June 28, 2009

Working for Weddings

The past few weeks have been super crazy, socially speaking. Not crazy as in "these people are nuts" but crazy as in "I've so much to do!" Think I exaggerate? One Saturday night I had to attend three separate events. That's a lot, right? Fortunately, they were all good fun. Then last week, I was up in Cape Cod for four days with my friends, Megan and David, who were attending a family wedding. I had volunteered to act as nighttime nanny for their kids, Margaret and Bruno (also my godson).

Fun, yet exhausting. David's family has a tradition of donning Nantucket Reds (seen here on David and Bruno) for celebratory occasions. I find them decidedly charming and festive, especially when seen on more than one person at a time.
It's kind of fun to attend a wedding when you're not really a guest. I know the bride's family quite well, so it was a comfortable time, but I didn't get caught up in any or the stress or anxiety that typically surrounds a wedding. I was just there to chase after toddlers and help out a bit. Easy peasy.

All of this travel and socializing has made it difficult for me to get much craft work in, but I did put my shoulder to the grindstone this week and managed to finish this on Thursday:

Pattern: Granny Square (traditional)
Hook: USH/5mm
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Started: June 6
Finished: June 26
For: Beth & Niclas

I made it as a wedding present for my friend Beth and her man, Niclas. I started planning the project as soon as she told me they were getting married (only about 2 1/2 months ago). I was so excited, because she's wonderful, and he's awesome, too. It's such a joy to celebrate love and hope with friends, and I knew their wedding would be super fun.

I thought long and hard about the colors that I wanted to use for this project. Because it is a gift for a couple, I wanted a color combination that was neither definitively masculine or feminine. I hate it when a gift is ostensibly for two people but so clearly reflects the tastes of only one half of the couple. I also had in my mind the fact that the groom is Swedish, and that once married, the couple will be maintaining households in both Sweden and the US. So, while these colors are not stereotypically Swedish, they evoke the light and sun and nature that come to my mind when I think of Scandinavia, yet they are modern. I also really like the contrast of the modern colors paired with the uber-traditional granny square pattern.

I really liked working the granny square pattern, and looking forward to making more of these. Next time, however, I think I will try to work the pattern as a rectangle, a la Erin Lindsey. It seems a bit more functional, don't you think?

Part I of the wedding was Friday, here in Brooklyn at a delicious restaurant called Frankie's 457, and was, as expected, really fun.

However, I decided to present the present at Part II of the wedding, which will take place in Karlstad, Sweden in July. I am beyond excited about this, my first trip to Sweden! I've already planned visits to several Stockholm yarn stores and have obsessively planning my project for the plane.

June 17, 2009

Knitting Fall for Summer

Like the movie Day for Night, about a French film crew filming nighttime scenes in daylight, I have been knitting fall gear for use this summer. First a hat, and now these fingerless mitts:

One of the inspirations for working these up in such short order was this weekend's trip to Cape Cod. I'll be tending to Megan and David's children while they attend his sister Katie's wedding. It's supposed to be chilly and rain all weekend, so I'll need some protection from the elements. However, the mitts made their debut a bit earlier than expected, on the 17th of June. That's right, it was cold enough here in NYC to wear both a heavy cashmere sweater and fingerless mittens in the middle of June, which kind of freaks me out. The nip in the air did not, however, stop the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Knitting & Crochet Group, now one year old, from meeting up at Habana Outpost for the third week in a row. The idea was to have some snacks and bevvies and sit in the sun, working on our projects and people watch. Well, for two weeks we've been relegated to sitting inside (because of the rain) eating snacks, drinking bevvies and people watching. And then this week, we had a glorious respite during which it was finally dry enough for us to perch at an outdoor table. Let me tell you, the place was hopping! I think folks were happy to have a dry night on which they could get out and mingle, circulate and feel a little foxy.

Several members of the group deemed it "too cold to knit" once the sun went down. I persevered, ordered another beer and pulled on my mitts. It was a bit awkward going, as the mitts interfered somewhat with my ability to feel the hook (I was crocheting, a secret project which will be revealed in a couple of weeks), but it was not impossible to press on, so press on I did.

Somewhat Ribbed Fingerless Mitts (heavily modified) by Anne Campbell
2.75mm needles
Koigu KPPM, D1050471
Started: June 12
Finished: June 16
Oh, and if you're ever in the area, I highly recommend Habana Outpost's grilled corn. Sarah thinks it's delicious!

June 7, 2009

How I know people of color are not making SPF

I've spent a good bit of time in the out-of-doors on our few sunny days this spring, and have twice burned my face and neck inadvertently. So, this morning, before heading out to meet my with my friend Rachel for a bike ride, I decided it would be prudent to slather on some SPF, SPF 60 for babies, to be specific. I applied the recommended amount, and after rubbing and rubbing the junk in, I looked like this:

This is ridiculous! I look like that creepy kid from Powder. I fear skin cancer as much as, or perhaps more than, the next person, and so I want to protect myself. However, I cannot go out in public looking like this. It's not a matter of vanity; it's just common sense. I have to believe that if there were people of color working in the sun-protection industry that they would try to advance a plan to develop high SPF lotion that wouldn't make people like me look like stand-ins for Baby Jane. Right? So, hows about someone get to work on this soon, OK?

Whiteface aside, the bike riding was super fun, despite the fact that we ran into two separate races taking place in the park: one for runners and one for bikers. The hundreds of bikers kind of came upon us in a wolf pack, like the cars on the freeway in that scene from Clueless when Murray tries to teach Dion how to drive. I was pleased with myself for making it out on time this, since I was up until 3:30 this morning finishing my Lace Bolero.

I came home from a friend's party around 11:30 last night and decided there would be no sleep until the thing was finished. Like, completely finished. I sewed the sleeves up and everything.

The pattern is Ribbed Lace Bolero by Kelly Maher, knit up on US6s and US10s, using some Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (an 80/20 cotton/wool blend) that Amy passed on to me last year. The pattern was fun to kit and easy to memorize, save for the wackadoo transition from the lace portion to the 2x2 ribbing at the end. I may have been too tired to get it, because it had me completely baffled. I eventually gave up and just started in on the ribbing. I don't think anyone will notice, and if they do notice, I don't think they'll care. It's a great little cover-up that I expect to use quite often this summer and fall.

I also managed to turn out another little project for myself this week, the Spring Beret by Natalie Larson.

For this, the less slouchy version of the pattern, I used Knit One, Crochet Two's 2nd Time Around yarn, which is made of recycled cotton and acrylic. The yarn, which is a remnant from a yet to be revealed secret project, has a tendency to curl in around itself, but was otherwise a pleasure to work with. I was happy to experiment with a recycled yarn, and even happier to get it on deep discount at The Point's going out of business sale in April. Recently I've been wearing my hair pulled back and twisted, which is more conducive to hat-wearing than my usual do, so I decided to fill a void in my wardrobe: the I-hate-to-carry-an-umbrella-yet-want-to-keep-my-hair-dry-on-these-drizzly-spring-days hat. I think it will do its job quite nicely.

June 4, 2009

Making the best of the situation at hand

Summer has been slow to fully reveal itself in New York this year; I don't think we've had more than five days of warm and sunny weather at a stretch. I don't usually complain about weather, but it's true that it can be a bit of a drag when you're longing to put on a sun dress, ride your bike to the park and lie in the sun. But, what can one do? Make the best of the situation at hand, that's what! See this lady here:

I saw her on my way to work and thought "That's how to do it!" So sunny, so bright and so sensible! No "rainy days and Mondays always get me down," for her. I don't normally accost strangers asking for a photo, but how could I just let her pass by? Seeing her completely turned my mood around.

I hope you enjoy your weekend, whatever the weather.

June 1, 2009

An idle mind is a playground for the Devil

That's not exactly my personal philosophy, but it is a repeated line in the latest song to be on heavy rotation in my iPod: Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me, by Peter Brown. Behold, the album cover:

I'm guessing the answer to his question is "yes."
ANYWAY, during the past month, neither my mind nor my hands have been idle. No, not at all. This month of exclusively working on projects for myself turned out to be fun, productive and really satisfying. I almost never make things for myself, so it was a real change for me to be completely unleashed with respect to yarn and project selection. On more than one occasion I found my head spinning with the possibilities: what to start? Socks? Scarf? Sweater? But start I did and, perhaps more importantly, finish I did. I felt very focused this past month, the month of selfish crafting. I often have a hard time finishing projects, or at least those which require "finishing," and it can be a bit depressing to look, day after day, at an almost complete, let me just weave in the ends, attach the sleeves to the body and block it project. So wrapping these puppies up made me quite happy.
One project in particular gave me a real sense of accomplishment. Months ago I hatched a plan to crochet a bunch of flowers, as many as I could get out of two partial skeins of Louet Merlin. The remnants had been lying about for almost two years, and I really, really wanted to make use of them.

I've yet to settle on a final project for les petites fleurs, but at least they're done. I'm thinking that it could it could be neat to join them all in a random fashion with white linen yarn, perhaps make a window covering for one of the windows that looks out into my backyard space. We shall see.

The other thing I am really excited to have done this month was to knit up my first garment sans pattern! I saw a simple sweater that I liked on Ravelry but didn't feel like shelling out cash for another pattern. then I reasoned "I'm fairly bright. I can knit a swatch and calculate gauge. I know how to knit do simple increases and decreases. Bring it on!"

One thing I'm no good at is taking photos. Between poor lighting and nothing on which to balance a camera, it's hard to get shots of me wearing anything that I knit. But I do try. The things that makes me the most happy about this sweater is that it was knit with recycled cotton. I had a sweater that I never quite loved on me and was about to put it in the Goodwill pile when I remembered that I could frog it and put the yarn to a better use. So I did! It was a little tedious, but not too bad and so worth it (read: cheap). It's rare in life that one gets something for nothing, and since I also honed some skills, this project was kind of a twofer.

In other news, I ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon this past weekend! I was nervous heading in to the race because I really hadn't been training properly and didn't go for a single run in the week preceding the race, but I did carboload with pasta, Jeni's ice cream and white wine the night before (that's something, right?). Fortunatly, the 10,000 of us who ran the race were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day with low humidity and clear skies. The race started with us running two loops around Prospect Park, then heading down Ocean Parkway all the way to Coney Island, where we finished on the boardwalk in front of the Atlantic Ocean. Dawn, Julie and I ran the entire race together, chatting away to keep our minds off of the task at hand, and celebrated with hot dogs (me) and cheese fries (not me) at Nathan's Famous. To quote Ice Cube, I gotta say it was a good day.