Thursday, November 21, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Hello from New York on an overcast afternoon.

Even though the light is not very bright now, around midday I did take some more photographs of my hand knit scarves and hats and added them to my etsy shop.  Tending to the shop is an interesting process, and I am learning a lot, day by day.

I thank you all for your visits to FoakleyArts and very much appreciate your comments.  I am fortunate to have had the current couple of weeks of open time to set up the shop and also be able to keep knitting, see friends, do errands, make progress on my watercolor Christmas card painting...and still have time left over for sleeping.

The above photograph shows a very lightweight and long lacy merino wool scarf that I began knitting during my U.K. holiday.  The needles are thin (2 3/4 mm) so this scarf is no one-week wonder.  I love working on knit projects that take awhile, since I always find knitting very relaxing.  the background of the photo is a very large knitted patchwork blanket I made years ago, when I actually thought I was going to use up all my leftover yarn.

The following photos show some beautiful silk/mohair yarns that I bought at Liberty's.  I plan on using each color in separate projects, that will probably involve some sort  fair isle mingling of that particular shade of ethereal haze with some delicate wool yarns in harmonizing shades.  We shall see.  I will keep you posted.

My little stack of tweedy four-ply wool also came home with me from Liberty.  Again, I will find some less tweedy yarns to combine with each of these colors to make some as yet unknown design.  It's such fun to play with colors, whether the colors are subtle or bright.

A bright colored project I currently have underway is a collection of fingerless mitts.

As you may be able to tell from the colors, I intend to finish these Christmas colored mitts in time to add them, along with some other mitts I just happen to have already finished, to FoakleyArts.    I am using double pointed bamboo needles, which work well with these wool and wool/cashmere double knitting weight yarns.

Before I leave the laptop to return to the workshop, I will show you a photograph taken during a recent visit to the Union Square farmers market.

I wanted to make sure to show you all at least one City View that did not feature my very cluttered apartment.  The colorful autumn squash and  gourds do have their own sort of clutter...isn't it jolly!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American visitors.  I will try to get outdoors early  next Thursday morning to take some photos of the big Macy's Parade.  Meanwhile, thank you again for your views and comments.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

While creating my recent posts about my U.K. holiday, I have also been working on several other projects.

It's the season when I usually take up my neglected watercolor materials and begin painting Christmas teacup cards.    I've been wrestling with this year's design, and took a break yesterday with a visit to the farmers market, determined to see something that would inspire me.

This delicately beautiful cyclamen plant has become this year's muse.  Since I have been drawing and painting almost all day, I neglected to take a photo for this post while there was still abundant natural light.  Still, perhaps you can get the idea of how the design elements of this plant give lots of inspiration.

Perhaps some of you will also have noticed that something has been added to my sidebar.

I am delighted to announce that I have finally opened the "etsy" shop that I've been working towards all year long.  There is still much for me to learn about this etsy concept, but I am very happy to have taken this first step.

Many friends with years of etsy experience have been helpful and encouraging to me and I thank you all so very much.

In the weeks and months to come, I will be showing you all more of what I have been knitting and knitting and knitting.  It will also be fun to tell a bit about how I am inspired by various knitting traditions and love adding my own spin.

It's possible that my crocheting and art work will also be part of the mix at my FoakleyArts shop.  This is just the beginning.

I admit to wishing for more and more hours in each day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

I woke up this morning to see very light snow flurries.  It is too early in November for any snow, and I was glad to see the sun put an end to those tiny white flakes.

I'm now going to return via some photographs to a glorious autumn day that I had the great pleasure to spend with a marvelous guide, Celia Hart, showing me around Cambridge, a place that she knows very, very well.

It was a day just made for walking, and getting caught up with each other's current goings on.  I was fortunate to meet Celia in London last year, and having this year's opportunity to visit her in East Anglia was a real treat.

As we wandered through various areas of Cambridge, it was delightful to see many things that I had never noticed or even known about on my other visits to this city over the years.  Did you have any idea that there was a museum that displays plaster casts?  

It's a fascinating place, and the casts have been arranged in very witty compositions.  Note the head in the next photo...the original statue inspired the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty that now stands in our own New York harbor.

The intricate curves of this more modern sculpture were inspired by DNA to honor scholars who made a certain important discovery nearby.

Celia and I saw waterways and pathways, punters and pedestrians.  And hundreds of bicycles, both in use and at rest.

What a magnificent place.

As we were walking along this pathway, Celia pointed out a beautiful wooden door in the stone wall.  She commented, "My Dad made that door."  I had been thinking that the door was many centuries old.  Silly American visitor!

Of course, I then had to take Celia's picture in front of her Dad's door.

Might I mention that not only is Celia a fabulous artist, but also a very fine knitter.  I very much admired her pale green cardigan.

All our walking around was under lovely sunshine.  Celia showed me the Cambridge Contemporary Art gallery, where she exhibits her prints.  Next door, on Trinity Street, was the marvelous Michaelhouse Cafe, where we had a delicious and refreshing lunch.  I took this opportunity to sample elderflower cordial for the very first time.  It was I understand why I keep reading about folks making their own versions at a certain time of the year.

After this little break, we headed towards a particular destination of this particular visit, Kettle's Yard.  Those of you who have been to this remarkable place will know what a truly remarkable and unusual place it is.

Once upon a time, it was the home of Jim and Helen Ede.  Mr Ede was a Tate Gallery curator who became friends with many artists and began to collect their works, not just for the Tate.

The immense pleasure of visiting Kettle's Yard is having the sense that, when you are admitted through the front door by one of the invigilators, you are a guest in a remarkable home.  Celia had been there many, many times.  It was my first visit.  We received a very special greeting from a knowledgeable lady who had actually known the Edes.  She allowed us to wander about as we pleased, but added so much to this experience by her telling wonderful anecdotes and thoroughly answering any of our questions.  She seemed to really enjoy sharing our enthusiasm.

What a day!  I did buy the beautiful book pictured below featuring works of one of the artists that the Edes called a friend.  The book also contains a number of fine photos of the interior of Kettle's Yard.  Visitors are allowed to take photographs, as long as no flash is used.  I did not take any photographs, feeling that stopping to look at the place through my camera's viewfinder would lessen the impact of that afternoon's joy.

I would recommend that any art lover who plans to visit Cambridge might wish to include a visit to Kettle's Yard.  I've never seen a place quite like it, and thank Celia so very much for guiding me there.

More beautiful building with their glorious spires.  More bicycles, too.  

I kept reminding myself of all the scholars who have walked along the same paths that we strolled.  How many discoveries had been made, how many books written and read.  All this made for a great feeling of appreciation.

The sun had set by the time Celia drove me to the station where my train would take me back to London.  I had a remarkable day.

While on that train, I began to contemplate what a fine time I had experienced during my entire holiday, and began to get those initial feelings of regret that I would have only a few more days in London, and then it would be time to return to New York.

On my last Friday in London, I returned for another fine lunch at Pellicci's and was able to sample Friday's being "Fish Day."  Delicious!  The following photo of Anna and Nevio Pellicci is very out of focus.  These two folks are never still, always in motion, making sure that each person entering the door of their family's restaurant feels totally a home.

From Bethnal Green Road, I took the Tube up to Islington to visit a legendary yarn shop, called Loop.  It is on that quiet little Camden Passage that on Saturdays becomes an antiques haven.

I've been to Camden Passage many, many times over the years, but had only visited Loop once before.  On that visit, I made a huge mistake and did not realize that there was An Upstairs Room.  The upstairs seems larger than the street level floor and has a truly cozy, welcoming atmosphere, just as a yarn shop should do.

I am including the following photo of the extensive cubbyhole shelving that contains a great range of Jamieson's Shetland wool, to keep a pledge to Lori.  Lori, you will love this place.  Of course, I had to buy just one skein as a souvenir of sorts.  The color is duck egg blue.

Back in my South Kensington hotel's neighborhood, I went over to the Victoria & Albert Museum for one last view, and realized that I could gain entry to a members' preview of a magnificent new exhibit, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting.  I urge those of you who live close enough to see this show before it closes on January 19 to see it.

Leaving the Masterpieces, I discovered that the sun was setting, and that the clouds were very beautiful.  My imagination can almost detect a face in that sky with the clouds composing flowing hair.

My last full London day was Saturday, and just for fun, I did get myself up early and over to a quick look at what Portobello Road has become.  I did not buy a thing, not really seeing anything that charmed me in the way that some items did many years ago.  However, it was fun to discover that the dealers still engage in a particular sotto voce style of conversation amongst themselves.  Very amusing to eavesdrop a bit.

I then went over to do a similar walk along Kings Road, remembering ghosts of places I once enjoyed visiting.  Along the way, outside a Marks & Spencer shop, I bought a red poppy to pin on my grey jumper/sweater.

I was able to discover that the relocated Stockpot restaurant, that once under the name Chelsea Kitchen fed lots of folks near Sloane Square, was doing its best to keep the old spirit going.

The atmosphere was friendly, the food nourishing, simple,  and the prices reasonable.  The clientele was varied, with young couples, old and young single people, and family groups including babies and little boys and girls.

This new location is just west of the marvelous Green and Stone, an art supply store that has a very special quality.  It's very different from the New York City discount art supply stores like Blick and Utrecht's.  

I recommend a visit to Green and Stone to complement your visit to The Stockpot.

Rain became a feature of Saturday afternoon, and somewhat darkened the colors of this lady's beautiful flower stand.

Heading north from Kings Road, I passed by this pretty old church, which was participating in a Charles Dickens anniversary.  Dickens apparently was married in this church.

I admit to having been a little melancholy as I returned to my hotel room, and began to think about packing my suitcase.

It cheered me a bit to gaze out my window, at the little cab drivers' tea shed, and see a red bus and lot of folks who were enjoying their Saturday afternoon in one of my favorite cities.

And so I returned home.  My flight was smooth.  The bus ride from JFK airport into Manhattan was anything but smooth.  It was good to be home, but I am clinging to my many memories of this holiday.

I hope that you all will have enjoyed my recounting of some of these travel experiences.  I have been enjoying seeing your comments.  Next time I get across the Atlantic, I hope to be able to meet more of you all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from a blustery Sunday in New York.

An hour ago, I began a walk under blue sky decorated with puffy white clouds.  Now the sky is filled with layers of darkening grey clouds from which is falling a slight snow flurry.

And so, I think I will return you all to my recent U.K. holiday, picking up the story on day two in Ludlow.

After a good night's sleep, I enjoyed a hearty breakfast at The Feathers, and then stepped outdoors to check the weather, knowing that I would be meeting some more UK friends at midday.

The streets were still wet, but the rain was holding off.  I was greatly relieved that by the time I was joined by Valerie of Acornmoon and Gretel of Middle of Nowhere, the weather was very much improved.  We had a chat filled lunch at the hotel, and then set out for a wonderful walk about under a brighter sky.

What a complete delight to be able to spend time with such terrific ladies.  They were both much more familiar with Ludlow than I was, and showed me several very interesting shops, including a bookbindery and a specialty paper shop.

Val was kind enough to take the above photo of Gretel and me.  Looking at these photos of friends again now, how I wish that we could have such good visits much more often.

Ludlow is filled with so much gorgeous architecture and lots of charm.  There is even a castle.  On this visit, we did not actually venture into the castle but had a walk around its wall and a peek into its courtyard.  Maybe that is the wrong term.  Does a castle have a courtyard?  Is that because the castle had a court?

As we walked about, still talking of course, we saw lots of pretty autumn leaves had been shaken from their branches by the recent rain and breezes.

I wonder what it might be like to actually live in Ludlow.  Would you feel as if you lived in a museum, or would you actually grow comfortable with the exquisite surroundings?

Val and I each were struck by the Japanese-like patterning of some of the still damp fallen leaves.  I would love to have a silk kimono with a similar pattern.

It was difficult to bid farewell to Val and Gretel, but they had their journeys home ahead of them.  I am already looking forward to our next gathering together.

Would you be surprised to learn that on the next morning, on my departure day, a clear blue sky appeared?

You can see the sun glinting on the front of the buildings, and perhaps even get a glimpse of the distant hills.  Even one of the figures on the carved wooden beam on the hotel's front seemed to be smiling.

I had an immense full English breakfast before leaving the hotel and walking down the steep hill to the little train station.

Staying at The Feathers was a very interesting experience.  I felt a bit as if I had entered into the setting of a story featuring Miss Marple.  I even had my knitting with me.  The hotel staff could not have been more gracious.

It was pleasant sitting on a sunny bench on the platform at the train station, while eavesdropping on conversations of other ticket holders who were waiting for their trains.  I enjoyed having one more glimpse of Ludlow at the top of the hill.

My train ride back to London gave me an opportunity to see so much  Shropshire and Welsh landscape beauty.  The colors were spectacular in the fields and on the hills.  I also loved seeing a variety of cattle, sheep and horses to feed my country dreams.

I arrived at Paddington Station in the afternoon, knowing that on the next morning I would be heading to another station, Liverpool Street Station, my gateway to Cambridge.    My report of that journey will be appearing in my next post.

Thank you all for your visits and comments.  I continue to make note of so many other blogging friends whose part of the world I would love to see.

Monday, November 4, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

What a busy time I have had in the past week since returning from my holiday.  I've had to fit quite a few actions and attentions into allotted time, while trying to retain all my memories of the relaxing, energizing and inspiring vacation.

Around this time of the year I've often done some posts about Halloween and the New York City Marathon, but this year I am going to return to my holiday reporting.

Let's see, where was I?

One of the benefits of being a Tate friend/member is having access to a room and a balcony terrace on a top floor of the Tate Modern building.  The view is obviously rather spectacular.

In fact, once I had been reminded of the existence of the still fairly new suspension pedestrian bridge linking the two banks of the Thames, I decided that I must join the others headed towards St. Paul's.

The fact that the weather was clearing encouraged my decision.

Here is a view from one bridge looking east toward some other bridges, and other architectural features.

Lots of other folks were taking photos along our stroll.  As I was exiting the bridge, I decided to take the following photo of various reflections in the windows of a building just to the right of the bridge.  Perhaps I was still thinking about the "gradations" that Klee used in many of his watercolor paintings.

All my holiday time was not spent in London.  Early on one Monday morning I set off from the South Kensington tube station for a journey to Shropshire.

The South Ken station looks different, very different, from the NYC subways stations through which I usually commute.  We don't see much natural light or many hanging plants.

My train journey to Ludlow required me to make a transfer in Newport.  I was in Wales!

I was tempted to hop on that pretty blue train, but knew that my ticket to ride listed a different destination.

As the train neared Ludlow, my gazing through the train car's windows showed me that I would have a very soggy arrival.  I began to wonder about the strength of my little umbrella, and the length of the walk from the Ludlow train station to my historic hotel, The Feathers.

I was right to worry.  Not only did the open station platform provide rain; stiff winds were also part of the menu.  Up the hill I walked, umbrella swaying over my head.

How grand to finally reach my hotel, receive a warm welcome, dry off a bit in my cozy room, and within a half-hour, have the immense pleasure of meeting one of my very favorite blogging friends, known to you all as Friko.

I'd been looking forward to actually meeting Friko for many years, and she truly brought me such happiness on that very dark and rainy day.  I am so grateful to her for getting her own elegant self a bit wet driving in to Ludlow to meet me.

We had a leisurely, chatty lunch at the hotel while keeping an eye on the weather, hoping that the rain would lighten up enough to venture outdoors.  Friko knows Ludlow very well, and I definitely wanted to have her show me around this beautiful ancient yet modern town.

Thank goodness, the weather gods heard our plea and the rain withdrew to drizzle status, and so we were able to take a wonderful walk up and down hilly roads and see beautiful old buildings and note how Ludlow is more than a museum.  It is a functioning contemporary market town.  Not every market town has a castle like Ludlow's!

I am so delighted that Friko and I had this opportunity to get to know each other much better, and am already looking forward to getting together again whenever we may next find each other on the same side of the Atlantic.

The above photo was taken from one of the old windows of my hotel,  and shows a view of rush hour in Ludlow on a drizzly afternoon.

The following photograph shows Ludlow on the next morning.  The sky was clearing, but more precipitation seemed likely.  On a clear day, there would actually be a view of distant hills beyond those bunting flags.

I was hopeful that by midday the air would be dry.  I was to meet some more friends for lunch, and hoped for another fine walk around Ludlow.

I will be writing about that get together in my next post.  

My New York schedule now demands that I leave my laptop and Ludlow memories so that I can get myself to an appointment with my dentist.

Thank you for your visits and your comments.  I will endeavor to reply to your comments and questions as time permits.