29 January 2013

East Village Poetry Walk: Part Two

New York is a BIG city. And CROWDED. It is possible to feel very lonely wondering its streets. Being by myself in galleries and theatre lobbies, peering into expensive shops and crowded cafes, I felt rather disembodied at times. There are so many places where one feels one is not invited. I often found myself missing The Daughter who is my usual travelling companion
It wasn't until my third day in NYC, on my visit to the East Village, that the tight spring in me started to unwind. I loved the aesthetic of the streets with their criss-crossing fire escapes and random community art gardens. There's more sky. I ate a leisurely lunch at the pretty Moroccan cafe that is a stop on the poetry walk, lingering over my glass of wine while writing in my journal. The food was delicious, the staff friendly and casual. I finally felt like I was on vacation.

I didn't get a photo of Tompkins Square Park. I forgot to take out my camera. About halfway through the walking tour, one slowly crosses the park, east  to west, while listening to a John Ashbery poem appropriately titled, Just Walking Around. I admit I hadn't heard of Ashbery before. My knowledge of American writers in general is quite poor. (In Ontario high schools during the seventies, we were raised on Margaret Lawrence, Shakespeare, and Who Has Seen The Wind.). Just Walking Around is a trickster of a piece, beautifully read by the poet himself, and it grabbed me fully;

"...It gets to be kind of lonely
But at the same time off-putting,
Counterproductive, as you realize once again
That the longest way is the most efficient way..."  
Listen to and read the poem here.

In the center of the park, between playgrounds and benches, is a large, circular off-leash area surrounded by a nice wrought iron fence. Leaning on the fence, listening to the poem for the second time, I paused to watch the dogs play for a while. A big, beautiful hound, tail wagging, all ears and legs, galloped up to me, put his big paws up the fence and presented that doggie face that says 'I love only you.' I rubbed his ears cooing and laughing, knowing in my heart that, for that moment, I was completely happy.

27 January 2013

East Village Poetry Walk: Part One

Last Thursday I took the #1 Downtown from my upper west hotel, then transferred to the L Train to the Lower East Side.  I discovered the East Village Poetry Walk website months ago and have wanted to take this walk ever since. Just before leaving Toronto for my impromptu trip, I downloaded the Jim Jarmusch narrated tour onto my mp3 player. It's entitled, Passing Stranger, after a Walt Whitman poem To A Stranger:
"Passing stranger, you do not know how longingly I look upon you..."
How wonderful is that?

It was a beautiful day and I was excited but relaxed. I felt immediately at home in this neighbourhood. Unlike so many other parts of New York. one feels one can breathe here.

The walk begins at these gates to the St Mark's Church in the Bowery. This church is not only a place of worship, and Manhatten's second oldest building. It's also a hub for theatre, dance and poetry. That colourful sign points the way to the various offices. In the vestibule while listening to the narrated history, I collected the post cards of some local dance and theatre companies.

On the church courtyard wall are these plaques, dedicating trees to some of the poets who have been part of the scene here. Embiggen to read more easily. Take note of the names.

The courtyard and its trees from the sidewalk. After one leaves the church, the actual walking begins. The tour guides you slowly along, pointing out the homes and haunts of poets. While you stroll, you hear histories. interviews and poem readings. It's rather sublime.

One sits in awe, and awe is not too strong a word, on steps across from 437 East 12th, the apartment building  where Alan Ginsberg lived the longest in this neighbourhood.  "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing..." plays in his voice. Apparently he used to throw down the key encased in a sock, to visiting friends from that 4th floor center window.

Frank O'Hara lived here...

...W.H. Auden here...

...and you know that photo of Jack Kerouac smoking on the fire escape? Yup. taken here, in the back of an earlier apartment of Ginsberg's on East 7th. Kerouac wrote the better part of The Subterraneans while here in 1953.

23 January 2013

Vogue Knitting Live

There's something about being among your people. Where else but at a knitting convention can you take the only remaining seat at the hotel coffee shop and immediately start chatting with those at the table as if you've all known each other for years? As you can guess, my trip to Vogue Knitting Live was a huge success. After three days of wondering about NYC alone, I was ready for some human interaction and boy, did I get it. I don't know the official attendance numbers but I'd guess a couple thousand knitters and fiber vendors passed through the Marriot Marquis last weekend. It was very exciting
In the lobby, outside one of two marketplace halls, was my favourite display. It's a preview of the upcoming issue with blown up photos and the actual knitted garments. This issue hasn't even hit the stands people!! I've touched the pieces. Examined the seams and hems. Seen the stitches up close. Cool.
Here is a terrible photo of me looking disheveled but happy. Not even when I was a teen could I have fit into this gorgeous yet oh so skinny shift dress. See that laminated card around my neck?. I was so tickled by these conference badges. Each participant got one. On the front is printed your name and home town and on the back is your class and lecture schedule.
At the Neighborhood Fiber Co. booth were many Ann Weaver samples from her current collection Cityscapes. This is District, a very long, but light as air scarf. I loved this booth so much, I bought their yarn!
My friend Natalie Selles' patterns were featured at The Jill Draper Makes Stuff booth. I can see Oh Deer and the Sweetly Worn Shawl in this photo. Way to go Natalie.
This stunning piece is the Seductive Yarns Tunic by Sally Melville. I attended her lecture about using up odd bits of yarn from your stash. Here she has combined three different variegates in alternating rows and presents the garment in reverse stocking stitch. It creates this painted effect that is far more beautiful in person than any photo can portray. I wanted to steal this tunic - just tuck it into my purse. And damn! Sally Melville is funny! She had the room roaring more than once.
Apologies for the fuzzy photo but I had to brag about meeting designer Stephanie Japel. Her class about fitting knits to your measurements was very math filled and I had just had a cocktail so I didn't quite catch all the info...oops.
At the Marriot Marquis hotel bar one pays twenty dollars for two beers. But who cares when the surroundings are so elegant and the bartenders treat you like a lady? I talked with a lovely local woman, knit a sock and watched the glass elevators travel up and down the center of the forty-five floor building. Yes, of course I later rode one unnecessarily all the way up and back down again. Wouldn't you?

21 January 2013

Window Shopping

Yes I went to NYC last week and attended Vogue Knitting Live. I am still digesting my 5 days in the Big Apple and sorting through my photos. I'll create a few different posts about my various adventures soon. In the meantime, enjoy the splendor that is the windows of Bergdorf Goodman.

14 January 2013

Off To Hob Nob With Knitting Celebrities

Did I mention that I'm attending Vogue Knitting Live in New York this weekend? I didn't? Well, I am. 
I'll take lots of photos to share when I get back.

10 January 2013


"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 
Jim Croce
Sometimes you feel it. You move gracefully. You think creatively. You breathe easy. It all flows - the reading, the knitting, the journal and blog posts. Other times it all gets muddy. You say, "I should work out," but you watch YouTube instead. You knit two rows only to rip back three. You make shopping lists in your personal journal in the morning and stare at a blank blog template in the evening with absolutely nothing interesting to say.
It's at these times that a person needs inspiration. It can come in many forms. One such form is a skein of Prism Custom Dyed Yarn in the colour 'Cabernet'. It's particularly inspiring when it's an unexpected Christmas gift from a friend. Thank you Lorelei!

A nice bit of inspiration comes after finishing a little project in just three days. (Clara Parke's Foxgloves from Brave New Knits). Perhaps it is more correct to say that one gets a feeling of satisfaction. What's inspiring is accidentally getting a cool photo of the freshly fallen snow on the neighbour's shed while trying to shoot the aforementioned little project. 

A Swatch. How many beautiful knitted items items throughout history have resulted from inspiration drawn from the humble swatch? This Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora has been languishing in my stash for years. After knitting up these few rows and seeing the gorgeous definition, I know this is my next cardigan. I've even chosen the pattern. Can't wait to cast on.