The year that was…

2008

I can’t say that I’m sad to see 2008 go, but it did have its high points. Crafts-wise, 2008 was the year I officially became a “joiner.” I started going to Sit ‘n’ Knit New York City meetups, met a crew of really great knitters, and had a blast going to parties, sock and cowl exchanges, WWKIP Day and other events (like Rhinebeck!). I also participated in both the Summer of Socks and the Ravelympics, which led to some crazy deadline knitting, but managed to meet my goal of 5 pairs of socks, and learning stranded knitting. I published my first-ever knitting pattern here, handmade two wedding gifts, and started to try to teach myself spinning.

It was also something of a rough season on the baseball front, but the season did have its high points for me. Between the Yankees, Mets, and Brooklyn Cyclones, I went to 15 baseball games this season, according to my scorebook, and got to say goodbye to Yankee Stadium by taking a nostalgia subway train from the 1920s from Grand Central up to the Bronx. It was great to catch so many games, and to spend time with my friends, family and my favorite team. Getting to see the inside of the clubhouse and walk the field on the Yankee Stadium tour was pretty nifty too, as was Ford’s sending this nondriver a game-used Derek Jeter batting glove in a sweepstakes they ran. I didn’t manage to finish my pinstriped socks, but it’ll be sort of fitting to knit one in the old Stadium and one in the new. And since I’m thrilled with 3/4 of the Yankees acquisitions so far this winter, I’m optimistic that 2009 will be much better than 2008.

And what’s a new year without some resolutions? My goals for 2009 include getting back to blogging on a more regular basis, improving the quality of my spinning, designing another pattern, and taking a picture a day for a year. Oh, and graduating. It’s going to be a busy year, but I’ve decided that it’s going to be awesome.

Advertisements

MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!

IMG_6051.JPG
Mike Mussina pitched the first major league game that I ever went to. It was early in September 2001, at Fenway, and he came within one strike of throwing a perfect game (I’ll stop myself right there, before I get upset again). It was after that that I learned that his nickname was “Mr. Almost.”
IMG_4760.JPG

Ever since then, he’s been my favorite pitcher who is not named Mariano Rivera on the Yankees. Not only was he talented, but he gave some of the most dryly funny interviews that I’ve ever heard from a ballplayer. And he further endeared himself to me with his amazingly clutch relief performance in 2003 (especially significant when coming from a player with a bit of a reputation for being a hothouse flower).

IMG_1815.JPG
So I extend my heartiest congratulations to Moose for becoming the oldest player (at 39) to win 20 games in a season for the first time. He gave us fans something to root for in a season where there wasn’t a lot to be happy about, and kept us on the edge of our seats. J and I had the privilege of getting to watch one of those 20 wins in person on July 5th (although J might argue whether it was a privilege or not), and it was a pleasure (for me) to watch him shut down the Sox. I can understand why he’d want to retire after this season, after a long career, but the fan in me wants to get to make the Moose call for a couple more years.  20 wins is a huge accomplishment, and I’m so glad that Moose finally reached that goal.

Blog note

If you’re in the NYC area, there’s a slight, slight, slight chance that I’ll be on CBS 2 news at 11 (on Sunday the 21st), talking about the Nostalgia Train ride to the last game at Yankee Stadium.

IMG_4524.JPG

I tried not to come off as too much of a train geek on camera, but it was such a fun ride from Grand central to the Bronx.

IMG_4488.JPG

I’ll see if I make the final cut!

Edit 12:12 AM I didn’t make the cut, but the train itself did: video here. Many thanks to Ben at River Ave. Blues and Second Ave. Sagas for writing about this event.

Washout

A combination of living close enough to Yankee Stadium that I could wait until the last minute to leave for a game and good, old-fashioned luck had prevented me from showing up at a game, only to have it be canceled due to the weather. Tonight, my luck ran out:

IMG_3969.JPG

While the rational side of me knows that they were trying their best to get the game in tonight, during this last home stand, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that they can’t have minded having a captive and hungry audience to sell concessions to for an hour and a half after the scheduled start of the game, when they made the announcement. Or possibly, they could have been trying to give us a few extra hours to think about how much nicer and non-leaky the new stadium will be during these long delays.

IMG_3963.JPG

The enforced free time was good for chatting, and for getting another stripe in on my first pinstriped sock from way back at the beginning of the season, but as a fan, the lack of communication from anybody in the organization got really old, really fast.  On a related note, it will also be interesting to learn if you’ll be able to hear the PA system from under the bleachers in the new stadium, or if the announcements will still sound like they’re being delivered by one of the adults in a Charlie Brown TV special.

IMG_3982.JPG
Still, tomorrow will be another day, and with it will come my chance to bid the old girl a final (and hopefully drier) goodbye.  Despite all her quirks, I’m very sad to see her go.

Knight Errant

My second-to-last game in Yankee Stadium was also my last Yankees-Sox game at the Stadium, and my friend B and I managed to have a good time, despite the outcome being less-than-ideal.
IMG_3470.JPG

While Sidney Ponson has seemingly had the magical ability to both allow a ton of guys on base and not allow them to score, August 27th was not his night. Sir Snacksalot got roughed up for four runs, and the bullpen put the game way out of reach for a final score of 11-3. These have been frustrating days to be a Yankee fan, and this game was no exception to that. Defensive play was downright sloppy at times, with Cano misplaying a routine-looking groundball (that runner came around to score), and various outfield miscues and mishaps. On the bright side, Alex Rodriguez did fulfill my prophesy that he’d have a big night, with two doubles, one of which drove in a run. Jason Giambi hit a home run in the 9th, but by then it was too little, too late. Still, a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day at a lot of other places, and I want to enjoy this ballpark before they tear it down.

IMG_3464.JPG

On the new stadium front, there have been rumors floating around that the Yankees will discontinue their policy of allowing people to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages into games. As someone who goes to as many games as she can, I have to hope that isn’t the case. One of the things that makes Yankee Stadium affordable is the fact that I can bring in my own water and some lunch/dinner/snacks, rather than being at the mercies of the stadium vendors. This is especially important in the bleachers, where the concession pickings are rather slim. I do rather enjoy the occasional stadium hot dog, and I find it hard to resist the siren call of soft-serve ice cream in a bowl shaped like a helmet, but that cost does really add up over time.

In other sporting news, the Ravelry Olympics have come and gone. I oversubscribed drastically, because I wasn’t sure what project I could commit to, but I ended up medaling in two events: the WIPs Wrestling for one pair of socks, and the Colorwork Crosscountry and Sock Put for my Ziggy Socks.
IMG_3439.JPG

The pattern is Ziggy from the Summer 2008 Knitty, and it was my first time using Noro Kuyreon Sock (in color S95) and doing any sort of stranded colorwork. I couldn’t carry both colors in my left hand without massive tangling, so I ended up with one strand of yarn in each hand, trying to knit Continental and English at the same time. It was very slow going, until I got some coaching from Ann Marie at knitting group, which really helped to speed me along. I’m still not sure how I feel about knitting two-handed. As it turns out, I’m very left-hand dominant, and I found that forming stitches with my right hand gets very tiring after not very long. I’ll have to find a source for one of those rings that you can run yarn through for colorwork to give it a try that way before I take on the Ivy League Vest, which will be my next stranded project. All in all, I had a great time doing the Ravelry Olympics, and I’m very grateful to the moderators, volunteers and team captains who made it such a fun experience.

I’m amazed at the response that my Unraveled Rib Socks have received this past week. I really do hope that everyone has as much fun with the pattern as I did writing it, and I’m definitely inspired to try my hand at design again. I can’t wait to see how everyone’s socks turn out!

It’s a sad day in Yankeeland

Sight for sore eyes
Rest in peace, Bobby Murcer. I’m too young to remember him as a player (I was 3 when he retired), but his warm presence in the broadcasting booth was always welcome in my living room. His positive outlook in the face of treatment for brain cancer was inspirational, and he will be deeply missed.

It’s too darn hot

All I can say is thank goodness for air conditioning. It’s the first truly hot week of the summer season, and although I haven’t had to spend much time outside, the heat and humidity are just oppressive.
IMG_1053

Before the warm front moved in, I did get a chance to see Joba Chamberlain’s Major League starting debut. Joba was clearly a bit jittery, and wasn’t always hitting his spots, but was a textbook example of why, if somebody took leave of their senses for long enough to put me in charge of a baseball team, I would never reveal a total pitch count ceiling to the press. Because when you have to get through as many innings as you can on 65 pitches, any opposing team worth their salt will take as many pitches as they possibly can. And the Blue Jays did just that, knocking him out after 2.1 innings.
IMG_1086.JPG
Chamberlain was followed by Dan Giese, making his debut as a Yankee, and doing quite a respectable job, despite being tagged with the loss. It was one of those games that could have gone either way, until the bullpen completely imploded, allowing 6 runs and putting the game totally out of reach. Well, at least someone in the Yankees organization had a lot of fun photoshopping moustaches on the players who had grown them.
IMG_1112.JPG

Perhaps the nicest thing that I can say about the game is that it gave me an opportunity to get a lot of knitting done. I turned the heel and got a couple inches into the cuff of my pinstriped socks.
IMG_1067
There was one other good thing about the game. Because I stayed until the bitter, bitter end, I did get to see Derek Jeter get his 2,415th hit, putting him into a tie with Mickey Mantle for third on the all-time Yankees list.
IMG_1132

Derek got his 2,416th hit the following game. Only Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth are ahead of him now, and he’s in some mighty rarefied company.

I don’t usually do memes, and I’ve never done one here, but since I’ve been tagged by both Penelope and Nicole, here goes nothing:

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
This would be right about when I was recovering from my AP exams and getting ready to take finals during my senior year of high school.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Run the dishwasher (if it cools down at night)
Finish up a gift
Pay the bills
Some experiments down in the research mines (I could have 5 things right there, but I’ll spare everyone the alphabet soup)
Staying hydrated

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Raspberry Milano Cookies
Fruit
ice cream
cheetos, or almost any cheesy chip or cracker

4)Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Among other things:
Fully fund a scholarship or three at my high school.
Season tickets to the Yankees (good seats, even) Or, I suppose I could just buy a baseball team, take leave of my senses, and put myself in charge of it.
Lots and lots of travel: the 30 ML ballparks, the Grand Tour of Europe, and then the rest of the world

5) Places I have lived:
Sayreville, NJ
Cambridge, MA
Manhattan, NY
Until I was 22, I had always lived in Middlesex County. Only the state changed.

I’m also not big on tagging people, but if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m the last person to do this one anyway.

Watch it

I seem to have spent the entire last week spectating one event or another. I started out by watching the Yankees trounce the Mariners on Friday night.
IMG_0593.JPG
It was rewarding to finally see the Yankees put some runs on the board and get a win, in a game that included some fancy baserunning by the Captain, a clean outing for Andy Pettitte, and an opposite field double by Jason Giambi (I know the last one is hard to believe, but it did happen).

I spent the rest of the weekend in Massachusetts meeting friends and going to parties of all sorts. I could have gone to Minds Eye Yarns out in Porter Square before attending a pottery painting wedding shower, but elected to stick around Somerville for their Memorial Day Parade instead.
IMG_0696.JPG
In addition to marching bands, local politicians and veterans, the Somerville parade also features re-enactors of just about every war since the Revolution and a very healthy contingent of Shriners. I know that the Shriners do very, very good work, but I have never seen so many forms of miniaturized transportation in one place in my life.

Finally, I watched people lining up to watch Manhattanhenge:
IMG_0744.JPG
I missed getting to see how things lined up at sunset though, because I was heading north, and Central Park blocks the view.

Unfortunately, one of the things that I *wasn’t* watching was what I was doing. I was so happy that I had finished knitting my second February Baby Sweater after knitting group that I didn’t really look too closely before washing it. If I had, I might have noticed a pretty crucial flaw:
One of these things is not like the others...
I couldn’t get the sleeves to block out evenly because one sleeve is a lace repeat longer than the other. Did I mention that I didn’t realize this until the sweater was sopping wet? I had to wait a day for it to dry out before I could rip back and fix things (although I was sorely tempted to make a go at it when the sweater was merely damp), but now that I have, I’m feeling much better about the whole project. I still think it’s a darling little sweater, and if I had more babies in my life right now, I’d definitely be knitting even more of these.

Here Come the Yankees

IMG_9453.JPG
It felt so good to be back at Yankee Stadium for my first game of the year that I almost didn’t mind the final result of the game. Andy Pettitte was making his first start after being on the DL that April 5th, and while he wasn’t 100% yet, and was clearly very tired during his last inning, he didn’t look too bad overall. Now, the Yankee bats on the other hand…let me just say that I have the utmost confidence that they will warm up as the weather does (and let me also wish Derek, Jorge and Jose continued and speedy recoveries from their respective injuries).

We were lucky enough to go to a game on the one nice day of the weekend, and our section (14, the no-alcohol section on the third base side of the upper deck) was positively warm and sunny. I could have used one or two fewer layers of clothing and one or two more layers of sunscreen.

IMG_9528.JPG
Another nice thing about the game was getting to see some of the young pitchers in action. Ross Ohlendorf got some work in (although he did give up a solo home run), and at one point Joba Chamberlain was up in the bullpen.

However, every trip to Yankee Stadium from here on out will be bittersweet, because they’ve put a “regular season countdown clock” up above the bleachers.
IMG_9505.JPG
After each game is “official”, someone who was affiliated with the team lowers the number by one. Joe Pepitone did the honors at our game.

IMG_9529.JPG
I also finished the toe and got into the striped portion of my homestand socks (pictured with Alex Rodriguez in the distance). As it turns out, I didn’t quite get the stripes the right length, as the navy blue doesn’t extend for a full two rows. I can get things pretty close by changing my stitch count from the original planned measurements, and by watching my gauge I can ensure that the little jog is on the bottom of my foot.

IMG_9779.JPG

I got a good bit of knitting done between attending that game and watching games on TV. I’d also like to invite recommendations for a good scorecard book. I’m planning to go to at least 8 more games, and the scorecard/programs that they sell at the Stadium add up very quickly at $7 a pop. The one posed with my sock also contained a poster of Derek Jeter and a recipe for French Toast (if I recall correctly),

Oh, and on this day in 1980, Tommy John pitched a complete game, 2-hit shutout for the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox. While I’ve decided to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the event with some (more) yarn in my favorite family of colors, I’m rooting for recent birthday-boy Chien-Ming Wang to celebrate with a similar performance against some Sox of a different color.

Opening Day

IMG_9288.JPG
Despite what the thermometer is telling me, spring has sprung. And that means that as sure as Carl Pavano has been placed on the 60-day DL, baseball is back in the Bronx. I’m looking forward to my second year of providing the sort of hard-hitting knitting analysis that can only be found on a baseball blog. And baseball isn’t coming back a moment too soon. I was actually extremely happy to hear Joe Morgan’s commentary tonight, which is surely a sign of how deep my withdrawal was. I don’t expect that to last very long, though.

I never have been able to score tickets for an Opening Day game, but I will be getting to catch my first game of the season this Saturday. The first weekend homestand of the season is “calendar day”, when the team gives the fans in attendance an April-March calendar filled with team photos. My parents went to their first calendar day by accident, while I was still living up in Massachusetts, but since I’ve moved back to New York, it’s become a family tradition to go. As I learned last year, there’s a definite risk of chilly weather at these early-season games, but I’m hoping that things are slightly less frigid this weekend. As of right now, Andy Pettitte (pictured warming up in the bullpen last season) is scheduled to come off the DL to pitch that game, but that could always change on short notice.
IMG_3213.JPG

In honor of the team’s last year in Yankee Stadium, my next project after my “stashbuster” purple socks will be pinstriped socks, based on the Yankees home jerseys. I didn’t know of a source for self-pinstriping yarn, so I decided to make my own, from some Louet Gems Opal (purchased at The Loopy Ewe) and some Jacquard Acid Dye in Navy, purchased at Lee’s Art Shop on 57th St. Up to now my total dyeing experience has been one skein of laceweight dunked in pink lemonade flavored Kool-Aid, so I decided to try my hand at dyeing the solid-colored yarn for the heels, toes, and cuffs of my socks. If I could manage that without turning myself or my apartment navy blue, I’d move on to the stripey portion.

The process was pretty simple. I knitted a mock sock toe and weighed out the yarn. Using those measurements, I skeined off enough yarn for the contrasting portions of the sock (after double-checking my estimates of 20% of the total weight against Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks). Then I soaked the yarn in water and simmered it in dye solution, in my dedicated dyepot and mason jar.
IMG_9286.JPG

While I was dyeing, the dyebath was alarmingly purple, but I needn’t have worried about it. After rinsing out and drying my yarn, I had a pretty nice semi-solid dark navy blue with no oddly shaded sections.
IMG_9294.JPG
After getting the yarn for the toes, heels and cuffs dyed, I then moved on to the self-striping portion of the socks. I followed the tutorial for dyeing self-striping yarn on Eunny Jang’s old blog pretty much to the letter, only modifying the lengths of yarn that’d be necessary for the stripes. After making a skein on two chairs spaced 10 feet apart, I cooked the batch of yarn using the same basic setup as the first one, with the minor changes of keeping the yarn I wanted to stay white in a separate mason jar, and wrapping the start of the white yarn in plastic. The plastic wasn’t 100% effective at preventing wicking of the dye up into the other portion of yarn, and more dye transferred when I washed out the excess dye, so the stripes won’t be quite as crisp as I had hoped they’d be, but the flaw won’t be too noticeable from a distance. I’m not sure what the best way to avoid having dye settle where I don’t want it to, so any suggestions for the future are very welcome.

One other thing that I learned was that there’s no way to make a 20 foot long skein of yarn look photogenic, no matter how you try to fold it up. So I wound it off into a ball:
IMG_9298.JPG
(posed next to my Sal Fasano autographed ball. He was a backup catcher for the Yankees for part of the 2006 season, and is very nice to fans) Next I skeined up the yarn to something a bit more manageable for storage and further picture-taking.

IMG_9299.JPG
My original plan was to knit these socks only at the games I attend this season, but I’m not sure I can stick to that resolution. I’m a real sucker for self-patterning yarn (if this actually works as such), and have a hard time putting them down. I’ve also discovered how much keeping score cuts into my knitting time, so if I stick to my plans I won’t get very far during the regular season. At any rate, it’s a rather pleasant conundrum to have, and it’s a long season, so I’ve got plenty of time to make my final decision.