Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Knit PH @ Freddy's Bar, Nov. 27, '11

Scene from a yarn shop: “Where’s the merino wool?” I pointed the way. “What’s the gauge for making socks with worsted weight?”, “Around 5 sts per inch on #6.” I estimated, but I recommended smaller needles and a finer yarn — which I showed her. “Well, I'm not giving you $60 to make socks!" she baulked. I finally said "Lady, I don't work here.”

I shopped locally, but on Black Friday shoppers stormed department stores and malls. The news reported of a few macing and tazing incidents between agitated shoppers... I can’t imagine macing someone over an Xbox, but sales and stocks were up over the weekend.

Meanwhile in Greenwood Heights, Knit PH met at Freddy’s Bar for a quiet post Thankgiving circle. Busy evening, Daedelus Design & Production wrapped up their Annual Turducken Holiday party to give us the back room. I was offered pie but declined, I was still recovering from Thanksgiving.

Time to break out those UFOs. We had some new knitting stragglers. Crystal bussed it all the way from Bushwick with her sweater on the needle; Lauren brought her crochet shawl from just a few blocks away. Nancy and Pat sat with us for a bit as a few people walked into the room astounded that people actually knit over a beer or two.

Tracey is starting a new sweater, but this time not for her dogs; Elena is in mid-scarf; I skeined up most of my hanks. Although “hank” and “skein” are words that are often used interchangeably, they do have specific meaning. A hank is large loosely wound wheel of yarn sold by length. It’s usually sold twisted into itself like a donut twist. A skein is an oblong ball of yarn sold by weight and length. On a commercial level, yarn is sold on cones by weight.

I always bring the swift and wool winder to the meet-up at Freddy's Bar. It’s a good motivator to get your stash balled up and ready for the next project.  As our length of time drew to it’s knotted end we cleaned up and made room for the Open Mic spoken word group. I told everyone to think about the mid-winter yarn trade and pot luck dinner, but I’m sure no one has food on their mind at the moment. Thanks giving has left us, but I'm still thankful for many things, among them great friends and family.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Quilted Cat

This will be Phillips the Cat’s second winter here. No longer a shy cat reclaimed from a Brooklyn street, he’s claimed our couch, two chairs, the bath tub, and the foot of our bed... and he’s also brazenly claimed my bulky raglan sweater. I think it’s time to make him a cat quilt to ease up on his apartment expeditions.

The yarn is a gift from my friends Dan and Caroline from their trip to Morocco. It’s has a very rustic character — twigs, straw, and all. I love the natural color of the wool with flecks of gray and brown. This yarn is quite durable, it’s spun for the rug making trade.

This fractal-based knit is inspired by Nora Gaughan’s book, “Knitting Nature.” Much like an actual quilt, it’s made with modular units that are picked up from adjacent edges. It’s an excellent use of left-over yarns of the same weight.

Ms. Gaughan might cast a raised eyebrow on this sort of feline finery, but I need my sweater back. Winter is fast on it’s way. So far Phillip seems to appreciate woolen fractals.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Knit PH @ Prospect Perk, Nov. 8, 2011

From the café window I could see the large Christmas snowflakes already hung from every lamp post along Flatbush, yet we’re not even close to Thanks Giving. This early decorative expo is a call to all of us to shop. It would seem that an economic recovery relies largely on conspicuous consumption. As a country, does America actually make anything anymore or do we just consume? I reflected on this recession over a slice of lemon pound cake and cocoa.

Well our group certainly makes lots of stuff. Lisa is making her hubby a pair of house slippers — she adjusted the pattern for size extra-extra large. Adrienne is outfitting her baby girl. She also needed to get out of the house for a bit and socialize — new mom syndrome. Meredith is making a specialized shawl she calls “The Boob Hider.” It provides privacy while nursing in public. Mai is making a cashmere hat from a salvaged sweater. That's a smart move, she often looks at knitwear that can be frogged into yarn. I suggested she wear a mask, ripping a sweater out makes a lot of dust. Amy popped in to grab a coffee and to show off her alpaca scarf. I like our funny little group, we meet at Prospect Perk Café every second Tuesday.

Aside from a few gifts, I’m making an A-line poncho for fashion designer and illustrator Ying Su. We met last week to go over the design and fibers. Initially we focused on texture. I ran Patons Superwash (ecru) with two colors of a lace-weight Merino (warm gray and camel) to get a bulky yet subtle tweed. I tend to think of the poncho as retro, although most women say it’s timeless. I hope the dreaded “Mancho” has met it’s woolly end. As with Clint Eastwood, it only works if you’re sporting a rifle and riding into town on a horse.

In the eyes of a fashion designer, most hand-knit garments are considered to be over-worked. Ying’s work is simple and elegant. The clean lines of her poncho emphasize the fern pattern that travels down the front — from the over-sized collar down into the body. A wide column of 2 X 1 ribs meet diverging seams at the back.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Time Falls Back in Cold Spring

Janice and Adam went without power for a few days after another storm pelted the north east last week, but all is getting back to normal. Yet some of our friends are still in the dark. Unusual weather has become the usual in 2011. It’s autumn in Cold Spring and the clock is set back to give us one more hour of daylight. That extra hour is exactly what we needed this weekend — the porch is finally finished.

Janice told me that the boys asked why they didn’t get their Tony hats last year. I just thought they outgrew the home-spun gifts. So this weekend I made Jesse a ski cap, and Ellis, a ribbed watchman’s cap. After unraveling and joining all the swatches and scraps from Troy’s cowl there was even enough SWTC Saphira to make a small pompom for Jesse’s cap. To my surprise the boys were very excited. Don’t these little gentlemen look so handsome in their warm winter gear?

Janice and Adam are ready for winter too. The porch looks almost brand new after sanding, two coats of outdoor enamel, and replacing a few planks. I can’t say enough about the wonders of Bondo and a good quality paint — so shiny and clean. I’ll be back in the Spring to work on the front steps.

Every post has been capped and every rail primed and painted. Jesse made a winter-inspired Lego snowman that looks at home on this post.

We had excellent weather and some hearty family meals over the weekend. Janice made a Peruvian pulled pork served with mango salsa and stuffed acorn squash. I made a hand-rolled gnocchi dinner with garden fresh sage butter and lemon zest for Sunday dinner. For dessert we ate most of the Halloween candy — oops, sorry kids.

The mums are out but so are the hungry deer — may the twain never meet. The autumn leaves are now turning red and gold as the sun sets lower on this Hudson River town’s horizon. It casts a peach-colored glow that pushes long shadows down cold streets. I swept away the spider webs which hung with pearls of dew strung between the ivory rails and admired our handiwork. I said goodbye to the porch, packed up my tools, and headed back to Brooklyn.