Saturday, July 30, 2005

And the Razzies* Go to...

A wild raspberry bramble colonized a corner of the backyard some years ago. How did it get there? Er, process of elimination?? None of our near neighbors grow raspberries. And these are no pampered garden escapes with gracilis three-foot canes, but tough survivors with arching ten-foot canes, thicker than a U.S. 19 (15 mm) knitting needle and studded with fearsome thorns - even the tenderest leaves have barbs sharp as felting needles on their undersides.

Despite its wicked armaments, I always keep a fondly greedy eye on it. When almost ripe, the small berries are brilliant red, bright as beadwork. When fully ripe, they're dusky purple-red and it's not so much a matter of picking them as gently easing the fragile bejeweled thimbles off their cores.

Last Saturday this cluster was two days from perfection.

Photo of wild raspberries

Two days later: alas, the treasure did not the escape the notice of others!

Photo of no wild raspberries

It took all week, but I finally have blurry pix of two of the culprits. They're fast – a little too fast for my digicam, but you get the general idea. On the left there's a hungry catbird. And the Audubon guide claims they're insectivores and beneficial to gardeners!

Photo of catbird   Photo of squirrel

On the right there's a contortionist squirrel. The thorns discourage arborial raiding, so she stretches impossibly high from the ground while maintaining a precarious balance to claim her prize.

And the razzies* go to – not to me, not this year.

*Disclaimer: These wild razzies are not affiliated with the Golden Raspberry Awards, known as Razzies™.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Firmly Resolved

[Edited 7/19/05 to add: Hello visiting RAOKers! I'm so very happy to join the group today. Please feel free to have a look around and leave a comment. :)X ]

The adventurous Celia matched me with a scarf pal who likes jewel tones. Ever one to oblige, I trekked to my LYS and was delighted to find the latest from Eisaku Noro in stock. These rich Kureyon colorways are new for Fall 2005 - the skeins from top to bottom are #159, #147, and #163.

Photo of Scarf Exchange yarn

While it frequently seems as if the entire knitting blogoverse either has made, is making, or will make sweet Ruffles for self or another, I am firmly resolved not to do such a thing to my scarf pal. I refuse to be responsible for springing yet another Ruffles on an unsuspecting world and certainly not on my pal. Not I. No, no. Never, never, never!

Such vehemence has a cause: I've already knit my bit, a Ruffles knit in pink Bernat Softee Baby, 100% Acrylic on pink plastic needles.

Photo of pink Ruffles scarf

So the Kureyon #147 pictured above is in the process of turning into Amanda Blair Brown's other design in Scarf Style, the edgy Stripes and Bobbles.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Fabric of a Community

Today I was saddened to read about a bias crime involving arson and hateful graffiti committed against a sister United Church of Christ church, St. John's Reformed UCC in Middlebrook, Virginia, on July 9, the day before their 225th anniversary celebration. Fortunately, there was no loss of life; property damage was limited to between $50,000 and $75,000.

Drawing of St. John's Reformed Church UCC   Photo of graffiti

St. John's was founded by German immigrants who fled religious persecution in Europe. Sadly, the ill-spelled graffiti scrawled on the church's red brick walls suggest intolerance as a motive. The church has a woman pastor and includes among its members a same-sex couple active in the choir. The fire damaged the church's choir loft, but did not spread.

Like the smell of smoke, fear of violence can linger. This is not the first arson against a UCC church in the largely rural Shenandoah Valley and yet county and state reaction has been mute or cautious (for example, see "Is this a hate crime?" in the Roanoke Times). However, the FBI always investigates attacks against religious organizations as possible violations of civil rights. The prompt and unwavering national attention and the generous outpouring of support from the local community have helped begin to repair the psychic damage (for example, see the Washington Post).

Determined to move forward, the St. John's congregation proceeded with its anniversary celebration on July 10. As conference minister the Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback said, "On the one hand, you had this awful, petty violence, both in word and in deed. On the other hand, you have the real fabric of the community showing through by embracing the congregation."

My prayer this evening is for the pastor, members, and friends of St. John's Reformed Church; the community of Middlebrook; those investigating this crime; and the troubled perpetrator of this violence.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Snout of the Trout

Happy Bastille Day to la pal secrète! It's not every country whose national anthem was arranged by Hector Berlioz.

After a few false starts, the Sockapal-2-za sock in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock "Green Mountain Madness" is finally well on its way. Photo 1 of Sockapal-2-za sock My sock pal asked for a surprise, so I'd like to oblige her with a riff on one of her ribby projects. She posts exceptionally clear photos on her blog, which made industrial spying research and development easy. Not to mention ribs increase the chance of a decent fit. Here's a view of the sock topside and profile or, for the architecturally minded, plan and elevation views.

What I didn't count on (har!) is how much the ribs pull in. The first attempt with 64 sts on my favorite 0 needles was very dense and looked like the jawbone of a crocodile. The second attempt with 72 sts on 2s was far too loose. The next attempt with 72 sts on 1s had a fine hand and looked like the snout of a trout, which seemed like positive progress. Now I'm working 88 sts on 1s and sailing along.

Photo 2 of Sockapal-2-za sock

The yarn has a fabulous sheen and the colorway seems cool and yet lively. But it resented being frogged and re-knit and I was forced to (wince) cut (wince) part that started to de-ply and frizz. That raises concerns about the durability of the finished socks. And, sadly, there also may not be enough yarn for mother-child socks after all.

I reflexively frogged the false starts without documenting them for your pleasure. Hey, I'm new at this blogging thing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Shawl Ministry Workshop

Welcome to Ina's knitting blog! Please feel free to explore.

If you wish to register for the Shawl Ministry Workshop using a secure online form, click here. Confirmation will be by return email.

For a workshop flyer or directions, visit Or see below.

Contact Ina at NJAShawlMinistry [at] aol [dot] com with any questions.

Thank you, and see you in September!

NJA Shawl Ministry Workshop
For knitters, crocheters, and fringe-makers

Date: Saturday, September 10
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Place: Christ Church, Summit (see directions below)

Learn about a ministry of compassionate outreach
Meet fellow crafters and see their work
Share stories of healing and reconciliation
Labyrinth walk, Turkish scarves, more
Bring a bag lunch ~ beverages and desserts provided

Free will offering

Directions to Christ Church, Summit
561 Springfield Avenue
Summit, NJ

From New York City / George Washington Bridge / Lincoln Tunnel / Holland Tunnel:

Take NJ Turnpike (I-95) South or West to Exit #14, then take Interstate 78 West local lanes and bear right to exit onto Route 24/124 West. *** Exit at Summit Ave, Summit (the 2nd Summit exit). At traffic light at end of ramp, turn left onto Summit Ave. Go straight on Summit Ave for approximately one mile. At Springfield Ave (traffic light in center of town) turn right. Go straight through four lights (about 1/2 mile) to the traffic light at New England Avenue (it's New England Ave on the right, but it's called Tulip St on the left). Christ Church is the red sandstone building on the near right-hand corner. (For reference, The Grand Summit Hotel is on the far left).

From the NJ Garden State Parkway (GSP) North and South:

Going South on the GSP, take Exit #142 to Interstate 78 West into Route 24/124 West, then pick up the directions above at ***.

Going North on the GSP, take Exit #142 to Interstate 78 East (there is no West bound exit!). Go one exit and make a U turn. Then follow directions above for "South on the GSP."

From Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia:

Take the NJ Turnpike North to Exit #14, then Interstate 78 West, local lanes, and exit onto Route 24/124 West. Then follow directions above at ***.


Free parking available in the church parking lot and along New England Avenue.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Heavenly Fragrance of French Lavender

DH and I have been sharing a summer flu that seems to be going around. When we staggered home on Saturday, after a miserable day of work, heat, and rain, the heavenly fragrance of French lavender greeted us at the front door. If that wasn't happiness enough, the good odor was emanating from a package from my Secret Pal, who sent it from Marseille.

How to explain such flawless timing? I know not and can only say, Thank you, Secret Pal! You are the best!! Or should I say, Merci, la pal secrète! Vous êtes la meilleure!!

Photo of Secret Pal goodies

Needless to add, I opened the package at once. Inside was the most thoughtful assortment of goodies, including a beautifully written letter explaining everything, the official program for the 2005 Tour de France, the Fall 2005 Phildar magazine, two skeins of Phildar Lambswool sock yarn (and a Phildar logo bag!), Haribo Fraises Tagada candy, and lavender soap from a Marseille soap-maker, a fine example of the local art. I love everything, including the Phildar bag. Distance can turn even everyday items into rare treasures.

Never having seen Fraises Tagada before, DH and I have been conducting a thorough investigation. For others who don't know them, they're marshmallow bonbons about the size and shape of a small gumdrop, covered in crunchy red sugar outside, white inside, with an intense strawberry flavor. They turn one's tongue bright pink (sorry, no photos). Apparently they are as nostalgic in France as marshmallow Peeps are in the US. Sometimes as a change of pace, I like to microwave Peeps. Hm....

The Tour de France program is a lot of fun. By some incredible chance-of-a-lifetime, a member of my bicycle club, Tom Nee, was an official in last year's TdF. Last month he gave a fascinating lecture to the club about his experience, complete with video of Richard Virenque's gutsy Bastille Day stage victory. The main effect has been to make everyone very keen to visit France, especially the parts outside Paris. I don't think I'll attempt those mountain stages by bicycle, though.

Phildar magazine is great. The photos show the sweaters clearly and the detailed schematics and diagrams are easy to follow. There are many ponchos! Also eye-catching are the mitaines, which to me look less like mittens and more like arm warmers (just the thing for cycling), and #16, five variations on a lace dress.

Despite these many temptations, I think the Phildar Lambswool yarn must become a pair of fancy socks to wear to Rhinebeck, as the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, held October 15-16 in Rhinebeck, NY is called. The serene blue-green color should show stitch patterns very well. Progress photos to come.

The soap dish is currently occupied by a strange green bar scented with green tea and cucumber which is trying hard to be wabi-sabi and perhaps not fully succeeding. Ah, these summer infatuations! The lovely Savon de Marseille is going to grace the linen closet while it lasts.

Thanks again to my Secret Pal for these wonderful treats and to fearless listmom Rox for keeping track of all 600+ of us in SP5!

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Prayers and Preparedness

This morning's unhappy news and pictures from London seemed sadly familiar hereabouts. On people's faces there is a look of woe that I've seen before. It wrings my heart and my prayers go out to them. May those who were injured find healing; those who are mourning, comfort; and may peace and justice prevail.

In the U.S., the nationwide threat level is now raised to orange for mass transportation, which means:

The state will activate Emergency Operation Centers and begin to restrict access to critical locations.

Review your emergency communications plan with your family and monitor the radio/TV for current information and instructions.

In NYC, the threat level has been at orange ever since September 11. So now it's at what some call bright orange. The morning and evening commutes were not unduly slow, possibly because many people extended their holiday weekend and are still away. But police presence was heavy and the armed speedboats escorting the commuter ferries was something new.

In New Jersey, NJ Homeland Security offers many resources, including brief guides in .pdf on protecting self and family, pets, and livestock.

It's a day for anxiety-induced knitting, but perhaps not blogging on about it. There will be more knitting content another day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

The 4th in '05

Photo of July 4 parade

Roundabout Exit 151, the 2005 Fourth of July weekend was a good mix of festive celebration and solemn remembrance. As my digicam currently is not responding to its programming, film is at the processor. If the pix come out, they will be added to this post next week. [Post edited 7/11/05 to add photos.]

On Saturday, I went to my favorite place for all things electronic, J and R in lower Manhattan, to seek advice and oogle new digicams. I also visited the September 11 exhibit at St. Paul's Chapel, the oldest public building in Manhattan in continuous use (George Washington worshipped here), across the street from Ground Zero. Flaming debris rained onto the church burying ground on that terrible day, but somehow the church, which is largely wooden, came through with minimal damage. From the first it served as chapel, feeding station, and place of respite for those working on rescue and recovery. I found the exhibit deeply moving. There was a cot similar to those used by the workers, lovingly made up with a handknit leaf motif counterpane and donated teddy bears. But other visitors had other reactions. I was jarred, pained, and affronted to hear one say loudly, in a tone calculated to be overheard and to offend, "That was BOR-ing!" A grown man - judging by his face, accent, and manners, an American being ugly in his own country.

Monday morning, I rode with the bicycle unit in the township parade.

Photo of July 4 parade

Last year, someone complained there weren't enough red, white, and blue decorations in the parade. If neighborly accommodation wasn't enough incentive, this year there also was a $100 prize from The Bikery for the best decorated bike. A teenager visiting from France won. He's all set for Bastille Day on July 14, too.

For the evening festivities, DH and I thought we'd show my Sockapal-2-za sock a good time and watch the Macy's fireworks display along the East River from an old office building in midtown Manhattan. Macy's fireworks buttonMany classic NYC skyscrapers have real windows that open, so we enjoyed a pleasant evening breeze and the charming sight of multiple shows going on in NJ before the big show started. When the first high bursts went up, we had the novel experience of looking down on them. Then the smoke rose in dense clouds! The Queens shoreline vanished, the Chrysler Building disappeared except for two illuminated spots on its bejeweled spire. We could hear reports that made the concrete canyons echo, but no flashes could be seen through the reek. We started coughing and shut the window, for fear the smoke detectors would be activated. That was the view from on high. At ground level, we made our way blinking through smoke worthy of five alarms.

I have a whole new appreciation of the huge scale of Manhattan skyscrapers and the mighty NYC fireworks show.