Sunday, July 31, 2011


So a friend of mine put out the call to take sign photos. She wanted to be inspired by text for a art project she is part of, but I took it to the next level and took pictures of all cool signs me or DH saw. It turns out it was very inspiring journey for me too and I have some thing to share about some of the images. For those of you that would like to see more I have set up a flickr set for just signs, and I will be adding to it.
 This first image is always shocking to me - and I have seen it quite a bit. The "not recommended for pregnant woman" symbol. I suppose what shocks me is that I am used to being from a country where all of the warnings are just text. Here in the EU where a product is distributed to many countries with many languages a picture warnings make sense. (This would make a great embroidery project...just saying.)
 This next sign is the logo for a Catalonian restaurant chain here in Madrid. It is of a man in historical Cataloian dress drinking out of a "Porro" a Catolonian drinking vessel. (It obviously takes some practice to drink like this, and no I have never tried wine stains badly.) Anyway the first thing I thought of when I saw this was "needle-point canvas". It is painted on a grid already.
 I apparently LOVE  Gothic font signs, I took a lot of photos of them. I have a feeling that bars in the center of Madrid like the font too as all of these Gothic font photos were either on a bar or on a Belgian beer bottle. I took all of the photos in and around Calle Mayor yesterday.
 I just love how so many places have signs here made of interlocking tiles.
 A lot of the street signs in this area are made of tiles with descriptive images. This sign reads "Street of Embroiders".
 I think that you have to look hard to make it out, but the "graffiti" on this store is the name of the store too. Note the graffiti scissors - too cool.
 This Gothic loveliness was painted directly on the window with cool Gothic images, reminding of old monastery texts. This is apparently the Museum of Galicia - maybe a trip for another day.
 Another shot of the street signs - yes my American friends this is the only indication of the streets names, no sign posts here. The first one seems to my DH to mean "Street of the Lined (animals)" and the second one is the "Street of the Farriers".
 I like the simple lines here, I also love how one tine of one of the forks is missing.
 " Attention! The price of the menu is up to you! ps Don't be shy to ask"
 A beer demi-God and his Maiden.
A fancy version of the symbol of Madrid inlaid in the sidewalk.

I hope I have passed on an inspiration to create!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I think it is possible to be on a Spanish high!
Oh yeah, who went to knitting group last night knowing that there were no native English speakers attending? That is right 3.5 hours of Spanish in a loud Starbucks with multiple people speaking at know what? I did not do so bad.

I DO have to make the disclaimer that everyone in the group were all making and effort to speak slowly and loudly for me - still progress!

One fellow knitter was genuinely surprised that I had only lived here two months, because I knew so much Spanish already.Wow what a confidence booster! I feel like I can go out into the world and get things talk to the people at the pluming store about our constantly running toilet. Maybe I will even understand them if they tell I had better go and catch it. ;)

This picture is of Cat Bordhi's new Tomato heel which I am very excited about. It looks like it will fit better, it is super easy, AND you can make a sock that it almost sure to fit JUST from the foot length and widest stitch count (this one is 72 because it is for a guy).

Friday, July 29, 2011


Hello everyone!
As the title suggests I am very unmotivated today....So I thought I would blog. HAHA

It is another hot beautiful day here in Spain and it is making me lazy, and as the last post had a dark tone to it I thought I would share the rest of pictures I took back in May of the Parque de Plaza Castilla. The park is kind of set up like a gigantic quilt which if you go to Google Maps and look in satelite view (down and to the right of the roundabout) you can get a better idea of.

I only got a picture of one of the squares, but it is bright, pretty, and full of flowers and sunshine!

Wish me motivation!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Different prespective

These photos are really speaking to me today. 

I just have a point-and-shoot camera, a Canon Power Shot SD750 Digital Elph for all of you who care the type. I have learned so much with this camera! Even simple point-and-shoots have a multitude of setting choices. Maybe I will do another blog post about it if there in interest, but you can take wonderful pictures with this simple tool (as I hope I have proven over the last couple of posts).

One of the settings on my camera is a setting that only highlights green everything else shows up in grayscale.  These were taken in the Parque de Plaza Castellana during our first week here (May 2011). Spring was in the air so the greens were vibrant and fresh.
I love using this setting to give a different perspective on a familiar view. My eyes almost always trick me into looking for the color that is not there. Which is a really good metaphor for those of you that are wondering how I am doing. I find myself in the middle of Spain, in an English bubble. It is frustrating, but it is surprisingly easy to do. Here is how you do it:
1.) Get to know some English speaking friends.
2.) Watch American TV shows (the tv has a setting that allows them to be played in their original language).
3.) Do not speak to strangers on the street (actually this is not a bad rule to have in a big city).
4.) Speak to your spouse only in the language you have been communicating just fine in for the last 10 years.
5.) Consume all media in English, books, audio books, e-mail, social networking sites, podcasts....

I am doing all of those things on some level. SIGH I fight off the urge to be in the English bubble several times a day. It is hard because it is comforting and safe. I actually put in several hours of studying Spanish though out the day, I just do not have much practical application. I am getting better, speaking more in Spanish to DH, reading a book in Spanish, and starting to think of more ways to go out and find people to talk to....but to be honest....some days I am surprised that I am in Spain.

 I love using this setting to give a different perspective on a familiar view. My eyes almost always trick me into looking for the color that is not there. Spain has a Western culture similar to the US, the view is so familiar sometimes that I am always looking for the "culture/language/home" that is not there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Encaje de Bolillos

One of the more shocking things (to me) about Madrid is that there are no spinning supplies. 
There are no husos (spindles), no lana rustica (spinning wool), and definitively no rueca de hilar (spinning wheels) to be found. In fact if you ask, you are graced with a look that suggest that you have three heads. It is shocking to me because spinning is enjoying a strong resurgence in North America, Northern Europe and the UK. Even though Spinning is one of humanities oldest crafts, the recent availability of hand dyed spinning wool, and the art yarns that some fiber artist are making, makes the craft seem new and modern. 

To the contrast encaje de bolillos or bobbin lace strikes me as very old fashioned. Even though it was thought to be created in the 16th century (way after spinning). Bobbin lace is not fading though, it seems to be popular here if you go by what the stores are selling.
In fact all of the pictures I took in the post were taken within 400 meters of each other.

Apparently bobbin lace used to be made out of fine metal threads for the gowns of royalty.

This is inspiring me with ideas. Bobbin lace out of wire, out of Habu textile's steel wool? That could be used for bracelets or necklaces? 

What about bobbin lace in modern colors? A touch of lime green lace at the top of your favorite eggplant colored camisole?

What about a bobbin lace edging done in white and then hand painted afterwards like this?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The finger

 I have been thinking a lot today about a certain sculpture of a hand here in Madrid. This hand is located in the middle of Paseo de la Casellana in front of the natural History Museum.

It is a good experience, a little interesting, you start to wonder what it means. What is the significance of this sculpture? You are crossing the street as you think this it is a big street and you usually have to wait here in the middle to cross again.

When you come back it is a different view altogether. I wonder if the artist meant it to do that?

That is my day today. Good from one angle, giving me the finger from another. I hope your day is going better.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Sundays are something I am trying really hard to get used to in Spain. On Sunday 97% of retail stores are closed. All of your grocery stores, pharmacies, supermarkets, and malls are closed. Even the really big ones. The only things that are really open on Sundays are bars and restaurants (although not all of them, especially not during vacation months). You have to plan ahead to make sure that you will not run out of the essentials.
I know, I know, you are thinking - "it is just one day Kay, come on how bad can it be". Sunday we ran out of cat food. What commenced was a 5 hour quest where we crisscrossed the city in search of an open store that sold our cat food. We ended up get a can of "Brekkies" (a cat food that probably has a nutritional value of a snickers bar) at a local 24 hour store. Most 24 hour stores are not open 24 hours, but usually are curing American business hours on Sundays. The trick is to find one in the warrens nest of streets here, especially when you realize how much you use the internet to find stores, and how small a percentage of Spain stores have a website.

Anyway the husband and I are going to sit back and embrace the Spanish way today. We might go to the park later. We might go to a local bar and have a beer and some tapas. Basically rest and recharge for the week ahead. We ran around so much yesterday I guess that it is taking it's toll.
Have a good Sunday everyone!


Saturday is rapidly becoming my favorite day of the week. It is a day that I get my security blanket...I mean Husband all to myself. It is a day where things are open and we can go shopping or explore the city together.
We decided to have a book shopping day, looking for used books in both English and in Spanish.

We are very lucky to have a bus that stops right by our house and goes into the heart of the city. One of the stops is by the Puerta de Alcalá. Which I did not notice but it is completely different on either side! It does not even look like the same gate. Here is the view we saw yesterday (complete with a tourist posing whom I did not know).

Below is the other side of the gate I had taken almost  two months ago.

 Right next to this is the THE park of the city El Parque del buen Retiro. It is massive, it is beautiful, and there are different themes and sections. There is a crystal palace, and a boating pond where you can be in actual boats (not toys for the kids). But today was not about the park - it is wasjust a pleasant walk (maybe a bit longer than we expected)  to get to the books.

 (Below left) I am totally going to do a photographic collection of the "dramatic angel of Madrid" there are so many. (Below right) below the dramatic angel where some gargoyles that totally look like creatures out of the movie "Labyrinth" (think fire gang)

On to the books of  Cuesta de Moyano most of the books are used and it is located just outside the Retiro to one side of the botanic gardens. It has almost been there for 100 years (it was started in 1919). It is a good place to look for used books, ranging from first editions to very used paperbacks. Most of the books you find here are in Spanish (which is what we were looking for), but there are books in: English, German, and French as well.

OK I did not get many pictures of the books, because frankly I did not think of it. I got this one though and it should give the flavor of what the book market is like. There are permanent booths to the left and  tables with books to the right.

We than headed off to the neighborhood of J and J books. J and J's is a used English bookstore in the heart of Madrid (sadly no pictures).
But first..we stopped into a bar to get some lunch and some...

Estrella Damm is a Barcelonian beer. DAMM that is good beer.
I love that sign it is all tiles and the slogan is "the pleasure of kings".

Friday, July 15, 2011

Smokey Friday

The fire actually started one Thursday at 11 (RST), 10 hectares of fields burnt by the airport. We had to keep the windows closed all night because it was so strong.  Now I grew up in Colorado so I am used to forest fires in the summer time. But this one is IN the 3rd largest city in Europe. No one seems very concerned about it here, but it is making me feel like a trapped rat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tour de Fleece

 I can not go very much longer without paying homage to "Tour de Fleece" started by Star six years ago, and very much alive and thriving on Ravelry. It is a time to celebrate spinning. We spin while the bikers spin.

OK, OK, so most of don't spin the four hours when the bikers spin. We spin when we can. Setting goals, meeting challenges, and getting some luscious handspun out of the bargain. There is a great feel of on-line comradery that just makes it one of the best times of the year.

Since the resurgence of the love of spinning has not hit Madrid yet...
I am doing my best to represent.

Above you can see one of my favorite spindles (made by yours truly out of a chopstick and a closet rod end). I painted it with southern designs and it makes me feel closer to home, plus it spins really well (the fiber is SSB see link below). The white ball is cotton singles (it is really fun to spin cotton). That fiber braid is fatcatknits Falkland wool in the colorway "Ester" and I am spinning it up on another homemade spindle.

Below I am spinning some lace weight Pollworth wool on my very own, made just for me, Gripping Yarn rose spindle a hybrid between a French Handheld Spindle and a Russian Spindle. Shown here on my glamorous window ledge with my even more glamorous sheets.
 Next up we have some fiber from Susan's Spinning Bunny it is BFL in the colorway "Hibiscus" and I am also spin it into a lace weight yarn hopefully to make into a shawlette. I am spinning all of my project for the Tour as fine as possible to make the fiber last (my stash is stuck in UK customs), and because lace weight is hard to find here in Madrid.

Is spinning the secret to world peace?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Temple of Debod

Hello everyone, in spite of my best efforts, I am again hit with a bout of home sickness this week. So rather than dwell on it I thought that I would bring you anther picture heavy post. I took these pictures the 3rd of July at, of all things, a Forth of July celebration in the park below this one.

One of the coolest things in Madrid is the Templo de Debod (and the location of the last two WWKIP days in Madrid).
 It is, as you might have guess, Egyptian in origin, and it is one of only a handful of monuments of it's kind outside of Egypt. It was a gift to the Spanish government for helping save monuments in the Aswan valley that were threatened by the building of the Aswan Dam.

 According to Wikipedia, it was not resembled in it's original formation. I think they did a good job - it is very striking.
 You might be able to make out that they had re build sizable portions of the walls.
 Mountains, sigh. Madrid is a deceptively hilly city and I have a theory that the mountains should be visible from more parts of it - but there are too many buildings. In this view the back of the Temple of Debod is behind me and I am standing at a fence looking down across "Casa de Campo" park towards the sierras in the center of Spain.
 If I was to turn around (with my back to the mountains) I would see this view: a fountain and the back of the temple.
 To the South of the temple is another hilly overlook with views of the Royal Palace. (It is a little odd to being in a country with a royal family.)

 Another picture of the temple taken from the side of the temple.
 A view of the gardens to the sides of the temple.
 I think this is a column from the temple? It is actually quite a ways away from it - although still in the same park - Parque del Oeste.
My favorite view - some how in my American mind the palm trees make it feel more Egyptian. Plus I am still not used to palm trees - they are very cool.