Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cupcakes

Sunday I made cupcakes. I used a yellow cake recipe from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book. It called for shortening; I used butter instead. I overfilled the baking tin and got giant cupcakes. They smelled so wonderful. I could hardly wait for them to cool so I could frost them.

The frosting is the recipe that comes off the box of powdered sugar, not a true buttercream, which is fine because cupcakes are comfort food. In the spirit of Magnolia Bakery, I tinted the frosting a pale blue. Since my daughter is not fond of really sweet things, I didn't put a lot of frosting on each cupcake. For a final touch, I sprinkled them with "wild flowers". These were good and met with my daughter's approval of being good without being too sweet.

I finished the first monkey sock. I really like how this turned out. I've tried this yarn in other socks and always ripped them out because I haven't like the way the color has worked out. This was the right pattern for it. I'm more than half way done with the second sock. I don't know whether I'll keep these or put them in the gift box. I made these to fit me and that is a bit of a problem for gift giving since I have the smallest feet besides my mum in my family. I'll see if my daughter can get them on without over stretching them. If they fit her okay, then I can give them to one of my sisters-in-law.

This is the fifth bobbin of wine-colored merino singles. I have two pounds of this and plan on knitting sweater with the finished yarn. It is really lovely to spin. I'm spinning it over the fold, which is one of my favorite ways of spinning. I have about a pound and a quarter left to spin before I ply it. This will be good yarn for a Bay Area winter, where it can get cold without being bone chilling cold. Plus, it will be a good weight to wear indoors in Tahoe. Off to finish the second monkey.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Back from NYC

My daughter and I are just back from a wonderful trip to NYC. We could have spent a lot more time there but work and school called us back. In three days, we crammed a lot of shopping in (which, truth be told, was the reason for the trip). We stayed at the Lucrene Hotel on the Upper West Side.

However, we probably spent the most time in the Village. The only cultural site I was able to get to was the New York Public Library. I love it there. We arrived on Monday evening and had a wonderful dinner at Nice Matin, which is next door to the Lucrene.

On Tuesday, we hit Canal Street. My daughter learned about negotiating for the knock off D&G bag she wanted. Then we headed off to Soho--or so we thought. I am clueless when it comes to direction. We ended up in Tribeca before realizing that we were off track. It didn't matter though because I was enjoying just walking around and taking in the City. Finally, we got pointed in the right direction and made it to Soho. I stopped by Purl because I thought I might as well since I was in the neighborhood. I knew that it was a tiny shop; I wasn't quite prepared for just how tiny it is. They were putting out fall yarns and there wasn't any room to move easily--not that I imagine that is easy to move around without boxes of new yarns in the middle of the shop. From Soho, we walked to the West Village and paid homage to the cupcakes in the window of Magnolia Bakery. The line was long and we weren't in the mood for sweets. From the West Village, we walked up to School Products and Habu. Where I bought nothing. That's right, nothing.

Wednesday we went to the emporium of discount designer clothing, Century 21. Letting a 14 year old girl loose in such a place is interesting to say the least. She found a few things that she really liked and that fit--quite a feat when you are 5'10.5" and wear a size 2. So being a good mother I got out the credit card. And yes, I found a skirt for myself. From there, we headed back to the West Village and The Point. On the way there we had lunch at Moustache, a funky little cafe with handmade pita bread hot off the grill. The chicken sandwich I had hit the spot; my daughter had one of their "pitzas", which is really a small pizza on handmade pita. Feeling full and re-energized, we continued on our way to The Point.

I was feeling rather doubtful that The Point would really be a "knitting cafe". After all, I had been fooled by the Knit Cafe in LA. There I had expected at least coffee as well as yarn. The Point proved me wrong--it really is a knitting cafe. There was a menu posted above the bar and an expresso machine. You really can order food and drink here. Best of all, people were sitting at their tables knitting, eating, and drinking coffee and tea surrounded by yarn on walls. It is a small place with great light. I bought 4 skeins of Punta Del Este Mericash Solid to make their fishtail lace top. It is wonderfully soft yarn. I will go back next time I'm in NYC. (I also want to have a place like this in the East Bay.)

From The Point, we took the subway back to the Upper West Side. On the short walk from the subway station to the hotel, I stumbled upon Knitty City. It was the largest of the yarn stores I visited. They had a fairly large selection of knitting books and nice variety of yarn. This store was more like the yarn stores I'm used to compared to School Products and Habu, which are in office buildings and not at street level. I bought a skein of Fleece Artist Merino Sock and a copy of Cookie A's Thelonious Sock Pattern. I've never seen Fleece Artist yarn in any of my local yarn stores. I just want to pet it.

After a short rest, we headed to Central Park and Strawberry Fields to visit "the bench". (I first saw a picture of this bench on the Harlot's blog. So I am totally stealing the idea of posting a picture from her, but it is my own photo. ) It was really nice to sit in the park and people watch. New Yorkers seem to appreciate and use their green spaces differently than here in the Bay Area. The parks and squares seem to be an extension of their living space, much like people in Europe use their squares. Or, perhaps it seems that way to me because New York actually has summer in summer. When I lived next to Golden Gate Park, it was never summer in summer. I just remember being cold all the time.

Thursday we just had to have cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery so we traveled back to the Village and bought an assortment of four cupcakes and a copy of More From Magnolia so we can have Magnolia inspired treats at home. We headed back towards midtown and Bryant Park. In a very New York seeming moment, we found a table and chairs in the park and realized that an Opera in the Park sound check was taking place. It was the right moment to break open the box of cupcakes and eat one--really yummy. Next we headed to the NYPL and then back to the Upper West Side. We got caught in a rain storm on our way, ducked into a Starbucks to wait it out. As soon as it looked dry enough to go out again, it rained even harder. So we ran for the subway station and took the subway back to the hotel to grab our umbrellas (this is what happens to me when I don't listen to the local news or read a newspaper--I get caught in weather). Of course, as soon as we had umbrellas in hand it stopped raining. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the Upper West Side and the Park.

Friday morning we had time to go to Zabar's and to walk to Barnes and Noble on Broadway and W. 66th (I think it's W. 66th) to buy books for the flight home. Our shuttle picked us up on W. 79th, then drove to another hotel on W. 52nd and then headed uptown again to yet another hotel two blocks from where we had started. I figure we could have spent another hour walking around the UWS if we had been picked up last. Go figure! After going through security, we found out our flight to Chicago was delayed about 20 minutes, which ended up really being 4 hours and 45 minutes. The last hour and half of that was spent sitting on the runway. At one point, the captain announced that if we didn't take off within the next 14 minutes work rules required him to return to the gate and cancel the flight. Two minutes before the 14 minutes were up we were taking off. Of course, we missed our connection in Chicago and had to rebook for the following day. So it took us about two days to get home. But it was so worth it.

And I did get some knitting done while in New York. I finished my shaped arch socks out of Sockotta and started a pair of Monkey Socks in some Lorna's Laces that I've had for a very long time--the label is the original Lorna's label; the colorway is "whitewater".

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Even more catching up

Here are the photos of recent projects.

This is merino/tencel solar dyed with Jacquard violet and black dyes. The black broke and looks more copper in real life. The colors are much softer than if I had set the dye on the stove.

This is the Three Bags Full fiber. It's two ply and I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet. It is 4.4 oz. and just shy of 600 yards. Because it is textured I don't think it will make good socks.

This is Henry's Attic Kona dyed with cutch. I love how soft the brown is. It reminds me of carmel or a dark honey.
The finished Broadripple socks on a chair and modeled by my daughter.


We are off to NYC on Monday. Definitely going to hit School Products. If there is time, will visit a few other yarn stores.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A sad thing, a bad thing & a good thing

The sad thing. Deep Color is closing in September. Our spinning group will meet for the last time this Thursday. I've been so honored to be a part of this group of talented women. I've learned so much from Claudia and been inspired by others in the group. I've become a better spinner, learned to use natural dye stuffs and gotten brave in experimenting with acid dyes.

The bad thing. Last month I attended a conference in New Orleans and I was mugged on the last night I was there. It was scary. The man that grabbed my bag pulled me down in the process. I skinned my shoulder, hand and knee. I bruised the palm of my right hand and my right knee cap. The next morning when I started to absorb what had happened I was worried that I might not be able to spin because my knee was about twice it's normal size. I was more worried about that than anything else. The NOPD was quite understanding and tried to be helpful. They managed to recover my cashmere wrap, which had been wrapped around my bag strap. A street vendor in Jackson Square found some of my stuff including my house keys, office key cards and my business card case. He was kind enough to send these back to me--fortunately my key card has the name of my employer and address on it. He apparently contact my office and got the mailing address. However, he didn't include any way for me to get in touch with him to thank him and offer a reward.

The good thing. I was invited by Brooke to a spinning potluck at Maia's this past Sunday. It was so nice to get together with a lot of other women who share your passion. I met Rachel, Lala, Janine and many others. The was plenty of yummy food, good conversation, spinning and knitting. I started spinning up the wine colored merino top I bought from Julia for a sweater. I'm shooting for a dk weight 2-ply. It is a lush fiber and I'm really enjoying spinning it.

Some other good things. While in New Orleans, I finished the Broadripple Socks for my daughter--they remind me of Mardi Gras colors.

On Saturday, I solar dyed 4 oz. of merino/tencel with violet and blacks, trying to capture the colors I see in my neighbor's sweet peas. The black broke and gave a nice gray and copper. Despite not getting the colors I envisioned I'm really pleased with the results. Most likely I will spin this up for socks. (I rigged up my solar dye oven with a black utility tub, plexi-glass and c-clamps. I borrowed this idea from Spinning Spider Jenny.) I also plyed up the singles I spun from the Three Bags Full fiber. I got approximately 590 yards 2-ply out of 4.4 oz. of fiber. I'll post pictures later as it has been gray and gloomy in these parts the past few days.

Last night, I dyed some Henry's Attic Kona with cutch. I really love the color--a warm brown. Once it's dry, I'll take a picture. This yarn is for my mum to knit socks for my dad.

I'm still working on the socks I started in New Orleans. They are plain vanilla stocking stitch with a shaped arch made with Plymouth Sockotta that I bought two years ago at Lofty Lou's in Placerville. I'm not crazy about this yarn. It a bit to splitty for me. I want my plain vanilla socks to be mindless knitting, which means only glancing down at it every once in awhile. I have to look more often because of the splittiness. Fortunately, I like the colors--a few blues, a light green and light brown. These will be good socks for clogs.

I should have plenty of time to finish the second sock this weekend because my daughter is modeling in Teen Vogue's fashion shows in San Francisco, Sacramento and Concord. There is a lot of waiting time before a show starts and I must entertain myself.