20 June 2016

Christo and Jeanne-Claude at The Gates in Central Park

Jeanne-Claude and Christo, 2005.

Christo has a new installation, his first in about a decade. So I though I would share some images from The Gates, the delightful deployment of orange fabric-and steel-portals throughout New York's Central Park, installed in February, 2005.   My snapshots of Christo, and his late wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude, were taken when we fortuitously glimpsed them during our visit; not the greatest photos, but the images do capture Jeanne-Claude's wonderful saffron hair, perhaps the inspiration for the color of the portals.

A phalanx of 7,532 gates marches through Central Park.

Although my aging feet might disagree, I believe walking is the most enjoyable form of locomotion and this installation celebrated the pathways of Central Park.

The metal stanchions widened to accommodate the walkway width.

Louisa May Alcott, born in November, called that month "the most disagreeable month in the whole year" (Little Women, Chap. XV), but February comes a close second in my view.  The billowing orange fabric, like fluttering sunshine, seemed to bolster and amplify the weak winter light.

The curtains create a proscenium for pedestrians.

Visitors of all ages.

Reflection on water near the pond.

Trail of orange visible through the branches.

Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

30 May 2016

Knitting on the rails

Detail of simple stitch pattern.

For several months this year my DH and I have braved America's train service, Amtrak, travelling from our home near Boston to the soul-destroying rabbit warren that is Pennsylvania Station, in New York City.  A nervous traveller, I find knitting helps me relax, and enjoy projects like scarves where the gauge doesn't matter and which don't require too much yarn.

The book  60 Quick Cowls includes a scarf designed by Debbie O'Neill called "Touch of Texture", featuring a simple stitch pattern which, while interesting enough to avoid utter boredom, is not so complicated that Amtrak's frequent surprises - delays, and worse - will lead to mistakes due to distraction.

Lilac scarf: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light. Purple scarf: Malabrigo Rios merino.

Although the book 60 Quick Cowls is published by the Cascade Yarns company, I've yet to use their specific yarn recommended in the pattern. The lilac scarf in the image used one skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, a soft alpaca/wool blend; the darker purple scarf utilized one skein of Malabrigo Rios, a washable merino.

Having made several of what I call my Amtrak scarves, I think this accessory looks best in solid colors; even the subtle variegation of the Malabrigo detracts from the texture of the pattern.  Also, when knitting in the round, there's the problem of binding off the last row of what is essentially a spiral of knitting; I found this video useful for addressing that finishing challenge.

Touch of Texture Cowl
Knitted Measurements
Circumference: 26.5”/ 67.5cm
Length: 7.5”/19cm

1   3 ½ oz/100g hank (each approx.. 197 yds/180 m) of Cascade Yarns Highland Duo (baby alpaca/merino wool)
Size 6 (4mm) circular needles, 24”/60 cm long, or size to obtain gauge
Stitch marker

Cast on loosely 132 sts. Join, taking care not to twist sts, and place marker for beg of rnd. Work in simple stitch pat until piece measure 7 ½ “/19cm, end with a rnd 1.  Bind off loosely knitwise.

Block lightly.

20 sts and 30 rnds to 4”/10cm over simple stitch pat using size 6 (4mm) needles.
Take time to check gauge.

Simple Stitch Pattern
(multiple of 4 sts)
Rnd 1 *P3, k1; rep from * around.
Rnds 2 and 4 Knit.
Rnd 3 *Pl, k1, p2; rep from * around.
Rep rnds 1-4 for simple stitch pat.

Cowl in  Malabrigo Rios merino, colorway Jupiter.

25 April 2016

Quilts Japan at the New England Quilt Museum

Kumiko Funaki, Rising Sun, detail.

From January 6 through May 1 the New England Quilt Museum played host to 32 quilts from the 12th Quilts Japan, or Quilt Nihon, international competition. These quilts, curated by Pamela Weeks, displayed outstanding technical mastery and brilliant design skills.

Kumiko Fumaki, Rising Sun.

Rising Sun, detail.

Admiring a quilt.

One show-stopper after another.

Hiroko Nakagama, Swan Song.

Swan Song, detail.

Kiyomi Shimada, Ebb Tide.

Kimiyo Inoue, Recollection.

Recollection, detail.

Yuko Eguchi, Red and Black.

Red and Black, detail.

Junko Nakatsugawa, Night with a Hazy Moon.

Night with a Hazy Moon, detail.

Miwako Mogami, Towards Space.

Towards Space, detail.

Yukiko Nakao, Flowers in the Night Sky.

Flowers in the Night Sky.

Variations on the medallion quilt theme.

Masae Komori, Looking forward to Spring.

Looking forward to Spring, detail.

Yoko Masuda, Happiness in Full Bloom "Pear Flower".

Happiness in Full Bloom "Pear Flower", detail.

Mineko Inoue, Wild Chrysanthemums in Baskets.

Wild Chrysanthemums in Baskets, detail.

Miki Yakita, My Baltimore Album IV.

My Baltimore Album IV, detail.

Hatsumi Satou, Dandelion.

Dandelion, detail.

Kazue Takao, Lake Surface.

Lake Surface, detail.

Lake Surface, detail.

Harue Konishi, Syo #66

Syo #66, detail.

Kinue Ishigame, matrix.

matrix, detail.

Jnatsu Kikuchi, Hasagi in Winter II.

Hasagi in Winter II, detail.

For the most part I decided to let the quilts speak for themselves. However, a word of explanation for the last quilt - in certain areas of Japan, harvested rice stalks are tied to specially pruned trees, called hasagi, to facilitate the drying of the rice. Rice is central to Japanese culture, so it seemed right to end my blog post with this quilt image.

15 April 2016

Knitty City - getting worsted in New York

A cuddly menagerie of knitted toys.

First, I apologize for the horrible pun in this post's title. Forgive me.

Although I am loyal to my local yarn store, Puttin' on the Knitz, in the interest of research I investigate the local fiber offerings when I travel too.  During a recent trip to Manhattan, I discovered yarn emporium Knitty City, on the Upper West Side at 208 West 79th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam. Thoughtfully, proprietor Pearl Chin offers extended retail hours, until 8 pm, on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Look for the orange banner.

We happened by on Wednesday evening, when a men's group meets. Real men do knit.  The store is compact, but features a good selection of yarn weights and fibers - wool, but also cotton, linen, silk, alpaca and even bamboo.

Wall of yarn - tactile delight!

Long, narrow space packed with goodies and nice people.

Comfy corner for browsing books and patterns.

The store was quite busy - it's obviously a community hub - but I never felt jostled or rushed as I engaged in what is for me the most difficult part of knitting:  selecting yarn.  This store has a swift, or ball winder, which converts skeins into balls of yarn, sparing my husband the chore of sitting on the couch  windmillling his arms around while trying to keep an unruly mass of yarn from tangling. Wish every yarn shop would provide this service.  In addition to yarn, this well-stocked shop offers patterns, notions, and a great selection of buttons for those cardigans. 

Guys' knitting group.

Winding my yarn purchase.

Selection of drawstring bags with words to live by.