Saturday, December 22, 2007

Knitting Pattern: Susan wristwarmers

Here's a free pattern for wristwarmers I knit for my mother, and they're named for her.

Easy Ribbed Mitts

Yarn: ▪ Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes (100 g, 109 yds; 50% alpaca, 50% merino) in color #2000 Red; 1 skein.

Gauge: 4 sts = 1” in Rib Pattern on size 10 needles

Needles: U.S. size 10 (6mm), 1 set of 4 double-pointed needles (dpn)

Rib Pattern: *K2, P1, K1, P1. Repeat from *

Left Mitt:
Cast on 30 stitches. Distribute over 3 size 10 dpn. Join for working in the round.

Knit 1 round.

Work in Rib Pattern until piece measures 4” from cast-on edge.

Next round: K1. Using waste yarn, K5; return these to the left-hand needle. With working yarn, cont in Rib Pattern until piece measures 6” from cast-on edge.

Bind off all stitches.

Thumb: Remove waste yarn and place live stitches on 2 dpn. K 5 sts from bottom needle; (M1) twice. K 6 sts from top needle; (M1) twice. K 1 rnd even. BO all sts.

Right Mitt:
Work as for Left Mitt, except working the round with the thumb opening as follows:

(K2, P1, K1, P1) four times, K2, P1, K1. Using waste yarn, K5; return these to the left-hand needle. Continue as for Left Mitt.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Photo: I committed a funny.

I haven't posted in a couple days, so I'll make sure there's something new by posting this bit of accidental visual humor I committed last night. I got a cup of hot chocolate on the way to a doctor's appointment, and put it down on a table when I got there so that I could take off my coat. I just didn't look at just what the magazines were first.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mere News: Buy in Brooklyn is the talk of the borough

I just found three more items with a Buy in Brooklyn connection on my Google News page -- and no, I didn't do a search for them.

The Brooklyn Paper has a story today about the Snowflake Celebration. (The article also references the Umbrella Experiment briefly.)

And speaking of the Umbrella Experiment, The New York Times has a pair of stories about them. One, dated November 30th, gives a good chunk of background. The second, dated December 2nd, is more of a progress report.

News off the Blogs: Two Links

Two Links off The Gowanus Lounge to report this morning.

The first item, "Park Slope Snowflake Celebration Update," notes that many of Park Slope's retailers will be participating in the Brooklyn neighborhood's first Snowflake Celebration on the 13th (website here). Many will be open late and offer discounts just for this one event. The whole thing is organized by Buy in Brooklyn, who are also behind The Great Umbrella Experiment (Link 1; Link 2).

The second item is a "Bklink" subtitled "F Train Gets C's & D's." The line does just that, as reported on the 2nd Avenue Sagas blog.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

News off the Blogs: Quick update on Ikea story

Yesterday, in the Red Hook Ikea Special, one of the links mentioned sunken barges.

Today, The Gowanus Lounge has posted art. See it at "Fun With Boats: Sunken Red Hook Barges."

Scarves, one red and one gray

As I said on Tuesday, I got that lace scarf finished. It's 57 inches long in finished length. Here's the promised photo of the completed scarf (I'll post one of it being worn by its intended recipient when I get ahold of such a shot):


I'm working on another scarf, but not the lace stashbuster I mentioned a while back. I found a lovely merino/cotton/nylon blend when I went to show off the last scarf at the yarn store. The gauge swatch looked like this:
Lang Yarns Zoom swatch

The pattern I'm using is called "Irish Hiking Scarf" and is available from Hello Yarn. It's a fairly popular pattern on Ravelry: with just under a thousand made by Ravelry members, it's currently in the top ten (if only barely). For those of you who aren't on Ravelry, the pattern is available for free here.

Here's the obligatory photo. It's a detail of two of the cables (though this shot seems to have come out light).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

News off the Blogs: Red Hook Ikea Special

Today's Gowanus Lounge posts finally showed up on my reader, including three about the Ikea that's eventually coming to Red Hook. From what it looks like, either 1) somebody screwed up massively, 2) several people screwed up with remarkable timing, and/or 3) somebody really wants to pull a fast one on us. The current multi-mess largely boils down to a failure to notify appropriate local organizations with enough time to respond, with a fair amount of questionable sense of historic preservation thrown in.

Posts from The Gowanas Lounge:

News off the Blogs: Brooklyn Photos edition

There are two posts of Brooklyn photos today on the Brit in Brooklyn blog.

I'm not sure if the first of the two was taken in Brooklyn, but given the sign on the front of the facade shown, I'm not too certain how necessary the rest of the building was.

The second post has two photos of the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, with a short architectural-history note.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New feature: QuoteFoot

I've been adding to the sides of left-hand column of my blog's page every so often. I've tweaked the text colors once or twice. But I haven't said anything about it because it's been under construction. In fact, that left-hand column is still under construction, and I may tweak the colors again at some point in the future.

But this one I will announce, as the bottom of the page isn't somewhere people would look to see a blogger's chosen content. I've installed a box at the bottom of the page that I'm calling the QuoteFoot. The etymology is simple enough: it's a footer and it contains a quote. I'll be getting most of the quotes I use from The Quotations Page, though for no other reason than that they make a Google gadget.

And yes, I will be changing them periodically. And no, it's not a feed, so I've actually chosen the quote myself.


I've got my red lace gift scarf in my lap as I type this. I'm on the last row before binding off; I'm working on that row while waiting for stuff to load. Except for weaving in the tails, I'll be done by the time I get home from work. I'll post photos as soon as I have them available.

Still not sure what I'll do next though.

Monday, December 3, 2007

News off the Blogs

If you're wondering why so much of my News off the Blogs posts contain so much from The Gowanus Lounge, there's a simple reason for it: TGL posts so dang much. I've weeded things down a bit since my last News off the Blogs, and still have nine posts from today and yesterday. That said, here's some more stuff.

Yesterday's "Brooklinks" post includes the following:
* A historic Bensonhurst cemetary needs a little caring for (especially compared with other equally historic cemetaries like Green-Wood), according to a New York Times article.
* The Great Umbrella Experiment continues to gain notice in another New York Times article.

Today's "Brooklinks" post includes:
* A really old (as in 1873) map of Flatbush, posted on the Flatbush Gardiner's blog.
* The DEP did the large-scale equivalent of spraying Lysol to cover up a nasty odor, reported by the New York Daily News.
* Several links to snow stuff, which for space reasons I won't repost here.

More snow pictures can be found on the post "Ah, Brooklyn's First Snow".

Anyone looking to adopt a dog ought to take a look at this post.

There are three photos of the sky over Williamsburg, which are worth taking a look at. They are posted individually:
* Part 1.
* Part 2.
* Part 3.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Video: "Nora: Practice Makes Purr-fect"

A video of a piano-playing cat.

There's also a sequel.

Photos: It must be December

Yesterday, it was bitterly cold. Bitterly cold. Despite this, I took this picture:
Tree at PS321

We even woke up to snow this morning. Compare the picture above to these I took today:
First snowSnow on tree

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Photo: Lattice detail

Lattice detail
Originally uploaded by The Loopweaver
OK, here's another photo from the Cloisters. It's a detail of a stained glass window they have there -- I'd write more about it if I had the info in front of me.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I just measured that red lace scarf I'm knitting at 52 inches. That's four-foot-four. Yes, that said four-foot-four. I still have plenty of yarn left, though without access to my little yarn scale, I won't be able to tell you how much. Anyway, here's a photo from earlier in the week:


I'm looking into what else I can knit, possibly for other gifts. Even if I can't figure out who to give stuff to, I have plenty of other stuff to knit, now that I have all that new yarn. I made several "Yo! Drop It!" scarves from Stitch 'N Bitch Nation before I knew the "correct" way of making a yarnover (I went backwards), but I might do another of those. I've also been looking at some free patterns linked to in Ravelry: two from Knitty but some others from other blogs. On the theory of one good plug turn deserving another, I'll list a few of them here.
  • I'm always short of hats, and that's where the Knitty patterns come in. I might make the "Urchin" hat in that fuzzy yarn I got on Wednesday.
  • I also kinda like the "Foliage" hats, but I'm not sure I have a good yarn for either of them.
  • I like the Pumpkin in-the-round pattern from the blog Mummble-Jummble2. While I think that fluffy orange yarn from earlier this week might work, I don't have a fluffy green. Maybe I'll find a pair of good feltable yarns somewhere or other.
  • The first of two scarves I'm posting is the "Irish Hiking Scarf" from Hello Yarn. This is another project waiting for good yarn, but I have some ideas...
  • The other scarf is the "Easy Lace Stashbuster Scarf" from the Hockey Mom Knits blog. Having read the pattern through, it looks highly adaptable with little effort -- which is a definite plus, since often enough I can't leave a pattern alone.
So what will I end up doing? If the gauge work for the "Urchin" hat in that fuzzy yarn, I might make a hat & scarf set using that pattern and the Stashbuster. I might do the Hiking Scarf in, say, that chenille. But on the other hand, there's a good chance I'll do something else entirely.

News off the Blogs

Two days' worth of "Brooklinks" posts on The Gowanus Lounge produced a pair of links between them that I'll repeat here.

Yesterday's edition included a link demonstrating that congestion pricing really ain't so bad for those of us in Brooklyn.

Today's edition included a reference to another blog's post. Brooklyn's famous parrots. Here's one source for more info.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Photo: Crocuses at the Cloisters

I haven't said a thing here all day, so yet again I'm falling back on a photo. I took this at the Cloisters in the Manhattan panhandle. Despite being so far north, it really isn't all that hard to get there: the A stops at 190th Street, and take the elevator to street level. From there it's a pleasant enough walk through the park , though I'd recommend waiting for the M4 bus if there's any reason whatsoever to think the ground may have any weather-related slipperiness. There is an especially steep set of stairs along the way from the station to the museum, which would be particularly nasty with a coating of rain/snow/ice. The trip takes maybe an hour and a half from Park Slope, maybe a little longer if they're screwing with the subway service.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yarn Overkill

Along with all the other members of the Park Slope Knitting Circle, I received an e-mail from its organizer the other day about Smiley's Yarn's Manhattan Sale. For those of you readers unfamiliar with Smiley's, they offer yarns for cheap. Granted' it's not the high-end deluxe stuff, but it isn't exactly the kind of bargain-basement yarn of questionable fiber content one might associate with the word "cheap" either. What there is a lot of is good, mid-range stuff: companies like Bernat, Patons, Red Heart, and Lion Brand are all well-represented here.

Now, this is the first time I've bought from Smiley's. Why? Mostly because they're somewhere out in Queens, and I don't know my way around Queens. So when I heard about the Manhattan Sale I pretty much knew I was going quicker than you can say "yarn sale." (I even considered calling in 'sick' to work.) For $85 and the modest effort of traipsing up to Columbus Circle after work (half a block from Herald Square), I waddled home with ten balls of Adriafil Felis, ten more of Lucci Yarn Whisper, nine skeins of Lion Brand's Lion Chenille Print, and three balls of Lion Brand Trellis in each of three colors. It took up two-thirds of a garbage bag. Here's what the haul looked like on the dining-room table:

Not bad for $85 and an extra subway fare. Not bad at all. (Better pictures will come when I decide what the hell I'm going to do with all this yarn.)

Photo: Park Slope, Late Fall

Park Slope, Late Fall
Originally uploaded by The Loopweaver
I've been quieter than usual today, so perhaps it's time for another foliage photo. I took this one over the weekend and finally got around to uploading it yesterday. It promptly got a comment: so promptly, in fact, that the uploader was still thinking, and hadn't registered that the photo was fully uploaded.

But I would have liked this shot, even if someone hadn't commented so quickly.

News off the Blogs

It's been quiet this morning, so I'll just forward this tidbit:

In an entry subtitled "Queens Kitten Defects to Greenpoint," The Gowanus Lounge reports that the "Queensboro Kitten" - found wandering the 59th Street Bridge earlier this month - has been adopted. TGL quoted a longer New York Shitty post, which includes photos and a link to the announcement of the kitty's being found.

Today's Brooklinks post has a few entries I find of moderate interest, but a really nice photo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Photo: Montreal Foliage and the Marché Bonsecours

As I said earlier this afternoon, I discovered a disappointing, if simple, error in my knitting and had to undo a day’s work. As an ego boost, I decided to post this photo. It's one of the most popular ones I've uploaded -- Scout says it reached #30 in Flickr's Explore -- and has been blogged by Urban Nature.

I took this picture in Montreal in October of 2006, when I turned my one week of vacation into a week and a half, courtesy of a Columbus Day return to New York. The foliage was early (something to do with a wet summer), and I took Amtrak up there. Spending a day on an Amtrak train is no worse than going through airport security, and the view is often better. Especially when that view is the Hudson Valley in October.

Lace trauma

It was bound to happen some time or other; when it did, I was surprised by how simple it was, and how easy to prevent.

I made a noticable mistake on my knitting and kept on going for a good three or four inches.

Sometime yesterday evening (or maybe this morning, but I doubt it), I either added or left out a row. In other words, I worked a pattern repeat of four rows as either three or five rows. This might not be too bad if the front and back weren't noticably different, but as it was I had to pull out a day's work to fix the problem.

Really, it's not so much the mistake that gets me. It's that 1) this happened before I spliced on that third ball of yarn, so I now have a huge tangle instead of a moderate one, and 2) it's a whole day's work. I suppose it could be worse, though: the yarn I'm using isn't one that's hard to unravel - it came out easily, in fact, unlike that mohair that spat a needle and didn't drop a stitch.

Here's to an ounce of prevention.

The Scarf Lengthens...

I measured my scarf last night at 39", and have done some more knitting since. I've just spit-spliced on the last of the three balls of yarn - a process that sounds a lot less disgusting than it really is.

News off the Blogs: Good News for Brooklyn

Among the items in a recent "Brooklinks" post, The Gowanus Lounge posted two I thought I'd forward.

The first item originates off a Bay Ridge Blog post yesterday: several trees were recently planted to replace ones lost in this summer's tornado. (Yes, we actually had one of those in Brooklyn, remember?)

The second item comes from a newspaper, rather than a blog. The Daily News reports that Brooklyn residents had the best vocabularies in a test administered in Times Square, beating all four of the other boroughs and a special "tourist" category.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Video: "The Last Knit"

I'll test YouTube's embedding function and post this animation:

Photo: Potted Plants, St-Guilhem Cloister

I got an e-mail this morning that this photo was shortlisted for inclusion on's guide to New York City. I agree that it's a decent shot, but I'm a little surprised that they went for this one and not, say, the double capital I took in this same part of The Cloisters.

The full list of my Cloisters photos can be found in a Flickr set.

Shots they passed over include:
Double CapitalLavender and Fountain: Cuxa Cloiser
Winter: Cuxa Cloister

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Photo: The Foliage is Up Late.

Girl Scout Tree
Originally uploaded by The Loopweaver
I took this photo yesterday in Cranford, New Jersey. Like many trees across the region, it still has leaves -- an unusual occurrence around here for this late in November. The trees in Brooklyn are noticeably barer this afternoon than they were a day before, due in all likelihood to the wind we had, there was still a good amount of color still up.

Very Quick Knitting Update

So far in my blog I've discussed two of my knits-in-progress. It's been a few days so it's now time for an update.

The lace scarf I introduced on Wednesday has doubled in length since I posted about it, from a piece of Victorianesque lace to something actually resembling a scarf. I've spliced on the second ball of yarn (of three).

Tuesday's Sweater, which stayed home from the Thanksgiving festivities, has been mostly through the knitting phase all week. In the name of visible progress, I'll be putting in a few seams for the parts that I've already done. Once I get that damn button back on my coat.

Book Review: Andrew Y. Grant's Nearly Human

I'm a member of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. Just before the holiday I reviewed Andrew Y. Grant's Nearly Human: The Gorilla's Guide to Good Living.
Andrew Y. Grant's Nearly Human is an entertaining exploration of the many similarities between people and gorillas. It's a quick read -- I finished it in a week or so at an hour a day (and I am not the only non-skimmer in the immediate family). The text is liberally illustrated with black-and-white drawings, many of gorillas in very "human" poses captioned with text of one might be saying to the other.

Though the text is concise, the book is certainly not light on content. There is an appendix describing, for example, the differences between the different subspecies in greater detail than the earlier text. And though the gorilla is endangered, Grant keeps a generally calm -- even upbeat -- tone through most of the book, and provodes a list of conservation groups (with links) for those interested in helping out. There's also a thourough bibliography giving chapter-by-chapter references.

Caveat: I had an advanced reader's copy, which contained many, many typoes and used a very annoying Courieresque typeface. The index and a good portion of the art were also clearly missing (with "art to come" placeholders); I hope that the errors and the typeface were fixed when the index and art were put in.

* Nearly Human on LibraryThing.
* Permalink for my review there.
* Early Reviewers discussion group.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Photo: Swan Detail, Prospect Park Brooklyn

One more post today, and then I'll shut up. But as I think this is a damn good photo, I thought I'd blog it anyway. Uploaded to Flickr by JGNY.

Under the River and Past the Malls

Like many people, I will be traveling today in advance of Thanksgiving. In my case, instead of crowds at the airport it will be crowds at the train station: I'm going one state over, to New Jersey. I am not looking forward to the number of people I will be fighting trying to fight to get there. The Population density at Manhattan's Penn Station is high enough during a normal rush hour, and many more people than usual will be trying to get to the far side of the Hudson. What's more, my "weapons" as such are more of a hinderance than a help: a big leather bag which won't stay where I put it, a ratty green tote bag, and one six-inch cheesecake.

I hope we close early.

As a pragmatic decision, I decided not to bring the "Nevis" cardigan I talked about yesterday. It's grown too big and requires five balls of yarn in three colors, a chart, and directions in British (I knit in American, and there are some subtle differences that require translation). In it's place is a scarf I'm knitting as a gift. (Its Ravelry page is here: I doubt the scarf's recipient will sign up before said recipient has the scarf.) It measured 7½" wide yesterday afternoon, at which point the progress was:
Misty Garden progress

The pattern is Jo Sharp's "Misty Garden" and comes from a book called Scarf Style, published by Interweave Press. I'm using a chubbier yarn than the tiny mohair used in the original. It comes out bigger but the effects of the stitch pattern are still the same. Yarnovers create holes; the holes happen at the same place in every row, creating a column of eyelets:
Misty Garden detail

Since yarnovers increase the number of stitches in a row, you gotta add some decreases if you want to keep the width stable. Like the yarnovers, these are grouped. The result is a festoon-like hem:
Misty Garden hem

The whole thing is light and fluffy, and someone commented to me that it's "Victorian" in appearance. (I agree.)

I like this pattern. I'll have to make one for myself.

News off the Blogs

The first bit of news to forward is that LibraryThing's user tagging system has been the subject of academic study. Further information can be found here.

The Gowanus Lounge has reported the following:

* Item 1: The Great Umbrella Experiment, in which Park Slope stores offer loaner umberellas to those caught without (these are bright yellow umbrellas with a "Buy in Brooklyn" logo) appears to be succeding. They're being borrowed and, perhaps surprisingly to those among us inclined towards cynicism, the umbrellas are being returned.

* Item 2 (public service announcement): If you live in Fort Greene or Park Slope and have electronics to get rid of, there are upcoming days to have them recycled.

* Item 3: I would highly recommend checking out the beautiful photo of Greenwood Cemetary linked to at left.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fair Isle

Since posting that year-old book review, I thought it might be a good idea to show off what I've been doing more recently. This includes a lot of knitting. I can keep an eye on whatever computer I'm waiting for. And knitting is portable, so I can do it on the subway if there's a enough room. (A little less room and I read, and I read over lunch since I can't knit and eat at the same time. Between lunch and rush hour, I get enough reading done to write a review now and then.)

At any rate, on to my current non-gift project, a fair isle cardigan. The pattern is from Kim Hargraves' A Season's Tale (links below). She calls it "Nevis." Though it comes in a plain version, I'm doing (as I said) the fair isle kind. I've also swapped three merino yarns for the three tweedy ones used in the original pattern. The blue is a lovely worsted yarn put out by Malabrigo. The gray is a yarn called "Extra" put out by Filtes King (this yarn has, unfortunately, apparently been discontinued). These two are used double. The third yarn, the maroon, is a thicker version of the Extra, called "Super."

Here's the hem of the left sleeve:
The Fairisle Hem

I've got that sleeve finished. And the back and both fronts (left and right). I'm mostly done with the other sleeve, too -- I'm up to the color work at the yoke, which looks like this (only with better lighting):

So that's what else I've been doing with my time.

* A Season's Tale on Ravelry.
* A Season's Tale on LibraryThing.
* Yarns on Ravelry: Malabrigo Worsted, Filtes King Extra, Filtes King Super.
* My project on Ravelry.

Book Review: Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror

I thought I'd get the ball rolling with a book review. I originally wrote it in July of 2006 for (review link), and have since posted it to LibraryThing (review link). Since this isn't its first posting, I'll post it here as a quote.

Tuchman's book presents a thourough, redable account of the fourteenth century and its major events (the Black Death and the start of the Hundred Years' War, for starters). While a few of the details of medieval life included in the book have inevitably been superceded by more recent research, this is more than made up for by the book's many strong points.

Tuchman's prose is clear and far from textbook-like, but without seeming to make a point of it, and her decision to follow the life of one of the more important participants in many of the century's numerous wars/battles/etc. unifies the narration much more than would be possible otherwise. She also draws enough comparisons to more recent history (many from the two World Wars) to explain how and why events unfolded.

Given the book's length (it took me several weeks to read, despite reading over lunch and a good-sized commute) I can't really recommend it to someone who really wants to know about particular events of the 1300s. Many good books have been written about both the Hundred Years' War and Black Death. But if you're looking for a history of the century as a whole, rather than just the plague or the war, this is a good book.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Introductory Stuff

I'll probably be posting fairly intermittantly for a while -- certainly more intermittantly than I mean to. But I'll just give an introductory description of my blog for a paragraph or two.

I've made a few false starts in Blogworld, mostly because I had gotten it into my head that I should be blogging only one kind of thing per blog. I could do book reviews, yak about knitting, and post photos, but each would have to have its own blog. Thankfully, I've gotten over that, which means now I can get going.

So, if my blog isn't about a something-in-particular, what is it about? Well, just about everything. And just about anything. If I have something to say, I'll say it. Knitting, book reviews, movies, art, rants on life in general (and all its insanity). Nobody says you have to read my blog, and I'm certainly not going to try to make you.

So here goes.