A new year in pictures

September 17, 2014

The stove saga continues, but as new issues are developing daily and nothing is as yet resolved I will wait to update you on the whole freakin’ story.


On other fronts:

I tried doing the 365 project a few years ago.  Following the concept of documenting a year, by posting – every day – a photograph you took that day.

I failed miserably.  I loved taking the pictures, just didn’t manage to do it and/or post every day, and soon gave up.  Pity.

Then this week I read this blog entry by author Donna Andrews and was inspired anew.  Should I try again?

The Hebrew year 5775 begins next week.  A perfect opportunity for a fresh start.

Want to join me?   You can sign up (for free) here.  Let’s point and shoot together!

What lurks behind your stove…

September 15, 2014

Hopefully, nothing.  Still, scary.

I live in a rented flat, with an elevator because of my silly hip.  (Mine’s rented out to other tenants.)  It’s a big flat, with an awful lot of advantages (including said elevator and reserved parking space), but the landlord really hates to invest anything in it, so most of the plumbing and wiring and built-in stuff like cupboards are old and somewhat falling apart.  We manage.  Although kidlet is desperate to change the closets in her room.

The kitchen is really in need of some care, but landlord and I have different ideas about that.  So I do what I can with what I have.

And then there’s the stove.  When we moved in, landlord wasn’t sure if the oven worked.  It didn’t.  So I used it as extra storage space and did my baking, etc. in a toaster oven.   The gas burners were weak, but two of the four were ok to cook on for the first couple of years.  Then they just kind of gave up.

I called the gas company to come and check if there was a problem with the hookup.  The fellow who came discovered a bad gas leak in the stove itself.  Not his problem.  Oh, and the gas valve in the wall was way out of date, the company couldn’t approve its use.   So he turned the gas off, and unhooked my stove completely.   Even took the gas hose with him – I guess so I wouldn’t be tempted?  By what, if there isn’t any gas being supplied??  It’s a mystery.  But… I digress.  I had a couple of countertop electric burners to use in the meantime.   I figured I would just buy a new stove myself, instead of arguing with the landlord about it, then if/when I move out I take it with me.  The only discussion I had with landlord was getting his permission to toss the old stove out.  He waffled about it, but finally agreed.

Partner wanted to buy a new stove for my birthday, so we did some searching online then headed for the shops.  We also had to make sure that the folks who deliver the stove will take the old one away.  Found just what I wanted!  With quick delivery, within 3 days.  And that only because of the weekend.

Back at home, with some trepidation, I moved the old stove away from the wall to clean the whole space in readiness for the new stove.  And found a sticky mess.  Old grease.  Walls and floor.  Hey, I had never bothered to move the thing before, what with tubes and hoses and wires and stuff.  And I have no idea who cleaned it before me and when.   I always cleaned around it as best I could, but when I moved it, ew.  Hey, be honest, how often do you clean behind and under your stove?  Got out the super cleanser, buckets and scrubs, and started in, tile by tile.  I also attacked the grease that had spilled down the side of the fridge in between the stove and fridge.  (Luckily, that wasn’t nearly as bad.)  Kidlet did help by scrubbing one of the wall tiles clean.  Leaving the remaining 30-some for me.  She claimed it was impossible with her manicure.  Tell me about it, the cleanser ate half my nail polish and dulled the rest…

Many a scotch brite died in the battle.

stove wall

(This is an after picture, I would put a before picture but it’s just too embarrassing.)

The delivery guys were supposed to come yesterday between 8am and noon.  The salesman at the store had recommended I call the gas company and have a technician come out and inspect/turn on the gas after 1:00, so I could get service all in one day and begin using the stove.  Yeah, right.  Fortunately I listended to my gut and waited to call the gas company.  The delivery guy called at 2:15, said he was 10-15 minutes away.  I waited at the window so I could hit the remote to open the parking gate.  He got here at 3:00.  By the time I finally could call the gas company, their offices were closed.

But I have a stove.

stove packaged

I’ll keep you updated.

Oh, and I met the deadline and finished 20% of the Curiouser shawl.  New goal:  40% by next Sunday.

curiouser 20%

Curiouser. Collectively.

September 10, 2014

Last year I took part in Helen Stewart’s Curious Collective Shawl Project, first blogged about here, and the finished shawl shown here.  The “design by committee” and subsequent KAL was such a hit that Helen decided to do it again this year.  The voting for options of the pattern began on the Curious Handmade blog in mid-July.  After we voted on all the choices, Helen set about designing this year’s shawl pattern.  This year includes both textured and lace elements.

There will be prizes again for those joining the KAL.  We have a new element in the project this year – knitters can join a tribe, for social support and additional prizes!  The tribes are loosely based on the colour combinations one chooses.

With the yarn I am using from my stash – gray and blue – I am firmly in the Space Age Chic tribe, although the yarns I have chosen for my shawl are darker than the colours in the original KAL options.  I declared in the Ravelry discussion that this places me at the head of the Dark-side-of-the-Moon faction of the tribe, which Helen described as brilliant.

Curious KAL yarn 14

Space Age Chic is the smallest tribe, most folks going for English Rose, Enchanted Forest, French Vintage or Art Deco.  Figures.  Of course I would be in the most “exclusive” tribe, right?

The pattern was released this week, and we have a first target of Sunday the 14th to get 20% of the shawl done.  Once the pattern was released, I had the difficult decision of which colour to make the main colour, and which will be the contrast.  I chose the gray Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine for the textured body, with the  blue Alize Superwash for the lace contrasts.

The first 20 rows of my Collectively Curiouser were quickly done.

curiouser 1


So far I’ve managed to get  10% done, so I’m pretty well on schedule.

curiouser plus 10%

How can I tell how far I’ve reached?  Helen’s patterns make it very easy!  For all rows, she gives both the stitch count you should have at the end of the row, and the percentage of the project you’ve finished.  (That’s on the written directions, which she gives as well as all the charts needed…)

Curious pattern

I love it so  far – garter body, with a stockinette edge, instead of the opposite!  Yes, the edge curls.  It’s supposed to.   It curls as far as the extra-large eyelets, then stops, making it a lovely border for the garter!

curiouser edge

So as of this week I’m juggling this with the leethal Adventure KAL.  Come and join the fun!


knitting curiouser

A Leethal Adventure

September 9, 2014

Lee Meredith (leethalknits) describes herself as a maker of things, doer of stuff, with a main focus on designing original hand-knit accessories.  Her patterns are always amazing, like the Mikkey cowl I test-knit for her, shown in my last post.  Another test-knit was her Lerro shawl, a true knitting experience!

Lerro FO1

Lerro FO3

I spent many an hour with this going “huh?”, ruffling pages as I searched for clarification, then finally reaching the “oh!! cool!” moments, following up to 5 charts at a time, muttering to myself during stitch-n-bitch meetings.  (Luckily my knit sibs know me…I may have been giggled at a few times.  Ahem.)  The finished object is something I am immensely proud of!!

Lee has the ability to deconstruct stitches and put them back together in amazing and very unexpected ways.  She plays with colour.  She takes into account all possibilities, and many of her patterns are written so that you can continue knitting until your yarn runs out, or make whatever size or pattern combination you want. Complex but extremely thorough instructions – including tutorials – make her patterns many pages long, but the answer to any possible pattern question can be found there.  Last winter I knit her Robin shawl in no time at all, and it was great fun.

Robin FO


Lee’s patterns are always an adventure.  So when the 2014 leethal Adventure Knit-a-long was announced in July, I jumped at it.  More about it on her blog.  Parts of the pattern have been released all during August and into September, with an adventure story to accompany them.  Clues.  Teasers.  Hints.  Toys to play with.  There’s a mystery chest involved (and an attic).  The pattern is available in full pages, or in little foldable booklets.  Spoilers are clearly marked for those who want to be surprised.

adventureKAL books

The object and shape you knit can be chosen or randomly picked.  Cowls, scarves, shawlettes, shawls, and even a shirt in many possible shapes and variations can be made from the shape patterns.  Then there are 24 unique stitch patterns to mix and match, either deliberately or totally at random, they can all flow together.  So each finished object is different than all the others.

There are many different ways to randomize the (named and numbered) patterns.  You can just choose a number, or ask others in your family or circle to choose.  Throw dice.  Use a random number generator on the computer.  I already told you about the fortune teller/cootie  catcher(s) for patterns.  There’s also a Ouija board for choosing both shapes and patterns, pattern cards to draw, the fortune teller when laid flat can be the base for spinning a bottle, and a sheet to determine pattern choices by numerology!

adventureKAL randomize


I decided (without the Ouija) to knit a long strip or loop for a cowl.

I started out with the set-up and part of the first section with  Soul Wool Tibetan yarn in purple,  but it was soon apparent that as delightful as the yarn is to knit with, the colour changes were obscuring the patterns.

adventureKAL 1st 2

So the first attempt was frogged, and the yarn will be used for something else yummy.  I cast on again with Sublime Yarn Baby Cashmere Merino Silk 4ply, and it was a good call!

I’m halfway through the middle section, which means I’m halfway done!

adventureKAL loop sect1-2

(The colour is actually a lovely blue, totally washed out in the pictures…I’ll try to get better pictures when it’s done.)

This will be amazing blocked.  Some interesting combinations of stitch patterns are emerging from the (mostly) random order.  (The order muppet in me has interfered in this chaos muppet project a couple of times, in a general way.)

I especially like the Pallas-Virgo-Vesta combo:

Advkal pallas-virgo-vesta

and the Astraea-Aries-Sun combo:

Advkal astraea-aries-sun

And who knows what comes next!!!

I can later use the pattern for other projects, other shapes, either randomizing the stitch patterns or determining them in advance, for many more unique items to come.

The adventure continues.



Not cowed by cowls

September 4, 2014

I love cowls.  I don’t knit nearly enough of them.  But since I also love lots of other knitted items, I can’t be an exclusive cowl knitter.

I haven’t been able to discover how the  word “cowl” came to be used for the knitted or crocheted item that we know today.

From the dictionary:

The cowl (from the Latin cuculla, meaning “a hood”) is an item of clothing consisting of a long, hooded garment with wide sleeves, worn by monks.   Originally it may have referred simply to the hooded portion of a cloak.

OK, so many knitted cowls can be worn as hoods.  But in today’s fashion it is usually worn more or less loosely around the neck, often as an alternative to a scarf.  It can also be used to describe a type of  neckline on a sweater or coat…  But that doesn’t seem to be reflected in many modern definitions or discussions of the word.

Did you know that the top of Batman’s cape, or the thing that covers his head, is referred to as a cowl?  Not a mask.

batman cowl


Cowl is also the name of parts of chimneys, cars, and airplanes…  Yet although the fiber arts definition of cowl is not easily found when researching just the word itself, most images connected with it show our amazing range of knitting and crocheting talents!

I just finished my fourth cowl this year.  Castanho, by Mamã Martinho.  Lots of dropped stitches for a rustic look.   It is meant to be shorter, knit flat and seamed, but I wanted a longer cowl so doubled the cast on and joined to knit in the round.  I tweaked the repeats to fit.

castanho FO 2

castanho FO 1


The yarn – Winter Flamme by Americo Original – was perfect for the look.  Super soft alpaca & wool, and thick/thin ranging from a heavy sport down to lace weight.

Kidlet is insisting that we share this item.  Hm.

Earlier this year, the Sallah cowl by Bristol Ivy was the ideal pattern to show off the Unique Sheep Verve yarn – I love the pooling!

sallah FO 2

Interesting knit – the RS and the WS are knit with two different sized needles.  Like wildly different – 3.75mm and 6mm!  Kept me on my toes.  I also love the applied i-cord edge, it smoothed out the edge and was great for hiding the ends when I changed yarn.

My Rainbow Volcano – aka the Lava Flow cowl  by Dixie Norton – was a pattern that had been sitting in my queue for a very long time.  Knitted with Ornaghi Filati Cross, a wool blend.

lava FO 1

Simple rib, but those 24-stitch cables can be tricky.

Biggest cowl challenge was a test-knit for leethalknits, Lee Meredith.  The Mikkey cowl uses Lee’s amazing colourwork in a different shape and construction that had me scratching my head for most of the project.

Strips that join up to the body of the cowl…that will match holes knit into the body… and that are later grafted onto the other end of the body…

Mikkey 1

And it ends up as a fantastic double-looped cowl that can be two loops the same length, or one long and one short…

mikkey FO 1

Oh, and Lee’s adventure KAL project that I’m working on now will also be a cowl.

Because, as I said, I love cowls.

Flower on my shoulder

September 3, 2014

A couple of years ago Bat (crazyvet on Ravelry) hand dyed 500 meters of  superwash merino yarn for me in a Yarn & Falafel swap.

CrazyVet handdyed 2

Loved the gorgeous colours, but kept looking for the right pattern, without success.

Then Jenny (stolenpony on Rav) gifted me a pattern as a RAP (Random Act of Pattern) – The Hibiscus Shawl by Laura Chau, that had been on my wish list for a while.

It was a perfect match.  And a community gift!

Well, I finally got around to knitting it, in between other projects/gifts/testknits/KALs/and whatnot.

It’s a lovely, soft, open mesh shawl, with a big flower on the shoulder.

hibiscus FO 1

Hm.  Blurry picture.

Here’s a closeup of the flower:

hibiscus FO flower

Still a little blurry.

Kidlet was kind enough to model it for me, although it’s so hot out she felt the shawl was quite warm enough over her summer garb…

hibiscus FO 2

hibiscus FO 4

This will be a fantastic accessory when the weather gets cooler!  I predict much use.  And a warm reminder of gifts and kindness.


How to reward a knitter…

August 29, 2014

I neglected to show the prize I won for the double-knitted baby blanket at the Yarn & Falafel Annual Fiber Fest this year.  I must remedy this oversight.

knitting prize - blanket

Knitting needles, stitch markers, 3in1 needle gauge tool, Knitscene Summer 2014, and yarn!  Lots of yarn…

Alize Superwash, a whole pile of Soul Wool Safari (cotton/viscose), and two skeins of Valley Yarns Huntington.

I have been spoiled.


And as we move into the Sabbath:

Shabbat Shalom.

Of Buckets and Ice and Charity

August 27, 2014

I have lost two people very dear to me to ALS.  Two of my mother’s best friends.  It’s a horrendous disease, and there is no cure.  The only treatments are designed to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients.  Even drugs that “improve” survival only lengthen it by a matter of months.  So I have been aware of this for a long time.

2014.  Cue the Ice Bucket Challenge.  In case you have no TV and refuse to look at facebook, it works like this:  A person is nominated by someone to meet the challenge.  The challenged person must – within 24 hours of the challenge – fill a bucket full of ice and water; they will then state who nominated them to do the challenge and will nominate three other individuals of their choice to take part in it. The person then dumps the bucket of ice and water onto themselves. They are then to donate US $10 (or a similar amount in their local currency) to ALS research at the ALS Association in the US, or Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK, or another local research foundation. Anyone who refuses to have the ice and water dumped on them is expected to donate US $100 to ALS research.

It began to gain momentum when personalities from sports and morning news programs performed the challenge live on the air. This was quickly followed by numerous celebrities, politicians, athletes, and everyday folks posting videos of themselves meeting the challenge online and on TV.  According to The New York Times, people shared more than 1.2 million videos on facebook between June 1 and August 13 and mentioned the phenomenon more than 2.2 million times on twitter between July 29 and August 17.

This fund-raising craze that has gone viral has both pros and cons.  On the pro side, it has increased awareness of the disease on a phenomenal level, and has raised millions of sorely needed dollars for research.  As of August 25, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised $79.7 million for the ALS Association, compared to $2.5 million raised over the same period in 2013.  On the con side, there may be dangers for people with specific medical conditions to take the challenge, and the craze has been criticised for being self-congratulatory, focusing primarily on fun rather than donating money to charity.  (Some folks, like Bill Gates and Charlie Sheen, have emhasized in their videos that the point is to donate money.)  Other critics have said that considering the water shortage in places around the world, it is a foolish stunt.  (Matt Damon, co-founder of water.org, an organization focused on providing access to safe water and sanitation throughout the world, brought this up when he was challenged.  He solved his dilemma by using water he scooped out of his toilet, so as not to waste any.)  There have also been some spectacular fails as people attempt stupid stunts to go along with the ice and water, some causing injuries.

If that much money has been raised to fund research, I don’t have much of a problem with the silly fun of it.  And there will always be foolish people who do foolish things in the name of “fun”, not much we can do about that.

There have been quite a few videos of Israelis taking the challenge.  Several were interrupted by air raid sirens warning of a rocket attack, adding a little extra drama.

Yesterday kidlet got her first challenge.  Today I became her photographer as she met her obligation.  Money has been set aside to donate.

She nominated three more of her friends (after telling her own challenger to “drop dead, thanks”).  She forgot some of the script she had practiced, but added it to her facebook post.

At least she kept me out of it.  I don’t need ice on my head to give to charity…

Catch that Cootie! …and knit?

August 25, 2014

Remember that game we used to play as kids?  Where you fold up a piece of paper in what is actually a traditional origami model, add colours, numbers, names, whatever, then flip the corners back and forth according to a number, or number of letters, until you end up  turning over a flap and learning your fortune, getting a task, or whatever else was written there for you?

cootie-catcher colours

The most common names in English for this game seem to be Fortune Teller or Cootie Catcher.  From looking this up, it doesn’t really seem to be a regional thing, as both names are found all over.   I made dozens – if not hundreds – of these throughout my childhood – and I can’t for the life of me remember what on earth we called it.  If anything.  It’s driving me crazy!

It still seems to be very popular, after a history of almost 100 years in English-speaking culture.  Kids are still making them!  They are used as party favours:


One can find hundreds of templates for theme fortune tellers – for birthdays, holidays, weddings.  The Country Chic Cottage has a Dr. Seuss template.

cootie catcher dr seuss

This one has a mandala of the seasons, and on the flip side different meditations:

cootiecatcher mandala

Amazon has whole books of different cootie catchers

cootie-catcher book 2

cootie_catcher book


Why the sudden interest in a children’s game, you ask?  You didn’t ask?  I’ll tell you anyway.  It’s simple.  The Leethal Adventure Knit Along  2014.  Much much more about this KAL later, but Lee has provided us with a custom-made fortune teller to help randomize the stitch patterns we use in the first section of our project, to make each project truly unique.  Printed out and folded, we got this:

fortune teller closed

Using various methods in the KAL, we flip away:

fortune teller partly open

Until at last our next stitch pattern is revealed!

fortune teller open

It is a lot of fun, and has sparked quite a lively discussion in the KAL group.  So far the names (other than or in addition to cootie catcher or fortune teller) the knitters in the group have for this game are clackers, flutter book, whirlybird, salt cellar, 4 cups, chatterbox or scrunchie (in Australia), consequences (in Britain), Heaven and Hell (in Germany), crow (in Finland), and flea (in Sweden).

The Origami Spirit blog compiled this list a couple of years ago:

  • Catalan: cuatre sabates
  • Danish: flip-flapper, farveskifter, farvevælger, nip-napper, rap-rapper, spå, spå-maskine”, rip-rapper, lusefanger,  saltkar
  • Dutch: knip-knap, peper- en zoutvaatje
  • English: fortune teller, cootie catcher, salt cellar, chatterbox, whirlybird
  • French: coins-coins, salière
  • German: himmel und hölle or himmel oder hölle, salz und Pfeffer
  • Greek: Alatiera (Αλατιέρα)
  • Hebrew: qua-qua
  • Hungarian: sótartó
  • Italian: acchiappanaso,  inferno-paradiso
  • Polish: niebo-pieklo
  • Portuguese: inferno e paradiso, quantos queres
  • Spanish: adivinador, sacapiojos, salero, pollito, comecocos, sapito, cielo e infierno, día y noche, piquito, cuatrobocas, cumpleaños, el poto de doña María, juego de la fortuna, aguaderas, estafador de sueños

So…   What do you call it??

I honestly don’t recall if this ever had a name when we played.  Now I guess I have to go search out my childhood friends and see what they remember.

(Well, at least I still remember how to fold it…  There is that.)

Ye Olde Stash of Yore

August 25, 2014

Well, the catbeast managed to knock down a big canvas bag that has been in storage forever and stuck on a high shelf.  It holds yarn that I used ages ago before (quality) yarn could be acquired online, brands that I knit with and/or bought back in the 80s.   (I still have the knitting magazines, with the patterns I knit with this stuff…I usually managed a few sweaters per year.)   I haven’t touched it in years, but since the cat knocked it all down, I decided to do some housecleaning, at least sort and catalogue it all.

There were balls of yarn, partial balls of yarn, several unifinished objects, including scarves, a sweater that was finished except for the collar (and which I have no recollection of knitting…), and a few swatches.  Some of the yarn was organised in separate plastic bags, but a great deal of it was in an incredibly tangled mess.

yarn mess

So… I got to work.  In total, I found 110 full skeins of yarn in there.  With the exception of one yarn, all are 100% acrylic. That was all that was available in the local yarn shops in the 80s and into the 90s.   And not the most pleasant to work with, compared with some of the yarns available today.

I remember some of my old projects knitted with much of the partial skeins.  I still have a few, many were gifted.   (That one sweater sure baffles me, though.  Kidlet kind of likes it, asked if maybe I would finish it for her.  Doubtful.)  I never put any of them on my Rav project page.  Maybe I should?

Most of the local yarn companies and almost all of the yarns no longer exist.

old stuff

I’m still debating what I’m going to do with all the yarn I sorted and recorded.  A few are sweater quantity. Some are odds and ends.  Some are clearly matched for a colourwork project.

I put it all on one page of my Ravelry stash, with all the details, and titled it “Old Stuff”.

In the meantime it’s back in the canvas bag and back on the shelf.  At least I know now what exactly is in there.

Any ideas?




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