sock at the beach

We came back from our annual trip to the Jersey Shore yesterday and it rained (a lot), but fortunately, not for the whole time. I turned the heel on the sock on the bus going down to the shore, and on one of the first days of downpour, we went bowling (photo 1). We did walk along the beach (photo 2) and bike ride, but we didn’t lounge on the beach, because it was basically mud. It was kind of a San Francisco-esque beach experience, one might say. We also went on the boardwalk, where this somewhat odd paintball shooting booth is a strange Rorschach test for the American psyche–in the past it has had “Shoot the terrorist” as a come-on for passersby, and this year, I think it had a mannequin of Dick Cheney (?). I’m not totally sure this is Dick Cheney, and I’m not sure I understand what his role is as advertising–is he a possible paintball shooter or a possible paintball shooter target? It was all strangely unclear to me.

We also went to a Ye Olde Time village called Cold Spring, (picture 4) which had various people in olde time clothing chatting about spinning (!), printing, farming, etc. I have to say that some of the people who worked there, were, ahem, a bit curmudgeonly, which led me to the belief that in Ye Olden Times, everyone was a grouch. We did love the printing guy though–he was cheerful and had a lot of interesting info, and showed us how to set lead type. Due to either an emphasis on colonial times in elementary school or my own personal interest in crafts, I think I actually knew a lot of the rather vague information dispensed at the village. Also, I think many of the skills demonstrated at the village are still being used today, which made the whole Ye Olden vibe a bit false. (That might be the point, I’m not sure–you know, living history and all.) When I was a kid, my dad used to occasionally take me to watch the Chinese newspaper being typeset, which, at the time, was still set using lead type, like in Ye Olden Times, and I took Intaglio in college, so I was familiar with the basics of the press. Adam even has a small press at home that he occasionally letterpresses with, so though that was definitely the most interesting stop in the village, it was not so novel. The “handicrafts” stop, was, obviously, a process (knitting!) familiar to me. The woodshop was run by a somewhat suspect tour guide, a young man whose thumb was wrapped in a giant bandage, which made Adam and I wonder if he really had any skills. My high school actually required wood shop, metal shop, and machine shop, as classes, and though I was pretty bad at all of the shop classes, even I could tell that our guide (a) had no chisel skills and (b) seemed a little anxious around a pedal-powered scroll saw. We will not speak of the tinmaker.

I think I might also have a rather large store of vague Ye Olde Time knowledge from a devoted reading of the Little House on the Prairie series (1870s-ish), The Great Brain series (end of the 19th century), and All of Kind Family series (1910s) as a kid. Visiting Cold Spring further convinced me that I would have hated life as a Ye Olde farmer, and would have rather made it as a city person, if possible. (I think in The Great Brain, the narrator’s dad was a newspaper editor/printer, and I have no idea what the parents did in All of a Kind Family, but at least the kids got to go roller skating and ice cream eating, whereas Little House on the Prairie was all crow-chasing and lard-hoarding. Lizzie Skurnick over at Jezebel, with her hilarious Fine Lines series, describes the Little House books as “frontier porn for the underaged.”) Adam was all, “Well, you could have knit all the time,” but I pointed out that it wouldn’t have been a fun hobby, but instead a horrible toil, where I would have been forced to knit socks for my many many children and husband non-stop as I stirred my lard soap day in and day out or something. Or hoped to scrape by with bits of gristle as a crotchety old spinster. (I recently read an Edith Wharton short story where a couple men were mourning a great beauty who had grown aged and grey in her dottage, and then I came across the shocking line that said something like, “At 32, her best days were far behind her,” and I was like, whoa, clearly I would have been put out to pasture in some old knitting hut in Ye Olden Times, since I am SO OLD.)

Anyway, back to the sock.
sock at cape may

Pattern: Monkey, by Cookie A., in Knitty

Yarn: Toe Jamz, by Happy Hands, from Just 4 Ewe in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Color: Secret Garden. Price: $22. Each skein has a TON of yardage–450 yards. I had a lot left over. Enough to make a third sock, probably. Maybe even a second pair.

Needles: Size 0 9″ Hiya Hiya, and regular size 0 DPNs from Susan Batees for casting on, the heel, and the toe.

Project started/finished: March 9, finished June 25–so three months, since I had second sock syndrome for about a month in the middle there.
sock at the beach

Modifications: Well, I knit these on a tiny circular needle, and I did a different cuff (regular ribbing instead of twisted ribbing), heel (short-row instead of flap), and toe (round instead of standard), but the body of the sock is the same. Since the ENTIRE online knitting community has knit these socks, I don’t really need to say a lot about the pattern except that it’s fun! And easy to memorize!

Photo shoot notes: The completed socks were shot in Cape May, NJ, in front of a WWII fire tower and on the beach.

Posted in Finished Objects 2009, Socks, travelingproject, Uncategorized at June 29th, 2009.

The High Line

We went to the High Line at night last week. (The High Line is a new elevated park built on the remnants of an old elevated railroad track in downtown Manhattan.) It’s quite beautiful and currently stretches from the Meatpacking District down to about 20th Street or so.)

The High Line

Walking down the High Line makes Manhattan look like 1960s Hong Kong or Rio or something, especially with the new addition of The Standard, which looks totally retro (even though it’s new) and perches over the High Line. The ceilings in the hotel rooms look like they’re made of wood, which looks quite chic when you’re looking at the rooms. It’s straight out of a Wong Kar Wai or Wes Anderson movie. (I told Adam that I thought those two should collaborate and he made a horrible face, since he thinks Wes Anderson is twee. But they ARE both very stylized filmmakers.) The High Line is totally calling out for some atmospheric music in your head. Also good for hipster dates. And free!

Traveling Sock at the High Line

Traveling sock went to visit, too! (All photos by Adam, as usual.)

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized at June 17th, 2009.

Traveling sock

Adam looked down at my sock the other day and said. “Those colors are HIDEOUS.” Whatever–as my friend pointed out yesterday, I bought these truly hideous white T-strap Birkenstocks ten years ago, and they have since become the height of fashion. (She was like “God, people are still wearing those horrible shoes you bought in 2000.”) I have an eye for hideousness that crosses the line into cool. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I’ve been reading, and  though I actually (and occasionally) review books for money in real life, I am not a great book reviewer on my blog. Generally, I just read books and absorb them and that’s it. Though my friend recommended reading The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, which I’ve owned for a couple of years (it was a gift) and I never read it. I was like, “Oh, I was worried it would be one of those ethnic identity books that I am not very into,” and she said, “No, it’s written in the culture of nerds, in NERDESE.” Apparently, the whole book is all about Lord of the Rings, so I will retrieve that book and read it this week, while the Hobbits are fresh in my mind. Same friend firmly vetoed Twilight, claiming it ruins your brain, even though she read all three. As I am not particularly into vampires (though I do enjoy a high school romance), I think I am safe.

Anyway, this week, I read America America, by Ethan Canin, which was kind of a crappier version of All the King’s Men. I understand that novelists–particularly male novelists–are fond of these epic, sweeping “And lo, this is America!”-kind of books, but they don’t always work out. I should write not-so-enthusiastic flap copy for books. America America could be described as:

*crappy All the King’s Men

* Primary Colors, but in the ’70s

* The Emperor of Ocean Park, but with white people!

I guess I secretly do read a lot of these political campaign books. I actually have read another Ethan Canin book–For Kings and Planets, and there were definite similarities between the two books. Both books are very into class and moving from the lower-middle class into the upper-middle class, a topic I do find interesting, but Canin is always so obvious about these issues I find his writing a little frustrating. Plus, I think in his efforts to ennoble the working class, he ends up being condescending. Whenever novelists start singing the praises of the working man, I groan, because I know that it’s all downhill prep-school  envy from there on out. Personally, I prefer my class warfare hidden within romantic machinations, hence my deep allegiance to Gossip Girl.

Posted in book reviews, Socks, Uncategorized at June 15th, 2009.

I finished The Return of the King yesterday.  Anyhow, I did not become a Lord of the Rings mega-nerd, though I do now like to refer to people as X, son of Y, which is how everyone is ever introduced in LOTR. Anyway, this book was less like King Arthur stuff, as I had assumed it would be, and more like the Iliad/Odyssey, though somewhat reversed–the first two books are the odyssey part, and the third is the Iliad part.  It was really just one big war/journey book(s), with lots and lots of lineage-talk. By the time I got to book three, which is all lamentations of lands lost and children slain, I was like, okaaay, I know, I read the Iliad. (I’m actually much more familiar with the Iliad than the Odyssey, though I had to read both in college, because in fifth grade, we read some kind of abbreviated version of the Iliad and then had to draw our own illustrated version of the story, which kind of helps stick it in your brain.)

I have no knitting news. Sorry.

Posted in book reviews, Uncategorized at June 9th, 2009.


Far in the distance–if you squint hard enough–is the Statue of Liberty, and the cuff of the second loud monkey sock. I admit it–I like hideous sock yarn. I think a little vulgarity in life is fun, plus I can’t resist brightly colored skeins’ siren call: “I am so ugly and bright…please buy me!” Anyway, the yarn is for socks–where else are you gonna get crazy with knitting? (Wait, don’t answer that.) 

me, riding a bike

We went to Governor’s Island (you can take a ferry over for free–it’s just a ten-minute ride or so, though the boat only comes once an hour), and rode bikes around. (That’s me above!) I have extremely poor locomotion skills–basically, I can only go forward, so Governor’s Island is nice because there are no cars to clog up the roads.

I think the funniest exchange was in the gift store, which is run by the Park Service. I was looking for a hat or visor, because I forgot to bring one (or sunglasses) and the sun was rather bright. I asked the park ranger who was working as a salesgirl if they had any non-Civil War hats (the island used to be a Civil War fort, I think). She went, “Yes, we do. That one.” Me: “Um, that’s a pirate hat.” Her: “Actually, that’s a Revolutionary War hat.” Oookay. Even though they were only $6, I could not deal with riding around in a hot, wool felt Civil War/Revolutionary War hat with no brim. I would look crazy and still be hot!

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized at June 8th, 2009.


I’ve taken up sock knitting again, and moving my socks out of hibernation. The squares and the sweater are just too difficult to knit on the subway. I’m trying something new with these Loud Monkey socks–I’m knitting them on 9″ circulars (Hiya Hiya brand). It’s definitely a different feel than DPNs. I think I prefer DPNs, but there is something incredibly quick about knitting on these needles. Also, the pattern (Cookie A.’s Monkeys, which is the most knit sock pattern ever) is really fast and easy to memorize. Now I must abandon you, my readers, to read the second half of LOTR: The Two Towers. 

Posted in Socks, travelingproject, Uncategorized at June 5th, 2009.
log cabins

Since I’ve been knitting my log cabin blanket, I’ve become re-interested in quilts in general (a common side effect of log cabin knitting, I think). I went through a brief obsession with quilts as a kid (probably because of a book I read–I think it might have been a picture book, but I can’t remember the title), but nothing ever really happened with my obsession, besides a quilted pillowcase. But I recently discovered the website for the International Quilt Study Center, (it happened to win a prize in that freelance project I was editing a couple of weeks ago) and the interface is really terrific. The image above is from some of the examples that come up for “log cabin.” You can spend quite some time playing with its explorer feature. I also found a really cool knitted log cabin quilt on Ravelry (registration required), by a user named Bubbie Ann (she has a Flickr photo of it here, as well).

Posted in afghans/blankets, Inspiration, Uncategorized at June 4th, 2009.

Some random thoughts: I happened to catch Steel Magnolias on television the other day, and I realized why so many commenters pointed out that Julia Roberts’s character had died of diabetes, not cancer, when I brought it up. The whole movie was about diabetes! As a closet Brothers and Sisters fan, I was amused to see that Sally Field’s movie husband was Tom Skerritt, who is also her television husband. Also, as commenter Michelle mentioned yesterday, there is a Sex and the City episode set on Staten Island, where Carrie misses the boat to go back to Manhattan, but as Adam pointed out, the ferry runs (for free) all night, so it wasn’t a super realistic episode, except that she would have had to wait an hour for the next one, I guess.


I like taking photos of flowers, though the photos are not as beautiful as in real life. This is the border of a lawn in my parents’ neighborhood in San Francisco–there’s some freesia on the bottom, and poppies, tulips, and ranunculus (ii?). 


I’m still knitting squares. I’m really loving garter stitch these days. Simple and easy and SQUISHY. 

Strand Bookstore outside Central Park

(This picture is from this site.)

Over the weekend, we walked by the Strand’s outdoor book stalls and Adam bought me The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, not believing I would really read it. Well, I read the whole thing, and now I need books 2 and 3. I have to say I wasn’t particularly addicted, because at least book 1 was a little, um, [cowering from LOTR-fan hate] boring. I like King Arthur-y stuff, but the Fellowship of the Ring story, in my opinion, was lacking in psychological motivations for any of the characters. I mentioned this to Adam, and he was all, “IS DESTROYING THE RING TO SAVE THE ENTIRE WORLD NOT ENOUGH MOTIVATION?!” I’m like, well, okay, but so? I mean cute little Frodo (I am refusing to imagine him as Elijah Wood, rather picturing him kind of like an Ewok) is going through all this stuff, but why? I think this book is in dire need of some of my favorite plot elements: 1.) family revelations; 2.) psychological motivation (preferably with a shocking secret); 3.) romance.

1.) Family revelations are when people turn out to have long lost relatives who have been key characters. The ultimate family revelation movies are Jean de Florette and its sequel, Manon de la Source. Also, I must begrudgingly point to, of course, “Luke, I am your father,” in Star Wars. But you know, Oliver Twist, Portrait of a Lady, hell, the BIBLE, are filled with family revelations. Somehow I doubt Gandalf is going to be related to Frodo.

2.) Well, the new Star Trek movie I recently saw tried to give some origin/backstory to Spock, and I feel it was sufficient. Batman, etc. But Frodo has a cute happy life in the Shire–there is no real reason why he has been chosen to carry The Ring. (Except that he is so cute and happy that he can’t be destroyed by it, I guess.)

3.) Duh. From the relentless publicity of the LOTR movies, I am guessing that Aragon and Arwen are in love, but I think this book could benefit from more female characters in general. I mean, these faerie folk things normally throw a sop to lady readers with a major heroine (Jane, in The Dark is Rising; Princess Eilonwy, in The Black Cauldron; Hermione, in Harry Potter), and I think this book could really use a  major lady character.

Okay. I am going to try to get book 2 and will report on that when I am done, though I assume most of my readers are already familiar with LOTR, and not in need of my commentary.


Here I am, wearing my shawl and eating a hot dog, during a cool evening last week. (This is on a pseudo-boat, the Frying Pan.)

Knitting on the Staten Island Ferry

We took an impromptu trip on the Staten Island Ferry on Friday night. Opportunity to knit, of course! (P.S. I happened to work on a freelance project last week about movies that were filmed in lower Manhattan, and two movies that feature the area prominently were Working Girl, obviously,* and less obviously, Green Card. Apparently all of Green Card takes place in Foley Square, which is down near the Courthouse. Who knew?)


*If you’ve seen Working Girl, then you remember that Melanie Griffith’s character lives on Staten Island and takes the ferry to work. I don’t remember the movie super clearly, but I remember rooting for Sigourney Weaver, just like I rooted for Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I’m not sure what my fondness for the boss character says about me, though I think in both of those cases Sigourney and Meryl are better actors than Melanie and Anne Hathaway.)

Photos by Adam.

Posted in travelingproject, Uncategorized at June 2nd, 2009.