway, it was a good birthday. John got me lots of presents and was very good to me. He even gave me one early. :) I got not one, but two knitting stitch dictionaries/pattern books (one from John and one from friends), a Vogue knitting "how to" book (from one of John's sisters), a book on stained glass, two Avoca cookbooks from a friend, two necklaces (from John), and kitty earrings from a friend. Oh, I also got a green tea scented candle and a picnic set backpack. The backpack is really cute. It has service for two with a place to store food and keep it cold as well. :)

So for my birthday, John took me to Il Posto for dinner. We hadn't been there before but it was wonderful. Excellent food, good service, and an all around nice place. It is a pretty small place but I quite liked that because it made it cozier.

On Saturday, we went to the Porterhouse with friends. John and I got there early so that we were able to get a table. A good group of people came and we stayed out until about 2.30 AM! I hadn't been out that late in ages. After leaving the Porterhouse, we went to get Indian food at our favorite place. It was tasty as always. On Sunday, I had lunch with a friend who I hadn't seen since May. It was lovely to see her and hear that she is doing well. And she is pregnant so I think I have more knitting to do. :)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


On our last day in Germany (yes, we are finally at the end of our trip!), it poured. And poured. It didn't start out that way. In fact, it looked like an OK day when we we decided to sit under umbrellas and have Italian food for lunch. In the middle of our dinner, the rain started. At first we were OK but then it splashed up to hit my skirt. And then the rain got heavier and we started getting wet. I used my umbrella to stay dry while we finished our lunch and left the restaurant. There was a church nearby that looked interesting so we ducked into it.

Anyway, back to the story. We spent the day going in and out of churches before having dinner with John's host family. All in all, a good last day of our trip (even though we didn't make it to Checkpoint Charlie).

AHa - Alles Handarbeit

As I mentioned in a previous post, we went to Alt Koepenick based on a recommendation of a fellow knitter. When we got to the area, we looked around, found the yarn shop on Rosenstrasse (which was closed for lunch) and went and had lunch in the Rathskeller and then went back. It was a lovely little shop with a decent selection of yarn. I got some fun yarn to make socks striped in the colors of the German flag. They also had what I is my favorite yarn from the trip. I really wish that I had bought more of the tangerine colored silk/merino blend because it is such a beautiful color and I don't even like orange. I got enough to make a scarf for a friend but when I mentioned it to my mom, she oohed over it so now I think I am going to try to find another yarn to go with it so that I can make two scarves, one for my friend, one for my mom. Or maybe I'll just be a good daughter...

Ka De We

Ka De We is Germany's largest department store. Since we had been to Harrods in London, I wanted to see how Ka De We compared. Well, that and the guidebook said that it had everything from yarn to washing machines. Yep, that means I wanted to see the yarn. :) So, we hopped off the bus tour to stop at the store and walked in. Wow! It is massive.

We found a store directory (really useful and needed) and found that the yarn was located at -1. We assumed that meant it was downstairs. So, we walked through the sock department looking for an escalator or lift (elevator) trying to find our way down. However, the elevators stopped at the ground floor. So, we looked through the sock department some more (it was the biggest sock department I have ever seen since it was the size of a small shop in Ireland). Nope, still no way to get below ground level. Then we looked at the store directory again. -1 wasn't in the main building. There was another building to the store across the street!

When we stepped outside, I noticed that there was also a pharmacy building. The craft building was labeled in a funky way (which I quite liked). We went inside and to look at yet more yarn. John found some sock yarn that he wants me to make socks for him (I will learn how to make socks later this month) and I found sock yarns to make for some friends and maybe a pair for myself as well. The yarn that John chose for himself is Opal sock yarn based on the colors in a Hundertwasser painting. I also found a wonderful lilac baby alpaca which I am hoping to make into a hat (and by I found, I mean John found). I was very happy to find when we got home and I showed off my finds to the girls at This is Knit that other than the alpaca, I got good prices. :)

Oh, we didn't have time to wander the rest of the store (aka the main building)...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Boat Tour

After the bus tour we hopped onto a boat tour on the Spree river. That is the same river that we canoed on in the Spreewald. In Berlin all of the little byways have formed back together though and it's back to being a proper river again. It was such a nice sunny day there were lots of people out relaxing on the river banks in the many "beach" bars. It's really too bad Dublin doesn't have something similar. We've never been on the Liffey Voyage tour but it's hard to believe it'll match up. The Berlin tour is a nice tour where the serve beer and desserts on the boat. We both brought our own ice creams on board but I stole John's. :)


The next day we opted to take one of those ubiquitous Hop-On/Hop-Off bus tours that you see in every city that gets even the smallest number of tourists. We made the choice since we only had a very limited time in Berlin and thought it'd be a good way to at least see the outsides of a few places while getting between the main sites. One of the things John really wanted to show me was the
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church). It's a church that was built at the end of the 19th century but was bombed in 1943. Instead of demolishing it or restoring it to its former glory it's been left as a memorial to victims of war. A new modern church has been built on a portion of the site but the real draw is the remnants of the original. It's interesting to see them together and nice to see something that hasn't been restored to look artificially old.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A couple Berlin sites

One evening, we wandered around the eastern part of Berlin. On our wanderings, we saw the Brandenburg Tor which was built in the late 1700s to represent peace. After Napoleon concurred Berlin, he took the top of the gate with him as war spoils. When the Nazis were in power, they used the gate to symbolize their power. When the Berlin wall was built, the gate was closed.

After seeing the gate, we then wandered towards our hotel and happened upon the Holocaust Memorial and Jewish museum. Unfortunately, the visitor centre was closed so we couldn't see it. The memorial is quite striking, especially at dusk. The ground is uneven and the pillars are as well so there is this surreal wavy characteristic to it. As you get further into the memorial, the pillars also get taller. It is well worth a visit.

Schloss Koepenick

Upon a recommendation of a fellow knitter, we made a trip down to Alt Koepenick to check out a yarn shop. Alt Koepenick is on the southern part of Eastern Berlin and is a lovely little village. Since we like castles, we went to check out the schloss and I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of being a "typical" palace, it is actually a palace museum. It had pieces from palaces around Europe and also had some rooms decorated the way different classes would have it so we were able to see the styles of the middle class as well as the aristocracy.

One of the main things that I enjoyed about the palace was the amount of woodwork. Because my dad worked with wood, I am interested in the different techniques. The museum had information about two different techniques to create designed wood: marquetry and inlay. We also learned that bier steins are not just a tourist thing, people did actually use them and they were decorated in the past.