Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spoiled

The season has turned to nightly frost warnings, so I picked what was left in the vegetable patch. This year it was sorely tried. When I wasn't paying attention marauding deer ate most plants down to foot-high stems, then rabbits and squirrels devoured any new leaves and fruit. The eggplants were particular targets. Their leaves are hairy and I've read toxic to rabbits, but the cottontails don't seem to know that. Even the onion tops were cropped to the quick. I put up a garden fence which the big creatures knocked down and the little creatures chewed clean through. I've never seen the like. It's a marvel there was anything left for us. So what I just brought in may not be the most impressive last harvest ever, but it's not bad under the circumstances.

Last harvest

Also while I wasn't paying attention DH got cold, helped himself to the accumulating pile of watch caps meant for the mitten tree, got squawked at, promised to wash them and put them back, and somehow managed to felt them. Plus he complained they're itchy. Sigh. Too bad, he's keeping them now.

Then, as we drove along Route 1, there was a sign. Literally.

Swans Island Yarn sign

Of course we stopped. Not least because if DH was raiding the charity bin, clearly, he needs a new knit cap of his own. The cobbler's children and all that. He picked the color and I insisted on the yarn, lovely Swans Island Organic Washable Aran. An evening's worth of very enjoyable knitting latter, DH had a hat knit to his specs. The good stuff always knits up quickly.

Knit cap for DH

DH is happy with his new hat, but when I went back to knitting yarn ordinaire, it seemed itchy. Alas, I'm spoiled.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Post Factum: Nobody Knows the Trouble This Was

This time of year I'm always knitting hats for the mitten tree at Church of the Sharp Elbows. (It's called a mitten tree, but it includes hats and scarves as well as mittens.) In a departure from the usual watch cap, I knit up Salunga Beret by Heather Zoppetti, which pattern is in Everyday Lace and also is available free.

I started with some luverly Yarn Hollow 80/20 Merino/Tussah handspun, liked the color, but wanted better stitch definition.

Yarn Hollow handspun wip

So I frogged the handspun, set it aside for another day, and started again with Louet Gems Sport Weight. Much better. (Can't tell from the photo? Gentle readers will have to take my word for it.)

Gems wip

Knitting with black yarn has never been an issue for me before, but for this project I needed daylight or bright artificial illumination. I also had the darndest time keeping the pattern repeats straight. It's radial symmetry, five reps per round, mirrored increases and decreases within each rep – nothing out of the way, but apparently my eyes and mind are rotting. The studip got so bad I finally resorted to stitch markers and a lifeline. Then there was the hell of the tubular bind off in 1x1 ribbing. Gah, I know this stuff. I finally substituted Kitchener tubular bind off for the BO given in the pattern. I also forgot to take a pic of the beret at the sad pouch stage and only have pix of it blocking.

Even so, the transformation wrought by blocking is worth documenting. Here's the top view, with dinner plate inserted. (I have no idea why the color of the beret – basic black – is so different from photo to photo.)

Salunga blocking, top view

And here's the bottom view. The yarn threaded through the beret is to reduce strain on the ribbing.

Salunga blocking, bottom view

A good blocking erases many hiccups and frustrations. Perhaps it's more brain rot, but when I look at the FO I forget all the trouble I had.

Salunga FO

The tubular bind off ended up looking well, if I say so myself, but of course I forgot a pic of that too. Gah. But, onward.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Post Factum: March

Still catching up: Exactly one month ago I participated in the People's Climate March in New York City. Without any hyperbole, it was AWESOME.

March turnout button

It should be noted I'm not one for ginormous crowds. I've attended a couple ticker tape parades, a couple Thanksgiving Day parades, a Christmas Tree lighting (which I regretted), a papal visit (which I really regretted) – but I've never gone to the Puerto Rican Day parade on Fifth Avenue nor to New Year's Eve in Times Square. But this was the friendliest, happiest, most peaceable crowd I've ever experienced in New York City. It also was by far the biggest march I've ever been in, but I never once felt uncomfortable. The spirit of the day was wonderful.

My day started at the ephemeral ice sculpture Dawn of the Anthropocene by Ligorano/Reese. It was a hot day, and I overheard the artists mutter The Future was melting too fast. How true. I wanted to come back and see how The Future was doing, but there was just too much to do, too little time.

The Future is melting

On my way to the assigned assembly area for my group, I kept seeing random signs, like this one spotted in the subway. The sightings greatly increased my anticipation!

Sign in subway

My group waited in the assembly area on 58th Street. And waited. And waited. The old campaigners began to surmise the initial crowd estimate of 100,000 must be a gross undercount and actual turnout must be much, much higher. So true! The young campaigners got tired and hungry, but plenty of people had brought plenty of provisions. We could have done the loaves and fishes thing and fed 5,000 with no problem. Not to mention this is NYC – there's no lack of places to get excellent take out. ::cough:: I got my snacks from Bouchon Bakery. They were very tasty.

Tired young campaigner

It was touching to see how many marchers had brought children with them and to hear others say they were there for the sake of their children or grandchildren. The shared sense of urgent, intergenerational mission was deeply affecting.

Then, suddenly, with a blast of shofars and other exhortations to action, we were off! It was exhilarating!

Shofar!

Along the way there were encouraging spectators, including this vuvuzuela player and company perched on the big rocks in Central Park.

Central Park

And there were encouraging spectators hanging out of windows, like these Bard students on Sixth Avenue. Hanging out of windows is a quintessential NYC tradition – and necessary for ticker tape parades. It made me feel like I was in a real NYC parade. I loved their signs, too.

Bard students

There even were a very few provocateurs, like these two guys. Most people ignored them.

Provocateurs

It's difficult to give a sense of the scale of the march. Sixth Avenue (or Avenue of the Americas if you please) was full of people from sidewalk to sidewalk streaming from 59th Street to 42nd Street continuously for, I dunno, maybe four hours. My group sang a lot.

At Radio City

Many people who finished the march early did not want to leave. Instead, they doubled back to watch and encourage the rest of us. That got me hoping I might spot the Bike Bloc swordfish bikes, but I never did. I also wanted to attend the post-march festival on 11th Avenue, but I had barely enough time to get to an evening Religions for the Earth multifaith worship service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Thank goodness for the excellent NYC subway system!

The worship service made a marvelous end to a marvelous day. Also a long, hot day – people in the congregation who had walked the walk kept rubbing at the salt on their faces and nodding off, which I found endearing (and may have done myself). Cathedral artist in residence Paul Winter played. (A somewhat clueless woman sitting next to me exclaimed, "He's rather good!" Yes, and it was a privilege to hear him gratis.) A lot of important people spoke. I was enchanted by the two monumental phoenix sculptures by Xu Bing made of discarded construction material suspended from the cathedral ceiling. (They're so big, only one fits in the photo.)

Phoenix

Later that week, I talked with a few closet deniers who made snide remarks about overflowing garbage cans and auto emissions from traffic stopped by the march, as if such things somehow invalidate the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Such misdirection and over-scrupulosity almost don't merit a response, but FWIW, I've attended much smaller events that generated far more waste than this march. On the other hand, I was surprised when an eavesdropping stranger butted into such a conversation and solemnly thanked me for marching. As so many others have said, it's important for the sake of the children.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Post Factum: August

While others were off frolicking at Rhinebeck this weekend, I spent my time catching up!

Diamond Head

In August, I made an unplanned visit to Hawai'i. It was a very stressful time, not least because while I was there Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio roared by the islands only a few days apart. It wasn't a pleasure trip for me, so the rough weather merely added to the stress and didn't spoil my trip, but I felt bad for vacationers who rushed to the airport in advance of the storms to try to book flights home. (Among other inconveniences, the beaches were all closed, so my Hanauma Bay singleton couldn't visit Hanauma Bay. It posed with the newspaper instead, which was not very satisfactory at all.)



In Hawai'i, full emergency preparations means rushing out and stocking up on necessities like Spam, bottled water, batteries, prescription medication, toilet paper, and gasoline. The stores were stripped! But... notice that preposition. The hurricanes roared by.Guy Hagi meme Except for a rural section on the Big Island of Hawai'i that sustained some heavy damage (and now is threatened by lava), everyone else was fine. Apparently the five tall summits on the Big Island sheared off the bottom of the first storm, causing it to become disorganized, and the second storm missed the islands altogether. It rained a bit more than usual. After days of urgent exhortations to prepare, the anti-climax led to a proliferation of memes mocking a local weatherman, Guy Hagi.

There's new Guy Hagi memes now that Hurricane Ana was another near-miss. It's been an exceptionally busy hurricane season in the Pacific; by contrast, after starting with a bang, the Atlantic season has been relatively quiet. Thankfully so!

Also in August, DH and I went to the U.S. Open. It was perhaps the nicest weather and the most interesting tennis I've ever been privileged to experience. We made a point of watching Caroline Wozniacki again.

Caroline Wozniacki

Wozniacki has been having a tumultuous year off the courts, so it was great to see her playing so well – winning this match against Andrea Petkovic, and going on to upset Maria Sharapova, to defeat Sara Errani, and advancing to the final when Peng Shuai collapsed. In the final she lost to Serena Williams. Next month she's running in the NYC Marathon to raise money for Team for Kids. Some experts say tennis players shouldn't do marathons, it messes up their primary conditioning or somesuch. However that may be, I'm looking forward to seeing Wozniacki run.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Post Factum: Socks

I'm playing catch up yet again. So much time has slipped by and so many half-written posts have accumulated that it might make sense to discard the past and restart with a fresh slate. Except I don't want to do that, which means I have a problem of my own making. Right. Onward.

Referring back to ::cough:: July, during the TdF I finished a Singleton Sock of Shame leftover from last year's Sock Madness, Bricks and Tiles by Anita Grahn. It's the third Sock of Shame pair completed this year.

Bricks and Tiles Socks, modeled

One reason I've persisted in blogging these socks I love their pretty purl welts. Another is their interesting modified afterthought heel, here shown zipped.

Afterthought heel, zipped

Ordinarily afterthought heels don't fit my Frankenfeet very well. However, this one increases the number of stitches on the sole, as can be seen by comparing the number of stitches on the leg needle with the number of stitches on the sole needle in the unzipped photo of the heel. For reasons that escape me, this pic best captures the sock color.

Afterthought heel, unzipped

The extra sole stitches are decreased by means of a sole gusset. I don't much care for decreases on the sole of a sock, but I have to admit this heel is pretty clever.

Bricks and Tiles FO

Although it is rather funny-looking, at least to my eyes. I'm so accustomed to both the fit and the esthetics of a flap heel and gusset sock that I think I'll stick to that, but I'm glad I tried something new. Were I to re-visit this pattern, I might try a single-color version with a traditional heel.