Avalon Esterra Park vs. Heron Flats & Lofts

We have completed our move, and so it seems like a good time for a little comparison.  We’ve moved three times in the last 2 years, and two of those were to larger spaces, and yet each time we move, we get rid of significant furniture!  This time we binned the barstools and the entryway loveseat, as well as an old TV and some miscellaneous odds and ends.

Both Esterra Park and Heron are newer complexes.  I really liked Esterra Park, especially since we were on the top floor (no noisy neighbors above), except for a few things.  One is lack of air conditioning.  This got pretty brutal last year.  We did buy a portable one but it took up a lot of floor space and provided cooling only if you were standing right in front of it.  Another was that Avalon is currently constructing a new apartment complex right across the street, so there was construction noise beginning at 6:30AM every day.  This of itself might not have driven us off, because we knew about it when we moved in, but it was, and will continue to be, a factor there.

On the positive side, it is easily walkable to Chris’ office and the necessities of life are nearby (Safeway, Starbucks, Indian restaurant).

We looked up other apartment complexes in Redmond, and many of them said they had air conditioning, but when we went to look at them, they did not!  But Heron did.

Heron is in a much quieter area.  There is construction going on nearby, but not right outside our window, which does make a difference.  Heron has nicer interior finishes and deeper bathtubs.  It is also much closer to a larger number of places we like to go.

It is also much more expensive.  We did get a 3BR this time, instead of a 2BR, but it is only 100 sf larger than the Avalon 2BR.  This is why we had to get rid of more furniture.  The configuration doesn’t really allow for it all.

Let me clarify.  Heron’s 2BRs are about the same price as Avalon’s.  They just happen to be much smaller.  Avalon has several 1000+ square foot 2BR floor plans, but Heron didn’t have any.

Unfortunately for me (not so much for Chris and Alex because they use headphones all the time), our upstairs neighbors are EXTREMELY noisy.  We have already filed a complaint with the leasing office.  It sounds like there is a family of sumo wrestlers doing Irish clog dancing sometimes.  I thought it might be quieter during the day (parents at work, kids at school, whatever), but it is pretty consistently thumpy up there.  For one day after our complaint it was quiet.  Now it’s back to thumps.

Heron:  more than doubles Chris’ walk commute.  This could be a good thing (we assumed it would be, because more walking = better cardio) but, for example, today it was damp-ish when we left.  By the time we got to the nearest big intersection (a block away) it was pretty much pouring down rain.  We hustled back and I drove him to work.  So I can see possible issues with this:  if it started raining later in the walk, for example.

Leasing staff at both places is exceptional.  We have been very happy with our leasing staff interactions.  Heron has a gratis coffee bar in the lobby for residents.  Not just K-cups like Avalon had.

I hope this may help someone who’s trying to make an informed decision.


Madam is Not Amused

I was prepping this tote bag to sell online, and opened up the bottom shoe compartment to take a picture.  By the time I got back with my camera, someone had decided to travel with me.

transit cat

Also, last week I was browsing my OneDrive stuff, and there is a “click here to see all files from this day.”  Any year.  I clicked and found this oldie-but-goodie movie.  Enjoy!



Whew, sometimes this day seemed like it would never arrive.  Alex has officially graduated from high school!  We will be spending the next week or so working out different job scenarios and I will keep you all posted as things develop.  Yay!

This is an older pic.  He has a haircut appointment this afternoon, so I will post a today-pic afterwards.

Knitting Needle Analysis

Recently I ordered a set of Addi Click interchangeable needles in olive wood. When they arrived I immediately started working with them, and they were fabulous. So easy to interchange, no keys or rubber grips needed, so smooth and with just the right amount of point and right amount of grip, too. I thought these were the perfect needles…

…until one broke. It developed a split near the needle tip, so that it was snagging small clumps of fibers every time I pushed the needle into a stitch. I contacted Skacel (the US distributors of Addi) and they told me to deal with any authorized retailer, who would give me a new one and send the bad one back to Skacel.

My local yarn store, despite being a Skacel dealer, would not accommodate this because they don’t carry the olive wood tips. In the end I emailed the store where I’d purchased them, and they sent me a set of two new tips. Yay!

But in the meantime, I had also ordered a couple of the Addi olive wood fixed circulars. On the very first day of working with one, the point broke off like a weak pencil point! Once again I emailed Skacel, and their response was simply to request a new one from the retailer, and to “give the needles a chance and you will like them.”  Well, I would like them. I did like them – until they started breaking! Faced with the choice of submitting the broken needle for replacement or just returning all those new fixed circs, I sent them all back, and started looking for a new wooden needle brand, because I refuse to spend more money on the Addi. Following are the results of my experimentation.

Knitter’s Pride “Dreamz” fixed circular. I’ve owned the Dreamz before and they’re perfectly acceptable, although the interchangeables are quite fiddly because you do need the little key things to correctly connect them. The Dreamz are pointy enough, and grippy enough. I had planned to go back to using Dreamz if none of these others were any better.

Lykke fixed circ. Lykke is a new Norwegian brand made allegedly from driftwood (although some stores say they’re simply “driftwood-colored”). They are resin-impregnated (as opposed to Dreamz, which are lacquer-coated, or the Addi, which just have a coat of wax on them). The needles are too grippy to use rubber stitch markers on them, and almost too grippy for plastic ones. Luckily I own some metal ones from Webs called “Cocoknits” (bonus: they are steel so they stick to the magnet of my keyboard when not in use!), and those slide like a dream over the Lykke needle. It has a great point – not so pointy that I’ll poke holes in my finger, but plenty pointy for tight stitches. I like this needle a lot. They come in fixed circulars and interchangeables.

Knitter’s Pride “Royale.” Royale needles have wooden shafts but metal points on them. I thought this might work because most of the reason I avoid metal needles is due to their slipperiness, in my hands and in my stitches. If I am working on metal needles and sneeze, sometimes I can actually lose a bunch of stitches from the recoil! So the wooden shafts are my main reason for switching to all wood, but the metal tips might be good. I imagine (but don’t know for certain) that these are lacquer-coated as the Dreamz are. And surprise! The Royales swivel – at least, the fixed circular does. Not sure about the interchangeables. That’s a big plus.

Knitter’s Pride “Karbonz.”  Not truly wood, but “not metal,” so I added it to the comparison. It’s got a carbon fiber shaft with a metal point. Same structure as the Royale, same reason I added it to the list. The Karbonz do not swivel. Now, perhaps I simply got a bad needle, but when the metal tips of the Karbonz rubbed together it felt like fingernails on a blackboard. I would not buy this needle type, just for that reason. This feeling did not happen with the Royale, nor did it happen on the row where I knit off the Royale onto the Karbonz, only when both ends of the Karbonz needles were in use. I managed three rows but had to transition after that, because it was getting on my nerves.

Plymouth Yarn “IgKnite Lineaz” (seriously, who comes up with these names?) fixed circ. These have laminated shafts with metal points, again like the Royale. Who knows? These may all be manufactured by the same factory and then individually branded. This needle also did not swivel. It has a much heftier feel out of the package, even though I was testing a size 5 (compared to the size 6 Royale and the size 7 Karbonz). Feels very solid, almost industrial. However, the cable is inflexible, and because it doesn’t swivel, it was very hard to work with. I liked the needle tips very much, but hated the stiff cable, and only managed 4 rows.

After all the experimentation, I really liked the Plymouth tips the best, but they have that awful cable. Some old (2-3 years) Ravelry posts indicate that the IgKnite tips work with KP’s cables. I asked Webs to either confirm or deny this, and if they can’t, to give me their opinion on whether the interchangeable cables are better than the fixed circ cables.  (It may also be that their stock of fixed circulars is really old, and that Plymouth has upgraded the cables on newer needles and interchangeable sets.)  If reports are good, I’ll buy the IgKnite set, and if not, I’ll buy the Lykke.

Also important to know: rubber stitch markers STINK! On every one of these needles they were grippy and annoying. I am going to get rid of them all and start using the Cocoknits ones exclusively.

I hope this analysis helps someone!