Saturday, April 28, 2007

yes, it was fun

the trip to new york city was great fun. i enjoyed the city much more than i thought i would. i loved being able to walk everywhere; i appreciated the subway; and i came to understand what uptown, downtown and upper east side mean. once it was explained to me and i could apply it, it made perfect sense.

since i was one of the chaperones for 43 high schoolers, half my time was spent getting them to where they had to be, going with them, getting them back and keeping track of them during their free time; minimal time was for sleeping (we were in nyc after all); the time left over was free time for me. i saw some sights, did some shopping, loved the street vendors, was enthralled with grand central station, was blown away by time square being just as bright at midnight as it was at noon and took the big guy to dinner and a broadway show. we had pasta at this great place on 8th and went to see rent. it was really fun.

but i was hoping to find a moment to myself so i could slip off to an LYS. i had taken a list of nyc yarn stores with me and had two i really wanted to see. both being in greenwich village, a couple of subway stops away, it was just finding the time to go there.

friday seemed the perfect time. a group of kids and i went to the metropolitan museum of art friday morning. though we went as a group, once there, everyone went their own way. my goal was to see the egyptian collection, the impressionists and hopefully a mary cassatt or two all of which i was able to do in about 3-3.5 hours. by then my brain was totally full and i needed fresh air. a fellow chaperone said i had enough time to get to greenwich village and back before our 6pm dinner cruise. so i zipped back to the hotel via subway, once again checked in with my kids via phone, asked the concierge how to get to where i wanted to go, zipped off to another subway, got on and just as i was about to panic thinking i had gotten on the wrong train, there was my stop.

since i was not sure how much time everything would take, the plan was to find at least one LYS and hope i could find the other the next morning. i chose to go to purl soho, whose owner is the author of last minute knitted gifts. just when i realized i had the wrong address and concerned i would not find the shop, i decided to walk one more block, and there it was. purl soho is a lovely shop. extremely compact (not a lot of room in greenwich village) but lots of beautiful yarn packed into very tall cubbied shelves, which made looking at things on the top shelves a bit of a challenge. i found it interesting that the yarn companies were the same as the ones back home, but the yarn from those companies was totally different than what i was used to seeing. the staff was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. they carried quite a few patterns, but very few notions. i assumed it was a space issue since this was a very compact shop.

i had hoped to find some mac and me patterns. there were two in particular i wanted, the shorty ruffle scarves and the silk and alpaca wrap. purl had both of them in stock as well as the blue sky alpaca which is the mac and me signature yarn. while i was debating whether to get yarn for the shawl, a light bulb went off. i had already bought a few nyc mementos for my sweet friend, josh was in nyc gathering his own mementos and my cute husband didn't want me to get him anything at all (though i did buy him a deck of cards from the top of the empire state building which will get use.) so there i was, standing in the midst of a very sweet yarn store, willing to buy yarn just because i was on vacation. what better way to satisfy that urge and bring a token from nyc than to buy yarn to make items for others! the yarn for my shawl could wait, but i could buy scarf yarn for both my sweet friend and myself. and the boys could get socks. so nine hanks of yarn that needed to be made into balls later, i left the store completely satisfied by my purchases. my sweet friend gets the two pink blue sky alpaca yarns for her scarf, which she also gets to knit, light pink for the scarf, bright pink for the ruffle; the grey and lavender bsa yarn is for me, gray for the scarf, lavender for the ruffle. the chocolate brown and white lorna's laces yarn is for my cute husbands socks and the caramel and white lorna's laces yarn is for the big guy's socks. not bad.

while showing off my purchases to my oh so wonderful roommate, kathleen, who oohed and aahhed over the sock yarn is when the second light bulb went off. i had wanted to get her a little something as a thanks for being a such a great roommate gift. knitting her something would be the perfect thing.

enter saturday. we were leaving late saturday afternoon and checked out of the hotel relatively early. this meant we had quite a chunk of free time. a group of us, both kids and chaperones, decided to take the subway to greenwich village and walk around. the only planned site to see was washington square park and the infamous arch. once that was done, navigator pat asked if any one had any place in particular they wanted to go to in the village. well... so off we were to the point cafe, a yarn store and coffee house all in one (i can hear the sighs from ireland). since it was quite a few blocks from washington square park, we had a nice walking tour of the village.

finally the yarn store. considering the point is both knitting store and coffee house, it is quite compact. a lot of the room is tables for coffee and knitting, which means the yarn has to be creatively stowed. which it is. some in big wire baskets attached to the wall and some in cubbies in the back. both knitting stores also string yarn from the walls, like laundry drying. since i was with a group, i did not really look around. i went right for the sock yarn and bought a quirky lorna's laces colorway for kathleen who has a wicked sense of humor. the yarn i did see was once again, yarn companies i recognized, only different yarns. since the baskets are high on the wall, an employee or stepladder is needed in order to see or touch them. though i am sure this would be no problem since the staff is friendly and willing to help. being mid-morning saturday, there were knitters enjoying a cup of coffee and company, as well as a beginning knitting class going on. the point was a bustling and friendly place. a nice place to knit while visiting with friends over a cup of coffee.

the yarn purchases rounded out my nyc visit. my sweet friend and i would love to visit again so we could shop til we drop. but that is for another trip. right now, i am just thankful for this one. and thanks for asking davimack.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

clearing the needles

so, before leaving for nyc, i was determined to clear up some needles, which meant i needed to finish the projects that were on said needles.

nice thought, but...

i did finish two hats though. one i took to nyc and one i did not.

the one i took was jo sharps urban ribbed beanie which is designed to be knit out of jo sharp silkroad ultra. this is what i made my post surgery shawl out of. had i known i would turn my shawl into a poncho, i would have knit the hat to match it, but so it goes. instead i supplamented the "lake" blue colorway i had leftover from the shawl with an "elm" green colorway. the hat is knit flat then seamed together. since the smallness of the finished circumference worried me a bit, i added 10 stitches to the original pattern and it fits perfectly.

this is the first hat i ever made. on the whole i like it but the stitch decreases at the top look a bit messy and uneven to me. it may be because i was in a hurry to finish it or because i added ten stitches to the pattern or because the yarn is real chunky so the stitches show more. who knows. the bottom line is it kept my head warm in nyc when it was 42 degrees outside with a wind chill factor. and for that i was thankful.

the second hat was the bell from pick up sticks. this is a felted hat which i made from left over cascade 220 yarn. i like the way it came out; even my sweet friend commented on how cute the hat was. it would not felt at first so i added some towels along with a full teakettle of boiling water to the washer, set it to agitate a second time and the hat came along nicely. once the hat was at the size it needed to be, i actually followed the directions and removed it from the washer, rinsed it in cold water and squeezed the excess water out it with a towel. and though i knitted the flower, i did have thoughts of leaving it off, but found it added just the little something the hat needed to be kept from being boring.

i would definitely make this hat again. next time i would look for a different flower(s) to knit up for adornment.

so i cleared out two sets of needles. now on to the pink skirt so i can clear up those size 9's!

so impressed!

check out brooklyntweeds saddle shoulder aran tweed cardigan (scroll down). it is absolutely inspiring. more on my own knitting soon!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

tangled up in...

so there are a variety of things going on...

since i converted my shawl into a poncho, i don't really need another poncho. which means i have 1100 yards of atacama alpaca yarn in colorway 505. instead of returning the yarn, i have decided to take the plunge and knit a sweater. preferably a cardigan. since the yarn is variegated, the pattern can be relatively simple. i just need a pattern. nothing from my various books or patterns have caught my fancy or my gauge requirements (4.5/inch on size 7 needles). neither have any of the patterns at one of the free pattern sites i frequent. peace fleece has a couple of nice patterns, but i have no idea what the gauge is. so i am on the lookout. suggestions welcomed.

the big guy and i go to new york next week. he as part of the h.s. jazz choir, me as one of the parent chaperones. i have never been and i am quite excited. we are staying in midtown manhattan, next to grand central station. i only know of a couple LYS' in the area and hope to visit them in our wanderings. again, suggestions welcomed.

am taking my sweet friends pink skirt on the plane with me since the flight from sfo to nyc allows me plenty of time to work on it. also planning to take the cowl pattern from last minute knitted gifts, which i have started knitting up in a dark taupe color out of rowan cashsoft and my cute husbands socks out of a self striping regia yarn instead of the heavier madil iceland (yes it is ok with the airline, already checked. whew!).

i was hoping to finish knitting up a couple of hats before i leave so i can take the needles and the hats. i may be able to finish the cap, but the felted bell shaped hat may not be finished until after we return. oh well.

so for picture sharing, here is me with my brace. i have been wearing it 24/7 since surgery four weeks ago. i have a minimum of two weeks left. though my physical therapist says i am doing well with my range of motion, i am not allowed to lift any weight with my arm at all. thank heaven needles and yarn hardly weigh anything!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

they are done

now that the arm is being more cooperative and spurred by the fact i may see my monk friend soon, i thought about finishing up the socks.

i took them out thursday evening just to see how it how it would go. i was able to finish the gusset in no time. since i was to be music room sitter during the friday evening performance of my sweet friends spring musical, i thought it the perfect time to, excuse the expression, knit my socks off. and i did. by the time the performance was over, i was already to the toe decreases. and though it was late, thought i would try to finish them up once i got home from that nights cast party, and what do you know, i did! yahoo!

so here they are, my first pair of knitted socks. they are really quite warm and wonderful. hopefully they will keep my monk friends feet warm even when he is slogging down a rainy mountain side at 4:30 in the morning.

thanks to all of you who gave me great suggestions when i got stuck, especially when picking up stitches. i truly appreciate your time and efforts. i decided the only way to get better at making socks and picking up stitches was to keep doing it, regardless of how apprehensive it makes me (yes, cheryl, i feel your fear). so i am already planning the next pair. they will be for my cute husband, out of the same yarn, different colorway and pattern. i am going to try a pattern from sensational knitted socks, which has instructions for using two circular needles so i won't have to modify a DPN pattern. the sock possibilities from this book are endless, so i am hoping once i get more comfortable knitting socks in general, i will get more comfortable modifying DPN sock patterns.

and i figured out what makes me knit inside out, which i don't usually worry about but for sock knitting threw me for a loop. so next time i will try knitting socks right side out and see if it is easier. can't wait. will let you know how it goes.