Monday, February 18, 2008

Swirl Neckwarmer

Swirl Neckwarmer!

Swirl neckwarmer

I was inspired to create my own button-up neckwarmer after seeing YarnballBoogie's "Fourteen". Everyone at The Celtic Knot has been going ga-ga over the one we have knit up in Frog Tree Merino. I changed the pattern up quite a bit to suit my yarn and style. This pattern is done in a traditional Brioche stitch, with decorative crochet button holes. I found that traditional Brioche creates more defined ridges, when compared to Fisherman's Rib (the stitch used in the original pattern).
Yarn: Catalina Bulky Alpaca, 2 skeins (comparable to Cascade Chunky Baby Alpaca, or 200 grams of the yarn of your choice)
Needles: US 10.5
Extras: Medium-Large crochet hook (I think I used an N)
3 1-inch buttons (I got my handmade porcelain buttons from Joan Miller, ButtonBliss on Etsy)

Holding two strands held together CO 20 stitches
Set-up Row: *YO, Slip 1, Knit 1* repeat across the row
Pattern Row: *YO, Slip 1, k2tog* repeat across
Repeat the pattern row until you have only a few yards of yarn remaining. Bind off loosely, but do not cut your yarn.

Crochet button holes:
Distances are estimated.
Using safety pins, mark the spaces where you want your button holes to be. They should be roughly 1/2-inch in from the edge on both sides, and one in the center.
Row 1: chain 1, single crochet in the next two bound-off stitches. Chain 3. Skipping the next 2-3 bound-off stitches, single crochet in the following 5 bound-of stitches. Chain 3. Skipping the next 2-3 bound-off stitches, single crochet in the following 5 bound-of stitches. Chain 3. Skipping the next 2-3 bound-off stitches, single crochet in the last two bound-of stitches.
Row 2: Chain 2, Double crochet 8 times in the hole formed by the "chain 3" button hole from the previous row. Single crochet to anchor the scallop. Double crochet 9 times in the next button hole, single crochet to anchor it, and repeat for the last button hole. Cut yarn leaving a 6-inch tail and pull the end through the loop to secure it. Weave in all ends.

Attach your buttons up the left side of the neckwarmer, using your button holes as a guide.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Whirlwind NYC trip!

Last Friday I took the bus up to NYC to visit with my friend Day, who is from Staten Island, but who has lived in Seattle for the past 6 or 7 years. He was in town to see his family for Chinese New Year.
I've never hung out with Day in NY so this was really different for us. I got on the bus around 7am, took a nice long nap, and arrived in downtown Manhattan a little before 11am. I had some time before Dayvd could meet me, so I wandered towards a Starbucks on 42nd st, right next to a Yoshinoya beefbowl restaurant. I was pretty surprised to see Yoshinoya, because outside Japan I'd only seen them in Hawaii! So I walked into Starbucks with Japan on my mind, and sat in the window with my $4 latte and overpriced banana bread. To my right was an asian girl who looked about my age, reading a New York City travel Japanese! I figured she might have just arrived and said Ohaiyoo Gozaimasu! (Good Morning!) and asked where she was from. She was more than a little surprised, but excited, to find someone speaking to her in Japanese, and said she is a grad student in Tokyo, here to interview some people from the UN for her Political Science thesis (how cool!). We talked for a good while, about NY and Tokyo and her trip, and I mentioned we were interested in visiting the MOMA that day. "Oh!" she said, "You should go after 4pm, it's free! I was thinking of going, myself!" This was pretty cool, because I'm sure we would have gone at like, 3:30, and would have still had to pay $20 to get in, if Chizu hadn't said something! She is going to be in DC next for a week, and I said she should give me a call if she's lonely :)

Day showed up, and we decided to head to Chinatown for lunch. I LOVE eating in Chinatown(s) with Dayvd because he knows what most of the food is, and can talk in Chinese with the waitstaff. We always end up with food I never would have ordered by myself :) We found a little place with a huge fake tree in the middle of the restaurant, decorated with everything from Halloween pumpkins, Valentine hearts, to New Year's paper lanterns. We had pan-friend pork dumplings, steamed seafood dumplings, and noodles and veggies in sauce. The noodles were too bland for my taste but the dumplings were wonderful. After lunch we took our time wandering up Broadway towards Union Square park to meet his friend from Art School, Tae-rin. On our way we popped into Dean and Deluca. I could spend an entire afternoon, and my entire paycheck in that store! Wonderful gourmet meats and cheeses (one whole case of different bleu cheeses!), beautiful fresh fruits and veggies, stunning flowers, artisanal chocolates, and an amazing array of jams, vinegars, sauces, spices and kitchen accouterments. We tasted some local jams and chutneys being displayed by the creator herself, and she said that all the fruit (except the exotic, like mango) is sourced locally. I tried her hot plum chutney, and despite the $10 pricetag, had to have some :) But hey, I'm supporting small business and farms, and damn this stuff is good! I also bought a long wooden pestle so I can make Mojitos this summer. I have been looking EVERYWHERE for one of these!

We also wandered around Pottery Barn, as I'd never been in one of their stores, and marveled at the gorgeous patterned plates and Snail napkin rings which I think I need to own!
We commented to each other about how Manhattan really is it's own little ecosystem...with completely different culture from the rest of the country, or even the rest of the state. We noticed that in general, Manhattanites are slimmer and more fashionable compared to the average American, and on a daily basis are faced with more options in terms of food, shopping and activities than most people are exposed to in a year.

We waited in the park for Tae-rin and people watched for a bit, and took silly pictures:

Then it was off to the MoMa! I'd never been before, and it was fun to be there with someone who loves art as much as I do :) It was way to busy and crowded though (since it was free), and I was already exhausted from walking around the city, so we didn't go through it as thoroughly as we could have. I still enjoyed seeing some works that I had only seen in books before though.
Running low on fuel, we took the subway to Brooklyn for pizza, and parted ways. I headed up to Queens to meet my friend Dylan, and Tae-rin and Day headed back to their respective houses.
Dylan and I had a low-key evening of junk food, beer and cartoons, and then I fell into exhausted sleep.

Saturday I had the opportunity to spend some time with Brian, whom I haven't seen since senior year of college, and only briefly. While we talk on the phone a lot, it was really good to get some "face time" :) We ate lunch at my favorite diner, the Tick Tock at 34th and 8th, and had eggs over sausage, smothered in cheese, with two potato pancakes on the side, AND sweet potato fries. Talk about a power lunch!
Here's Bri looking swarthy at the diner:
After lunch I dragged him yarn shop browsing with me, on the condition that I make him a new scarf and hat. We went to School Products in the garment district, which is NYC's oldest yarn shop, and owned by my coworker's family! I name dropped and the owner was very happy to show us around the store and give me a little discount on the incredibly inexpensive cone of cashmere that I bought (post about my purchases soon to come). We then hopped a train to the West Village, where I have never really spent any time before. It's really interesting area of the city! Almost more like Philadelphia in feeling and ambiance. We popped into one mini yarn shop we stumbled upon on our way, and marveled about how little tiny second-floor shops with not much stock can stay in business. We then proceeded to The Point, which is a knitting cafe I'd read a lot about on the internet. It too was much smaller than I expected, and it was crazy busy since they were having their Saturday sit and knit. We got some coffee and cooled our heels for a bit, sharing a table with some VERY snotty obnoxious beginner knitters. Overall, aside from at School Products we did not find the staff or the patrons at these shops to be particularly friendly, which is typical for NYC, but not typical for most yarn shops.

It was getting to be late afternoon, so we headed back up to midtown, as Brian had to catch a 7pm train home to CT, and got a few pints and some wings at Tir Na Nog, and debated about whether the bartender's Irish accent was real or not. Overall it was a very fun, fairly inexpensive trip, and I think i'll be heading up to NYC more often, now that I know the bus is frequent, convenient and cheap ($38 roundtrip). Let me know if you want to come with me next time!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hat for Brigid

Another Earflap Hat!
This one for my other co-worker, Brigid. Despite how much I love them, I don't think I'll make one for myself, since I think they look kinda silly on me.
I have a Fake Isle hat in the works for me!

I spent the day helping with our big "5th Anniversary Sale" at the yarn shop today! That was quite fun since most of us who work there were there, and I don't get to see them very often. It was very busy too, lots of friendly people :) I even met some new Ravelers to add to my friends list! They are big fans of Storm Moon Knits yarn, and they practically cleaned us out! I haven't bought any yet, but I'm rather fond of her "Gaz" colorway, so maybe next time we get some more in I'll splurge.

We decided that on the couch watching March of the Penguins was where we needed to be tonight. I've been fighting a nasty cold/flu thing all week, and while I feel better than I did during the week, my hearing and balance is a bit off and I still feel icky. Thank goodness for tea! And fleece pjs *snuggle*

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Monk hat made for Real!

I was contacted recently by Willow Million of "String of Gems" in California, thanking me for my Monk Hat Pattern which she informed me they were using to knit hats to take with them to Tibet to give to 250 Buddhist Nuns whose livlihood they help support! I love the idea of contributing to something that will help people so directly. And they do need our help! They are trying to get 250 hats BY March 3rd. So if you have some extra wool yarn, and an extra hour or two, please knit a hat for them!

Excerped from the message I received from Willow:

You may know that Cathy (owner of Inner Journey in Los Gatos, CA andmember of Gyalwa Gyatso Buddhist Center in Campbell, CA) is a tirelesssupporter 250 nuns near Lhasa, Tibet.
I am knitting some wool hats forthe nuns and looking for other knitters who would like to participate. Cathy would personally deliver any hats we can complete when shevisits them in March. She is leaving on March 12, so I am setting mypersonal deadline for March 3. I have already researched the yarn,which is very reasonably-priced and the pattern, which knits upquickly with size 11 needles.

Here is some background information about the nuns and their needs:
IntroducingString of Gems A foundation dedicated to the financial welfare of Buddhist Nunsin and around Lhasa, Tibet. String of Gems was founded in 2001 around a dinner table at theShambala Hotel in Lhasa, Tibet. After 2 previous trips to Tibet, wewanted to give something back to the people and country we were forming a definite attachment to. The more time we spent with theTibetan people, the more we saw how important their religious identityand culture was to them. These are a kind and gentle people who walk their Buddhist beliefs everyday. Of all the things we could do to help the people of Tibet., one need above all became very apparent once we were introduced to a group of Buddhist Nuns. They needed help gettingtheir day to day needs met. They seemed to have been abandoned byeveryone! Since 1949, more than 6,000 monasteries and nunneries have been destroyed. Thousands of Tibetans have fled into exile, followingtheir spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. What may be lesswell known is that, currently, Tibetans are still subjected to gross human rights violations everyday. The exile of thousands of Tibetan and Chinese monks and nuns continues today as China's genocidal politics persist. There are numerous nunneries and thousands of nunsin residence who are barely surviving. These humble nuns have next tonothing except their belief's and are in need of so many things frombasics like shoes, blankets, food, and tools to overwhelming itemssuch as roads to their nunneries, yaks to haul firewood and supplies,and repairs for the nunnery buildings themselves. In Tibet women are still second class citizens and nuns in particular are under aconstant threat of personal and religious prosecution.We are currently financially helping 4 Nunneries in the Lhasa area:Garu, Mechong Ri , Chupsong, and Nemo. There are approximately 250nuns currently occupying these nunneries. About every six months wewire money to a much-trusted Tibetan friend who takes these funds outto each nunnery where it is used to buy everything from rice and gheeto sutra books and Stupas. It is impossible to wire large amounts ofmoney into the personal account of a Tibetan citizen as it acts as ared flag for the Chinese government.
String of Gems is a grass roots group of individuals dedicated to the ongoing financial needs of these extraordinary women.
Bless you for helping us get in touch with knitters who would bewilling to make some Hats for Nuns.Yours in the Dharma, Willow

Here's the page she made with the address to send the hats to, desired yarn to use, and you can learn a little more about their organization:

Thanks for your help and your interest in their cause!