One of the things I’m looking forward to in the Netherlands is the likelihood of an apartment with some soundproofing. We did sometimes have to sleep with earplugs because we lived right in the Centrum, right by the bars, and it got loud when they had things like the celebration for PSV winning the European Cup. But I never ever heard my neighbors, not once. I am getting really, really sick of hearing every scream from the kid across the hall (who seems to be permanently set on High, but that’s pretty normal for a toddler) and every flush from the people upstairs. I know their schedule better than I really want to.

Today I went to the Jianguo Flower Market, or rather the Jianguo Decorative Stuff market, because there are three very large sections. One has aisles of art and craft stuff: carvings, paintings, geodes set on stands, pottery, and so on; The next, which is probably the longest, has only a single aisle and is the actual flower market: flowers, plants, garden stuff, fountains. The last one is the Jade Market (it’s actually shown separately on my map. It has four aisles with jewelry, beads, jade carvings – it was actually the most overwhelming part because there was so much stuff. The whole thing is probably almost a kilometer long.

I didn’t go too wild: bought some presently-needed presents and some future-tense presents just in case, a strand of labradorite beads for under US$10, and a couple small jade beads. I also got a chop, something I’ve been meaning to get – two actually. There was someone there to care them too. I have my Chinese name on one (stylized so I wouldn’t have recognized the characters), and my Chinese name in a more readable script plus my English initials on the other. I’m wondering now about legalities in the US. Like, when you buy a house and you have to initial eleventy-jillion pieces of paper, could I use a chop for that? It would be easier.

Thank goodness it’s finally cooler. I wore cropped jeans, a 3/4-sleeve T, and an extremely light jacket that’s breathable but cuts the wind a but, and that was about right. I walked to the subway, took the crowded MRT train 6 stations or so, walked from the subway station to the market which was on the next major street (300m or so); wandered the whole length of the market, going back and forth and doing some parts twice, though lots of crowds and noise sights and smells and smells, was told to come back in an hour while the chop was being carved, went from the north end of the market back to the street the train runs on, bought some tights and some groceries in the fancy department store there (department stores all have food courts and supermarkets here), walked back to the jade Market carrying my bags, dived into it, picked up my chop and took a cab home. And I wasn’t totally dead when I got home – it’s amazing how much easier everything is when it’s not hot out!

(NB – if this all doesn’t sound all that tiring, then you probably haven’t walked through a Taipei market. This wasn’t horribly crowded, but there were still lots of people and as always, so much sensory stimulation that it can be exhausting. Also, I had already erged 15km – not at a hard pace, but it’s still an hour and a half workout.)

Knitting: The hat I’m knitting for Ted is going OK, except that the brim is curling a bit. It’s inspired by one we saw in a knitting / knitwear shop in Sweden. The pattern wasn’t available so I’m making it up as I go along; the brim is tvåändsstickning, aka Swedish twined knitting (more or less, I’ve included some plain rows in there too, which I’m pretty sure is not done in tradition) and the top is normal stranded colorwork, in a geometric design for which the shop did have a sweater pattern with a chart. I’m only a couple rows past the brim; it looks OK except the brim wants to fold up in the middle, no doubt due to the plain rows among the tvåändsstickning. I’m hoping blocking will fix that, or that it will be tight enough while being worn to stay in place. I’ll take pictures once there’s enough of the hat to see the pattern.

This is my first real colorwork, and it’s going OK, but slowly. For the stranded knitting, I’m holding one yarn in my left hand as I normally do and the other in my right – I haven’t done any English-style knitting since my early learning days and it’s slow and awkward for me to use that yarn. Hopefully it will be smoother after a bit. (Apparently the tvåändsstickning part is slow for everyone.) Also, the yarn the shop sold me is only a DK weight, so it doesn’t go all that fast – but with the two thicknesses of yarn in both techniques used, I think it will be plenty warm enough. It’s a very traditional yarn, meaning very scratchy, but I think it will bloom and soften when I wash it. No, I didn’t wash the swatch. I am Bad. One yarn is an undyed natural color, and I suspect the other is also undyed, just from black sheep.