Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Love Given - In action & In deed

I've been thinking a lot about the above subject - and what causes us to spontaneously reach up out of our own concerns and, true to our natures, do something loving.

Every weekend I go to the country (schedules permitting) and I sleep like a top. When I wake up, my eyes always fall on a glorius quilt that a dear friend made us for our wedding. The story of the quilt is as sweet as the woman who created it. Regan and I worked together about 8 years ago, and I knew she was a quilter, so when I was clearing out old silk ties and silk shorts that belonged to my about-to-be husband, I asked her if she would like the material. (He had moved on to wearing much more youthful attire and this lovely gracefully aged-out silk was sitting in a drawer taking up room and paying no board.) She, the great collector of wondrous objects and materials, said "You bet!" Delighted that I had found a home for this cache of silk, I promptly forgot about it after turning the shopping bag over to her.

Fast forward a few years and see me having lunch in downtown Manhattan with my old pal, Regan. The wedding is behind us and she and I are having one of our semi-annual meet-ups. Only this time, she pulls out of a shopping bag the most marvelous octagonal hand-made quilt, made of hundreds of small 8 sided little individual hand sewn pieces , bordered with beautiful hand rolled edging and fastened with small silvery palettes. It was the silk shorts and ties completely transformed and turned into a wedding quilt. It was made all the sweeter by the fact that the material had once belonged to Richard (before I even knew him) and that it had been artfully laid out and designed by my sweet Regan, as beautiful in spirit as she is in talent and appearance. A spontaneous gift born of her talent that connected all of us and continues to do so everytime I look at it.

Then last week, I thought, again, of the power of love in action and attention, when I was visiting a farm that belongs to a friend's family. On the farm, they raise sheep and in the course of the recent lambing season, a ewe had given birth to twins: one male, one female. The more dominant male was larger and, in the way of the fittest, had edged his sister out at the dinner table. So, it fell to the owner of the flock to make a critical decision and he did. He decided to hand raise the little female and she was named for the month in which she was born: May. I was lucky enough to help feed her - a chore that took all of 5 minustes as she guzzled her bottle, but it was long enough to hold her close and feel the sweetness of the fleece and her baby's belly. One tender action of attention had transformed this abandoned lamb into a lovely and joyful creature. What blessings occur all around us and how divine when we get to witness them!
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oh, if only I could show you!

Work has kept me hopping and my damn rechargeable batteries keep on losing their charge, so i can't post any pictures of all my finished articles. Oh - and there are so many: 2 clapotises (clapoti?), a baby sweater, a debby bliss little shrug and a jacket and all sorts of wonderful things. How unfortunate that I have not been able to capture all of this on film so I can "prove" how much I have accomplished - or is it fortunate? This way you can't see how long my nose is growing from all this lying It's true that I have all these projects going, but they're not ready for the camera, just yet!)

Nonetheless, they will be coming - and soon. Everything is 75% done - it's just that last 25% that bogs me down in boredom. (

The weather in NY is very un-springlike. Everywhere I go, all anyone can speak about is how cold and damp it is. I have decided to wage my own battle of denial by running all over Manhattan in a skirt and sandals - no socks for this chippy.

We're off to Ct. tomorrow. Did I mention that I've begun a rug? It's from this neat book, The Knitted Rug. I love this book, but then, again, I never met a knitting book for which i didn't feel some affection. Check this one out: For the Love of Knitting. If you can resist buying this, I'll wager that your impervious to temptation: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0896580458/qid=1117157689/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/104-3629495-2853559?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Have a great weekend. May the force of Knitting be with you!
(I'm so hokey, I know, but I can't wait to see it - though i'm not expecting great acting - just great special effects. Sounds a lot like my first high school boyfriend. )

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Don't judge me yet - I hope to grow up to be beautiful!

Good weather in Union Square Park - and shopping, too

For every type, there's a potato!

Spring in the City

As anyone who has "visited" before knows, I was raised in this city and, as you can imagine, I have a soft spot in my heart (and head) when it comes to the change of the seasons here. This year winter held on like the proverbial lion so a lot of us have been waiting for a semblance of spring. Yeserday was the day! The streets were abloom with people of all types, vendors, and well tended animals plus a lot of sunshine. Unfortunately, I was sick as a dog with a spring cold and decided to spend the morning inside, napping and knitting. (I finally succumbed to the Clapotis urge - and I swatched up two possibilities between naps.) Finally, however, I could stand it no more. The weather was glorious, the birds were singing and I knew there was a sale - somewhere. So, I took a shower and decided to forego make-up and concentrated on presentable (Have you ever noticed that when you're sick, your hair gets sick, too, and it just lies there, flat as a board?)
Looking almost presentable, I ventured forth and went via fifth avenue to one of my favorite places downtown - Union Square Market.

Here are a few pictures of the farmer's market - taken just before my newly charged batteries gave up the ghost - so much for rechargeable batteries. The new Whole Foods Market (a shrine to good food and decent service) has just opened up in Union Squre and, if it was busy before, it's positively congested now. A little shopping diversion to a store on Fifth unearthed a few wonderful sherbert colored blouses - at about 75% of their original price. Overall, the trip was worth it in terms of cost, both fiscal and phsyical.

Returning home, I decided to make a recipe that that I have wanted to "try" for over a year. I love to bake, but don't do so often because I tend to eat it all up during the days that follow. But, being ill, feeling the need for a little lift and being extremely curious about this "Belgian Sugar Tart from Auberge du Moulin Hideaux", I decided I'd give it a try. It was a yeast recipe - I'm more of a quick bread kind of girl myself- but its sophistication (that Belgian/European thing) was too tempting to ignore. I read the recipe through, assembled the ingredients and did as was instructed. When it was all assembled, I thought it looked and felt a little gummy and weird, but I decided that was my inexperience with yeast dough, and I ignored my basic instinct. Just for the record, my instincts are excellent and I always get in trouble when I ignore them. I placed the baking pan in a warm and quiet spot and waited - and waited - and waited. Nothing much was happening. I decided to make myself a little snack while I waited - ok, I was knitting too. I took out the crackers and butter (my standard sick day snack) and was preparing to assemble that when I thought how odd it was that the dough had no butter of any kind in it. It had flour, eggs, lemon peel, sugar, but no real shortening or butter. Have I mentioned that I tend to be very careless when I'm not feeling well? Well, I am. I had completely omitted the fat necessary for the whole process to bind togehter and do its alchemical best. I'm no scientist, but I know that's real important. I made a half hearted attempt to save the mess before I listened to those instincts of mine and tossed the whole disgusting mass into the trash. I decided it was for the best and took another nap. This week, however, as soon as I get my bearings back, I'm determined to make the tart that causes the Belgians to line up at their cafes.

Knitting News: At least my fingers are working well, if a little slowly.
Above find a picture of the yarn that won the clapotis lottery. It's from heritage yarns. It's kind of weird stuff in that it has no memory - it's a mix of nylon and silk, but it's marvelously soft and seductive to work on and has great drape. The lack of memory comes in handy since it's doesn't overcurl at the edges, either. I am using celluloid needles from the 40's or 50's - found at a local antique fair. The whole thing slips and slides like ice- skates on a pond. I just have to be careful that none of the stitches slide off the edge and into the drink, so to speak. The other concern I have about this stuff is that I think it pools rather that striates. I'd love a little input if you care to venture an opinion - don't be shy, better to decide at the outset.

I'm also finishing up the bolero. It's from Interweave's latest issue. It's named Fiesta and it was designed by Debbie Bliss At the moment, it's looking like a new-born lamb or, in this case, a boll weavil. (It's a dk weight mercerized cotton.) It's all curled up. Tomorrow, I'll start the rib around the entire neck and back. I'm going to change the cuff a little - I'll post a picture of that as soon as it looks presentable.

Also on the needles: The finish up of the "side of the road" scarf, a sweet little baby sweater for a baby that's probably outgrown it and a chubby jacket for my unchubby niece. By listing this stuff, I hope to keep my self honest and focused and stop starting new projects!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Oh Momma - What a llama - or is it a large alpaca?

Monday, May 09, 2005

My heart belongs to llama

or are they large alpacas? Someone out there will know. These lovely creatures were waiting for me, by the side of the road on Saturday, as I was driving through the countryside. They were so beautiful that I pulled over to take their picture. As soon as i exited the car - and while i was still way across the road - the big white llama (alpaca?) trotted over to the side of the fence and posed. There was no doubt about it - he gave me a perfect "Barrymore" profile. Clearly, this was no mere beast of burden - or fleece. This was a star. I have attended the photo sessions of far too many would-be actors to not recognize an ego - and a desire to shine.

As soon as his pals saw what was happening they raced down the hillside and flanked him on both sides. Clearly he was the alpha beast, however. When the shoot was over,I didn't know how to properly say thank you, so i bowed to them. They seemed to "get it", and they walked back up the hill - with great dignity I might add.

What's on the needles? The only thing i had a desire to make from the last issue of Interweave: The Debbie Bliss "Fiesta" Bolero. Coming along quite nicely, I might add, on a wonderful mercerized cotton. Picture to come.

What's next: I am dying to do the bear claw blanket that was in the last issue of Interweave, but I really wish to do it in cotton. I love working with Cotton -- especially sport or dk weight mercerized cotton. I am contemplating using Paton's Grace because the color selection is so divine and it knits up very well. Any thoughts? All much appreciated.

What happened to the side of the road scarf?: Only another 3 feet or so to go. At the end of the day, it really is a boring little number to do, but it is going to be quite lovely, when i finish it and crochet the edging on to it.

Speaking of crochet: I'm going to a MAKE workshop tonight (http://www.makeworkshop.com/index.html for a crochet class for kids - It's ok, they told me. Only adults have signed up so far. And even if there are a few kids, I'll be right at home. I have always been a Single crochet kind of person, but there are some wonderful things being created these days and I want to get in touch with new ways of using this "old" craft.

I'll be reporting back soon.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Scarf by the side of the Road - A study in calm

Broken, but not abandoned

Bowed but not broken

So there I am. Tootling along the Saw Mill River Parkway, going to pick up my husband, happy to be a little early so that I can knit at the train station - like the dutiful little Donna Reed type I like to pretend I am. (If you don't know who Donna Reed is, you're too young to be reading my blog.) Anyway, I am south of Mt. Kisco and north of Chappaqua when it happens. The front right tire blows! First, I pull the car to the side and up on the grass. Then, since I have about 10 seconds worth of charge on my ancient cell phone,I call AAA and speed-speak (not a big challenge for me) and give them my location. Then I wait - and wait - and wait. Not that this is triple A's fault, mind you. Apparently, there's a protocol to be observed when one breaks down on a county road. When help does turn up, it turns out to be the Marx Brothers - in disguise - and one at a time

First it was the cop. Turns out "Gummo" can't do much, but he is authorized to call the local "Help" vehicle. Then a truck arrives. It has a gigantic HELP sign on its side. "Harpo" can make the call, but he can't change the tire. So he calls the third one, "Groucho", who proceeds to tell me that the second one was a lazy liar and should have done the tire change there. Now he's going to have to tow my car for a nice safe (and expensive) ride. Then the second one reappears and a fight ensues between the two of them as they both debate who was wrong and what should have been done and would be done in the future.

What, you may ask, have I been doing during the 90 minutes that this little scene took place? What do you think? Knitting by the side of the road. Thank goodness it was a scarf so i could wind it around my neck as I worked and attempt to keep warm. I credit it with keeping me not only warm, but also calm. However, when the fight broke out, I got a little testy with the both of them and pretty soon it got kind of ugly. Since I was the one with the pointy needles in my hand, they listened but only for a moment. Finally, as boys will do, they banded together and looked at me with total disrespect for breaking down in the first place.

Since my first priority was to get going, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and kept my mouth shut. I gathered my knitting, climbed into the cab of the tow truck, told the behemoth with the tire wrench that we'd be going now and waited for him to put my saab on the truck. A challenge was still ahead, however. He only got the message when I asked him how much this little jaunt in westchester was going to cost. Well, he said, "It's $65.00 for the hook up, $35.00 for the tire changing and I'd prefer to tow it back to the garage and do it nice and safely." Right - and people in hell prefer ice water, too, I thought. The garage was 20 miles away and even he didn't have the gaul to tell me what the per mile charge was on the tow. I pointed out the nice convenient exit about 1/2 mile away and told him it looked plenty safe to me, and that given his size and ability, and the fact that it was still daylight, I had confidence in him. That's when the grouchy side really emerged. But I got my way (first time that day, I might add - and I got away for a mere $l00.00)

So, what did i learn from this sojourn? First, never break down on a county road - it's all a racket and your local AAA is powerless in the face of it. Second, never argue with guys who make their business by traveling the roads and looking for breakdowns. Third, always ask the price of everything (this one i already knew - learned it from my first (and only) divorce.
Fourth, never, and I mean never, leave home without it - your knitting, that is.

NOTE TO READERS: Thank you for some of your great responses. I only wish i could answer you personally. However, blogger.com doesn't allow for response to messages marked "anonymous" which is what happens when someone posts a message through my site. If you're ok with it, I'd love to have your email address so i could reply personally - I promise i'll keep it safely tucked away and no one will ever have access to it.
If not, here's a collective thank you, again!