Monday, December 15, 2014

City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks...

New York City during the holidays is at its best: all of the lights are out, there is a chill in the air, but everyone is still cozy because of the warm sense that the holidays tend to bring.
Looking out from the Promenade of Rockefeller Center towards Saks 5th Avenue. 
I love this time of year in NYC. When I was in college, I would walk down the block from my campus over to the Time Warner Center to see the snowflake light show in between classes, and then meet up with The Aussie over at Rockefeller Center to see the tree. 
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
I must confess, however that sometimes my inner cranky New Yorker does come out - especially while I was at work. The office where I worked was a block away from Rockefeller Center, and I learned very quickly to walk in the streets and dodge traffic from cars, if only because the pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks moved so slooooowly. 
Toy soldier at Rockefeller Center
That being said, I never minded when tourists would ask me directions (though there was one time when I redirected a tourist onto the wrong subway line, only because I was so tired from class - I still feel bad about it!) and did my best to help them out. 
Tiffany's and 5th Avenue. 
These days, I am not in Manhattan that much anymore, but that hasn't stopped me from getting the most out of the holidays. Winter break is coming soon (6 more wakeups!) and that means I have a week and a half to get out and make merry. 
Sneak peak of our tree - stay tuned for more photos! 
Do you have a break over the holidays? What are your plans? 
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Subway Knits Episode 72: Ho, Ho, H.O.

On the Needles
Halfway done with The Aussie's socks! The pattern is Wise Hilda's Basic Ribbed Sock, and I am knitting them out of Fresh from the Cauldron MCN Sock in the colorway Michael Corvin from her Vampire club back in 2009. It is such a simple pattern and since it's k3, p1 there is just enough interest to prevent me from being bored. The Aussie tried it on and its a perfect fit, so now these are his go-to socks.

PS. Check out the structured canvas totes from Lands End! I ordered the medium one and there is a sale going on until tonight - I am going to store my WIPs in it for now and when they are gone, my "pretty yarn" will go in there. 

Knitting Travels
Worked on Slade while watching Mockingjay Part I. Definitely a Team Gale and its because of his sense of self-sacrifice for the sake of Katniss, and well yeah I do have a thing for Australians. First time I ever really knit in a movie theater - and with purling it was a bit tricky. 

Pins & Needles
Taking a class with Sarah and Dana at Mood Fabrics in the Garment District, and it's FREE! I'm sewing McCall's M6124, the shirtdress. 

Sock Architecture by Lara Neel. Published by Cooperative Press ($16.95 PDF, $26.95 Print + PDF)
We also have a giveaway! Which pair of socks would you want to knit? As always, enter the giveaway by answering in the comments below, and please include your Ravelry ID. 

Events & Announcements
Stitches WEST! February 20, 2014. I'll be running around San Jose/San Fran for 3 days beforehand.

Vogue Knitting LIVE! January 17-19, 2014. I will definitely be at the marketplace, and Julia Farwell-Clay will be in the Knitty City booth signing copies of her new book published by Classic Elite Yarns! Be sure to drop by and say hello to her. Will post details of a possible podcaster meetup.

We have the results of the lottery for the long-awaited Japanese Knitting pilot class - you will have received your invitation to the Ravelry group via PM.

Downton Abbey Swap Season 5 Signups have started! Claim your spot here. It is open to the first 50 people who sign up. Questionnaire to come.

Contest: In honor of the podcast's upcoming 4 year anniversary and almost reaching 1000 members there is going to be a giveaway!

Thanks for listening!
 Listen here, and subscribe here and here.
Intro Music: "Carol of the Bells" by The Bird & The Bee
Transition Music: "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" by Weezer
Closing Song: "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by She & Him
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

So This is Thirty

Since my birthday was on a Monday, my sister planned a party on that following Saturday. It coincided with "Swing House," which was a speakeasy-inspired event hosted by Gemini + Scorpio, themed-event coordinators.
Naturally, this led to my birthday party have a bit of a Gatsby theme:
My sister found this invite on Paperless Post and coordinated the whole event. We loved the simple, elegant theme that lent itself to the Gatsby-esque theme and for me, it also evoked a sense of Japanese Art Deco as well. Put the two together and it was the perfect invite.

We first all met up at The Bonnie, which is a sister-restaurant to a local bar I frequent, Sweet Afton (where I had my 29th birthday party last year, and part of my bachelorette in 2009). I love both of these places because it provides something a little bit different besides the regular Greek restaurants and cafes that I knew growing up in Astoria. That, and I am a sucker for their mac & cheese, beer battered pickles and signature cocktails. 

After The Bonnie, we headed down to Brooklyn for Swing House, which featured a live band, dancing, and burlesque. It was the first time I ever saw burlesque and I was really impressed. The Aussie and I danced a bit, we all drank champagne (I even got some elderflower champagne) and tried some absinthe too in the spirit of the event's theme. Why not?
Thank you to everyone who has sent me birthday wishes last week! Would you ever think of doing themed birthday parties even as an adult? What have you done in the past? Share your stories in the comments below. 
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh Hey, Mr. Postman

I love getting things in the mail, especially if they are little packages and letters. Unfortunately, with the advent of email and social media, things like that do not happen anymore - getting small missives and notes in the mail, or even just sitting down and writing a letter to friend who is far away. 

When I lived in London, I met my friend Ashley. I stayed on for the year and she was there for a semester, but after that we kept a correspondence over the past 10 years. 

Getting letters and postcards from her as she traveled the world as a flight attendant was a small dose of happy, especially when I lived in Japan. Now we communicate mostly through Facebook and saw each other again over the summer for the first time in ten years. 
Ashley and I ten years ago in Bath. England. We still keep in touch through social media,
but also send each other handwritten letters on occasion. 
Lately, I have been experiencing the itch of writing letters - using nice stationery and pens, and taking the time to thoughtfully write a response that is longer than a 140-character tweet or a snappy caption to an Instagram photo. When Robin posted a request for pen pals, I saw this and a fun experience and to get into letter writing again. 

I really do enjoy it now and also enjoy not only the tactile and contemplative aspects of writing a letter, but also the visual. I spent Halloween at the Morgan Library & Museum attending a screening of the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula. There was a bit of a twist: a pianist accompanied the film, playing the score created by Philip Glass live as we watched the film. 

After the film, my mother and I went to the museum gift shop. I love museum gift shops because you can find things you normally do not find anywhere else. I am also a bit of a book nerd, on top of being a stationery nerd. I found this card below, and thought it was perfect for my pen pal. 
Cannot get any more classic New York than Gran Central Station. I had some of my wedding photos taken there!
Now I am on the hunt for witty and fun cards in anticipation of more letter writing! Treat by Shutterfly is a really good resource for a la carte and customizable cards for any occasion, and for me, I am busy picking and choosing my favorites amongst the blank greeting cards for my pen pal. Here are some of my favorites: 
Around the World
I find the cards alot of fun because there is such a variety to fit my mood -  Around the World because Robin and I have both lived overseas, the Hey card for when I am feeling nostalgic because of the typewriter, Tea-Rex is when I'm feeling silly, and macarons, because well, macarons. No rationale is ever needed for macarons. 

Which cards would you pick for a pen-pal? Do you feel that people are starting to pick up letter writing again? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Special Something from Merci Maman Boutique

Yesterday was my birthday, and I turned 30. Contrary to the stereotypical reaction of thinking my life is over, I was a bit...ambivalent. As in, I was looking forward to it, but a bit nervous of what's going to happen next in my life. 
My 12th birthday party, 1997. I was in the 8th grade, and obsessed with Ghostwriter.
I should really show my own 12 year olds this picture of me! 
My 20s were a bit of a whirlwind: I started my 20s when I lived in London and in between lived in Japan, went to grad school twice, lived in Philadelphia, got married and started my career. And then all of the other things in between happened as well: made new friends, met amazing and interesting people, Adele and Ollie joined the family and then some.
Turning 20 in London, university style. Make do and use whatever candle you can get. 
I wanted to commemorate that somehow, but also not make it so obvious. I wanted to get myself something a little classy, which was the total opposite of my glitter Kate Spade Keds that I got last year! I love those sneakers, but since 30 was a major birthday, I was on the lookout for something that I can keep for a long time and say "When I turned 30, I got myself this."

Enter Merci Maman Boutique. I heard about this London-based jewelry company when the royal news outlets reported that Pippa Middleton got her sister a necklace from them to commemorate the birth of Prince George. I took a look at the website and loved the concept: simple, customized jewelry to honor special occasions and people. 
Yes, I will be the first to admit, I do follow and love the Duchess of Cambridge's style. #anglophile
(Source: Merci Maman Boutique)
I chose the Intertwined necklace for myself, but was a bit stuck on what to engrave on it. I wanted something that said "Happy 30th Birthday," but with a bit more meaning to it and to be a bit subtle as well, so I can wear this for years to come. 

Then I remembered a Japanese proverb I was thinking of getting a tattoo of: "Sumeba Miyako," which translated means, "Wherever you live, it is your capital." I thought this, coupled with "LDN ~ KYO ~ NYC" - the three cities that made a major impact on my life - would be perfect. I started my 20s in London, ended them in NYC and living in Japan was an important time in my life. 
Intertwined Necklace from Merci Maman Boutique. First time I edited a photo for the blog using Picasa, and I am pretty pleased at how it turned out! The lighting was bad, so it looks more pink (rose gold) in real life. 
The necklace arrived yesterday, just in time for my birthday! There was a minor issue, but I have to say, the customer service at Merci Maman was impeccable. I will definitely order from them again - I have to admit, when I have a child, I want a Duchess Necklace too. 

Definitely go take a look at their site and let me know what you think - what piece of jewelry would you get and more importantly, why? What would be engraved on it? 

Stay tuned for pictures of my 30th birthday party! My wonderful sister has a Gatsby themed party with swing dancing arranged, and I am so excited. 
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Craftsy Review: New Directions in Lace with Courtney Kelly and Kate Gagnon Osborn

I'm really happy to review another really great Craftsy class! I reviewed Ann Hanson's class several months back, and today, thanks to the wonderful people at Stitchcraft Marketing, I am reviewing "New Directions in Lace," taught by Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn of Kelbourne Woolens. They also wrote Vintage Modern Knits, and I had the pleasure of interviewing them at Purl SoHo a few years ago. 

To start, I want to briefly discuss what I like to call my rubric when t comes to reviewing a class or a book - can't help it since it's the teacher in me. I look for things that fall under the following categories: 

  • Readability/Accessibility: are instructions/information clearly explained? How are they explained? 
  • Audience: is there an assumed audience? How well does the book or class reach that audience? 
  • Multiple Pathways: how are patterns provided? Are there charts or written instructions or both? If only one, was there a purpose and is that clearly stated or clarified in the context of the pattern? Can the pattern be "visualized" - that is, can you visualize the directions in your head without any difficulty? 
Granted, these are things that I have developed as my criteria and can be different depending on the person. That being said, using specific criteria helps me stay objective. 

In addition depending on who the audience is for the book or class (beginner vs. advanced knitters, for example), I try to imagine myself as a member of that audience. This is especially in the case with "New Directions in Lace," as the class is designed as a way for beginner-intermediate knitters to gain an introduction to lace knitting, but you have to know how to knit in the round for a hat. 

This is clearly evident in the first lesson as swatching lace in the round is covered. However, this isn't something to be intimidated of if you are a first-time lace knitter; since you are knitting in the round, you do not have to worry about purling back and complex lace patterns. 
You get to practice multiple skills in knitting lace hats with dedicated lessons covering the Spiral Lace Hat and Medallion Lace Hat, culminating in the True Lace Hat. The first two hats provide different ways to look at knitted lace: one pattern that creates texture as in the Spiral Hat, and the other creates a large scale motif as in the a Medallion Hat. Moreover, you get to practice multiple cast-on techniques. 
The patterns are charted and written, so you get exposure to charts with the support of the written instructions. I remember when I made the jump from written instructions to charts, and made the mistake of doing a pattern that was exclusively charts, which was very frustrating! The patterns provided make that jump easier to manage. 
Finally, the True Lace Hat is exactly what it is: a hat knitted with a lace pattern on every row. This is the closing and final assessment (in teacher speak), really gauging your new abilities in knitting lace hats. 

Overall, this is definitely a class worth taking, especially if you have completed some basic knit hats and ready to try something new and to add to your knitting repertoire. The class is scaffolded and easily accessible with tons of ways to accomplish your goal of knitting lace hats. 

Want to give it a try? The class is available on Craftsy for $39.99 but right now it's on sale for $19.99 for Black Friday/Cyber Monday! Check out this class and the rest of Craftsy's amazing catalog during the sale, and have fun! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Subway Knits Episode 71: Giving Thanks

This week's episode is short and sweet, but there's a lot of things to be thankful for. 
On the Needles
Finished Galeo.

I have 4 pairs of socks I want to finish, though I'm itching to knit  a Habitat out of some handspun I bought from On the Round ages ago. 

Knitting Finds
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals! Indie Untangled has a great list of indie dyers and designers offering deals, but thought I would list others as well: 

Never Not Knitting: 50% off all patterns
Voolenvine: 10% off with the code PAINTitBLACK10 (ends 11/29)
Unwind Yarn Company: 15% off with TURKEY2014 (ends 12/1 at midnight).
Bijou Basin: Spend $50 or more get free shipping and a BBR project bag. 

Nice article listing 10 facts about wool in honor of Wool Week which happened this past month. 

Events and Announcements:
  • Vogue Knitting LIVE is coming up! January 16-18, 2015. 
  • Stitches WEST: February 20.
  • Winner of the "A Head for Trouble" ebook giveaway is Kuntzknit! I have forwarded your rav id to Julie. 
  • Contest: In honor of the podcast's upcoming 4 year anniversary and almost reaching 1000 members there is going to be a giveaway!
Thanks for listening!
 Listen here, and subscribe here and here.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Quiet Day: Knitting Galeo

I have a day off today, and thought I would take the time to play with The Aussie's camera and get some photo practice in. Out of all the shots that I took of my Galeo hat, this one is my favorite. 

Still need to work a bit on camera shake. Maybe if I used the remote and tripod, the photo would be a bit sharper. 

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Almost There!

One of the great things about going to Rhinebeck is not only just meeting up with friends and putting faces to the Ravatars of the members in your Ravelry group, but also meeting up with new people and introducing yourself and the podcast to others who like podcasts, but have not heard of yours yet. 

In the week and a half since Rhinebeck, the community behind the Subway Knits Podcast group on Ravelry has grown and I want to celebrate that!

We are currently at 840 members and while our group is on the quieter side, it makes up for it in numbers and comments. 

So here is how it is going to work - part of me really, really hopes we make it to 1000 by the time the 4th anniversary of the podcast rolls around, which is December 30, 2014. 

So as a thank you, for every 50 new members there will be a prize  given at 850, 900, 950 and 1000 - plus a GRAND prize to celebrate our community making it to 1000. 

You need to be a member of the Ravelry group and to participate in the Member's Celebration thread by answering the discussion questions. The winners will be chosen by RNG from that thread. 

Also, I am going to include a chat thread with an AMA (Ask Me Anything), Reddit style - if you have any questions to ask about my thoughts on anything related to knitting, crafting, the podcast, blogging, ask away! The answers to the questions posed in the thread will be answered in the 4th Anniversary episode of the podcast. 

Stay tuned for prize updates! 
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

(Subway Knits Episode 70) Rhinebeck Uncut: 4 New Yorkers, A Texan and a Dog

It was an epic Rhinebeck
weekend as always - even made more epic by the fact that Laura came and stayed with me, The Aussie took amazing photos and was amazing and a wonderful husband because he drove us & Emily up, people were so lovely and saying hi at Rhinebeck (Laura's hair served as a homing beacon) and, and and!

Lots happened over the course of two days and it was so jam packed, my assistant principal told me she was surprised to see me on Tuesday (I was dead on my feet on Monday, so she assumed I was sick).

We got there early and  the line to go inside was already ridiculously long - so much for even trying to get a Jennie the Potter mug. 

It was a thought, but when Laura from KnitGirllls mentioned that people where there from 6:45 in the morning, it was a lost cause. 
Waiting outside for the gates to open. 
The weather was a bit iffy here and there - I really regretted not wearing my Cadence Pullover at least so I could have a backup Rhinebeck sweater, but it got warmer during the day and we enjoyed the gorgeous foliage. 

Of course, we were there to see the goods - this year I was on a bit of a budget, but also I am suffering a bit from stash overload.

I think the time has come where I am at a point with my stash - it has to be knit down. And until it is, no more yarn buying. I have enough yarn to get me through several sweaters and also tons of socks and other accessories.
That being said, looking at the goods is always a fun thing to do. 

Kim's Chuppah for her sister at the competition booth in the food hall. 
Laura and I had alot of fun running into people - there were so many! Off the top of my head we ran into several listeners (you know who you are!) spoke briefly with some dyers and companies that are friends of the blog and podcast (Long Island Livestock, Dragonfly Fibers & Bijou Basin Ranch, to start) and of course, all the podcasters. 
Laura, Me & the Stockinette Zombies
68 Episodes later, finally got to meet Laura (suddenexpression), aka moderator extraordinaire in person! 
At the meetup, we had a little bit of fun modeling our fresh knits that we finished for Rhinebeck. Laura and Emily had sweaters (a very modified Featherweight and Owls, respectively) and I got to wear Happy Street for the first time. I ended up only knitting 4 out of the 5 repeats of the strip set, but I was really glad I didn't go for the fifth. Firstly, I would have run out of time and secondly, it would have been way to big. I love big shawls to wear as scarves, but I have my limits. There is such a thing as too big. 

What I also love about Rhinebeck is getting up close and personal with the animals that contribute the fiber we use to make our Rhinebeck sweaters and shawls. We saw the famous nun with her cashmere goat, and got to know more about sheep and how they are auctioned off. 

Of course, it wouldn't be Rhinebeck without the amazing frisbee dogs and the adorable border collies. The Aussie actually put his name down on the list for a future litter of border collie puppies! 
As for the swag, I shared it on Kim's upload of the podcast we did with Laura, Kristin and Dana - as I mentioned before, my stash enhancements were tiny, but mighty. 

I'll elaborate more in another post, but in the meantime, how was your Rhinebeck 2014? Share links to other roundups and blog posts about the event in the comments below, as well as the swag!

Here's to Rhinebeck 2015!

Psst...the audio for our epic Rhinebeck video podcast is up! Listen here for Episode 70, and subscribe here and here.

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