Archive for September, 2009

Shana Tova 5770

September 21, 2009

A few random notes as we start off the new year 5770. 

Through my Ravelry tea group I discovered a great site for tea lovers:  http://www.Steepster.com .  It’s a tealog to record teas you’ve tried, what you like and dislike, and you follow others to learn about new teas.   (I passed the news along to my tea group at LibraryThing – everything is connected to everything else.)  It’s a fairly new site, they are still working on a lot of new ideas that will be implemented – but in the meantime, I’m amazed at the database they have, and how many lovely teas there are still to be tried.

Finished the BSJ (that’s Baby Surprise Jacket, a design by Elizabeth Zimmerman) for boss’ granddaughter,  a little late for her birthday but just in time for the holiday – but it’s not sweater weather yet anyway, so that’s ok.   Her mom called day before yesterday, very enthusiastic.  I told her a little bit about the design, and she wants to learn to knit!  (Of course I then told her about Ravelry.)

 BSJ

New Year’s dinner with the family was chaotic but fun.  DD is feeling the age gap more – there were 15 adults, 6 kids from 1-9, and then daughter at 14½.  We told her she’s old enough now to join the adults in conversation instead of “playing” with the kids (or supervising) – although I’m not sure our conversation isn’t boring to her.  For family birthdays, etc, we have let her bring a friend, but holidays are a bit different.  This is going to become more problematic, methinks. 

 Copy of DSC02145  Copy of DSC02159 

Copy of IMG_4032

  Finally bought kid a computer just for herself.  OMG, at last I can be rid of the constant ICQ uh-ohs!!  Not to mention the 4000 bookmarks for heavy metal songs on UTube.   I had them deliver the new computer to work, so my techie friend could check it out, and what luck I did, because they had forgotten to install the wireless card!  So we got on the phone, and they sent the card…which my techie friend pronounced as pure junk and called them to demand they replace it with a better one at no extra cost.  They promised to do so before Rosh HaShana, but simply didn’t get around to it, totally destroying the surprise I had planned for kid by hooking everything up for the holiday.  I was furious!  I’m still waiting for the damn card.  At least kid wasn’t disappointed, because she still doesn’t know about it.  And she was quite happy with the iPod touch….

The rainy season has begun!   It started early this year, though whether that means that we’ll finally have a much-needed wet winter remains to be seen.  Still warm out, but there’s a refreshing taste to the air.    Happy equinox!!

A very happy and sweet new year to everyone,  may it be a year of health and peace.  

new years dove

Advertisements

Swapaholic on a Budget

September 14, 2009

My name is Chana, and I am a swapaholic….but I am trying to be financially smart.  (My partner will have her doubts about that…)

In these trying times, swaps can definitely be a strain on the budget.  Granted, it’s an exchange, you’re buying goodies for someone but you’re also receiving some great items that may not be available to you at all or may not be available at the price someone else pays…but even so, can one allow oneself the indulgence in these treats?

The little voice of my inner enabler says yes, if you don’t (over) splurge on other things for yourself as well.   And I only occasionally (*cough*) join the big swaps.

That is why I am so happy to belong to a swap group that puts a limit of $10 on each swap (not counting postage, let’s be real here).  No more than $4 should be spent on yarn, and the rest depends on your ingenuity to make a great package for your partner.  There are usually many hand-made things in these swaps.  I love this group!  It began in January, and I’ve joined every month.

In January I swapped with Nadja in Slovenia.  She sent me La rocca fleur de lis yarn that she bought in nearby Italy; she also knitted me a tea wallet with a lot of Slovenian teas; a map of Slovenia, a CD of a popular artist; a booklet of traditional Slovenian recipes; and a lovely postcard.

 $10 Jan

Then in February I swapped with Denise in California.  She sent Patons Grace cotton yarn (which I knitted into a Baktus scarf), patterns, Eucalan woolwash, Felicitea, Tazo, and Numi teas: heart chocolates for Valentine’s Day, postcards and local info, a notepad and pencil, she knitted a fish toy for the cat (who ended up in every picture trying to get the toy), and a tote bag from Stitches West!

 $10 Feb

SW tote cat toy

 

In March we went “green” – the package was to have a recyclable tote bag.  I swapped with Fran from North Carolina.  I got a “Cozy” tote bag, Knitpicks Essential yarn, some lovely and soft mystery yarn, a book of essays by Adrienne Rich, a cd of folk and jazz, shells, crystal beads, Tazo teas, brass stitch markers,  and a rubber snake (since I had mentioned what pets we had and that the family won’t let me get another snake)! 

 $10 Mar

In the April swap the group decided to destash, and get rid of yarns that we weren’t going to use ourselves.  (Very difficult, that…)  I swapped with Erin in New York.  She sent 3 balls of Sugar-n-Cream cotton (LOVE it), some bamboo wool, two skeins of Knitpicks Memories, another ball of unidentified wool, and then puzzle books, and amazing pyramid teas from Tea of Life.

 $10 Apr

In May we played a game – the Magic Yarn Ball.  Everything we sent was wound up in a big ball of yarn, and we unraveled it to get to the goodies!  Emma in New York used two balls of yarn (Sugar n Cream cotton and Reynolds Lite Lopi virgin wool from Iceland) in order to wrap everything up for me, she sent a knitted bookmark, stitch markers, a row counter, coil needle holders, needle point protectors, a chart magnet, coloured ribbons, a chart highlighter, raspberry tea, candy, and a teapot tape measure that is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!  Emma was also my youngest swap partner, having celebrated her 11th birthday shortly before the swap.  She’s quite a knitter, too!  I doff my cap to her.

 $10 May

In June we were to send our partner things we love.  I swapped with Kathleen in Tennessee.  Her fantastic package included two magazines (The Strand, Mental Floss), Kraemer Tatamy Tweed cotton yarn, a bandana, a button (best things in life), binder clips, lots ‘o teas, sock-shaped point protectors, a postcard from Tennessee, a bumper sticker from her LYS, a CD filled with her favourite music – some by local musician friends, a fossil from her farm, a sachet of lavender, and goodies – green tea candy, violet candy, ginsing gum, and ginger jam.

 $10 Jun

The July swap was about local interests.  Noelle in Chicago sent me a skein of Jaeger merino/alpaca, The Onion, Games magazine, a mystery (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), coasters from her local burger joint, a chart magnet, a Chicago fold-up tote bag, a frog tea infuser and yummy tea from Republic of Tea, a pecan & honey bar, an iTune to download, and a ticket stub and schedule from a Cubs game!  (She couldn’t send me a hot dog from the stadium, so she sent me a packet of relish.)    (^_^)

 $10 Jul

In the August swap we built the package around a single colour.  Ger in Ireland sent me greens!  Some Lang Shetland wool yarn, and Patons Washed Haze, a scarf pattern, a book of Rowan patterns, an award-winning novel, and lots of green goodies.  A hand knitted project bag filled with oatmeal-based Aveeno care products and some aloe-vera lip balm, a frog pencil and eraser, a green notions bag filled with even more knitting goodies.  And then: some Green&Black’s Organic dark chocolate, a pumpkin 9Bar, a granola bar, and teas!! Pu-Erh, Apple&Ginger, Yogi Choco Aztec spice…  

 $10 Aug

I’m now working on the September package for Sue in Ontario, Canada.  We’ve each been given a letter of the alphabet, and we must make the package with things beginning with that letter.  My letter is “F”, so hopefully this will be a Fantastic, Funky, Fabulous swap!   I already made a long list of F ideas, and my Stitch-n-Bitch group got in on the Fun last week and came up with lots more.  (Sue has “H” for me, can’t wait to see what she does with that.)

My name is ……yeah, well, you know……

So close, and yet so far…..

September 9, 2009

The ongoing cozy saga continues.  I discovered a site here in Israel that sells books in English at a reduced price!  I immediately went to the site, started searching for books, and lo and behold, all the authors and books I could wish for!!!     Jubilation!

Ecstatic, I pulled out my wish list by author and started adding books to my cart.  Twelve books and $54 into the list I figured I had better stop for now, even though I hadn’t yet gone past the C’s.  Forced myself to head to checkout.

Once I started the checkout process I discovered that the $54 was without sales tax, so another $9 was added.  OK, they didn’t tell me about that, but still acceptable.

Then fell the blow.  The computer screen next told me that the shipping and handling fee for the 12 books was….. $68. And if I wanted to come to the store and pick up the books myself, the handling fee would only be $63!  Yep, the total would be exactly double the price.     Now, $5 for shipping sounds reasonable enough for an hour’s drive away, but what exactly are they handling?!   I use two other sites in Israel to order books from, and both of them ship for free if you order more than 3 or 4 books.   No handling costs.   I don’t understand this at all.

With great sadness, I went back and deleted the books one by one from my shopping cart, and closed the window with a final sigh.    These folks aren’t getting my money, sorry.

Confessions of a Swapaholic

September 8, 2009

My name is Chana, and I am a Ravelry swapaholic. 

You may be asking yourself what is a swapaholic?  Some of the muggles among you may even be asking what is Ravelry?  (^_^)   Well…..first of all,  Ravelry is an online knitting and crocheting community that is so much more than this phrase can possibly convey.  It has space for personal records of anything connected with fiber, an amazingly wide data base of patterns, yarn, tutorials, etc., and hundreds of forums including special interest groups.  And many of these groups hold swaps occasionally.  (Some groups are formed solely for the purpose of swaps.) 

 Simply put, a swap is where you receive a partner (and someone receives you).  There is usually some sort of theme to the swap, and of course, it always includes some yarn and knitting goodies.  You then have a determined amount of time to put together a package for your partner.    This involves stalking … um, learning about your  victim  …er, partner, seeing what groups and forums s/he is in, what projects s/he’s done, what goodies s/he likes, reading her/his profile, posts, blog, etc.  Then you mail off the package by the deadline, and wait anxiously for two things – one, for your package to arrive, and two, for your partner to receive his/her package!   Sometimes it’s a reciprocal swap, where you and your partner send each other packages, sometimes it’s a round robin, sometimes a secret swap when you don’t know who is sending to you. 

 So this is my addiction, your honour.  I honestly don’t know what is more fun, getting a package filled with surprises, or putting together a package to surprise your partner!  I take part in at least one swap a month, and I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way.  Staying in touch after the swap is great fun.  My stitch-n-bitch group is so used to me bringing along the newest treasures to show off (and sometimes share). 

 Examples of swap packages I’ve been lucky enough to receive:

 I’ve been in two swaps in my Jewish Fiberholics group. 

For Chanuka last year, I received from Helen in England:  Packed (of course) in purple paper, some soft Rowan chunky lambswool, a sachet of stitch markers, a book of magical short stories (by a local author), a CD Helen prepared herself of “Music to Knit To” – folk music that I’ve listened to a lot, a scented candle, dark chocolate in shapes of vintage buttons, vanilla sugar for an extra special cuppa tea, and scented (purple) bath cubes! Eight gifts, each one fantastic!

Chanuka

And then for the Winter Doldrums swap, I received from Marcia in Pennsylvania: A great purple box that now serves as storage for some very special goodies, with a purple message on a chain. Then, inside, (wrapped in purple paper) three skeins of Cascade alpaca lace yarn, a purple rose button, highlighter tape for lace charts, a big tin of Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro tea, two bags of Reeses Pieces, and a darling itty bitty witty knitties card!

winter swap

I’ve been in two swaps with my Mystery lover’s group, where one sends a mystery and all the goodies have to tie in.

From Bonnie in Texas I received The Poyson Garden – an Elizabethan mystery by Karen Harper,  Knitpicks Shadow merino yarn (in royal purple),  three Elizabethan lace patterns, a bunch of yummy teas (including Stash Vanilla Creme, oh my), tea filters that I can’t get here, some virgin olive oil soap (the Virgin Queen), and a Texas coaster!

mystery 1

From Mel in Washington I received: two of Maggie Sefton’s knitting mysteries, a pattern for a mountain lace scarf (the series is set in Colorado), enough gorgeous Cascade Heritage hand painted yarn for two scarves, a puzzle book, 2 beautiful handmade stitch markers, oodles of Tazo organic chai tea, and Dagoba organic dark chocolate with cranberries, cherries and vanilla!

mystery 2

 (Can you see why I’m addicted to this?   Need I say more in my defense?)

In my Cuppa Tea group: 

For Valentine’s Day, I received from Kerrieann in Oregon a tough puzzle and Chanakara tea (Chakra #3 – Honeybush vanilla)

cuppa tea valentines

For the group’s second anniversary swap (cotton – appropriate for tea towels, no?) I received from FPWear in Calgary, Canada:  Two very elegant tea towels, Shibuikints sock yarn, a handmade project bag, a postcard from Canada, and of course teas! A package of loose Totalitea Rooibos Provence, and a selection of Northern Delights Inuit Herbal Teas with names I can’t begin to pronounce but with English translations like Cloudberry, Ground Juniper, and Arctic Blend, among others.

tea anniversary

In my Vintage Bitches group (women over 40 who can still kick ass), we had a “Yarn of Dreams” swap.  Oh, my.  I received from  Angie in Britain:  A skein of Lorna’s Laces worsted rainbow, a skein of Araucania sugarcane (already mentioned in this blog), two balls of artesano alpaca, and sock yarn in the colours of spring! And if that wasn’t enough, there was a collection of patterns for socks, hats, & project bags, an assortment of teas that I love, a Cath Tate knitting greeting card, needles, point protectors, a row counter and beautiful beads for my next beading project!

yarn of dreams

In my “This is What a Feminist Knits Like” group, we told about a woman or group of women who greatly influenced our lives, and the package was built around that.  I chose the original Olivia collective and women’s music.  I received from Nina in Oregon:  Two books about women in rock, fingerless mitts she knit for me, Knit Picks Imagination yarn, Knit Picks needles to knit it with, beaded stitch markers, Stash tea, a teapot appliqué,  and a “Moon” postcard.

feminist swaps

In my Purple Rules! Group, I received from Julie in Washington:  Soft purple bamboo yarn from South West Trading Co, Peaches-n-Creme cotton, the Vogue book of Scarves Two On the Go, a windmill dishcloth, cable needles, darning needles, Salada Asian Plum White Tea and a tea bag holder, a purple pen, and a Washington key chain!

purple rules

In the Yarn & Falafel group’s swap, I received from Yael in Be’er Sheva some handspun/hand-dyed merino yarn named “Chana Massala” after me, handmade stitch markers, a scarf, Trader Joe organic chocolate drink, and a ball of pink acrylic boucle (for a laugh, but I have the perfect use for it!). 

chana massala

Keep in mind that for every package I receive I’ve had lots and lots of fun making up a package for someone else!  And I haven’t even covered half of my swap goodies, more at a later date…..  An addict can’t help but talk about her addiction, after all…..

My name is Chana, and I’m a swapaholic…