Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wine Sock!

What?  Like you don't have socks for your wine?  You know you want one. J  I'm telling you -- this thing is just crazy cool!  Now, I say that about all kinds of hand knit designs, but I think we can all agree that a well-socked wine is an idea whose time has come!

Socks are cozy, but I couldn't quite bear to call this a wine cozy.  Cozies are for tea.  Wine needs something a little more hip and for me that's socks.  This little baby happens to be a gift for my youngest of younger brothers, who turned 29 earlier this week.  Last I heard he was having a swinging party tonight, so he'd better not stop to read this blog before I see him tomorrow around noon.  I am counting on a very, very late night and maybe a slight hangover to keep him off the computer until then.

If you are not so lucky as to have a sister who will knit socks for your wine, you needn't suffer and feel deprived.  You too can knit a wine sock:  the pattern for this jazzy creation is here.  I made mine with Noro Silk Garden:  Color #47.  It took almost an entire skein and if I'd wanted a longer tie I probably could've used the whole thing.  I just didn't want to have to tie a bow on it.  If I do a cutesy pink one someday, I'll go a bit wilder with bows and such.

You'll note that the pattern designer does in fact call this a wine cozy -- but I forgive her for that because she took the seaming out of this project and for that I really am quite grateful.  Variations of this have been around for quite some time in a variety of gorgeous designs.  But almost all are knit flat for some weird reason.  I just can't knit a circular object flat and think straight. So, I was grateful to find a simple version, knit in the round, that did the job quite nicely.

You know you want one!

And Nick, if you're reading this before you've received your gift - act surprised :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mindless Needling - Basic, But Beautiful, Socks

Sometimes you just need an easy, no brainer-type project.  Over the last week or so, this pair of socks filled that niche for me.  They're just a basic ribbed pattern knit from a stunning yarn by Colinette's Jitterbug (Copperbeech).  As usual, the flash on my camera does a wicked job of over-brightening colors.  In reality the brown on these is more of a deepish brown/red and the colors mixed in (reds, blues and yellows) are far more subtle than they appear in my photo.  The picture below is far more accurate:

The yarn is 100% merino and was really nice to work with.  Even nicer was not needing much of a pattern. It's spring break here and I truly needed mindless knitting I could truck along on vacation without much effort.  This fit the bill and they fit my feet -- super comfy.

Romeo & Juliet - Mountain Shakespeare Festival

Production is well underway up here for this summer's Mountain Shakespeare Festival!  As dramaturg, I collaborate with the festival organizers, help the actors understand some of the more difficult lines, and pen the synopses of the plays.  This week I finished the write-up for Romeo and Juliet.  The staging our director (Peter Kjeenas) has planned will emphasize the stark inevitability of the tragedy, so that's where I placed my focus.  For more information, visit the Mountain Shakespeare Festival Website.  Show dates and times can be found HERE.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the quintessential tale of lovers valiantly fighting against the external forces trying to thwart their love.  Not only do their families feud, but time and space seems to conspire against them.  They are indeed star-crossed and no matter what they do or where they turn, their fates are sealed.  Part of the tragic tug these two young characters exert on our hearts stems from that inevitability.  We know from the first lines of the play that their fortunes, written in the stars, have been predetermined.  Still, we can’t help but wish, each time through, that Romeo could indeed “Defy the stars” and foil the destiny decreed by parents, society and the universe. 

Shakespeare here makes it clear that all of cosmology conspires against these two.  In a world of darkness, they see each other as light.  Juliet is Romeo’s “sun” and he to her is “day in night,” but together they are like the “lightening, which doth cease to be ere one can say it lightens.”  They give each other light and heat, but like supernovas, they implode and the darkness, inevitably returns.  Their struggle is like that of Sisyphus – and though at times it appears as though they can steer their own course, their struggle is mythical and they are ultimately unable to “shake the yoke of inauspicious stars.”  We watch as they push their rock of love up a mountain of obstacles, hoping each time that the outcome will be different.  But they’re trapped in their story and their story remains the same.  Much as we’d like to redirect the outcome of their “death-mark’d love,” they are indeed “fortune’s fools.”  Shakespeare here reminds us that perhaps we are too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yosemite Waterfalls & Moonbows... "Blessed Mountain Evangels"

Visiting Yosemite Valley is always a humbling experience.  It seems to me impossible to stand amidst all that towering granite and think of yourself as anything, but minute... small and fleeting.  Yet, far from depressing, this vantage point always feels invigorating to me.  Any problems I may have fall into proper perspective as fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Suddenly the greatest of dilemmas seems trivial and far easier to handle.  This sort of attitude adjustment is available all year round in Yosemite, but in the spring there's the added bonus of the powerful waterfalls.  I'll not wax poetic about the baptismal, renewing nature of water, but you probably get the idea.  Go to Yosemite in spring, after a winter of fairly heavy precipitation and you'll understand the true meaning of breathtaking.

My first picture above is Bridalveil Falls and the name says it all... gorgeous.  The little hike to the falls is rather damp, but well worth it.  When you get to the viewpoint, it really feels like you're in a drizzling rainstorm... as you can see from the droplets in my pictures.  Below is Cascade Falls and and my equally gorgeous daughter gives a good size perspective there in front of the massive boulders.  We all scrambled up and behind those boulders to get as close as we could to the base of the falls.
We saw Yosemite Falls in full flow and many other smaller falls we didn't know the names of.  When we rented bikes, the cashier pointed out "Staircase Falls," which literally fell in a squarish step-down, staircase pattern over the granite formations.  We did however, miss out on seeing a Moonbow over Yosemite Falls.  The night we'd hoped to see it turned out fairly cloudy and we ended up getting a little rain, so we decided not to hang out until midnight (best viewing time for Moonbows apparently).

If you're not familiar with a moonbow, think rainbow -- only lunar powered!  They're sort of a double reflection that forms when light from the sun is reflected by the moon and then reflected in a spray of water (like that from a waterfall).  You need a full moon and a clear night.  They're very rare and can only be seen in a handful of places around the world -- Yosemite being one of the most famous.  In Yosemite, you generally want a full moon in April-June.  Well, last Sunday night was indeed the full moon, but we were thwarted by cloud cover.  Since we were unable to see it or get pictures, I'm including a stock picture to give you an idea of what one looks like.
And I'll end this post with John Muir's description of a Moonbow of Yosemite:  “This grand arc of color, glowing in mild, shapely beauty in so weird and huge a chamber of night shadows, and amid the rush and roar and tumultuous dashing of this thunder-voiced fall, is one of the most impressive and most cheering of all the blessed mountain evangels.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Beautiful Bedjacket

I've been knitting -- a lot!  Between the power outage and being sick, it seems like I've had more opportunities these last few weeks.  One project I've been working on is this Bed Jacket Charlotte has been coveting for many moons.  It's one my sister Kate made a few years back and from the moment Charlotte saw it, she wanted it.  The pattern is by Joan McGowan-Michael and is included in her book, Knitting Lingerie Style.  The Ravelry page with other iterations of this gorgeous piece is here and my Ravelry page project link for it is here.  I knit it out of a cotton (Cascade Yarns Luna in Red #707) and I'm really happy with the look and the drape.  It's such a sweet, comfy, old-fashioned thing to have a Bed Jacket to wear over nightgowns.  It will be warm and cozy on our cold, snowy nights here in the mountains and frankly I'm jealous.  I'd make myself one, but frankly this thing required so much seaming and so many fiddly little finishing techniques (it took about 8 hours to steam and seam all the parts together, crochet the edging and embroider over the seams) -- I think I'll pass.  If my younger daughter eventually asks for one, I guess I'll have to do it again, but otherwise I'd prefer to just admire this one and let it go at that.

Ironically, the one day I had 8 hours to spend all in one sitting was actually last Friday, April 1st -- my sister Kate's birthday.  So I think the jacket really is a tribute to Kate in its own way.

It really is quite lovely and opened up, it has quite a gorgeous "winged" look.  The entire thing is one big circle and the lacy edging is quite dramatic.
By the way, pay no attention to the swirly circle thing on the jacket in the picture above -- it doesn't exist in reality -- just some weird trick of my stupid camera and the light.  The drape of the jacket is also a real highlight -- it's heavier than you'd imagine.
Sheesh! I wish my hair looked like that :)  The overall effect is very vintage and Charlotte's quite pleased with it.  We especially like the graceful sleeves, which you can see a little better in this picture: