Sunday, May 15, 2005

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!


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