Archive for December, 2010

Happy Sylvester!!

December 31, 2010

It’s Sylvester once again!    (If you have forgotten about Sylvester, check out last year  here.)

For some enjoyment and laughs, let’s share some snippets from one of my all-time favourite shows, A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

This was a comedy sketch show that was on BBC  between 1989 and 1995. It ran for four series and totaled 26 episodes.   Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie were both in the Cambridge Footlights drama/comedy group while at university, together with others such as Emma Thompson, Peter Slattery, and others.  They created this show for the BBC.  There were some recurring characters, or similarities in scenes.  It frequently broke the “fourth wall”, characters would revert into their real-life actors mid-sketch, or the camera would pan off into the studio.  They dealt with current issues, and created many catchphrases.  Elaborate wordplay and innuendo were staples of its material, although they never shied away from a bit of slapstick.

Between sketches, both Laurie and Fry appear in fillers, as people in the street, including a police officer, a drifting geek, a woman who suddenly remembers she has left the iron on, a pensioner who says that he “wouldn’t suck it” without specifying what ‘it’ is and then walking off laughing, an old conservative and others; each speaks only one line.

They also used many accents, both Fry and Laurie are fluent in several languages and used that talent well.

Laurie is an accomplished musician, playing several instruments well,  and this talent was often featured on the show in the form of plot points in a sketch and satirical songs.  (Yes, he has carried that over to House…)  Here is his Springsteen imitation with “Song to America”:

The Bishop and the Warlord were recurring characters:

This is without a doubt one of my absolute favourite sketches:

More madness:

And finally:

To 2011!!

May you start it with a smile.  ^_^

And just because…(thanks for this one, Marina)

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Stitches in Review

December 30, 2010

Well, it’s the 30th of December, time to look at what I’ve done with my knitting in 2010.  I was hoping to add at least one more FO, but had to change that plan, more details below.  So unless I cast on for something new in the next day, here are the stats:

  • Projects begun in 2010:     30
  • Finished projects that were begun in 2010:     26
  • Finished projects that were begun before 2010:     2
  • Total finished projects in 2010:     28
  • Frogged in 2010:    1
  • Hibernating projects:     2
  • WIPs from 2010:     3
  • WIPs from before 2010:   6

So this year I cast on for 30 projects and bound off 28.    9  WIPs not counting 2 in hibernation.    I calls that respectable, I do.

The Rainbow Perseverance is almost finished.  A couple more rows and I’ll start the border rows.  The Persephone is coming along, but after I finished the head and arms, I decided that they were too crooked, especially the tops of the arms/hands, the count just wasn’t right.  So I  charted and rewrote the rows, and ripped back to the shoulders.  So that’s taking a little longer than anticipated.  I plan to add a few rows at the top as well, in order to use all the yarn.  Maybe add a couple of sun rays with the lighter golden yarn.  Or not.

I received my package in the Yarn-and-Falafel swap from CrazyVet in Givataim.  We discovered in this swap that we had a lot in common, so it was lots of fun both making and receiving a package.

That’s superwash merino that she dyed for me herself, I’m looking for a good pattern, but nothing has yet called out to me.

Also stitchmarkers she made.

Lots of teas (Yay!), both bagged and loose, and some darkdesignerdrooly chocolate!  Can’t wait to see if she likes what I sent her!

In the chocolate swap, still waiting for my package to arrive from New Zealand, and my swap partner hasn’t yet received what I sent her.  Had lots of fun knitting a surprise for her, pictures will be posted after she receives it.

Stitches in review, 2010.   28 projects completed.     At least one of them made a good pillow…

Get off the knitting, cat.

Festive Food Court Flash Mob

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends. 

This video has gone viral, just want to share it here as something special for the day.

Here’s to a peaceful and healthy 2011!

“#^@* You” Arrived in the Mail!

December 21, 2010

That is, the first shipment of the Smart-Ass Knitters World Domination Club arrived.

The yarn is  100% long-staple cashmere, DK weight.  The colour name – #^@& You – is “for every single one of you who’s ever wanted to run outside in the middle of the day (or night…we’re not picky) and scream it at the top of your lungs!”    It is OMG gorgeous, buttery soft, decadent – I don’t know if I can even knit with it, it just demands to be patted and stroked.   Oh, but knit with it I will.  We also received an original pattern (with the same name) by Sarah for some wonderful-looking fingerless mitts.  (There is also reportedly a subliminal message in the mitts…methinks it has something to do about emphasizing a  particular finger…)  I fully intend to knit these mitts with this yarn.

I brought the yarn to work today to show a couple of other knitters – but couldn’t contain my enthusiasm and started showing it to several of the fellows who know nothing about fiber, or crafts – at first they looked at me pretty oddly but once they touched the yarn were stunned, lots of wows and stroking, putting it to their faces, etc.    Just goes to show how special this stuff is.

Also included in the package was a lovely pottery bowl by Susanne.   Each club member  received a different bowl etched with a four-letter word (or a paw print).  Mine was PG rated, as opposed to many of the other bowls, but at least it’s a fiber-related word!!!

Perfect.

Way back in spring, in another time and another yarn club, I received a package based on the goddess Persephone.  Bamboo and cotton yarn in the Persephone colourway, Persephone tea from Goddess Teas.  The yarn was dyed in 4 batches, going gradually from darker browns and purples to lighter purples and golds…or maybe it was lighter to darker.  Whatever.

I have been aching to do something with this yarn for quite a while, and after I finished the Central Park Hoodie took the plunge and cast on for the Gorgeous Goddess Shawl by Dawn L.E. Riden.  From her website:

Based on the Nile River Goddess, whose waters would bring the crops to the dry Egyptian land, this shawl depicts the voluptuous figure of a woman with raised arms in a circle of continuing life.

The perfect match of yarn and pattern!  The drape of the bamboo is beautiful, while the cotton keeps it from being too stretchy.  (I made the mistake once of knitting a vest out of 100% bamboo.  It’s still beautiful, the pattern and the colour are fantastic…but the vest now reaches just past my knees…)

The shawl is knitted from the bottom point.  I began with the darker yarn of the earth, so that gradually her arms and head will be reaching towards the golden light.   So far I’ve almost finished her legs and hips, then I start the waist.

I’m still persevering with the Perseverance shawlette, of course.  It is the ultimate on-the-go pattern.  The ball of yarn is shrinking rapidly.  I took a break to knit a couple of swap gifts, they are now winging their way in totally different directions, more about them after they are received…

And meanwhile, the cold and rain have disappeared, and it is once again dry and warm.   

sigh

RAKs

December 16, 2010

There is a group on Ravelry – actually, a number of groups – that are devoted to Random Acts of Kindness.

How do they work?  Each month many people post their wishlists of tangible items they would like.  Usually related to knitting, but not always.  Things like certain patterns, specific yarn, notions…or pens, postcards, ornaments…and just about any kind of thing that someone may need or want.   Sometimes there’s a story involved, sometimes not.  Group members read the lists and find what they can spare, or want to send…and send it off to the person who wished for it.  The group moderator has a list of addresses, or you can message the person directly to find where to send the RAK gift.    It’s not a swap, nothing is expected in return, it’s just an opportunity to fulfill someone’s wish and do a mitzvah.  It can be anonymous or not, that depends on what the giver wishes.  The forum provides a place to thank others, let people know what has been gifted already, and more. There is also a place to ask for non-tangible things, like good wishes and prayers, or blog visits/comments, internet votes, or to announce giveaways, destashes and the like.

I only recently joined this group, and this month was able to send some RAKs.  Some postcards to knitters’ kids who collect them,  a few patterns that some people wanted, some stitchmarkers, and other little gifts.  Can’t handle much more than that right now.  I posted my own list, and so far have received many patterns that were in my queue, from other RAKers all over the world.  I’ve also been told that some surprises are on their way to me.

In the big things in life, I have found that people are often there for others, with support or help.  But in the midst of an everyday world of me-me-me, of people with a sense of entitlement, of cynicism – this group is balm for the soul.  Each little RAK gift I receive from someone brightens my day just a little, and I love that something I sent brightens up someone else’s day.   It matters, and it lightens the heart.

I was brought up in a home where  giving was important.  We had a charity bank on a shelf.  My father would drop some spare change in every evening, and we would add coins to mark anything significant.  If I got a good grade on a test, my mother would say, “Quick, go put a coin in the bank…in your joy, you give.”  Rough times were also a time to add to the bank.  When the little bank was full, we would hold a family conference and decide together where to donate the money inside.  Usually we donated anonymously.  So giving is very much a part of how I was raised.

There are other organizations, websites, TV and radio shows, all  devoted to promoting random acts of kindness.  The phrase “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” may have been coined by peace activist Anne Herbert.   Herbert says she wrote it on a place mat at a Sausalito restaurant in 1982 or 1983.   In 1993 Conari Press released a book called Random Acts of Kindness and later published follow-up books including RAKs for kids.  Author Catherine Ryan Hyde is reported to have said that the RAK movement inspired her to write the book Pay It Forward, which in turn has sparked an entire Pay It Forward movement.

It’s not a new idea nor is it exclusive to Ravelry, of course.  But I love that there is a special place for RAKs connected with fiber.

Have you performed a random act of kindness today?

Hey world, slow down, willya? And let me catch up…

December 15, 2010

Ahem.

I really didn’t mean to disappear for a week and a half, especially after the November NaBloPoMo achievement, but I was sick with something nasty, and then partner and kidlet caught the nasty, and meanwhile events were swirling fast and furious around us.

After 77 hours out of control, the horrendous fire was finally conquered.  Over 40,000 dunams (that’s about 10,000 acres) of land burned, and it’s estimated that some 4 million trees were eradicated.  Dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.  43 lives were lost – so far – among them 38 prison guard cadets and their instructors, police officers and fire fighters.  One was 16-yr-old scout Elad Rivan – an only child – who volunteered with the fire department.  Another blow was the loss of Haifa’s police chief Ahuva Tomer – the first woman to head the police department in a major Israeli city and a fighter for gender equality.

My gratitude and admiration go out to all those who took part in this battle, both from Israel and from abroad.  Over 20 countries sent aid, the US and Russia, many countries of Europe and neighbours here in the middle east.   The Palestinian Authority sent fire trucks and crews.   My special appreciation is for those unsung heroes who staffed the rapidly set up control tower – guiding some 30 fire-fighting planes circling non-stop in all daylight hours over a relatively small air-space, with all the pilots speaking different languages.  Just the thought terrified me, even though I knew there was an Israeli flying with each foreign crew.   I could see the planes on my way to work, and they were flying very close to each other…

The investigation into the fire is still ongoing, but it seems now that the cause was a couple of teens from one of the villages who were smoking a nargila and did not put out the coals properly.  Allegedly a 14-yr-old has admitted to this.  His family is denying he was responsible.  What a tragic mess.

And then when the fire was finally out, the skies opened up and the rain came.  We went from hot, dry endless summer to winter without a breath in between.  Into storage went the fans, out came the heaters.  The weekend brought the worst storm in years.  Flooding, 100-km/hr winds, the temperatures plummeted and there was snow falling in the north.   The navy was receiving mayday calls from a bunch of ships in the area.  At least one sank.  (The crew is safe.)

My enclosed porch/workroom was an inch deep in water, I still have things hanging up to dry all over the flat.  My boss, evacuated during the fire when the wall of flames came within 100 yards of his house, was allowed back home just in time to pack and leave on a business trip abroad.  He returned from his trip to find the drains clogged and his living room flooded.  Not a happy camper.

Still, during the holiday, when not coughing or sneezing or snuggled under covers and sipping tea, we managed to do a few things.  Kidlet and I (and a friend of hers) finally got to the cinema to see Deathly Hallows part 1.  We did some shopping.   And I finished off her Central Park Hoodie just in time for the cold weather!  She wore it back to school.  And she has ordered the next project on her wish list of things for Mom to knit – a striped stocking cap.  I’ll look for the yarn on the next trip to the LYS.

(She’s hiding her face because she doesn’t like how she looks with the sniffles…)

I’ll try to do more catching up in the next few days….more about knitting, the phat fiber box, swaps, RAKs and more.    If I find the time to breathe….

Sometimes I think Life needs a snooze button.

There’s a hush over everything

December 4, 2010

The fires are still out of control.  More countries have sent aid.  The planes and choppers can’t work at night, so right now it’s just the ground crews battling.  Last night at 1am my boss and his family were evacuated, I spoke to him later during the morning. 

 

The winds haven’t let up, they’ve been very strong all day, making the job much harder for all those fighting the flames.  The fires change direction suddenly, there are news  flashes all the time – two fire crews trapped, then rescued,  a neighbourhood safe, then again in danger.  Smaller fires have broken out in a dozen more areas around the country, leading to fears that there is an orchestrated attempt to take advantage of the fact that all the fire departments are so busy. 

Relief to discover that not all of Beit Oren, the kibbutz nestled in the forest above Haifa, had been destroyed, that there are still houses standing there.  But the destruction is still immense.

Hopes that the morning will bring better news.  More help will join the battle.  Every year at Chanuka, we light candles to celebrate the Maccabees victory over the Greeks.  Today, during Chanuka, the Greeks are here with us, helping us to survive. 

Shabbat Shalom.

Disaster

December 2, 2010

No celebration tonight.  No Chanuka candles.  Just a lot of sadness, a lot of concern.  And we sit glued to the television screens.

Less than 12 hours ago fire broke out in the forest around Haifa.  It is still raging out of control.  We haven’t had rain in months and months, it’s both dry and windy.  The death toll is over 40 now, and some are still missing.  Neighbouring towns and villages are being evacuated.  All national TV channels have stopped all programming and are covering the fire.  There are constant updates on more evacuations.  There has never been a disaster like this in Israel’s history.  The Prime Minister has asked for help from European countries, so far Cyprus and Greece are sending aid.  The Haifa mayor has canceled all holiday celebrations.  President Shimon Peres has said we are “praying for a miracle”.

The air smells like smoke.  The black cloud over the area blocked out the sun well before sunset.

I started taking pictures when we left work.  This is still 1-1/2 hours away:

And the smoke covers the sun:

Partner suggests packing a bag.  I really don’t believe it will be necessary.  And what on earth to pack???  I’m too busy watching the news anyway.

News stories from here and around the world:

Northern disaster: Mass evacuation ordered as fire rages on

Israel turns to U.S., Europe for help in controlling Carmel fire

42 killed in Carmel fire

Israel Calls for Urgent Help Fighting Lethal Fire

Israeli forest fire near Haifa kills 40

I don’t think we have taken in yet just what a tragedy this is.  I also pray for a miracle, for rain, for the safety of all those who are putting their lives on the line to fight this fire.  After all, Chanuka is a festival that celebrates a miracle.

Join your prayers with ours?

I did it.

December 1, 2010

I did it.

All of November.  30 posts in 30 days.

OK, I may have fudged just a little.  Sometimes I can only blog at the end of the day.  A couple of times there was a really slow internet connection, and I hit the “publish” button and waited…and waited…and watched the clock click on until a minute or two past midnight when the post finally appeared …with the next day’s date!  And once we were out, and only came in after 1:00 am – but I still blogged!  I figure it was before I went to bed that day, so it totally counts.

So even if it means I’m not eligible for any of the prizes on NaBloPoMo, I still take all the satisfaction in knowing that I did it!!!

 

First candle of Chanuka.  So early this year!  Kidlet won’t be home from school until the weekend, so we are Going Out.  This time to a fancy restaurant with our Swedish pals.

Here’s a video by Esther, Sasha, Aaron, and Sarah of the Gay-Straight Alliance at the A. J. Heschel School in New York, made for Keshet.  They came together for the first candle with a Kavannah (intention around the blessing) that they invite you to use.

This is the text they added to the traditional prayers:

We dedicate this first night of Chanuka to knowing one’s identity and standing strong against external forces. As we light the first candle, we dedicate this light to each person in our community who needs support to be steadfast, to stay grounded in an inner space of calm and courage.

Our tradition teaches us that each good act gives forth another, one spark makes others, and a string of candles awaits us this week. We hope you will join us this Chanuka in spreading the light of hope and strength to everyone in our community.

Happy Chanuka!