Archive for January, 2010

Ready, set, go!

January 26, 2010

I walk fast.  I always have.  So did my mother, she sped along at a pace that few could keep up with.  (My father swore that at her funeral people would be hurrying after her casket yelling, walk, Charlotte, walk!)  I like walking fast.  I get places more quickly, leaving me more time to enjoy  them or take advantage of what they offer, I  get good exercise, and it’s the pace I like.   I still notice things along the way, stop to look at a flower or pat a friendly dog or contemplate some temptation in a shop window or gaze at a cloud formation.  But my overall speed is pretty up there.  Yes, I have been known to stroll, but even my strolling is faster than most.    On a crowded sidewalk I weave in and out a lot, although I always try to be courteous to my fellow pedestrians.  One of my pet peeves is people who totally block the sidewalk while walking very slowly – obviously I don’t include people with mobility challenges or children in that group, although I can get irritated at those parents who don’t bother noticing that their kids are blocking someone.

This speed can cause problems.  My partner does not walk fast.  Anywhere we go I start to pull ahead, and she complains that I’m not walking with her.  We spent one summer traveling and she still claims that for 8 weeks all she saw was my rear end disappearing ahead of her.  I do try to keep pace with her, but the crawl (to me) starts to drive me crazy.  If I see that I’m way ahead of her, I’ll slow down to let her catch up…but she has this annoying habit of when she sees me slow down she is so pleased about it that she slows down as well….which means she doesn’t catch up, but remains several paces behind me.  This irritates me no end!  I could, of course, just stop and wait, but then I’m just standing when the goal is to get somewhere.

When we used to walk the dog together, it drove the poor thing nuts, her herding instincts kept her running back and forth to try and keep us walking together.  At least she got good exercise that way.

The only time in the past quarter of a century that the situation was reversed was when I was pregnant and after a doctor-mandated bed rest for a month.  I moved along so slowly and got tired so incredibly fast that partner found herself constantly having to wait for me.  It was certainly a novel experience for both of us, but it didn’t last long.

Kidlet is another story.  She usually walks as fast as I do, but  rarely walks in a direct line from A to B, instead she goes off to the sides on numerous tangents along the way.  This can, as you can imagine, cause complicated situations when all three of us are roaming, say, a mall.  I’m a few stores ahead, kidlet has darted into one of the stores across the way, and partner is trying decide whom to try to catch up with and stressing out (and letting us know about it).

It’s not just a family issue.  At work I go to lunch with several colleagues who walk incredibly slowly across the plant to the dining room.   They tell me slow and steady wins the race, but I’m not in a race, just impatient with slow!  A minor daily irritant, but I try not to get stressed over such a trivial thing, it’s not worth it.

On the rare occasion that I meet someone who walks as fast as I do, it’s such a pleasure!   I don’t have to be vigilant to slow my pace and can carry on a conversation without talking back over my shoulder.

When I walk for exercise, I can set my own pace, and it’s great.  For several weeks I joined a walking group, and while I was usually in the front of the group, at times I had to struggle to keep up, which was wonderful.  Unfortunately scheduling conflicts prevented me from continuing.

So…are you a tortoise or a hare?  Do you believe it’s an inherent trait or learned behaviour?  (Well, most things are both, the question is to what extent…)  And how  important is it to you?


Knitting as an Olympic event

January 24, 2010

It’s just under three weeks (19 days, to be exact)  to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Athletes have been preparing, training, hoping, pushing themselves to the max.

So what does that have to do with knitters?

In 2006,  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) established the Knitting Olympics for the winter games.  The idea was to challenge yourself in the spirit of the games – to cast on a project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and finish before the Olympic flame goes out.  There were some simple rules, and only one criterion for the gold – either you finished the project or you didn’t.  Over 4,000 knitters worldwide participated.

In 2008, Ravelry introduced the Ravelympics, based on the same premise, but with teams and events to register for, so it was not just an individual challenge but a team effort as well.  It was not a take-over of the Yarn Harlot’s thunder, but an expansion of the concept.

Now with the Vancouver to-do closing in, preparations have gone into high gear at Ravelry for the 2010 Ravelympics.  The Yarn Harlot still hasn’t decided whether she will do her Knitting Olympics this time round, which – as she says in her blog – are a whole different vibe, and there’s definitely room for both.

So, the Rav rules?

The One Rule To Rule Them All: Challenge yourself by starting and finishing projects during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

No casting on before the opening ceremony on February 12th, although it is permitted to swatch – that’s considered training.  The goal is to finish by the closing ceremony on February 28th.

After the deadline to sign-up teams, the final total was 427 teams.  (Yikes!)

There are 33 events:

Aerial Unwind
Bag Jump
Beading Biathlon
Cable Cross-Country
Charity Curling
Designer Biathlon
Designer Original Dance
Designer Pattern Skeleton
Downhill Dyeing
Felting Freestyle
Fleece to FO Long-Track
Flying Camel Spin
Free Dance
Giant Slalom-ghan
Hat Halfpipe
Holiday Jump-Start Skiing
Junior Olympics
Labyrinth Weaving
Lace Luge
Mittens Moguls
Nordic Colorwork Combined
Platter Lift
Samalog Machine Skate
Scarf Super-G
Short Track Shawls
Single Skein Speed Skate
Sock Hockey
Stash Compulsory Dance
Sweaterboard Cross

One project can be entered into multiple events (lace + scarf, cables + socks, etc…), but a project cannot represent more than one team.

I’m on two teams, so that means I have two projects to complete in 17 days.   I’m a co-captain of the Yarn and Falafel team, and I’m also on the Vintage Bitches team.   I’ve chosen my two projects – a cowl and a shawlette – and my yarn.   I haven’t yet decided which project for which team, although it really doesn’t matter.

Knitters around the globe are planning cast-on parties to watch the opening ceremony together and cast on for their projects.  The Yarn and Falafel group in Israel has decided on a  cast-on party, but held slightly later, given that the ceremony will be held at 4:00am our time.  (We’re crazy, but not that crazy…)   So plans are afoot for that too.   Some of the group members who have decided not to compete for whatever reason have signed on as cheerleaders. It looks like we have lots of fun in store!

I feel the pressure to finish some of my WIPs before the games begin, get them out of the way.   Now I need to prepare my family for the whole thing – one of the knitters on Rav has made a sign for her hat that says “Don’t talk to me, I’m counting” to warn her husband while she knits.

(btw, check out the official Canadian Olympic team sweater…anyone have a pattern for this?)

Silliness?  Perhaps.  A challenge?  That’s the whole point.  Fun?  Definitely.  And good luck to all!  We’re all winners.

January Rainbows

January 22, 2010

After the heat wave last week, winter returned and we’ve had storms something fierce.  Like floods with airports closing and trains stopped and walls collapsing and people and cars swept away and miraculous rescues and some who didn’t survive kind of fierce.  Storm clouds covered the entire country.

Today the rain stopped for a brief respite.    On the ride home we were treated to this:

OK, it was getting dark and it was pretty hazy and I was taking this from a moving vehicle…but you get the idea.  You can just barely see the second rainbow.  But it was just as amazing as every rainbow I’ve seen. 

As I looked away from the window and back down at my knitting in my lap I had to laugh – I’m using lots of rainbow stitch markers with my bitterroot shawl – not all the colours, but it was still funny. 

Got home, stopping to shop and grab a pizza for kidlet.   Then kidlet and Nike played one of the cat’s favourite games – she likes to play Attack Cat with ghosts (kidlet under a blanket…)

(And she’s got a rainbow collar…..)

The cup is just as important as the tea?

January 20, 2010

I just ordered another tea mug.

I shouldn’t have.  I really shouldn’t.  I have lots of mugs, and love most of them.  There’s not much more room left in the cabinet.  My mug stash is as bad as my tea stash, my book stash, and my yarn stash.  SABLE City in a small flat.  (That’s “Stash Above and Beyond Life Expectancy”)   My avatar on many sites is one that combines three of my favourite things:  tea, yarn, and cats.  I should take a picture of this mug sitting on a book, preferably a mystery, and it would be an even more apt statement.

I’ve already posted a picture of my goddess mug I use at work.  My standard morning mug at home is known clearly as “MOM’S MUG”, and is not to be touched by others…  Perfect for that first gotta-wake-up-now-so-leave-me-alone cuppa.

Partner’s favourite is one I also use occasionally…

One mug I received as a gift is one I love drinking tea from – its shape and asymmetry  so suit my sense of things sometimes.

I have perhaps six or seven mugs with cute sheep on them, but some of those are a set…  Several of my mugs are covered with feminist quotes, some with Yiddish sayings, there are mugs from places we’ve visited around the world.

There are special mugs for tea – a few one-cup pot sets like this one, which I absolutely adore when I’m making special tea just for me.

(Different on each side…)

I also have Ravelry’s   “Attitude Adjustment” mug  – but I don’t have a picture of it changing from disagree to agree.

For fun, Leafbox Tea has a page of quirky mugs here for the tea-drinker seeking something unusual.

There are quite a few knitters’ mugs I covet on zazzle and cafepress … but so far I’ve been able to resist temptation.   Just barely.  There are some there I really would love.  (Hint, hint to those people who always ask me what I want for a gift.)

Aside:  Actually, I’m extremely easy to buy gifts for, I think.  Anything having to do with good yarn, patterns, knitting notions, good tea and tea accessories (mugs included), beads, puzzles, folk music, and/or a cozy mystery and I’m in heaven.  Not hard at all.

But back to the subject at hand.  So what mug did I just break down and order?  What mug broke through my defenses?  This one:

Yarn on the outside, and on the inside and handle it says “Knit one, sip one”.  Isn’t it great????


So….what are your favourite tea cups/mugs?  Or even coffee mugs?  Meh.

The latest meme

January 19, 2010

This has been floating around some blogs lately, searching google using one’s name and key words.  I decided to try despite some trepidation…Chana is not common as a name in English, and I wasn’t quite sure I would find anything.  (I could have done it in Hebrew, but not for this blog…)  Indeed, google kept asking me if I meant to ask “China”.  And it turns out that in India “chana” means “chick pea”  – so the question about what Chana eats just kept giving recipes for Chana Masala and other dishes.  Chick peas also popped up in other queries, but only once on the first response. And in China, CHANA is a car manufacturer.  Who knew?

Type in the following and fill in the first result….

1: Type in “[your name] needs” in the Google search:

The flight gives us the opportunity to go to California as often as Chana needs.

2: Type in “[your name] looks like” in Google search:

Chana dal, which is shown here, looks just like yellow split peas but is quite different.

3: Type in “[your name] does” in Google search:

Kukur Chana does not have any Contacts at this time.

4: Type in “[your name] hates” in Google search:

Chana also hates sweets, but we forced her to eat some cake and ice cream.

5: Type in “[your name] goes to” in Google search:

The Curious Jew:  In Which Chana Goes to Williamsburg (And Scandalizes Everyone).

6: Type in “[your name] loves” in Google search:

This is a High Quality Charlie Chana Loves me T-Shirt.

7: Type in “[your name] eats” in Google search:

Healthy Kosher Eating With Chana

8: Type in “[your name] has” in Google search:

CHANA Automobile has a long history. Nowadays, CHANA has producing capacity of one(1) million automobiles and one(1) million engines.

9: Type in “[your name] died” in Google Search:

Justin Sleezer and Cameron Chana died of severe head injuries on Saturday, May 30. Chana and Sleezer were traveling in a bus in Mattoon,

10: Type in “[your name] will” in Google search:

Chana will work with your community to develop a program that best suits your camp’s sensibility.

Hm…so not only will Chana develop a program for your camp, but CHANA will transport you and feed you chick peas as well (but no sweets).    Efficient, this Chana.

Project Lionheart

January 17, 2010

Fiber Artists be proud!    A UK crochet artist named Shauna Richardson is commissioned to crochet three 30 ft. lions to mark the 2012 London Olympic games.

From the project website:

Shauna Richardson’s project Lionheart will feature three 30 foot high crocheted lions in a huge taxidermy style case and dominating a Nottingham city location. The lions will be powerful, realistic sculptures that depict qualities associated with the lion symbol and the Olympics – unity, grace, speed, strength, courage, dignity and pride.

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad  has awarded commissions to create 12 new works of art across the country; one in each of the nine English regions, and in the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  I think it is so exciting that one of the artists uses fiber as her medium!  She will be using local products only, and figures it will take her the full two years to complete. 

You can read a lot more about it, as well as see a video interview with Shauna here.

This is taking crochet to a whole new level….  it certainly makes some of my knitting projects seem very tame!  (Although I did knit a beautiful little teddy bear once…..)

A January walk

January 16, 2010

It was such a lovely day today, we went out for a walk to a neighbourhood restaurant for lunch.  What is usually a ten minute walk became two hours, as we strolled we kept finding subjects for our cameras.  All three of us were snapping away.

Walking towards the sea:

Lots of things in bloom:

The view from the shore was beautiful:


The city has put up all kinds of exercise equipment around town, in parks and other public spots…

The place was very crowded, folks out to sit in the sun, power walk, stroll, skate, skooter, run, old and young, lots of dogs too, in all a fantastic place to people-watch, one of my favourite activities:

When we finally got to the restaurant, it was mobbed, with a line out the door, so we turned around and walked back home, and heated up the leftover salmon from last night.  It was just as good the second day.   And we had worked up a lovely appetite in the sea air!

The Retreat

January 14, 2010

The place:    Israel’s only alpaca farm on the outskirts of the town of Mitzpe Ramon.  Mitzpe Ramon’s a town of about 5,500 residents in the Negev desert of southern Israel. It is situated on the northern ridge at an elevation of 800 meters (2,400 feet) overlooking a sizable (28 miles long and 5 miles wide) erosion cirque known as the Ramon Crater.  We took over the cabins (B&B) on the farm for the weekend, as well as a larger studio for activities.   The temperature was around 80° or higher during the day, fine January weather…  (!!?)

photo by Ayelet

Some of the folks arrived on Thursday, and among other things had fun preparing yarn and roving for dyeing.

The Haifa crowd arrived on Friday morning.  Ayelet gave a talk about colour theory, good tips before we began our dye lesson!   The yarn was ready…

photo by Ayelet

Yael taught us about different methods of dyeing yarn…

photo by Ayelet

We mixed colours…

photo by Ayelet

And we got to it!

photo by Ayelet

photo by Ayelet

In between the dyeing stages we had a lesson in spinning…

photo by Ayelet

photo by Ayelet

This is going to take some practice, I’ve discovered.  To help me along I bought one of Galia’s gorgeous handmade spindles…

photo by Ayelet

We took some time to stroll around and visit the local residents…

and the yarn-processing cabin…

We also had fun swapping stash,

photo by Ayelet

sharing books and projects, playing with the kids, preparing and eating wonderful goodies,

knitting of course, and I even had time for a short nap.

Evening came, it got cooler, and we had Kabbalat Shabbat.  Had to light candles in the wind that had picked up a bit…

photo by Ayelet

photo by Ayelet

After dinner we sat around the campfire for dessert, some marshmallows, and a few drinks!

photo by Ayelet

photo by Ayelet

photo by Ayelet

Then it was time for the Haifa contingent to hit the road heading north!

All in all, we had a wonderful time, and I’m eager to do this again!  (But next time, a little closer to home…)

Jury duty

January 13, 2010

 East Boston cat called to jury duty.

I love bureaucracy.  It is so often a portrait of absurdity.  Where on earth did they get the cat’s details?  I’m assuming he doesn’t have a social security number, or voter registration…isn’t that where they usually pull a jury pool from?  And to deny the family’s request to have him excused….because, after all, he’s not actually human….?  Did they say to themselves, oh look, here’s another fool trying to get out of jury duty by claiming he’s a cat?  I wonder what other animals folks have  claimed to be to make the court system so jaded.

Now I’m trying to imagine Nike on a jury.  She would observe haughtily.  She would wonder why they were disturbing her nap.

She would certainly be fascinated and want to inspect closely any evidence presented.  There is of course the risk that she would scamper off with it.  And I’m certain she wouldn’t sit quietly, but climb on the backs of the other chairs and roll around on the floor.

She would probably want to attack the gavel, and pounce on the judge’s hands.  And while she wouldn’t have any problem taking a bath in front of everyone, where on earth would they put a litter box?!  And if the defendant didn’t pay enough attention to her, “enough” being a very high standard in her eyes, she would absolutely vote guilty.

I think most cats would vote most humans guilty in any case.  Oh, but come on, what am I saying?  Silly me!  Nike isn’t old enough to serve!

I honestly think Sal’s owners should take him to the court on his appointed duty date.  And they should be very sure to invite as much of the media as possible.  The bureaucratic incompetency should be highlighted, and maybe somewhere someone may actually start to listen to people again.  (Unless, of course, the above news report did indeed cause someone to wake up and pay attention…)

Earth to Chana…

January 13, 2010

I have been in Space Cadet mode the last few days, not sure why.  I would say not enough sleep, but I got a lot of sleep Friday night, sufficient (I thought)  to catch up.

I’m jumpimg around between short spates of knitting, reading, watching the tube, aimless net surfing, and even some chores around the house.

Yesterday I received bookmarks in the mail – some signed – from the Cozy Chicks.  I love bookmarks.  I have knitted bookmarks, magnetic bookmarks, beaded bookmarks, author bookmarks.  Once upon a time, for a whole year I used a peacock feather.  Gone are the days when I would mark my place in a book with the electric bill or a used train ticket.  I don’t have a strip of gold like Nero Wolfe, but hey, we all find our level.  I don’t dog-ear pages like Nero Wolfe either.

Current books:  Kind of stuck with my reading at the moment, actually.  Reading a book to review that I’m simply not liking very much, thus it’s more of a chore to read.  So I’m on-and-off ignoring it,  instead preferring to enjoy the book Knit Lit, edited by Linda Roghaar and Molly Wolf – we all love a good yarn.  (ouch…sorry)

Jumping to a new topic (in keeping with my current state) – bought partner’s birthday present – tickets to Lord of the Dance this week for all three of us.  For the price of the tickets we almost could have flown to the UK to see them there, sheesh.  Still, I’m excited, partner’s excited, kidlet hasn’t yet decided if she’s excited or not (but she’ll love it).

Time to jump around again, maybe I’ll go watch House M.D.