Thursday, January 22, 2009

Heaping helping of random

1. I've been going out a lot lately. Like, a lot. It's the inward-looking, hunkering-down state of mind that leads to good blog fodder, but more outward-directed phases are essential too, what with the talking to people and seeing new things that are involved. But I don't have any knitting to show, is what I'm saying.

2. On the other hand, I did fall down the other day and order yarn for what might be the most adorable sweater ever (from here).
I got this in charcoal. Louet has a gorgeous range of colors, but somehow teal or fuchsia owls just seem wrong.

3. I've been doing reasonably well with my 9 for 09 challenge, having finished two of them already and working on a third. I got through The Book of Lost Things a few weeks ago and though I had really wanted to like it — darker fairy tale stuff, a London Blitz setting, a quest! — I didn't think it was anything special when it came to the actual execution. I had better luck with Good People, which I finished last night while stuck for an hour on a stopped train. When I went to hear the author, Marcus Sakey, read a few months ago, he talked a lot about his time spent with detectives learning Cop Stuff, as well as what-all Cop Stuff he learned, and that shone through pretty clearly. I thought it was a good story that did exactly what it set out to do and though I saw some of the twists coming from that proverbial mile away, there were definitely some surprises.
I interviewed him last summer and he falls squarely into the category of Good Egg, so I'm very happy to have liked the book too.

4. I dig this "seconds" line of dishes by Jason Miller in a deeply covetous way. Calculated imperfection really does it for me. [Via Oh Joy]

5. On Monday, EP and I took a longish lunch and went to a dumpling place nearby-ish that is doing some seasonal hand-pulled noodle soup. We hadn't been since the summer, when they do some seriously great Hawaiian shave ice along with the dumplings. It was snowing in earnest as we sat at the counter, looking out at the inexplicably open windows across the street.
We both got the dumpling noodle soup, which puts their tasty, tasty dumplings IN the soup. It sounds better than it was though; the dumplings got a bit waterlogged and the dough part fell off. So it was noodle soup with meatballs and some extra dough bits, which was fine, but I would have been happier with plain soup and pan-fried dumplings on the side.
The greens were fresh, the broth was delish, but the noodles were a touch on the gummy side. Still, satisfying and yummy.

6. Last night, a couple of friends and I went to my favorite local live music venue, the Bell House, for a Lost premiere party that included a band whose gimmick is singing songs that recap previous Lost episodes. They're called, naturally, Previously on Lost. And I have to say, they were pretty good, definitely better than any of us were expecting. "The Island Won't Let You Die" was especially good live. The music was catchy, they were clearly having a lot of fun, and they managed to include all three of my favorite band tropes.
An accordian:

A ridiculously Brooklyn-adorable frontman:

And a dude in headband, bikini underpants and tube socks:
They also have a theremin.

7. And speaking of gimmicks, my current favorite goofy blog is Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling, which is sort of like the I Can Has Cheeseburger of pretending Ryan Gosling is your boyfriend who calls you 'girl' all the time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend knitting

This weekend, despite spending a fair bit of time carousing and involved in various activities of a social nature, I somehow managed to finish the second sleeve for my Amelia cardigan and get the yoke under way.
I've decided that one of my New Year's resolutions should be to knit with the best, most special-est yarn that I have, instead of saving it for who knows what perfect pattern that may or may not ever cross my path. One of the truths I have learned in my time as a knitter is that there will always be more yarn. Really. Use the good stuff.

So, in that spirit, I cast on with quite possibly the most special yarn in my possession, which is my handspun from an Icelandic fleece from True North Farm. I knew the sheep this fleece came from, picked it out on the hoof when Frederika was but a wee and gorgeous beastie, and visited her in the field whenever I was at the farm. I spun the fleece in the grease, lock by individual lock, back in 1998 or '99. This yarn carries a lot of sentimental weight for me; it evokes a very particular, fleeting and special point in time. I've tried to work with it plenty of of times over the last ten years, but never could. I think that I've been laboring under the delusion that making a less than absolutely perfect sweater out of this yarn would be disrespectful to those memories, which is an idea I know Harry and Jimmie would not stand for.

Two of the skeins are a much heavier weight than the others and I was thinking that I'd use them for a broad seed stitch band at the cuffs and lower edge of the body, but when I tried, it just looked clunky and unfortunate.
Instead, I'm going to do simple, sewn-down hems — they're pinned up in the photo. I really like the contrast of the very rustic yarn and streamlined design. And it's a contradiction that I think the guys would have approved of.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Random Friday — with photos

I was looking through the photos I had set aside as somehow bloggable and realized there's quite a backlog. So, without anything to connect most of these, I give you ... Stuff I've Thought About Blogging But Didn't.

First up: Flinch
My mom had picked up this deck at a yard sale because she remembered playing it when she was a kid and we gave it a crack over Christmas. Honestly, it was kind of dull, at least with just two people, but I was completely charmed by the graphics, both the front and back of the cards.

Christmas also reunited me with my absolute favorite childhood mug:
My name! And roses! And gold trim! That's what you call classy, bitches.

This little elf guy was, my mom and I agreed, the best childhood Christmas craft ever. I made him in fourth grade.
I love him.

I took this photo in Pittsburgh back in April and never quite worked it into a post.
I just really like it.

Last, behold my nemesis:You know how when you cook with fresh tomatoes and you chop them up and cook them with some other stuff, the way the skins float off and turn into these hard, unpleasant bits of evil? I hate them. I hate them so much. And you know who else hated them? M.F.K. Fisher, that's who. So there.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Green beret

Someone who shall not be named recently observed that I hadn't posted any pictures of myself in a while. I brushed it off, saying that I hadn't finished any projects that needed to be photographed, but to be honest, it was because I had grown a set of horns and was a little embarrassed about taking that public.

I've since taken care of the problem, which allows me to show off my recently completed Gretel. Knit in worsted-weight Louet merino in a most delightful shade of grass green, it looked like this before blocking:

Like this mid-blocking (there's a dinner plate in there to encourage a wide, flat beret shape instead of a rounder beanie shape):

And like this post-blocking:

It blocked out less dramatically than the Gretel I made out last year of some tweedy Shetland wool, which I loved madly and think I lost in my last move, since I haven't seen it (or any of my handspun, hand-dyed and/or handknit hats: sob) since. There's actually a wealth of handknits in that photo, not that you can see them with my poorly lit evening picture-taking: Gretel, fan stitch shawl and Noro cardigan.

Speaking of green, I managed to rescue this somewhat odd brass chair off the street last weekend. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the legs and back have a kind of neato bamboo pattern. I doubt it's particularly comfortable, but it does make a useful plant stand.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Pulaski in the snow

I usually walk over the bridge near my apartment at least once each weekend. If I need to get into midtown, it's much easier to take the 15-minute walk and catch the train on the other side than to take the closer train and a more convoluted route. It spans, pretty much exclusively, active industrial areas, which I really dig from a visual perspective.Who knew toxic waste barrels could be so cheerful?

I have a genuine affection for these little (what I assume are some kind of) industrial fans.
It's entirely possible that their varying sizes and vaguely anthropomorphic shape make me think of a group of friendly, roof-dwelling robots.
Here they are in a larger setting:

I was struck by the way the cranes seem to be emerging from the fog, as if coming together to form a crane army. The streetlamp is clearly the leader. I wonder what he's promised them...

She has no interest in any such nonsense.

Friday, January 9, 2009


This is the current state of things, cardigan-wise.
I've been carrying that damn sleeve around with me all week, but haven't managed to knit the last seven rounds that need to happen for it to be ready to join to the body. Also haven't done: the last six or so rows on the body that need to happen before it's ready to take on a sleeve or two. I should at least be able to do that much this weekend. Though, who knows? I feel kind of wretched today and am hoping it's just a particularly pernicious hangover and not actual illness. Fingers crossed...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday in the park with Stephanie

Yesterday afternoon, I headed over to Prospect Park to stomp around on the trails a bit, play with my camera and get some fresh air. My most exciting moment was when I got to within ten feet of a red-tailed hawk, who was right about eye-level on a tree right next to the path. We looked at each other for a few moments, then I went for the camera and he flew straight at my head, just veering off at the last minute, missing me by two feet or so.

I really love these bleak mid-winter landscapes, the quality of light, the long shadows, the way the bones of the trees assert themselves without all of those pesky leaves getting in the way.
The patterns in the ice:
Ever been given a come-hither look by a swan?
Now you have.
There's a sense of discovery, a feeling that you're stumbling upon a secret garden, that's missing most of the year.
I liked this guy's feathered pantaloons:
And judging by the look on his face, I think it's safe to say he thinks they're pretty snazzy himself.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's post the second

So, how'd I do on everything I set out to do this morning? Medium-well, I'd say.

I did manage to get at least a few minutes' work in on each of my current active projects.
The ripple blanket:
A bright green Gretel:
The least blog-friendly knitting project of all time, which is probably why I haven't mentioned it before, a fingertip-length black cardigan done entirely in 1x1 rib:
Amelia, which is about an inch and a half shy of the armhole.
And two spinning projects, some grey Romney/kid mohair from Fantom Farm:
and some merino/alpaca, which is slippery and slow and tedious to spin, but terribly pretty:
I had planned to at least cast on for one of Amelia's sleeves as the new project started, which I still may do, but I'm not going to start anything more ambitious than that.

I ate leftover Christmas cookies for breakfast. These are the famous cookies my aunt makes ever year. She has always refused to give out the recipe, but seems to be cracking a bit under the weight of our pleading — this year she did tell me how to make the filling and confessed that a written recipe exists, but it's in Hungarian and doesn't specify amounts.
I did walk over the bridge, though not all the way over, since it was freezing and in the opposite direction of where I was headed.
The Manhattan skyline, viewed over the shockingly polluted Newtown Creek.
Then I walked over to Alex and Anna's for a little New Year's Day hanging out with a handful of friends. I managed to play with my new camera some on the way. I'm having fun with it so far, but have barely scratched the surface of what it can do.
Anna made hoppin' john and collards for luck, along with cornbread and excellently spicy bloody marys. I'm still stuffed from that, so haven't done any of my own cooking today, but I did make coffee and will count that.
What else? I'll read before I go to sleep, as I always do. I haven't worked on the book today and probably won't, haven't made any phone calls, though I still might. All in all, if this day turns out to be representative of the rest of 2009, I'll be a pretty happy girl.