September 7, 2011

New Home

Since leaving New York, many of my pals have expressed interest in seeing where I live now and what it's like here.  I've been carrying my camera around with me for the past few months, trying to capture the feel of the area, but it's hard. Really hard.

My favorite house in the neighborhood

A cute Minneapolis 4-plex
My neighborhood is pretty interesting, a mix of white hippies (young and old), black middle and working class, recent Mexican immigrants and lesbians of all stripes.

There are a lot of art cars around.

A little heavy handed, maybe?

Luck be a lady tonight!

Thelma and Louise?

And several community gardens.  People are seriously into gardening here, maybe because summer is such a short and treasured season.

It's been fun to see the  flowers growing here, and I've been surprised at how different they are from the ones I was used to seeing in Brooklyn.

Hibiscus!  The first I'd ever seen.

My neighborhood is called Powderhorn, named for Powderhorn Park, which is just across the street.  I love the park, and it  makes me miss Prospect Park just a little bit less. Powderhorn Park is about 60 acres and has a lake, jogging paths, several baseball diamonds, five playgrounds and 10 tennis courts. What?! Awesomeness.

Oh yeah, and a kids pool. More awesomeness.

The park is really well utilized by people in the neighborhood. Soccer games and BBQs have been popular activities this summer, and there's a rec center where they have pottery classes and you folks can check out canoes.  Oh, and some hippies hold an outdoor church-like service in the park every Sunday.  I can see them from  from my living room window and hear their tambourine and guitar music.  Yep.

Can you spot the Great Blue Heron?
I'm excited to see how people's use of the park changes in the winter.  In the early part of the last century, it was several times the site of the US Olympic speedskating trials!  Neat, right?  And there are some great hills, so I'm thinking sledding will be popular.  Personally, I'm hoping their might be some cross-country skiing.

Lovely as it is, the lake in Powderhorn is a small one.  There are a lot of lakes in Minneapolis, and one of the ones I visit the most is Lake Calhoun.  It's just over three miles in circumference and is ringed by running and bike paths.

Oh! Sad surfer.
It's not apparent from these photos, but Lake Calhous is usually swarmed with people in the warm weather, sailing and kayaking and canoeing and swimming. It's so healthy and inspiring

When you live in Minnesota, there are somethings you couldn't avoid if you wanted to.  One of those things is the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  There are traces of her everywhere.

Another is the Scandinavian influence (although if you know me, you know how much I LOVE all things Scandinavian).

One thing that I haven't been able to get used to is the super creepy ice cream "trucks" here.

I mean, really?  Have you ever seen something more clearly reminiscent of a 1970s pedophile's "party van"?  Who in their right mind would buy ice cream from a tinted-window conversion van? Not this sister.

So that's a little about things here, the stuff I see most every day.  Next time I'll tell you about some of the things I've been doing here out (mid)west.

August 29, 2011

Motherboy XXX

Getting ready for the Balboa Country Club's annual Motherboy competition is quite an undertaking, to be sure, and like many such competitions, a good outfit is a critical foundation.

Pattern: Lilla Koftan, by Petra Orrbeck
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease
Needles: 4.5mm/US7
Start:  August 2
Finish: August 8

An excellent choice by the Bluths, to be sure.  The sweater works well on both boys and girls, and the color is almost universally flattering.   Worked in a washable cotton/poly blend, this will be a breeze to keep clean and lovely.

And now, a look at our favorite Motherboy contestants, Lucille and Byron "Buster" Bluth.

Lucille is the one clinging to the bottle of vodka; Buster is the 30 year old clinging to his mother's pouch.  They make a lovely, lovely pair, dontcha think?

August 28, 2011

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Since moving to Minnesota, I've consciously adopted an aggressive "Just say yes" attitude.  It hasn't been difficult, as one of the motivations behind my move was the desire to experience and live life differently.  So, since moving, I've gone to parties alone, met strangers for ice cream, canoed 16 miles down Minnehaha Creek, relearned how to drive a stick shift, biked to a Peter, Bjorn & John concert before hitting an art opening before hitting a bar with pals one night.  All of that has been fun, but by far the best and most thrilling thing I've done was to agree to fill in for an injured runner on a Ragnar Relay team.

A sweltering stretch on a Wisconsin highway.

Ragnar relays are held in 11 or 12 places around the country and they generally work like this: teams of 12 take turns running legs of the race that are between four and eight miles long.  The total distance run is about 200 hundred miles.  Each runner runs three legs and you always run in the same order (e.g. runner 1, then 2, then 3, until runner 12 finishes her leg, then runner 1 goes again).   The teams usually shuttle themselves in two vans of six runners per van.  When you're not running, you're cheering on your teammate.  When everyone in your van has finished their leg, you eat or rest while your teammates in the other van run, and when they finish their legs, you start to running, in order, again.  It sounds chaotic, but it's really quite orderly and well organized.

Looking for my incoming teammate.

When James, a friend from college, contacted me to see if I'd be interested in filling in, and consequently running about 15 miles over 20 hours, my first reaction was to say that I was busy that weekend and so couldn't do it; my fitness level is pretty low right now and I hadn't run more than 3 miles at a stretch in several months.  But the more I thought about it, the more this seemed like an amazing opportunity to see an old friend, meet new people and challenge myself in a completely unexpected way.  So I said yes, and it's probably the best decision I've made since deciding to move to Minneapolis.

Teammate in site; bouncing with excitement before my first leg.
Because I was by far the weakest runner on the team, I was quite nervous about my performance and abilities, but my teammates were incredibly warm and encouraging and supportive.   There's nothing like slogging your way down blistering highway in 96 degree heat without a lick of shade and then rounding a corner to see your pals waving and cheering for you and hearing the call of the vuvuzela (yes, we had one of those) pulling you forward.  Periodic improvised showers didn't hurt, either.

While the running was fun,

we were all happy to be done with our legs when we finished them.

The oppressive heat was a common post-run topic of conversation.
 We ran through some beautiful (and hilly) parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota

Sunset on Lake Pepin
 and met some enthusiastic fans and volunteers.

Best cheering: Stockholm, WI.

The race started at 11 Friday morning, and by 10 pm Van 1 (my van), was gearing up to run our second legs of the race, which we finished around 2:00 am.  We napped briefly in the town of Stillwater while Van 2 ran through the grim hours of the morning, and by 7:15 am we up and running again. I finished my third and final leg around 9 am and our team as a whole finished around 3:30 Saturday afternoon.  

Van 1 at the completion of our portion of the relay
In addition to having an awesome weekend with spirited, dynamic, fun and interesting people, running in the Ragnar Relay reminded me that I can do more than I sometimes think, that it's possible to acknowledge one's limitations while simultaneously pushing oneself, that there's seldom anything to be gained in saying no, that life is wonderful if you are open to living it and that  there's no better feeling than pride in a job well done.

Thank you Ragnar and Team Kittens and Yarn!  Here's hoping for another adventure in 2012!

July 30, 2011

Sewing the seeds of love

This blog's been quiet recently; my life's been anything but.

Most significantly, I quit my job and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This plan had been in the works for a long time and I was so psyched for it to finally roll into action.  I expected the transition from New York City, my home of 16 years, to the City of Lakes to be a little traumatic, but it was shockingly easy.  One friend said that's a sign that I was really ready for this change, and he may be right.

I've been having an *awesome* summer.  Being sans employment has meant that I've had plenty of time to hang out with friends, scour Craigslist for furniture and make emergency Ikea runs.  It's been great, but I'll get into all that another time.  One thing that's been mysteriously absent is my knitting mojo.  No lie, until one week ago, I hadn't knit a single stitch since relocating.  My craft bug has found another outlet.

Now that I live in a less expensive city, I can afford a bigger apartment, one with a spare/craft room.  This is amazing!  It means that, like my grandma, I actually have a place where I can keep my sewing machine up and accessible.  I see it.  I touch it.  It occurs to me to use it, and I do.

Although I've been sewing since I was a little girl, when I'd sit next to my mom and make purses on my SewPerfect sewing machine, my skills are not much improved since then.  I am terrible at sewing long straight lines, which means quilting isn't a natural match for me, but it's still fun.  I've learned that the modern quilts (think Amy Butler and Denyse Schmidt) are much more forgiving that more traditional quilts, like an Irish Wedding quilt, which involve lots of corners that must match up.

I started my first quilt about three years ago, and lost motivation until landing in Minnesota, where my pal Stephanie, 8 months pregnant and in full nesting mode, had been quilting up a storm.  I was so inspired that I not only finished my long-languishing quilt but immediately thereafter jumped into another project, seen in these photos.

Sarah is a lovely friend and one of the original members of The Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Knit & Crochet Group.  We also went to the same small college, although not at the same time, and that little quirk goes a long way to explaining why, though we're quite different in many ways, we got along from the get go.  Anyway, she's about to have her second child, and I knew that I wanted to make something for the baby, but I'd just assumed I would knit, or possibly crochet, a gift. That is, until getting bitten by the quilting bug.

Sarah really likes green (as do I), so I tried to incorporate a lot of it into the pattern. A mostly white quilt might not be the most practical for a baby, but it's so fresh and bright.  I backed it with a darker fabric to increase versatility, which I hope it does.  Now I am positively jonesing for a mostly white quilt for myself.

I keep planing more sewing projects because I'm still not super excited about knitting these days.  What I've realized is that for me, knitting was a fairly social activity, even when I did it by myself, because I would get together with my knitting pals, see new projects and yarn, get inspired and excited.  I don't have that right now, and I'm not sure that I want to.  For the time being, I'm content to miss them and the  craft that we shared, and to continue to spread my wings in new directions.

May 16, 2011

The Sweet Relief of Baby Knitting

I'm moving soon, half-way across the country, and all of the planning and upheaval has me a bit upended.  To wit: I've been knitting very little.  Or, very little relatively speaking.  I'm spazzy and unfocused and philosophical and OBSESSED with Lifetime Movie Network moviews, so the knitting has slowed down.   I have finished several projects, but haven't been able to get them photographed, with the exception of this one:

The project itself says a lot about where my head's been at.  It's a baby sweater (tiny), finished in 1 1/2 days so very little attention needed.  It's one color, one skein, largely garter stitch and almost seamless.  It was also made for friends in my soon to be new home of Minneapolis.  There's a lot of metadata embedded in this one, wee project.

Pattern: Leaf Pattern Set, by Jeannine LaRoche
Yarn: Berroco Remix
Needles: 3.5 & 3.75mm
Start: April 23
Finish: April 24

I really, really enjoyed working up this pattern.  It's a top down construction, so I started with the leaf pattern at teh neck, which required some, but not intense, focus, and then cruised down, almost mindlessly, through the rest of the sweater.  Although I ordered this yarn special for this project from Webs, I can't take credit for the color selection.  Oiyi made this sweater several years ago in pretty much the same color, and I thought it looked so fresh and sweet without an ounce of presciousness.  Berroco Remix is a great yarn, made of recycled silk, cotton and wool, the combination of which results in machine washable yarn that has a tweedy texture with none of the itch of tweed; perfect for a summer baby sweater. I'll be using it again, fo sho.

Soon after I finished the sweater Target launched it's Calypso collaboration line, for which I went nuts.  In addition to the silk tunics, linen jumpsuit and dresses I bought for myself, I picked up a this adorable dress, which is going to the same little girl coming this July.

I love them together.  Now, get her a pair of Saltwater sandals and she's set!

April 18, 2011

Yes, but do you have any yarn?

This might be my new Minneapolis hang. The Yarn Garage (yeah, it's a converted garage), brought to you by Steven Be. Stephanie and wandered about slack jawed until settling on gorgeous, but different yarns. stay tuned for project updates.

March 31, 2011


Literally!  Today I started a three day juice cleanse, and I'm alternating between acceptance and freak-out.  The freak-outs are a result of my fear of failure. I'm not concerned that I'll wake up one day surrounded by a half-eaten cheese pizza, but that I'll cave and have a salad. I've ever been a great one for self control, so the thought of not chewing solely because I've decided not to chew scares me.

So this is what I'll be having for the next three days:

I'm doing the Blue Print Cleanse three day Renovation Cleanse, which is great for a newbie juicer like me.  The renovation is their entry level cleanse, which I think means it had heartier juices/more calories than the other cleanses.  It's only a little past one on day one, but I'm liking the juices (conveniently labeled in 1-6, the order in which they are to be consumed) so far.  Right now I'm sipping on a pineapple, apple, mint concoction and it's delicious.

In other, less literal juicy news, I recently finished another hat.

Pattern: Rikke, by Sarah Young
Yarn: Madeline Tosh DK
Needles: 3.5mm, 4.5mm
Start: March 24
Finish: March 26

I love this pattern, so so much.  It's so simple in it's appearance, design and construction, that it's genius.  All garter stitch and a subtle change in texture brought about by a simple change in needle size.  This is actually the second Rikke hat I've made; the first was for me and I wear it all the time.  It's black and I haven't managed to take a decent picture of it, so no blogging, but this pretty green (Jade is the colorway) shows the stitch detail and texture nicely.

I selected this yarn as part of a thank you gift I received for knitting something for a friend.  The way that it's dyed, the yarn seems almost to glow from the inside, all space-agey and stuff.  It's the first Madeline Tosh (side note: is she related to Peter Tosh, by chance? Because that would be cool) that I've ever worked with and now I get what all the fuss is about. It's incredibly buoyant and springy, making it a great pairing with patters in which stitch definition is a plus.  I was at Purl last week and had to stop myself from pulling one of her glowing tans off the shelf and shoving it into my basket, such was my enthusiasm for this yarn.  But I kept myself to the one skein of Spud & Chloe Sweater that I needed to finish another work in progress.

Last Friday I went to what turned out to be a lame party with some close friends (we enjoyed each other's company, anyway, almost as much as the Nilla Wafer banana pudding dessert that was on offer), and as we were leaving, I pulled this hat out of my bag and started working on it as we walked to the train.  I asked Him if he thought he might have use for the hat, when She jumped in and said she liked it, too.  Fortunatly, they're married, so Megan & David, this hat's for you!

Finally, a third, slightly more salacious and definitely funkier kind of juicy.  I leave you with the 1983 R&B hit "Juicy Fruit" by Mtume.  Sexy lyrics, yes, but it's still Sunday morning cleaning the house music to me.