Monday, June 29, 2009

Curing what Ails You

My computer is feeling a bit under the weather.

First it had a serious memory lapse. It stopped remembering where it had put things and I needed to give it a big RAM booster shot. Boy what a difference, now it barely blinks before finding exactly what I need!

Next it got a terrible case of laryngitis. It got so bad that when it shouted across the Internets no one could hear it! Squeak! Over the weekend I got really concerned and decided to treat the symptom with a new wireless router. That router actually lives with Big Brother, but he got really cranky about making new friends and pouted in a corner all weekend.

So we need to coax and cajole the Big Brother into being a good sport and then make sure my computer gets on a new fitness routine involving downloading all the latest updates and patches.

It shouldn't be long now before the whole clan is back up and running. Till then, go out and enjoy the nicer weather!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

More Yarn

Are you getting sick of it yet? Well, I'm not. Here we have two recent completions.

Pansy Singles

First Spunky Eclectic Club yarn - called Pansy. I kept it as singles because I loved the colors. This was maybe the most enjoyable spinning project to date. And I netted a whopping 422 yards, fingering weight. I am really happy with the results.

Spring Forward Navajo Plied

Southern Cross Fibres club yarn, Spring Forward. I tried my hand at Navajo ply, after the little lesson I took up at MASW. It's tricky and I do need some practice. The yarn is nicely bouncy.

Both yarns will likely be reserved for weaving, if that ever gets off the ground.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


It occurred to me last night that maybe all this knitting and spinning is deeply rooted in a desire to leave something behind that is really tangible. Having no kids, I don't have a true legacy. And sorry, but selling Data Networks and Telecommunications does not offer a legacy leaving proposition.

Making things with my hands. Things I can touch, things that are real. Making things that will potentially outlive me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Little Skeins

Gaslight Dyeworks Puffballs 2

Back when I bought some Gaslights Dyeworks fibers for spinning and gifting, Jacki was nice enough to throw in a couple of pretty little puffballs for some play fun. Like the bigger shipment, these puffballs have shiny bits and are a mix of different fibers.

Gaslight Dyeworks Puffballs Singles

I thought I would try them out on my spindle and quickly made up my singles. Yes, you are looking at singles wrapped on my very glamorous storage system: toilet paper rolls! Hey, the mantra is Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, isn't it?

To maximize the yardage I wanted to ply these with some silk threads. Last week I ventured over to Habu to see what I could scrounge up. Later that evening I plied both little bits into yarn and was surprised by my results.

Gaslight Puffball Blue

First, the little blue puffball got plied with a blueish gray stainless steel yarn. This is my first time working with stainless and I was very pleasantly surprised by the smoothness and the sparkle of the thread. Once plied into the single, it added a whole new layer of shine to the yarn. This little skein is only 48 yards, 18 wpi. I like this one very much and will play with this kind of combination in the future.

Gaslight Puffball Blue

The second little puffball got plied with a deep red merino thread/yarn. It's very loosely plied (further evidence I need to practice the plying part of spinning). I'm not sure I love the result, but it is soft, and very nice in the hand. If I were to do this again, I might not go for such a strong color but honestly there weren't that many choices in the sale bin.

Gaslight Puffball Pink and Red

I yielded 166 yds, 28 wpi with this batch. Sometimes I look at it and I really like it. Sometimes not. This one deserves a little knitted swatch to see how it looks worked up.

Gaslight Puffball Pink and Red

In both instances, these little skeins leave me thinking (yearning) I need to learn weaving. In fact the weaving bug is starting to get up under my skin alot with the yarns I am making. I think I can fit a rigid heddle loom in my work area. Hmmmm......

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Hey, look: the Cabled Yoke Cardigan, begun in October but put aside for other diversions until about a month ago. Picked up again in an attempt to overcome other knitting boredom (you'll see why, in a minute).

Cabled Yoke Cardigan Coat

As of today, the back, both sleeves and the left front are done. In progress is the right front, with the cabled yoke coming last. Then the dreaded construction process. Maybe this will be ready by the time Autumn rolls around. Or, if the weather continues its current state, I may get a wearing of it sometime in July?

Cabled Yoke Cardigan Coat

One observation of concern is the sheer size of the sleeves in proportion to the back and sides. I am hoping this comes together properly, once the Yoke section is attached. The little voice whispers something is wrong, but I have reviewed the pattern over and over and have visited other projects on Ravelry (of which there are few, sadly) ...and so I knit on, with a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach.

So why the need for the knitting complexity? This. A project of epic proportions in terms of size, and what I am coming to find out, epic proportions in terms of sheer boredom! God forgive me, I love Elizabeth Zimmerman, I really do. But all this garter stitch is killing me.

Garter Ridge Blanket

You are getting just a small peek at a Garter Ridge Blanket, from "The Opinionated Knitter" by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I am nearly finished with the all the knitting. It has taken me months to get to this point. I dread the piecing together and adding the border. This thing is huge. I don't want to resent it, I want to present it. As a gift. To a good friend. Hence, the cabled stimulation to overcome the garter stitch grind.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Gowanus: Brooklyn in Transition

The Gowanus:  Brooklyn in Transition

The Gowanus: Brooklyn in Transition
by Jose Gaytan

"A Photographic Essay of the Gowanus"

Brooklyn Public Library
1 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Grand Lobby

June 16 - August 29

Opening Reception
Wednesday, June 17, 6 - 8 PM
Dweck Center Lobby

Nearly a year ago I posted on this blog some fantastic news. It's been a year of hard work - shooting, editing, measuring, matting, you name it. In one week the public will get to see the culmination of all this work.

If you live in Brooklyn, you know there are lots and lots of stories these days about the Gowanus area potentially becoming an EPA Superfund site and the impact this could have on it's real estate development potential. It's getting politically heated because at the end of the day, everything in New York is about real estate. Good times or bad times, real estate is KING here in King's County. The Gowanus area is no different. It will change, of this there is no doubt. How it changes and what the area eventually evolves into is anybody's guess.

What Jose has captured are fleeting examples of the changes that have begun and will continue. His fascination with urban decay, urban change, bridges and waterfronts has culminated in a group of images I believe are some of the best he has ever created. I do not speak lightly when I say some of them take my breath away.

You owe it to yourselves to see this show. You won't be disappointed. I promise!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yarn Perfect Not

The quest for perfection continues, because it's not evident in either of these samples.

Superfine Alpaca Top Laceweight

Yarn #1 is 2 oz of Superfine Alpaca Top fiber dyed with Kool Aid, using Ice Blue Raspberry and Mango. Here it is pre spun.

Superfine Alpaca - Kool Aid Dyed (4)

I yielded 314 yards out of 2 oz - it's a very fine 2 ply laceweight and I think I'm getting around 24 wpi. Alpaca is slippery and I dropped my spindle more with this project than any other to date. I am pleased with the plying on this yarn (on the wheel, using my new Lazy Kate and untensioned toilet paper cores) .

What I am not pleased with is my own stupidity when lifting the yarn out of the bath: I accidentally wrung the water out of it! Hard. GAAAAAH! I must have been tired last night. The kinks I see are completely related to that incident because they weren't there before I soaked to set twist. I am really peeved at myself right now. Of all the yarns to do something as stupid as wringing, I had to go and do it to alpaca??? A fiber not as forgiving as wool, it doesn't have the memory to bounce back from such an abuse. Oh, man...

Superfine Baby Alpaca - Laceweight

On the bright side, the yarn is pleasingly soft and lightweight. And the colors blended into a lovely light green haze shot up with light blue and yellow. It's a summery look that could be used nicely in a baby project or a small lacy shawl.

Yarn # 2 was started awhile ago and didn't finish till last weekend. I was waiting for that Lazy Kate to arrive (it took over 2 weeks of agonizing anticipation) so I could ply with a bit of tension. That was dumb. What I needed to do was ply with NO tension. To compensate for the overspun singles.

Corrie X - Kool Aid Dyed

There are kinks in this yarn that displease me to no end. Because I expressly set out to make a well balanced, evenly spun yarn and for the most part, I achieved my goal were it not for these kinky sections that simply won't relax into themselves. I know I am picking nits here but they bug me. It will force me to be more mindful of my outcomes and plan accordingly.

Corrie X - Kool Aid Dyed

The fiber is a Corriedale X. I started with 2 oz of undyed natural fiber and Kool Aid dyed the roving using Orange and Tropical Punch. I split the roving in half lengthwise and pre-drafted every bit of it before spinning. I used a short forward draw - worsted spun.

Aside from my plying error, I am very pleased with the even thickness, my 200 yard yield at 14 wpi, and the wonderfully bright happy color, which I simply adore.

Corrie X - Kool Aid Dyed

Back to the drawing board. Or wheel. Or spindle. Whatever, you know what I mean.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

CSA Farm Tour


Ever since I read* Michael Pollan's two extraordinary books on food, the food industry and how we eat - "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food", I have been aching to join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture strikes to the heart of several things that make it super appealing to me: 1. Local food tastes better. 2. Local food has a smaller carbon footprint 3. Buying from a local farmer means we are cycling our money and energy back into the local economy 4. Buying local means we are helping to save land from overdevelopment. 4. It's sustainable agriculture, not factory farming.

spring onions / garlic

Little did I realize when I signed up for the Carroll Gardens CSA that I would also get to meet the farmers growing my food supply for the next five months and see that food in the ground.


Last Sunday I bundled my Mom, two other CSA'ers and myself into the car and drove out east to Exit 71 on the L.I.E., made a left and then a right and arrived at the Garden of Eve Organic Farm. I am not the Hamptons type (ya think?!) so I am not familiar with the terrain out there. I was surprised and a bit worried to see one sod farm after another as we made the trip from the highway to the farm. Sod farms? Boy, talk about a monoculture! The epitomy of anti-environmental on so many levels. Subject for another posting, I think.

csa tour

This farm pastures 1,200 chickens who produce countless organic eggs. The rest of the 130 acres is devoted to vegetables and fruits. Chris, the farmer took us all on a tour and showed us an infinite variety of plantings - early lettuce, peas, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, flowers, tomatoes, radishes, turnips, fava beans, string beans, and on and on and on. All organic, all grown by a small group of dedicated people who believe strongly in what they do.


And when we arrived at the farm, I was so pleasantly surprised to run into Christine, who was my next door neighbor till April when she packed up her apartment, stuffed it all into a storage bin and headed out to chase her dream of learning to be a farmer. HEY Christine, you are growing MY food!! Yay! Her original plans in North Carolina fell through so whoosh!!, she landed in Long Island and will be an intern on the farm for about a year. She, like so many people facing layoffs or just realization that corporate life is as awful as can be are making choices to strike out on their own and follow their passions. One of my passengers is doing just that this summer when she quits here corporate gig to study organic gourmet cooking.

Mom & Christine

My Mom thinks I am a bit nutty trying to eat more organically and nearly elminating our meat consumption. She focuses more on what food costs and not how healthy it is. At 85 it is hard for her to change her way of thinking, which is basically "if it hasn't killed me yet..." For me, now that I am a knitter, I think alot about renewable resources. For instance, if you kill the sheep, no more fleece! But it's also about humane treatment of animals. If I do eat meat, I want to be sure the animal was treated with respect before he sacrificed his life for me. I want to be aware of where my food comes from and how it was raised.


Speaking of animals, there were a few at the farm. Some of them, like the piglets are internship projects. These little ones were only one month old and already about 25 - 30 pounds. The goal is to raise these two and send them to slaughter. However, the intern gave them names. Somehow, I don't think they will make it to the dinner table. In the meantime they were doing a good job rooting around in the dirt which is what pigs do. Duh, it dawned on me why the pig snout is shaped the way it is. Little bulldozers. Gosh I need to get out more, don't I!?


This Tom Turkey puffed himself up and stayed that way - like he sucked in a bunch of air and would not release. Initially I thought he was struttin' his stuff for the hen turkey. Being macho and all. Upon reflection I think he was threatened by all the people and was in defensive mode. In any event, I found myself completely fascinated by this bird. I've seen my share of wild Turkeys but this guy's entire costume were something to behold.


I especially love the red and blue contrast, I see it in yarn and it appeals to me.


Of course, there were sheep. What's a farm without some sheep? Always sheep! And goats. I adore goats - those satanic faces!! Their curiosity!! Their willingness to eat anything!

I haz big ears and I am cute!

Sweet Satanic Goat

For those interested, the sheep are Border Leicesters. The goats are Nigerian Dwarf Goats and the turkeys are Bourbon Red Heritage, (a rare breed!!). You can read more about the farm animals here.

So next Saturday starts the weekly progression of produce from the farm. We will be enjoying the production from now till Thanksgiving. I'll surely see Christine again -- she'll be doing the deliveries -- and we will get regular updates on what's going on down on the farm. Living the farmer life albeit vicariously from a Brooklyn brownstone.

*reading is really listening these days, thanks to my Audible account and the wonders of iPods.