Saturday, September 13, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from rainy New York City.

Earlier today, as blustery breezes began to bring in thick grey clouds, I made a quick trip downtown to the Union Square Farmers Market.  It was my second trip to the market this week.

On Wednesday, I'd met my friend Elizabeth for a fruit and veg gathering session, followed up by tea, coffee and brioche and lots of chatting at a nearby cafe.

On that day I left my camera at home, but remembered to take it along with me today.

I wanted to take a few fresh flower photographs to accompany this post which is responding to a invitation from Jane of Jane's Probably Knitting.  I rarely participate in blog hops, but having seen some other folks' answers to the following questions, I thought that I would give this a try.

1.  What am I working on?

As usual, I have several projects on the go.  I've begun some sketches, playing around with various ideas that will eventually appear in this year's Christmas tea cup design.  For decades, I've been individually painting a tea cup design in watercolor for each person on my Christmas card list.

Color plays a big part in those cards, and also in whatever knitting projects I undertake.  I've almost finished a pair of socks begun ... last year, and already have lots of ideas about what color socks I want to try next.

Just today I finished another knitting project, and I will show you a picture later on in this post.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I don't quite know what genre my various mediums fall into.  I admire many artists from many times and places.  I usually sort of lose myself in my own work once I get going.  The rest of the world seems to fade into a far distant place.  I admit to being a fan of making things that take quite a bit of time.  

3.  Why do I write/create what I do?

I love making things.  I am intrigued by learning new techniques, and admit to having a little collection of equipment that I have not used in some years but still wish to find time to pick up again.  I learned etching, aquatint and drypoint printmaking and loved the process.  I have a spindle that could be used to spin wool.  I have a serious looking wooden handled hook that could create rugs.  

I love drawing, either with graphite or colored pencils or ink.  My oil paintings are very different from my watercolor work.  

Playing with color and texture and pattern in knitting or crocheting is endlessly entertaining and even relaxing.

I am so glad to have discovered the pleasures of writing a blog.  

Earlier this summer I was able to reduce the time spent weekly at my employer's location.  Although going out into the workplace in a dynamic city like New York is energizing and definitely helps to pay the bills, it's been grand to gain more time to explore my individual interests.

The strange thing is that I still yearn for more "free" time.  I would like to be doing some hand sewing, some embroidery, weaving, and learning much more about photography.  Developing my baking skills also interests me.  I dream of a garden.

4.  How does my writing/creating process work?

Once upon a time I made a point of keeping up with gallery and museum exhibits in New York City.  I still love to see what's going on, but now tend to equally appreciate time spent in Central Park, or browsing in yarn shops.  I have lots of books featuring favorite artists, and explaining various textile techniques.    

Daydreaming is often a starting point.  Sometimes an idea will arrive in a foggy version; sometimes I will have a much more definite notion of what I want to try.  Being a bit playful is important to me.

Last year I opened my online Foakley Arts shop on  I am enjoying having the shop and will soon be adding some new fair isle creations to the items already nestled there.

The Foakley Arts shop features my own designs, and each piece is a one of a kind.  

I also enjoy knitting some items for myself using patterns designed by others.  Just today I have finished the fair isle hat pictured below.

The design is called Shwook and was designed by a magnificent knitter named Hazel Tindall.  

I discovered the Shwook pattern, designed just for this October's Shetland Wool Week, via the marvelously inspirational and beautiful posts of Lori Ann Graham, lori times five.

A free download of Shwook is available via the Shetland Wool Week website.  It's a lot of fun to make.  Five colors are mingled throughout design, but you only need to handle two on any row.

I am inspired by many blog friends and have had the great pleasure to meet many of these folks in person.  The title of my own blog expresses my love for my own city views, while also having a yen for the countryside.  I wish for a garden, perhaps even a small garden.  My own city apartment's window sills do not encourage plants to have long lives.

Over the years, I have enjoyed using plants and flowers as subject matter for my painting.  As we enter into autumn and dahlias begin to appear on flower stands around New York, I thought that I would share with you all a painting I did ages ago.

Here's a close up view of part of the painting.  I am sitting on the chair shown in the picture, and the table holding the jug of flowers is the same table holding this laptop upon which I now type.

I guess that by now you all will realize that I have wandered way off topic as far to the blog hop questions.  All the same, I think that perhaps you may have learned a little more about my approach to creativity.

Old china and beautiful fruit and veg also inspire me.

I thank Jane for her kind invitation.  As Jane knows, I will not be tossing these questions to any other specific blogger.  However, if any of you all might find it intriguing to think about you own answers to the question, and to share your answers, I would love for you let me know, so that I might be sure to see what you have shared.

Meanwhile, I thank you for your visiting here, and for leaving me such interesting and kind comments.  Happy autumn to all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on a hot and humid August day.

I regret to report that the fellows continue the drilling on the facade of the apartment building I call home.  I keep hoping that this project will soon be finished.

Some days when the drilling is focused in a place very near my apartment I can find a sense of sanctuary in Central Park.

Since it is late August, the Park has a very overgrown, blowsy appearance.  In some areas, there is even a wildness about the overgrown shrubs, lawns and drying leaves.  It seems a bit crispy.

However, there are still plenty of places to just sit and enjoy the drill-free space.

The Park's late summer flower show is very different from its springtime version.

The shades of green are mature greens, like the darker greens of vegetables that are good for you.  The yellow flowers that now bloom where springtime daffodils bloomed look so different.

Little yellow berries are turning a shiny red.

The Lake's algae has an unpleasant green shade.  I would not find a rowboat to be a romantic voyage at this time of the year.

Invisible insects or other animals are nibbling at some leaves.

These pretty little orchidy blooms look so delicate with the back lit ferns behind them.

As I was looking at the very tall ferns growing in the Shakespeare Garden, I heard voices and looked up to see a group of folks gathering at an entrance to this Garden.  A wedding was about to take place there.

There were a few other folks, like myself, who were not wedding guests but were just enjoying a stroll.

I thought that these multi-colored leaves were quite lovely.  I think that most of them were some variety of coleus.

Here's another view of the leafy expanse.

You all can tell from these pictures that the dominant color in the Garden was green.

Lots of leggy, stalky plants and flowers on display in this show.

I thought that the colors of these leaves seemed iridescent.  I like the accent of those few yellow flowers, too. 

When I walked back home from the Park, I passed by the grounds of The Museum of Natural History.  I liked the look of the white bike against the black railings.

The prior photographs were taken some weeks ago, on the same date at the "Super Moon" appeared in its grand fullness.  I could not resist taking a walk outside just after sunset, to see the moon rise over the treetops of Central Park.

Yes, I know my photographs are not good, but they do give you all an idea of how this natural phenomenon matched up against the competing electric street lights and building lights and vehicular lights along West 72nd Street.

I took those photographs in the same area where I have taken photographs of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I noticed quite a few other moon gazers out on the sidewalk with me.

The next couple of pictures were taken more recently, to show a very gaudy street planter's bounty.  

The large motorcycle parked next to one of these planters gives you an idea of the scale of that planter.  The planters are actually there for security purposes, to prevent a vehicle from crashing into a certain Barnes & Noble book store across the street from Union Square Park.  This is another example of a city view.

As I near the end of this post, I wanted to show you all my almost finished current knitting project.  It is another of the fair isle tubular knit cowls.  I've used many shades of green, and blue-green, with a touch of ivory and cream throughout.

When I saw this photograph of length of the color progressions, it reminded me of seeing a display of men's shirts, with checkered ties.  Do you all see that, too?

As I have been typing these words, drilling has been ongoing.  It's now just about 4 p.m., and so there's only about an hour more to go of the insistent percussion.  Perhaps it's time for another little walk outdoors.

Thank you all so much for your visits and comments.  I am looking forward to seeing the coming change of season here in New York, and promise to share my impressions with you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

City Views, Country Dreamso

Good afternoon from a hot and humid New York City.

In my last blog, I was complaining about the noise being made by a skilled team of workers who are doing some required maintenance on my apartment building's facade.  That work is ongoing.  I received a notice from the building's manager indicating that on August 8 this noise, with accompanying dust, will reach new heights.

I keep thinking that every day will bring the project nearer to completion.  This must be true.

Meanwhile, I manage to continue with some of my own projects.  The above photograph shows the blocking of my lacy Halligarth shawl, knit from a Brooklyn Tweed pattern designed by Gudrun Johnston.  I love the look of the multicolored blocking "jigsaw" squares peeking through the lace.

This was the first time that I'd used blocking wires, and it was interesting to see how using these wires, pinned at intervals through the shawl into the blocks below, really did transform the stitches.

The following photograph is poor, but it does give an idea of how I was able to get more definition to the points of the scalloped edging.  If any of you all reading this post are knitters who've been wondering whether to invest in some blocking wires, I would recommend them.

Even when the air is hot, and there is not much of a breeze, it's still good to get outdoors for a walk.  The exercise is good, and there's always something to catch the eye.

These patterns in these photographs of sidewalk shadows made by mid-afternoon sunlight passing through a gateway on my street reminded me somewhat of some the knitting I've been doing.

That particular afternoon, I decided to take a walk down to Lincoln Center, the performing arts center just a few blocks down Broadway.  It was a Sunday afternoon, and I passed by a regular Sunday sidewalk attraction.  These flowers are leftovers from some sort of wholesale florist establishment, being sold by folks who have found a way to salvage them.

Most of the flowers always look a bit bedraggled, but clearly some folks are attracted by them and make purchases.  Behind these orchids you can see multi-colored "street furniture" that contain various free newspapers.

The reason I was headed to Lincoln Center was that afternoon's Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors concert, a tribute to the late folk singer and environmental activist Pete Seeger.  As I'd expected the intense heat had not kept crowds away.

I think that you can just about make out the stage in the background of the above photograph.  There are lots of seats arranged in rows in front of the stage, but on this particular afternoon, there were thousands more folks milling around, sitting on the plaza grounds, and actually sitting on the street and sidewalks just outside the Lincoln Center property.

A powerful sound system had been designed to provide balanced sound for the folks sitting in the rows of folding chairs.  It was very difficult to hear anything very musical above the din made by all the other folks who were chatting with each other.  I felt sorry for tired and cranky children who'd been brought by their parents to this sort of historic concert.

It was all too much for me.  I decided to just walk back home, and try to find a cooling breeze on Broadway.

There would be other concerts, other days.

My building is not the only one in the City that is having repair work done during July and August.  I found this usually elegant Upper East Side doorway looking a bit underwhelmed by the various posted building permits.  I am sure that all will be clear and shiny again by September. 

I have continued to make weekly visits to the Union Square Farmers Market, and took this photograph to show another leafy part of Union Square.  Just behind those flowering shrubs, there are some tables and chairs where you can rest in the shade.

And in the open, paved area where the Farmers Market stands are pitched, we continue to be dazzled by fruit, veg and flowers.  I am happy to report that ripe tomato season has finally arrived!

In my walks around the City, I've also encountered more flowers planted in front of various apartment buildings.  Many different color schemes are in play.

There are very few retail shops along upper Park Avenue where the atmosphere is elegantly residential.  However, there are a few florist shops.  The next picture shows a lavish display in front of one such shop.  The orchids on the inside of this shop looked much prettier than those I saw on the Broadway sidewalk.  

These pretty blooms were in a planter just outside the doorway of a posh apartment building.  I did not see or hear any noisy, dusty construction going on at this location.

Once again I will give you a glimpse of a current knitting project, another fair isle cowl, knitted as a tube on a circular needle.

I am exploring combinations of neutral colors.  Some of the colors of the wool are so close (yet very different) that it's necessary to do this knitting in natural light.

When I began typing this post, I was certain that a thunderstorm would occur before I'd clicked on Publish.  However, once again, Mother Nature has surprised me.  The air has become less humid, without a storm.  The sky is blue.  Perhaps it's a perfect time for a little walk.

As always, I thank you all for your visits and comments.  It was my intention to post more frequently during July, but laziness took over.  I wonder if August will be different? 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from sunny New York City.

We've now entered into the days of heat and humidity.  Dramatic thunder and lightening, accompanied by heavy showers, add to the excitement of city life.

Strange little City mini-parks contain exuberant flowering displays cheer us as we walk the hot sidewalks.  I try to stay in the shade.

During my days off, I also try to stay indoors during the midday hours.  I have a fan and cross-ventilation, but no air conditioning.  This summer an unwanted complication has entered into my primitive climate control strategy.  Maintenance work is being done on the apartment building's exterior.  Teams of men arrive at 8 a.m. and leave around 4 p.m.  During their work hours they ride up and down on complex automated scaffolding platforms, stopping at a particular floor.  They use very noisy drills in their work.  While they are nearby one's own floor, one is advised to keep window/s and blinds closed.

This gives an interesting silhouette.  The noise and vibration of their necessary work really does disturb the peace. 

I have tried to stay away when the workmen are very near my floor.  It's more fun to meet friends in cooler, calmer places.  I took the bus over to The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the East Side, and was impressed by the curbside plantings outside some of the impressive apartment buildings across Fifth Avenue from the Museum.

These plantings were very well groomed, and quite different from those plantings behind the fence at Shermsn Square.

It was great fun to meet a friend at the Met and see some excellent exhibits featuring Pre-Raphaelite art, William Morris wallpaper, Byzantine design, and Indian miniature paintings inspired by ragas.  Each of these exhibits was beautiful and peaceful, and contained lots of imagery based on nature.

I returned home after 4 p.m. and continued with my current knitting project.  Yes, I am knitting with wool.

Using a cool blue and green color assortment seems more comfortable than using firey reds.

I like the notion that I might also be inspired by nature.

This project is being knitted as a tube on a circular needle.  I will eventually use that tricky kitchener stitch to attach the ends of the tube to create a cowl.  The cowl will be going into my Etsy shop.  Cooler weather will arrive.

New York City has complex rules for curbside parking.  I cannot understand why anyone would want to own a car in this city, although many folks do own cars.  I rely on public transportation and my two feet, but sometimes take a cab.

This week as the sun goes down I have seen a vast array of taxis parked on my street.

The reason for this is the observance of Ramadan by the drivers of these cabs.  There is a mosque in the neighborhood.

I hope that you all will enjoy seeing some of these summer city views.  It has been a pleasure to see your comments and to see some new followers, too.  Thank you so much for your response to my last post's tribute to Paul Mazursky.