Saturday, June 30, 2007

All for Immigration!

I usually don't get political—but all politics is local—and once in while, its so local it come right into my house!

I am the daughter of immigrants.

I am the mother in law of an immigrant.

I am the sister in law of an immigrant.

I am cousin to a boat load of immigrants!
(First cousin, second cousin, third cousin, cousin once removed, kissin' cousin (that is cousin -in law,) I am cousin just about every way there is to be a cousin to someone who is an immigrant.)

I like to say my family is still in the process of becoming American!
I live close to the World's Fair Grounds
(depending on your point of reference—it could also be Flushing Meadow Park (immortalized by Homer Simpson) or it could be, to the literary mind, the smoking field of ashes seen from the train by Gatsby.)

But all of Queen's is a Worlds Fair!
I live in the US county with the greatest diversity of immigrants
Queens might not have the most of any one nationality or ethnic group, but Queens county has the most diverse population of any county in US.
Everywhere there is a there, some one from there, lives here!

Many of my neighbors are immigrants—most are legal, simple because buying into a co-op in NYC require even more documentation than required for a green card. And what a diverse lot they are.

Just about every country of Europe, (Eastern and Western Europe) Huge chunks of Asia (near east, mid east, far east and indian sub-continent) South and Central America, Subsaharin Africa--and South Africa, even the odd Austrailian and Kiwi thrown in, has found it way into the co-op complex. (There about 1200 household in the complex)

Through an accident of birth, I am ethnically Northern European.
So, me, and my kind, got preference for years when it came to immigration. Now day's , the family (like the country) is a bit more diverse.

No longer simple Northern European, we are Southern European, Asian, and Caribbean.
We have a family reunion every year—and while we pale, solarphobic Northern Europeans predominate, skin tones of every sort are present. (and not every family member makes to the reunion, so we are not as diverse a group as we potential could be!)

There are some who think the door to this country should have shut --right after they and theirs came through--but, me, I am all for immigration. I still have family that I know, and potential family (that I don't yet know of!) waiting to come in!

Ideally, everyone should immigrate here legally. But...
I don't want to see my family split up and a parters seperated, or parents torn from their children, and I don't want my family to be the exception--simple because we are English speaking Northern Europeans.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


There is the making (fun) and the finishing, (work).
It doesn't matter if you are talking about knitting or anything else.
I had the Cathedral Window Top finished by May 24th.

I just need to turn the top into a throw pillow.
Not much work, mostly just collecting the bits and pieces needed.
I had (still have!) gobs and gobs of polyfil.
But I needed some plain muslin for the pillow form.
A grey zipper. A spool of grey thread.
The will to do it!
So it's done.. not just a top but a full over-sized pillow throw pillow.

Its only taken a month! (and a few days.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not Knitting Much, and not Knitting Anything New

I've been in a funk..
The blue lace scarf is just about ready for the border.. but I haven't started it.
Several yarns are calling to me.. (but I really should finish up some UFO before starting yet another project!)--
Two hats appeared.. both remakes.. a fancy colorwork one, and a simple one.
The fancy color work one starts with Latvian Braiding, (after a 3 color braided cast on) then works into a half dozen rows or so of a 3 color pattern, before settling into the more usual 2 color work. Oriential pavilions is how I think of it, (since 3 colored hat defines several hat designs!)

Made with my favorite generic wool, Paton's Classic Merino.
It's a small hat, but a pretty one.
The second remake is the Elfin hat.. it's for a baby-in the making yet, and will be finished with a pompom. I'm thinking a black one to offset the creamy white, but I might end up color coding with pink(raspberry) or green. The mother has elected not to know the sex of the baby to be.. and I am unsure—I might just end up making 3 pompoms, and letting her chose the color she likes!
Its made up in Coat & Clark's Modea Machine washable wool. I've used this before, (In the Pines headband) its a nice soft wool (best for babies ) with the added pleasure of being easy care for mom.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Not Invented Here.. and other rejections

I have been 'sitting on' this post for a few days--even before Yarn Harlot make her post of June 19th, I was waiting--cooling off..
I am not sure if I am part of the problems.. (with blogs) or part of the solution. (see Yarn Harlot's post June 19th)

I've decided, that this isn't snarky, low down or mean.

(I am open to being corrected)

When I was a kid, my mother used to complain (quite validly!) that I was the kind of child who would drive a saint to drink. (and she, she occasionally added, was no saint.)

It's true. I was --who's kidding, I remain, in many ways--headstrong, obstinate and willful.
Willful that was the worst of my many faults.

I acted on my own will--with out regard to how society had decreed I should act.

Though she no longer knits, my mother was an excellent knitter.But she was sure there was only one valid way to knit--HER's!

My mother could have been chief of the Knitting Police--And I persisted, and still do, knit combo—something that doesn't sits well with many members of the knitting police!

Not only did I hold the yarn in the wrong hand vs the RIGHT hand (--remember too, dear reader, that left handed is sinister in Latin!--)by her way of thinking, But my stitches were all mounted wrong on the needle.
I learned most of my knitting skills with out her assistance or guidance, to a large degree, as a result.

Somethings, like color work I completely taught myself. But other tricks I picked up, simply because they were the same no matter how you knit—like making cables with out a cable needle.

My mother liked cables, and often knit cabled sweaters, all made with out the benefit of a cable needle. I learned to cable watching her.. and never used a cable needle either. It wasn't till I was married, and saw my MIL using one that I understood how to use one..(and then, decided on the spot, that cabling with out cable needles was better!)

My mother was a good a lace too, but stuck to lace as part of shell, or in the yoke of sweater. Most of her knitting was practical--for years, she was forced to be practical, and when she no longer needed to be, she knit less, and bought! It is not often that lace is practical.

I used to complain my mother was ridged, and petty, and un-open to new ideas.
Alas, being a good daughter, I picked up all these qualities, even as I complained about them. It has taken me a lifetime to shed most of these behaviors. (and like deeply rooted, prolific weeds, without diligence, they would spring anew and take over again!)

I really have to work hard at curbing my instinct to insist that my way is best. Openness, acceptance does not come easily to me. Its a constant battle for me! And I have to work even harder at being civil with others who share my faults!

Isn't that always the way? The people we find most difficult to deal with are those who have the faults we find most unattractive in our selves. Those that posses the fault we most dislike in ourselves are those that we are the least tolerant of!
Right now there is a group I am at the fringes of.

I like many of the members, but.. a few self appointed leaders are being a bit contrary.
They claim the group is Open, only it seems to only be open to the current members..
They claim it is 'friendly' (but want to blackball some new members!)
They claim it is informal.. but there are strict, though unstated, “RULES” about who can and can't initiate communications.
( --image, the nerve--someone is possesion of the members of groups email address, --and only she is supposed to have and maintain the list.. and it's for her exclusive use! image her reaction when some one 'stole it'!)
They claim to be about knitting, but they seem to be all about being a closed cliché, who talk about others behind their back, and not in a nice way, and make veiled threats to “take them down” --and wanting the photo's to prove it.
It's still not clear to me if this is a total group dynamic, or a few members who feel threatened by one or anything new.(--Unless the new person or thing has been first vetted by them.)

Time will tell.
I might join the group. I might not.
Maybe the snarky remarks made about me, (publicly-- but quickly deleted) were unusual.. but I am not sure.

Maybe because I was primed, I also noticed the snarky remarks made about others--
But-- maybe the weren't as nasty and snarky as they sounded. Sometimes people get into a habit of being snarky for fun..

Don Rickles made a career out of it.. I don't think he was mean spirited.. but his humor, was black.
But trying to be a Don Rickles is a tricky thing to do.
It can be fun—but--unless done with care, it's not at all funny, it is just hurtful. And it takes a while to learn if the maker of snarky remarks is serious, (and pretending to be kidding) or if she is really kidding.

--just today, I was asked to move my shopping cart in the grocery to let someone exit (the wrong way) I SAID 'no'--with a big smile, as i was backing up.. the requester, smiled back and said 'well I won't thank you then!'

It was clear to him my No wasn't serious, and it was clear to me, he was saying thank you-- clearly I am capable of, and engage in what sounds like snarky language--so it would be so wrong for me to find fault when others do the same.. but... if i had said no, with out backing up, with out smiling..

Context is so important!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Other Blue Lace

My little ball of navy cobweb wool is now at the half way point-- 20gm remain. --here it is hanging on the shade of a floor lamp.

My little scarf, is 36 inches or so inches unblocked. (and readily stretches to 48 inches )
I think I am going to go with a 22/18 gm split.. another 2 gm of wool for the scarf, and 18 gm for the border.
It's chancy working this way.. but at the half way point or so of the border, I will know if i did the right thing!

I'll start the border at a long edge, and if I have way to much yarn by the time I am half way done, I'll frog the short edge,and make a longer edging there—Since longer is better than wider I think.
Currently the scarf is about 8 inches wide, (blocked) and with a 2 inch border, will grow to 12 inches.
The 36 (blocked to 48 inches) will grow to 54 inches with a 2 inch border.. an OK length, but longer, is better. even just a few inches.

I'll be using the VanDyke border that is shown with the shawl pattern in Victorian Lace Today. (page 50/51)

A few years ago, I made a moebius scarf and worked then, too, with out a net, so to speak.
I started a fancy edging, and got to half way point and had almost no yarn left..
I ended up frogging that border, and starting again, with a smaller one..
Completed, there was just 15 inches of yarn over! It was an anxious last few pattern repeats, I have to tell you! That yarn (like this yarn) was a mystery yarn picked somewhere along the way. Something I would be totally unable to match. I have more, of the same yarn, in a dark green, and think about making another moebius to store with the first! I also have some in grey but a much smaller quanity. Someday it will end up trimming something else, since there isn't enough to do something on its own.
(I think I have worn it twice!--Both times as a show off piece --at KnitOuts).

Update: here are some photo's of other blue lace (i.e., the hat) on..

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Imitation is the sincerest form of flatter.

Spurred to action by Lisa (AKA Tsock Tsarina) and her beige blob--

I took needles to hand and made a blue blob (that I failed to photo or document while in process.)Well at least I have the FO (well, not quite finished) to photograph and blog about..

1 ball of DMC “Traditions” 100% mercerized cotton (Art 145/size 10)
(a 2 oz. ball/350 yards makes 1 hat –about $3 in most stores)
(a second ball is needed if you want to make matching bag to hold hat when folded)
1 pop up hamper wire
1 package of Coats and Clark's bias tape, (also blue)
a needle, some thread.(blue again)
some knitting...
and Voila!
One Self blocking summer hat!
There is no pattern.

The directions? Be confident of your knitting!
This hat was just winged!
Cast on and work in round.
Start with a doily pattern –work the pattern till you have 6 inches or so
--no, you can't have the doily pattern I used, because its still sitting inside my head!-- the Tsock Tsarina used a simpler pattern, and it looks just as good (or better, depending!)

Switch to a lace pattern that doesn't increase. Work 3 to 5 inches (my hat is way bigger than hers, (my head is HUGE) The best size is a personal thing!)
Make a Band (this will mark the end of hat and beginning of brim)
(not the crown isn't stretched, only the brim is. The Picot 'banding' is almost (but not quite) non stretchy. (TT used a totally different method, but to the same effect)
Return to doily pattern -(increases )
Make a brim of 2 to 3 inches.(or more--size depends on your pop up wire size! Pop up hampers come in different sizes)

Meanwhile remove pop up wire from hamper
(buy the cheap0 pop ups from $1 store, not the $7 ones)
Cover the pop up wire with bias tape (use coordinating or contrasting color)
Finish brim by making a row of *K2tog, Yo, followed by 5 to 6 rows of stocking knit.
Bind off, working bind off over the pop up wire.
I used a crochet hook in my right hand, rather than a needle, but The Tsarina said she found it just as easy to use a needle.
Add cord or ribbon to transition point between hat crown & brim. (still not done in photograph--I plan a self cord to thread into picot "piping" at transition point. (with perhaps a small bow at center back)

Bonus—knit a small bag to hold folded hat.. I still haven't done that yet, either!--but I do have a second ball of the its likely to happen.

I made mine with a (US) size 2 needle, (and added lots of lace to brim) but everything about this hat is "just knit" you can pick and chose what ever pattern suits you!
(Now I return to my navy blue wool lace (I made a mistake and had to frog 5 rows.))

That was last friday.. since then, I knit nothing but the blue summer hat (and finished it today.. when its cold and grey here in the northeast!)
Maybe tomorrow I'll get a photo of it on my head (with cord in place, and the tails woven in!) so you can see it better.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What, you wanted pictures too?

I lead a dull boring life.
I know, TV makes NYC seem like an exciting place.
There is always something going on somewhere, but still, I like most NY'ers, lead a boring life.

Once in a while, though, things do happen.
Today was the WWKIP, and I was late getting started.
I packed some snacks, and some water (several bottles of water, 2 of them mostly ice really rather than water.. (i love cold water.) And then headed to the subway, off to a WWKIP event in Central Park.

As I headed down the step to the subway concourse, I heard a commotion.. screaming.. loud screaming.. (there were people exiting the subway stairs as I headed down.)
Further down, onto the the concourse, the screaming got louder.. and there was some dozen or so people milling about--several on cell phones.

The screaming and action was a young man assaulting a young woman. By the time I got to the center of the concourse, it was clear she was trying to get away and that she was bleeding. As I came close, I saw him bang her head into one of the metal (steel) support post near the turnstiles.. He had just pulled her back for an attempt to crawl under the turnstile to escape him. And all the while, she was screaming,--from pain, from fear--in reaction.
And everyone, more than a dozen men and women, were standing there watching.
I walked up to the man and told him to stop. He ignored me. I told him again, and laid my hand on his shoulder to make sure he could hear me.
The young woman was fighting him, he was kicking her, pulling her hair and had one had down her blouse and was grabbing her breast.
He growled at me “she's my woman” .

No, I countered, she is not.. and since quiet reasoning didn't seem to be doing much, I grabbed his left arm, and squeezed.. my finger nails are not polished and manicured, but they are not short either.

And knitting, (god bless knitting!) has made my fingers and arms strong.. (surprisingly strong!)
Rather quickly, the young man was feeling some pain and he releaced his grip on her breasts, pulled his arm back to try and shake my grip. Half freed from his grip, the young woman was able to pull her self free. She ran across the concourse and positioned herself behind some spectators.
She was gasping, and wimpering--still frightened, still in pain.

I released my grip, and while the young man growled still, he didn't seem threatening to me.. (That is, I wasn't feeling threatened) I thought he might still might want to pursue the young woman, but I didn't think he would assault me.

Still, we where rather close..Out of nowhere (or rather from behind me!) one of the here-to-for spectators (who, perhaps, was in a better position to judge the danger I might have been in) conked the assaulter on the head (with a metal fire extinguisher)
The Assaulter wasn't knocked out cold—but he was certainly stunned. He fell back, and had a dazzled look in his eye.

I made a mistake then. I turned my back on him, and went to see to the young woman.
Apparently, he recovered rather quickly from the bump on the head, he lunged for me. Fortunately, by then, more of the bystanders had been galvanized into action. 3 of them grabbed him, restrained him, brought him to his knees, and as I turned back (to see what was up), they wrestled him to the ground.
One knelt on his back, and the other two held his arms. He continued to put up a fight for some while.
Continuing my rescue mission, I grabbed one of my bottle of mostly ice, a little water..
I gave it to the young woman, and told her to wash the blood out of her mouth. (her lower lip was cut, and her gum was swollen and bleeding.) and suggested she use it as an icepack as well, on her lip.
Finally (and to be honest, all of about 3 minutes had passed) the police arrived. 2 regular cops, 2 transit cops.
Two cops handcuffed the assailant, 1 went to talk to the MTA token clerk, who was one of the first to call 911, and one went to the victim.
Several people spoke to me, and told me.. You were very brave.. I saw the guy who conked the assailant with the fire extinguisher, and thanked him, and the other who restrained the assailant.
Before I left, I gave one of the officers my card, and did the same to the woman who was assaulted.
(I doubt this case will go to trial, or that I will be called to testify, but you never know..) I never learned the young womans name, only that she didn't know her assaulter.

For once, it was not a boring day.
Knitting in public was anticlimactically.. (but good for restoring my own peace of mind)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More about the Peek

It is to be a scarf, not a shawl, based on the Miss Lambert's Shetland pattern for a shawl, (p50/51 of Victorian Lace Today, Jane Sowerby, (XRX publishing)I have lots of super fine (cobweb weight ) wool.. unfortunately, it's all in quantities of 300 or 400 or 500 yards. And most shawls take 600 and 700 and 1000 yards!
When will I learn to buy more yarn? --Yeah, like I need more yarn!
The navy yarn? 40 gm. How many yards? I dunno.
So I am knitting by weight. 20 gm for center of scarf, and 20 gm for edging.. (Well maybe 22/18 for the split.)
To make a scarf of a decent length, I cast on 40, not 70. 5 gm gave me about 12 inches in length, so 20gm should give me a scarf, before edging, of about 48 inches by 8 inches. With a 2 inch border, it will be 52 inches by 12 inches.. a good size for scarf--but no where near shawl size!

The center is a pretty simple 6 stitch, 8 row repeat pattern. It took me a while to learn.. but now about half way done, it's getting to be almost boring.
To take a break, I have been finishing up some UFO (there are always UFO around!)
Here is the Tricolor Linen hat.. still not fulled and blocked but looking good.
(I swatched for this, and posted a pattern for tri-color linen stitch back in March..(see it here) )

And this hat, is not quite successful version of the Viking hat—in an adult size.

It overwhelms the 'head'--but the head is small (19inches) where as my head is a whopping 23 inches!
Most peoples head fall somewhere between those measurements.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Only in NY.

Wednesday night, coming home from Manhattan (the 51st and Lex stop of IRT/(E train) there was a Chinese man sitting on the platform playing an Erhu, (a stringed Chinese instrument. See one here)

It's pretty common for this busy station to have (in non rush hours) people selling books and magazines* (their wares spread out on the platform) and its pretty common to have a musician or two on the platform..
The musician and music vary.. sometimes a sax player, playing the blues, (mmm) or a drummer stomping out noise (yes, I am editorializing here!) there are often keyboard players who have amps and all sorts of equipment!

As I walked down the platform to my preferred spot (the one that will put me right at the stairwell that leads to the exit closest to me) I started listening to the music.

It dawned me.. it was Danny Boy... I stopped and smiled at the musician, dug into my pocket for some change to put into his hat, and started singing the burden.. (the pipes, the pipes are calling!)

Only in NY would you find a Chinese musician playing an Irish tune on a subway platform filled with asians of every sort, as well as representatives of almost every spanish speaking country in the word, with a hand full of eastern europeans, and various other ethnic groups thrown in.

And yes, I know all about western vs. non western musical scales, and that Irish music (true Irish vs Irish American) is in many ways closer to Chinese music than one might realize--Still!

A peek at what I am (and was)working on (while riding the E train)

The color is a bit off, the yarn is actually a simple classic navy blue.