Thursday, October 27, 2011

In between

There is a Spanish gesture/sound that is a shrug/explosive sigh that would make a perfect start to this post. It basically means "what are you gong to do about it?"

I have not posted in some weeks because it has been SOME (intense) weeks. I think every single Spanish virus has found a home with me during the past three weeks. In between the bouts I have running around trying to get my residency paperwork in order, and of course, studying Spanish like mad.

I have gotten some crafty things done. I finished a par of fingerless mitts I designed for my husband. The black/white/gray yarn is Zuaberball and I was told it was impossible to do a matching project with it because the repeats are not regular. The husband and I discussed this, and he was ok with the concept. So I knitted the white one first, and then we discussed it again, this time with me pointing out that the second one was going to go to black. He said that was, again, fine. To sum up, it was too black. you can not really see the pattern. I have no idea why I stubbornly finished it, probably to ill to think straight, I mean I needed good light to be able to see the different between the yarns!
I went to the next gray/white bit in the yarn and was determined to knit a mitt at least more white. I do not have a picture of this (as it is finally cold and the mitts are now in rotation) but you can take my word for it, they are exactly the same now! Complete twins! We have decided to keep the black one as a single mitt, just in case one of the others is lost.

I think that they turned out well, and the pattern and colors are suitably manly. I love the combination of stranded color knitting and sock weight yarns for hand wear. The resulting product is super warm, lightweight, durable, easily washable, and artistic.

I spun with a project it mind. I have never tried to spin to gauge (tension) before, it did not turn out well. I ended up knitting the project in something else (pictures when blocked). Now I need to find a project for Aran weight yarn - about 150 yards.

This is a brown merino top that I ordered from a Spanish shop I found online  Tejo lo que Hilo which basically means "I knit what I spin". They also stock Spanish Merino from there which I was excited to find. I will do a post about it another day, but Merino Sheep originated from Spain, so the fact I can get this fiber "from the source" gives me a thrill.

(One further note, it is so weird to have a Euro coin giving my yarn some scale. FYI this is about the size of the US nickel.)
I did go out some the past couple of weeks. This photo was too good not to take. I live in the part of town considered to have the most English/USAmerican/Irish immigrants, and therefore I have a lot of Irish bar around me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they sell half pints! Look a Guinness had a baby.
Fun Spanish fact: Behind the beers, noticed that there is small plates of food. Here in Spain, if you order a drink you get something free to nibble on too. That is how Tapas started out.

This might have been one of the last night we were able to sit outside to enjoy beer, the weather has changed to cold and rainy.

I know these pictures are random, but they are from different days.
This was taken when I was downtown trying to sort out my paperwork for my Residency card.

Living in one of the biggest European cities, the fashion, and shopping scene here is just amazing. I have seen mothers that look like they just walked out of a fashion magazine just to walk their kids in the stroller! The verity of things you can buy is amazing too, but some of them are just SO over the top, you have to take a picture.
May I present knit and leather squirrel bag with floral and grape embellishments?

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Last Sunday we went to Parque de Capricho (could only find a Spanish link) on a recommendation. This park is kind of hard to get to, being several long streets away from the metro stop which bares it's name (and an hour metro ride from my house). It is quite surprisingly in a vey suburban part of the city, but quite un-surprisingly it is gardens that surround a palace (belonging to a ducal family). This park is only open on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

This post took so long because it was a little overwhelming picking out the photos to share with you. These palace grounds were a playground for the royalty living or visiting there, and there is a lot to see. It kind of reminded me of a mini-golf course (only prettier) in the fact that there were a lot of ornamental buildings, a fake river to boat on, and even a little mini fortress to pretend to guard.
We did not have the time to see everything, and I have not posted all we did see. Here are the highlights:

The next two pictures below are of an purely ornamental house called the "old lady house".

I think that these trees are known as "Umbrella Pines" (English common name) and I love therm, they are so delightfully foreign.
This building is a off site ballroom. The guests would travel via boat on a little strem that ran from the palace (not that far away).
The "dock" for the ballroom. Can you see the huge boar under the stairs? Click to enlarge.
A charming flower garden (quite difficult to photo though). The flowers almost made a mini maze.
Pretty stone work by the "river".
Black swans!
Charming little boathouse - for some reason half way between the palace and the ballroom. I love the Star of David. If you look inside you can see that it was painted almost in an Egyptian style.
A view of the "river".
A pretty little glade.
An artistic shot I captured of a little house.
Presenting the most disturbing statue I have ever seen in my life (click to enlarge), really! This is on a pillar in the center of paths radiating out like spoke of a wheel. I approached this expecting to be charmed. Instead of being charmed I saw that it was a man eating a headless child's arm off, while holding the rest of the body in the other arm! Out of marble! Classically carved! Creepy!
 This is much better, a "temple" to Bacchus the god of wine and drinking, sitting under some of my beloved Umbrella pines.
 You have to click this next one too. One guy is waving crazy arms that are turning into trees! (A Greek myth?) This is the only view of the palace I will be including, as it was quite square and dull.
 Autumn is finally arrived! It has been so hot and dry.
 They have a maze like my favorite park (see link at end of post), but it was closed.
 This garden was a weird mix of themes. Here you see A roman like "temple" with a bust of a Caesar beside it and Sphinxes surrounding it.

I do have to say, however pretty this park is, it does not hold a candle to my favorite park in the world Parc del Laberint d' Horta, which is in Barcelona and well worth a visit.

Hopefully there will be really great news on Monday! (Fingers crossed, do not want to jinx it by saying what it is.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monasterio de Santa María de Valbuena

Part three of my trip on Oct 1st. 
As I went around exploring a new park yesterday I realized that I had not yet written part three of last weekend's trip. I think part of the reason I put off this post, is that I did not understand this guides talk at all. Monasteries are very echoey places and he was speaking in a low tone; which is good to convey reverance, but not to talk to tour groups of 60 people one of whom (yours truly) needs things spoken loudly  slowly, and well annunciated. Since I did not learn much this post will be mostly pictures of pretty stone work. This monastery dates back to the 13th century and there has been a lot of repairs over the years. If you look closely at the pictures (click to enlarge) you can see the difference between the repairs and the original work.

This is one of the most emotional charged carving I have ever seen

I love buttresses 

You know where these rocks came from

I loved this courtyard that stone wrok details were amazing, and different. Not al lot of effort was put in to make things match.

There was old painting on the ceilings. Apparently these were no original because they had they painting style of a later century.

Have I mentioned how I love the light here?

Best things about Monasteries are the gargoyles! Check out the rain pipe in the corner. Also the fact that both of those stone faces are looking at each other.
Look at the face in the middle, was it worn away with time or is it suposed to be a skull? Also you can see that two of the carvings are completely gone, while the one on the far right is newer.

More paintings

Mysterious stairway

Monday, October 3, 2011

Castilla de Peñafiel y the Museo del Vino

Castilla de Peñafiel y the Museo del Vino

The next stop on our trip was the Castilla de Peñafiel, and added bonus was that the museum of wine was located within the castle as well.

Below is a picture taken from the bus as we approached the Castle. You can see the calcified rock below it.
A Spanish friend of mine told me before I went that the castle is unusual in Spain, as most of the castle (and there are so many) are rectangular or square in design. As you can see from some of the pictures below the castle was made to fit the top of the hill, and has a lot of beautiful rounded towers. In the picture below you can see a view of the valley from the castle. It looks like a picture taken in the 60's because of all of the dust in the air. All of those lined field are actually rows of wine grapes. 
 I am going to go ahead and let you all down now. Javi and I had about 15 minutes to go to the museum of wine, so we did not get to taste anything. Luckily lot of the information about wine production in the main exhibit we ran through was information we had already learned from Three Sheets. (The Three Sheets show combines a travel show with learning about drinking customs from other parts of the world, which is cool, unfortunately it is only available to watch online in the US.)

The only photo I have to represent the Museum is a model of the castle made out of wine corks. At least the cork gnomes have a place to stay.
We had a guided tour through the castle. The guided tour was huge (around 100 people) so I did not always get to hear what the guide had to say. Below (click to enlarge) is a good view of the tower with the Castilla Y León shield on it.
 As per usual, the view of the town with it's Spanish style rooftops was very charming.
Can you make out the dirt square in the photo? (Click to enlarge.) It is where the town's events and bullfights happen. The people that live around that square are obligated to rent out their balconies during the "performances" meaning strangers get to walk through their houses!

 I would tell you more about what we learned about the castle, but I will never be able to unlearn some of those facts and I do not wish to pass it on. Let's just say we should all be grateful we did not live in medieval Spain. Let's stick with charming. Look a suit of armor in a skirt!

 A beautiful Spanish castle on a gloriously sunny day. I am glad that I got to see it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Viaje al campo - Primero parte

This Saturday my husband and I paid to go on a tour. We learned many things on Saturday, including the reminder that we are not people that enjoy tours HAHA. However, we got a lot of beautiful photos and learned more about the general area of Spain we live live in. I will probably blog about this thrip in three parts because of all of the photos.

Part one: Campaspero: café y calizas

We got on the bus at around 8am, and then rode two hours into Castilla y León, (past Segovia) and stopped in small town called Campaspero for coffee. 

The bus ride was not one I wanted to repeat....let us just say we were lucky enough to sit in front of the kid who got car sick... a lot. We got off the bus and were greeted with this very charming view of the cafe. The only tiny problem is that this town was downwind from a pig farm, after the last two hours it was the last thing I wanted to smell.

(All descriptions are above each picture in this post.)

The little town was very photogenic and charming though.

Please note the white color of the stone facades of the houses for later.

There was a little market selling, shoes, fruit, fabric, rolled plastic sheeting, and garments.

This totally looked like a Spanish typical town square to me.

That was the name of the cafe across the street, so this was the old location. This view is very small town Spain.

I wanted to capture the landscape from the bus, occasionally I could believe I was in the SW of the US or Kansas, and then I would see an old ruined building.

Our next stop was a quarry calizas means rocks formed from calcium.

Apparently this whole area is this stone. A nice hard white rock that cuts easily and cleanly. Through out Spain they use this rock for the facades of buildings. Remember the photos of the town?

The middle of Spain used to be under several large lakes. This stone was formed from the skeletons of a lot of microorganisms. Also interesting to note, the whole Iberian peninsula tipped down and that is why the lakes drained away.

Now this stone is big business for Spain....

and make some pretty buildings. Next up:Castilla de Peñafiel.