we STILL heart new york

Posted on 33 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects

we had a lovely weekend at the yarn co in manhattan, where we were treated to great company and surrounded by walls of luxury yarns. we even got to attend a small party in the home of owners tavy, assaf, and romi ronen

megan, kat, elizabeth, and i had a yummy dinner on saturday night together in the restaurant adjacent to our hotel.

after our last class however, we found ourselves holding cancelled plane tickets and watching one municipal resource after another close up tight in anticipation of the impending storm.

kat, who is from a coastal area and has a good head on her shoulders about these things, shot right into action and secured rooms. i moved to her hotel which was the absolute right thing to do—and it is here that i’ve been holed up ever since.

the first night, we just settled in to wait for the storm, which promptly slowed its pace as soon as the airports closed.

we are definitely having some fun together, but we also wish we could be home. at first we thought we’d wait it out for a couple of days and at least get a bunch of knitting done, but in reality, we’ve done less knitting and more checking of weather pattens and flights, which get moved to a new time every few hours, it seems.

this is the view on monday from my hotel room, which faces northeast. that day, cathy invited us over to knit in the afternoon while we waited for the storm to begin.

now you might want to sit down for this next news—i finished a sock.
yes, i have actual knitting content AND an FO to show for my time there.

full disclosure—i’ve had this sign of four sock on the needles for ever. it’s been growing in the slowest possible manner in waiting rooms, at doctor’s appointments, and in the car since i can’t remember when. but now it’s done, yay.

i even got started on  the second sock, david may actually be wearing these before he starts drawing on his social security . . .

these are knit with string theory caper sock, for which i have a deep affection. i’ve had this skein a long time and now i can’t remember the colorway name; i want to call it something like “fusion” but it also looks like it could be black cherry.

on the way back to the hotel from cathy’s, we marveled at the empty avenues of the city—this never happens except in a state of extreme emergency. but with all the bridges closed and  subways, buses, and most forms of transportation halted, it was a traffic ghost town. we had to be very careful because the cars that were out were speeding recklessly down the empty avenues.

we stopped to pick up water and a few groceries to keep in our rooms—my little pantry was stocked with just about anything i’d need for a day or two, but we never really were without access to hot food from nearby delis and restaurants.

that night was actually rather frightful; we have a construction site just across the street and the wind blew down scaffolding, signage, and all manner of splintered debris, sending it flying. being outside meant putting oneself in danger of being hit with splintered spike of wood, sheet metal, or flying plywood.

they moved the crane off of broadway and 77th street onto 77th street, where i could now see it from my window. i could only trust that with one crane coming down the other day, they secured this one very well.

i spent the night knitting on my secret project and listening to an audiobook to keep my mind calm. the lights flickered a bit but did not go out; we lost internet and TV transmission (several networks had to stop broadcasting), and in the middle of the wee hours, the management came around and asked everyone NOT to use the elevators. all in all, not that bad.

i’ve been working on my hazeline as well throughout the week—it’s almost done. i should be able to finish it up very soon.

the rain was not too bad here in the city and our area did not experience flooding. but the rest of the region was badly hit, as you all probably know. we are VERY lucky to have gotten through it with only travel delays to deal with.

late monday afternoon, i even saw a very brief brightening of the sky and captured this sunny moment.

a very blue eye of the storm, we think it may have been. it lasted just a minute or two and then the whole thing clouded over again, but it was awesomely beautiful.

the skies continue to be overcast and there are snowstorms beginning outside the city now, but i have secured a rental car and will be leaving for home in a little while, if everything goes as expected. at this point, i can’t get out of NYC by airplane anytime before friday night. i’m trying to make my scheduled flight for san francisco from home tomorrow morning, by switching to car transportation. hopefully, the weather will hold and i can get there without too much trouble—wish me luck!

we heart new york

Posted on 18 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls

it’s a tall order to decide what is the most fun thing to do in new york city, but one strategy i return to time and again when setting out for adventure is to allow my feet to lead the way. there’s no better way to see my favorite city than to do it on foot.

we arrived in brooklyn late on monday morning after meeting david, who stayed just a little while with us and then set off in the car for ohio. we stayed in the brooklyn home of a very generous friend, where we enjoyed a gorgeous view of the city’s most populated borough from every window of the apartment.

that afternoon we went for a long walk in prospect park, which is right outside the door of the building (how lucky are we??). prospect park is another project by designers frederick law olmsted and calvert vaux, who created  central park in manhattan and like that park, it is intended to be a large natural sanctuary where one can escape the noisy machinery of an industrious city.

unfortunately, my phone camera was full and i got no photos inside the park that day, so i’ll leave that up to your imagination. afterward, we met our friend mary fischer for dinner at al di la trattoria, brooklyn’s celebrated italian eatery.

the cozy street-side dining room provides a warm atmosphere and efficient, friendly wait service along with luscious italian food—we enjoyed a delicious and relaxing dinner there.

we headed back to the apartment with every intention of knitting the night away, but found ourselves exhausted and nodding off almost as soon as we’d changed into our jammies—bummer. but what could we do? we hauled ourselves off to bed to get a good night’s sleep—we had a big day planned for tuesday.

sure enough, i was awake at the crack of dawn so i went running while kim got ready. after i got back, stretched, and showered, we set out. we walked from prospect heights, through carroll gardens and cobble hill to the promenade in brooklyn heights

where we could then see a view of manhattan’s east side.

i don’t think i mentioned it earlier, but i did get my wasp and rose blocked before i left home

and i had it packed in my bag in case we had an opportunity to do some modeling shots during the course of our trip.

when we got to brooklyn and made our plans, we saw our opportunity; we could shoot photos on the apartment balcony and at various points in our walk—perfect!

as kim put it, the contrast of the city and the lace or of manhattan and brooklyn is like the wasp and the rose—one is quick and sharp, the other is softer and gentler.

well the idea was completely successful; this is just a hint of the photos to come when we are ready to release the pattern (hopefully, when i get home next week and can show you vanessa’s sample as well!)

after walking over the bridge, we sat for a minute in city hall park, admiring the skyline of the financial district from below. then we set off to find some lunch—we were hungry. we walked up  through china town and nolita, then over to soho, where we found an empty table at fanelli cafe, where i’d eaten many a fine bowl of tomato soup during lunch hours when i worked downtown.

it was exactly ass i’d remembered and kim enjoyed it, too. while we ate it rained a bit outside and was still drizzling a bit when we emerged, so we decided to hop a train to our next destination—niketown on 57th street.

oh, i now—very commercial and touristy, but since we are both avid exercisers and in need of new sneakers, we didn’t care; we went anyway. and since we were actually there on an errand, we didn’t stay long but we both walked out with what we went for.

ever since last year, i was hoping i’d find some running shoes for winter that would keep my feet a little drier and therefore, warmer. i hadn’t found any such thing—which i really don’t get, since most runners go all year, but ok . . .. well, now nike has a new line of shoes with a shield that repels water—not exactly waterproof, but better than nothing, so i’m trying them. kim got trainers for the gym that we both liked.

as we crossed town to our next destination, we stopped along central park south to snap this beautiful photo of kim against the backdrop of the pond and  path below—i love this shot.

by then we had walked over ten miles and those of you who follow kim in our clubhouse MUST be wondering, when the heck are they gonna eat cake??? well, since there was a magnolia bakery right around the corner at bloomingdales, that was our next stop.

kim got the coconut layer cake and a red velvet cupcake. i got the devil’s food cake—which was so big that i had to eat it in three sittings over two days. had to.

after magnolia we walked twenty more blocks to the spot where i wanted to buy david’s present, which i won’t reveal—because that would spoil it—but suffice it to say that he will be very pleased.

we stopped for a break in bryant park behind the main branch of the new york city library, to eat a bit of our cake and rest our poor, overworked feet (note to self: brown bossy boots are awesome, but a bit heavy for walking very long distances).

we were very much looking forward to dinner with agnes and cathy, the awesome moderators of our ravelry knitspot mothership. we met them in the east village, where they took us to the redhead, a small pub/restaurant with a southern bent.

we talked and talked and snacked and ate—it was absolutely the best night. we reluctantly left them and headed home, which was an adventure with so many trains rerouted for track work. but we made it!

once again we were completely knackered and we had an early date in the morning, so we toddled off to bed almost as soon as we got in.

wednesday morning was kim’s last in NYC before heading home and we spent it at the metropolitan museum of art, along with megan and kat, on a private tour of the egyptology wing, with kat’s friend ellie, who has worked in the department for over thirty years.

she is just lovely and so very knowledgable—i could have followed her around all year, listening to her speak! we saw some tombs and learned about how to read the heiroglyphs, then looked at other art and artifacts related to what we saw.

once again—how lucky are we?? this was the opportunity of a lifetime—for as many times as i have visited the met, i’ve never had a private escort; it was fascinating. i have gained a little more perspective on how to look at this incredible period of art in the future . . .

we could have stayed much longer, but unfortunately, kim and i had to take our leave at lunchtime; she was headed home already . . . awwww.

another brisk walk back to our brooklyn-bound subway. at the apartment, kim grabbed her bags and we said our goodbyes—we’ll see each other in the winter when i go west for TNNA.

by myself once again, i spent the rest of the afternoon putting together some blog posts to tide us over until the weekend (which i hope you are enjoying this very minute!).

i’m going to go now for a last run in the park and then pack up my own things to move into the city for the rest of the weekend, where i will be teaching classes through the weekend at the yarn co. there are still spots available in sunday’s sweater fitness class—come join us!

get your woolly on

Posted on 224 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events

one of my favorite people in our industry is woolly wormhead, who i have the pleasure of seeing a few times each year at TNNA and knit nation. one of the things i like best about woolly is that she focuses her design work on hats—and only hats; she describes herself as a hat architect.

woolly is the author of seven books about hats and today i have the pleasure of introducing her newest publication, classic woolly toppers, which presents ten timeless hat styles, redesigned for the modern knitter.

hats are wonderful, one-skein projects that make terrific traveling companions. and because a hat is the perfect project to start in the middle of a sleepless night or when snowed in at home, they are great stash busters, especially for those fun single-skein impulse purchases. i thought it would be entertaining (and hopefully informative) to pull my favorite styles from the book and show how i’d pair them with yarns from my studio shelves.

this red toque, named taboosh, looks like it should be knit from a yarn with some body to help it keep its upright shape, but enough softness that it doesn’t grip too tightly around the ears—it should feel relaxed when worn. and maybe in a fiber that blooms just enough to give the surface a cohesive density. blends are great for getting a combination of yarn qualities in one package—foxfire upland wool and alpaca or the cormo alpaca classic might be nice choices. each has a good measure of springy wool and enough twist to support the hat shape, with some alpaca to soften the surface and provide stitch cohesion (which helps keep the cold out).

the camden cap definitely wants to stand up off the head in an architectural shape, so i would look for a somewhat stiffer yarn with a tighter twist and possibly a bit of polish to the surface—something that will support the architecture vey well and not sag.

string theory caper aran is a nice choice—the firm twist gives it lots of body and a bit of sheen to make that cap really stand up, while its blend of merino/cashmere/nylon provides a soft edge to counteract the stiffness of the hat brim.

i just love a nice slouchy tam, don’t you? annular is a soft mound of loveliness that sets onto your hair without mushing it—just right for days when you’ll be running in and out, and wanting to take your hat off. for this i want yarn that is very soft, with a relaxed twist to maximize the slouch—and maybe some fuzziness as well. i’m thinking something luxurious—cashmere, mink, silk, alpaca, yak are all fibers that will contribute the right qualities of softness and drape for a slouchy tam.

great northern yarns sport weight yak or mink/cashmere DK would be lovely in this hat, creating a luscious cloud of soft fabric that drapes just right—both are so light that they will keep some shape despite the volume in the hat’s fabric. the bloom of these fibers helps support the fabric while keeping it very light in weight.

karenin is an adorable earflap hat with a button-up brim and a fairly close fit. i’m thinking a wonderfully sturdy worsted weight yarn, such as briar rose charity would be just the ticket. studio june andrea mae DK would be another great option in  a super wash merino.

in one of chris’s signature tonal handpaints, this cap could be a witty replica of grandpa’s old plaid hunting cap—the perfect gift for one of my nieces or nephews.

sumner is one of those hats that can fit itself to any mood or personality—this is a great cap to make ahead and keep for when you need a last-minute gift; it will suit any age or gender and its lightweight fabric can be worn nearly year-round. and who doesn’t have some fingering weight yarn on hand? the original is knit in a luxury merino/silk blend, which will make a drapey fabric with lovely sheen

this skein of periwinkle sheep merino/silk would recreate the same look and be an elegant choice for someone with sophisticated, subtle taste.

on the other hand, for that rugged hipster skater in your life, you might want use a sturdier, washable sock yarn, such as spirit trail sunna

still soft with a nice sheen, but a bit more practical.

bobba hat is a fun, retro look that can be worn by anyone—a funky, fun choice for that über-sure guy you know and one that will fit over a voluminous hairstyle, such as dreadlocks. on the flip side, i see lots of elderly women wearing this style hat as well—a testament to its universal appeal. this hat requires worsted weight yarn and the original is a singles, so i’m looking for something with a light twist and some density that will create good stitch cohesion . . .

green mountain spinner mountain mohair would be a nice choice for a soft solid or the fibre company terra for a more textured, tweedy look.

now here is my very favorite hat from the book—a delicious garter stitch piece that folds into a soft, smurfy shape and can be worn in any direction. i don’t know if i can pull of this look with my short hair, but i’m probably going to try—if it doesn’t work for me, i can give it to someone else.

for this hat, i definitely want a soft yarn that will maximize its luxurious draping. since the fit doesn’t rely on elasticity at all, i can go for lots of softness with just enough body to add some plumpness to the folds. a little sheen wouldn’t hurt either to provide some shadowing.

i’m choosing shalimar haven for this one—a delicious 70/30 merino silk 5-ply that is somewhat round, with a sueded soft surface finish—completely luxurious, yet knits up very evenly with good stitch definition.

this piece would also be incredible in a luxury fiber blend, such as miss babs tierno or spirit trail holda.

oh, there are many more hats and yarns to go with them, but i’ll let you do the exploring for those yourself. in fact, woolly wormhead has generously offered a free digital copy of classic woolly toppers to one lucky reader of today’s post. if you’d like to be considered, please leave a comment below by 9 pm EST on sunday, october 28. the winner will be announced on the blog shortly after.

ooops, i almost forgot; the next stop on the blog tour will be bricoleur knits!

have a good day; i’ll be back with more of my travels in a day or two.

and now for round II

Posted on 15 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events

i left off in the middle of saturday, as i was heading out into the fair to see all the excitement.

first stop—our annual knitspot meetup, an hour that all of us in the knitspot ravelry group and our clubhouse look forward to each year. it’s just a casual get-together, where we get to meet in person, chat, and admire each other’s knitwear

complete with yummy victuals contributed by participants (though one does NOT have to bring food in order to attend!). we actually had more knitters than this at the aprty, but getting everyone together in one photo is like herding cats.

we kind of leave the food up to chance and each year, we end up with a wonderful spread—be sure to join us next time; everyone needs a little time out from yarn fumes and this is the perfect resting spot.

i think anyone there would agree that the cutest FO of the year was worn by our dear little julia—a mini-me sprossling, knit by her mom, kristin; SO cute!! and she seems to like it, which is the nicest compliment.

after lunch it was back to work in the briar rose booth for me, where the afternoon went by in a flash. kim and megan helped chris and roger close up the tent while amy and i went for a much-needed run, all through the streets of rhinebeck. it was wonderful and head-clearing to get out and move; we did over seven miles before we knew it.

we all met up back at the hotel for a nice dinner of pizza and a well-deserved beer, which gave us the opportunity to knit and socialize with this nice group of knitters from pennsylvania.

kim made friends for life by passing around a box of bee stings left to us at the picnic by susan, who buys them at her local family bakery in.
i saw a full box of them sitting on the picnic blanket at the end of lunch and scooped it up to share later—i was not letting those wander off into the unknown (but there are only so many i can eat myself).

these buttery, honey toffee confections are, well—the bees knees (seriously; if you were there to taste one, you would not be groaning over my pun). i just love them.

and apparently, i’m not the only one who thinks so!

once we had distributed the joy to all who wanted to partake, it was time for kim and me to carry ourselves off to bed in our cottage cross the river. we sank thankfully under our cozy covers for a good night’s sleep to get ready for another day of festival fun.

sunday morning found us back at the briar rose booth to see if our help was needed during the early morning rush. we weren’t really needed, but this lovely lady and her son buttonholed me for an opinion on choosing yarn—what could i do?

joy (left) wants to knit a sweater for her son scott (right; lucky guy), and they were a little overwhelmed by the options in the briar rose booth (understandable; everything is beautiful). we figured out which yarn bases would work with the patterns they had picked out and then set to work finding a color scott likes.

we all finally settled on the denim blue, but then another beauty batted its lashes at scott and he started waffling. kim quickly descended on the situation and let him know what was what—that the denim blue was perfect and it would be foolish to consider anything else. i think i wasn’t the only one to thank her afterward, haha

after that, chris and her family had everything under control (of course), which left kim and me free to raom for the day.

we looked at llamas and sheep

and they looked back at us.

we wandered in and out of all the barns, grazing the yarn offerings that were left after saturday’d record crowds picked most of the booths pretty clean.

we had a lovely conversation with arturo, who creates the most needle-felted beautiful creatures. here he is working on a pair of goats, which just happened to come home with me at day’s end.

ravelry jess stopped us as we were moseying along to say hello and share some newly-minted photos of baby eloise; megan was about to faint form a fangirl moment, so i took the opportunity to get a photo of them together. if i had known we’d be joined in the next moment by mary heather and sarah, i’d have waited!

i didn’t leve the fair with many purchases—partly because i worked instead of shopping and partly because i was more careful this year about taking home too much. what i have doesn’t even fill one tote bag all the way—i will share what i did bring home as soon as i can get photos. silly me, i sent it all back with david on monday before taking pictures. i know there was a bunch of briar rose and few things from miss babs and spirit trail as well. i will be sure to tell you all about it when i get home next week.

next stop was NYC, where i will be teaching this weekend at the yarn co. on the upper west side, where i will be teaching lace, finishing, and sweater fitness classes tonight through sunday—still some spots left; sign up here.

now i am on my old stomping grounds in brooklyn; kim and i arrived here monday and have been exploring parts of new york city she hadn’t seen before. i dragged her all over the place yesterday—we covered over twelve miles on foot before landing at a fine dinner with our friends agnes and cathy.

kim flew home this afternoon, but i’ve got plenty of wonderful photos to share from our travels—stay tuned for the next update.

until then, happy trails!