Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the birds...

Well I made the rounds this week. It is essential that I keep tabs on their proclivity to progenerate. They aren't called love birds for nothing. Prolific little creatures they are!

A while back I purchased some fake love bird eggs. They are made of plastic and are the same size, color and weight as real love bird eggs so when I gather up the potential makings of a bigger flock I can leave these imposters in the place of those I take. It makes me feel better that way. The birds are probably having a good laugh over it.

If I had more time I think these would make swell easter eggs if I cleaned them all up and hand painted them. Quite a novelty I should think. I could package them up 12 to a dozen in miniature egg cartons. Come to think of it, I think I'll hold on to them. Easter will be back next year.

City Life

It's days like today that I like living in NYC.

Yes, I have a love/hate relationship going on. So much about NYC is uber fantastic and wonderful, but there's still a lot of the country in me and I miss it. I want to open the front door, some days, and see a big field in the spectacle of spring with Indian Paint Brushes, Blue Grass flowers, and Dandelions. I want to be courted by their aromas and the deep brown smell of earth. I want to hear the birds against a basso continuo of rustling leaves and grass.

But today, as frequently happens, I am content to open the front door at the onset of a walk in the city. Having spent a good deal of yesterday sitting at the piano, with the cello and needlepoint, it's a much needed walk. Within a 15 block radius I'll have the opportunity to brush against ghosts in junk stores, grab a slice of pizza mid-journey, browse the bookinistes on Bedford and peruse the wares of sidewalk vendors before heading back up towards my neck of the woods. All this without a car. It's expense free--excluding purchases which I am quite bound to make.

A few purchases I did make! Just this morning at breakfast I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice if I had a little rest for my coffee spoon?" Voila! Found this really cute Limoges 2" butter pat (I think that's it's original purpose). $3. I think the pattern would make a really pretty embroidery.
I also found another lovely plate, about 6" round, handpainted with strawberries. $3.
On my way down Driggs I paused to watch the cutest dogs in the run in McCarren park and stopped briefly to glance up at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration (if you poke around their website you'll find photos, it's very pretty inside) and I found the border for my harvest rug in part of the frieze. (I'll have to write a post about the infinite source of inspiration to be found in the architecture here.)

It was a nice walk.

Now I would like to open the front door and see the millions of stars shining in all their glory. I want to look up and smell the deep, rich, brown, earth. Sigh.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A few recommendations... continued....

Purl Soho
459 Broome Street (between Mercer & Green)

Bigger than their last digs. Recently found out they carry Appleton tapestry yarn hence my sojourn this afternoon! I had plenty of time to browse and found that they are also carrying rug hooking wool!!!! I couldn't believe it. A very nice stock of yarns, needlepoint floss and wool, some embroidery, fabrics, canvas, felt, notions. I only have one gripe: they should lose the table that's in front of the cashiers... what's that doing there!

Brooklyn General
128 Union St. (in Carrol Gardens or Red Hook--depending on whether you're buying or selling! ;) )

Great selection of yarns. Wonderfully personable staff. The kind of place you want to enter and somehow be locked in for a few hours. (It's right around the corner from my cello teacher, how dangerous is that!) Big selection, needlepoint, embroidery, frabric, wool for spinning, notions.

Ideal Music
150 West 22nd St. (2nd floor... or is it the 3rd?)

One of the oldest music stores in NYC. Strings. Where I purchased my cello upon my teacher's recommendation. The owner gave me a very nice deal. She's a sweetie.

Frank Music Company
250 West 54th St., 10th floor

I think Frank's is less well known because they don't have a storefront. In fact, when you get off the elevators on 10, there isn't even a store to browse. Frank's is a counter, very much like a library, where you request what you want and they fetch it for you from their stacks. One of the few sheet music stores left in the city.

Needlepoint... tapestry wool

I went to pick up some more tapestry wool this afternoon and couldn't help but wonder about the high price. This picture shows the loot I left the store with, each skein being about 10 yds. This purchase of appx. 443 yds. comes close to $100 (including NY tax). Pretty pricey. I can only think this must be due to the extremely high number of colors offered. What's pictured here is just a smidgen of the color range available. To be fair, this is a good quality yarn: Appleton from London. 'Tis very pretty though, isn't it! :)

Speaking of $$, aren't canvases expensive! Understandably so. The canvas I'm working now was handpainted by me so the only cost involved was my time... and it was time spent in the backyard in nice weather with a glass of wine and some munchies so it was spent quite enjoyably! I have seen very few canvases larger than 8x10 for anything less than $100. I'll be painting my own for the foreseeable future. The Strand book store is a great place to pick up wonderful needlepoint books, full of exquisite patterns, at at least half price. So I don't mind spending a little extra on the yarn.

I will say, however, that I'm getting a brain wave... might try spinning my own tapestry yarn and/or I might try dyeing some of the beee-utiful New Friesien ( ) yarn I've been picking up at the farmer's market.

I'll post a pic of my work in progress one of these days.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A few recommendations....

I think I'll start a running thread of my favorite NYC stores... worth a stop if you're in town...

P&S Fabrics
359 Broadway (2 blocks So. of Canal)
I found burlap and linen canvas suitable for rug backings there! Yay! I also found a bargain box of embroidery wool. Good prices.

M&J Trimmings
1008 6th Avenue
I swear they have everything imaginable in the universe. Buttons and trimmings galore.

Annie & Company Needlepoint
1325 Madison Ave (Btwn 93rd and 94th)
I went there for the first time today. Knitting downstairs, needlepoint upstairs. Very friendly and helpful, tons of canvases and tons of yarn, floss, silk. I didn't check out the 1st floor knitting store but it looks chock full of absolutely yummy yarns.

Hooked... An antique edging

Well this is my first blog about crochet--a word I invariably have to look up for spelling, especially the past tense version!

I am fascinated by thread crochet. When I was a teenager I dabbled with it a bit. I remember a doily of sculpted pansies! Ha! These days my tastes lean more towards linen pieces that are edged with crochet instead of all-crochet doilies, and I am especially fond of filet crochet. Still, there are some doilies I would certainly make.

I'm currently working on an antique edging that I found at the online Antique Pattern Library. If you haven't visited this site, run, don't walk! ( ) It's a treasure trove of patterns from the 1800s and early 1900s. They include needlepoint, embroidery, tatting, knitting, crochet (of all sorts including filet and Irish crochet), and more. Even a booklet on how to make crepe paper flowers and lampshades!

I'm in the early stages of this edging and will apply it to a piece of linen which will also feature embroidery and inserts. I'll be on it for a while but doing one motif is a lovely way to spend 20 minutes or so.

Knit-wise... The other sweater

It was quite lovely here in NYC today: mid 70s, and it really felt nice. I opened the windows a bit and let some stale winter air float away. It's not deterring me from fiber works though. I can knit and spin wool all summer, albeit knitting with sweaty hands is a bit more of a challenge than normal. I just don't tension the yarn around so many fingers. In fact in hot humid weather I just let the yarn flow directly between my index and third finger with no tension at all... the humidity on my hands keeps it tensioned.

Haven't mentioned it yet, but I've been working on another sweater besides the Portuguese Fisherman's for which I'm spinning some Shetland. The other sweater is also an old Candide pattern called "Herringbone Raglan." It's a fun stitch because it's fast and easy and the results are quite lovely. I'm not sure why they called it 'herringbone' because really, the stitch isn't herringbone. But I don't care, it's a nice stitch to look at anyway!

I've just finished the back--all ready to cast off. The yarn I'm using is Lion Brand "Fisherman's Wool." It's quite nice. Can't beat the price at their store on 15th Street. $9.95 for 8 oz. and it's 100% wool! Knitting on size 9's... it goes quickly. The fabric is knitting up very light so the sweater will be suitable for cool spring and early fall evenings. Not to mention mid-summer evenings in Lubec, ME where, if all goes well, I'll be for a week this summer at a piano camp for adults. Get's quite chilly up there even in mid July when we're all gasping for breath and turning into wet rags just 5 paces from the stoop here in NYC!

Well, here's the back... my progress so far. Most of this is getting knit on the subway...

Friday, March 4, 2011

The right chemistry...

Well here's a fun funny little recipe for a... 5 minute cake! Quite a novelty. Yes indeed, you can be eating this cake 5 minutes after you start mixing the ingredients together. I won't say it's the best chocolate cake in the world, but it'll certainly make do if you're craving chocolate and cake. Topped with great icing (or ice cream!) it could be quite delightful. It's also good without any icing at all.

5 Minute Cake

.25 cup flour
.25 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. nuts or choc chips or coconut or whatever you like
splash of vanilla
dash of baking soda

Mix dry ingredients in a large coffee mug. (I used a soup mug)
Beat the egg with other wet ingredients then add to dry ingredients and stir well.
Microwave for 3 minutes.

Here's the little baby cake I made this afternoon....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The latest spin...

The plan is set for the Shetland! I spun up a bobbin full and plied it. Since I'm going to knit a folkish sweater I decided to give Navajo plying a test run. I wasn't sure about it as I was plying, but now that the swatch is done, I can't think of any reason not to go with it. I like Navajo plying because it's fast, and if the spinning is going out of control it'll show up sooner than later. So 3-ply Navajo it is. I like the result. The yarn has lovely loft. It's going to be a warm sweater. Size 10 needles. The pics below show my testing progress. The plied yarn on the wheel, on the niddy-noddy, as a hank, as a ball with the finished swatch. The last pic is the pattern I'm going to knit. I found it in a used book store in my home town of Enfield, NH--Bearly Used Books--early last December. It's an old Candide pattern for a Portuguese Fisherman Pullover or "Malha de Pescador." ( ) A better picture of the swatch follows.