Saturday, December 24, 2011

One More Thing (and on and on...)

But wait!  There's more!

  • This program sounds really wonderful:  The Studio Museum of Harlem will kick-off a series of community quilting workshops during Target Free Sundays. Join quilt and fiber artist Ife Felix in conversation with Faith Ringgold as they explore the history and significance of quilting as a collaborative activity. In celebration of the Kwanzaa principal Kuumba, which means creativity.  You are invited to participate in the creation of a community quilt.  December 29, 2011 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Studio Museum of Harlem, 144 West 125th Street, btw Lenox Ave. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
  • My neighbor in McIvers, the artist extraordinaire, Colette Urban, is selling 2012 calendars featuring images from her new work Limited Possessions.  She has carefully crafted her website so that I can't steal an image from it, but it is really fantastic and funny and will make every month of 2012 fabulous for you, guaranteed.  That is quite a bargain for $20 + shipping, so click here and order a year of fabulousness immediately!  ETA:  Wait - I found an image I could steal!  Enjoy.

  • Call it my legacy or perhaps my rightful inheritance, but while some are born with silver spoons in their mouths, I was born with silver knitting needles in my hands.  Or something like that.  All I know is that this is my Christmas present from my mom:
  • A gorgeous, wool, hand knit afghan.  In a feat of stamina that belies her 84 years, she is making one for each of her children in the colour of their choosing.  Alas, not only do I have to fight over it with Finn and Lucy, but the kittens have tried to stake their claim on it too.  I try to maintain a generous, open heart with most things but I feel the cold clamp down of possessiveness when it comes to sharing the warm woolies.  Maybe I need to make a 2013 calendar of my limited possessions?
  • Finally, I have been spinning and I do plan to stock up my etsy shop first thing in the new year.  In keeping with my tradition of never having a full shop over the busy shopping season, I will break out the goods just in time for the post-holiday slump.  It is all part of my very successful strategy of "How Not to Succeed in Business".  I will be recording seminars on this topic for interested viewers, available on VHS and Beta.  Audio available on cassette tape.
Happy New Year one and all!  1987 is going to be great!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas - Now with Canadian Content

The holiday itself is fast approaching.  As a foot soldier (doughboy?) in the War on Christmas, I will be removing Christ completely and spending the day up at the Monastery.  We will plunge into Rohatsu sesshin immediately afterwards, which will take us to New Year's day when we will silently ring in 2012.  I have heard the tradition is to sit until midnight on December 31st, and then have a celebratory breakfast, presumably with the sesshin precautions lifted i.e. it is ok to speak and make eye contact again.  Considering that I am usually running for my dear, sweet beddy-bye promptly at 9 p.m. each night of sesshin (I usually rise at about 3 a.m.), it should be interesting to see what happens.

In case you were wondering, the children will be surrounded by love and good cheer, not to mention oodles of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  I get a little tightness in my throat and chest when I realize that I will be missing that festivity this year, but it seemed like the right thing to do.  One thing that cheers me is the knowledge that, next year at this time, everything will completely different.  I have no doubt that I will be much more certain about the correct path for this time of year in twelve months time.  The beauty of impermanence is that the shitty things change too.

But I do not want to end on a down note, because really I do not feel down.  I am filled with optimism for 2012.  There are so many exciting things on the horizon both large and small: some potentially crazy big or just plain crazy and some small but very exciting nonetheless, and some will be, no doubt, even more life-changing than the wild stuff that happened in the mind-boggling mess that was 2011.

In the spirit of that optimism, I offer you these two videos to bring a little Canadian content into your holidays.  The first, a lovely version of an old favourite (gotta use the proper spelling here):

And second, in case things are feeling a wee bit too cheery, a good dose of Newfoundland style holiday.  'Tis like a cold gust of wind blowing over the Blomidons, across the bay and right into your front door.

May the light of the season shine through the darkness for you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

If it doesn't fit, you must acquit

First the spaug update - my foot is doing great and I am getting back to my normal activities.  The only uncomfortable time is when I have to wear my shoes.  The one that was soaked in blood last Wednesday seems to have shrunk or stiffened up, not unlike OJ's glove.  But as I am sure OJ discovered, if you just keep wearing it, the thing will soften up again.

Good thing too because it is a busy time of year.  With doorbells ringin' and packages arrivin', it is tough to be laid up.  Today, a package arrived that contained a great present (to myself) that isn't actually related to the holidays at all.  Back when I was a rich, married woman, I asked my friend Patrick Glover if I could buy one of his amazingly beautiful paintings that always brings me back to being a child, sitting in the backseat of our family car and being driven around the north shore of Massachusetts on a rainy day by my mother.  After some back and forth, Patrick said he would paint a new picture, just for me.

I was a little nervous after I was no longer a rich, married woman about whether I could really afford to buy a painting from Patrick.  As it turned out, the answer to that was a resounding yes.** 

And voilĂ :

This photograph is but a poor representation of the painting, which is luminous and textural and contains the multitudes.  

Unlike OJ's glove or my shoe, this painting fits perfectly.  Thank you, Patrick!

** I think everyone should buy real, live art from real, live artists.  For one thing, most artists really need your money.  For another thing, real, live art is a wonderful thing to have living your house because it is alive.  That's the idea.  If you can pay for a monthly cellphone subscription or for cable television, then you can afford a modestly sized artwork by a contemporary artist.  You won't regret it, I promise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Keep Calm and...Did I Remember to Turn the Oven Off Before I Left?

Thank you for your well wishes for my bloody foot.  It is healing nicely.  I can't seem to get Finn and Lucy to look directly at my wound yet, no matter how many times I stick it directly in their line of vision.  Finn refused to smell it as well.  Kids these days!

Alas, I must venture back out into the world today.  But before I go, I want to share this brilliant piece of cinema with you.

Citta Vrtti Nirodah.  That's what it is all about!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Enforced Relaxation

Yesterday, I had my second surgery on my foot.  My health scare was about skin cancer - the bad one that begins with a M.  It is a topic that I suspect will never be too far away given my overall paleness and reckless history of sunburns.  In any case, this time, instead of being overly freaked out, I was, perhaps, overly nonchalant.  A sizable piece of flesh was removed and I headed home via subway with my heel bandaged and taped, stopping at the bank and the drug store for some errands.  Upon arrival home, I discovered that my sock was soaked through with blood (hand knit socks, too!) and my shoe was quickly filling up.  To a chorus of "eeeewww"s from Finn and Lucy, I raced upstairs to rinse off and apply some pressure, leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind.

Boy, this story is getting gory.

Lucy suggested I photograph my wound and post it on Facebook.  I wonder how many "unfriends" I would get if I did that?  I did photograph it and I could post a photo here....shall I?

Nah.  It is red and juicy.  You get the picture.  This morning, more blood in the kitchen after I attempted to walk normally.  So it is that I am home with my foot up, missing Finn and Lucy's special presentations at their homeschool Waldorf program.  To comfort me, Lucy told me that it was ok, she would just tell the  instructor that I didn't love them.  She's such a dear.

On the bright side, it means I have all day to just sit around trying not to bleed.  Shall I fix my website?  Rewrite my artist's statement?

Or perhaps, begin that sweater I have planned and for which I recently purchased this yarn?

Anzula "Squishy" (merino, cashmere and nylon) - purchased with a gift certificate from my dear friend Jennifer from Newfoundland at Purl Soho with my dear friend Anne from Newfoundland.  Must knit this sweater and wear it to Newfoundland!

Or should I spin, having had three requests for yarn in the last two weeks? will treadling be in this current condition?  "Blood on the Spinning Wheel: The Robyn Love Story" (A possible title for my autobiography.)

Or maybe I will just read a book and snuggle with these two cutie pies.

So many delicious choices on this day of enforced relaxation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New York City Secrets

In the fall of 1983, I moved to New York City to attend art school.  While there have been interruptions, some have been a couple of years even, mostly it has been my home (until Newfoundland entered the picture, but that is another story).

Almost 30 years of living in New York and there are still things to discover.  For example, this:

It is a statue representing Asia on the northeastern corner of the old Customs House in lower Manhattan.  Look who is sitting in her lap.  It is Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment, when he touched the ground.  A little research indicates that most of the other symbols surrounding the seated woman are rather paternalistic and come from an imperialist mindset, but I can appreciate Buddha looking northward, surrounded by the heavy duty karmic forces at play in the financial district.  Maybe he needs to be just a little bigger, actually.

And then, this:

It is Stone Street, also in lower Manhattan.  I was amazed to discover this street that I had never seen nor heard of before.  It is in the shadow of Goldman Sachs building at 85 Broad Street.  Past history and history being made at this very moment.  It is all there at the tip of this little island off the northeast coast of the United States.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Finishing Touches

My holiday plans are not terribly ambitious this year.  Or maybe they are extremely ambitious but just don't include lots of merry-making and gift giving and receiving.  In any case, I am nearly finished with the making end of things.

It is so fun, I almost wish I had more to make.  I guess it wouldn't be hard to find someone else who needs a funky hat or scarf.  

Meanwhile, if you are in town, check out the exhibition of photographs of artists working in their Long Island City studios by Orestes Gonzalez at Long Island City Market.

Orestes came by my studio a couple of months ago and I tried to look productive and artful.  Not sure I succeeded but it was great fun to meet him and see his work.  It is a lovely exhibition that makes clear that LIC is chock-a-block full of creative talent.  Stop by if you can!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Crescit Eundo -- It Grows as it Goes

Ah, those days of unfettered racism and environmental destruction.

From all that I have been hearing and despite our best efforts, it seems that we haven't managed to kill the magic of New Mexico yet.

Get out the atlas, honey!  We have ourselves a road trip!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Comfort Seeking Missives

When things get a bit dicey, we all have something that we reach for as a way of getting through the tricky bits.  There are healthy choices and less healthy choices.  I guess it depends on how much you want to numb and/or distract yourself.  Last Sunday, I downed two glasses of wine, which definitely numbed things in a rather pleasant way.  Until it didn't anymore.  Everything came barreling back ten times stronger than before.  So much for that option.  

What I really wanted was the simple comfort of just knowing what to do:  knowing what comes next and not having to worry through anything.  

In difficult times, I reach for my drum carder.  Rivers of colour blending together: matte and glossy, primary and tertiary, complimentary and jarring.  It never gets old.

Some might remember that two people won skeins of Wee Ball Yarns as part of the give-aways for The Avenue of Trees project.  One person claimed her yarn from an already existing supply, so that was easy. Perhaps too easy - I kind of, sort of, forgot about the other one.  But then I remembered!  The recipient told me she liked colourful yarn but not pink, so I aimed for lots of colour but no pink.  It was harder than I thought it would be to resist tossing a little pink in there.  In fact, I might have added just a little.  You know, as an accent.

Then, more recently, I was matched up with a very wonderful, special person to be her secret Santa.  She is an interesting combination of large personality and dedication to simplicity and service.

A bit of pink is ok for her, I suspect, but not any wimpy pinks.  She needs strong, powerful pinks.  I wanted to make a yarn that was mostly neutrals but with little explosions of colour.  This will become a hat.

Yes, comfort and joy.  'Tis the season, after all.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wanted: A Real Vacation

Last winter, I went with a friend to a woman who reads Tarot cards in Corner Brook.  Many people had sung her praises and my friend is pretty devoted to her so I thought it would be something of a hoot to have a reading.  I can't say that I put a lot of store in the whole enterprise, but I was definitely intrigued and I am game to do just about anything at least once.

The woman herself was not particularly impressive - just a slightly past middle aged woman in a housecoat.  No burning incense, no crystal balls, in fact, nothing fortune teller-esque about her or her home at all.  After she and my friend chatted about this and that, and we discovered that we had both lived in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, we got down to business.  Other than this little tidbit about my time in JP, this woman knew exactly nothing about me.

To say she totally rocked my world would not be overstating the case.  I will spare you the details but it was almost a little embarrassing the amount of rather intimate details she went into in front of my friend (who I adore but I hadn't - yet - really bared my soul to).  In among the life-altering revelations and odd radio announcer coincidences, she suddenly turned to me and said, "You need a vacation."

I could have cried right there and then.  Because, dear friends, I most sincerely do need a vacation.  I have not taken time away that wasn't related to work or Zen practice, which contrary to what my mother claims is not relaxing, for so many years that I can not actually remember the last time.  Perhaps it was being at my parent's cottage on Cape Cod in the summer of 1997?

After a rather tough week of dealing with a potential health-related crisis and having not one but two total meltdowns (sorry, Dan), I vowed that, should said crisis be averted and I was not going to be involved in various unpleasant treatments, I would plan a real vacation.  Thankfully, the verdict, while slightly mixed, is mostly positive on the health front.  So, I am ready to plan!

Part of me wants to find a quiet place to just sit and read and knit and do yoga and completely enjoy doing nothing.  Side note:  when I said all that to Finn, he replied that it sounded like I would be doing an awful lot of something for someone doing nothing.  Then, part of me wants to travel just for the fun of it.  Lucy wants to go back to Texas and the most excellent South Indian food ever at the Taj Chat House in Irving.  Finn suggested Berlin or Tokyo, which I nixed immediately.  My only rule that is whatever we do, it can not add to the overall stress level, which has been peaking on a too regular basis for too many months.  So, airplanes are out (however good they may be for character-building).

Driving to Texas and on to New Mexico (hint, hint Martie!) is a possibility.  Maybe go through Asheville, NC?  Going back to Montreal also seems quite appealing except that we need to do this before March 2012 when I begin an advanced yoga teacher training program in ernest.  I have driven from NYC to Peterborough, ON, in January and it was not exactly stress-free so I am not sure heading north makes a lot of sense.

Ideas?  Suggestions?  Recommendations?  Finn and Lucy are ok with some car time especially if there is some pay-off (read: masala dosa) at the end.  We are thinking of taking perhaps two or three weeks in total time away.

I eagerly await your replies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When This Becomes That

Two-ply, lace weight, merino/silk.  I have not counted the yardage yet, but I think it is up there.  Handpainted fleece from Widdershin Woolworks (who else?).

Monday, November 28, 2011

On the Hunt

May I divert your attention to one of my new favorite blogs, Be the BQE.  The creative force behind it, the mysterious Yariski, has started a new series Who Killed Cardvark?  Daring to engage in a topic that others have scorned, or perhaps simply overlooked as unimportant, Yariski delves into the sudden and complete disappearance of one of the MTA's stupidest attempts at making a public relations campaign.

If you read only one blog about a New York City roadway that also devotes its energies to other, slightly absurd topics, let it be this one!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Age Appropriate

What have we here?  Some kind of New York Times-based medical waste?  The collection of an overeager early morning dog walker?


Looks like Mom finally made her kids some play dough.**

Although Finn claims to remember that I made play dough at least once before, what I suspect he is remembering were gifts of homemade play dough given to us from more enterprising mothers.  For me, the recipe always got a little too bogged down when it came to needing cream of tartar, which is neither cream nor tartar (discuss).  Now that I am of a natural dyeing persuasion, I have a big bag of the stuff but at that time, it was a mystery to me.

As I was making the play dough, Finn and Lucy couldn't resist joining in and we had ourselves a great time, so there may be benefits to waiting until your kids are teens to make play dough.  We were laughing and reminiscing, when Lucy recalled Roz Chast's cartoon, Bad Mom Trading Cards.

Click to make larger so you can read it.

Deborah Z. and I have lots to talk about.

** Truth be told, I wasn't making it for Finn and Lucy.  But I promised to bring back whatever was left over.  The other nice thing about waiting until your children are teens to make play dough is that they can actually understand that explanation and will wait patiently for it to happen.  Why does anyone ever make play dough for little kids??  It clearly makes the most sense to wait until they are good and ready.***

***  Note to self:  homemade play dough may be a good going-away present when they leave for college.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reclaiming Humanity

Those in the know, know that today is Buy Nothing Day.  A day created in response to the Black Friday phenomena where people run out and shop the day after Thanksgiving. Not being the shop-til-you-drop kind of person, it never really captured my imagination any day of the year, let alone this particular Friday. Plus, one of life's greatest pleasures is making things. Making things with my own hands.

Let's do that, shall we?

A top secret project using some handspun yarn from Widdershin Woolworks.  

Lucy's own top secret project using some Koigu that she scored out of my stash.

We are people. We are very, very clever. So go on and make your damn presents already!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two Kinds of Pie

Headed for the interior of pie #1

Although it has been something of a wild ride of a year, I find myself feeling extra grateful this year as we enter into Gratitude Season.  It was tempting to create some kind of a list but when I tried, I found myself getting rather bogged down in various explanations.  No need for such things really.  And I am sure you are feeling a bit of gratitude for that right there!

There is one thing that I do want to acknowledge, in part because I think it might be useful for others to know if simply as an example of what is possible.  

I feel grateful that Dan and I had the guts to do what needed to be done, and then to do it in a way that didn't include lawyers but does include having Thanksgiving dinner together with Finn and Lucy at Dan's new place this year.   By paying rather scrupulous attention to our intentions and goals for how we want to move forward, we managed to create our separation agreement with, well, agreement.  Breaking up may be hard to do but it doesn't have to mean that you have to hate each other before its over.  

It hasn't been a cakewalk and there have been some pretty low moments but, looking back over the past seven months, I can say for certain that I do not regret a single time when I chose to feel my sadness over my anger, to aim at long-term forgiveness over a moment of revenge.

As a family we are all still getting used to our new relationship with each other.  I think this will continue, perhaps less dramatically or drastically, for the foreseeable future.  Isn't this true no matter what the case?

I believe that none of us would be in this place of general good cheer were it not for the support that I have received from my friends, family and my teacher.  Actually, my many teachers, not the least being Dan, himself.

Thank you to everyone - and if you think I might be speaking directly to you, it is because I am.

PS.  The second kind of pie is less picturesque, coming as it does, from a can.  But it is still pretty darn yummy.  Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shop Local

When I left you last week, you had kitten shots but no flower shots.  My apologies for the oversight.  To rectify that situation...

It happens that we find ourselves in the tiny scrap of what used to be Manhattan's flower district each Monday.  There are still a few remaining wholesalers of fresh flowers; a handful will sell retail too.  Far too many of the small number of shops sell silk flowers, which miss the point entirely if you ask me.  They must pay the rent better than fresh ones because about half are dedicated to only silk these days.

The first time I went into one of the fresh flower retail shops, I was picking up irises for the ikebana workshop that sparked my new passion.  I was happily surprised to discover that, for once, Manhattan was cheaper than the outer boroughs.  Fresh cut flowers are significantly less expensive in the flower district than at my local corner shop with an outdoor flower seller.  And fresher and have a much better variety.

I realized it would be the work of an instant to pop in each week and buy the flowers for the Temple in Brooklyn and thereby save them some money.  How I do love a bargain.  Plus there is the added benefit that I can pick up a few stems for myself to make an ikebana arrangement.  

It is all so completely and utterly pointless, if you don't count the pure pleasure of every single aspect of it.  But I do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NSFW - Way Too Cute!

 Look!  Liberated from the Hungry Ghost realm - the lace cowl is finished.  There remains one place where I made a mistake but I am counting on people not noticing.  Can you see it?

Ok, before you try too hard, I will tell you that you can't see it because it is on the other side that I didn't photograph.

When I finished up that one, I immediately cast on for another one.  This time I used a bulky cashmere yarn that I bought on a cone ages ago at School Products.  This one will be a gift.  I soaked it for a good long while in hot water to get rid of the coating that was put on it so it would work on a knitting machine (all coned yarns have this) but it still isn't giving me the cashmere love I know it has in its power.  Any suggestions?  Will wear cause it to fluff up more?

Meanwhile, I will be back in a week - I am off to sesshin up at ZMM.  

Here is a cute kittie picture to soften the blow.


And another one:

Look at Olive's belly!  I'm melting....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Being Zen

Recently, photographer Viviana Peretti came to the Zen Center of New York City to shoot some pictures as part of a larger series she is creating about religious life in New York. Over the course of several days, she discreetly captured the life of the Temple, including a jukai ceremony (when a student receives the precepts and the teacher gives them a "dharma name").

I think of that place as so full of life, so I was a little surprised to see that everyone looks quite dour in a lot of the photographs. But then I remembered that the inwardness and silence during sitting and service are what makes the liveliness of the rest of the time possible.

Here is it: On Being Zen by Viviana Peretti. I invite you to have a look at her other series as well - it is very strong.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Love Letter

In stillness, mind and object merge in realization and go beyond enlightenment.  Nevertheless, in the state of receptive samadhi, without disturbing its quality or moving a single particle you engage the vast buddha activity, the extremely profound and subtle buddha transformation. 

Eihei Dogen, Bendowa (The Wholehearted Way), 1231AD

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stories of Leaving

Artist, Tara Bursey, has a new project.  It is called Newfoundland Stories of Leaving.  Check it out and ask her about how you can contribute.

I snagged this photo from her site - it is her father and a friend c.1970s in Clarenville, Newfoundland.

Go take a look.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Perfectly 13

Last week. Lucy received her very own cellphone.  It seemed to make sense that she have her own phone since she and Finn (they had been sharing one) now are frequently off doing their own thing separately.  She was very happy about it.  At one point, she had a kitten in one hand and her cellphone in the other and she said, "I have two kittens AND my very own cellphone!  Now I have everything I have ever wanted!"

And she meant it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Slippery Slope

In my Mysore practice, the instructors recently added garbha pindasana.  It comes after supta kurmasana and is considered one of the core poses to the Ashtanga primary series.  I had been doing a modified version for a couple of years when I do my home practice.  In the modified version, instead of putting your arms through padmasana, you reach around, bind your hands and just hold your legs.  Same with the roll backs.  Instead of kukkutasana at the end, you do utpluthi.  It is easier but still challenging enough (or so I thought).

As I said, I have done this quite happily for a couple of years but the Mysore instructors will have none of that.  It is arms through or nothing at all.  Yesterday morning, I was really struggling, thinking to myself, "I've pushed babies out easier than getting my arms through here!"  Finally, when one of the instructors looked over at my mess, I asked, "what, exactly, is the benefit of this asana?"

She took another look at me and said, "it is very humbling."


I was excited to stumble across this video which gives an great tip for getting the arms through in a way that doesn't cause flashbacks to the second stage of labour.

Enjoy and may your arms slip through with ease!

Brace Yourself

Too cool to smile for the camera.

Unless I sing a silly song...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


All Hallow's Eve was as spooky as it has ever been, despite my best efforts to ignore it completely.

Webster and the neighboring cat had a tense stand-off.  They stared at each other for a good twenty minutes.

Finn created his annual "dead trick or treater" in our front yard.  He has become so accomplished at this that many small children were too scared to come up and ring our bell.  Then Finn got angry about why everyone was just walking past without stopping.  Um, dude?  Could it be the bloody corpse in the way?

And finally after much drama and completely trashing my closet in her search for a costume, Lucy came up with Lady MacBeth.  You see, Lucy and Finn (but especially Lucy) have something of a local reputation for very imaginative costumes and there are neighbors who specifically wait to see what they will be each year.  Such pressure can be a bit paralyzing, if you know what I mean.  She was quite pleased in the end.  Finn, who seems to be nearing the end of his trick or treating days, dithered for weeks, right up to the last minute.  He finally took the easy way out: zombie.  

Now the scariest part of all - what to do with all that disgusting candy that they collected.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Wall Sheep

My copy of Knit Real Shetland arrived!  I took advantage of the offer of free shipping from the UK and it only took about a week to appear on my doorstep.  The patterns are really strong - I can easily imagine knitting more than half of them, which I think is a pretty good ratio for any knitting book.  

My only criticism is with the colour choices of the samples in the book.  All the patterns are gorgeous but the colours...not so much, in my humble opinion.  

Am I being too cranky to imagine that this design might be even more stunning in a more harmonious colour scheme?  

Ach, everybody's a critic.

Fortunately I can easily imagine them in other colours and if there is one thing that Jamieson and Smith are good at, it is offering a lot of options in that department.  In fact, part of why I purchased this book was because I once, in a fit of enthusiasm, bought their entire colour sampler kit - one skein of each of the colours they sell.  It was very exciting when it arrived but then I was left wondering what exactly I would do with one skein of each colour of their yarn.  Problem solved!  This book has lots of great ideas that require no or only a small amount of supplementing.

The book also contains an interesting introductory essay by Kate Davies about the history of Jamieson and Smith and Shetland knitting in general.  

Shetland wool is unique and Shetland knitting reflects this.  I was recently speaking with a man from New Zealand who was telling me that the wool industry there was in trouble - people just aren't wearing real wool anymore.  As someone who spends a great deal of money on wool, I had a moment of disbelief that this could possibly be true, but I am sure it is.  I have heard similar stories about the Falkland Islands.  And here is Kate Davies again on how products are being marketed as made of wool when, in fact, they have little or no wool content.

In the grand scheme of things, this sounds like it is a very small issue.  But look a little closer.  If we lose traditional industries like the Shetland and Falkland wool industries, we lose a lot more than a handful of jobs and livelihoods on a couple of tiny, ocean-swept islands.  We lose entire cultures, and by that, I mean lose them forever.  So while I may have a small quibble about someone's taste in colour, the truth is that I gladly spent my money on this book, and I will spend more to buy yarn to make the patterns in it.  

It isn't Occupy Wall Street but it is a small gesture to keep this tiny world of ours just a little more interesting for just a little while longer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

And that's why I love snow

The west coast of Newfoundland had its first snowfall earlier this week, but for once, New York is not so far behind.

After an early morning odyssey of four trains to get to a yoga class (usually one train and 20 minutes - thanks MTA!), I was a bit grumpy about the prospect of three trains to get back home.  Yet, when we emerged from underground to head into Queensboro Plaza on the N train, everyone in the car gasped simultaneously.  

What had started as rain in Manhattan had turned to snow.  It was one of those brief moments in the city when everyone is laughing and smiling and talking with strangers in delight about what is happening.

Imagine that!  One moment, everyone is glumly riding along, thinking their thoughts, planning their day, ignoring those around them....and then it snows.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bring Out Your Dead

In honour of Halloween, and despite of being the Ebenezer Scrooge of said holiday, I have been resurrecting dead projects.  These were my hungry ghosts - looming in the background, wanting to be finished but unable to fit into my schedule or my current interest.

This one got put aside because I made a mistake somewhere along the way.  I forgot how fun this pattern is but now that I am back in the groove, I am cooking along.  I highly recommend it as a beginner's lace pattern.  Here is a link to the free ravelry download.  It will end too soon!

This project dates from 2006, I believe.  Again, I made a mistake that required a bit of ripping back so I put it in a bag and hid it in a dark corner.  But dang it, that was a lot of colourwork to just abandon.  The actual knitting requires a fair amount of concentration so it is not for casual, pick-up work, thus it is still sitting by the couch.  The intention is there, however.

Perhaps my hungry ghosts are ready to be reborn into another realm.  I will let you know.

Meanwhile, please enjoy:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Felt Cervix Project

Artist Sonya Philip has a new project and she is looking for contributions.  The Felt Cervix Project "aims to highlight the importance of sexual and reproductive familiarity, education and empowerment."  The result will be a large-scale sculptural installation.  Sonya has a blog to keep you up to date on all things happening in the world of felt cervixes (is that the correct way to make cervix plural?).  And you can get the pattern off the website or download it via ravelry.

While I completely appreciate her goal for this project, I think it is just plain old fun to make a felt cervix.  And can you say "homeschool sex ed lesson"?  

Go on!  Make a felt cervix.  You know you wanna.

PS.  If you want to make your knit, then felted, cervix in the company of others, then head on down to Zucotti Park and Occupy Wall Street.  There will be a knit-in there this Sunday at noon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kittens and Flowers

This morning I thought I would write a post in response to two of Shawn's recent posts over at islandsweet.  She has been mourning the passing of autumn into winter in Newfoundland, even going as far as to suggest that all the colour is quickly leaving and that she will have to find her inspiration from her collection of sketchbooks rather than the natural world.  I wanted to assure Shawn that winter is full of colour albeit in a minimal palette, but the colour is there if you look.  For me, it is the season that is most inspirational.  

Alas, I also have a friend who was born and raised in Houston, TX, who believes that 90F/32C and 90% humidity is the best kind of weather.  This friend actually thinks that sweating makes you feel fresh and invigorated.  

Fresh and invigorating is a good Arctic wind and recent snowfall.  But we shall have to agree to disagree.  

Just look at the consequences when you take the other route:

Note Webster's jaws locking on Olive's head.  No, we don't need more of that in the world.

Peace, love and understanding (and glowing toenail polish) is what we need.

Also ikebana.  After a long (too long!) respite, ikebana is back!  Yep, it's gonna be all kittens and flowers from now on.