Thursday, September 25, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York on a rainy day.

I am delighted to report that a rainy day means that the drillers have the day off.  There is peace in this apartment for the first time in weeks.

Earlier this week, on a very sunny and clear day, the noise from the drilling on my apartment building's facade was so intense that I escaped to the great outdoors.

My first destination was the fabulous Bergdorf Goodman shop's Beauty Level.  I was in need of a couple of skin care products and discovered that my purchase also entitled me to a gift bag full of samples of other skin care products and some eye shadow and lipstick, too.  It's always fun to see what's going on inside this fashion HQ and to bring home a treat.  

Although I took a bus to BG, I decided to walk home through Central Park.  Midtown traffic was more intense than usual, because the United Nations is in session.  I find it maddening that these diplomats have gathered (including our own President Obama) as additional bombing commenced in Syria, and additional reports of terrorism arose.



With such thoughts in my head, I appreciated the opportunity to see the beauty of sunlit leaves in the Park.  Most of the leaves are still green, but a few have begun to take on those beautiful autumn hues.

I'm a big fan of shadows on green lawns.


As usual, you all will be seeing some tall buildings peeking up over the tree tops.  You can also see the brilliantly blue sky.


Our 2014 summer was cooler than usual, and mostly dry.  Keeping the Central Park lawns green requires some sprinkler action.


The northwest diagonal route of my walk took me along pathways a little different than those I usually show you.

I was surprised to encounter a large area of ground that had been enclosed by extensive chain link fencing that had been entertwined with lots of plastic ivy leaves.


It was intriguing to find out what was going on behind that fence, and I discovered that a large project was underway.  Lots of men and machinery were preparing for a Horse Show.


I peeked through some gaps in the ivy, and saw that much still needed to be done before any show occurs.  I caught the scent of horses, but saw no horses.


In the coming weeks, I will try to keep an eye out in the media and on walks in the Park to find out more about this Horse Show.  I do not remember anything quite like this happening before in the Park.


Continuing on my walk, I got closer to the western edge of the Park, and came upon the West Drive, one of the roadways that is shared by runners, skaters, bike riders and horse drawn carriages.  I do not think that any of those horses will be part of a Horse Show.


Pedestrians wishing to cross Park roadways like this one need to be alert because fast-moving traffic of many types can arrive from several directions at the same time.  Yes, there are some traffic lights that help this maneuver a bit, but not all the fast-movers can quickly stop as directed.

Recently, a middle-aged woman was struck down by a bicycle rider, who'd swerved to avoid hitting another group of pedestrians.  The woman went into a coma, and after being in hospital for some time, died.


I assure you all that I am very careful in looking in all directions before attempting to cross these roads.  Years ago, I was also knocked to the ground by a young fellow riding his bike in the wrong direction.  I never saw him coming.  I wasn't badly hurt and the fellow was very, very apologetic.  Hoping that we both learned from that experience.

On this recent walk, I found a helpful pause in the traffic and got home refreshed by my exercise.

The drillers were still at it.  I made myself a sandwich, had lunch, and then picked up one of my knitting projects.  It is yet another of my fair isle tubular cowls.  

I thought the optical illusion in the following photo was amusing.  The model on the beautiful Morgane Le Fay postcard seems to be knitting something really Big.


Maybe some of you all also tend to keep postcards with striking images?  I tend to use them as bookmarks.  They are also useful to use as markers when following a particular knitting pattern's grid.


I'm using quite a few harmonizing colors in this cowl.  A dusty denim blue, a heathery black, various shades of teal, and lots of roses and wine.  And a pale celadon green and some white, too.

Eventually I am going to be adding this and some other recently completed items to my Foakley Arts shop.

It's just past noon now, and so it's time for me to think about lunch.  A cheese omelet seems a good idea for this rainy day.  And then it will be time to knit.

May I thank you all again for your visits and comments.  I really appreciate hearing from you.  See you again in October.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from rainy New York City.

Earlier today, as blustery breezes began to bring in thick grey clouds, I made a quick trip downtown to the Union Square Farmers Market.  It was my second trip to the market this week.


On Wednesday, I'd met my friend Elizabeth for a fruit and veg gathering session, followed up by tea, coffee and brioche and lots of chatting at a nearby cafe.

On that day I left my camera at home, but remembered to take it along with me today.


I wanted to take a few fresh flower photographs to accompany this post which is responding to a invitation from Jane of Jane's Probably Knitting.  I rarely participate in blog hops, but having seen some other folks' answers to the following questions, I thought that I would give this a try.

1.  What am I working on?

As usual, I have several projects on the go.  I've begun some sketches, playing around with various ideas that will eventually appear in this year's Christmas tea cup design.  For decades, I've been individually painting a tea cup design in watercolor for each person on my Christmas card list.

Color plays a big part in those cards, and also in whatever knitting projects I undertake.  I've almost finished a pair of socks begun ... last year, and already have lots of ideas about what color socks I want to try next.

Just today I finished another knitting project, and I will show you a picture later on in this post.


2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I don't quite know what genre my various mediums fall into.  I admire many artists from many times and places.  I usually sort of lose myself in my own work once I get going.  The rest of the world seems to fade into a far distant place.  I admit to being a fan of making things that take quite a bit of time.  


3.  Why do I write/create what I do?

I love making things.  I am intrigued by learning new techniques, and admit to having a little collection of equipment that I have not used in some years but still wish to find time to pick up again.  I learned etching, aquatint and drypoint printmaking and loved the process.  I have a spindle that could be used to spin wool.  I have a serious looking wooden handled hook that could create rugs.  

I love drawing, either with graphite or colored pencils or ink.  My oil paintings are very different from my watercolor work.  

Playing with color and texture and pattern in knitting or crocheting is endlessly entertaining and even relaxing.

I am so glad to have discovered the pleasures of writing a blog.  

Earlier this summer I was able to reduce the time spent weekly at my employer's location.  Although going out into the workplace in a dynamic city like New York is energizing and definitely helps to pay the bills, it's been grand to gain more time to explore my individual interests.

The strange thing is that I still yearn for more "free" time.  I would like to be doing some hand sewing, some embroidery, weaving, and learning much more about photography.  Developing my baking skills also interests me.  I dream of a garden.

4.  How does my writing/creating process work?

Once upon a time I made a point of keeping up with gallery and museum exhibits in New York City.  I still love to see what's going on, but now tend to equally appreciate time spent in Central Park, or browsing in yarn shops.  I have lots of books featuring favorite artists, and explaining various textile techniques.    

Daydreaming is often a starting point.  Sometimes an idea will arrive in a foggy version; sometimes I will have a much more definite notion of what I want to try.  Being a bit playful is important to me.

Last year I opened my online Foakley Arts shop on etsy.com.  I am enjoying having the shop and will soon be adding some new fair isle creations to the items already nestled there.

The Foakley Arts shop features my own designs, and each piece is a one of a kind.  

I also enjoy knitting some items for myself using patterns designed by others.  Just today I have finished the fair isle hat pictured below.


The design is called Shwook and was designed by a magnificent knitter named Hazel Tindall.  


I discovered the Shwook pattern, designed just for this October's Shetland Wool Week, via the marvelously inspirational and beautiful posts of Lori Ann Graham, lori times five.


A free download of Shwook is available via the Shetland Wool Week website.  It's a lot of fun to make.  Five colors are mingled throughout design, but you only need to handle two on any row.

I am inspired by many blog friends and have had the great pleasure to meet many of these folks in person.  The title of my own blog expresses my love for my own city views, while also having a yen for the countryside.  I wish for a garden, perhaps even a small garden.  My own city apartment's window sills do not encourage plants to have long lives.

Over the years, I have enjoyed using plants and flowers as subject matter for my painting.  As we enter into autumn and dahlias begin to appear on flower stands around New York, I thought that I would share with you all a painting I did ages ago.


Here's a close up view of part of the painting.  I am sitting on the chair shown in the picture, and the table holding the jug of flowers is the same table holding this laptop upon which I now type.


I guess that by now you all will realize that I have wandered way off topic as far to the blog hop questions.  All the same, I think that perhaps you may have learned a little more about my approach to creativity.

Old china and beautiful fruit and veg also inspire me.


I thank Jane for her kind invitation.  As Jane knows, I will not be tossing these questions to any other specific blogger.  However, if any of you all might find it intriguing to think about you own answers to the question, and to share your answers, I would love for you let me know, so that I might be sure to see what you have shared.

Meanwhile, I thank you for your visiting here, and for leaving me such interesting and kind comments.  Happy autumn to all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on a hot and humid August day.

I regret to report that the fellows continue the drilling on the facade of the apartment building I call home.  I keep hoping that this project will soon be finished.

Some days when the drilling is focused in a place very near my apartment I can find a sense of sanctuary in Central Park.


Since it is late August, the Park has a very overgrown, blowsy appearance.  In some areas, there is even a wildness about the overgrown shrubs, lawns and drying leaves.  It seems a bit crispy.

However, there are still plenty of places to just sit and enjoy the drill-free space.


The Park's late summer flower show is very different from its springtime version.


The shades of green are mature greens, like the darker greens of vegetables that are good for you.  The yellow flowers that now bloom where springtime daffodils bloomed look so different.


Little yellow berries are turning a shiny red.


The Lake's algae has an unpleasant green shade.  I would not find a rowboat to be a romantic voyage at this time of the year.


Invisible insects or other animals are nibbling at some leaves.


These pretty little orchidy blooms look so delicate with the back lit ferns behind them.


As I was looking at the very tall ferns growing in the Shakespeare Garden, I heard voices and looked up to see a group of folks gathering at an entrance to this Garden.  A wedding was about to take place there.


There were a few other folks, like myself, who were not wedding guests but were just enjoying a stroll.


I thought that these multi-colored leaves were quite lovely.  I think that most of them were some variety of coleus.


Here's another view of the leafy expanse.


You all can tell from these pictures that the dominant color in the Garden was green.


Lots of leggy, stalky plants and flowers on display in this show.


I thought that the colors of these leaves seemed iridescent.  I like the accent of those few yellow flowers, too. 


When I walked back home from the Park, I passed by the grounds of The Museum of Natural History.  I liked the look of the white bike against the black railings.


The prior photographs were taken some weeks ago, on the same date at the "Super Moon" appeared in its grand fullness.  I could not resist taking a walk outside just after sunset, to see the moon rise over the treetops of Central Park.


Yes, I know my photographs are not good, but they do give you all an idea of how this natural phenomenon matched up against the competing electric street lights and building lights and vehicular lights along West 72nd Street.


I took those photographs in the same area where I have taken photographs of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I noticed quite a few other moon gazers out on the sidewalk with me.

The next couple of pictures were taken more recently, to show a very gaudy street planter's bounty.  


The large motorcycle parked next to one of these planters gives you an idea of the scale of that planter.  The planters are actually there for security purposes, to prevent a vehicle from crashing into a certain Barnes & Noble book store across the street from Union Square Park.  This is another example of a city view.


As I near the end of this post, I wanted to show you all my almost finished current knitting project.  It is another of the fair isle tubular knit cowls.  I've used many shades of green, and blue-green, with a touch of ivory and cream throughout.


When I saw this photograph of length of the color progressions, it reminded me of seeing a display of men's shirts, with checkered ties.  Do you all see that, too?


As I have been typing these words, drilling has been ongoing.  It's now just about 4 p.m., and so there's only about an hour more to go of the insistent percussion.  Perhaps it's time for another little walk outdoors.

Thank you all so much for your visits and comments.  I am looking forward to seeing the coming change of season here in New York, and promise to share my impressions with you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

City Views, Country Dreamso

Good afternoon from a hot and humid New York City.


In my last blog, I was complaining about the noise being made by a skilled team of workers who are doing some required maintenance on my apartment building's facade.  That work is ongoing.  I received a notice from the building's manager indicating that on August 8 this noise, with accompanying dust, will reach new heights.

I keep thinking that every day will bring the project nearer to completion.  This must be true.

Meanwhile, I manage to continue with some of my own projects.  The above photograph shows the blocking of my lacy Halligarth shawl, knit from a Brooklyn Tweed pattern designed by Gudrun Johnston.  I love the look of the multicolored blocking "jigsaw" squares peeking through the lace.

This was the first time that I'd used blocking wires, and it was interesting to see how using these wires, pinned at intervals through the shawl into the blocks below, really did transform the stitches.


The following photograph is poor, but it does give an idea of how I was able to get more definition to the points of the scalloped edging.  If any of you all reading this post are knitters who've been wondering whether to invest in some blocking wires, I would recommend them.


Even when the air is hot, and there is not much of a breeze, it's still good to get outdoors for a walk.  The exercise is good, and there's always something to catch the eye.


These patterns in these photographs of sidewalk shadows made by mid-afternoon sunlight passing through a gateway on my street reminded me somewhat of some the knitting I've been doing.


That particular afternoon, I decided to take a walk down to Lincoln Center, the performing arts center just a few blocks down Broadway.  It was a Sunday afternoon, and I passed by a regular Sunday sidewalk attraction.  These flowers are leftovers from some sort of wholesale florist establishment, being sold by folks who have found a way to salvage them.



Most of the flowers always look a bit bedraggled, but clearly some folks are attracted by them and make purchases.  Behind these orchids you can see multi-colored "street furniture" that contain various free newspapers.

The reason I was headed to Lincoln Center was that afternoon's Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors concert, a tribute to the late folk singer and environmental activist Pete Seeger.  As I'd expected the intense heat had not kept crowds away.


I think that you can just about make out the stage in the background of the above photograph.  There are lots of seats arranged in rows in front of the stage, but on this particular afternoon, there were thousands more folks milling around, sitting on the plaza grounds, and actually sitting on the street and sidewalks just outside the Lincoln Center property.


A powerful sound system had been designed to provide balanced sound for the folks sitting in the rows of folding chairs.  It was very difficult to hear anything very musical above the din made by all the other folks who were chatting with each other.  I felt sorry for tired and cranky children who'd been brought by their parents to this sort of historic concert.


It was all too much for me.  I decided to just walk back home, and try to find a cooling breeze on Broadway.

There would be other concerts, other days.

My building is not the only one in the City that is having repair work done during July and August.  I found this usually elegant Upper East Side doorway looking a bit underwhelmed by the various posted building permits.  I am sure that all will be clear and shiny again by September. 


I have continued to make weekly visits to the Union Square Farmers Market, and took this photograph to show another leafy part of Union Square.  Just behind those flowering shrubs, there are some tables and chairs where you can rest in the shade.


And in the open, paved area where the Farmers Market stands are pitched, we continue to be dazzled by fruit, veg and flowers.  I am happy to report that ripe tomato season has finally arrived!


In my walks around the City, I've also encountered more flowers planted in front of various apartment buildings.  Many different color schemes are in play.


There are very few retail shops along upper Park Avenue where the atmosphere is elegantly residential.  However, there are a few florist shops.  The next picture shows a lavish display in front of one such shop.  The orchids on the inside of this shop looked much prettier than those I saw on the Broadway sidewalk.  


These pretty blooms were in a planter just outside the doorway of a posh apartment building.  I did not see or hear any noisy, dusty construction going on at this location.


Once again I will give you a glimpse of a current knitting project, another fair isle cowl, knitted as a tube on a circular needle.


I am exploring combinations of neutral colors.  Some of the colors of the wool are so close (yet very different) that it's necessary to do this knitting in natural light.



When I began typing this post, I was certain that a thunderstorm would occur before I'd clicked on Publish.  However, once again, Mother Nature has surprised me.  The air has become less humid, without a storm.  The sky is blue.  Perhaps it's a perfect time for a little walk.

As always, I thank you all for your visits and comments.  It was my intention to post more frequently during July, but laziness took over.  I wonder if August will be different?