Wednesday, July 20, 2011

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York, where summer has got us in a hot and humid grip. So far, that other dreaded summer addition, the yellowish sky with ozone alerts is waiting in the wings.

I think that we have gotten off pretty easily so far, and the following photo gives some evidence. I would never have begun knitting this woolly sock on a day like this.

What I might have done would have been to keep reading this biography of Isabella Blow by her husband. I do wish that she might still be with us, but after finishing this book I do understand more about why she did eventually succeed in taking her life. The older I get, the more I do understand about what life brings to us all. No one's life is exactly like anyone else's.

Those of us who are somehow granted more years, or choose to grab those years, know that there are always surprises in store. Some are good surprises!

So. It is very hot here. I do not like air conditioning, although I am often glad of its presence at my workplace. In this little apartment of mine, I really am so grateful for thick walls, that hold on to the chill of evening, cross ventilation from open windows, that I can enhance with my trusty fan. And cold water.

I grew up in Virginia, well before air conditioning was ever invented. I know how to deal with heat. However, heat in green leafy suburbs is quite different from city heat.

Even so, I still value city life enough to try to wind my way through July and August in New York.

Below you will see a pillow cover I knitted way back when snow was still on the ground. It has taken me until now to actually buy the pillow insert, and to crochet the sides of the pillow cover, and get those buttons (bought maybe ten years ago at Liberty's) sewn on. I do like the look of this pillow, but cannot quite bring myself to touch it until the temperature drops by at least 10 degrees.

Let's see, what else is going on. Ahhhh. Yesterday marked my ninth anniversary of being employed by my current employer. Those years have sped past, but I definitely still remember certain days that seemed to linger way past what the clock defined.

I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of dahlias, and actually managed to get some of that bouquet home in a live state, after a late evening trip on our efficient subway train system. The subway trains are very, very air conditioned, but those waiting platform areas in the stations are ... well, beyond hot.

Aren't those flowers pretty? Some parts of the bouquet just did not survive the homeward bound trip, but I am so glad to have these survivors. I think that there might be some gerbera daisies in the mix as well.
Here's a lovely close up view. I do love this color.

Yesterday, I was on the very late shift at work, and so was at home long enough in the morning to watch just about all of the Murdoch father and son hearing on cable tv. It reminded me of how I was such a regular viewer of our own Watergate hearings so many decades ago. It is very unusual to actually see powerful people having to appear in places that they would clearly much rather avoid, in real time.

Today I was lucky to have the day off, and to have the opportunity to get many errands done, have an appointment with my eye doc to check my glaucoma, and to rejoice when he told me that all seems to be under control.

And so, I was also able to have a relaxed afternoon, during which I finished sock one from the earlier photo, and went on to get sock two underway.

Whatever you all are doing in these final July days, wherever you might be, I send you best wishes, and again want to let you all know how much I enjoy reading your posts.

Stay cool!


  1. What a lovely post. What beautiful socks. Someone is going to be very lucky to wear such fine objects.
    Your flowers and vase are beautiful too.
    Stay cool, Francis. Looking forward to seeing more of your knitting in future.
    Take care, Canadian Chickadee

  2. What lovely socks you are knitting. The colors are beautiful. I also like the way your pillow turned out. It is going to be very cozy in the wintertime.

    We are having a cool summer here in the Netherlands, no heat to speak of. Lots of rain, though. I don't mind, really. It's better than a heatwave.

    Enjoy your bouquet of flowers. It's lovely as well.


  3. It sounds as though you have your own oasis in the city, with the pretty artist's touches of flowers and rainbow yarns.
    I have friends who also prefer to do without air conditioning and instead use shutters to keep the cool in during the day and ceiling fans to keep the air moving. Thick walls would certainly help. There probably are ways to design homes to stay cooler than they do but it hasn't become standard in urban planning yet!

  4. Frances, I am so often amazed at the breadth of your posts....your life.
    Socks, flowers, an anniversary at work, something to read and a little memory of how a southerner copes with heat.
    I was in Manhattan long ago, for a few days in July and a few days in August. I remember how I felt that it must be hotter there than anywhere I'd ever been. It was the only time in my life I've ever sat in a cool bath.

  5. Another lovely story you've told us. I can sympathize a bit; even up here in Canada it's very hot.
    The flowers look excellent. Your eyes are working well enough to knit, and photograph. Good news.
    Blessings and Bear hugs.

  6. I think I may have been finishing sock 2 of a pair I started months ago whilst you were casting on yours. It's very satisfying to get something completed. We are gripped over here by the Murdoch palavers. I don't think it will stop with one newspaper or organisation.

  7. Oh, I enjoyed reading your updates.

    I watched the Murdoch questioning by committee - I didn't intend to but felt myself drawn in til I was engrossed! Then the stupid pie incident spoilt coverage!

    It's unseasonably cool and damp here - the garden is loving it but sunshine and heat will be needed soon to ripen tomatoes, squash and plums.

    You pillow will be lovely on a chilly winter evening, and those jolly socks too - is that a Kaffe Fassett inspired piece lurking under the first sock?

    Hope the pretty flowers are still cheering up your home.


  8. We will have no trouble keeping cool here in cloud covered Cheshire, how nice it would be if we could spread our weather a bit more?

    I have never knitted a sock but your photo's inspire me to do so one day. Such lovely yarns you use too. I can picture you in some wonderful NY store surrounded by a vast array of wools and threads. I am sure you are spoilt for choice. Speciality shops are for city dwellers!

  9. Hello Frances. I always feel pleased when a little thumbnail signifying a new post from you appears in my blogroll. I'm delighted to read that your trip to the optometrist provided reassurance. I've had a few eye concerns of my own lately, but I'll be fine if I take care so I can appreciate how you must have felt after your appointment.

    Congratulations on nine years with your employer... whilst the flowers are lovely, I can't help but think how very lucky they are to have you and that a whole florist's shop of blooms probably wouldn't be enough. Still, you had enough trouble getting that bouquet home!

    Lovely to have an insight into what you're doing and reading too. I love the thought of those Liberty buttons waiting for their moment! Cx

  10. Frances what delicate and pretty socks. One would feel lighthearted, or maybe lightfooted?, wearing them.
    Your dahlias are beautiful too, but the heat must be unbearable.

  11. Hello Frances How lovely to read your updates today...and how hot it sounds there. I'm glad you can find some refreshing cool air some of the time. Your knitting is beautiful and your cushion has reminded me that I really want to make one like that too. How gorgeous your dahlias are, so colourful. Take care, Frances, and keep cool.
    Helen x

  12. How I wish I could send you some of our cloudy, cool summer! I think most of the UK was glued to radios and TV the other day, listening to the Murdochs stumble and stall through questioning - I cannot but hope that they do eventually sell up and let the British press titles return to British owners and I am very glad that at last they are lsoing their grip on our various spineless governments. But, I would rather think of your lovely flowers surviving their homeward journey. X

  13. I happened to chance upon your blog by accident and have stopped by here today to tell you how much I am enjoying your posts, todays and previous ones too! gorgeous flowers! stay cool, here in Aus where I live its cold as its winter here now.

  14. Love your knitted pillow!

    I hope you stay out of the wool and way cool!

  15. Where did you get the sock wool?
    Green with envy and need some to make lots more hats when the weather cools.
    I'm afraid today and tomorrow are going to be killer (literally) hot and smoggy and beyond nasty.
    I do not know how you survive without a/c.
    In Maroc, in extremis, I would wear a wet t shirt and sit next to the fan.
    Was down at the dog run early and it was breeezy and fine but rather dread the lunch time outing.

    Buster sends lots of love.

  16. Contentment - that's the word that struck me after reading your post Frances. A fine place to be!

  17. Yes, that's one of the things I remember about New York: the sudden change in temperature between indoors and out but in this case you leave the cool of the train to be hit by a wall of heat once you open the carriage door. As to life - there is something Tolstoy-ish about what you write. Didn't he say that all happy families resembled each other but that every miserable family was unhappy in its own way. Of course most of us are a mixture of both.

    You can design away the heat. The old Moorish and Spanish buildings, constructed round courtyards and fountains are always cool without electricity - or, for that matter, hum and throb. A beautiful cushion - why won't you touch it?

  18. Was wondering if you would share the colorway of your sock yarn. I really do like it. Love your red, white, and blue needles, too! Ahh...dahlias. They are such a beautiful flower. So glad you managed to get some home in a state to enjoy for awhile. :-)


  19. Hi Frances = long time no blog.
    I like your cushion lots. Normally in summer here I don't like to knit because it gets a bit squeaky on the needles but true to form we're having a cool and wet summer. Hope you are well.

  20. So glad to hear you got good news about your eyes.

    I'm not usually keen on knitting in the Summer but I am at the moment busily knitting for my brand new grand daughter, who's a week old!

    When we were in New York, this time last year, we weren't particularly bothered by the heat outside but, those subway stations, WOW! It was a good job we all carried fans with us, they were invaluable down there!

    Beautiful flowers and more than well deserved, I've no doubt .

  21. Lovely to read your update Frances. Your socks and pillow are beautiful. I hope you stay cool.

  22. Great to see your new wool creations
    and that your co-workers saw fit
    to present you with such beautiful
    Yesterday (as I also write from New York City) at 4pm it was shown on the TV news that the Union Square subway
    station with thousands of riders on
    the platforms was at 127F temperature and rising.

    Today the real-feel temps are to be
    forecast at 117F in the shade.

    New York City is hot in more ways
    than one.

  23. 'Summer in the city' - I'm reminded of that Lovin' Spoonful track - and how inside was soooo cool and outside was soooo hot. 'Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city....'

    Knitting is definitely a cold climate thing.

  24. Frances, I've been thinking of you in the last few days with the reports of the US east coast heatwave - it must be even hotter now and that much harder to stay cool.
    Like your other readers, I love the way you write and always look forward to a new post from you. I'm keen now to read Isabella Blow's biography - a creative, if sad, life makes for more inspiring reading than this sordid Murdoch saga which like you, I'm following from afar.
    Lisbon is fortunately not too hot; there's a breeze every day which makes the locals complain it's too cool, but it's perfect for me and I'm just delighted to be missing the rain in England!
    Best wishes x

  25. Thank you all for your comments. Yesterday it was over 100 degrees F in NYC, and same is expected for today.

    Some answers for your questions....

    Magic Cochin, yes I did use a Kaffe Fassett stitch repeat graph for the blue-ish sweater and used up lots of scraps for this favorite sweater.

    My dahlias have expired in the heat. Alas.

    Elizabeth and Judi A, the Kertzer brand On Your Toes sock yarn is in "Carousel Print" color KOF 3816, and was ordered from WEBS, a great company you will find at

    Hello Toady! Great to see you.

    Stay cool everyone...keep drinking lots of water or use Elizabeth's wet t-shirt works!

  26. Thank you for your good wishes, Frances.

    There's no need for air-conditioning here; no doubt you have been told this before.

    I don't think I could survive the temperatures you have at the moment, heat and humidity together take some getting used to.

    Your needlework is very pretty, as is your cushion, but both look very cosy, a little too cosy for now.

    Your employer must be a very kind person, few people's anniversaries are ever marked and nobody at any place I've ever worked has been given flowers, except possibly on retirement.

    Perhaps it means that you are a very special employee? Somebody whom everybody loves and admires and values?

    Now that is something I wouldn't find at all surprising.

  27. i love that varigated yarn, it would make such a pretty hat also..
    looooove the flowers...

  28. Hello Frances,

    What a really wonderful post you have shared with us. Adore the yarn to those socks you have knitted.! Congratulations Frances on 9th year at the shop, and may I say you so deserved those pretty flowers, love Crysanthimums.

    Pretty wool pillow cover too which will come in very useful on a cold winter evening.

    Best wishes to you dear Frances, keep cool.!


  29. Such beauty here as always. You are soooooo talented in so many areas Frances. You have reminded me I have some dahlias to plant - I got some reduced at Homebase in a very delicate pink with a hint of a tinge.

  30. Yes, that's one of the things I remember about New York: the sudden change in temperature between indoors and out but in this case you leave the cool of the train to be hit by a wall of heat once you open the carriage door. As to life - there is something Tolstoy-ish about what you write. Didn't he say that all happy families resembled each other but that every miserable family was unhappy in its own way. Of course most of us are a mixture of both. You can design away the heat. The old Moorish and Spanish buildings, constructed round courtyards and fountains are always cool without electricity - or, for that matter, hum and throb. A beautiful cushion - why won't you touch it?