Thursday, November 19, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

The sun set several hours ago, and the lamps have been lit. This reminds me that I am coming to the end of my stay at home vacation and will be returning to work on Sunday morning. More precisely, I will be returning to work at the shop on Sunday morning.

I have had a fabulous time these past weeks in my own modest version of Santa's workshop. It has been a treat to spend each day doing what pleases me.

I have painted lots and lots of Christmas teacup cards, and now feel that I will be able to complete the remaining cards at a reasonably relaxed pace.

I am close to the finish line on my first ever sock knitting project. This pair of striped socks will be a gift for a family member. It was such fun learning how to "turn" the heel. Turned out to be easy, and so I think I will be making more socks in the months to come.

I love to knit, having been taught when I was very young by my dear great auntie. I used her double-pointed needles for these socks, and remembered her with every stitch.
The picture below does not show berets, but rather some crocheted pot holders. Long ago, my grandmother used to knit pot holders from cotton yarns, and so I am continuing her tradition in my own way. These will also be given to family members who'll remember the ones that our grandmother made.

The fringed scarf will also be a Christmas gift, and was begun in hopes of using up a considerable amount of my considerable collection of four-ply yarn. It was knit on a long circular needle on which I cast on 350 stitches. I changed the yarn color on every row, and that is how the fringe developed.

This elf did not stay in the workshop for the entire holiday. The weather has been mostly fine, and encouraged me to have lots of long walks in Central Park and also to travel to various parts of the city of meet up with friends.
My usual weeks feature somewhat unpredictable schedules, and this often makes it tricky to plan getting together with my dear friends. It has been delightful to spend recent hours in cafes, chatting with friends while having lunch, or sipping tea or coffee watching delicious pastry disappear.

Knowing what fun it has been to see many of these folks has made me adopt a November resolution to truly attempt to see them more often.

Now back to the workshop so see what else is underway. Crocheting is fun and quick and inspires experimentation is a way that knitting does not. If a crochet notion just isn't working out, it does not seem so monumental a decision to unravel it and try again. The picture below is of a scarf that will also make inroads into my yarn supplies. The circles in the squares, or diamonds, remind me of Indian mirrored embroidery.

Perhaps some visitors will remember seeing this following scarf in its earlier stage, when it was only a twisty rope of fluffy mohair. I have now added a band of fluting via black merino yarn, and plan to add another band of grey tweedy yarn. The finished scarf will have three colors and three textures, and will surely be a one off. It will also be a Christmas gift.

These little stars are crocheted from cotton yarn, and are the beginning of a second galaxy. The first collection of stars was done in seasonal colors and then sort of strung along a little rope/string that was also crocheted. It became a starry bunting that I gave to a friend as a birthday gift.

This time off has also given me time to indulge my love of reading. I have read several books during the past days, and currently am enjoying this latest in the author's series about the lady philosopher who lives in Edinburgh. I would say that Edinburgh itself is a character. It's a delightful series that I would recommend.

I would also greatly recommend the value of having a minimum of two weeks away from one's usual routine and responsibilities. Staying at home has been relaxing and rewarding. Perhaps next year I will be able to actually take a holiday journey. Meanwhile, reading blogs by folks from all over the world allows me to have amazing travels.
Thank you all for your marvelous posts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

My long-awaited vacation break began last Sunday. I am feeling more and more relaxed each day, even though I still try to fit many activities and interests into each hour. The difference, of course, is that I am selecting each of those additions to the agenda.

I have been spending hours at my work table, crocheting some birthday and Christmas gifts, returning to a long-set aside sock knitting project, and very much enjoying the annual watercolor painting of my Christmas cards. None of these can be rushed, and it is delightful to let the time melt away.

So far this week, the New York weather has continued to be mild, and has encouraged my taking lots of walks around the neighborhood and through Central Park. I have been arranging lunches with various friends. These friends of mine are loyal, even though I confess that my usual work schedule really does play havoc with the possibility of our spending much time together.

Yesterday, I headed downtown to our Chelsea gallery district, to meet a fellow artist friend. We wanted to see a few exhibits and have lunch, and get well caught up on our conversations. One of the shows that we saw featured some of David Hockney's recent Yorkshire woodland landscape paintings. I had seen some of this series last week at an uptown branch of the same gallery. I would say that visiting the paintings does tell the viewer a bit about those woods.

I convinced my friend that it would be fun to take a walk along the nearby High Line, the elevated old railroad track that has been transformed into a sort of urban nature walkway. You all might remember I first saw this space last summer in full bloom. I was curious to see how it was evolving with the new season.

We saw lots and lots of dried or drying plant life. The picture below somehow reminds me of a William Morris design.

In the background of the next photo, you can see a bit of the metal railing that reminds the walkers of the walkway's boundary. It also gives a bit of a frame to the wispy plants.

Just over the top of the railing you can see the open, cloudy, sky and the State of New Jersey across the Hudson River.

This is another westward view, and includes a graceful shrub whose name I do not know.

And, if one pivots and turns the camera Eastward, the dark geometry of city architecture presents a true contrast.

It was very breezy up there on the rails, and so we retraced our steps, climbed back down a stairway to the street level, and found a delicious little restaurant for lunch, and more conversation.
It was a lovely day to get outside, and so refreshing to the eye and the soul.
When I got home, my energy level was still great, and I returned to my work table with enthusiasm. What a grand holiday I am having!