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kafa

Thank you for stopping by.  I’m a 40+ polyglot language instructor in love with nature and art and cute and beautiful things including knitting and crochet.  Continue reading ✒️ 📖 💬

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Aran Winter Top ❊

I’m a huge fan of knitting in the round and most of my knits are made this way. To my mind, it’s seems kind of quicker and easier, including the great advantage of not having to bother about the seams too much.

Here’s a super soft and warm winter short-sleeved top I designed, just playing with a new yarn to see how it turns out. Basically, I  wanted a feminine and cosy garment with a decorative aran pattern to wear under my thick winter hooded jacket, one that will keep me warm without being too warm to wear once the jacket is off.

I used a skin-friendly blend of anti-pilling acrylic and wool, a local brand which knits up really well and is fun to work with. The colour I chose is a soft ruby red.

ruby-7

For a nice border which prevents the edges from curling I used the stretchy double Estonian (or Latvian or Bulgarian, call it what you like) a super useful cast on method I’d  learnt from my aunt, Mum’s sister as a novice on the knitting journey, years back in my twenties.

I applied a matching nice and stretchy technique for the neckline bind off.

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The whole piece was made with yarn somewhere between DK and aran on 5.5mm circulars, with DPNs for the neckline, for which the stitches were suspended on shorter circulars to be incorporated into the pattern once the drop sleeve shoulder rows are done.

The only seams are around the arms: the underarm section and the shoulders, for which I used the 3 needle bind off. For the braided pattern running through the middle I used this chart  circulating on the internet, for both front and back side.

DROP_SLEEVE QIPAO (9)

It’s 着心地いい, it’s warm and I love it ! 😉

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Have a great week everyone ♪

Sun in November

It’s been a while since my last post on the blog. Life has been busy for the last couple of months, with some new choices and new decisions to take.

In early summer I went to Mum’s home-place, the gorgeous fjord on the Adriatic Sea, the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska, Bocca di Cattaro) on the Montenegrin littoral, and spent a couple of days there, visiting familiar places, just walking, reminiscing, breathing and watching the sea.

It may have been this brief change of scene that changed the way I perceive things and the way I live. Being raised in a home where every dish had a taste of Italian cuisine, I remember I was adamantly picky with the local delicacies during my stay in China years ago now, to both locals and laowai (foreigners) disbelief. Even in China, I preferred to cook my pasta with my own spices basil, oregano and rosemary and olive oil, indulging occasionally in shockingly expensive imported parmigiano, that could have payed for weeks of Chinese food that I really liked: rice zongzi, cooked fish-balls and even delicious slices of Beijing roast duck and dim sum.

I remembered a weekend I spent in Bejing waiting for a transfer flight to Vienna. I was born in winter in Boka by the sea where it never snows and for me January in Beijing was almost unbearable. A girl at the information desk who booked a hotel room for me suggested I take a tour of the Forbidden City with a group of Chinese tourists and business people and socialize instead of just sit and watch TV in the warmth of the hotel. No need to mention the tour was almost free with the discount she included, although I wasn’t Chinese. Talk about the practical advantage of using the language in China. The people were fun, the tour was nice , the Imperial menu was awesome, but all in all, it was too cold for me.

Sunday morning was even colder and I was really hungry I didn’t really mind trying whatever Beijing had to offer. The owners of the hotel cafe-bar, a woman about my age then, in her thirties and her husband, served me the traditional Chinese breakfast: a bowl of rice pudding “zhou” 粥, pickled veggies and huge steamed dumplings “baozi” 包子filled with minced meat and chives, almost triple in size compared to Italian mezzelune (halfmoons), and a completely different taste. I told her we make similar but smaller pasta pockets with fish, cheese and Mediterranean herbs. We exchanged recipes and I promised I would try to make her baozi when I’m back home.

The recipe lay in a book for years, unused. Then somehow this summer, all of a sudden I found myself interested in everyday plain Chinese cooking. Having had so much fun with it for a few months now, I realized it has helped me so much with everything including time planning and managing a really healthy diet on a reasonably balanced home budget.

What makes Chinese stuffed pasta great is wrapping the dough in many different ways. We never wrapped Italian baozi by hand at home, but used a fork instead or a pasta mould.

There are several popular variations of “filled pasta pockets” in China: baozi, jiaozi, wonton (云吞) . You can cook them, fry them or steam them. The essential ingredients for the filling are finely chopped veggies, usually chives, Chinese five spice and ginger are “selbstverständlich”, everything else including meat is, of course welcome, but optional. People usually have them dipped in peanut-sauce which I make at home occasionally, with unsalted peanut butter, soy sauce and apple vinegar. Basic dipping sauce is actually just a 50/50 ratio of soy sauce and rice vinegar, for that basic taste of China.

Here’s my favourite variation with chopped Chinese cabbage (bai cai or bak choy)  and carrots

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and Graham flour…

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fried:IMG_20180921_142753

cooked:IMG_20181017_140701

and steamed:IMG_20181026_153013

Add a nice salad to it and you have an easy and tasty everyday dish, to make in less then 25 minutes (even for breakfast!), that will make you full, fit and happy, at minimum cost.

My choice: beetroot, carrot, sea salt, olive oil & apple vinegar salad or just plain green lettuce

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Cheers 🎋 for Samurai Blue

I learnt Japanese with great enthusiasm from my Japanese friends who lived in Belgrade at the time, a few years before I officially enrolled in Mandarin Chinese at the University back in the early 1990s. For two years I studied the two languages simultaneously until I gave up on Japanese in the third academic year, mostly because of the hectic lecture schedules which made it quite difficult to physically keep up with both. My level of Japanese had already advanced to upper intermediate by then and I thought that was good enough.

 
My Japanese friends, both high school teachers, encouraged me to move to Japan and work there, but I was absolutely reluctant to leave my parents and so I declined their kind invitation.

 
Anyway, a couple of months ago, quite inadvertently, I came across an interesting Japanese drama called バンビーノ! (bambino or bambina, a general term of endearment for kids in Italian). I became curious as to what Italian had to do with Japan, so I watched the first episode. Being so absorbed in other languages I use daily, I almost forgot I’d be hearing modern spoken Japanese again, and after a long, long time… And with the story related in a way to my Italian roots, I watched on, all eleven. Needless to say, I was stunned at how the language surged back like a flood from a long unopened shelf in the back of my mind to the point where I can again speak it quite well, even though I haven’t used it much for almost two decades.

 
For anyone interested in Japan and their culture, and how it fits in the 21st century, Bambino has it all. The educative focus of the story is on the typically Japanese mentality of “giri” (duty) and perseverance, something we all should learn and practice, no matter where we are in this big wide world.

 
And if in addition to all this you enjoy cooking, especially Italian food (who doesn’t? ) and perhaps (like me) cheered for Samurai Blue’s amazing football performance in the World Cup in Russia, please, have a watch of the rebel boy Bambino, I’m sure you’ll love it !

 

Crochet Lace Bell Sleeves

The bell sleeve edging on the picture shows machine-made lace, with dainty leaves and flowers in different sizes, but the challenge of DIY is just too strong to resist…

If you’re like me and love the idea of creating your own unique wearables, why not give it a try? All it takes is lots of love, a little patience, crochet thread as thin as you can manage to work with and a 1.75 to 2mm size hook.

an idea

Continue reading Crochet Lace Bell Sleeves

Chinese Harp 古筝曲 ♪

A great instrumental ♪ piece 入骨相思  ft Liu Yong Xi (刘泳希) aka 千指大人 [Lightning Fingers] from “Our Shining Days”, a 2017 youth comedy movie about a group of High School Music Academy students and their efforts to revive and promote Chinese classical music.

It’s one of the really lovely modern Chinese movies I have watched so far, with an interesting plot, quite different from anything you may have watched before and definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of the language & culture, and even if (or just because !) you have absolutely no idea about modern China. 🙂

As some of you already know, I love instrumental music and this movie presents Chinese traditional music in a new light, re-arranging ancient classics to suit modern taste. Anyway, below is the musical trailer, and here’s the link to the movie on youtube (complete with English subs). Please enjoy !

Foreverness

It’s been three months now since Mum passed away.

I have learned to accept it, but it hurts too much living my life without her.

A couple of days ago I noticed I haven’t cooked a single meal ever since. Cooking was her “territory” and even stronger than all the memories in my mind and the physical world around me that still shines her Light, it evoked too much of her sweet laughter and the happy days we spent together, to her last days of illness.

This evening, I made for myself one of her favourite specialties. It’s such joy to recollect all those beautiful things she taught me with immense  patience and endless Love. Her language, her wisdom, her strength, her positivity, her sweetness.

I can feel her presence everywhere.

Chove en Santiago – Luar na Lubre con Ismael Serrano (Spanish Celtic Music)

Musical rendition of  “Madrigal for the City of Santiago”, a poem dedicated to the UNESCO World Heritage City of  Santiago de Compostela (St James, patron saint of Spain), one of “Seis poemas galegos” by Federico Garcia Lorca

Music: Alberto Gambino

Performed by: Luar na Lubre con Ismael Serrano

VIDEO 📽️ with lyrics in 4 languages

✏️ Original Poem in Galician:
Chove en Santiago
Meu doce amor
Camelia branca do ar
Brila entebrecida ao sol.

Chove en Santiago
Na noite escura.
Herbas de prata e sono
Cobren a valeira lúa.

Olla a choiva pola rúa
Laio de pedra e cristal.
Olla no vento esvaido
Soma e cinza do teu mar.

Soma e cinza do teu mar
Santiago, lonxe do sol;
Agoa da mañan anterga
Trema no meu corazón.

Madrigal Á Cibdá De Santiago” Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)