Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Big Apple

We were invited to New York to visit friends we used to go to school with. What a great opportunity to catch up and go for an adventure. He is our daughter's Godfather, so we really think he's great. His new partner is lovely and, even though they are high powered CEOs in international companies, he grew up a neighbour and appreciates that we are more than just country mice.
We stayed right in Washington Square. Greenwich Village is charming, right in the midst of NYU, lots of restaurants and live music.

At night there was even music under the Washington Arch.
One of my favourite stops was the New York Public Library. I was there a few years ago (the Rose Reading Room is still closed), but I was drawn to it.

In the children's area they have the lovely lion in Lego!

And the actual Winnie the Pooh and friends. This is so exciting because these were some of the first books I read, even before I went to school. My big sisters loved Pooh, too, so I had lots of chances to read and listen to the stories and poems.

We walked everywhere! There was subway travel too, but lots of walking in over 38 degree and humid weather. The Flatiron building is so cool. We were home and safe before the bomb went off.

Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with many others. It was pretty exciting.

The view of Manhattan is stunning.

It was September 11, so we went to the memorial at Ground Zero. The official programs were over, but there were still lots of people.

The new tower is stunning. We rode to the top of it later and saw all around.

We enjoyed stopping at Central Park. One day we went to the west side and the Museum of Natural History.

Just as advertised in my son's favourite cartoon.

The Statten Island Ferry was very cool. Just 25 minutes one way. We got right on and took pictures.

Then we got back on a return ferry.

On the east side of Central Park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. D Liked the mummies.

I liked one of the first things I saw, a Roman lion.

We had dinner out and especially enjoyed this Italian restaurant by Mario Batali. We were  treated like locals and encouraged to relax.

Some of our souvenirs. We didn't do much shopping. It was great to see live jazz and explore such a dynamic city. There was very little knitting. We look forward to returning in a few years to visit our friends again.

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Our bags are packed again. We're off to New York for a week to visit a friend.
But everyone is prickly.
I can't upload my pictures. I will google the solution or continue pulling my hair out.
I missed a pedicure appointment because I was cleaning the house like a white tornado.
But she very kindly fit me in yesterday before my mammogram. Better than a candy treat.
The kids came home for Labour Day weekend and we had so much fun. BBQs and shopping and sharing stories. They returned to the Island.
I have achieved a lot of simple Christmas knitting, but I am struggling with my list. There will be fewer knit gifts this year, but I like to make something for each of the kids, and sometimes it's a better budget choice to use yarn I already have. But finding superwash or easy care yarn is harder in my sweet stash. So I'm moving items to different names and uncertain about extras. Such a trouble.
I think getting away for a break with the hardworking D will be a good idea.
I am taking socks and a hat to knit. But it's a red eye so I don't want to trade knitting for sleep.
All I want to do is swatch my sweater. But it can wait till I get home. But it cannot wait until after Christmas.
I started reading a book, but set it in the suitcase for the trip.
Do you ever feel at loose ends like this?
Time saving devices sucking up all your mojo?
Seasons changing, focus changing.
Loving the yoga and strengthening. Loving the chilly mornings.
A bit excited about the Big Apple.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Untangling In the Heat

I found myself picking up some old and unfinished works in progress this past week.

Perspicacity. That is the stick-to-it-iveness that you need for knitting. This is a Twiddle Muff for adults with dementia to help them with the long hours on their own. This one will go to my best friend's mom who was my Chemistry teacher.

D's Grandma Sophie loved to embroider well into her 90's. His mom has many table cloths and dresser scarves and pillow cases. When we visited, we would bring a kit for her and she would collect all the flosses. Each of the women in my family has a similar basket of colour. I have offered to hand hem these items, one at a time. It it pleasant and easy. Unfortunately they are not of a nice enough fabric to do pulled thread work. But it brings them out of the closet and would make a nice gift when one of the girls (her great grand daughters) get married.
We are travelling to NYC in September and I wanted to make a scarf for our host that I saw briefly on Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. I fussed with a pattern but ended up simplifying it with baby cables. The cashmere and merino is luscious, but maybe a bit drapey. I hope he can wear it under his dark suits as he flies around the world to meetings. I call it the CEO Scarf.

Like the Seamen's scarves, I made the centre narrower and ribbed to lie behind the neck.
Going crazy? This tulle ribbon worked up into a kitchen scrubbie like the ones my friend made for Christmas last year. It turned out successful, but the texture is rather annoying on the hands.
These mitts were given to a friend quite a few years ago. Just recently, their puppy chewed the ribbing off. I was able to capture live stitches and knit the band again. It's not perfect, but it saves them from being garbage and will last till I give her new ones this Christmas. There is Christmas knitting, too.

But first, we had house guests. This is not too common for us and I was a bit surprised as they never shared their plans with us. But we had stayed with them in Cape Town and we wanted to be hospitable.

There were feasts on the back deck. The heat was less in the evening and quite fun.

D brought out his collection of single malts.

Elizabeth came with my friend and I to the city. I was delivering one to the doctor's and then trekking to a coffee shop to see my eldest nephew. I knit his son a sweater for his 6th birthday and the post really let me down and made me pay for it! Go ahead and go on strike, it makes so little difference.
We met back up and had lunch on Main Street. Great fun.

Coincidentally, this fish shop is directly across from 3 Bags Full, one of our favourite yarn shops. It is very carefully organized and uses its space to be welcoming and share skills and ideas.

I bought a few more colours for the blanket I'm dreaming of.

Elizabeth was such good company and we enjoyed evening walks as well.
Getting some of the Christmas knitting done. I like to have fun in the summer, so knitting light hearted gifts works with the plan. The kitty hat has a corresponding puppy hat already. I tried to use a pattern from a friend, but just ended up winging it, spurred on by pinterest. 

The Hat Trick is finished and has a bold pom pom. This is the yarn I bought instead of any handknits in Ireland. It is for my Godson for his November birthday. Plan ahead and you can manage the set backs.

The first of the dragon hats is finished and the second begun. I will make 2 or three more according to the stash. There are 5 little great nephews. I hope they will some day be together to share their silly hats and mitts. But they may share their memories.

The days are getting shorter, although not cooler. We appreciate the fans in the house and the cool basement in the evening. I look forward to the fall and preparations for birthdays and Christmas. Not everyone will get knitted items this year, but the list is pretty long anyway.
I'm trying to knit from my stash and to knit what the giftee will enjoy.
Keeping them close in my stitches untangles them in my heart.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Shenanigans

We had the great pleasure of being invited to a South Asian wedding by our neighbours. It was entirely enchanting and the bride and groom are grown up children of D's clients. Lots of dairy farmers in a transformed corn field! So many beautiful saris and the bride and groom were very regal.

I finally wore my featherweight when we went to Vancouver Island, Courtenay for a family reunion. I started meeting D's cousins when I was just 15. So in some ways it really feels like my family too. Love to see our kids all getting together. 

Of course he piped for them and they couldn't get enough.

Emily gave me my birthday present, a Pumpkin Ale sweater she knit for me! No words.

Because of the drive and ferry rides, I was able to finish the Alpine Flowers stole. It ended up 80 x 18 inches which I think is big enough for our elegant friend. We are already looking forward to seeing them in September in NYC.

Had to restart the cables on the Stovetop hat. I am getting into a bit of a struggle with charts right now. But I recognized that Tin Can Knits patterns are beyond reproach, and maybe I should check my knitting when I start fudging numbers. Just a hat, I know, but it is the dream of all the hats I didn't buy in Ireland.

Received a delightful message from 88 Stitches yarn shop that my yarn had finally been dyed. Sweet Fiber is exquisite, but she has to finish all the colours before starting over with this subtle Winter. Hope to find out where I was in March when I realized I hadn't bought enough yarn.

Also cast on the dragon hat. Can you see the first spike. I had to sit quietly and figure out the construction. I think it can be improved, but is doable and rather clever. I hope to make 3 or 4 of these for the great nephews.

And the cashmere. So delicious. I saw a scarf on Kenneth Brannah as he played Wallander. Le sigh. I thought it would be a nice manly gift for our NYC host. I thought I would start with the seaman's scarf by Myrna Stahman and just add some cables. Well, maybe not. So I have reverted to the pattern, but marked everything with highlighters because, did I say I'm not reading charts so well.
Now I dream of casting on something mindless. But that would make too many things on the needles and all these need to be made anyway. If I work hard on just one item, and finish it perhaps I can settle down a little. But this summer is going to quickly. And there is more fun to come!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Books In Ireland

We were lucky to stay near the Samuel Beckett bridge in Dublin. DH went to the Convention centre (with the glass cylinder) for events. I did some pre-reading of my Irish author books before I went and was excited about some of the places to visit. I am not a huge James Joyce fan, but have read Ulysses a first time. I studied Beckett in theatre, and have a soft spot for Yeats. 
I was invited to Trinity College. It was very high on my list. You can't take pictures in the exhibit, but it was well laid out. The wait wasn't too long, but the crowds were thick. If you have read Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, you've done most of your research.
Behind the exhibit is the Long Library. Truly a wow presence. This room was used in a Star Wars movie for the Jedi library. The Guinness family renovated it. That's why the ceiling is shaped like a barrel.
The first thing I saw on my left was a lovely bust of my favourite, Shakespeare. Each of the sculptures is of an author.

The books are set in side rooms like horse stalls. There is evidence of alphabetizing but it is rather confusing.
Each stall has its own perfect ladder.
These are really old books but are available to scholars.
At the Epic Ireland exhibit, there was a good overview of history and a celebration of Irish artists like Joyce, Beckett and C.S. Lewis.

D and I walked down O'Connell street on one of our first days to see the 100 year anniversary exhibit of the Easter 1916 Uprising. It was beautifully done with artifacts and films.

One of the original proclamations. Another is in the Long Library.

All public buildings and most pubs had some photos and information about those who started the fight to remove Ireland from British domination.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is only a few blocks from Christchurch Cathedral. It is also Protestant, Church of Ireland, or Episcopalean (Anglican).
Inside the cathedral is the burial site of Jonathan Swift. He was Dean of the church, like head minister, for many years. His work is actually really biting satire of individuals of his time.
In the park at Marrion Square is a great statue of Oscar Wilde.

This is the National Library with the most exquisite reading room. But no pictures allowed and no postcards of it to buy. It rivals the reading room at the Library of Congress in DC. Also you are welcome to do genealogy research here.

In the exhibit space, they had a event on W.B. Yeats and it was amazing. Some people wandered in because it had started to rain a little, but they were disappointed with the tables and tables of his writings, under glass. Each area had a theme, like family, the uprising, theatre and publishing. It was so much information, but was gently given. They started with images of his poems being read by famous Irish people. Perfect.

The famous Halfpenny Bridge also crosses the River Liffey, not far from Temple Bar and just celebrated its 200 year birthday with a fresh coat of paint. Across, on the north side, you can see the yellow building.
It's the Winding Stair Bookshop. It reminded me a little of a small BookMan (our local shop) and the people were very quiet and pleasant. A mix of old and new. I really was trying not to buy books because they are heavy, and I can get so many of them at home. 

Loved this more academic bookshop, closer to our edge of town.

I had downloaded The Little Prince on my kindle app and was tickled to see it published in Irish. Such a gentle read, a good one to read again when you are far from home.

At Ulysses Books, a rare book seller, there was an amazing complete set of Roald Dahl.

Here is James Joyce near O'Connell Street. In June they celebrate Bloomsday with tours and pub crawls.
Loved these Lady Bird books introducing topics like the hipster and the hangover. I had some of these when I was little and I found some for my kids when they were learning to read, but the topics were child like and simple for teaching.

We took a tour to NewGrange and to Tara. It was fabulous. The Irish give you lots of time to potter about and have tea or a pint.

 At Tara was the Old Book Shop, but it was a bit of a shambles and a little heavy on new age crystals and such.

I wold have been happy to find a copy of the Turf Cutter's Donkey. My eldest sister used to read it to us and it is a fantastic story of children on an adventure in Ireland. But I did find a copy at our local store, and I didn't prepare with the author's name.

These beautiful journals are hand bound in Ireland. I was tempted several times. But, like yarn and books, I have a few.  I finished a book about Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford and handed it along to another guest at the Forge Bed and Breakfast in Galway.
In the duty free at the Dublin airport, I felt that this whiskey explained how the Irish understand their writers.