Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sports Links and TV Thoughts

It's almost enough to make me want to be a Dodgers Fan.

A-Rod: What a jerk.

Holy crap. (Video link) I enjoyed watching this last night with the guy on the recumbent bike next to mine at the gym.

I'm so disappointed in Heroes this season. It seems like every plotline is either a) incredibly boring and/or b) a complete rehash of a story from last season. BOR-ING. Claire takes on a bitchy cheerleader? Been there, done that. NYC as scene of apocalypse? Wow, seems horribly familiar (and cliche). Mohinder having no personality and being the dupe of every other character? Way to evolve a character there, Writers.

I just don't understand how a show can consistently have NO COMMON SENSE and expect us to be interested.

Thank GOD for Chuck and How I Met Your Mother. That Hot/Crazy Scale from last week was priceless and now I really have a hankering for "Kobe lobster: lobsters that have been fed Kobe beef."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh Maureen Dowd...

you slay me almost as much as David Gregory.

Favorite line: "CHENEY: If Admiral Mullen wants to be Admiral Sullen, that’s his business. I’m not going to be a defeatist or question the courage of our fighting men."

Is anyone else as happy as I am that the NYTimes finally wised up and made the editorial columns public again? (Well I know Blogless DC Jenn probably isn't, due to the NYTimes' status as liberal mouthpiece, but we'll just ignore that shall we?)

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Or at least since Rhinebeck last weekend...

To counteract all the effects of fresh air and the "cheap showiness of nature" (thank you, Rev. Lovejoy), I decided to be a shut-in this weekend. Who knew it could be so much fun?!

Friday, instead of going out, I made a delicious dinner for myself. I was sorely tempted by the illustration on the back of the Alexia fries to make myself a bowl of fries, but I resisted temptation and made a burger and broccoli as well and grabbed a Blue Point Blueberry Ale for good measure.

Mmm a bowl of greasy salty fries!

Saturday dawned wet and dreary and what better way to spend a rainy day than by cleaning your room? So that's what I did. It kind of boggled my mind how far I had let things slide. I still hadn't rehung my curtains since the summer's extermination vacation. And the dust bunny tumbleweeds were rolling across my wood floors like it was the Arizona desert. I had piles and piles of paperwork to sort and file, a daunting task on even the best of days. But somehow I made phenomenal progress and even managed to put a lot of my summer clothes and Rhinebeck stash in space saver bags under my bed.

The rest of the day I balled up a few yarns, settled in on my very comfy couch and watched The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie which has been sitting in its Netflix envelope for over a month. I blame it on the return of Fall TV. I then cast on for what I was hoping would be a quick weekend knit: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath from Knitty Summer 2006.

Between my netflix movie and discs 1 and 2 of Veronica Mars Season 1, I finished the entire left mitt. Which brings us to....

Sunday dawned sunny and crisp, but did I care? No. I wasn't moving from the couch. Unless it was to make some delicious pumpkin muffins for breakfast. There is something so pitiful and yet so satisfying about staying in your PJs for two straight days. Although I must admit it made my shower this morning (frigid as it was) feel like a spa treatment. I cast on for mitt #2 and made my way through the morning political shows (Oh, David Gregory, you slay me!) and then the Giants pre-game before I realized I had not switched to the C4F cable pattern for the cuff of the right mitt. Oh well. By the time kickoff started at Wembley Stadium (good grief, if I was a Dolphins fan, I'd be so pissed at Roger Goedell right now for outsourcing one of my home games.), I was finishing up the thumb and weaving in ends. An amazingly fast 24 hour knit, very satisfying.

Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
Needles: US Size 7 32" circ and dpns, cable needle
Yarn: Unknown worsted 100% merino wool in colorway Midnight
Cast On: Saturday October 27, 2pm
Completed: Sunday October 28, 2pm

Note: This mystery yarn was purchased from a shop in Boston which for some reason removes the manufacturer's ballbands and puts their own tags on them so I have no idea who made the yarn, it seems like it might be Malabrigo worsted, but I can't be too sure. I'll browse Ravelry to see what I can dig up.

Edited to add: Confirmed! It most certainly is Malabrigo Worsted. The first indication was the way the hank was tied, but I found a skein with a matching color in someone's Ravelry stash (Colorway is called Purple Mystery).

And if my hand gestures are any indication, this was a great project. Fun, quick, and practical (especially given the frigid temperatures that have arrived in my office) I'm sporting them now and wow are they toasty.

In sporting news, the Red Sox win the World Series, A-Rod opts out of his contract, and the Steinbrenner cabal plots over which over-rated, over-the-hill, 3rd baseman they can force Brian Cashman to over-pay.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

So what did I get at Rhinebeck?

I went to Rhinebeck with not so much expectations as a general plan. It's hard to go into anything for the first time with a concrete idea of what you want to accomplish, but I would say I came very close. This, of course, is due to my borderline OCD planning. There were print-outs, maps, spreadsheets... in short, everything I needed to know so that I could be as prepared as possible.

I may have been a little concerned that such planning would lead to me missing out on the spontaneity of it all: the festival atmosphere, chance encounters, hidden gems, etc. But surprisingly, I felt that I truly got that and more (as evidenced by my previous post).

So what did I hope to accomplish?

  • get yarns I can't find just anywhere... check
  • get a spindle.... check
  • get some roving... check
  • get something for a bohus... not so much.
  • not buy a sheep... check
  • not buy sock yarn... check
So with the exception of the bohus yarn (I'm starting to accept that it will be nearly impossible to find a wool/angora blend in a variety of colors in a finer weight than worsted) I did pretty well, as the picture below should attest. The best part of it was, I bought with specific projects in mind so I made sure that I had enough of each yarn to actually make something other than a scarf.

The only purchase of a commercial yarn I made was 7 skeins of Araucania Nature Wool in a very lovely blue because a) it's the same yarn used in a sweater I've been dying to make (a variation on Buttony), b) there was enough of one color and dyelot for said sweater, and c) the vendor had marked it down to $5 a skein. Can't beat that.

Everything else was a special purchase (although I think that deal was pretty damn special). The Riata from Brooks Farm for the Rebecca Wrap Sweater (Caution: link is a pdf). 1380 yards of black sport weight alpaca from A Touch of Twist for (possibly) a yoked sweater (no pic b/c black is boring). 1200 yds of Briar Rose Fibers Celebration probably for the Minimalist Cardigan (but the new Interweave preview just came out so I'm sure I may find another use for this). And some gorgeous Baby Alpaca/Silk laceweight from Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm for a shawl.

The rest of my purchases were spinning related. Lots of fiber and a Shacht hi-lo spindle. While I was buying the spindle I had Jenn over my shoulder whispering incessantly about how I should get a wheel (this from the girl who says she won't spin because she doesn't need another hobby or expensive habit). I took the opportunity to yell at her for being an enabler. At which point a woman who was making a purchase next to me yells out "Isn't that the point??? Why else would you be here?!?!" Touche!

I was nervous though. What if I'm bad at spinning? And what kind of fibers can you use on a drop spindle? It wasn't until I ran into Kylie at lunch who showed me the roving she had purchased and added the advice of her friends that really you can spin anything on a spindle that I took the plunge and returned to the Sheep Shed where I had earlier admired the most beautiful roving.

So I spent a considerable amount of my funds on roving. The guys at Fantom Farm were great and gave me a great magazine of spinning articles with lots of useful tips when I bought roving from them. I also bought a book from Stream Valley Farm to help me out. I started playing with my new toys pretty much after I got home and I'm hooked.

Not good, but hooked nonetheless. I'll get better with practice right? ;) And then I can get a wheel.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wool to the left of me, Alpaca to the right...

here I am smack in the middle of Rhinebeck...

Ok that was bad, I apologize.

Let's get down to business shall we? Because there is so much to discuss. For the non-fiber fiends in the audience I apologize again for what will surely be of no interest to you (it should be, but I can't help it if you have no discerning taste when it comes to hobbies). This is a picture-laden post so as always, click for bigger shots. Let's begin at the very beginning...

It was Saturday.

A lovely Saturday in the Hudson River Valley.

Jenn and I awoke promptly at 6. The alarm was set for 7 but it's like Christmas where even though you know very well you can't open your presents until mom and dad are awake, you wake up anyway in the hopes that maybe just maybe it'll already be time.

Unfortunately, continental breakfast wasn't being served until 7:30. So while we waited, we took a little tour of the grounds of the scenic Skytop Motel in Kingston. Not so much "skytop" as "near the skytop" but beggars can't be choosers.

Here's Jenn trying to hide her Red Bull addiction while we wait for some caffeine in the form of coffee.

But once the coffee was served we got on our way. Jenn put together a simply amazing soundtrack for our drive with knitting themed songs including my two favorites "Stick to Your Knittin Kitten" a barbershop quartet-y song and "The Knitting Bee" (which included lyrics such as "Knit one way and purl back the other/And you've got a stockinette stitch./Pick up some stitches to put on a collar,/or whenever you want your direction to switch.")

I was so glad we left when we did because we got a prime parking spot near the gate and were among the first people to set foot on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.

We followed some Ravelers to Building A and did a walkthrough to get the lay of the land while most of the vendors were still setting up. I think for the first 20 minutes or so we just walked around with our mouths hanging open and then we got to business. First stop was Brooks Farm, a vendor from Texas with some really beautiful stuff. I made a bee-line for the sale rack and got a 375 yard skein of Riata a wool/mohair/silk blend in pale green.

We took another spin through Building A, observed the quickly growing line at The Fold, and then went off in search of coffee. We walked back towards the entrance and saw Jess and Casey of Ravelry fame in line for coffee. They were both so nice and I hope they're enjoying their celebrity status after all their hard work. Jess gave me and Jenn buttons so we could display our Ravelry names and was the first person to admire Big Red. The rest of the morning everyone wanted to know all about where we got those buttons!

Next stop was Briar Rose Fibers. And um, wow. Such beautiful stuff. I ran into another Tilted Duster there. I gave the wearer (Cooknknit from Ravelry) a "Nice Sweater." and she returned the favor. It's so funny running into people with the same handknit items, but it seemed like we were the only two sporting the Duster that day. While oogling yarn at Briar Rose the woman next to me says "Excuse me, but do either of you play Fantasy Football." I said, "Why yes I do!" Turns out she's the commish of one of my leagues and we were facing off this weekend! The things that happen at Rhinebeck!

From that point on it was pretty much just me throwing money at every vendor in sight.
And here's me blowing my bonus check.

I bought beautiful roving from Hope Spinnery and encountered this awesome sign at a booth nearby:

Jenn and I checked out the animals. Sheep, Llamas, Alpacas, Goats, Bunnies... they were everywhere and it was awesome. There were also a few sheep dogs for sale.

As we made our way through the various barns and tents I kept getting accosted or chased down by people admiring the Tilted Duster. It was unreal! Jenn said afterwards she wished we had counted how many times someone stopped to compliment me. It must've been at least 20 or 30 times. Big Red, you're a celebrity! Truly a show-stopper!

Whenever our bags got too heavy, we took a trip back to the car which made me so glad we parked so close.

We checked out the Sheep Dog Trials behind the barns. It was something straight out of Babe. Hah.

There were the livestock auctions and shows. We saw this guy in black who won a blue ribbon. So cute.

Jenn liked petting the sheep.

And fiber.

The weather could not have been more perfect. Such a beautiful autumn day.

Maybe it could've been cooler so that I could have worn my Duster longer. I made sure to put it on for the Blogger meet-up at noon. What can I say? I'm a glutton for attention!

The meet-up was just so interesting. My new friend Cooknknit in the other Duster and I took pics together to immortalize our good taste in patterns :) As I said in a previous post, I opted to not participate in Blogger Bingo this year. I figured it would let me focus on the festival without having one more thing to distract me. But wow it looked like such fun! I will definitely do it next year. People everywhere laughing, chatting, hugging. Such a great community of people. Sniff. Knitters are great.

I ran into Kylie from my Yarntopia Sit 'n' Knit because her friends saw Big Red and started oohing and aahing. We got some tasty lamb kabob sandwiches and cider for lunch and I must say my only regret is that I did not eat more.

The line for lamb deliciousness. Mmmm.

But there simply was too much to see! Including this strange version of a Christmas tree near where we ate our lunch.

Or these pumpkins carved by students from the C.I.A.

At this point we realized we were moving at a pretty good pace.
We had seen a lot of things and it was only about 2pm so we decided we could retrace our steps a bit or browse for longer. Jenn also decided she should convince me that buying a wheel would be the smartest decision I could make. Best offer accepted:

I confess, these Hitchhiker Wheels make it very difficult for me. They're tiny and (relatively) cheap. So I took an order form and the guy from Merlin Tree's card. We'll see how I take to spindle spinning.

We went back to Briar Rose Fibers where I noticed something familiar in front of me. It looked like a Kauni Cardigan. A very famous Kauni Cardigan. So I nudged Jenn. She shrieked a little. And then while I pretended to be browsing the rack (that was already alarmingly picked over), she Kinneared the Yarn Harlot as she made a purchase. That was awesome.

That's me and my backpack on the left.

In the end, it was an exhausting day. But as Jenn said as we walked out close to 5pm, "That was the best day ever." Hands down. No exaggerations. We loaded up the car and took in the sheer scope of what we had accomplished:

A whole lotta junk in the trunk

My final observation came as we sat in the car leaving the parking lot. I could simply not believe how orderly the lines were to get out. And then it hit me. Knitters are an incredibly logical breed. As the lines from different areas met up, alternate feed worked perfectly. "Aha!" I cried. "K2tog!" The only point at which this pattern was messed up was when folks from a kids' soccer practice tried to get in the mix and totally messed with the Knitters' orderly system.

Rhinebeck was simply amazing. I'll be back next year, for sure.

Edited to add: Check out this pic with notes in Flickr for details on all the Rhinebeck booty.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Currently in Recovery

Just got back from Rhinebeck and have laid out my extensive purchases on my bed. I think I will just collapse on top of them. I'm going to need at least 2 days to recover. Wow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Football and Rhinebeck

Nothing screams fall quite like that title.

A post on the Football-Along blog sent me to a very interesting discussion about women and football over at Neighborknitter. I know I can identify with her sentiments. I'm the sole female in my immediate family and it's taken quite a lot of work for my dad and brothers to accept that I'm just as much of a fan as they are. For some reason they accept my fandom in baseball, but football is another matter. Is it the testosterone?

For years, I would beg my dad to let me go to a Giants game. He would repeatedly tell me that when I was tall enough to reach the letters on this Adidas t-shirt he had, then I would get to go.

My brothers scoffed at my desire to go to a game. Then I started playing fantasy football and could really hold my own in conversation explaining why I thought so-and-so was a good bet that week due to such-and-such a defense's weak pass rush. In short, I did my research.

Suddenly they take me seriously and Dad buys me jerseys for Christmas. And not the girly pink ones, because you will never see this girl wearing a pink jersey. It will be big and oversized so that I can wear it over multiple sweatshirts at the game. Because now they actually let me go and listen to me when I comment on a play.

I think they give me more credit because I stand in sharp contrast to my cousin, who yells louder than anyone in the stadium but doesn't know what he's yelling about (or even which player he's yelling about). While I think women generally have to prove themselves more than guys, either way, if you're a fraud or are trying to make yourself out as the second-coming of Mike Ditka, people will see through you.

I was watching football in a bar one night last year with a (male) friend when the (male) bouncer who had nothing much to do that night started talking to the (male) bartender and another (male) patron next to me. They started talking football and at some point I piped up with a comment which made them all turn to me in shock. I can't remember what I said, but the bouncer then asked me "So you're a Giants fan huh? How many players do you know besides Eli?" To which I responded, "Would you like me to start with offense, defense or special teams? And would you like me to name injured players as well?" I think by the time I got to LaVar "Mr. Nickles" Arrington he let me stop. But at no point would he have quizzed any of the guys there in the same way. Did he want to embarass a girl to feel more manly? Is the testosterone really the problem? I'm threatening his manhood?

But I do my research (and know when to open my mouth) so that I get taken seriously. And it's basically the only way that I could ever have gotten to go to a game. I've been taller than the Adidas on my dad's t-shirt for a while now, but it wasn't until I actually proved my mettle that I was counted as a fan.

I'm off to Rhinebeck Saturday. Cannot wait for fall festival atmosphere and fiber fumes. Pics, etc. to come on my return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pics and FOs

I completed the Charade socks last week but waited forever to photograph because they were way too big. Luckily I learned on Ravelry that Koigu tends to shrink a bit when machine washed as socks. Just in case, I put them in a delicates bag and they turned out really nice. Still a bit big, but what can you do. This has just confirmed for me that I prefer knitting socks toe-up rather than cuff down. I was also a bit irritated that I had so much of my two skeins left over. If this was toe up, I could've just had taller socks and that would've been fine.

Charade by Sandra Park
Knit using Koigu KPM in Colorway 2329
Less than 2 skeins (grrr)

They're cute though. I enjoyed the pattern. It was just mindless enough without being boring to be good subway knitting. Experimenting on the 2 circs was also interesting, although I think I'm going to invest in some long KnitPicks circs to do the magic loop method instead.

This weekend was full of knitting and knitwear. I had a sit'n'knit meetup in Central Park on Sunday and I wore my Tilted Duster and made some major progress on Lady Eleanor. Marina was nice enough to take pictures of me in Big Red.

Is that what I really look like from behind?

And besides my little photoshoot, there were random people (tourists?) filming our group knitting. I can just imagine the things they'll tell their friends when they get home...

You'd never believe the crazy things I saw on my vacation in New York City. There was this naked cowboy in Times Square playing a guitar. Well he wasn't really naked, just in his underwear. But then! There were these women who got together in a big circle in the middle of the park and were playing with sticks and string. It was bizarre! Don't believe me? Look I have it on video!

So yes that was interesting. But my pics look great. I can't wait to wear Big Red to Rhinebeck on Saturday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wow wow wow

Is all I can say.

My secret pal has outdone herself again. I can't even begin to describe my joy at the latest package. There's something so wonderful about coming in on a Monday and seeing a package sitting on my desk that is not work-related. Hooray!

So where to begin? Maybe first with the fact that my SP has quite a knack for packing, because I cannot fathom how she managed to fit so much into a small box. :)

First there was this:

Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn. Awesome! For some reason all these fancy NYC LYS's just don't want to carry it... hmmm. Someone's going to be making a dishcloth soon :)

Then there was this!

A yarn end weaver! INGENIOUS! Oh if I had only had this bad boy while working on the tilted duster! I foresee myself getting lots of use out of this.

Funky Flavored Spicy Chocolate... sah-weet!

A bookmark! (just when I was complaining that I keep losing my place in Middlemarch)

Hemp Yarn... wow. I cannot wait to try this out. I've never knit with hemp before so I'm very excited.

And last but certainly not least:

How cool is the box? But wait, there's more!

Crabtree & Evelyn Summer Hill scented products. I love Crabtree's stuff and this scent is delicious.

Secret Pal, you rock!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Links of the Day

Because that's what blogs are all about, right? I'll try to prep for an image-heavy post next time. :)

  • On the end of an era? I will miss Joe Torre. Stupid Steinbrenner
    "Steinbrenner probably thought – if he was still awake – they would be hissing, furious at another missed opportunity, thirsty for blood. But fans are smarter than that. They knew, if Torre does leave, that they were seeing the end of something that was beautiful to them. Torre had not failed them, and neither had Rodriguez, or Jeter, or even Wang. Sometimes, in baseball, you lose."
  • Beaujolais wines are making a comeback. Mmmmm. PJ's here I come!
  • Not your typical E-Cards.
  • An awesome hat that may overcome my current apathy towards cabled knitting.
  • On the celebrity gossip front, who believes her for a second? Furthermore, I am perplexed by the whole "making coffee for the gym" chore. Next to the water fountain there's a Mr. Coffee? Who wants to bet it was one of those fancy pod coffee makers?

Friday, October 5, 2007


I love my neighborhood.

But as in any place that you live there are inevitably things that you don't like, be they noise, traffic, rude neighbors, etc. You learn to live with the things that you don't like because the things you do like outweigh the negatives by far. I don't like being stereotyped or labeled, but it's definitely not enough to make me leave.

I came across a blog yesterday written by a woman who lives in my neighborhood. It sounds affected, but style aside, it's interesting. The thing that interests me the most is the repeated use of "gentrifier" when she gives actually no qualification for why she uses it. Is she being ironic? Or is she laying an accusation? (ETA: Continuing discussion over at Inwoodite)

Let's take a look at Wikipedia, shall we?
"Gentrification, or urban gentrification, is a phenomenon in which low-cost, physically deteriorated neighborhoods undergo physical renovation and an increase in property values, along with an influx of wealthier residents who may displace the prior residents."

Now gentrification, yes I get it. People don't like being "forced out" of their neighborhoods by people who have money that they put into infrastructure. But is that really what is going on here? Inwood is relatively low cost for Manhattan, but physically deteriorated? By and large, no. There are a few instances of new buildings going up, one particularly sad example is a building on Payson and Seaman where a community garden used to be. (Full disclosure: My studio class singled that one out as an endangered site for development in our Inwood study.)

And it seems like she uses "gentrifier" to refer solely to the white 20-somethings who make their home here when, let's face it, these 20-somethings hardly qualify as "wealthier residents." So is Inwood being gentrified? Are we 20-somethings who could live here or in parts of Queens or the Bronx or Brooklyn paving the way for the upper middle-class families who may be priced out of the Upper West Side? Will pied-a-terres be coming to Inwood? Oh, the humanity!

As a white 20-something who is the daughter and granddaughter of Inwood residents (East of Broadway, no less), am I a "gentrifier"? Given my family's early addresses on Vermilyea Ave, Sherman Ave, and Academy Street, some might say I'm moving up in the world.

But let's face it: My family left Inwood when crime went up and people who could afford not to live in New York City anymore exited en masse. So I'm an outsider. Worse, I'm from the suburbs. (Gasp! New Jersey!) I make more than the neighborhood's (Community Board 12) median $28,865 household income. I'm college-educated with an advanced degree in my field. I like nice restaurants, organic food, green markets, clean streets, and low crime.

Does that make me a "gentrifier"?

Do the things that seem to come along with gentrification (the aforementioned restaurants and green markets, as well as the renovated buildings and new developments) necessarily mean that long-time residents - who maybe don't have the same income as the new arrivals - will be priced out?

I work in the preservation industry in the city which means that I have seen the ways that gentrification works (and doesn't work) for the communities where it occurs. I also had the privilege to study Inwood while at Columbia for my Preservation Studio. I walked the streets, studied the buildings, researched the history and the culture. I'm not here for selfish reasons. But I'll admit, a nice apartment that doesn't break the bank? That's pretty good incentive to live here all on its own.

My dad moved out of Inwood in the 1970s when he married my mom because she had an apartment in Englewood, NJ that was bigger and cheaper than the apartment he had in Inwood that was practically underneath the 1 train. No brainer, right? But my dad still got priced out of Inwood. Who knew. And now I'm living in this neighborhood where my dad grew up and people who look a heck of a lot like me are labeled gentrifiers. My dad owns a house in New Jersey in a neighborhood that he and my mom couldn't afford to buy into now. They just happened to get in at the right time. Did their neighborhood gentrify around them?

Things change, neighborhoods change. As the population grows there just isn't room enough for everyone. It's the basis of conflicts throughout history: the fight for the best hunting grounds, water sources, shelters. The early Irish-American and Jewish residents of Inwood were displaced by a changing society. Some of those early residents of the beautiful Art Deco pre-war buildings in Inwood chose to stay, but most didn't. And people moved in to fill the void. Take away the crime levels that drove those early residents out and suddenly people of similar socio-economic groups want to move back and that's gentrification?

Everyone needs a place to live is all I'm saying. And places that are nice are going to be the first ones to go. And Inwood's nice.

Slightly unrelated: This weekend I'm bringing my camera to the greenmarket on Isham and I'm going to take some time to take some pictures. I've been sorely neglecting my camera. These pictures you see above are definitely not descriptive of Inwood, but good lord I love those parks.