Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Halfling Headcase

My bout with vertigo is finally over, I think, but you can't tell from these pictures I took. In my effort to create Tolkein inspired knits, I've designed three types of hooded scarves for the races of Elves, Men, and Halflings. They're a bit complicated, so I figured I needed to develop some beginner-level projects. This is my Halfling Hooded Scarf, it's simple and requireds some sewing. James was kind enough to lend a helping head.

The main piece of this Hobbit hoodie is a regular rectangular scarf knit in mistake rib , which is a 2 X 2 rib off-set by one stitch. I'm trying other reversable patterns, but I think mistake-rib has a humble appeal that's more fitting of a Hobbit. I originally intended this to be a child's scarf — no buttons nor ties. This would be good for children ages 6 and up.

The hood is formed by sewing a panel at the center back. I used a simple four-strand cable with a slightly different shade of yellow ochre (not "Yellow Oger") just for resolving pattern issues. But this would make a nice two-color scarf. I'm not a big fan of cablework on garments. Most cabled garments are over-designed in my opinion.

The hood can be worn up but it folds neatly on the back when it's worn down. Doesn't this look brooding and mysterious?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Arepas — Good Stuff from Caracas

This has nothing to do with knitting but... arepas are soft Venezuelan corn cakes which are lightly grilled and stuffed with different savory fillings. They’re different from the Mexican huarche, which is topped instead of filled, and similar to the Equadorian pupusa which is stuffed first and then grilled.

Last Wednesday I art directed and styled a food shoot for photographer Doug Todd. We shot arepas for a restaurant, Caracas, on East 7th street in Manhattan. Mark, Doug, and I got there around 8:00 a.m. just as the prep chefs started their day. Ilsa, the chef, arrived soon after, then the owners Gato and Maribel.

La Sureña: Grilled chicken, chorizo, and avocado slices served with chimichurri, a classic Veneuelan sauce.

De Pollo: Grilled chicken breast, caramelized onion, and cheddar cheese.

La Del Gato: Guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains, and avocado slices. Gato hightly recommends this one.

La Pelua: Seasoned shredded beef with cheddar cheese.

De Pabellon: Shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and aged cheese.

Reina Pepiada: Chilled chunky chicken and avocado salad, perfect for summer.

It was a long day — creating small sets, hovering over food, overseeing all details. Making food look good for the camera is a small magic act, but it helps when everything tastes so good. Some shots were difficult because the corn cakes and the assembly are very delicate. Everything was absolutely delicious, especially the ceviche. My favorite arepa was La Pelua — seasoned shredded beef with cheddar cheese. Ilsa patiently made everything for the shoot as we needed it, including the tostones.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


The nurse checked my blood pressure and weight and told me the doctor would be in soon. Some time had passed, I grew tired of staring at the framed etchings of cotton tail and grey squirrel. I got up from the table and read some of the "commonly mistaken medication" chart on the door. "Celebrex (arthitis relief)" "Celexa (anti-depressant)", the mix-up could prove comically tragic for geriatrics and manics alike.

The doctor asked me to sit down on the table. The crunch of perma-wrinkled protective paper sounded like fire. "Your blood pressure is fine — 126/170, no throat infection. How long have to you had vertigo?" I told her since Saturday, it had been 5 days since. I told her I was better but I still have sporadic episodes of "spinning." She did more tests. "Have you ever had this before?" I said twice. I laid back on the table. With both hands she gently turned my head to the right. Whoa! the whole room spun again as if I were on a roller coaster. It took me a while to get my bearings straight. "OK, now the other way." I think I yelled holy crap. Then she sat me up and tapped on my forehead amd temples. It felt my senior years flashed before of me as my brain hit the back of my skull. I could hear the fluid in my head make a dull reverberating thud.

She examined my ears and throat again, said they were clean, and told me that I had a problem with my labyrinth from my cold. "At this point, you just have to ride it out for a few more days. Walk slowly, don't drink any alcohol, drink lots of fluids and immune boosters, rest... and no coffee, it dries out your ears." No coffee? That's where I draw the line. Hmf. She gave me two presciptions and told me to come back if the vertigo persists. "Any questions?" "Who came up with this BMI chart. I haven't weighed 158 pounds since I was 12." She laughed "Not us."

Stephanie waited for me in the lobby. I'm glad she was there for me. You never really appreciate someone's support as much as when you're sick. I really don't like going to the doctor's office — for God's sake there's sick people in there. We've been back together for a few months now, but announcing it is slow. One Sunday morning last month when I was over at Steph's, I got up early and said I'd get some bagels for breakfast. Surprised, I ran into Eleanor and Marc on Montague. They're never around on Sunday. They asked what I was doing in the Heights so early. Instead of explaining that Stpeh and I were back together I just said "I'm a little hung-over, where is your bagel shop?" It seemd a bit complicated for morning conversation. Of course that led a string of phone messages that went "Are you OK, call me back?"

Pharmaphoebia? I have a fear of meds, or rather, a healthy respect for the side effects. Other than the sporadic spinning, momentary confusion and fatigue, I'm actually fine. Steph treated me to breakfast and went with me to pick up my meds.