Thursday, November 29, 2007

As the Year Draws to a Close, an Old Dog Learns New Tricks...

I'm the old dog in question, and I picked up a skill this week that I can't sufficiently sing the praises of. I'm working on a shifting sands scarf from the annals of Grumperina. It's so much fun, but involves a constant flow of little teeny weeny cable repeats, which become cumbersome, unless you take Grumperina's advice and learn to cable without a needle. I did it! My life as a knitter is forever changed. It took a little practice to master, as it involves a little dance of needles and frighteningly disengaged stitches, but now I'm so quick at it that it takes only a moment longer than a regular knit or purl stitch. This is one of my greatest accomplishments of 2007, and I'm not kidding.

My other 2007 knitting revelation was the Baby Surprise Jacket, from Elizabeth Zimmerman. Brooklyn Tweed has a stunning example of this magical invention, along with some good commentary...mine is made from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino leftover from a baby ripple I did recently. I'll post a pic as soon as I sew the buttons on. I'm thinking of doing some sculpey buttons--lately A and E have been really into this stuff, spending whole afternoons making miniatures (A made me a little violin with a flamed wood back), beads for E's earrings, and some snakes and snails. But I might coopt some of the pearly pink for sweater buttons.

More anon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pixie Totally Rocked the ISE5!

My secret pal, Pixie, gave me such a mood lift this morning with her incredibly thoughtful and lovely package. I was just blown away by this gift. First, the scarf:

I tried and tried, but couldn't capture the subtle beauty of this thing. Instead, let me describe it: Malabrigo in "Brown Berries" colorway--soft, muted pinks and browns (some of my favorite colors). The pattern of waves is perfect for this yarn--the scarf is soft, silky, and dense. I'm wearing it right now, and it is so luxe and cozy. I've always coveted Malabrigo, and now I'm incontrovertibly in love.

With the scarf came a whole host of wonderful presents:

Will you look at this? TWO skeins of this stunning handpainted yarn, in my other favorite color, garnet. I'm already looking ahead to their transformation--into my current obsession, fingerless gloves--do you think it's okay if I keep them for myself?


such goodies. Godiva chocolate (I already ate one--I mean, immediately), chocolate Hanukkah gelt, a personable little sheep, a festive Maryland crab bottle opener ( I foresee a celebratory Pilsner in my immediate future), (not pictured) a personalized Leah candy cane and a Maryland postcard, and this wonderful delicious-smelling manicure kit for my poor cold-battered hands (how did Pixie know?).

Then, the lovely Pixie included this

for my beady little girl. E is going to freak. She loves to be included in things, and I'm touched that Pixie sent along something so perfect for her.

All of this bounty was wrapped in Hanukkah paper, and labeled with little tags. I was almost speechless at this gift from a delightful stranger, except that I'm never really speechless. But could anything, or anyone, be sweeter?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Brooklyn Sorceress

Last night was Halloween in our small-town Brooklyn. We had a last-minute emergency over E's planned viper crown; I had been crocheting a version out of gold thread, but it was judged not up to snuff (it became her staff instead). At the very last minute, A stepped in with some fimo, two blue jewels, and toothpicks, and came up with a really pretty amazing snake tiara, which passed muster:

We accomplished trick-or-treating on nearby streets, one of which is closed off every Halloween for the children. It's really quite a carnival atmosphere, and so much fun. I wish I'd gotten pictures of the revelry, but was caught up in the moment and couldn't lay hands on my camera. It would have been a blur anyway. We met up with many friends, mine and E's, and had a grand time. Needless to say, the cauldron was full by 7p.m.

Brooklyn trick-or-treating in the 1970s and '80s, my childhood era and my sissy's, always seemed much more laden with danger and menace, not from the supernatural, but from the criminal. Things were different back then in NYC. 42nd Street between 6th and 8th Avenues, "The Deuce" in police lingo, really exemplified all the seediness, the frotteurs, the high violent crime rate, the aggressive subway panhandlers, the grafitti, of the city. Sometimes now my family says that things are once again "going to the Deuce," but by and large that doesn't really seem to be the case. I think some New Yorkers may be nostalgic for that time--but it's not the crime and fear that I miss, but rather the mom-and-pop shops, the little butchers and bakers, and a viable middle class. I just don't understand why that great stuff had to go along with the neighborhood XXX theater and local flashers. Or maybe I do. It seems a terrible shame. But, unlike others, who are either delusional or didn't live here in the '70s and '80s, I'm never, ever going to romanticize the grit of yore. It just wasn't as safe here when I was little. Might I add at this point a big shout-out to the NYPD, who finally have sound policy and laws to back up their enforcement and stave off the Deuce.

All that said, E and I headed home early. The trick-or-treating mood definitely darkens as the sun goes down...once I see cop cars out and about, I'm glad to be cozy in our home. Small-town Brooklyn is, at least on Halloween, a phenomenon of the daylight hours, and NYC "tricks" will always be more than raw egg splatter and toilet papered trees.

Down from the soapbox and off to do the dishes.