Archive for October, 2010

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2010

to all my friends abroad!

We don’t celebrate it here.  Our costume-wearing holiday is Purim, of course.  When kidlet was little my mother would buy up great costumes the day after Halloween when everything was half off, send them off to Israel, and kidlet would have wonderful and unique costumes to choose from when Purim rolled around in the spring.  Since we were usually invited to several Purim parties every year, not to mention the kids wearing costumes to school, she got to choose a few different costumes each year.  It worked.

Now this I just have to share, given the holiday.  Fiber artist Ben Cuevas knit up this amazing and accurate skeleton for his installation Transcending the Material at the Wassaic Project in NY.

Check out those teeth!


Hope you enjoy more treats than tricks, and may the children be happy and safe!



Saturday Matinee – Harvey

October 30, 2010

Time for another Saturday matinee!  Grab your popcorn.

I adore this classic 1950 film, and Jimmy Stewart is the epitome of Elwood P. Dowd.  It was written by Mary Chase for the stage, and Stewart starred in the play for months before it was made into a film.  Josephine Hull, who played his sister, also starred in the play with him for the entire run.

Elwood P. Dowd is a middle-aged, amiable, and eccentric individual whose best friend is an invisible 6’3.5″ tall rabbit named Harvey. Harvey is a pooka, a benign but mischievous creature from Celtic mythology. Elwood has driven his sister and niece to distraction by introducing everyone he meets to his friend.  His family seems to be unsure whether Dowd’s obsession with Harvey is a product of his (admitted) propensity to drink or perhaps mental illness.

His sister Veta tries to have Elwood committed to a sanatorium. In exasperation, she admits to the attending psychiatrist Dr.  Sanderson, that, after so many years of putting up with the invisible rabbit, she sees Harvey every once in a while. This causes Dr. Sanderson to let Elwood out and lock Veta up. After sorting out the mistake, Dr. Chumley, head of the sanatorium decides that to save the reputation of the sanatorium he must bring Elwood back. At one point, when her daughter asks how someone possibly could imagine a rabbit, Veta says to her “Myrtle Mae, you have a lot to learn and I hope you never learn it.”

Stewart plays Dowd as an extremely kind man.  Towards the end of the film, he explains his philosophy of life:

The scene where Dowd describes how he met Harvey is, in my humble opinion, one of the best monologues on film.

I love this scene where Mr. Wilson, a thorough skeptic, gets a little nudge from Harvey…

Both Stewart and Hull were nominated for Oscars.  Hull won.  Forty years after the film, in 1990, Stewart talked about the film and the role:

The Jimmy Stewart Museum, based in Stewart’s hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania, presents the Harvey Award to a distinguished celebrity tied to Jimmy Stewart’s spirit of humanitarianism. Past recipients include Robert Wagner, Shirley Jones, Janet Leigh, and Rich Little.

Have you had a pooka in your life?


October 29, 2010

The heat wave has finally broken.  Ridiculous, this business of 38-9° C  (that’s 100°F) at the end of October.  Rain is being forecast again.  Yesterday when I left work the clouds were beginning to appear.  Not yet rain clouds, but hey, it’s a start.

Kidlet has been showering me with little gifts.  She studies at a Waldorf school, which focuses on the whole person – mind, body, spirit – instead of just the mind.  From Wikipedia:

It is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based upon the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements. The approach emphasizes the role of the imagination, developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component. The educational philosophy’s overarching goals are to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free, moral and integrated individuals, and to help every child fulfill his or her unique destiny, the existence of which anthroposophy posits.

In practice, this means that for every academic lesson, the kids also have a lesson in the arts or crafting – and since this is where kidlet shines, she’s loving it.  In the mainstream schooling, when budget and hours are cut, these are always the first things to go.

Anyway.  Last month in drawing class, kidlet dedicated her teapot to me:

Last time she was home, she brought me gifts that she made in her jewelry making and sewing classes.  A lovely necklace

and a flower hairpin.

She has sewn a bag for herself, which she’s very excited about, and has lots of ideas for new projects.  They haven’t yet reached fiber arts, but she should definitely have a head start there from exposure at home!

One of the reasons there hasn’t been much knitting talk here in the blog is that I’ve also been working on gifts.  So far I’ve finished 18 little projects, although some are in sets.  One thing I’m excited about is a pattern I’ve written for a svivon!  Or dreidel, if that’s what you call it.  I made one, then tweaked it and changed it and made another, which will be a gift for someone in the Chanuka swap.

I originally wrote  it without colourwork, so that the letters are raised in the same colour.  Then I decided to add the contrasting yarn.  This is the prototype

I tried carrying the contrast yarn inside loosely, which was a problem when I stuffed it, and the letters came out pinched.  And the corners were very wide, which I also changed.  Kidlet felt that the handle was too short.   I’ll get the final pattern written up and publish it, if anyone is interested!

And now I’m back to the WIP parade…

It’s Raining Yarn, Halleluyah

October 24, 2010

OK, now this ad from New Zealand is just strange.

Not that I’d mind at all, of course.  I’d be carrying an umbrella upside down, to catch as much as I can.  Can you imagine the weather report?

“Heavy fall of Cascade 220 tonight, followed by scattered Malabrigo in the morning…”

Totally wasted on the cats.

I’d think that it would be much more a knitter’s fantasy than a kitteh fantasy.  Oh my.  I’d certainly never complain about a leaky roof.  But it seems that I would have to figure a way to keep kitteh paws offa the stash.

Actually, Nike tries to play like that with only certain yarns in my stash.  Especially the cotton.   Not that I let her, but sometimes when my back is turned and my  guard is down, she does attack a ball of yarn.  Mostly, though, she ignores it.  She does like the little knitted toys she has.


So…what besides yarn would you like to see falling from the sky?

Shall We Dance?

October 23, 2010

Strictly Come Dancing began as a reality competition in Britain in 2004.  Since then it has branched out to 35 countries on all continents, generally known as Dancing with the Stars.

Australia was the first country to create a local version, followed by countries as diverse as Albania, China, India, Russia, and South Africa.  The most recent country to join in is Vietnam.

This contest became the world’s most popular television program among all genres in 2006 and 2007, according to the magazine Television Business International,  reaching the Top 10 in 17 countries, and was named as the world’s most successful reality TV format by the Guinness Book of World Records 2010.

Israel’s sixth season of the show – called Rokdim Im Kochavim –  will begin on November 1st and will end in January.  And for the first time in any of the shows worldwide, it will be featuring a same-sex couple.  TV presenter and sports journalist Gili Shem Tov, who has a female partner in real life, said dancing with another woman feels more “natural” for her.  She will be partnered with professional dancer Dorit Milman. They will share on who will lead the dances.

Gili made a statement about her decision:

“I have realized that dance is about co-ordination and energy between two people, whether female or male. The challenge to dance with a woman in a public contest interested me because it’s unique and has never been done before. Because I share my life with a woman and have a family with her, to me this is the most natural thing to do.”

Producer of Dancing with the Stars in Israel, Asaf Gil, said: “I’m extremely proud to have a same sex couple in our new season of Dancing with the Stars. Although this was initiated by the celebrity itself; I hope many other territories will follow.”

The headlines have reached around the globe.  I’m proud that it’s happening in Israel.  And I’m also waiting for the day when this just isn’t “news”.

Oh, and as if there wasn’t enough buzz, former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson is scheduled to appear in the Israeli show this season as well.  She will be commenting and performing, but as a guest, not in the actual competition.

Rhymes with Orange and Purple

October 22, 2010

I have just discovered Rhymes with Orange, by Hilary B. Price!  OK, those of you who know and love this comic strip, laugh at me all you want, but we don’t get comics over here.  I am quite impressed by this woman’s work,  love her sense of humour, and to top it off, among the many topics she covers in her strip, knitting is one of them!  So of course I have to share:

And this one, which just makes me giggle uncontrollably:

I’ve added her site to my RSS aggregator, which until now for years has been Bloglines.  How sad that they are closing!  I have transferred all the blogs I read  to google Reader, I hope it will be as good a service as Bloglines has been.   I’ve gotten so behind in reading blogs, it really is shameful.  But I am happy to report that I am making progress on catching up!  I’ve now caught up on the knitting blogs I read, and I’m working on author blogs.  Then when I catch up on the tea blogs I’ll be off and running again.   I remember the days when I didn’t use any service at all, and would bookmark all the blogs I read in those days.  Then I would have to click on each to see if there was anything new.  Yikes.

Wednesday for Spirit Day I wore purple to work and told everyone why, changed my profile pictures and joined in several discussion forums on facebook and Ravelry, making some new online friends in the process.  I even knitted with only purple yarn!

Sharing just a couple more recent and high profile additions to the It Gets Better project:

Shabbat Shalom.

It Gets Better

October 19, 2010

This will be a long post today, please bear with me.

Last month Dan Savage and his partner started a YouTube project called It Gets Better.

After hearing yet another story of a young gay person committing suicide  after being bullied, and followed by four more within a month, Dan and his partner wished they could have just told them that it really does get better.  And then they realized that in this age of the internet, they (and we) can do just that.

The idea is for adults who faced homophobia and harassment as teens to post videos talking about life after high school. Hopefully it will help some kids out there get through what is often the hardest part of being gay.

Hundreds of diverse people – individuals, groups, celebrities, businesspeople, workers – have answered the call and have recorded their stories, and the youtube site has passed 2 million page views.  It has become so wildly successful that the youtube page created for uploading videos is the #1 most subscribed to channel this month, and has already reached its 650 video limit.  They have had to set up an “It Gets Better” website to help the project continue to grow.  Dan and the project have received worldwide media attention.

Of the hundreds of deeply moving videos I’ve chosen just a few to post here.  The rest, of course, can be seen on the website, and they are worth seeing.

A video from the streets of San Francisco:

Professor Stephen Sprinkle:

A group video by actors who are currently performing on Broadway:

Young Canadian Adamo Ruggiero:

Rock stars, TV stars, parents, schools, corporations.  Many mention the Trevor Project,  a 24-hr hotline and site to help LGBTQ youth cope with the stress and feelings of isolation.  Many have volunteered to support this site:

Fort Worth, Texas  Councilman Joel Burns has become a celebrity after this city council meeting was broadcast and immediately exploded into an internet sensation.  (I could say that I didn’t cry, but I’m not that good of a liar…)

GLAAD sent an offer of support, which the councilman accepted, and he is rapidly becoming a spokesperson against the bullying.

Keshet, a Jewish group whose mission is to ensure that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews are fully included in all parts of the Jewish community, has established The Jewish Community Pledge with the message  Do Not Stand Idly By, and to commit to ending homophobic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities.

As of October 15th, 3600 individuals and 450 organizations have signed the pledge.  Their goal is 18,000 signatories.

There is a drive in the public, and on facebook, to raise awareness of the whole issue tomorrow, October 20th.  People are being asked to wear the colour purple to work, and all during the day.    Lesbian author Karin Kallmaker has invited everyone to change their facebook profile to this badge tomorrow,  to show support for the Trevor Project.

Come on, people, let’s turn the world purple for one day.  The media has finally noticed that gay and lesbian children are dying.  From bullying, from harassment.  Let’s take it up a notch.  If we can save one kid’s life, we have saved a world.  If we can make one oblivious adult aware that bullying is not OK, that is it not just “kids being kids”, that it is not acceptable, that it’s a serious matter that must be taken care of, then we have made giant strides.

Actor Chris Colfer, whose gay character deals with the issue of bullying on the show glee:

What kind of a knitter are you?

October 16, 2010

I just took the Knitting Personality Test over on the Knitting Brain website.  According to them, I am a Logical Knitter!  (As opposed to an Artistic Knitter or a Contented Knitter or whatever other possibilities they have.)  Among other things in their description I “approach knitting logically and methodically”…  and I “enjoy reading knitting reference books and and like to understand the logic of how things work.”   Well, for the most part I do agree, although I don’t think I’m as afraid of colour and creativity as they seem to think.

Of course, it is a multiple choice quiz, and my true answer on a couple of questions wasn’t there, for example:  A pattern stitch isn’t turning out like the illustration on the pattern, what do you do?  Well of course, I would immediately post on Ravelry and get dozens of helpful suggestions.  Same with how I choose a pattern, I look at all the FOs on Rav and see if I like them.  But unfortunately, Rav isn’t mentioned in the test, so I had to choose other answers.

Why not see what kind of a knitter you are and come back to comment on it – we can do a tally!

I have  finished the Teddy Bear Blanket!  I decided not to add a fourth row of bears, the three rows made quite a nice newborn-size blanket,  also good for a pram or a crib.  Hopefully this weekend I will get it washed and blocked and stored away for the happy day.

Oh,  there’s a contest to win 10 exclusive knitting patterns over at SandraSingh’s blog.  Check it out!  (There are some awesome patterns there.)   Hurry, only a couple of days left!

Logical knitter, eh?  Hm.  Okay.

It’s The BarknKnit 2010 WIP Parade!

October 14, 2010

I’m joining the barknknit WIP Parade 2010! And just what is that?   Gnat on the BarknKnit blog puts it like this:

While going through all the things that I have on my needles, I decided that I wished to find out how many things others have on their needles to make me feel better for having so many!

She’s asking everyone to build a float for her parade with our Works in Progress, then she’ll post links to everyone’s float on the 31st of October.

Here’s her float to lead the parade!

Now for my float.

I’ve blogged about all of these projects, I think, at some point or another.  But to list them all together!  I guess I’ll organize my float by date of cast on.  Uh oh.    Deep breath…and here we go.

WIP # 1             The Glorianna scarf.

I love this lace scarf, I received the pattern and the yarn in a swap.  Cast on in late 2008, and had nothing but bad mojo.  I simply could not get a row to come out right, and it’s actually a very straightforward lace pattern, not too complicated but on the other hand not one that’s possible to memorize.  Kept knitting and frogging, and finally I put it away to hibernate.  We’ve all had a pattern do that to us, I think.  Resurrected it in November 2009, saw that what I had done really couldn’t be saved, and had to cut off that bit of yarn and start afresh.  This time everything has gone well, the mojo has returned.  I’ve been working on it on and off, and there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.

WIP # 2             My first magic toe-ups.

Only the second pair of socks I’ve ever knitted, this time two at a time.  Cast on in March 2009.  (Yikes)  For some reason they keep getting knocked down the list.  An easy mindless knit so far, but now I’m just about at the gusset part, so I’ll have to concentrate, and try and understand the directions.  I really should get them done, I really like them!

WIP # 3             Op Art Throw.

Cast on in March 2009.  Saw the pattern, loved it, ran out and got the yarn, it was my on-the-go project for a while until it got much too big to shlep around in a project bag.  And when I’m home, I usually work on lace.  It’s a great addition to the float, though.  It’ll be even better finished and blocked.

WIP # 4             Fixation tank.

Cast on August 2009.  A cotton tank top.  I really love this yarn, and I like the pattern.  But it always seems to slide down the list when I’m working on something.  So it waits patiently.  I’m not sure if it’s a perfect fit of yarn and pattern, maybe the ambivalence is keeping me from picking this up more often.

WIP # 5             Arrowhead poncho.

This is the third time around for this project.  Gift for the niece. Cast on in November 2009 with a different poncho pattern, with 2 yarns held together, finished the poncho and hated it.  Frogged the whole thing.  Started this new pattern with the same 2 yarns, hated it, frogged again and began with just one yarn.  Not a difficult knit, but I did get a bit fed up with the project.  Have to finish it for this winter, and make another for another niece.

WIP # 6             The Sagrantino shawl.

Cast on in November 2009.  Beautiful pattern.  Easy to knit.  But for each hexagon one has to pick up dozens of stitches from the other hexagons, with tiny needles, and it takes just as much time as the knitting does, which irritates me!  The designer has complimented me on it, and I really do want to knit it, but all those itty bitty lace weight stitches to be picked up is daunting!

WIP # 7             Central Park Hoodie for kidlet.

Cast on January 2010.  Kidlet chose the pattern and the yarn.  Back, front and sleeves are done, was working on the hood when the weather got much too warm for the hoodie and I put it aside for a while.  Weather is changing again now for fall, so it shouldn’t be that big a deal to whip it up.  Luckily I kept a lot of notes on this one.  Just too big to carry around.  Top of the list after the current gifts!

WIP # 8             The traveling Baana.

Great shawlette.  Great yarn.  Great design by my friend Galia.  Cast on for a KAL in March 2010.  And it just seems to go on and on!  I have been photographed knitting this all over the country in all kinds of settings.  I think that’s why I haven’t finished it, I’m having fun finding more places to take pictures of it.  (Part of the problem is that I think I should have used bigger needles, so it’s not growing as fast as I’d like and that’s discouraging. But it is a great WIP for on the go.)

WIP # 9             My circular vest.

I received this yarn as a gift from Danielle in Australia, cast on for the vest in May 2010.  Easy pattern.  I’m on the last skein of yarn now, impatient to finish.

WIP # 10           Red Plait Scarf.

Cast on September 16th to experiment with the pattern before knitting one as a gift in another colour.  Took me a day to get halfway, so I just need another day in front of the TV to finish it up

WIP # 11          Teddy Bear Blanket.

Cast on September 22nd for a friend’s first grandbaby.  It’s the current project, just two rows to go before I bind off,  I hope to finish it tonight.  In addition to the blanket, I’m also working on three other gifts, but since the recipients may read this I’m not going to say anything more.  At the moment these gifts are top priority, and what I’ll be knitting for the next week or two.

That’s a lot of WIPs, I know.  It’s a long float.  But in the same time period I have completed 53 other projects, including big scary ones, which isn’t too shabby!  I do notice that my lace projects, with the exception of the Glorianna, all get done quickly and don’t stay on the needles long!  Any ideas why that is?     (~_^)   And I have been so good about controlling my startitis, there are quite a few yarns calling out to me to start new projects in my queue and I have been ignoring them to work on my WIPs  (and gifts).

Got my float in line, and it’s on with the parade!!!  Head on over to BarknKnit and see how to join in!  Don’t forget to wave at the  crowds!

Mommy to the rescue. Again.

October 13, 2010

Sigh.   Teenagers.  Do any of them actually think past the moment?

Kidlet was home for the holidays.  When we packed her bag to go back to school, we knew that it would be at least a couple of weeks until she came home again, and although it was still hot, fall weather was beginning to hint of change.  So we packed a few sweatshirts and a jacket in with her stuff.   The morning she went back, I hugged her goodbye and went off to work, and she waited for the driver to pick her up later.   Days passed, the weather changed, and I got a frantic call from kidlet that she needs warmer clothes!  I asked her what about what we packed?  So she said well, it was hot that day, and the bag was a little heavy, so she put the warmer clothes back in her cupboard and went off without them.

Head bang.

There was absolutely nothing I could have said, it would have gone in one ear and out the other.  And it had never occurred to me to check her cupboard.   We decided that she could manage until her next visit home… then came the notice from school that they have a field trip this week, and will be camping outside.  Oops.  They set off this morning.  So yesterday I begged a car from work, drove home and packed a bag of warm clothes, grabbed kidlet’s spare sleeping bag and we went off to the boarding school to deliver her things, getting there shortly before their bedtime.

It was so great seeing her for the few moments we were there, but it was sheer luck that I was able to get a car, it’s not something that I can count on.  Not to mention the hours of extra driving.  (Hours I usually spend knitting!)


At least she was very pleased I brought her butterfly hat!

And… it turns out one of the house counselors also knits, she loved the hat too, and was really intrigued by the cotton baktus scarf I was wearing – I told her I would send her the link to the pattern.

(That’s Patons Grace cotton yarn, received in a swap – thanks again, Denise!)

I also had to abandon my plans for the evening, although seeing kidlet trumps anything else. Still, a little disappointment.

This week I signed up at a gym by my house.  Sunday evening I went for my first kickboxing class, only to discover that the teacher was out that day and another teacher was filling in.  I joined her class but it turned out she wasn’t teaching kickboxing, but rather advanced aerobics.  Yikes.  I stuck it out though, struggling and sweating.  I didn’t try to do everything, just what I could handle.  After class she told me I was in great shape for a beginner!  Everything was a little sore for about a day, but yesterday I was ready again.  I was planning to go to a Fitball class.  Looks like fun.

Ah, well.  Mommy duties take precedence, of course.  Fitball will have to wait until next week.  I may go to a Pilates class tonight.  When I get in better shape, I want to add spinning to the weekly regimen as well.  (The indoor cycling, that is, spinning yarn is something I’m already doing!  I do like the semantic connection…)

I really want to get more physical activity into my routine.  It makes me feel so much better!  I love walking, the trouble is making myself do it once I get comfortably ensconced at home after a long day at work.  And the rainy season is beginning.  Such as it is around these parts.  I love swimming even more – but the monthly fee at the local pool is a lot higher than the gym’s, and it’s also an individual activity which takes a lot of motivation.  So signing up at the gym was my solution for now – lots of classes, a regular schedule, lots of company while I’m doing it, and the incentive that I’m paying for it, so I had better go!

What regular exercise do you do?  Do you prefer doing it alone or with others?