Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas time!

Here's a nice shot of Grand Central from my walk last night -- it was a bit cold, but due to the strike there really wasn't an option besides paying for an over-priced cab. The gridlock looked pretty bad, so I felt a little glad I was on foot instead of stuck in traffic.

Becca, Ryan and Eoin came into Manhattan today and walked all the way to my place from Grand Central to see me. Well, I think Eoin more rode than walked...but what a cute kid!

I finally finished Dave's hat! I made and re-made this thing about 10 times. It's alpaca (what else?) and matches the scarf I made him in May. It's the right size and he likes it, oh praise be to the Lord! I'll get a pic up later, when he models it. And I promise some pics of the Christmas presents I made/am making, once they get given.

I was getting together the yarn I would "need" for our trip to CT and MI for the holidays, when Kingston decided to take a nap on it. He's not ferocious at all, this is mid-yawn -- I thought it was a cute lucky shot. I'm so glad we're driving and not flying out to MI -- last year was a nightmare, and I would seriously have to cut down on the amount of yarn I'm bringing with me, which means making decisions and I just don't feel like doing any more of that today.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy/Merry Everything to Everyone!

Washington Square Park looked lovely as I walked home from SnB last night, so I took a few pictures to share. They came out a bit blurry b/c it was night, but you get the idea.

And look! Claudine made an awesome seat cover for her step-dad -- she really is a yarn superstar! I actually felt kind of knit-smart last night, as some people asked for help and I was able to give it. And for my next project I'll be doing a provisional cast-on, and I'm not scared!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I really never thought they'd do it, but the TWU announced a transit strike around 3am this morning. At least it's not raining or snowing, but I feel badly for all the now-pedestrian commuters because it is COLD outside! Especially for those walking across the bridges...check out the photos on the BBC, where I got these pics. Those people on the right look like they are hugging each other through a tragedy (come on, it's not that bad), and I hope that guy on the tracks doesn't jump, but at least there's nothing to come along and squash him if he does.

Sitting on my butt in the warmth of my home office, the strike hasn't personally affected me yet, but Dave had to walk to work this morning and will walk home, too, unless something changes soon. I don't know if I fully support the striking transit workers, but I'm certainly not 100% against them. The MTA made a stupid move by announcing a huge budget surplus and giving refunds to riders just before the workers contracts were up. I can't see why they would do that -- have 2 fare raises, shout out about all this extra money, and then try to cut benefits to workers. It seems like the MTA is trying to alienate its riders and employees. However, I also know how much this is hurting the city and its residents, especially those less fortunate who can't afford to miss work and can't afford a $10 or more cab ride each way. I think binding mediation may have been a better solution than a strike, but both sides have to agree to that. And by the way, Bloomburg is PISSED!

On the people front, it seems like NY-ers are really pulling it together. The streets down here are not crowded at all, and cars seem to be full of riders instead of the usual 1 person per car that seems to be in the norm in NYC. I know a lot of people are car-pooling and picking up strangers. This is the third time since we've lived here that we've seen the subway system shut down, and I've always been impressed by how much people here help and reach out to each other in these times. I just wish it would happen more often when we aren't faced with hard times.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Birthday Dave & Mikey!

This past Friday was Dave's 32nd birthday, and we celebrated by going to see Wicked earlier in the week, a truly great musical. Dave is now addicted to the soundtrack, only he's modified it with his own words and goes around singing about how he is "So Popular" and has a "Wicked Wife"...on his actual birthday, we went to dinner at I Coppi (GREAT chickpea soup, I have to get the recipe) and to see Brokeback Mountain -- good film. I love Annie Proulx's writing, and the movie really felt like a world she had created. Plus, I don't think it is possible to go wrong with a movie starring both Heath and Jake (nice step up from Day after Tomorrow)...all they have to do is stand there and look pretty.

On Friday, we followed up Dave's little celebration with a semi-surprise birthday party for my little bro, Michael, who turned 30 (yikes! That really means I'm old...) Kerry took Mikey out to dinner, and in the meanwhile a bunch of friends and family came over to their house. Mikey says he knew about it, and he kept asking Kerry, "Are you sure you're not having a party for me? Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to seeing my family again next weekend for Christmas. And don't worry, that's non-alcoholic champagne that Sam is trying to grab from my mom...

I spent yesterday baking my brains out (NO, not what you're thinking). I made a whole bunch of cookies for Christmas, and just have a few more to make tonight. I finished a few Christmas presents, too, but can't post their pics until I give them as gifts. And, I got some mighty nice hand-spun wool from make workshop at the Bust Magazine Holiday Craftacular, where I also got to meet Debbie Stoller, Stitch 'n' Bitch author, and thank her for starting the SnB group, because I have made so many friends there and met so many great people (yes, Claudine, this includes you, my Central Park Knitting sub-group member!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Signs of Christmas

Everyone should get one of these -- a watch cat! Don't even think about opening these gifts before Christmas...

Do you know who this is?

Here's a clue -- her dad built this bagpiping snowman..

Monday, December 12, 2005

Holiday Party

Saturday night we hosted a holiday festival, which turned out to be big fun (like we expected anything less???) A lot of people I hadn't seen in a while came, and even though there was a high turnout, the apartment didn't seem overly crowded. We actually had a sort of psuedo-hall party, as our friend and neighbor Cathryn across the way was also having a bash that night, so her place absorbed a lot of the overflow (and dished out some great food and beverage, too) I didn't take many pics, but here's one of me with my friends Yumi and Jill, and another of Claudine and Jill (different Jill!) Even my parents and our friends from home, Tom & Dianne, came to celebrate, and despite their intentions to leave on an early train after shopping all day, 3 bottles of wine and some hot spiced cider easily convinced them to stay past their bedtimes. I heard they all woke up in time to head to Foxwoods at 8am the next day -- gives me hope that the best years in life are still to come, if they can party like that and rally for more in the morning... (and by the way, three of the hotties in these pics -- Jill, Jill and Claudine -- are single if you're interested...)

In knitting news, I'm working on some Alpaca Christmas presents. I am so far behind. And I keep on getting shipments from Knitpicks of stuff I ordered a while ago when I was feeling more optimistic and ambitious about things and I can't remember what this stuff is all for! And there's still more that hasn't shipped yet! Hopefully I will get to complete the gifts before too much of the new year has passed...I really need to learn how to knit faster.

Last but not least, here's a pic of my guru's special friend, modelling an intricately designed hat she made and gave him for Christmas. What a lucky guy!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Day!

A view from our window this morning. Snow in NYC! Yay!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Why Lennon?"

I remember seeing this graffiti inscribed in one spot on the floodwall of the Naugatuck Riverbank in Ansonia when I was younger. Though I was too young to understand what the words really meant and how they affected so many people, I remember asking my mom about it. She told me that someone had killed one of the Beatles and that the author of the graffiti didn't know why. It's simple enough for a 6-year-old to grasp but so true.

I think today, 25 years after Lennon's murder, I just wanted to mention what a tremendous impact on music the Beatles had, and in turn, what a snowballing effect their music had on the world. Listening to their songs calls up strong emotions, and I can't imagine how many people have acted "under the influence" of "Here Comes the Sun," "Hey Jude," or even..."Why Don't We Do It in the Road"...!!!

In college, I randomly won a collection of all the Beatles CD's in a bookstore raffle I didn't even remember entering. And Red & I used to have a really cool Beatles poster on our wall in college, all psychedelic-like with big flowers and the band in pink ruffly suits. I wonder where that is, now? No matter, Dave would probably only let me put it up in the closet with my Sting posters...

Anyway, here's to remembering a great man, a great band and some great tunes.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Snowy alpacas!

After 2 weeks in Asia, we went straight to CT upon landing at LGA, to pick up Mango and Kingston and to see Sam. Oh, and my parents and brother and sis-in-law, too. Sam is adorable, but I was too tired to even take pictures, so you're just going to have to trust me when I say she gets cuter every time we see her. Jet lag hit me hard last night -- I fell asleep on Mike & Kerry's couch, then on my parents' couch, then again for about 9 hours in bed.

One strange thing is that is it COLD here -- what the heck? It was so warm in HKG, and we didn't even have jackets with us. And when we woke up this morning it was SNOWING and the roads were icy! But when mom showed me an ad in her local paper that said, "Meet the Alpacas" can imagine that I couldn't say no, icy roads or not. I roped both parents and Dave into joining me in a visit to Southwind Farms in Watertown. I was talking to farm-owner Penny about her yarn while her husband Jim led my family out to see the alpacas. Soon I followed their snowy footsteps, in through the gate to the barn, and was shocked and delighted to find that my family was surrounded by snow-dusted alpacas, petting them and everything! All the other farms I'd been to had kept the alpacas separated from their human visitors by fences, but these animals were so friendly and so so so soft to touch. There were many babies, too. Jim was great at telling us all about the animals -- we found out that the average cost of buying one is $50K, and that recently someone (not Jim & Penny) sold an alpaca for $610K! But you can get a much cheaper animal if it has a genetic defect that is not considered desirable by breeders -- in case you want an alpaca just for a pet. What a good idea! Dave's absolutely agreeable...some day we'll be back to buy a blue-eyed beauty or two, and we'll love them and all their "defects".

Anyway, of course I bought some yarn -- my mom & dad picked some out for their Christmas presents, and I got some for myself (how could I not?) And I got to touch a baby alpaca! By the way, it turns out that "baby alpaca" yarn is not necessarily from the first shearing of an alpaca -- it just means that the micron content in the fleece is less than 20, and some adults have that, too. The lower the micron in the fleece, the softer it is.

We're back home in NYC now, and Mango and Kingston are happy to be back too. I'm looking forward to going to SnB on Tuesday, and to seeing some other friends this week as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Yarn shop Hong Kong...

If you type this into Google you'll find a lot of between meetings today, I took the MTR to Causeway Bay to check out 2 of them. I found immense amounts of yarn, and some really really cheap stuff. But everything was packed into big clear bags, so the only way to touch it was to open the bags. I guess you have to know what you want and just go and look at the colors, because it's not really easy to browse there. I may check out one more shop near my hotel tomorrow, if I have time. I bought some Spanish mohair/wool/acrylic blend that felt kind of soft and looked nice when knit up -- I think it wants to be a scarf. I also bought 2 addi turbos -- I didn't even know what size they were (turns out 8 and 11) when I bought them, but they were so dang cheap I had to -- so I just picked 2 and went with it. Only $6 or $7 each, and they would have been much more in the states. I'm sure I'll find a use for them!

While I was working, Dave has been exploring HKG. Here's a pic of the big bronze Buddha on Lantau Island, where he went today. He also went to Ocean Park to see the 2 pandas there. I'm not a big fan of zoos, so I wasn't too disappointed to miss this. But don't worry, I did manage to have some fun too...for instance I went for a hot stone massage yesterday and tomorrow we will get foot massages before dinner with my friend. I promise I'm doing some work, though!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Xin chao, Hoi An

Any town that offers a limitless supply and variety of peasant shirts in just my size, customized to my exact fantastical whims, wins big ups in my book. Add friendly people, good food and sinfully cheap cold beer and I don't ever want to leave. It's not that I want to live here, I just don't want to leave...and I hearby declare that Vietnam is my new favorite country, knocking off my previous love, Thailand.

Even though it's been drizzling on and off since we arrived yesterday, our moods were so relaxed in this little town that the weather didn't matter. We started this morning walking through the Central Market, where all the women wanted to touch my arms and my white skin, tell me I had a beautiful face, and then try to sell me silk post cards, cinnamon cups or tiger balm. I tried to find some local yarn to bring home, and a nice lady took me into the back of a shop and showed me a bunch of acrylic stuff that I didn't really like. She said that's all they had in the town. So I passed, but at least I tried.

The big thing to do here is get clothing custom-made -- and Dave and I got really caught up in the tailor craze at Yayla. Especially started with a jacket and a shirt...then some pants...more shirts...another pair of pants to match the jacket...a skirt...almost (but not quite) $300 later and we need another suitcase. I couldn't believe how perfect Dave's jacket fit him when we went back to pick it up, so buoyed by his success, we had to buy more, and that's how we ran up such a bill. Plus, everyone of course wants you to buy more -- at one point I was surrounded by at least 5 women -- one measuring me, one writing down the numbers, 2 trying to find the exact skirt style I wanted in their big pile of JC Penny/Cosmo combo catalogues, and one alternately trying to give me a massage and demonstrate eyebrow threading on my leg. Our favorite shop was Yaly, where Sophie and Vicki gave us a lot of help and many, many suggestions for more things to buy...

Beyond the bustle of the tailor trade, this town is so peaceful and relaxing, with hardly any cars on the road, only motorbikes and bicycles. Most of the townspeople are involved with fishing in one way or another. We saw a baby buffalo along the river -- very cool!

There are also penty of laid back bars and restaurants with fantastic and cheap food line the river and the streets. Tonight it was kind of surreal to be sitting in one with Beatles music playing. It's weird to think about the war taking place here, only 30 years ago.

We spent a 1/2 day touring My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is basically a complex of temples that were heavily bombed by the US during the Vietnam War. These once rivaled the Angkor Complex, but the VC used it as a staging ground and in return, so it was a big target. We were the first ones there to wake up the gods that morning, and the legend says that this is very lucky. Also, we missed most of the tourists, who arrived in busloads just as we were leaving. We got to ride in a US Army jeep from 1968 from the entrance to the complex, which was pretty cool.

A big contributor to our love of this place is the hotel we are staying at, Hoi An Life Resort. It is definitely fancy, but so well-integrated into the environment that it doesn't feel removed from the town or country like a lot of upscale hotels in SE Asia do. I think it is my favorite hotel ever. Maybe I'm a little biased because we got a free welcome 1 hour hand and sole massage.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

No ATM in Cambodia...

...this is what Taa, our tour guide/driver in Siem Reap, told us. But in exchange for this relative remoteness, we had the privilege of climbing unsupervised over thousand year old carved steps, steeply ascending to smiling Buddha faces and views of the jungle...this place is so amazing. I can't believe the kind of access we had to these ancient treasures. As tourism grows, in a few short years, I'm sure the tourist access will be severely curtailed, i.e. more barriers, actually steps instead of crumbling stones to climb on, more protection of the carvings, etc. -- which is a really great thing -- but I'm glad we were here now. I mean, with very few limits, they basically let you lose to play archaeologist. There is some restoration going on now, to keep more carvings from crumbling, but they let some temples stay as they were, totally enmeshed in the jungle, because some of the tree roots have actually grown into the buildings, like in Ta Prom (Tomb Raider, anyone?)

They grow the cutest kids in the world (besides Sam) here. Besides being incredibly beautiful, this is an extremley poor country with an unfortunate recent past, a point driven further home by our tour guide in the war museum, who had been shot so many times and stepped on more land mines than I can remember -- he literally let us feel the shrapnel in his arm, he was missing a leg, blind in an eye -- his wife, father, mother, sister, brother, etc. were killed during the Khmer Rouge reign...and yet he was so gracious to show us around the weapons that had inflicted these tragedies on him and his loved ones. I can't even imagine...this year alone, in the Siem Reap region, 29 people were injured or killed by mines. It's just crazy.

But I don't mean to be overly depressing, because there are so many beautiful things about this country, including its people. All the children must study a language in school, and many of them choose English -- so Dave and I were privileged to spend a bit of time climbing after some creative and imaginative mini tour guides slightly off the main path near the temples, as they gave us their own version of history. And it was delightful to share some chewing gum with these little kids at Angkor Wat.

Right now we're in Hoi An, Vietnam, in an incredibly cute town which we are looking foward to seeing in the daylight. Sorry for my lack of clarity and lucidity in reflection, but the Tiger Beer is embarrassingly cheap. More later...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Airport hotel Hong Kong!

I'm sitting in the Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong, feeling kind of hungry because I slept through the 2nd meal on the flight. I thought I'd log in. I tried to do some knitting -- inspired by Jessamyn, I attempted a basketweave scarf for a gift, but it just didn't look right with the yarn I had (more alpaca -- this time from Suss. I have to big-up that store -- the employees are so sweat, the vibe is so relaxing, and the Suss yarns are actually very reasonably priced). The combination of tweed and basketweave also looked a little bumpy and feminine, and this is for a man, so I'm switching to a simple 4 x 1 ribbed pattern. As soon as I figured that out, I fell asleep. But here are some of my different needle size attempts. The final ribbed pattern is at the top near the needles.

Tomorrow we leave for Siem Reap, Cambodia, and then after a few days onto Hoi An, Vietnam, before returning to Hong Kong again for some business. Dave, luckily, has 2 straight weeks off!

Before we left we had to of course visit Sam & her family, after we dropped off the kitties at my parents' place. Tell me this isn't the cutest baby you've ever seen!

I'll try to post on our adventures, but maybe not until next week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Greta is done!

Last night I finished Greta! Yay! I just have to weave in a few ends and then block my beauty. I had a little bit of an issue with the three-needle bind-off, in that I omitted the "bind-off" part and just k2tog with the 3 needles...oops...and I had already broken off the yarn and couldn't figure out how to "un" k2tog. So I just tied on another strand and bound off again and it's all good. So I dedicate this posting to pics of me and Greta. Dave says I look like a woodsmen. I can't wait to wear this in public!

Monday, November 14, 2005


I finished the hood for Greta while sitting on the Great Lawn in Central Park yesterday (that's my friend Gregor trying to stretch my wings). It was such a beautiful day, and my new outdoor knitting sub-group member, Claudine, joined me and taught me the handy 3-needle bind-off, to save me from having to sew up the seem of the hood. She's working on a pair of lovely lacey socks on teeny tiny needles for her mom. I got back home and finished up the rest of the poncho, and put it on. It needs to be blocked, but still looks lovely and is quite warm. However, the hood was too big so I had to frog it. It's not easy to do that when you've already bound off, and I think I lost a lot of yarn and got a bunch more of it all fuzzed up. But it should be okay, I hope, since I'm making it smaller this time. I could just go without the hood, but I like hoods -- they make me feel very Lord of the Rings-ish, and I think maybe it will encourage Dave to be more like Viggo Mortensen in his Aragorn regalia.

On Saturday my freshly-married friends Cherisse & Steve had us over to their place in da Bronx for dinner and a raucous game of Beyond Balderdash with Jen and Joel. And the Irish defeated Navy for the 42nd straight time. I fear the winning streak is going to end when we least expect it, like next year...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Anniversary to Us!

4 years ago today, I got hitched to my hubby, Dave. It was a grand old party with fantabulous Fall weather, and tonight we're going out for a simple yet yummy Italian meal in the East Village to celebrate. Since we're going away next weekend, I didn't go too crazy with a gift, just got him a Fodor's Hong Kong book. And I'm trying to whip up a hat to match the alpaca scarf I made him in May, but I'm not sure it's going to fit. I know it looks skinny from the pic but the yarn is super stretchy (and super soft...)

The Greta poncho is really growing, and I love working with the yarn. I was secretly pleased at SnB on Tuesday when some random customer at The Point wanted to know where she could get my yarn. I think it's lovely, too!

I finally got my labels from Heirloom Labels, aren't they cute? I can't wait to apply them to my handmade goods.

In other big news, I had a little Soap and Knit party on Monday night to watch the debut of our SnB friend Nicole Forester as Cassie on Guiding Light. It was pretty cool to see someone we knew on the soaps! And we also found out that the fabulous Heather got a book contract to write a knitting book. I'm so proud of her, because she is awesome!

And that's all for now, folks!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

M-L-A O'Hara

My very good friend Emily got hitched to her special friend Brian this past weekend. She looked so incredibly happy, and many, many of our college friends made it to her wedding. It was a grand reunion and celebration. And bring out the babies! This was were it all switched know, when you first graduate, your friends start getting hitched and you worry about finding a date...then people start bringing fiances...then husbands/wives...and now kids. This was the wedding of the cute kids and pregnant friends (congrats, Franimal!)

Despite the fact that our flights got messed up and we ended up renting a car in Pittsburgh and driving home, arriving at 5AM, it was a grand old time. And don't worry, KNIT HAPPENED, but that update will come later as I'm running late for a meeting now. I will leave you with a cute pic of my guru wearing the Wavy Scarf birthday present. That's me with her and Renee, a guru of another sort -- she recently had an article and recipes published in Cooking Light, and I'm so proud of her!