Monday, April 21, 2014

Make Way for Marathoners

It's Patriots' Day in Boston, which means it's Marathon Day. It's a beautiful day for it. And after the horror of last year, the city, indeed the entire international running community, went all out to make certain that haters don't win, fear doesn't win – love wins. As part of that effort, Old South Church in Boston sponsored the Boston Marathon Scarf Project. The plan was to give every runner who attended a Blessing of the Athletes service a scarf to symbolize being wrapped in love and courage.

Old South Church is located just beyond the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It's a big, historic city church, first gathered in 1669. Every year it hosts a Blessing of the Athletes services, which this year coincided with East Sunday; dozens of church members participate in the marathon as runners or volunteers and dozens more work as first responders and healthcare professionals; its Great Bell announces the first male and female finishers of the marathon. Last year the church building was inside the crime scene tape and so was closed, but the work of the church went on in the streets and homes and hospitals of Boston. So when the call for scarves went out, I knit my bit.

Boston Marathon scarf

The organizers of the project are organized – they even specified the official Boston Athletic Association Pantone numbers (Yellow 109C and Blue 294C) for the scarf colors, but quickly relented and said any blue and yellow would do. I just used what several of the organizers used, Coeur Rouge Bright Yellow and Royal. Although in some photos it looks like BAA blue is closer to sky blue and BAA yellow is closer to lemon yellow.

No matter, word is the recipients loved them. Scarves were spotted worn around town at the Sports Illustrated cover shoot, adorning landmarks, on Doug Flutie, at carbo-loading dinners, even on the Mallard family in the Public Garden.

Mallard family with marathon scarves

The Mallard family out for a stroll in the Public Garden, wearing their marathon scarves. They later received custom-made race bibs, as seen on Harvard Dangerfield. Photo credit: Old South Church in Boston.

The runners are on the course as I write. Suffice to say I'm thinking of them. So let me repeat here a portion of John Edgerton's account of yesterday's blessing service:
Hundreds stood with heads held high to have our traditional words of blessing showered upon them, words drawn from the prophet Isaiah: may you run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. Aware of the fear that was engendered by last year's terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon, yet unwilling to bow before the power of death on Easter, we added another prayer. It was a prayer uttered from the depths of our souls for the 118th Boston Marathon runners: God will command the angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
Call it a churchy way of saying what the crowd was chanting at Heartbreak Hill, Mile 20, when the runners first enter the city, "Boston Strong! Keep going!"

ETA: Runner's World published an online article on the Blessing of the Athletes service. I hear that of the runners who started, 98% finished, which surely is a record. I also hear that some runners who didn't get scarves have been asking for them, and a plan is TBA.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Forty Percent

Despite a dusting of snow the other day, I'd say Branch Brook Park is finally at 40 percent trees blooming. The early bloomers are at peak bloom, but the majority of trees are only just starting to flush. I'm guessing peak bloom will happen on Easter Sunday or Monday. If gentle readers can't be there in person, there's always Cherry Blossom Cam.

Branch Brook Park at 40%

Meanwhile, I've started a project which is also at about 40 percent.

Also at 40%

Oh, so many ends! No matter how charming, modular projects always have so many ends!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

No Fooling

April is Tsunami Awareness Month and yesterday's 8.2 magnitude Chilean earthquake has started things off with a bang.

Today in Hawai'i, small tsunami have been reported. Hanauma Bay is closed due to expected sloshing, which could be hazardous to swimmers and shore walkers. Stay safe, everyone!

In other news, I finished my Brucie socks. I'm inordinately fond of the clever Sock Madness pattern by Amy Rapp.

Brucie FO

The previously mentioned gauge mismatch between the first sock and the second sock continued – in the Scales section the first sock has 15 sets of scales while the second has 14 sets, and in the Great Gansey section the first sock has 9 diamonds while the second has 8½. I shrugged and knit on. I didn't even notice a couple gansey diamonds on the second sock got merged together.

Merged diamonds

Ordinarily that would bother me enough to frog back. I'm leaving the error. It's been that kind of winter. At least spring is indisputably on the way. Proof positive: the skunk cabbages are finally up. They seem more petite and less stinky than some years, which makes me wonder if this is a second flushing and the first got buried by snow. It will be interesting to see if the leaves are normal-sized when they unfurl.

Skunk cabbages in April

Instead of starting the next Sock Madness pattern, I think I'll finish a Sock of Shame. Maybe Hanauma Bay, since it's in the news. Although it must be said, the SKA challenge this month looks tempting, too. That way danger lies.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FO or Go for Lent

Continuing to catch up: There are a multiplicity of Lenten practices one could adopt, but this season I wanted simple,40 Bags in 40 Days button so I've been trying 40 Bags in 40 Days, an idea that's been in the wind. I heard about it from a friend, then found Ann Marie's blog. I think she and others are on to something spiritually vital, even if some expressions at times devolve into busy fondness for things like charts and stickers and ::cough:: blog buttons. The aim is to reduce clutter, including negative attachments. From the outside it may look a lot like housecleaning, and that's actually not a bad description of the interior process. After all, the divide between mind, body, and spirit is largely arbitrary, and there's nothing wrong or bad about tending to all three at once.

Amid those deep thoughts I crocheted an Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf by Tamara Kelly in Noro Sarubia, a beautiful rustic 50/50 silk and mohair yarn. It's a quick and easy project, the work of a weekend if one keeps at it. I just crocheted until I ran out of yarn, ending up with a somewhat narrower infinity scarf than specified in the pattern, but that suits me.

Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf detail

Of course the Noro had knots, which I ignored. I know, that's completely out of character. I've had the yarn in stash for ages and figured it was FO or go time. I'm glad it's an FO.

Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf FO

I've been wearing the infinity scarf doubled up as a cowl. The lustrous fibers give the half-mourning colors and exaggerated texture just the right touch of refinement, and it's warmer and much softer than it looks. I'd consider making more in the wider width, but I don't need more for myself and it does seem to be the sort of statement piece that may not be suitable for gifting. No matter, I love mine and have been enjoying it immensely.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ravellenics 2014 Recap

Continuing the catch-up: Last month there was a modest amount of Ravellenic crafting roundabout Exit 151. I crocheted three pinky granny hearts to use as hotpads because I was getting sick of all the snow. Which only seemed to encourage more snow to fall the day before Valentine's Day.

Three granny hearts

I picked at my old Scar socks, which were cast on in ::cough:: September 2007. Since then, there have been many, many attempts to complete them and many, many appearances with the year-end Socks of Shame. Here's where I started this time.

Scar sock resumes

And here's where I finished. One pair = one less UFO, one less Sock of Shame!

Scar socks complete

That left me contemplating my almost-finished Betty's Tee (front view).

Betty's Tee, front

I love the pattern and the yarns, but the combination just wasn't working (back view).

Betty's Tee, back

So there was nothing else to do but frog (frogged view).

Betty's Tee, frogged

Thus Ravellenic glory was mine in three events. I claimed my event medals, but didn't bother with the technique medals available. The giant kerfuffle over human rights before the games made me realize I'm on Team Simplify rather than on Team Many Rules. From my perspective the stakes in a knit-along pale in comparison to the stakes in real life geopolitical crises, such as the crisis in Ukraine. Although I do enjoy seeing a Bobicus or three on my blog.

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I ordered the 2014 Ravellenics pin, delivery pending. When it arrives, my Games will be complete.