December 4, 2013

I’m so excited!!

OK, the beginning.

In October, the 2013 Indie Gift-A-Long was born in the Ravelry community.  To quote the group:

Prepping for the holidays as only fiber folks can, with special deals from tons of indie designers!

What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

For the first two weeks of November, 177 indie designers sold their selected patterns at a 25% discount for use in the GAL.  Now anyone knitting or crocheting one of those hundreds of yummy patterns can join in the group just by posting their project and tagging it.  Lots of chatter in the threads for the different categories, lots of designer encouragement, games and oh, of course lots of prizes.   And it runs until December 31st.


So, one of the patterns I chose (yes, one of them, what’s your point?) is the Boxy Cowl by Michelle Krause.  Waffle Stitch pattern, very textured, in aran weight yarn.   I’m currently trying to knit only from my stash, so what I fished out of the yarn cupboard for this was the Hjertegarn Stripe yarn I scored when my friend Marina had a destash party.

Hjertegarn Stripe

The cowl uses a provisional cast on (with a very long tail) onto waste yarn, which is picked up later.  I decided to cast on directly onto a spare cable needle, to save me the hassle of picking up the stitches from the waste yarn.  Easy cast on, but verrrrry fiddly joining in the round and knitting the first row(s) with that extra cable getting in the way.

Boxy cast on

Lovely pattern, simple knit, and it is now finished and blocking

Boxy blocking

(The sofa really doesn’t need all of its cushions at the moment, right?  I mean, the size is just so perfect.)

Knitting merrily along, I loved the texture of the pattern, and how it really popped with this yarn.  Perfect match.  I realised I would have extra yarn left over, so I was inspired to knit some matching fingerless mitts!  Took a break mid-cowl to do so, and was delighted with the result.  Basic mitts with a thumb gusset, lovely with this stitch pattern, and very stretchy!

boxified mitts 3

As soon as I posted them on my project page, I began getting flatteringly positive response, both in comments and in messages, and several folks wished for the pattern.  So…I wrote up my notes, had some terrific knitters test-knit them – thanks Dawn, Kiwa, Jenni and Linda!! – tweaked it a bit as per their suggestions, and the pattern went live yesterday in my Rav store.   I asked for – and received – Michelle’s permission to mention her pattern as my inspiration.


(Click on the picture to get to the pattern…)

Now, this isn’t the only pattern in my store, but it’s the first in over 3 years.  And folks are faving and queueing!  And even buying!  So as I said before, I’m so excited!

The Boxified Mitts have also been added to my Patterns page, to make them easy to find.  If you should feel an urge to search for them.  ;-)

There are so many great things about Ravelry, I never invested much time in my “store.”

I’m thinking…  this may change….

Hitchcock Revisited… “Good Eeevening. And welcome to a Murder of Crows.”

December 2, 2013

On Saturday we had an odd little episode.  I was happily resting and knitting in the afternoon, when I heard a cacophony of cawing outside the window.  I went to the balcony to look.  Dozens of crows were swooping and circling between our building and the building across the street.  And making a whole  lot of noise.  They were also perched on the roof across the way, and on the street light posts.  But most were not being still, they were in frantic movement.  Some just metres away from us.  I grabbed my camera to catch just a few seconds of it.

This went on for easily 10 minutes.   I have no idea what set them off.  But they were obviously stirred up.

The cat was mesmerized.

watching the birds

After what seemed like an eternity, they finally settled down and flew to wherever it is they usually hang out.  And we settled down as well and I got back to knitting.

Very odd.  I didn’t see Tippi Hedron anywhere outside.  (Yeah, I looked.)

tippi hedron

Maybe someone bought a pair of lovebirds?  Anyone familiar with crow behaviour?

I suppose Alfred was just having a giggle.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

November 28, 2013



This year brings the rare combination of Thanksgiving and the first day of Chanukah.  Pay attention, y’all, because according to the calendar, this won’t happen again until the year 79811.  Yes, 77,000-ish years from now.  That’s what you get when you overlap a solar calendar with a lunar calendar.  And the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years.

We didn’t celebrate with a turkey dinner, but we did light candles as usual.  With our family Channukiyah (menorah).   I didn’t bother investing in a Menurkey, a turkey shaped menorah – the idea of Asher Weintraub, a 9-year-old inventor.  As cute as it is, I can’t see the use of paying out cash for something that will be used for one night every 77,000 years.

menurkey 2

On the other hand, it might have been fun lighting a turkey for the occasion.

We had chocolate Chanukah gelt (coins), and kidlet got what she has been bugging me for over the past few months, a panda hat.  (More about the pattern later.)

Panda FO 1


And of course we had the traditional jelly doughnuts – I allowed myself a little one.  (One every year.)


Have a sweet, joyous holiday, my friends, whatever you celebrate!


Guess what I’ve been doing today?

November 10, 2013

Giraffe 4.5 repeats

I’m debating whether to do the border and finish now.  The pattern calls for one more repeat – two more rows of spots.  I’m not sure I have enough yarn to do that.  I could do one more row of spots and see.

Probably the best option.  See how much yarn I have after another row of spots.  6 rounds.   Another 1500+ stitches.

Back to the needles.

See you on the flip side.


Locking up the citizens?

November 8, 2013

So kidlet wanted to take a walk this evening.  Not far, just down the road to one of the parks.  I still can’t do much walking, so I told her I’d take the car and she could go by foot.

The pot roast and the veggies were still cooking away in the slow cooker, nothing to worry about, off we went.

Well, we got to the city’s sculpture garden and found the gates open.  I parked by one of the gates, kidlet decided she wanted to sit by herself on a bench and do some writing.  So I stayed by the car across from the gate and took out the knitting.  Pleasant evening, nice breeze, but not too cool for comfort.  Alone time, together.

After about half an hour, maybe more, a police car swung by and parked by the gate.  One of the officers went into the park, then came back out and they proceded to lock the gates to the park.  I didn’t see kidlet so I called her on her phone.  She ran to check the other gate, and told me it was also locked.  I yelled out to the police that there was still someone left in the park, but they ignored me – just got into their car and took off.   Hey!

Kidlet made a quick round of the park to check out options, then came to the gate where I was waiting,   She handed me her things, then managed to climb up one side of the fence, swing herself over, and slide two meters down the outside.   Better her than me, I would never have gotten my hip and my weight over like that.

She told me she saw the police do a brief look through the park, but never even swung their flashlights in her direction.  She didn’t immediately realise that they were planning on locking up the place.  Pretty shoddy job, if you ask me.

We headed on home for a wonderful Shabbat dinner of roast beef with lots of trimmings.  And freshly baked brownies for dessert.  And toasted each other for a successful “escape” caper.

Well, at least now we know what time they lock the gates…



Books – the only things you buy that make you richer

November 7, 2013

Well, there’s been a little housecleaning over here at the blog today.  I finally managed to update my Book Challenge 2013 page.  And I tidied up a wee bit of wonky formatting on a few other pages as well.

I really shouldn’t get behind like that.

Of the 43 books I’ve read so far this year, top ratings (5 stars) so far this year have gone to:

  • Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller   I finished it in one night, couldn’t put it down.
  • Rachael Herron’s Life in Stitches (I love her blog, Yarn-A-Go-Go, link over at the right), I was left wanting more.
  • Karen Cantwell’s Chronicles of Marr-nia, wonderful short stories.

And of the cozies:

  • Betty Webb’s   The Anteater of Death
  • Krista Davis’  The Diva Haunts the House
  • Julie Hyzy’s  Affairs of Steak
  • Ellen Byerrum’s  Killer Hair
  • Ellery Adam’s   A Deadly Cliché
  • Jenn McKinlay’s   Red Velvet Revenge
  • Sheila Connolly’s  Monument to the Dead
  • Robin Allen’s  If You Can’t Stand the Heat

One book I tossed into the literary frog pond after struggling through 3 chapters, the writing was so bad.

Another book – Murder Over Easy – I finished (despite incredibly bad editing), but gave it the lowest possible rating.   One star, and if I could have given it zero I would have.  The main character is a woman, but her husband treats her like a silly little girl. which really irritated me.  The mystery itself could have been interesting, but I found the story filled with one-dimensional and horribly stereotyped  or prejudiced characters – which can be a  good thing, if it rounds out the story, if  their prejudice is pointed out or noted by others in the story.  The worst of the premises of the book was the overall assumption that gay = predator.  And the only gay character was the shameful villain who abused young boys.  Not that the author used the word “gay”.  Ever.  Feh.  Zero stars.

Thank goodness most of the books I read deserve a much higher rating!!

So….43 books out of my goal of 52 for the year – and two more months to go.

Think I’ll make it?

oh for a book


A busy day in which much knitting was done

November 7, 2013

Up very early to get kidlet up and ready to go – it takes her an amazingly long time to get moving in the morning.  Early breakfast, as she needed to fast several hours before tests at the medical center.  Out of town.  We hit the road.

Actually made it in time, checked in then spent an hour waiting.  Knitted.

Tests done, stopped for lunch, ran a  couple of errands like filling the tank.  Drove back to town.

Another doctor’s appointment.  Knitted while waiting.

Met partner and went to a dog park with the pup.  Played a bit, then let dog and kidlet race each other around.  Sat on a bench and knitted.

dog park knitting

After taking puppy home, partner started sorting through old clothes to see what kidlet may want.  Knitted and watched Johnny Depp movie with kidlet.

Mid movie – friends visiting from abroad called, they have arrived in Haifa, let’s meet for dinner.  No time to change, off to their rented flat then to a restaurant.  Fantastic food, fantastic company, back to their flat for tea.  Knitted.

Got home after midnight.

Hello, bed, I need some quality time with you.

What we have here is a problem of communication

November 5, 2013

User-friendly my patootie.

I’ve been fighting with my printer all day.

I want to print out some envelopes, for business mailing.  I prefer to print them, it looks more professional, and that’s important for a small business.  I go through Word → mailings → envelopes…  I select the size of the envelope.  and how it loads into the printer according to the printer instructions.  I type in the address and the return address.  And I hit “print”.

Ding-dong, the printer tells me the size of the envelope isn’t what I selected.  And spits the envelope back out.  Blank.    I also get a pop-up in Word telling me the same thing, but there it has a button to click if I want to print it anyway on the current envelope.  Obediently I put the envelope back in the tray and I click.  Nope, the printer isn’t buying that trick, out comes the blank envelope once again.   With the accompanying ding-dong.

I re-check all the settings.  Go over all possible options.  Print.  Ding-dong.  And again.

I ponder that perhaps the measurements written on the packet of envelopes is off, so I grab a ruler and measure the durn thing.  Nope, the manufacturer got it right.  Even so, I punch in some other measurement options to try.

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Ding-dong.

I go out and buy a different size of envelope.  Start over.  Same story.

I type and arrange the addresses in a regular Word document (which prints out just fine on paper), and try to print that on the envelope.  This jams the envelope inside the printer.   I try this three times.  And three times I have to open up the machine to retrieve the jammed envelope.  (And throw it away, because now it can’t be used.)

I’m not happy.

It’s not like I’m a novice at this nonsense.  I have been using Word to print out envelopes for years.  But this printer is determined not to cooperate.   It does fine with other stuff.  Yet despite advertising to the contrary, it just doesn’t want to print envelopes.  And is not persuaded by my polite requests, heart-rending pleas, nor my expletive-laden tantrums.


I have wasted a day on this.  I will now address the frigging envelopes by hand. go eat some comfort food and then knit to calm down.

You’ve let me down, printer.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see you in the same way again.

25 years of Women at the Wall

November 4, 2013


I fully intended to post pictures here today that I had taken at the special 25th anniversary Rosh Hodesh of the Women of the Wall at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.    Unfortunately kidlet was ill, so I stayed home,  supporting only from afar.  I followed the live streaming and posts all throughout the morning, from the first harrassment and cursing before the women even began to pray, then the rabbis turning on loudspeakers to drown out the women singing, until there were 1000 women strong, praying in a beautiful celebration of 25 years of struggle.  Women and men arrived from all over the world to join in.

There have been attacks, arrests, setbacks, legal victories, and compromises.  But the fight continues for women’s rights and freedom to pray as we wish.   Women are still not allowed to pray from the Torah at the Wall – at today’s prayers women held Torah covers aloft as a symbol.

Several hundred men stood on the men’s side supporting WoW, wearing shirts that proclaim they stand with us.   American ambassador Dan Shapiro spoke at the following activities, “I have had many honors… None as great as standing in support of WOW”.

I’ve posted about Women of the Wall before.  Today was a memorable landmark – a quarter of a century.  Support WoW.  Like their facebook page.   Buy a tshirt and wear it proudly, buy a WoW siddur (prayerbook), or choose another way to take a stand.

Our voices will be heard.

O Mio Babbino Caro

November 3, 2013

That’s the aria from Puccini’s opera “Gianni Schicchi” that blew me – and evidently quite a few others -away this week,

There are many reality music/talent shows these days.  Too many.  The “idol” shows, which started in Britain and then spread worldwide to umpteen countries – known in Israel as “A Star is Born” – has been around for more than a decade,  This year Israel changed the format entirely and it’s known as “The Next Star”, complete with interactive home audience real-time  participation.  “The Voice” began in Holland, and quickly spread as well.  We’ve had two local seasons of that so far.  The new show around here is the Israeli “X-Factor”.  More of the same, but we keep watching it, because there’s a lot of raw talent out there and we love to discover it.

One show that hasn’t yet made it to Israel is the “__’s Got Talent”  (another show born in Britain, but this one is for all kinds of entertainment, not just singing.  Although singing is certainly there.)

This week on “Holland’s Got Talent” a young girl named Amira Willighagen stepped onto the stage.  She’s 9 years old.  As reported in the Huff Post:

It’s hard to believe how young Amira is, but even more surprising to learn that she is completely self-taught, and used only YouTube tutorials to learn how to sing.

She told the judges, “My brother Vincent plays violin, and I also wanted to do something…  So I thought, I’m going to sing… and then I heard opera songs, which I found very beautiful and that’s when I started singing,” HLNBE reports.

And this is what happened.

I don’t know if the judges’ reactions were real or staged.  Truthfully, I don’t care.

Remember this child’s name.  She is going to be very famous.   And rightfully so.


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