Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Feel 19 Again

My friend Patrick, who is a fantastic painter by the way - look at the link and enjoy! - has been feeding my new-found obsession of watching videos of all my old favourite bands while knitting. Today he pointed me to this:

Can it get any better?

PS. Chrysler Building done! Now: the FDR Drive in a sexy, black chenille. Oo lala!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking A Breath

I am emerging from my underground lair to celebrate finishing the Empire State Building. Now to start the Chrysler Building, which is, mercifully, about half the size of the ESB.

Here is another little sneaky peek...I won't show too much because you have to come on down to Lion Brand Studio and see it in person next week (and thereafter until June).

Was I using sock yarn and 2.5mm needles? Yes I was. A fit of insanity must have overwhelmed me and it didn't leave me until it was noontime and I had finished only what you see pictured here. I snapped out of it and quickly switched over to larger needles and yarn, and later, abandoned knitting altogether for the speed of crochet. I am very happy with the end result - it is as if the Empire State Building got into a tussle with Marlo Thomas in her "Free to Be You and Me" days. Or something like that.

I try to share the space with the three other people who live here, but like a goldfish, I tend to expand to encompass whatever space is available. That picture is from yesterday, but I can't say it looks any better today.

And a couple more Sono treats (I am saving some of the best):

A little taxi for the FDR Drive...

...and a gull for the East River.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Move Over Dick...and Pick Up Those 4mm and Get Started.

Last night we drove out to Brooklyn to collect the remaining buildings for the window. It was a little horrifying.

Finnian, in his wisdom, said, "Mom, you're screwed." I was too busy collecting my bottom lip off the floor to remind him that his language was less than eloquent. Or maybe it was perfectly eloquent. I am screwed.

But perhaps now is the time to take a deep breath, rub some more ben-gay on my hands and just get to work. Howard and Julie did make gorgeous buildings. Totally insanely detailed, but gorgeous. I hope I can do them justice.

I may have to retreat to my underground lair to finish this (can Dick Cheney knit?). I will post more pictures after the installation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Sneak Peek

I had to send some pictures to Lion Brand today, so I thought I would share them here too.

Godzilla? No just Kitchigai visiting, but destructive nonetheless.

The Lipstick Building avec un fleur. (Why does that demand French? I don't know but it seems to want it.)

A little flock of sparrows...

I saw a squirrel eating a nut. It reminded me I was hungry.

And Sono's piece de resistance (more French!) - a pigeon lands on the Trump building.

Actually, Sono has more delights up her sleeve but I won't be in possession of them until Thursday. Tonight the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Citicorp Center arrive!

Monday, February 23, 2009

See How We Are

As I am knitting and crocheting as much as my schedule and hands allow to complete the window project, I read and watch things on the computer (and keep Finn and Lucy busy with important tasks). This may or may not be a good thing, but I it did lead to a couple of videos of a band that was among the very few that really spoke to me as a young(er) adult - X. I saw X live in Boston in the late 1980s and they were totally amazing. They fell apart not long after but apparently they are sort of back together and still amazing. Here are John Doe and Exene singing an acoustic version of one of my favourites, See How We Are from 2004.

Beautiful! But if you are not in the mood for that, try out this version of Los Angeles which is a closer version to what made them so incredible...just this side of the edge, but barely.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Done and Done!

A package arrived yesterday morning with my name on it. It was clearly from my mother - I recognized the cursive handwriting that can only come from a person of a certain generation. It was a sizable box, well wrapped against any wintery elements. Yes, it was! It was the completed Marcel's Sweater! My poor, dear mother, in her eight decade of life, took on this sweater as a generous gift to her daughter. She didn't realize how generous until, a year later, she was still knitting it (and now, cursing it). But she perservered, as if to give in to the lapses in its design and particularly, its instructions, would be a sign of moral weakness. No weakling, she! She may be the only person to ever complete it, but complete it, she did.

Have a look:

It fits perfectly!

And, just to take the edge off, she also knit me up a pair of socks using a skein of yarn I purchased in Berlin last March.

A new sweater AND gorgeous handknit socks. My cup runneth over! Thanks Mom!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cat's Out of the Bag

Somewhere I once read that HH the Dalai Lama admits to being really terrible at keeping secrets. At least we have one thing in common. Never tell me a secret because I just can't keep it to myself. I have given up trying to convince anyone otherwise.

I can't even keep my own secrets. So, I am spilling the beans about the Lion Brand Studio window because 1. there was no point to making it secret in the first place and 2. this blog would be pretty boring with just me writing "still knitting!" until March 2nd.

The theme of the window is called "Knit NY". It is a slice of midtown from about 32nd Street to 54th Street looking west from the East River. Every building will be covered in knit (or crochet) wear. Kind of like Red Grooms meets, well, Robyn Love. And since this will be the spring window, spring time will be in the air.

I recruited two architectural students, Howard and Julie, to make the model of the buildings that will be covered. They had a hard time letting go of their well-schooled architectural selves that told them to include every detail. I would have been happy if they can made a bunch of vague rectangular shapes but instead, they have created a gorgeous model of midtown.

I almost hate to cover them! I will have some better photos after I pick the rest of the buildings this weekend. Their Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Citicorp Center are so lovely. I hope I can do them justice. The buildings pictured here are some of the more random fill-in buildings - still perfectly to scale and actual replicas of buildings found in midtown.

They won't be so crushed together. Julie and Howard also made a beautiful template to lay them out on. What must it be like to be the kind of person who can measure and make straight lines? Sigh...I'll never know!

Here is my United Nations. I ran out of yarn for part of it, so it remains in pieces at the moment.

Work in progress. So much more to go! Fortunately, I also recruited a dear friend, Sono, who has the ability to create any three-dimensional object in knit or crochet. Sono is making all the fun stuff - flowers, birds, squirrels, all the denizens of this magical, comical, lively, colourful slice of New York.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And One More Thing....

Have a look here.

What will you see? You will see the famous water tower cozy at the 2009 Knit Out in Minneapolis (the Mall of America, no less!). After its brief life on the water tower, it was transported to the local NYC office of TAXI where it was (no doubt) in the way and taking up valuable office space so that they offered it to Lion Brand Yarns. Lion Brand then took it with them to the Knit Out where it was - get this! - cut up and made into squares for afghans for Warm-Up America.

It fulfilled its role as art AND was used to warm the homeless. By gawd, a perfect project!

Quit Yer Grousing

After Helen left her comment yesterday, it got me thinking about how I might be sounding a wee bit whiny lately. My apologies. An embarrassment of riches is my life and if worrying about being on Martha Stewart is the toughest thing I have going on, then life is pretty damn good. Plus, now when darkness starts to descend, I just toodle over to Lucy's blog for a lift. All happiness and exclamation points over there.

Some of my whininess may come from the fact that I have been having a hard time getting into production mode with the Lion Brand window project. It was a busy fall and winter and I am feeling the need to slow down a little. I recently updated my website with the help of a neighbor, Kevin. As I was showing him images I wanted added, I was a little shocked at how many were from 2008. It was a productive year. It feels like time to reflect and sit quietly now.

But the deadline will approach no less quickly if I procrastinate, so stop blogging and get knitting!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't Yuck My Yum

It is getting so you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a blogger around here. Finnian decided that he was sick of Lucy stealing the show, so he started his own blog, a food-related blog, called Don't Yuck My Yum. If it encourages him to write, then I am happy (even if it means I have to beg to use my own computer).

It is all just as well since I am working hard on the Lion Brand Studio window project (still secret!). I received a call on Friday from the store manager that Martha Stewart wants to do a segment about the store and wants to do it the day I am installing the window. I was already feeling a little nervous about the fact that David Blumenthal has called me about four times with suggestions and ideas. I appreciate his interest and, of course, I am ever grateful for his unstinting support of my past projects, but when the CEO of the company takes such a personal interest in the store window can disappointment really be that far behind?

And now, Martha.

The pressure mounts...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lucy Has A Blog

She is writing under a pseudonym, Sodia Like, but it is pure Lucy.

(Finn does cool stuff too. He just likes his privacy...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Few, The Proud, The Oblivious

Happy Valentine's Day me lovers.

When Dan and I decided to get married (after six years of being together unhitched), we chose a somewhat random date based on our work schedules as much as anything else. We planned to go to Queens Borough Hall and get married there, so there was no need for party plans or what-have-you. We lined up our one witness, as required. I made a dress for the occasion - a deep blue colour. Like all wedding dresses, I still have it but have never worn it again.

New York has a rule that you must apply for your marriage license 24 hours ahead of time, so we dutifully headed over to Queens Borough Hall the day before to do the paperwork where we were greeted by a huge crowd of people lined up to get married. We were shocked! Who knew everyone was getting married in Queens? It was a madhouse but we managed to get our paperwork done and escape with our lives.

Being among the few, the proud, the prompt, we decided that we had better get ourselves (and our witness) to Borough Hall the next day right as it opened so as to avoid the crush of hopeful, young lovers determined to join their lives in matrimony. We were on the F train bright and early, being heavily photo documented by our one witness, who is a photographer. He included a shot of Dan holding up the day's headline, which was something about Saddam Hussein oddly enough: this was about the time of our conflict with Iraq - the first one, that is. We hot-footed it to the waiting area only to find it almost totally empty. Victory!

Then, as we say on the north shore of Massachusetts, light dawns over Marblehead. The day before was February 14th - Valentine's Day. It wasn't some communal hysteria that was causing a mass movement of marriage, it was that everyone wanted to get married on Valentine's Day. Safe to say that February 15th is a pretty quiet day over at Borough Hall.

We still laugh at our being the only couple in Queens who were totally oblivious about Valentine's Day. So, unlike the hundreds of couples who are celebrating 18 years of marriage today, we will be celebrating it TOMORROW.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam or Not All Children's Websites Have the Conjones To Publish Cutting Edge Stories That Include Spam

First and foremost, please have a look here to see some even better photos of Lucy's dollhouse. Vita brought a light with her this week and took some wonderful pictures. Hey, this lady is serious about her love of dollhouses!

She also inspired Lucy to start writing up little character sketches of all the people who inhabit the dollhouse, for which I am ever grateful. It is a rare and beautiful thing when the kids decide to take up a writing project. In our unschooled world, such projects rarely come down from on high. Rather they start in the wild unknown of Finn and Lucy's brains. The results are often spectacular and far beyond anything I could dream up if I were making assignments. One of my all-time favourite lines from a recent Lucy story is "Joel was the kind of person who went around asking for dynamite and then never used it." Donald Barthelme you may have a successor!

Lucy submitted her story to a website that was soliciting stories written by children The story was titled "The Expedition" and involved a group of people who traveled from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Sig (an imaginary place) to do educational research - it included lots of Spam (the meat product not the email product) and general confusion. She never heard back from them! I was a bit miffed since they were still sending out emails calling for stories but then I looked at the site. All the stories were about happy butterflies and little girls who pick flowers, etc.. Joel and his dynamite had no place there. You gotta know your venue, kid! Sage advice every parent should hand down to their children.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Yogi for Hire

Today I write as an officially certified yoga instructor. Yes, I passed all my tests and at the end still felt how much I love it, so that is a positive sign. I thought back to the first seed of an idea last summer in Gillams when I realized I was going to hurt someone if I kept teaching yoga without real knowledge about what I was doing. I thought it would be fun to spend some time focused on it. I had no idea! The program at Yoga Sutra is very intense - physically, mentally, spiritually. And it should be! I learned so much but mostly I learned that there is a lifetime of learning ahead. I like that feeling.

When the last person finished her 20 minutes of teaching (each of us had to teach for 20 minutes as our final practical exam), we all just looked at each other - happy or sad? It wasn't clear. The intensity of the program created an intimacy among our group that is unlike any other I have experienced. As much I am happy to be able to spend time with my family on weekends now, I am sad that there will not be any reason to stay together with this group of people - all of them smart, funny, insightful. And now, all of them yoga teachers!

I have a couple of possibilities for teaching classes and I am teaching a couple of private clients, but if anyone wishes to have private yoga instruction in their home, please let me know. I am available! Nice recession-style introductory prices too.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tea Parties

Please take a look at a new blog I have discovered: A Chest of Fairy Tales. The woman who writes it comes to our house each Friday afternoon to bring her son to a chess lesson that he shares with Lucy and two other boys. We have been getting to know each other over cups of tea for those couple of hours each week. Vita is an artist, originally from the Ukraine, and a fellow estian. Her shop, also called A Chest of Fairy Tales, is full of colourful illustrations done with ink and watercolour. Truly magical.

Vita's etsy shop is far busier than mine, so I have been enjoying the added benefit of learning tips and tricks to draw more traffic to my shop from her. She has generously given me some ad space on her blog -the first time I have tried such a thing.

Vita's children are lovely - her son is very serious about his chess and her daughter is like a forest sprite, investigating the bits and pieces of toys left around our living room. Everyone enjoys spending time with Lucy's dollhouse, which is a remarkable storehouse of handmade treasures as well as the source for many an imagined adventure. (See her blog for some lovely photographs.)

Today, I will be attending a tea party of another kind. This afternoon is the final practical exam for yoga certification. I know I know what to do, especially as I had a private lesson this morning and the words and information are becoming second nature to me now. But, ugh! To be watched and judged as I do it...this is another story. I will be looking for that still place: effort without tension, comfort without laziness. Sthira sukhamasanam.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

February Thaw

Up until yesterday, we were enjoying a slight thaw - the sidewalks were clear of ice and walking between subway and destination was pleasantly cold without the hunched over, oh-my-god-it's-cold quick trot that has marked this winter (a REAL winter at last!). I am not complaining, just realizing that I had a moment of "oh, the sun feels nice" last week, which is the absolute best feeling (as opposed to "oh, why is it 70F/20C degrees in the middle of winter?").

The thaw is over, however. Yesterday we had snow all day and today everything is gorgeous, draped in a layer of white. The cold has returned with a vengeance. Frankly, I'm enjoying my wee self this year.

We are lucky enough to have a warm home in which to take refuge from the cold. Over the weekend, the amaryllis that our friend gave us as a holiday gift bloomed. A strong dose of colour in this minimalist time of year.

Just lovely.  

And I thought I would use this as an excuse to share some pictures of some ceramic work that I have been making at our Monday class at Greenwich House Pottery.  The class also is just lovely - it is three homeschooling families, parents and children, working on various projects with a really amazing teacher named Stacy.  This fall, I tried working with porcelain, which lives up to its reputation as being somewhat like working with cream cheese.  But, is it beautiful or what?

This was my attempt at making a plate without a form.  I have to admit, I like the objects that look a little off-kilter best, which is probably a good thing since my control over the cream cheese isn't always what it might be.

Can you see the crochet influence?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Old Friend

Today I am meeting with Lion Brand to finalize the plans for the front window of their new store on 15th Street, Lion Brand Studio. Then I will have a month to knit and crochet in order to finish it: the deadline is March 1st. When I suggested that a month was not a huge amount of time to knit up something to fill a seven-foot wide window, David Blumenthal (the CEO of LB), just looked at me. Here is a man who has spent his life around knitters, fast knitters. He wasn't hearing any of it.

I do worry that expectations are set rather high. I asked for and received the price I wanted to do the project but it was clear that it was more than they had expected to spend, so now the pressure is on. Oh expectations! I shake my fist at you!

In the end, however, it is just knitting, my old friend.