MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!

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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.”
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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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!

Summer doldrums

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My second pair of socks for Summer of Socks is not the rousing success that the first one was. Is it possible to have second sock syndrome before you’ve even finished the first one? It’s not the pattern. My problems can be attributed to a combination of user error and fussiness over sock fit, but as a result of having to rip back all the way to the toe, it’s taken me over two weeks to finish one sock, and I am ready to be done.

At least I’m learning something from the project. It’s the special Summer of Socks ’08 pattern, and it’s my first pair with a toe-up flap and gusset heel. So far I’m finding that these heels are a little bit harder to “fudge” than the short-row heels that I’ve done on every other sock I’ve knit have been, but that could just be the learning curve talking. My second go at it was much more successful than my first one was (knitting the instep of one size sock and the sole/heel of the next bigger size might have also helped). The mesh pattern does bias, in spite of a half-hearted attempt at taming it, but I think that’ll block out. Despite the setbacks, I’m very happy with the way the socks look, and how the lacy pattern breaks up the way the colors spiral around the foot.

I’ve also had a lot of other stuff on my plate over the past few weeks. I’ve had not one, but two secret knitting projects going on (which will be revealed in time, but I’d rather not spill all to the Readership right away). But knitting hasn’t been the only thing on my plate.
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There have been lots and lots of my favorite summer fruits out there that just had to be eaten.

I celebrated my country’s birthday by watching the Macy’s fireworks display with several thousand of my closest friends.
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I also ended my boycott of All-Star Game related activities by attending Bon Jovi’s concert in Central Park with my cousin and 50,000 of our closest mutual friends (there was very likely some overlap between those two groups of close, personal friends). Oh, and I got my Mactop back from her adventures in data retrieval and getting a new hard drive installed, which means that I’ve got a month’s backlog of photos to go through and upload. There are going to be quite a number of trips down knitting and baseball memory lane in the very near future.

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.
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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.
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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:
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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:
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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.

It’s in the bag

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My Everlasting Bagstopper is complete! I bound off during the Sit ‘n’ Knit Sock Exchange Party, which was especially appropriate, because I’d won the yarn at one of the group’s parties. I ended up supplementing the skein of Allhemp 6 I’d won with a second skein from Knitty City because my attempt at making a one-skein bag wasn’t working out, and it was definitely worth it to have a proportional-looking tote. Despite my casting on 4 fewer stitches for the base and using US 10 needles instead of US 10.5 needles, the bag turned out huge, and it expands to fit pretty much anything that I could want to carry in it. I’m a little nervous about how sturdy the job I did sewing the handles on will be, but hopefully I reinforced it enough. I’m not usually a fan of knitting with plant fibers (they’re really tough on my hands), but the hemp yarn wasn’t too hard to work with, and this bag sure does knit up quickly. I’m also a big fan of the bright saturated green color of the yarn. It really “pops” in person.

The grosgrain ribbon that I’m using as handles was purchased during my first-ever excursion to M&J Trimming. I bought 1.5 yards, but I ended up only using about a yard of it total. This is a very large, very stretchy bag, and longer handles than that would have resulted in bruised knees. I also picked up some absolutely darling daisy buttons for another project. I was really impressed by the selection of ribbons, and buttons and laces and stuff that they sell there, and I’m looking forward having an excuse to go back. Perhaps my bagstopper will need a drawstring closure after all. . .

Despite the chilly evenings and fluctuating temperatures, there are still plenty of reminders that spring has actually arrived in the city. The lilacs are in bloom in Central Park and elsewhere.

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I came across a large stand of them by the Sheep Meadow when I was cutting across the park on my way home from Knitty City.
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I’m not used to seeing lilacs that are this particular shade of pink-purple, but I like it. And anything that makes the city smell nice for a few weeks a year is much appreciated.

The Grand Tour

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With a mere 45 days left until opening day, my family and I spent last Sunday taking the Yankee Stadium tour. Of course, no trip to 161st St. and River Ave. is complete without a peek at the progress on the new stadium. Despite my feelings about their building a smaller stadium to house a team that consistently sells out games (and some other issues with the inside of the stadium), I do have to admit that it looks pretty sweet from the outside. They’re making an effort to make the new entrance look like the original one did pre-renovations, and I like the old-timey feel that it has. I also appreciate that they haven’t sold the naming rights, and that it will continue to be known as Yankee Stadium. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I will be very interested to see the inside of the finished product.

After wandering around in the cold for a while, it was time to gather for the tour. It starts at the stadium’s Press Gate, all the better to bring you straight up to the Press Box:
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You get to sit in the same chairs that the press corps do, and there’s a nice, up-close view of the broadcast booths. I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to get a photo of the press box concession stand, but the prices there are much lower than they are in the rest of the ballpark.

After getting a good feel for the press box, we went back inside and down to the bottom of the Stadium for one of the two main high points of the tour:
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We even got to see the Yankees’ locker room, which had gotten a coat of fresh paint. No photos were allowed inside there, unfortunately, though. We did get to see Johnny Damon’s shower shoes, and some of Hideki Matsui’s stuff that had been left behind from last season, and we learned some locker room fun facts, like how Derek Jeter is the only Yankee with two lockers (one for him and one for his fan mail. The Yankees get something along the lines of 75-100 pounds of mail a week, and up to 2/3 of that is for Jeter). We also found out that Thurman Munson’s locker will be moved to a museum that’s being set up across the street from the new stadium.

Next up was what was probably my favorite part of the tour. They brought us outside and let us sit in the Yankee dugout.

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I’ve never been that close to the field before, or even at field level. The dugout has heated benches, which must be nice during those frigid April and October games, and air conditioning vents are built into the dugout steps for the warmer months. The netting under the dugout rail is a rather new addition. It was put in around 2001 to protect the players and coaches (bench coach Don Zimmer was hit by a foul ball). There’s no shortage of rules posted in the dugout. Despite the wintry weather, I was nearly overcome with the urge to get Scott Proctor warming up, but I restrained myself, which was just as well, because he’s been reunited with Joe Torre on the Dodgers.

Our tour ended with a trip through Monument Park, which I’ve never seen so empty. Finally, we were presented with a little memento of our trip through Yankee Stadium.
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I couldn’t resist photographing it with my latest traveling project, a stockinette sock in Opal Rainforest Veronika die wilde.

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And to close, a picture of me with my favorite Yankee.  It was a fitting end to a very informative and entertaining tour.

Winter Weather

We finally got some. Sort of.
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Sunday afternoon and evening saw some pretty heavy flurries. It wasn’t anything too substantial, even though it was pretty fast and furious at times, but it was enough for a little dusting to stick in the street tree wells.

Tuesday was a different story.  For a brief period in the afternoon, we got enough snow to start covering the grass in the park a bit.

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It wasn’t to last, though.  I’m glad that I took pictures on Tuesday afternoon, because it was all gone the following morning.

Of course, as it’s mid-February, that one day that truly warms a girl’s heart, that’s a shining beacon amidst all the snow and rain and darkness and drear of winter has come and gone this Thursday. A day that fills us with fond memories of the past and hope for the future. Really, it’s one of the more dreamy days of the year.

I’m talking, of course, of the day that pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. However cold and blustery it may be outside, it’s comforting to know that scenes like this:
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are just a few short weeks away. Opening day is March 31st.

My garter stitch project looks much as it did last week, only bigger. I’m very close to being completely finished, but I still have to work on making the bind-off look more like the cast-on edge. I’m using a decrease bind-off (scroll down), which is much closer to a cable cast on than anything I’ve tried, but isn’t perfect. I think a good blocking would help it, but then there’s little that can’t be helped by a good blocking. I’ve been looking ahead a bit, and trying to decide what to cast on next.  I’ve been thinking that some Jaggerspun Zephyr DK weight might make a very nice short-sleeved Wicked, but that I should finish the Racer Pullover before starting anything else that’s a larger-scale project.  Some simple socks are probably going to fit the bill, since they’ll be small enough to cart around in my purse, and easy enough to pick up and put down without having to worry about a lot of counting.

Back to basics

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, so sometimes it’s comforting to just take things back to the most elemental level. I’ve decided to give up yarn purchases for Lent again, but this year, I took a bit of a different tack for my Mardi Fil. For starters, I actually had it on Sunday, at The Yarn Connection’s Super Bowl sale.
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Last year, I got some Socks that Rock yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, but this year, I decided to stock up on good, basic, plain wool. I got two skeins of Cascade Eco Wool to make a Hemlock Ring Blanket or some variation of it, like the Egeblad doily in blanket size. At 40% off, I also decided to increase my Cascade 220 stash. It’s a good worsted weight yarn to have on hand in case some inspiration should strike.

Inspiration like how comforting it can be to knit up some nice garter stitch fabric. It’s knitting at its most basic: no pattern, no counting, almost no looking. Just cast on and go.
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It’s so relaxing to knit, especially after all the lace and cables I’ve worked on (and been working on) lately. I admit that I’m ignoring some very, very good advice to finish up projects before I start new ones, but this bit of knitting is just what the doctor ordered. I will try to give up startitis, though. I got this in under the wire on Tuesday, but it’s the last thing that I’ll cast on before finishing something else until Easter.

So it was a Super Bowl Sunday of basics. For me, it was solid wool yarn, and for the Giants, it was solid defense as they held the Patriots to just 14 points and won a game that seemed un-winnable on paper.
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On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with some flash as well. Although butterfly-themed sock yarn will never come close to being as exciting as the Great Escape and that catch were, it’s definitely more in my league.