Sunday, August 28, 2011

Knit wise... a new blanket

I started a new blanket late last week. What with hurricane Irene I had time to work on it this weekend. (Truth be told I would have had time anyway!)

Irene... lot's of wind and rain. We were spared the worst. By the time she arrived she'd exhausted herself down to tropical storm level. Times like this I'm glad I don't have tv. I saw a few news clips online and that was plenty. I let mother nature tell her story this time and quite enjoyed going out to the front door at 2 a.m. with a glass of wine to see what she had to say. It was impressive.

Speaking of mother nature I experienced my first earth quake last week. By California standards it was nothing but for me it was something. I'd just sat down with my cello and heard a rattling sound coming from the direction of the book shelf. Right afterwards our whole building shook. I was not able to comprehend the situation, just that it was weird--and what the dickens was going on!? I looked up at that point and saw the picture on the wall bouncing back and forth 4" or so and knew--this was an earthquake. Yeah, it was unnerving.

So... this thread is about a new blanket for a newly arrived member of our species. The yarn is Noro Silk Garden. Say what you will--Noro is beautiful. Yup, there are some awkward splices now and then creating abrupt color breaks, but it is what it is and in my opinion, it's truly gorgeous yarn. If someone gave me $1000 and said buy some yarn I'd spend it all on Noro! I love the picture on this page... Noro.

The pattern for the blanket is called "Woven Baby Blanket" and it's from The Knit Cafe Toronto. The pattern is also available on Ravelry.

I got three rows done this weekend. Very enjoyable knit. Really. Never more than 7 stiches on the needles, the color is continuously evolving and the overall look slowly comes to life. A carrot-on-a-stick kind of pattern! :)

There is one edge from which I find it difficult to pick up stitches so I use a crochet hook. Having to make use of a third tool on the subway could be problematic so I made myself this little hook which I can wear around my neck. This way I'll feel confident the hook won't go rolling down the train car in case of a slip up. I took one of my wooden crochet hooks, sawed it down (chainsaw not necessary!--just a fine little hack saw will do), drilled a hole with a very small drill bit and attached the cord and some baubles. I love my little wearable crochet hook!...

The latest spin... New Zealand

I've been able to take a spin on the wheel several nights this week and the New Zealand is coming a long well. I've got a picture of a swatch I knit the other night:

This is 3-ply. I'm calling it fingering weight but it's almost lace weight. It's a pretty thin spin. Had a bit of trouble early on... Before making too much progress I decided to ply up what I had to make sure it would hold together. The later spinning--to which I added more twist--was really good and I got pretty excited about it. But when I got to plying some of the very first fibers I had a few breakages. What a sinking feeling it is to see and feel one's handiwork disintegrate into nothing! Good thing I decided to run a test. Now I'm really adding twist. This thin--it needs it.

I like the swatch a lot and now I'm having second thoughts about using this fiber for "Foolish Virgins". I love it's natural color so much I don't want to dye it. Ha! I'm thinking perhaps I'll knit a stole with it as it is... beautiful, natural white. Très elegant.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Catching up... a report

It was a big practice day today: 2 hours on the piano and an hour and 45 minutes on the cello. I'm wiped out! In a good way. Lot's of loosening up on my left side. Feels like tectonic shift. It amazes me how so much of keyboard and neck (cello) maneuverability makes use of so many muscles (all!) of the hands, arms, shoulder girdle, neck, etc. etc., and how deep those muscles go... all the way back to the spine... core. :) ... I almost forgot: I've started 2nd position on the cello. Fun, fun!

I also made some jam: cherry jam. It's a small recipe--uses just 1 lb. of cherries and makes half a pint. This is perfect for a single person like myself. Cherries, zest and juice of 1 lime, almond extract (~1/8 tsp.) and 1/2 - 2/3 c. sugar. I licked the pot after it was done cooking... ooooyum! Can't wait for breakfast tomorrow morning. I'll snap of picture of it in the morning as it tops my toast with cherry goodness.

On my visit to the Greenpoint farmer's market this afternoon I bought enough tart apples to make "Apple Pie Jam". Does that not sound divine!? (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger...) When I get to boiling it up I'll post the recipe. I also have it in mind to make some strawberry jam.

A few years ago I made some rhubarb-raisin jam that I am still enjoying. I often use less sugar than a recipe calls for because I like a slightly tart finish to my preserves. I'm not fond of ultra-sugary food. That's why I like to make my own. I know exactly what goes into the jam and I control how much. No preservatives, fresh produce. And it's so simple isn't it? :) Lining up a row of freshly made preserves is as satisfying as pulling a hank off a niddy-noddy and that is pretty darned satisfying.

I learned something a few years ago about processing preserves and it is that jams that are going to be placed in the refrigerator can do without processing.... After the jar is filled to within 1/2" - 3/4" of the top, cap it and turn it upside down while the preserve is still boiling hot. Works for me!

On the fiber front I've starting spinning some New Zealand for a fine 3-ply yarn. I want to knit Kaffe Fasset's "Foolish Virgins" scarf. There's a picture of it on Rowan's site ( Foolish Virgins ). The thing is it requires 23 different colors! An ounce or less of each. So I'm going to try spinning up this New Zealand and apportioning the yarn into 1 oz. skeins to dye myself. Should be a fun and exciting adventure!

Progress continues on the rug.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Off topic... we've moved!

Won't be having too many of these sort of posts... but my workplace has moved. Same company, different location, and the verdict is: I love it! We've gone from the 4th floor to the 28th--with views. Midtown to lower Manhattan.

My getting-to-work route has gone from the "L" to the "J"; the "L" which overflows with 20-somethings (many hipster types) to the "J"--a much more diversified crowd. I have, with this expansion of experience over the past week, started to realize that I haven't been going crazy over the past few years. Being slowly and progressively immersed in this saturation of (awfully young) youth was good reason to start losing it. I don't think it was ever meant to be that such a concentration of young people should inundate a whole neighborhood and a half... going on two. Maybe I'm getting--shall we say--less young... I do love them dearly but they can be so... obnoxious.. ? It's just the fact that there are so many of them. It's like an invasion over here. H-e-l-p! :)

The different commute plus the fact that downtown is so different from midtown makes me feel like I've moved to a new city. I can grab the bus around the corner from me--as I often did to get to the "L" when I was running late. In itself a source of frustration because walking to the "L" is obviously better for my waistline which these days grabs calories from the air even when I'm walking. Or so it seems. Maybe I'm getting--shall we say--less young...

I take the 48 bus, the one around the corner and remain seated for just a few more blocks than before to get to the elevated "J" train. I was surprised to find these beautiful stained glass windows in the "J" train stations:

It's nice being elevated. I was concerned about cell phones but it's--again to my surprise--turning out to be OK. The "J" traipses across the Williamsburg bridge and the views are spectacular. I'm usually engrossed with my knitting but I make an occasional heads up to take in the panorama.

I love lower Manhattan. It developed before the awful notion of "grid"--those boring, conforming rectangular blocks above Canal Street (that's probably not an exact demarkation). Downtown has some really narrow streets and some really crooked ones. Character. And history. It's the oldest part of NYC. The site of our building--which was built in 1928--was in the 1790s the site of the second presidential mansion, NYC being the nation's capital at the time. (The nation's capital subsequently moved to Philadelphia for a short stint before moving on to it's current location in the District of Columbia.) The first NY presidential mansion was near the Brooklyn Bridge on Cherry St. It was out grown.

President George Washington lived on the site I now work and I think that's really cool!

This plaque was placed on our building in 1939:

I mentioned the view out my new office window. Here it is as night descends upon the Hudson and New Jersey:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Under foot... the garden rug

Inspiration arrived last weekend for the recycled shirt project. That's the rug I'm going to hook using several old shirts that no longer fit. So I took a piece of rough linen out back and drew the design I'd had loosely in mind--something floral. It came together at the last minute and I kinda like how it looks. I'll have to tweek here and there. There's a flying saucer like thingy next to the blue morning glory what will end up being an orange poppy and the Asiatic Lily needs a bit of adjustment. I think it will also benefit from a few more vines and bigger leaves over the "pavement" border.

These are the first three flowers hooked--a rose, the bottom flower of a yellow hollyhock, and a blue morning glory.

The rose contains some bright red and shiny pink fabric that does not come from one of my old shirts. It comes from a costume kimono that I wore in the Village Halloween Parade a few years back. My friend from Cape Ann came down and we dressed up as geishas. I was the 'ghoulish' geisha. You can see the fabric in this pic... fun times... don't I look a treat?
And this is my lovely friend from MA...

Here's the total rug design... I think with the adjustments I've mentioned it should be OK...

And the pile of shirt backs. I'll save the sleeves till last if I need them...