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? 


  1. It must be so hard living with constant noise, and to know that it is only going to increase. I guess you must be tempted to get out of the city for a break?
    What colourful flowers in the market!

  2. Heat and noise - so much more common in the city but when the harvest is in full swing it's noisy and dusty in the countryside too!
    I like the designs using the natural palette - very sophisticated!

    I'll be looking for some blocking wires for my next lace knit! I've been using some long thin metal knitting needles I bought while in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s!

    Sad the folk music concert wasn't a pleasant experience. Next week I'll be listening to lots of folk musicians ... at FolkEast!


  3. Such a nice variety of pictures in your post, Frances. The knitting looks fantastic – I have never heard of blocking wires. They look very useful. I can visualize your walk to Lincoln Center on a sunny day – so much for the eyes to grasp. Here they are not renovating buildings, but little bridges. Three roads around us have been closed for a couple of months and the detours are terrific (long and crowded.) With so many florists in your neighborhood, plus flowers in front of the buildings and the markets – it brings much color to your summer.
    Do you use ear plugs while at home so you won’t hear all the noise?

  4. I'm going to ask my daughter, who does beautiful knitting, if she knows about blocking wires. I love the connection you make between the lace of your projects with the shadows on the sidewalk.
    Long ago I lived in Connecticut, and I remember the feeling on the train leaving New York City of so looking forward to the peace and quite of my country home. Hope all your construction is over soon.

  5. Dear Frances, you should have done a spontaneous quick escape to all that terrible noise (to Belgium for instance). It must be so stressful! I understand that you escape into the knitting -that looks sooo complicated, you are an artist also with needles! Or you try to escape outdoors to concerts but then I thought you must be loving people otherwise how can you cope with all that folk? That farmers market must be worthwhile going to, my friend from Indiana said that those markets are more expensive than 'normal' ones? Haven't been to the States for decades so I don't know a lot about it all. Don't worry about blogging, there are more important things to do - I know the feeling :-) Wishing you a quick stop to all that horrible noise and hope you'll have some many nice sunny summer days to enjoy.

  6. I'm not nearly such an experienced knitter as you Frances but I can also recommend investing in blocking wires. They make such a difference. As ever thank you for a glimpse of NY life.

  7. Hello Frances,

    We can certainly empathise and sympathise with you over the noise and dust which comes from renovation projects. Budapest has been one big construction site over the last ten years and the amount of dirt which comes through an open window is dimply dreadful. And, poor you having constant noise too. That makes it very difficult to concentrate on anything. We do hope that still least you find the knitting soothes your frazzled nerves.

    We have so enjoyed our walk with you around the neighbourhood. So many exciting sights and sounds and so much entertainment for free.....concerts or people watching, costing nothing and providing endless entertainment. Your photographs capture the differing moods so wonderfully well. We especially like the sun and shadow patterns, as you say, very reminiscent of your knitting grid!

    Hot and humid here too in Budapest....

  8. Lazy is certainly not a word that applies to you, dear Frances! This week you've delighted us with samples of your beautiful handiwork and interesting tales of your city with photos to match - and in all the heat and humidity too! Thank you. Cx

  9. How I always enjoy those lovely walks with you. So good to get outside ;-)

  10. Hi Frances!
    So sorry that your building work is so very horrid.
    It almost makes you want to go to work I imagine.
    What a nightmare.
    I'm super impressed by your intricate knitting which quite makes my head spin in its complexity.
    Yes, the joy of flowers indeed.
    Hoping to see you soon.


  11. You may have a hot and dusty building, with the work bing done in the summer, but you are certainly making the best of it. Interesting to hear of the Pete Seeger concert. Very appropriate. And the delightful pictures of the flowers and shadows, and your work, all make their own contributions to your story.

    It's been very hot and humid in the north country, so I've been trying to lay low. Wearing a fur coat all the time in this weather is a bit challenging.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  12. I love your photos of the shadow patterns! And I'm in awe of your knitting skills.

    Here's hoping you can find a good tomato somewhere for a perfect tomato sandwich!

  13. As always your posts are so full of interesting things it's hard to know what to comment on. You've certainly conjured up the heat of the City Frances. Aren't those flowers glorious - they make a stunning contrast to the beautiful neutral palette of your knitting.

  14. Hot, humid and noisy! Not the best combination at all! I do hope it's possible for you to escape the city soon, at least for a few days, Frances. Constant noise nuisance is very stressful indeed and I do feel for you.

    However, your pictures are, as always, a delight and the colours you are using in your knitting are sublime. Thank you.

  15. A lovely post from you and your city Frances...
    Well, I guess I like the flower market best, calm and beautiful!
    I dont like noise at all, it can really makes me stressy so i really avoid it!
    Thank´s for your sweet comment Frances...

  16. I really feel as if I have taken a walk around New York with you - thank you!

  17. Hot and humid weather makes us all lazy, I shouldn’t feel guilty if I were you, Frances.

    Lovely lacy knitting and the fair isle patterns are beautiful too. How can ou bear to work with hot wool in high summer?

    I can also understand only too well that even Pete Seeger couldn’t seduce you into staying for a concert on such a summer’s day. Crowds are difficult to cope with in any weather.

    I hope that August is kind to you and that the work on your building will come to a satisfactory conclusion.

  18. Dear Frances,

    Hope the work in your apartment will be finished soon. It's the same in our appartment. Especially in summer there is always noise. Luckily it ends at 19.00 hours in the evening, so that young children can get to bed peacefully.

    I enjoyed your photo's of NY. That concert sounds lovely! Your shawl looks beautiful!

    Happy week!


  19. So many varied and interesting pictures in your post, and I enjoyed them all. The flowers are so colourful and pretty, your lacy knitting is beautiful and I love the lacy shadows you found to photograph as well. So sorry to hear about the continuing noise though, Frances....and combined with the heat and humidity too :(
    I hope you find some nice cool, quiet places to retreat to now and then for a break.
    Wishing you a happy week ahead.
    Helen xox

  20. hi frances!

    so sorry about the noisy noise you have to deal with.

    lovely knitting frances, i still want to make halligarth too. i love blocking wires and have used them for many years, but now have just learned about a new way (to me) of blocking that's done in shetland!

    i hope you find some quiet (a library perhaps?) to sit and knit.

  21. If I should ever come to New York and not find an abundance of flowers I'll be very surprised because your posts are always full of them, and very beautiful they are too.

    Oh, and I'd be lost without my blocking wires!

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Fingers crossed for you my friend that all works will be completed and normality restored asap. What a lovely blog, but then you always make me feel as if I am taking a walk with you in your locality. I love the knitting. Crochet is more my forté; but I always admire anyone who can knit, and not leave large holes around their work. Your knitting is fabulous. Keep well despite heat, thunder and buildwork. IE

  24. Hi Frances, I am sending my commiserations regarding the noise, I hope it will be worth all the aggravation.

    My knitting has never reached any degree of finesse but if I ever master the art of fine lace knitting I will certainly follow your advice and invest in blocking needles.

    It looks like you have had many diverting walks with lots of wonderful colours to inspire.

  25. 'Hot time, summer in the city' and I can only imagine the humidity and the noise. Still, you give us a sense of the beauty in your city - the colour and the vibrancy.
    Your lace is looking beautiful - you have been busy!

  26. Summer is summer(though it's not my season) - full of light, colours, good mood and smiles! The open-air concerts and shows are such a good idea for entertaining and making people share their interests and feel closer - it's the same in my town!
    As far as I know, the picturesque flower from the first couple of pics is called zinnia -
    We have it here in summer and autumn and I like it very much!
    Congratulations for the patience and constancy with which you knit those beautiful cowls of yours! What about me - I cannot hold the needles when it's hot!
    I hope you enjoy your August, Frnaces!:)

  27. I know what you mean! My bathroom was under construction for 3 weeks.........the people and THE dust and the mess!
    Almost done, clean house and ready for september!
    Love the patterns....
    Love the flowers, looks like marketday in Rotterdam!
    With love from Holland

  28. I can relate to living with constant noise...I empathize. Your photos are lovely.

  29. I have just found your bog. Your blog is exquisite. My mother was from NYC and I have such fond memories of many trips to her childhood home.

    NYC will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you for creating such a lovely place to visit.


  30. Hello Frances, Sunny day here so maybe a chance to take a relaxing walk later after finishing my jobs. Autumn seems to be creeping in now, but we have enjoyed some wonderful sunshine this summer.
    I always love your knitting with such a skilful eye for colours and patterns. My 5th pair of socks, yet to complete the 4th pair, is going to be more pastel shades of green and pinks and blues that will look like a pattern but made by the wool rather than me. I saw a beautiful little girls cardigan knitted in it and the choice had to be this ball. Looking forward to knitting it up into socks.
    Thank you for visiting and your lovely long comment. So you have also been a fan of dip in pens and still own some nibs. I do love using them, been good too for me to do , seem to have gone backwards with my eye and hand coordination , this is a good technique to build up my skills again.
    Hope you are enjoying your walks , always something inspiring where ever you go, your camera proves that. As for your noise problems, an ideal excuse to get out and about and some respite from the builders.
    Happy knitting, soon time to start wearing your cosy warm projects. Best wishes, millyx

  31. No doubt that the blocking wires are a worthwhile investment. They show your delicate knitting off beautifully too. Lovely to see your photos and views of your home city.