Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

no place like home

Friday, April 17th, 2015

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i know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s home to me. haha, actually, it almost looks like i live in a nursing home, doesn’t it? oh well, i still miss it when i’m gone for a while.

sorry for the extra time between posts, it’s always a little rush-rush when i get back form a trip because i have to get my bearings and catch up a bit. plus we had a blanket club chapter to publish this week, which i hope everyone is enjoying.

when i prepared to go to new mexico, i packed the last of my two sweater projects in the hope that i would complete three remaining sleeves in the five days that i was to be away. HAHAHAHA.

but one can dream can’t one?
and it’s good to be prepared (remember, i got stuck in hurricane sandy and i was really REALLY happy to have extra knitting that week, though it probably damaged my sense of proportion for life.)

anyway, i didn’t get much done at all on my sleeves over last weekend. i don’t know why; they are the best travel knitting. but somehow i got distracted by my crescent shawl project (which has no deadline) and i couldn’t stop knitting on it.

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when i left my house i wasn’t quite done with the hem. i pulled it out in the airport lounge while waiting to board the first flight and that’s when it became my weekend knitting of choice.

by the time i got through my first day of classes, i was ready to begin the short row shaping section, so i got that set up in the quiet of my room that night. i did knit on my first sleeve a little bit, but not as much as i thought i would. ok, i got the cast on and two rows of ribbing done; that’s it.

you saw the progress i made on the crescent shawl throughout the weekend—i was all about knitting garter stitch in short rows, alright. plus stopping to admire the fabric—it’s SO darn squishy and soft. and pretty.

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when i boarded the plane to go home at holy-cow-o’clock on monday morning, i had just about ten rows to go—the longest ones, of course. but i was binding off as we landed in denver a short time later; all done, yay.

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it was a little bit of a relief actually. kind of like when you finish off that bag of delicious chocolates you can’t keep your hands off of—much as you enjoyed them, you’re sorta glad they are gone so they won’t tempt you any more. in fact, you may have even eaten the last ones in a bit of a rush to get there, without actually savoring them as you should.

or maybe you just enjoy the good stuff without overthinking everything the way i do, haha. that’s the smart way to live life . . .

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so anyway, once i had the shawl off my needles i got my first orange sleeve out and got down to business. i’ve got a deadline and i don’t miss deadlines, dammit.

my renewed energy for it stood me well because by the time i got off the plane in canton at mid-afternoon, i was all the way to the armhole bind off. since i was basically getting off the plane and continuing on to teach another class, i just kind of kept going and by supper time, i was done with that first sleeve. i’m enjoying the yarn no end—it’s briar rose joyful and i’m not sure what chris will name this colorway, but i will always think of it as orange you glad.

for the next couple of days my time was tied up with a range of projects—putting the chapter layout together and writing up some designer notes (we’d done all the video and photo work earlier in the month), completing edits on sweater pattern files and checking in with test knitters, blocking a couple of shawls (including the one i’d just finished—more on that in a minute), and in between all that, knitting on my sleeves. i had two left for the deadline cardigans and half a sleeve for the pullover. and here at week’s end, everything is shaping up nicely for a successful finish.

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the pullover sleeve is in a holding pattern just until i get the other ones completed. i know i can finish that in a matter of hours and on my own time. my second orange sleeve is well on its way to being done.

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i’m a few rows shy of the armhole bind off and from there, the sleeve cap is all downhill sailing. now that makes it sound as if the orange sweater is really far ahead of the blue one, which i have only to about the elbow.

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my last sleeve piece (spirit trail tayet in colorway midnight rendezvous) is woefully behind the orange one BUT—and it’s a big but—once it’s done, the sweater is fini; there isn’t much finishing work beyond stitching up seams. the orange cardigan however, will need seaming AND button bands and you know they always take longer than we think they will.

still, with no other deadlines in sight at the moment, i feel good about being done with all of it by the end of the weekend. i will finish at least one of these sleeves tonight, probably the orange one and there’s little enough there that if i do, i can block the sweater pieces as well. and when i sit down to watch TV later on, i can seam the shoulders and begin the button/neckbands.

that’s actually an excellent plan for this evening; let’s go with that.

tomorrow we have a wedding to attend in the afternoon but i bet we’ll be home early enough for me to finish the blue sleeve. i’m pretty anxious to block those sweater pieces and see what i’ve got; i’m just dying to see how that lapel/collar works out. the blocked fabric is so different from the knitted fabric, which has a little bit of a wiry feel. once its washed however, it gets much, much silkier.

i’ve allowed for that in what seems like a fair amount of extra fabric, but i don’t want it to look skimpy once it drapes properly. fingers crossed.

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and when all of that is done, i can get back to finishing up the last bit of the sleeve for my luscious pullover which i am anxious to wear, even if it’s just for one chilly day.

sometimes when i spend a lot of time in my desk chair during the day, i want to do something at some point that does not require sitting, so on two different mornings this week, i put a shawl in to soak after coffee that i could block later in the afternoon.

one was the reversible crescent shawl i finished on my trip—i had decided i wanted to gift it to a special friend for an Important Birthday.

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whaddaya think? it’s  a wonderfully versatile length, long enough to do a keyhole pull

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or to wrap around twice to show both sides.

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i like it; i hope she does (i think she will). now i need to take those numbers and measurements i wrote down and turn them into a pattern.

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i actually want to make one with the same hem that is triangular—i know everyone loves the crescent style, but my preference is for triangle—what can i say? i march to a different drummer. while i have it all in my head, i think i’ll cast on and knit another for myself.

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i’ve had my eye on this mocha shade for a while; it’s enchanting me with its glints of gold and undercurrents of gray. such complex, rich tones; i must knit with it.

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we had a lot of chilly rain when i first got home and i saw right away that nothing much had happened in the garden. but with warmer temperatures the last couple of days and sun today, we are catching up. the buds on the maple tree just outside my desk window seem to be growing and popping before my eyes.

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even against a gray and rainy sky ( or maybe especially so . . .) they are gorgeous.

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david has been working on the vegetable garden to prepare it for planting in a few weeks—we could even set out onions and greens over the weekend. i’ll have to see if i can pick some up tomorrow.

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the big news really is in the flowers, which are finally blooming and plentifully at that (i was getting a little worried it wouldn’t happen, to tell you the truth).

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my beloved tulips suddenly have big leaves, big buds, and flowers, yay!

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and the jonquils are opening, issuing their delicate scent.

the ground is still rather cold however and around back, the perennials were just barely waking up when i took a walk around the yard this morning.

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hosts are putting out very tentative nubs, but i know from experience that once they get going, we could practically watch them get taller by the hour.

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and our funny friend, the may apple is nosing out as well, enough to be seen in just one or two places, almost hidden. but we know that they will be endlessly entertaining in no time.

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nearby, the fiddleheads are still tightly coiled but beginning to stir. it’ll be a while for them, i think.

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surprisingly though, the lily of the valley has sprung and is taller than i expected, especially the ones close to the house foundation.

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and most have their little buds already, too. funny because these are a hosta and the other hostas are still so small.

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oh i could go on and on—as you know our yard is a bottomless treasure trove of plant life. i think i’ll end with the hydrangea though, another surprise. i feel like it’s early this year, though maybe not.

it’s time for us to go grocery shopping so i’m going to close with a hint of something else—something super special—i blocked yesterday.

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ooooh, i hate keeping yarn secrets—i prefer to talk about it. i’ll tell all next time .  . .

moths and all

Monday, April 13th, 2015

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after just a couple of days on the ground in ohio, it was off again for me on thursday, this time to albuquerque, NM.

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before i left though, a small clutch of our daffodils, finally gave it up for my sake—just look at them! i’m not sure how everything fared in my absence, but i’m hoping for a few more blooms when i get home; maybe even enough to put a bunch on the table for our monday afternoon class.

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a few beautiful purple crocuses made their way into the light as well—overall, these have appeared only grudgingly this year.

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never mind though—my garlic is making up for it. we’ve got full participation in a chorus of sprouts on the garlic mound. david spaced them a little further apart than we usually do; i think i might be able to put some onions in between.

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anyway, back to my albuquerque trip, i was scheduled to teach a lace project class and we were going to be knitting an old favorite—wing o’ the moth, which was the very first pattern i published through my blog in 2006.

i had not knit one in a number of years, so on wednesday i cast one on in our merino/mohair chebris lace yarn (we are restocking very soon!) to knit the mini scarf version that is included in the pattern—the project we would be doing in an all day class to end the weekend.

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i wanted to be sure it could be knit in a reasonably short time—less than six hours if one is fairly speedy. that morning i just wanted to complete the cast on and setup so that i could finish it up during my trip to new mexico on thursday morning. this is the first thirty rows—in real life, it’s much tinier than it appears in the photos.

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the pattern develops very quickly and sure enough i got surprisingly far along during the first leg of my journey the next morning—all the way to the hem section before i got off the first flight.

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i had kind of a long layover to look forward to upon my arrival in denver at just 6 am, so i found a good cup of coffee and a comfy lounge chair and settled in to knit.

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i was soon joined by a couple of prankster birdies, looking for crumbs, i imagine.

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i’ve seen birds in airports plenty of times, but i was amused by how close these two were willing to venture in their search for food. of course, all the good morsels would be near the chairs, so that makes sense!

though i was fighting off drowsiness the whole trip and making plenty of mistakes because of it (i had to be out the door at 4 am to catch my plane, so not much sleep that night), i managed to bind off my mini shawl before we landed in albuquerque. i never did get a shot of the completed piece in its unblocked state, ack; i might have to knit another.

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at the hotel i was greeted by lilacs at the peak of their bloom—shrubs just loaded with flowers surround the building. they were breathtaking and the scent was a welcome one, even though i’m terribly allergic to them.

my first class wasn’t until the next day so i spent the afternoon catching up on much needed sleep and in the evening, i worked on my reversible crescent shawl, which i’ve decided to name love me two times.

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i started the short row garter stitch section and over the last few days it has been my go-to project. since the knitting is rather mindless, i can tote it along to class to knit while on breaks or when the whole class is at work and needing quiet time without lecture.

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i’m pretty happy with how reversible it is—except for the them pattern, you can barely detect a difference in the way it looks from “front” to “back”. and the yarn—better breakfast fingering, in the daybreak shade—is so silky and lush; i’ve been wasting a lot of time petting it every few minutes. everyone who feels it asks if it’s cashmere and i’m tempted to say yes, haha.

anyway, this project is almost done; i may even finish it up tonight. if not though, then definitely tomorrow on the plane home.

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my first day of classes was at village wools, albuquerque’s largest yarn shop. i taught here in 2008 during my very first travel teaching engagement, which also included the retreat at ghost ranch.

village wools is one of the biggest shops i’ve been in, with floorspace devoted to every aspect of the fiber arts. they stock supplies and offer classes for knitting, crochet, weaving, handspinning, felting, and needle felting (and i’m sure a few more than i’m not remembering).

in a large, comfortable classroom, i taught a sock design class all day, with several familiar faces around the table.

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then in the evening, i displayed a trunk show of knitspot designs made up in bare naked wools yarn selections.

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a tasting of everything from lace and accessories to sweaters was represented, along with sample skeins from each of our natural yarn lines.

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friends came throughout the evening to touch and squeeze the yarns, see the samples in person, chat and hang out. it was a wonderful time, catching up with friends from my previous visit, many of whom are still active in the local yarn guild, dropped stitch knitters, as well as readers of my blog and participants in our ravelry groups.

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the next morning we did it all over again, since our classroom setup included a perfect spot to lay out samples and yarn for everyone to lick look at. margaret wore a beautiful dovecote shawl to class on saturday, one of my favorite designs.

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(you might remember the beautiful charcoal gray dovecote sample that agnes knit for us in breakfast blend fingering yarn a couple of years back; it continues to draw admiration in our shop and at shows!)

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soon it was time to get to work, though—we did a yarn voyage class in the morning to learn more about how yarn is constructed and the impact those features have on our knitting. in this case it was doubly informative as many of the guild members are hand spinners; much of the material covered has very useful implications for spinning.

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in the afternoon we did a blocking class which covered steam blocking for garment pieces as well as wet blocking for garments, lace, and accessories (if you wish you could take such a class, you can—try my blocking DVD).

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my mini wing o’ the moth sample made a reappearance at this point to be soaked, then stretched and blocked. roxane and bonnie helped me stretch and pin the scallops along the outer edges—we decided to go BIG on those (you can make them more or less showy as you wish with this design).

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once it was all pinned out we could put it away until the next day, when we’d be knitting the piece as a group in our shawl project class. it would be fun and inspiring to unpin the dry piece and see the results in that class.

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i worked out in the gym that morning, but after class i headed out for a run anyway, determined to spend SOME time outdoors enjoying the weather—it’s not every day lately that i get to spend time in the warm sunshine. it was a little overcast and my allergies are running high in this environment but so what?

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the fiesta balloon park is a couple of miles from the hotel so i headed in that direction; i just wanted a little run to counteract all the standing i’d been doing.

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the balloon park includes the grounds for the international balloon museum, some ball fields and of course, a vast open space for the launching and landing of hot air balloons. new mexico is very windy, as you can see from the tree formations—ideal conditions for sailing balloons, i imagine.

back in my room i took a shower, got myself some take out chinese, and had a nice evening of chatting with david and knitting; just what i needed to end my day.

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this morning i was wide awake by 3:30 am—no rest for the wicked! i edited photos for this post and then hit the gym for a bit before my teaching day began.

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today was our shawl project class, where everyone tackled the WOM shawl together—just the small size to get a feel for it.

i love to see everyone’s choice of yarn—some knitters will bring a bit of something special to try out and some will stash dive for something older that they don’t care about as much, but all will offer surprising and pleasing results.

within the first hour, everyone had cast on and settled into the rhythm of the project. this is a pretty social group, so they appreciated the more relaxed pace and timing of this class to have some enjoyable knitting time, while learning a new project together.

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at times they even looked pretty serious about their work

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though it didn’t last too long.

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when we needed a little stretch and a break, i demonstrated how to steam a finished piece to give the fabric a chance to bloom just a little more. this is especially effective for yarns that are a bit fuzzy, like the chebris, when you want to raise that halo to the max.

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look at the beautiful shimmer and shadow that the fabric has as the stitch patterns move the yarn this way and that.

after steaming, the piece needs to become completely dry again before unpinning, so we let it stay while we went to lunch, allowing that evaporation to take place.

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by the way, did you know that today is national grilled cheese day? get with it, man!

back in the classroom, the moment of truth had arrived.

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roxanne and bonnie did the honors of unpinning and we could immediately see that the fabric had transformed from a rather stiff and lumpish blob to one with a silky, liquid hand and a halo that caught the light on each fiber.

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and talk about sheer—it is ethereal, truly.

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what a lovely little piece to keep tucked in a purse or glovebox, to chase off a chill or add to an outfit as a last minute accessory. so practical but SOooo pretty too. and a seriously nice gift that takes about 200 yards of fingering or heavy lace yarn and maybe two evenings of your time (some beginners may need more time).

we knit through the afternoon, making excellent progress all around, while no one actually finished their mini shawls, everyone got at least halfway and had a good understanding of the structure and stitch patterns. the nice thing about working with a guild is that a teacher can go home knowing that they will continue to discuss and share the project afterward as a group.

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marie, who was visiting the area from iowa and took classes with us throughout the weekend, fell in love with the wrapping up winter sample and purchased four skeins of kent DK to make one for herself as a remembrance of the weekend (she could also knit a nice size lap blanket with her purchase).

at the end of the day we all said our good byes—i will be leaving here well before dawn in the morning and who knows when i’ll be back (but hopefully soon; i love this group!). i will be back to my regularly scheduled sleeve knitting for the duration of the trip; i have sorely neglected my sweater projects this weekend and now i must catch up.

you know i’m not one to devote a lot of page space to gratuitous baby photos, but i’m going to close with a shameless auntie moment. as you might know, my nephew has held a lifelong obsession with superheroes and comic book art, as well as being a talented artist himself. in fact, he is finding ingenious ways to share his love of superheroes with his son, who already cracks up laughing every time he looks at his dad (we all do that, haha).

as with many young families, we are treated to a daily stream of photos documenting each new smile, expression, and development, punctuated by new outfits as the little fella grows. most of which i find incredibly entertaining, but the latest especially so—and i just have to share.

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monday should always start with a  chuckle, right?

knit and ramble

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

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weatherwise, the start of my week here was not as auspicious as i had hoped—the forecasted warm temperatures and clear days turned out to be all smoke and mirrors as mother nature had her way with me.

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and so i found myself parked in the corner window of the astor place starbucks on tuesday afternoon watching the rain pour down outside instead of doing the errands i had planned. good thing i’m a knitter, because i knew just what to do with a couple of spare hours and a cup of coffee.

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i had packed my smallest project into my side bag before leaving brooklyn, so i had the perfect fit for the situation. by the time i had to leave and meet agnes, cathy, and donna for dinner, i had accomplished enough for everyone to cop a good feel of the squishalicious fabric that was being generated from the needles.

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it really does glow, this yarn (better breakfast fingering, in the daybreak shade) and is SOooo touchable; it’s actually a little too distracting. eh, i can live with that . . .

anyway, back to the shawl—i’ve been carrying it along all week and  getting a surprising amount done.

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okay, now here’s the fun part—you can really see the pattern that has developed.

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which means you can also appreciate the flip side pattern too! snazzy, huh?

yep, on one side the pretty half-chevron pattern of yarn overs and decreases is featured in the foreground and on the other, a luscious cable pops off the fabric surface on a background of organized eyelets.

yesterday i took a very long train ride to a special destination i will tell you about on sunday and i think i got far enough that i need to start thinking about ending the hem and starting the body. so really, before i leave the house today, i ought to do a little math to figure out the direction i’m going next.

i love it so much i want to knit a triangle version too, since that is my favorite and most-worn type of shawlette. i think i’ll cast on that one in the mocha shade of BBF when i get home, to take on my teaching trip to village wools in albuquerque, new mexico next week. it will make a great example to show my lace knitting class and i can save the blocking of the crescent to demonstrate in our blocking class.

BTW, we have a full weekend of terrific classes planned april 10 through 12—if you live nearby, you should come!

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yesterday morning i was up with the birds and had several hours of knitting time, so while it was still dark, i worked on the hem of my orange cardigan. i love that i can work on this when the light is bad—it greatly expands my knitting time, which i really need right now.

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whenever the light is good, however i take the opportunity to work on my triticum cardigan because that i cannot do when it’s dim or dark. i’ve gotten the bulk of the back piece done now and am nearly ready to start the armhole shaping. as soon as i get back from lunch, i’m settling in to work on both of these for the rest of today. sigh—can’t wait.

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well, since tuesday, the weather has improved greatly. first the days became sunnier, though still windy and cold—much colder than expected actually with mornings in the low 30s, brrr.

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still, the sun was dazzling and there was an undercurrent of warmth to be felt on wednesday and the earth began to respond.

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by yesterday there were definite signs of spring popping, when i went out for my morning run.

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i decided run down through my old neighborhood of carroll gardens; i hadn’t had a chance to visit there the last couple of times i was in brooklyn.

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when i first moved there in 1988, i lived just above the esposito pork store, near the corner of court and president streets. the neighborhood was still a quiet, italian american community then—i felt right at home.

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this guy wasn’t in residence when i lived there; he may have been moved over from their old store in new jersey.

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i played basketball every morning before work right around the corner at carroll park, weather permitting. a few times i was even invited to join the guys pickup games, but i always declined; their much bigger size intimidated me.

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i love this park; it has a huge tree right in the middle; you had to play around it, haha. there is also a bocce court right alongside the basketball court—probably so the grandpas could keep an eye on the kids while they all played.

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at that time there were many, many italian food shops still in operation, but most are gone now it seems. caputo’s is where i bought bread most of the time, but for cookies, it was court pastry all the way (sadly, gone now).

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i moved to this building in 1996 at the very end of columbia street—seriously, right next to the brooklyn tunnel. you would think that would be awful but it was actually a really nice quiet spot, right on the waterfront and nearby to all my friends, most of whom were visual artists. david and i fell in love while i lived here, so i will always think of it as the center if the universe—and beautiful.

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i ran back up to park slope and passed over the gowanus canal—boy are they making changes there, literally razing entire swathes of industrial area to rebuild into what looks like an entirely new landscape. truly the end of several eras, i think. i don’t know how i feel about it, but it’s happening anyway. the scale of the demolition mess is monumental in and of itself, i’ll say that.

ooops, look what time it is—i have a lunch meet up in the city so i must get a move on—will be back with more over the weekend.

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eyes (and hands) in the city

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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taking pictures out the car window on the way from the laguardia to brooklyn, we passed a series of cemeteries along jackie robinson drive. a peek into such a dense gathering of souls really drives home the sheer number of people who inhabit the city or whose life has passed through it.

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i love cemeteries anyway, but then one that has the NYC skyline as its infinity point? wow.

to back up a bit, i opted for my early morning travel knitting to work on the languishing reversible crescent shawl i took along.

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small, lean, and light in color—i’m knitting with our own better breakfast fingering yarn in (ironically) the daybreak shade.  it was the perfect project to knit while waiting to board and later, in the pre-dawn light of the poorly lit plane cabin.

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considering that my rows are somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred stitches, i got a very good amount done—about ten rows (the flight is only fifty minutes). which is enough to make it feel like there is some substance to the knitted piece. for me, this is always a milestone at the start; with something to grab onto and act as ballast for my needles, my knitting speeds up a bit and a rhythm develops.

i arrived my friend nancy’s place by 8 am and had a lunch meeting set up, so i decided to squeeze in a park run to acclimate myself. it was colder than i expected, but not as cold as it has been at home; i was looking forward it.

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well, running sure does have its rewards.
on my second turn around prospect park drive yesterday, i spotted clumps of snowdrops dotting the floor of the woods close to the road. and once i noticed one, i realized there was, if not a carpet of them, a definite stepping-stone pattern to their presence. and so lushly flowered.

how i missed them on the first time around eludes me; is it possible they weren’t open yet for the day?

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i started out on the west side which is darker and more heavily wooded, especially when the sun is hiding as it was yesterday morning. i tried to get photos of the forsythia buds which are but a haze along the branches in this chillier area.

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here and there i also located tiny sprouts of daffodils, poking out the thinnest of blades to push off their leafy blanket.

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round about on the east however, the daffs held a much bolder stance and were even showing signs of thick bud.

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it was the same for the forsythia—with more access to open sky and light, they were breaking out in bloom.

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after my second turn i headed back for a quick shower and then off to a lunch meeting close by. wow, every time i visit park slope i can’t get over how it’s changed. this one of the things i love about the city in general—how it regenerates itself constantly.

after lunch my energy was flagging a bit so i decided to go back to the apartment to check email, knit, and maybe nap for a while. well, i got a little bit of knitting and email done, but my 1 am bed time followed by a 3:30 am waking time had definitely caught up with me and i was soon down for the count.

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after a refreshing nap, the afternoon had begun to fade and as much as i wanted to work on my triticum sweater, i was having trouble seeing what i was doing so i switched to the mister’s design. no trouble seeing that in the dark! and isn’t it beautiful with the morning light catching each edge?

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because i fell asleep fairly early for me, i was up at the crack of dawn and able to take some photos as the sun rose.

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i love the view from nancy’s study, where i spent the night. looking east, out into the vast expanse of brooklyn it’s a shifting light show all night long and into dawn.

then the sun tips up over the horizon for real and the whole apartment fills with extraordinary light. talk about joyful—this yarn totally lives up to its current environment, haha.

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last night i cast on the big back piece and have worked almost all of its hem; a few more rows and i’ll be on to the body—my favorite part because i LOVE knitting that houndstooth texture pattern.

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SO much fun.

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speaking of morning sun, now THAT is the time to work on a dark blue sweater, which is just what i did while chatting with nancy over coffee before she left for the day.

i finished the hem and got far enough to establish the body pattern—the back piece has a central panel which echoes the cable and lace pattern down the center front. that will help define the back waist area and provide a central focal point, similar to my leaving sweater design.

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another yarn that simply glows from within. tayet is dyed on a 100 percent BFL base, so it’s totally made up of luster fiber, which works complete magic in deep blue when dyed by the masterful jen.

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alright now, the day is in full swing and beckoning me to come out—time for a run and then later, a trip to the met. we’re meeting cathy, agnes, and donna for dinner tonight, too—SO looking forward to seeing them all!