Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Coney Island, Before Things Heat Up

On a rather chilly but sunshiney day, I took off for Coney Island with my camera in hand for some rather entertaining people-watching. Coney really comes into its own during the summertime, but that's no excuse to stay away. A bit trashy, a bit shady, but always colorful.

april2011 130

Coincidentally, it was the first weekend that the parks were open.

april2011 138

april2011 147

april2011 154

april2011 192

april2011 182

april2011 206

The boardwalk:
april2011 211

april2011 137

april2011 219

april2011 220

april2011 227

april2011 233

Afterwards, it was pizza at Tottono's, which is long considered to have one of the best pies in Brooklyn.

april2011 236

It did not disappoint.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Fabulous Timing (and a FO)

It is my real-life job to be organized and make things work precisely. If I didn't have this skill or lacked it in any way, my boss would have no real reason to keep me employed unless I chose to resort to blackmail. Which I haven't had to yet.

When I have a personal blunder that involves scheduled, I try keep it very quiet. Like the time I showed up a full week early for a flight to Chicago. D'oh.

I had a weird week recently where I couldn't get my timing right. I showed up hours late for some things, missed other events completely, and then showed up hours early for other appointments without realizing it. At one point, I sat in the doctors office for more than an hour, quietly knitting fuming and wondering where my brain was at.

Luckily, clocks and calenders only seemed to perplex me for that one week. It was a weird phase or mindset that I couldn't shake. I just had to ride it out, and as predicted, I'm back to my regular punctual and organized self.

So I finished a hat. When I started the hat, it was 30 degrees out and freezing sleety raining, and a stranded warm hat seemed like a great idea. A couple days later when I finished the hat, it was 60 and sunny and I couldn't think of anything but shedding layers down to a cami.

april2011 065

Ahh well. It will be put away for next winter, when I'm sure it will be cold again. That's the risk you take when you start something toasty and warm in April.

april2011 069

The pattern is the Fake Isle hat by Amy King. I used a half a skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter and a half a skein of Noro Silk Garden that was leftover from a sweater I made last year. If I had to do it again, I would go down a needle size for the ribbing as it flares out a bit from the rest of the hat. It's warm and cozy, and a great way to use up scraps and odd balls of yarn.

Friday, 15 April 2011


It's felt so springtimey lately...it's a huge sigh of relief after a long, cold winter that was reluctant to let go. It was a good year to be a knitter anyway.

april2011 062

Since the weather is bearable and occasionally downright pleasant, there has been some very good days to get out for long walks. I feel like I don't see enough of Prospect Park this time of year.

april2011 032

It's a gorgeous park, and while a lot of people utilize it, it's not nearly as crowded as Central Park.

april2011 041

april2011 050

I spent a great deal of time watching the ducks fight over bits of hot dogs that people were throwing to them.

april2011 058

april2011 060

It was a bit of ducky drama- it was really hard for them to try to tear off a piece small enough to swallow, so they spent a lot of time chasing it around and squabbling over it.

I'm easily amused. The ducks just need to be thankful that I haven't found a Duck CSA yet.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

FO: Turning Another Square

These little hats are ingenious, and a great way to use up scraps. I was able to squeeze a second one out using the same two skeins of yarn as the first one, with just dipping into a wee bit of a second skein of the brown Shelter yarn to finish it off. The striping pattern in the Noro is much darker than my first hat from this skein:

march2011 103

But I am easily amused and it was so different looking that I didn't really mind making the same hat twice. However, my faithful model was a little miffed by the redundancy.

april2011 075

See, much different with the darker stripes of Noro, right?

I made this for Scott, who is attempting to teach us conversational French. He is a very patient man. I think I mentioned to him that "I am a bottle of red wine" the other night, instead of "I have a bottle of red wine". Silly verbs. I am a lot of things. A linguist is not one of them, but I'm giving it a good try and I'm finding it easier as I go along.

april2011 074

Even though it's a bit late in the season for a wooly knitted hat gift, it was perfectly cold, rainy and dreary the night we met up for class. I still want a nice warm hat some days, and other days a skimpy little tank to flutter around in works as well. Ahh, spring.

I love this pattern so hard. I'll be whipping up some more, I'm sure. I can cast on Monday morning on the subway and be done with it for the ride home Tuesday night without even thinking about it. Plus, it's a great way to use up scraps.

Specs: Size 4 needles, a bit under a half skein of Noro, a bit over a half skein of Shelter. The pattern is a free one: Turn a Square by Jared Flood.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


First off, my apologies to Sparrows and Honeybees because I ate her share of ham and now I'm rubbing it in her face by posting food porn pictures of it.

I was a vegetarian for 10 years or so. It feels like another lifetime at this point. My original motives as a teenager was to annoy my family with my special diet. Then I perhaps drank some koolaid that the PETA people were handing out. Oh, and having a lot of farm animals with names hanging around didn't help either. It all conspired to create a magic meatless vacuum in my life. It continued that way for quite some time, with nary a craving or a tempting thought of eating it otherwise. That is until I moved to the city, far removed from farm animals, which also happens to have lots of really good steakhouses. Filet Minion and Sirloin were my gateway drugs, especially when there were martinis plentiful to quell the bit of guilt.

I still eat a ton of vegetables and I try not to eat meat too often for health and environmental reasons. If the animal was humanely raised, then I have no moral issue with it. Finding a good source for it took a little time though.

I was overjoyed when I discovered The Piggery. They raise heirloom breeds- Mulefoot and Berkshires- on their farm in upstate New York. They get to roam around and root and be happy social pigs for their entire lives. In turn, they make for wonderful eats. None of this lean, dried out and flavorless pork you get in the store. This is real-deal pork for people who aren't afraid of a little fat in their lives. Because they practice snout-to-tail cooking, you get a lot of interesting bits as well with your share....headcheese, pate, scrapple. I make it policy to at least give everything a try, and it's all been really excellent.

Our weekly share has been a culinary adventure for me. Aside from Bacon, I have never cooked pork before. It started with a chop that I fried up and smothered with caramelized apples, some ribs that have set me off drooling on a clean shirt while daydreaming about them at work, a cluster of sausages that I uncased and used for dumpling filling, lots of heavenly bacon, and, most recently, ham.

I did some research on cooking this. I knew this had to be a little trashy in order for it to work. I kept coming across recipes for ham in coca-cola- it seemed like it was a staple of the American South to cook it in soda. I'm not a soda drinker at all, but having a super-sweet glaze seemed like a fun idea. I rummaged around in the fridge and found this:

april2011 068

Ginger soda (with pomegranate and hibiscus, naturally) is one of my favorite cocktail mixers. I've been mixing it with bourbon lately, but it's also good with rum and vodka. It's not as cloying as ginger ale, and it has a nice spicy bite to it. I found it went great with ham as well.

april2011 067

The ham was 2.5 lbs, so I put it in a pot and covered it with the pop. I threw in some onions and some fresh ginger and let it simmer away for an hour and a half. It smelled heavenly. Hog heavenly.

Once it was cooked, I took it out of the pot, pinned some pineapples and cloves to it, and threw it in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, and then a quick broil which smoked up the house and set off the fire alarm, like it does every time.

april2011 072

It bronzed and baked the outside crisp, but the ample layer of fat insured the inner ham did not dry out a bit. I served it with a side of collard greens with plenty of garlic, just to keep it real.

april2011 073

It was delicious. The salty ham was balanced nicely by the sweet cola bath and the heady spice of ginger, and the tart acid of the pineapple. Also, the next morning was made hedonistic and immensely pleasurable by sending the leftover slices to the fry pan for a quick browning and then frying a couple eggs in the bit of grease it left behind.

Thankfully for me (and the pigs) the summer vegetable CSA will be starting up soon.

Monday, 11 April 2011

FO: Wisp

Remember the Buffalo down I spun last year? It was decidedly a pain in the ass to spin, but I was happy with the finished yarn.

Finding a project for it was another story though. I cast on for several before finding the right one. I kept trying to make a lace cowl with it...it's soft and there was enough yardage to make a big wimple type thing. The problem was that the yarn has absolutely no memory or spring to it, making the lace sloppy looking. It reminded me of the webs that spiders had spun when researches got them flying around on LSD.

Wow man. Just wow. Not what I had in mind.

I finally figured out that a lace cowl was not what this yarn was calling out to be. I had a couple of friends who had made a Wisp, and it seemed like the simple lace structure would do the yarn justice.

april2011 079

april2011 083

It's very lightweight and the lace pattern is stretchy. I need to find some light buttons so this could be buttoned up and worn either as a scarf, möbius, cowl, hood, or wrapped around your neck twice for extra warmth. It's a perfectly simple pattern and a great way to wear a soft, special handspun close to your skin.

I used size 7 needles and knitted until I was almost out of yarn/sick of the pattern and couldn't go on any longer. B is for Buffalo (or Bison) and this is part of my A-Z stashdown. Which, you know...I'm almost done with the letter B.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

I Made Something Pretty.

Oh, Cormo. I love you so much.

etsy 051

I know, I know. Confessing my love for a sheep could mean serious legal consequences in some states, but really now. It's the wool I'm after.


It started out as roving from Foxfire Farm in Massachusetts. It was absolutely addicting to spin, and it was a bit sad when the last bit of fluff flew from my fingers and twisted itself around the bobbin. Foxfire doesn't have a website, but she does show up at her booth in the main hall at Rhinebeck every year. You can tell when you are spinning it that the sheep it came from was loved and cared for.

april2011 019

It was just so crimpy and lovely. Whoever processed it did a good job of not over-processing. It still smelled vaguely and pleasantly of sheep, the crimp was still visable, and it was snowy-white and clean with no vegetation.

april2011 020

It was like spinning a cloud of cotton candy. Except not sticky. And not dyed a nauseating pink. I will retract that statement now.

april2011 017

I spun it woolen, from the fold. It made for a lofty and soft yarn- I spun lace singles and plied them into a fingering weight 2-ply. 368 yards.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I Am Running Away to Join the Circus.

It seems as though a series of odd, tragic, stressful and downright weird events has been plaguing the people around me lately. I feel like everyone I know has been the recipient of bad news and the past few months have been especially trying because of it. Before you draw conclusions about my toxic effect on people, I'm pretty sure I'm not the Bad Seed. Just a helpless-feeling bystander.

Also...my job. It's gotten a bit too much lately. I know I get compensated monetarily quite nicely and really have nothing to complain about, but more days than I care to count I feel like I'm ready to move on. I have the Peace Corps website open in another tab. Oooh, Fiji. Really? You send people to Fiji? Wait...but I have to speak Hindi or Fijian, or be willing to learn? I must admit, my Fijian is a bit rusty at this point. Wait...you don't serve any English-speaking countries at all? How about un peu français, non? Well then. Maybe the Peace Corps is not for me after all. Sitting in an office in Manhattan is really quite nice actually, with the running water and flush toilets. Never mind.

Happily, I am planning a nice little vacation next month. It's piggy-backed with a work trip, but it's in a location that I love and would gladly go for a nice vacation on my own. More on that soon.

I've been knitting in fits and starts, but I chose a bunch of projects that require my full attention at all times. None of this round and round we go stuff...I'm making a lace shawl with the lace pattern on both sides, which means one little mistake could end in disaster and I try to tink back to the blissful and innocent time where I didn't make mistakes. I'm also making an oversized cable sweater, where the cable pattern runs on both sides requiring me to stare at the pattern with laser-like intensity. Then I cast on for an "easy" project, which involves a laceweight and delicate silk/mohair blend to be adorned with dozens of tiny beads. So much fun! Not stressful at all! My dentist says I should try not to grind my teeth during my waking hours!

Maybe it's time to start a really simple hat, or a pair of socks.

I did get something pretty in the mail a couple weeks ago:

march2011 127

It's the March Essential Luxury club from A Verb for Keeping Warm. A very touchable blend of baby camel, merino and silk. I can almost feel my stress melt away as I dream about spinning it. It's gorgeous dahhling, gorgeous. It's going into a bin for a bit as I am still spinning my Shetland fleece and I'm [trying my best to be] a spinning project monogamist. I can actually fill a bobbin with the Shetland in about 45 minutes.

There's been lots of other fun stuff going on- lots of pork cookery and dumpling folding and beer making and spin-ins and jewelry creating and honey bee education and trying not to fail at it all. Being bored in New York means you probably have no pulse.