Wednesday, February 26, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York, on a day that started with snow and is now bright and sunny, but still cold.

Some of you all have been wondering about how long it has been since my last post.  February is our shortest month, but this February has been a challenging time for New York.  

The snow just kept coming and the temperature mostly stayed below freezing.

This has not be a month to enjoy the great outdoors.  Taking walks in Central Park with my camera has had no appeal.

Staying indoors as much as possible was much more pleasant.  I have been doing a lot of knitting.  I made myself a new slouchy beret (like the ones in my Etsy shop.)  I thought the rosy colors would seem warming and my ears agreed.  My trusty red cashmere muffler helped a lot, too.

It's fun to have a large assortment of yarns in a range of colors available.  I find this similar to having a variety of oil or watercolor paints on hand.  I might not use every one, but it's helpful to have many shades to choose from.

I'm currently working on a new scarf, that I am knitting as a tube on a circular needle.  When I get to the length I want, and also the color mix I want, I will decide how to finish the ends.  This might turn out to be a cowl style, or I might stitch up each end and even add some pom poms for a frivolously jolly accent.

Not all my recent knitting has been done in warm tones.  I have also been taking part in a "mystery knit along" organized by the brilliant knitting designer Ysolda.  The project is called Follow Your Arrow, and allowed its mystery solving participants to have a choice of new clues every Monday for five consecutive weeks.

I am hoping that from these vague photographs you all will be able to see some of the "arrows" that began to appear in the mystery item.

I admit that as the weeks passed, I fell behind in following the arrow clues.  I am still a few hours' away from knitting the final row of the final clue.  And then...I will have the challenge of figuring out how to best block this beautiful wrap, so that its many fancy stitches will show themselves off.

I needed to use little Muji post-it slips and various notes to keep up with where I was as I made my way through the clues.  It has been great fun to be part of this treasure hunt, along with over 1,000 folks around the world.

The following photograph shows the color of the pretty Madeleinetosh soft merino fingering yarn that I chose, and a hint of what one of the clues looked like.  Having charts to follow proved much easier for me than trying to follow the excellent written versions of the instructions.  If any of you all might also wish to give this a try, on your own schedule, please do visit Ysolda over on the site.

During February, I've also been doing some reading, including Ian Rankin's newest Rebus novel, and am now re-reading Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm.  The title seemed apt for the season.

I have been buying tulips during the past weeks, in order to bring a bit of Springtime spirit into my apartment.  I will share the current bunch along with my current favorite tea mug.  I like to think that before too long we will actually be seeing our domestic American robins over in Central Park.

May March come in as a lamb.  Next week I will again begin to try my luck at keeping away from chocolate during Lent.  Will any of you all be trying something similar?

Thank you all for your visits and very interesting comments.  It's great to see that some new folks have become followers.  I truly appreciate your interest.


  1. Frances, I can imagine that staying indoors with some lovely coloured wool to play with is much nicer than being out in the snow.
    Your knitting leaves me in awe!

  2. That wool looks so cheerful and cosy ... perfect for when storms rage outside :)

  3. dear frances,

    brrr! it does look so cold there (i know that one of my kids that lives in brooklyn, is OVER IT)she is currently shopping for swimsuits online and dreaming of places to wear them :)

    your knits are so pretty, i like all the rosy shades, and i agree with you, having many colors to choose from makes color work so much more fun! and your arrow! beautiful! i went a bit crazy with mine, choosing to experiment with colors and patterns. i really enjoyed the entire experience of the mystery knit along (my first).

    i hope march comes in warmer and gentler for you. we are hoping (praying) for storms, since we are really suffering with this draught. so excited to say that at this very moment it is raining!

    stay warm and cozy!
    xoxo lori

  4. It is unseasonable mild here. A great disappointment to my boys who love snow.

  5. Hello Frances,
    We have read of the awful weather in your part of the world with dismay since it does seem to have gone on endlessly and mercilessly. We should certainly have taken your course of action and snuggled down in the warmth of your lovely apartment with cups of tea to warm one and Tulips to add a blaze of glory. Perfect!

    Knitting is a world of complete mystery to us but your creations look wonderful. Such beautiful colours and interesting patterns. You have such a talent in this area and how good it must be to be able to have such a practical way of expressing your creativity. Please be sure to show us the finished products.

    And, do not wait so long before telling us of all your news (who are we to talk here?!) we love to hear from you!

  6. Snow's always so much more attractive from a distance, I find! Frances, I'm in awe of your knitting skills and your patience - I would have lost my temper trying to knit any of those gorgeous items! Well done to you. Like you we've been trying to encourage spring with flowers; we currently have bright daffodils to let some sunshine in. x

  7. Nice to see that you are slowly emerging from life in the freezer. We have had blue skies too, which does the heart good.

    I see you are an Emma Bridgwater fan too. Her factory and shop are just a few miles from our home and a good destination for visitors. Hers has been a very rare success story in our failing ceramic industry.

    I admire your knitting skills, especially knitting in the round, something I cannot fathom. Love your choice of colours too.

  8. Tea tastes good from an Emma Bridgewater bird mug :-)

    Isn't the weather strange and extreme this winter - drought and heat on the US Pacific coast, extreme cold and snow in the east and over the pond we have rain, rain, rain and hardly a frost. Although I like a few days of snow, after last winter that was bitterly cold from October to April, I'm happy to see the flowers and birds thinking it's Spring already!

    Your knitting colours look so cheerful - and I love the shawl... I'm intrigued by how the clues work. I mustn't look, as I'm already a knitting addict :-))))

    C xxx

  9. I wrote several posts about our snow, but ours was nothing compared to yours. I read that some cities had up to 40 and 50+ inches of snow this year, such as Philadelphia and Minneapolis.

    Your knitting is so beautiful. I started knitting when I was 4 years old when my best friend’s mother taught us but I have never learned fancy stitches – your knitting is not amateurish like mine – you are a knitting artist!

    As for tea mugs I think your robin mug is unique. I live having a great variety of mugs and china cups. Lately I have been interested in “milk glass” coffee mugs from the 1950s – from the US that is as I had not seen those in France. I bought my husband a New Orleans Café du Monde milk glass 1950s coffee mug for Valentine instead of chocolate, and he said he liked it (but I am not sure he may have preferred some dark chocolates…)

    Flowers indoors in winter bring the sunshine in – I have had 3 hyacinths plants this month and they perfumed the whole kitchen. But spring is coming – it is.

  10. What a cold winter you have in NY. And we in Holland have the warmest winter in snow, no ice, no cold weather. I love your knittings, nice colours. Thanks for your sweet cooments on my Londen posts. Lovely greetings

  11. Dear Frances,

    You are certainly combatting the white and grey outside in your beauitful city with plenty of colour indoors! You are treating yourself to tulips; my 'péché mignon' this late winter is big fat bunches of hyacinths. I cannot get enough of their scent and colour.

    Spring is on its' way, dear Frances. Keep knitting your beautiful projects.

    See you soon,


  12. We have had no snow this winter. It would have been welcome relief from all the rain we have had and snow does provide a bit of brightness. I am longing for warmer, lengthier days, looking at your colourful hat will have to suffice for now.

    I am intrigued by the idea of a mystery knitalong. I have never heard of such a thing.

  13. Your knitting is so beautiful -- as are those tulips.

    I, for one, will be happy to see the last of February.

  14. Dear Frances,
    I'm so glad whenever you can pop in to say hello!
    And I'm glad to hear you been staying warm inside with your intriguing knitting project. Love the hat in all the beautiful colours. Can also see your lovely Emma Bridgwater robin teacup - she is a favourite of mine. It matches the tulips perfectly.
    Stay warm and I hope that spring will soon arrive in NYC.
    All the best,
    xoxo Ingrid

  15. Well it's the end of the month! Spring arrives tomorrow along with St David. The sun will not be far behind and then you will have to put away your scarves and your knitting. My own lovely long Indian woolen scarf has been appropriated by Aloysius, the Bear I rescued from the charity shop. (Did I blog about that? Maybe on PC) Anyway it is good that you are up and about and cataloguing New York for us. I read the other day that the fall in crime rate in New York has been nothing to do with a policy of zero tolerance and everything to do with taking lead out of the petrol. We were all going mad before. Unfortunately because the damage is done to children and the adults commit the crime you have to wait 20 years to get a result. Anyway stay safe and keep warm and keep painting your lovely tea cups.

  16. You truly are a miracle worker with yarns. I would think that you’d be almost glad for prolonged spells of ‘indoor’ weather.

    Still, enough of a good thing already. Time to get out into Central Park to record the emergence of spring flowers. Well, March is pushing in at the door, impatient to sent February packing.

    Since we met I have often thought that your self-portrait, although artistically accomplished, isn’t a patch on the very pretty Frances I met.

  17. Indoors is the place to be this winter but things are starting to stir at last. We have a dour grey day in Suffolk today and the garden fails to call! Love your pictures and feel inspired to dig out my knitting needles again.

  18. Oh, your knitting is just lovely. Those colors are so vibrant and just what one needs on such a grey season.
    I am a huge Rebus fan and also enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm.
    May your March be warm and bright with spring color.

  19. Oh you have an Emma Bridgewater mug! I love them and have a number of different designs. I do very much like your knitting. Really beautiful yarn is something which makes a real pleasure out of the every day, whether you are knitting it or wearing it.

  20. The arrow project astounds and delights me - way beyond my capabilities!
    What an excellent idea to bring in tulips.
    I wanted to buy some daffodils from Trader Joe's on 14th St - but the lines!
    Yes, this winter has been an unending torment.
    23'F as I write.....and I have to sally forth with dear Buster.
    I love reading all the thoughtful reposes to your blog.
    See you again very soon.

  21. I love your arrow knitting and all others you do, as well. I have not been knitting for years but since my (French) DIL-to-be has started to knit, it seems to itch in my fingers to do the same. But for the moment, I am still busy with sewing and need to finish an apron with some cross stitching for my son's birthday. Hopefully, the snow will disappear and nature comes alive also in your part of the world very soon. Have you plans for a trip to Europe?

  22. Dear Francis,

    I hope the weather in NY will be more spring like soon!

    Happy to hear you kept yourself warm and busy during those cold days. You made some beautiful knits! Love the colours you chose for your hat and scarf. They are both bright and cheerful! Your wrap looks very pretty as well. A difficult pattern though!

    Wishing you a happy weekend!

    Madelief x

  23. Love your rosy knitting Frances and I'm intrigued by your mystery knitalong. Wishing you a warmer and brighter March.

  24. Wonderful work, Frances! You always produce the most interesting knitting projects.

    Sorry that you're less comfortable in the cold. I walked out this morning (close to -40) with dogs, wearing shirt, pants, leather vest. No coat. But when you live up here, you get accustomed to the cold and know how much you need to put on, when. I do hope your weather improves by the start of spring.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  25. P.S.: If you want to know more about "Follow Your Arrow," I've got the music video on my blog. It's two posts back from the current one. The song is "interesting."