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Archive for May 3rd, 2007

New York: Thursday Adventures

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

After our fun jam session Thursday morning, we all broke up to adventure in different places of the city. I was very interested in the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design, formerly the American Craft Museum. We headed to that area of the city (near the Museum of Modern Art/MOMA).

nycstreetgreencondos.jpgWe spent a bit of time looking at exhibits on several floors… metal cut by torch into lace, large rolls of paper cut with an Exacto (sp) knife in tiny little bits until it looked a bit like fabric lace yard goods. A lovely floor-length dress with train, knit from strips of dollar bills. Paper molded with many holes, hung several pieces deep to really capture the eye in 3-D. Porcelain slip dripped into small square lacy shapes and mounted carefully to the wall. A sort of 3-D collage, which presented itself much like a tree but entirely white, spanning several stories. A large net made with knots/macrame and shaped into a mushroom cloud. A table with balls of yarn and needles for passers-by to knit upon, to contribute to the whole.

I loved that table. I knit with a yarn I did not recognize unless it was Nashua Creative Focus wool/alpaca. There was some Brown Sheep yarn there, too, and several I did not recognize. When I was there a little girl came by with two adult women. She knew how to knit but the adults did not. She was perhaps 6 years old and her grandmother had taught her but it had been a while since she had practiced. I helped her get started with my poem and she did a row or so on one of the example pieces. I wrote down the poem for the mother so that perhaps she could help the child if she got stuck at a later date.

There were many other pieces, I can not possibly remember them all as I write this, but I found it very inspiring. There were so many ways to interpret the words “lace” and “knitting” that I’m sure there are at least as many more to explore than were shown in this exhibit.

That day we also found our way to School Products, a yarn shop owned by the Karabella people. We took a while to find the door, it’s on an upper level and you first have to ifnd the elevator and next you have to ring a bell to be buzzed into the shop. Totally citylike.

It’s a very unusual shop, it seems to have at least half of the yarn which is in cones or what might perhaps be remnants from machine-knit production garments. There was a lot of cashmere and cashmere blends, but honestly I like alpaca better and it costs less. They had knit up samples of many of the more unusual yarns and washed them to remove spinning oils, and they truly were soft and wonderful. However, I can get cashmere in Lansing.

I ended up with a cone of brushed mohair in jewel tones, two skeins of merino/yak yarn in what is probably DK weight, to make waaarm socks for myself next cold season, and two skeins of fingering weight camel yarn. Yup, camel. The yak and camel yarns did not come in bright colors, just naturals, but I figure I can overdye if I want, or maybe I’ll just wear them that color because they are soft, luxurious and warm.

While I was at the yarn shop, Brian took a 45 minute walk in the neighborhood which he thoroughly enjoyed. We were relatively close to the Empire State Building so he went over to see what it would take to go up and view the city from above. I guess there was about an hour wait so we chose not to do that.

nyclunchthursday.jpgWe found some food at an unusual salad/sandwich place. It looked deserted at first glance but I’m glad we went in. They had “design your own salad” where you told them which bits you wanted added to the salad bowl you chose (several types of lettuce were available). I got all sorts of good things I love, with olive oil as my dressing which I really enjoy. They had good tea and we found our way to a table by the door, and I blogged while sitting there eating, using my battery pack. Little did I realize I would be out of battery soon and the power supply would stop functioning. That’s life (all is well as I type this so in retrospect nothing really bad happened at all).

We headed back to the theatre so that we could be there for the 7:30 show. Oh… we took the bus to and from the museum, which was quite the adventure as we figured out the specifics of how to find the right bus and wait at a bus stop that would actually be served by buses at rush hour, etc…

On the bus we talked to a couple behind us who were from the city. I marveled at the aqua/green building and they said it was full of condos, and the building was just opened up in the last week or so. They volunteered that the one-bedroom apartments in that building were on the market for something on the order of $1.5 million a piece. Dang. I guess that makes me even more happy to be in low-cost-of-living Lansing, Michigan.

Photos: street scene showing aqua building with pricey condos at back right, me eating salad and using up computer battery.

New York Reunion: Breakfast with the Brits and more

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

nycdiner.jpgLast year we found that we were staying at the same hotel with a lot of other ukulele folks, at the Hotel 17 (on 17th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). Most plentiful were the folks from the United Kingdom (mostly England).

We got to know them last year. This year many of them returned and a few more came for the first time. It was great to run into them first thing as we were unloading the car on Wednesday evening. We made plans to meet for breakfast the next day.


nycbreakfastthurs.jpgThursday morning we worked our way less than a block west to the Grammercy Cafe, a 24-hour Diner that has real food in addition to what I’d expect at a diner. Swordfish at 3am? No problem. Oatmeal at 9am? As you wish! We like this place. The service is superb and the waitstaff know a lot about the many things on the menu. We got a good handful of meals there over the long weekend, but I digress.

The table was truly an international delight. In the photo of us all at the table, you can see at least four countries: France, USA, United Kingdom (England anyway) and the Netherlands. England was the majority at this meal. I didn’t wake up very fast but it was wonderful to just be in this excellent company.


nycparkentry.jpgAfter the meal, we headed over to the park which is a few blocks away, at 17th Street and 2nd Avenue. It’s called Stuyvesant Square and we have had several great jam sessions there last year and this.

We had a wonderful crowd this time, and it got more international by the minute. Two Swedish ukulele fans joined us part way through. A local NYC artist stopped and sat on a bench, drawing sketches of us. A few others stopped to ask about the ukes and we gave them information about the ukefest. I spent time talking with Nick from the U.K. and that was a delight. It was a wonderful jam session/social event.


nycparkjam1.jpgAt that point we broke up for a while. The Brits wanted to shop and I was keen on getting to a museum or two, and maybe a yarn shop. Brian was easy to get along with as usual. We planned to meet back at the Theatre at 7pm, when they were planning to open up the building in preparation for the 7:30 show, the first real official activity for the NYUkefest that I knew about. I’ll tell of our Thursday afternoon adventures in a later post.

Photos: Brian outside the Grammercy Cafe; Table of Ukefest participants from many countries inside the Cafe; gate to park, one view of the jam session in its international splendor: France, Sweden, Netherlands and a handful of British folks..