26 May 2010

The time has come

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things: of shoes and ships and ceiling wax, of cabbages and kings!

The time has finally come to say goodbye to blogger. It was a great first experience, but now it is time to move to my own place on the web. I had all these dreams of a perfect website where I did all of the graphics and it looked totally professional. I learned a great deal about vector graphic design and was really proud of my drawings, but they just weren't 'me'. So, even though I spent the last month or so honing my La Petite Tricoteuse persona into some sort of graphical representation of what those words mean to me I realized that it is better just to let me nerdy fantasy side show through. I am much happier with the look of the new site now. Maybe it doesn't really match my name anymore, but it matches me and I suppose that is all that matters. The site is going live in a few hours. It will still be majorly under construction over the next few weeks, but this will be my final posting on blogger. Please come join me at www.lapetitetricoteuse.com. Don't forget to bring your knitting and some tasty snacks!

28 April 2010

Sorry, it has been too long

I apologize, dear reader, for not posting as often as I would like, but big things are going on in the La Petite Tricoteuse household. The Captain and I have been in France for three months now. We are settled in, and are quite enjoying our time out here. I also am happy to report that La Petite Tricoteuse is getting a makeover. We have bought a domain name and I hope by the beginning of May www.lapetitetricoteuse.com will be live. I will keep you posted on the transition date. This current blog will remain open with a pointer to the new site for a bit. The new site will have knitwear patterns, cooking recipes, and techniques. I am really excited about this new endeavor. It will be much more structured and contain much more frequent posts on all sorts of topics. I hope to see you over there soon. Now to do more vector graphics for my logo. Here is a sneak peak of one of the images I have been working on for the new site. Do not ask how long the ostrich plumes took to freehand with Inkscape.

19 February 2010

Break out the Champagne

We have a lease on an apartment! We have been in Europe for a month and a week and a lease was signed about 30 minutes ago. It was a long hard battle. Not quite as stressful as graduate school, but it was up there. Of course now we have to try to get our belongings through customs, health insurance, and eventually a car, but for now we are so happy.

I can start focusing totally on getting a job next week. I have also decided to start designing knitwear. I am really good at pattern writing and construction, I just need to get some good design ideas flowing. The likelihood of scoring a job in the next few weeks is probably small, but this way I have another venture to keep me busy.

I promise some pictures will be coming in the near future. The yoke of the baby sweater is done, one knee high sock is done, and one beaded sock is done.

03 February 2010

Did I mention the sleeping bags?

The Captain and I have now been in Switzerland for 3 weeks. We have been apartment hunting for 2.5 of those weeks. We have 3 'demandes' in and I hope one of them goes through so we can move into our new place and at least get that transition step off of our plate. Luckily we are not living in a hotel or a dorm. Thankfully The Captain's job has a furnished place we can stay temporarily until we get more permanent lodging. The place is nice. The kitchen is fully stocked with all types of pots and pans. I am still not used to thinking in celcius for baking things, but I am getting there.

Probably the most hilarious bit about being here is the washing machine and the bed situation. The washing machine was confusing at first and I was not quite sure what to think of it, but all in all I think it is pretty swell. It is like a top loader side loader combo. The drum is horizontal like in a front loader machine. However, you put the clothes in from the top through a trap door in the drum. The apartment also has a decently sized and sturdy drying rack. Now, we hung many clothes to dry back in Chicago. Somehow the ones here get much more crunchy. At first we thought it was the spin cycle speed. I did a few loads on different speeds to no effect. It could be the water. I know it is pretty hard here. It could be a combination of that and the detergent. My handknits which were washed with Soak are not quite as crunchy. Once we get an apartment I can make my own detergent and see if that makes the crunchiness go away.

The bed situation is amusing. So, since this is a company apartment that visiting scientists use when they come to Switzerland, it is shared by several people over time. As a result each person has their own towels and sheets. Well, luckily we had one towel with us from Cali. We bought one more at the store- as cheap as we could find. We have towels being sent here with the rest of our stuff, so I did not see the point in spending money on getting a nice one. Luckily our box from Cali with all of our camping equipment in it arrived by mail right away. In this box was a large blanket that my grandma had bought me, my pillow, some camping pillows, and our sleeping bags. So the two newlyweds have been rocking it girl/boy scouts style for the last 3 weeks. It is pretty funny to have to worm your way to the other side of the bed to tell your sweetie goodnight. At least they are warm.

In other news, it looks like we may have a bank account. According to the Poste, our cards are being sent in the mail. We still can't put money in or take money out, but at least a step has been made in the right direction.

31 January 2010

Chilling in the Alps

It has been just over two weeks and things are getting less stressful around these parts. Ok, we still have no bank account and no apartment, but we have gotten to hang out with some friends and that is what is important. This photo is the view outside our front door. It really feels like we live in a ski chalet of some type. You can see the Alps (the Jura side) through the clouds in the distance.

Since it is a bit snowy and we still have only our California winter clothes with us (hopefully this will change in the next few weeks) we have not ventured out too much. As a result I have been knitting a bunch. I am running low on projects, but I should have just enough to get me through until we find an apartment. Right now I am working on the Little Bubbles Baby Set. It is so cute I almost can't stand it. And the colors are great. I refuse to dress any of my future progeny in pastels. Well, maybe refuse is a strong word. If someone I love gives or knits me something in pastel that is from the heart, I would probably make an exception, but I don't plan on running a cupcake factory here, so the frosting colors are on notice. Plus babies can't see those colors anyways. But, I digress. My main bit of revelation here is about knitting needle sizes. I have decided to go metric. The US system of measurement makes no sense (chalk up one for Europe). Some companies call their 2.75mm needles a US size 2. Some don't make 2.75mm needles and only make 3mm needles, but also call these US size 2. Still others make both sizes and call one a size 2 and one a size 2.5. After much frustration with my needle gauges today I thought good grief and have decided to completely ignore US sizes from now on. Now I can knit in peace with my 3mm addis. Let's hope this conversion goes smoothly. For some reason I am good with grams when it comes to yarn, and vegetables, but not weights of people. Also I am pretty good with yards when it comes to fabric, but not walking distances. Hopefully the transition will be smooth. C'mon America- transition with me!

22 January 2010

An American Girl in Switzerland

Well folks, it has been a whirlwind week. I had great aspirations to walk you through our first days as expats (dear reader) but it has been way too crazy for that. The flight over was awful, so I am not noting it for posterity. Our first few days were frustrating, but now that it is all over I think some sense of sanity has been restored and the blog will hopefully make sense.

Some observations so far:

  • Everything is expensive here. Rent is going to be a couple of grand for a one-bedroom apartment. Meat averages $8-10/pound depending upon what you get (steak can be up to $30/lb). Regular groceries are not so bad if you bought mid-to-fancy groceries in the states. For example, the cheap butter here is about $3 for about 1/2 pound. Which is good since the same butter in the states would be $5 (president buerre). So, you may be thinking $3 for butter, that is highway robbery, but really this is the best commercial butter I have ever had in my life (handmade is still better). So $3 for luxury butter does not sound so bad. Same with the bread. Again about $3 gets you this impeccable artisnal loaf. Sure it is like 5 times the price of Hill Country Fare white bread, but that is not an option here. (ok, they have American style bread, but it is a niche market fancy item and so is super spendy). And the cheese. In what would be the 'regular' cheddar, jack, provolone cheese aisle there is now brie, gruyere, and parmesean. The fancy cheese aisle has such delicious looking stuff I can't wait to try it. So, all in all, I think we are getting much better quality for our money. Since there is just not the option of cheap food to buy, you have to eat well. After only a week I don't think I can go back to Land-O-Lakes butter again.
  • Apartment hunting is brutal. I have high hopes for Tuesday, where we should put in a few more applications. Please keep us in your thoughts that they will accept us. Unlike the US, just because you meet the income requirements, applied first, and pass a background check does not mean you will get an offer. They get to pick who they want to lease to. The market is tight and they have good reasons for being picky. It just stinks when you are the one on the other end of the deal. We looked at one apartment in Geneva. We thought it was great since it was near the train station. The inside was wonderful. Not as big as we were used to, but certainly workable. BUT. While we were walking from the gare to the address I started noticing random women pacing the street. The Captain was too embroiled in his navigation task to take much notice. We passed a few lingerie shops and bars before we came upon the building. The apartment was above a sex shop. This was obvious because of the 10 ft tall letters saying: SEX across the building, and the cadre of working girls huddled in a nearby doorway smoking to pass the time. Considering that a one bedroom apartment in a not so desirable part of town was still going for $1800/month, you can see what we are up against. No worries though. Tuesday I am feeling good about.
  • The concept of Right-of-way. This is a theoretically very good system that is in practice in most of Europe. The person on the right has the right of way unless explicitly stated. This is seamless and makes total sense. You get rid of almost all of those pesky stop signs that people roll through anyways and it is consistent so people know what to do. Unless you are on a highway or super busy road, then as you drive you slow down at intersections and look to see if anyone is coming. If they are you stop and let them go, if not, you continue on. It makes sense, but it is a bit overwhelming the first time you have to actually do it. Not that I have been driving mind you. The car we have use of is only in The Captain's name for insurance purposes, so he has been on his own for that.
  • Banking and the phone. We could not get a bank account with an actual bank. I have no job and The Captain is not Swiss, so they would not deal with us. We did manage to get one at the Post Office. That is right. We have a bank account at the Post Office. I will try to let you know how that goes. For the moment we are waiting for our cards to come in the mail. As for cell phones, it is way too complicated to deal with right now, so we have a pay and go card. Incoming calls are generally free, but outgoing calls are generally like 30 cents, unless it is a landline, then it is different, or you can get a minutes plan, but those are more spendy. Ahhh. Anyways, that shall wait until we are in super need of one.
  • Did I mention the butter? Seriously. The fridges are not set super cold here and the butter is minimally processed so it is quite spreadable and decadent right out of the fridge. Amazing.

So I hope that gives you a taste of our first week in Geneva. Hopefully I will have more exciting things to post in the weeks to come.

30 November 2009

The Kissing Hand

We just bought our tickets to Geneva; the day of the move is nigh. (Well... maybe not nigh, but six weeks from now sure seems soon.) This move emotionally reminds me of when I moved to New York all those years ago. These moves are different from the others some how. When I first moved out of my parent's house at the ripe old age of 18 it wasn't a huge deal. I wanted to prove I could be independent and, well, they would only be like a half hour drive away, so it wasn't such a huge life change. Moving to Chicago was an awesome excuse to get away from the harpy of an advisor I had on Long Island. I still like to go back to visit New York, but in terms of living there at the time, I could not get away fast enough. San Francisco is more like a holding pattern. We don't really 'live' here. I have no bills that come here, no lease, nothing to even take to the DMV to get my license changed even if I wanted to. We have some friends here, so it is not too lonely, but bottom line- we are only here for 4 months.

Which brings me to the move to Geneva and why it is so like my past move to NY: my whole life is going to change. I will be leaving my country for at least a few years. I will be a resident alien in a foreign land. What brand of dish soap will I be buying? Will my tea kettle work with just a converter or do I need to use the transformer too? How on earth am I going to tell the hairdresser what sort of cut I want. It is not like 'I would like long layers' is something that routinely came up in french class that I have a good handle on. Luckily we have some friends there. Luckily my French is pretty good. Luckily I have a job interview already set up (send good vibes please). And luckily there are some expat bars and a knitting group around so that if it gets to be too much I can seek sanctuary there. But it still feels like that trip to NY. That build up. That sense of shock- a combination of excitement and fear. I have six weeks to go, lets hope it doesn't get worse. I survived the trip to NY and actually came out better for it. All will be well and my sister will still be my rock even though I am miles away.

Just to reminisce a bit though.

My sister came with me on my trip to the east coast. We drove a ton, stopped in shady hotels, saw the Statue of Liberty, and did the obligatory Target run (oh no! how will I run to Target in Geneva for those new house accessories?). Anyways. By the time we got to NY and had the house sort of set up with my clothes and air mattress, it was almost ready for her to leave. I did pretty well being calm while taking her to the airport. When I got home though, the sense of loss really hit home. The end of an era. I was alone in my apartment, alone except for a book. The book was the Kissing Hand. My parents had bought it for me and my sister had cunningly hid it in my room before she left. I was really sad to read it there all alone. In a different state. In a different time zone. With different people. With different stores. After a few weeks I got my routine set. After a few months I had a good friend set. After a while I really had fun. So with this chapter that is about to begin, I just have to remember that it will take some time, but new adventures are always scary, but many are well worth it in the end.

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