Saturday, January 27, 2007

A shot of vitamin C to ward off the winter blues

Welcome to the last of my NYC knitting booty. Trust me, I could have bought much, much more!

Botanical Shades (60% mohair, 40% wool) by Tregellys Artisan Yarn in a very juicy orange (though they call it Terra Cotta). This yarn has excellent yardage (255 yards) so I only need 5 skeins to make the Hourglass Sweater from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.

2 balls of Silk Garden by Noro in color # 84. A swirl of luscious pink, fuchsia, moss, rust and purple, Don't know what I'll make with this.

Selvedge Magazine, issue # 13. Man, if I was rich, I'd get a lifetime subscription to this incredibly creative fiber arts magazine. It's impossible to find where I live. Brooklyn General has lots of back issues. Drool now:

Rowan's Scottish Inspirations, by Sarah Dallas, Wendy Baker and Catherine Tough. I would knit every single project in this book if I could afford that much Scottish Tweed yarn. Rowan, why do you torture me so?

I need this cabled blanket coat!

Rowan Felted Collection. Lovely projects, lovely art direction. One caveat: the arty photos sometime make it hard to see what the projects really look like. Grrrr...

Lantern moon ebony needles. Lordy begordy, these needles are sweeeet.

That's it for the yarn-parade. Luckily, my stash closet is at full capacity, so there will be lots and lots of knitting, even though I'll be on a severely-restricted yarn diet for quite a while!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Good things grow in Brooklyn

Back to my periodic ramblings about our trip to the Grosse Pomme.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge by foot is a must-have experience!

We made our way to the Brooklyn Museum. What a cool place! I especially loved the Ron Mueck exhibition (quick, you have till February 4 to see it). Sorry, no photos allowed.

The museum's art collection is curated in an interesting way. It's displayed by themes such as self-portraits, landscapes, nudes etc... They mix time periods, styles and mediums. Every object has an interesting, user-friendly label. You can tell they really want to make their collection accessible and relevant to everyone and provide different cultural perspectives. DH snapped this quote on the wall. I think it says it all.

Another great thing: there are lots of comfy places to just sit and rest.

From there, we headed towards the Brooklyn General Store, but ran into this on the way. I love small, neighborhood bookstores. Some will argue that the big-boxes have their place, but I don't think you get the same level of service and attention. The people at Bookcourt really know and love books!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Brooklyn General Store is a delight. They have super-friendly staff, cool music, a big table at the back where a gaggle of knitters can stitch and bitch at an Olympic level, and of course, too many must-haves to choose from. Whoever buys for that store has serious taste!

I'll show you what I bought there in my next post.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A little bit of green on a very white day

Snow has been delicately falling all day, adding more fluffy padding to the ground. I'm so happy that winter has finally come. Although I have an extremely low tolerance for cold, I could not live without winter. (My mother always wondered if I had ice water running in my veins. Seriously, I wear a hat INSIDE the house!)

Why I love the four seasons (a crazy Canadian's manifesto):
First and most importantly, fluctuating temperatures mean that I have highly variable fiber needs. For instance, cold winters gives me a reason to re-mortgage my house in order to buy more wool. It justifies me having 14 scarves, 8 hats, 6 pairs of mittens, too many hand-knit socks to count and even 1 pair of leg-warmers! Summers give me a reason to remember why I HATE knitting with cotton (cotton blends are ok as long as they don't have stinky silk in them).

Secondly, I love living in a place that offers an ever-evolving landscape. My daily habits and interests are really impacted by the time of year. I find myself listening to different music, eating different foods, even reading different books based on the season.

Third, I don't have a choice, I'm Canadian, it's part of my DNA. I, like all northerners, think that living in minus 40 is character-building. Putting up with crazy weather makes me tough and down-to-earth. And get this, no one is forcing me to live through this, I CHOOSE to live here, so clearly, I'm bananas.

Fourth, I always have something to look forward to. Up until recently, I was wishing for snow. Soon I'll be dreaming of green...

Here's a little green cardigan that I knit several years ago. It hasn't seen much action because I never finished it properly. At the time I knit it, I was still struggling with @!&^@ button bands. I tried to convince myself that it looked good without a band but who was I kidding? I knew better and the sweater sat abandoned in my closet. Last week, I decided to give it another go. This time, the band worked and now the sweater is ready to come out and play.

Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad DK tweed (LOVE this yarn, though it does pill a bit)
Pattern: Fern by Kim Hargreaves, Rowan 24

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My beloved crocodile,

This is how Simone de Beauvoir starts one of her love letters to Nelson Algren, an American writer with whom she had a 17-year transatlantic love affair. Her relationship with him inspired certain sections of her brilliant Goncourt-winning novel "Les Mandarins". I had read and loved the book in University and decided to re-visit it before our trip to NYC. I "remembered" that a lot of action takes place in New York and thought it would be fun to see the Big Apple through Simone's eyes (But actually, most of the American storyline happens in Chicago. My memory for books and movies is unreliable at best.)

Anyway, while I was in New York, I found a book at The Strand that I had been looking for for years. It's the letters Simone wrote to Nelson during their affair. She wrote them in her charming if clumsy English, and they had previously only been available in a French translation. Even though French is my mother tongue, I wanted to read the original versions, spelling mistakes and all.

The letters are incredibly endearing and I love all the sweet and silly nicknames she gives her beloved. It made me think of all the terms of endearment people give their loved ones. For instance, I've referred to my husband in a previous post as my "petit chou", a very common French nickname, which means "my little cabbage". And coco is what "my chou" calls me. We have other secret names for each other, but I'll keep those for myself...

Other examples of Simone's mots doux:

My own beastish beast,
Sweetest beloved you,
My poor dearest American dilemma,
Dearest nutty king of nothing,
My own old owl,
My nice faraway wrapped in the blizzard you,

Sigh... The lady knew how to start a letter! This was back when people actually handwrote words on real paper instead of emailing via laptop, or horror of horrors, texting sweet nothings on their cell phones.

Anyhow, all this rambling to talk about a few books I bought in NYC.

Another book I picked up was Bohemian Modern.

This design book takes a look at homes in the Silver Lake region of Los Angeles. I happened upon it by pure chance, at Three Lives and Company bookstore (charming place!)
I'm not that familiar with modern Californian design and architecture but the book appealed to me because it features creative people (mostly artists) who really make their homes part of their artistic life. I strive to have that kind of home, in my own little Northern way.

And to end this long, rambly post, I'll show you two FO's: one Koigu sock and one Manos del Uruguay scarf, hanging out together in one of my numerous knitting baskets. I won't give you any close-ups, seeing as I had vowed that this would be a pink-free post. I almost kept my promise.

Friday, January 19, 2007

La vie en rose

When I was a teen, I wasn't afraid of pink: I wore pink high-top converse, pink Vuarnet sunglasses (remember those?) and hot-pink lip gloss. My perfume of choice was "Love's Baby Soft", a decidedly PINK fragrance, and one of my favourite movies was "Pretty in Pink". The 80's were all about the pink.

Looks like I'm renewing my romance with this girly colour. I blame it on those shoes!

I snapped up 7 skeins of super-soft Cascade 220, specifically to make Ariann. I first saw this beautiful cardigan on january one, who also used the same yarn. I hope mine turns out as lovely as hers.

I've already made several modifications to the pattern, not because it's needed, but more to suit my weird little ideas. More about that later.

In case your teeth are starting to hurt, I promise that the next post will be pink-free.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Does this yarn go with my shoes?

New York City wasn't all about yarn shopping. I also did a little bit of shoe shopping. No, not for Manolos, or Jimmy Choos (I don't do high heels), but for Campers.

It's sort of a tradition for me to buy weird Camper shoes when I'm in New York. We b-lined it to the Soho Camper store on our first day to check out the goods. There were soooo many cool shoes to choose from, but my budget only allowed for one pair. I made it count and bought the kookiest ones.

I love these beauties, though I did hesitate because they're so different from what passes for "normal" footwear where I live. But they're fun and actually, they do go well with a lot of my clothes.

What does this have to do with knitting you ask? Well, I was so in love with the colour scheme of these flats that it affected my yarn colour choices, as you can see if you take a peek in my NYC booty-basket. The trend is likely to continue...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

For the love of Koigu

Like many knitters, I'm totally in love with Koigu. Their hand-painted sock yarn is truly a thing of beauty, with breathtaking colour combinations.

But I have a little bone to pick with the ladies at Koigu. Even though it's a Canadian company, it's quite difficult to find North of the border. I've spoken to several yarn store owners here who have a hard time stocking it. It feels kinda unpatriotic for me to load up on Koigu when I'm in the States, but a girl's gotta satisfy her hunger for the mighty KPPPPM. So of course you know where I'm going with this. It's the second featured item of my NYC yarn binge: 2 skeins of Koigu Painter"s Palette Premium Merino in colour # 515.

Capturing the delicate colours in a photo is impossible. Just imagine the softest sparrow browns shot with pomegranate reds and peacock blues. Very lovely.

Most of this sock was knit last night while watching the Golden Globes. What a snooze-fest, except for speeches from the Brits. Sacha Baron Cohen, Helen Mirren and Hugh Laurie displayed witty British humour. The sycophantic ravings of Tom Hanks and Warren Beatty however I could have done without!

Gown-wise, things where "meh".

Best: Drew Barrymore's pale pink confection, though she should go easy on the self-tanner next time! Cheez-whiz coloured skin is not a good look for her.

Worst: Sienna Miller, especially the Heidi-do. It looked like our little alpine miss had come from a rowdy barn romp with the goats (if you know what I mean) and still had some bits of hay stuck to the back of her head. Cameron Diaz also looked pretty rough. Guess she's taking the whole break-up with Mr. JT a bit hard.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I sold my soul for a cupcake

NYC offers many pleasures that are difficult to come by here up North. No, I'm not talking about 20 thousand dollar Hermes handbags and Jamba Juice outlets at every corner. I'm talking about cupcakes. Bakeries devoted entirely to the making and selling of cupcakes!

Now you've got your good old "Sex-and-the-City-approved" Magnolia Bakery in Soho which peddles a fine cupcake for sure. But do you know about Babycakes? Do you know that one can literally lose her mind at Babycakes? A girl could even try and convince her poor husband that cupcakes cover all the food groups and constitute a well-balanced meal. She might force said husband to walk 40 blocks to make a bi-daily pilgrimage to bakery to get more cupcakes. She might ignore the concerned looks from bakery employees as she buys yet... another... box... of.... cupcakes.... She might run down the streets of the hippest city in the world covered in icing yelling "Mmmflerrdmmmmwermm!"

Did I mention that these cupcakes happen to be vegan? (even though I'm not) Vegan food is healthy right? These cupcakes are good for you! Full of vitamins and antioxidants, I tell you! What could possibly be wrong with eating nothing but cupcakes 3 times a day for over a week?

To illustrate:

Before the fall, still normal.

Sanity is still intact but severely threatened.

The exact moment I lost my soul. I blame her and her for blogging about this place. Thanks for ruining my life, gals!

Sweet perdition... Move along people, nothing to see here. It's over.

To make up for lack of knitting content today, please have a look at the blue neck tube thingie I'm wearing while I loose my mind. In French we call this item a "Passe-Montagne" (translates to: pass-mountain? don't ask me why). It was knit very late, the night before we left, because I don't have enough neckwear already (those who know me may laugh hysterically now).

2 balls of Jo Sharp merino DK, held double (sorry, exact name and colour nowhere to be found. Lost the ball bands of course) in a lurvely robin's egg blue.

I just knit a tube of seed stitches till I had enough. Hardly wore it as it was freakishly warm in NYC. Yay Global Warming!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hmm... what have I gotten myself into?

Deep breath... guess I'm a blogger now.
Having gotten so much enjoyment out of other people's blogs, I decided to jump in too. I don't know if it'll please anyone else, but I might have a little fun, so why not?

In these pages you'll mainly come across lots of knitting, but I might post about other things too: movies, books, artists, recipes... anything that tickles my fancy. I intend to post briefly but often, and I'll try my best to take nice pictures... Wish me luck!

Now, on to the knitting:

Mon petit chou (husband) and I just took a fab trip to New York City. We had a great time haunting museums, art galleries, book stores, eateries, and of course, there was a lot of yarn shopping. I'm blessed with a partner that always carries a book with him and doesn't mind plopping himself down among heaps of fiber while I try not to loose my mind, as illustrated by this photo of me frantically snatching up the goods in the wonderful Brooklyn General Store:

I made many stops along my yarn pilgrimage, but I must say that my favourite was the exquisite and diminutive Purl in Soho (sigh...) How can such a small store hold so many juicy colors and lush fibres? I guess good things do come in small packages.

Needless to say my suitcases were bursting with new loot. As a result, I'm going to have to be a VERY good girl when it comes to spending in the next couple of months. So I won't show you all the spoils in one post. I need to make this treat laaaast....

Here's one delish thing I bought:

Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in a lovely color (#28) that totally changes hue in different light.
Sometimes it's very pink (like in this picture), but other times it looks like a faded orangey-brown.

Project: A simple basket-weave scarf, no "real" pattern
K3, P3 for 4 rows and switch.
27 stitches, plus 2 for edging, 29 total.
Knit on 5mm needles.

I think it's pretty so far. I decided to twist all the stitches, to add definition. Sure, it's a pain in the arse and takes twice as long, but I really think it makes the weave pop. Plus, it lengthens my enjoyment of this soft, cushy yarn.

Well, so much for being brief. I'll have lots more to say about NYC in the next little while...