Saturday, May 31, 2008

The (Re)Cycle of Life

Saturday morning at Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket — sauntering couples just out of bed, hipsters dressed as if they just got out of bed, multi-culty families and baby carriage traffic. As I meandered towards DiPaolo Turkey my eyes spied a peculiar sign: a textile recycling event. I followed the trail of signs that lead away from the main market area and saw a family with a handcart full of stuff. Second booth from the last, next to the mushroom sellers tent, right across from the chicken petting exhibit:

Bring your unwanted textile materials
to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

every Saturday, from 8:00 am to 4:00pm

Goodwill, Council on the Environment of NYC, Office of Recycling Outreach & Education, and Greenmarket have banded together to solve Brooklyn's closet space crisis. I recently gave a bunch of shirts away because I couldn't get the top button to meet its mate. Technically I could, but the neck fat rolling over the collar wasn't very attractive. Thread barren jeans, neglegé-thin t-shirts, and single socks, shoes & gloves will have a new (albeit, compromised) life.

I ran into friend and artist Ella Yang. Ella paints Brooklyn's urban landscapes and scenic country vistas. I especially love her paintings of the Gowanus Canal and the many drawbridges that divide Boerum Hill from Carroll Gardens. She's recently moved her studio to one of the numbered streets in South Slope, but still she returns with her easel and paints.

Ella unlaoded her bag of old wearables, and she also got a receiptable write-off. I asked the woman at the table what else do they accept, but first I took a short recycling quiz. Who knew — yogurt containers are NOT recyclable and that milk cartons go out with the plastic. The man from Goodwill said that they take overcoats, cloth painting tarps, leather and plastic footwear, hats, towels, old bed sheets, and curtains. Goodwill goes through the clothes and shoes first, then the remainder is sorted to be stripped into rags and shredded into raw material.

I actually recycled all my old kaki's and jeans once — cutting them into strips and knitting them into a bathmat. Three weeks later, I concluded that I could've just gone down to the mall and bought one, but this was just after 911, so it wasn't like I was going anywhere in hurry. I was raised with a boney waste-not-want-not finger of shame pointing at me — by boney finger I mean my grandmother's. She would to bleach old rice sacks and cut them into rectangles. Then while watching "The Edge of Night" she'd make pillow cases, rosary bags, and hand towels from her recycled stash — some trimmed with delicate crochet borders. I remember this well because I sat on one of her #000 hooks, my uncle had to weedle it out form my behind while my grandmother held me down yelling "Aray! Don't ee-stuggle! You're making it wooorse! Dios me! Ai Tanga! " Out came the hook, and on went the mercurichrome. I had a bright mercurichrome-orange swollen ass for weeks.

I don't care much for the fillet crochet... anyhow, textile recycling goes on through December of 2008, they also take old sweaters and acylic yarn.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Twist, Suck, Peel, Pinch, and Bite It. Repeat.

This isn't southern trash-talk, these are Stephie V's instructions for eating crawdads. The Memorial Day weekend arrived — the Brooklyn Bridge celebrated it's 125th anniversary, Fleetweek was upon us, but more importantly Steph and Owen's Annual NOLA Crawfish Boil started the summer. These little mud-bugs are cooked live and served hot out of boiler, right onto the Sunday Times. Hunks of corn, onion, potato and garlic were boiled along-side in a spicey rub. The bright red color always looks like Christmas in summer to me.

You can't be too neat or too shy with this meal, you might get plowed into a pile of shells. Steph (a native New Orleander) also made her famous kickin' Creole red beans 'n' rice, the perfect companion to Owen's Bourbon soaked ribs. Some folks brought slaw, three-bean salad, potato salad, mac salad, brownies, cake... et al. I brought two six packs, my camera, and a healthy appetite.

Charlie played with his food before cooking it. These little guys are fiesty, you have to load them into the boiler with a pair of leather gloves. Charlie showed us how to put a crawfish to sleep by rubbing its belly. It works on lobsters too but you gotta rub harder. I sat at the table a few times, but to be fair I didn't get the whole technique down until my third turn at the table. I found the best strategy was to wait for people to burn their hands and leave the table. At this point everything was just hot enough to pick up and eat. Dan demonstrated the crawdad five-step to Carrie. If one paid close attention the instructions read like a pattern:

Any number. Cast on with long-tail method.
(Right side): *Hold crawdad firmly with working hand and twist body clockwise until it separates from the head. Suck all contents from the head, discard. Peel the first segment of shell from the body. Pinch the small of the tail to release the meat. Pull it out with your teeth and enjoy. Repeat from * (optional: wipe stuff from beard with sleeves).

Summer in Brooklyn — tout va bein. The emerald triangle of bars was well resprented by faithful patrons and staff of Mooney's, OC's and Freddy's. So who's minding the bar? Mooney's will be closing its doors in mid-June, but we all think of happier times.

Someone asked why I didn't bring my accordion. Reply: "I'm too old and it keeps crushing my spine". It's a heavenly insrtument in the right hands, but it weighs like a hellish radiator otherwise. Et toi? Peut-être, mon petite chou-chou. Little Charlotte is getting bigger, she's a regular walking terror. She has Antoine's eyes and Janice's smile.

Good times and good friends are like good food — you enjoy them all while you can. The day was warm and the yard was deep with smiling faces of friends and neighbors.

Stephie found a toe-headed stray, but Owen said they're not keeing her. Children ran about, played, and danced to accordion rythm. The backyard smelled like good times — BBQ, cumin, garlic and peppers.

Owen went sans-gant for the last boil. Food and libation were plentiful. As the last batch of crawfish cooled, the sun set to the sound of laughter and music. Là bas chanté, et tois!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mercury Men's Cycling Cap

The Mercury Men's Cycling Cap pattern is available through PayPal on To Purchase click below.

Mercury Men's Cycling Cap is recommended for advanced knitters who are experienced with sewing and crocheting. This 8-page pattern is written in men's sizes small, medium, and large. This the perfect cap for avid cyclists and active people. It's a soft, durable, and fits into a small bag or a back pocket.

This pattern features pictorial instructions for special techniques:
• short row
• overhand stitch (sewing)
• mattress stitch(sewing)
• reverse crochet border (crab stitch)
• crochet welts

I recommend two DK cotton yarns: Mirasol "Cotanani" (60 cotton/40 merino) and "Ti'ka" (100% Pima cotton). The cotton doesn't pill and it's very soft even after numerous washings, so it's perfect for kids. On a sweaty day cotton wicks moisture away from your head. The finished cycling cap should be hand washed only.

The short visor uses a sewn-in felt support, which adds durability and structure to this cap. This pattern includes visor templates in three sizes.

Mercury's ribbed center strap provides a firm a snug fit. but it's roomy and stretchy so it won't mess your hair. The center strap tapers gently towards the back.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Knit PH at Freddy's: May 18, 2008

I was running a bit late. I met up with Eleanor and Marc at the Brooklyn Museum for the Takashi Murakami exhibit. There was some initial confusion, I waited for them in front of the museum, they waited for me in front of the exhibit. A few cell calls later we walked into an interesting show of paintings, video and scuplture. Murakami's more controversial works combine Japanese anime characters and erotic art. But more controversially, Murakami LV bags were sold in the middle of the exhibit — at $3K per handbag it's simply obscene! We went out for Mexican food right after — and apparently so did everyone else in the neighborhood. I ordered the Mexican pork chop.

The weather was heavy, humid and wet so we had a small Sunday group. Penelope, Jane and Marci were the first one's there. I set up the swift and winder in a Benadryl haze. This pollen is killing me! I haven't seen Penny and Jane in a while — busy with family and school. Penny is going to take her brother on a dumpling tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn. There's a secret dumpling house on Allen Street that has the best of all things steamed and pan-fried. I asked her about Queens "Uh! first of all you have to go to Queens..." True, Queens is a mysterious borough, but I know a few excellent Korean grills in Jackson Heights worth the trek.

The Germans' were there. Stephanie baked a Bourbon chocolate cake served with fresh whipped cream. There's a pound of butter in that batter — but that's what makes it so bad that it's gooooood. Tracey brought her friend, Greg, a fellow librarian from Montreal. Alexandra brought some hand-dyed yarn that she spun. She reported that today's Brooklyn Flea was literally a wash — it rained all day but she managed to break even with today's sales. She turns a good dollar on the online ETSY store though. Spinners are the ninjas of the fiber world. I'm impressed with how many we have in our group. Eliza, Tomo, Jane, Alexandra, Chris... I'm sure there are more who lurk quietly among us.

Jane pointed out that Tomo is currently all-about dyeing with Kool-Aid. Matter of fact, she's bringing a box of Kool-Aid with her to Japan. After seeing the post-nuclear Murakami exhibit, I can't believe there isn't an Asahi Corporation version of Kool-Aid. Kuru-Eidu? Alexandra re-skeined her hand-dyed yarn for better presentation. Jane mentioned using a knitty-noddy, a winding device that counts 3-yards per revolution. Where do I buy one of those? Sounds cool. Alexandra said she prefers using two swifts in tandem. Her yarn was varigated with blue, soft lavendar and plum. I though I was helping her but I actually got tangled in the winding process. She untangled most of it on the back of a chair and I resumed my seat. So sorry 'bout that dear. Tracey is making her first pair of socks. I gave her a quick refresher on the magic loop. I think it's funny that her brother Peter is a regular at Freddy's. I met him and his friend Bruce at the last Knit PH at Freddy's. He's been here fro Board Game Night. The evening flew by, but maybe that was the Benadryl. Victoria showed up a bit late, just in time to...

Suddenly around 9:00 a woman in thigh-high boots appeared and announced they were throwing a benefit, not listed on the calendar. I told her we'd break the group down soon but she quicklty became nasty and aggitated. Thigh-highs, the alpha female, marched over to the Germans and stated "We need this table, are you going to be here? Tsch!" One of her tribal eunuchs hastily un-crated chili pepper lights. Thigh highs kept making tsch tsch noises as if she were trying to lure a horse into the room as a few art-hair guys shoved chairs all around us. I believe we were in fact being girl-bullied. Penny asked if we should leave, I took out my camera and tripod and said, "Yeah... in about 20, 25 minutes or so." The best form of retaliation — move very, very, slowly. Next thing you know they shut off the lights. Penelope yelled out "We get the hint!" Camp Douche Bag had taken over the tree fort. We left, ever so slooowly. At the front door I reminded everyone that Knit PH takes it outdoors this summer starting in June. Stitch Therapy will be offering 10% discount cards on yarn for people that register with Knit PH. I joined the Germans at their table in the front room for a beer.

Is this years "obnoxiousness" last years grey? It's so common that it just might be fashionable. I just don't understand this era of over-entitlement in which we live. It reminded me of the time when this greasy trust fund poet and his dirty cokehead Brazilian girlfriend demanded the chair that I was sitting in. Oi vey gevault. Anyhow, 40 minutes later the band went silent. James, the electrician, showed up with his tools looking a bit irritated — bartender Eva called him in for an emergency. "They blew some fuses... stupid douche bags!" James marched directly to the back room. A bar regular, Steve stepped out for a cigarette. He said the balding white guy with ninny braids huh, not a costume? punched the mail box and screamed "I hate this F-----' bar!" and left. Poor mailbox.

Tsch, must have been those chili pepper lights.

Update June 20. '08
Management report: That group is now banned from the bar. What was that obnoxious ensemble and from whence did they come? For whom are they throwing a benefit, perhaps a douche bag in a coma?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fifth Avenue Festival 2008

Meet the Simpsons: Homer, Marge, Maggie,Lisa... and Sponge Bob??

I was supposed to go to the Fifth Ave Festival with Bill and maybe meet up with Eleanor, but by around 11:30 I realized I was the only one with actual plans. So off I went. I thought I'd grab lunch from the street fair but instead I blew my money on some rainy day trophies: a glass monkey, a bag of pistachios, sunglasses, and finger puppets. As you can see I got Homer, Marge, Maggie, Lisa and Sponge Bob Squre Pants. If I had been there ealier I might have found Bart.

A Fabulous "Don't": Maribu is not meant for rainy-day gear.

Most of the vendors were local, which is refreshing to me. It seems all NY festivals have the same tubes ock vendor, sunglasses booth, chiroprator, massage seat, candle-incense, etc. There were a few, but mostly local restuarants and vendors came out with their wares. I can't belive how many new restaurants are now on fifth. I remember when it was dangerous. The biggest danger now seems to be paying to much for dinner. Thai, Mexican, Japanese, French Bistro, Bolivian — one would never guess that the world is having a food crisis but for the smaller portions.

What Child is This? The Peruvian sweater booth is now a street fair fixture here in Brooklyn. It may have displaced the pilates demonstration seminar.

But as the weather predicted, a cool overcast Sunday gave way to rain. Fifth Avenue was crowded but I ran into some familiar faces, Shab and Danny, Eva's younger brother (what-iz-name), some fellow musicians who still think my name is Roger, go figure. I ran into my neighbors, Mr. Long and his wife. They talked about allergies and pollen. "It seems every year they say it's the worst year..." Reminder: Stop taking Benedryl before I go into a coma.

I started at St. Johns and walked as far as 11th Street. On my way back I spotted a family eating roasted corn, they pointed me to the booth near the antique car show. It wasn't lunch but it hit all the right spots. The music was nice, dogs ran children ran through the streets and the smell of grilled food filled the air as I headed my way back up Lincoln.

This 1966 Fiat iis the bomb, but I still have a soft sport for the Nash Metro.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Knit PH at Maha's: May 5, 2008

Finally, a warm freakin' day! This weather has been all over the map and I'm so sick of being cold. Maha's cafe always looks like summer, I was craving the zatar bread with cheese and lentil soup. This is the last knit at Maha's for the season. Much like harp seals, Knit PH will migrate outdoors this summer but will return indoors for winter. We have two new people in our group, Hyeran and Melissa. They saw my shrug in VK and wanted to meet me. Of course the first thing I said was "I am so sorry, please go to VK's web site for errata." I'm very flattered that someone wanted to congratulate me on that pattern, instead of wanting to stab me in the eye. Hyeran even brought the Spring/Summer '08 Issue of VK. Hyeran works in book publishing at Scholastic. I told her that Chris is also from Scholastic, but they didn't know each other. and of course Marci, from Crown Publishing. This is the last week for the Crochet Coral Reef exhibit, Marci is one of the participants. I didn't get to see the show, but she brought in a work in progress, a soft crochet star.

This is the last Knit PH at Maha's for the season. This summer we take it outdoors for the first time. Lisa, Eliza and I have been e-mailing each other about plans for knitting in Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum sculpture garden (respectively). Socks are still all the rage — Archie, Hyeran, Melissa, Tracey and Lisa were comparing footage. Tomo, on the other hand, has broken the fifth wall of hand-dyed yarn. She dyed a sock yarn that makes a self-patterning hounds-tooth check! Whoa???! She strung the yarn over the length of her apartment to calculate the pattern.

It's good to see Eliza back in the group, she's been occupied but not in the best way possible. Her husband Chris was mugged and badly hurt. He's still recovering from his head injury: a fractured cheek bone. It's been a long road for them so far, it just might be a bit longer. The good news is that Chris' vision has improved. He's a writer and a professor at NYU. Eliza has found solice and comfort in spinning — Chris bought her a spinning wheel and roving as a present a while back. She and Tomo got together and Kool-Aid dyed some roving — It was still wet, and Black Cherry/sheep scented. From and earlier spin Eliza made a deep plum neck warmer.

Before we left, Maha gave us a each a piece of baclava. It was a sweet way to end the indoor sessions. Reminder: Make Maha two infant-size hats for her new twin nieces.