Archive for February, 2011

Pondering Parker…

February 28, 2011

My life is easier, I finally began doing cables without a  cable needle!  Of course, this is only good with small cables, since you shouldn’t try to manage with more than 2-3 live stitches, and I know I would feel much more secure using a cable needle for large cables… but why I didn’t start doing this before I don’t know!  The waffle scarf is sailing along now.  The cable row is still fiddly…after all, it’s got 10 cables over 40 stitches.  But a lot less fiddly now that I’ve stopped juggling with 3 needles.

I’ve also lengthened the waffle holes, and I like how it looks.  Very subtle.  I’m starting the middle section and will lengthen them one more time, and for the last part shorten them twice to balance it out.

Many thanks to the knitting wizards who constantly teach us new tricks!

In other happy news, my second shipment of the Smart Ass Knitters World Domination Club has arrived from indigodragonfly.   Bliss.

Gorgeous merino/cashmere, and the colour is called Neither Bloody Nor Bowed, from a poem by Dorothy Parker, the quintessential Smart Ass.

Neither Bloody Nor Bowed

They say of me, and so they should,
It’s doubtful if I come to good.

I see acquaintances and friends
Accumulating dividends,

And making enviable names
In science, art, and parlor games.

But I, despite expert advice,
Keep doing things I think are nice,

And though to good I never come-
Inseparable my nose and thumb!

Dorothy Parker

My kinda woman.

The pattern for the yarn is a lovely lace pattern designed by Ronni Smith, called Algonquin, of course,  since we’re honouring Ms. Parker.

From various sources around the web:

The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of “The Vicious Circle,” as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.

Charter members of the Round Table included:

  • Franklin Pierce Adams, columnist
  • Robert Benchley, humorist and actor
  • Heywood Broun, columnist and sportswriter (married to Ruth Hale)
  • Marc Connelly, playwright
  • George S. Kaufman, playwright and director
  • Dorothy Parker, critic, poet, short-story writer, and screenwriter
  • Harold Ross, The New Yorker editor
  • Robert E. Sherwood, author and playwright
  • John Peter Toohey, publicist
  • Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist

Membership was not official or fixed so many others moved in and out of the Circle. Some of these included:

  • Tallulah Bankhead, actress
  • Edna Ferber, author and playwright
  • Raymond Austin, author and playwright and screenwriter
  • Margalo Gillmore, actress
  • Jane Grant, journalist and feminist (married to Ross)
  • Ruth Hale, journalist and feminist
  • Beatrice Kaufman, editor and playwright (married to George S. Kaufman)
  • Margaret Leech, writer and historian
  • Harpo Marx, comedian and actor
  • Neysa McMein, magazine illustrator
  • Alice Duer Miller, writer
  • Donald Ogden Stewart, playwright and screenwriter
  • Frank Sullivan, journalist and humorist
  • Deems Taylor, composer
  • Peggy Wood, actress

How I would have loved to sit in on those lunches…

Also in the package were some really nice stitchmarkers made by Erin Lynch – there were several different designs, I got butterflies (and a leaf).

(Erin has told indigodragonfly Kim that she will learn to knit if Kim dyes her some sparkly yarn…Kim has called her bluff and has ordered the yarn!)

Some more Dorothy Parker:

Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.

I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound — if I can remember any of the damn things.

A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.

That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.

Ah, where is the wit today?  Instead of being immortalized in print, it is briefly tweeted and is lost.  Pity.

Hm…I wonder if future biographies will include collections of famous tweets?


Too much of a good thing?

February 24, 2011

Too much yarn?  Too much knitting?    Pshaw, no such thing.    Too many knitting projects?  Hey, I did get one finished, and kidlet is already wearing it.

As I mentioned, the yarn I was waiting for arrived and I’ve started two more projects.  Deadline April.  The scarves for the nieces.  I’m juggling them with another gift due sometime in March.  The projects for me – that really have no deadline – stare at me reproachfully.  😦

The gray wedge is still in its infant stage.  It’s an easy knit, so it should go quickly.  Hope so, at least.

The waffle scarf is a little farther along, but not much.

I will block it wider,  but not so much as to eliminate the waffle texture.  The original pattern keeps interest by switching colours, but niece wanted one colour, so I’m thinking of adding interest by changing the length of the waffle holes – or the number of pattern rows between the cable rows –  over the length of the scarf.  The ends as above, then slightly longer cables, then even longer cables for the middle third of the scarf.  Not a lot, just a couple of rows more each time.  I think it will look great, and break up the monotony of the pattern in one colour.  Love the texture though.

There may be a wee bit more to it…I’m finding the cable rows very fiddly, since the entire row is cabled – every two stitches go onto the cable needle.   So putting more rows between them may be …um…  laziness?  Nah,  I just want to alter the pattern a bit.  Make it more interesting.  Right?  Absolutely.

I have seen different ways to cable without using a cable needle.  WendyKnits has an excellent tutorial, as does Glenna C – basically the same technique, with some differences.  The problem is not to PANIC during those brief seconds when some of the stitches are “live” – i.e. not on any needle.  I really should try doing it for this pattern… although the cables alternate right and left, knit and purl stitches in each cable, and I really don’t want to confuse myself any more than I already have.      But we must be daring in our craft!  Throw caution to the winds!

(I do usually save the learning and experimenting with new techniques for projects for myself, not for gifts.)

Well, piffle, I may just have persuaded myself.  I’ll try it and let y’all know how it goes…

Arianrhod has joined the family!

February 20, 2011

Bought a car.  Happy dance.  Bought a car.  Happy dance.  Bought a car.  Happy dance.

Can you tell I’m excited?  Not my first car, not by a long shot.  But I’ve been without wheels for almost 10 years now, ever since a drunk driver got mixed up with his colours and hit the gas on red.  My poor car was totalled, and partner had to run to meet the ambulance with me in it at the entrance to the ER.  ‘Twas a very old car,  insurance paid almost nothing, and finances have been tied up since then.

But a savings fund matured last month, and I’m really tired of taking buses and taxis.  So on Friday off we went to buy a car.  Did some homework online first, sailed in to the dealer, looked at a few cars in the lot, made a choice, wrote a check.   Called an insurance agent from the dealer, closed a deal on insurance, and the agent faxed over the papers, so we could drive the car off the lot.  All the rest of the paperwork will be finished this week.   The whole thing took about two hours, which left partner in shock…after all, we’re talking about purchasing a car, not a carton of milk.   But I pretty much knew what I wanted before I got there.

And here she is.

She’s a 2008 Chevy Aveo.   Silver.  Smooth quiet ride.  Very roomy, inside:

and especially in the trunk.    (As you can see,  kidlet decided to investigate thoroughly…)

Yes, of course we drove out to see kidlet at the boarding school the next day (yesterday), so she could see the car too.   And we took her for a meal and a little shopping as well.  Something that was impossible before.

Oh, and of course I gave her the Hermione Hat.

(The wandering yarn finally arrived, and I have cast on for two more gifts/projects…but I’m not going to talk about that now…)

I have named the car Arianrhod, after the Welsh Goddess of the moon and stars.  Literally, her name means “Goddess of the Silver Wheel”, which is pretty darn appropriate.   From the White Goddess website:

Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd),  Arian meaning ‘silver’, and Rhod meaning ‘wheel’ or ‘disc’.   Celtic Moon-Mother Goddess.   Called the Silver Wheel that Descends into the Sea.    Daughter of the Mother Goddess Don.

I had to laugh, even her name sounds like “Ari on road”,   and so I will call her Ari for short, even though in Hebrew Ari is usually a man’s name.

(I have always named my cars after goddesses, with the exception of the first car I bought myself – she was Cleis.   In Greek literature, Cleis was the daughter of Sappho.)

The name also fits – goddess of the moon – since we bought her the day of the full moon.  On the 18th, which is the number of life.  I tried to grab this picture of the full moon over the bay while I was driving down the mountain that evening – very bad quality, sorry.

Partner doesn’t like the name Arianrhod, and insists she will call the car Silvie.   LOL … ok.

Do you name your cars and/or other significant pieces of machinery?   After all, we name boats, and planes.  And – at least in fiction – sleds.  So why not cars?  Maybe, if it’s named – making it more personal – we drive more carefully?

One can only pray.



One down…

February 16, 2011

Well, after yesterday’s post, I decided that enough’s enough, and floored the gas pedal on the knitting mojo to finish at least one of the projects.  I chose kidlet’s hat, since that was the easiest to get done quickly.

Kidlet and I are both Harry Potter fans.  (I think me more than her, but it’s close…)  The last two movies have had oodles of great knitted objects in them, hats and scarves and sweaters galore.  In Deathly Hallows it was downright distracting.  But I digress.

In the Half-Blood Prince, Hermione is wearing a lovely gray hat with cables and some eyelet lace.  Jackie in her blog JL Yarnworks decided to give the pattern a try, and I think her interpretation is fantastic.

Here’s a promo still of actress Emma Watson wearing the hat in the film:

And here’s the hat I knitted for kidlet using Jackie’s pattern:

Pretty spot on.

After publishing the pattern, she watched the movie again and realised that the crown of the hat is sewn, in more of a square shape, and added alternate instructions accordingly.  I liked the decreasing crown, however, and so did kidlet, so I stayed with that.

The pattern advises 3 repeats of the cable/eyelet pattern for a child’s hat, and 4 repeats for an adult.   Three repeats were indeed too small, but as I started the 4th,  I realised that it would be way too big, so I just added 5 of the knit/purl rows and began decreasing, and it’s fine.

The pattern calls for the alternate/rib cable cast on.  I like the cable cast on, much better than the knitted cast on…but the rib alternate took me forever!!!  Possible the longest time I’ve ever spent on casting on for a project.  It does make a nice, clean, stretchy rib, but Merlin’s Drawers, it takes a lot of time.  If I make this again, I may use tillybuddy’s stretchy rib cast on instead.

So…  one down, and still way too many to go.  (I do have enough yarn left over to make her a matching set of mittens….no!  Stop that!)  Next up – a gift that’s almost halfway done now.  I want to finish it within a week.  Pedal to the mojo metal.  Carpal Tunnel be damned.

(I finally got a notice of a package – I hope it’s the wayward yarn…)

I’m drowning!

February 15, 2011

Too many projects that I want to do now.   NOW. I’ve got most of them stuffed in my knitting bag, and I’m in a terrible quandary each time I try to decide which one to work on.  Not to mention my shoulder getting slightly lower on the side I carry the bag on…

Which means, of course, that nothing is getting done.  Oh, progress is being made, yes, but nothing is getting done.  There are nine, yep, nine projects that I want to do immediately –  I’ve cast on for six of ’em so far, and I have the yarn for the other three  –  and then two more that I promised but luckily the yarn hasn’t arrived yet so I have a slight reprieve.  (Although it has taken two weeks so far for the yarn to arrive in the mail from the next neighbourhood over in the same city….now what’s the story with that???)

And there are still other WIPs that are patiently waiting for me to get to them.  Argh.

And let’s not even talk about the fact that the next Smart Ass Knitters World Domination Club shipment is due to arrive very soon, with a beautiful new pattern and luscious new yarn that I don’t know how I can resist.

There are only so many hours in a day that I can knit.  Boss would frown at work (except at lunch hour and in long meetings)… and I have too much work to do in any case.   I can’t really ignore my house to just sit and knit.  (Although I can fantasize about that…)

Well,  piffle.

I’ve never had startitis this bad before.   (LOL….I don’t believe I just googled startitis and got thousands of hits…although some spell it startitus.    Made me laugh.)   I mean, I’m always seeing wonderful new projects and adding them to my queue, choosing yarn for them, making plans.  But I rarely cast on so many when I’m so happy with what I’m already working on.

I love my Persephone shawl,

and the Criss Cross,

and the Wedgie,

and the new hat for kidlet,

and the gift I’m knitting for a friend so I can’t tell about it here yet.

And more.

I know, I know, this should be my worst problem.

Is there a cure?   What do you do when the startitis virus hits?

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2011



February 10, 2011

I am not one to really follow fashion.   Either I get furious with seeing the limiting clothing that can restrict movement, destroy health (I refuse to wear high heels, for example), or just cause incredible discomfort, or I get just as angry at the industry for making the “ideal” of beauty something that makes hundreds of young girls develop eating disorders, or else I’m just plain puzzled as to what on earth makes people want to wear these outlandish getups.

Not really knowing what is happening in the fashion world, I did some surfing to check out some recent fashion trends.

This pajama-look actually looks comfortable, but it also looks like she just didn’t bother getting dressed.

Except for the shoes, that is.  I’ve done the opposite – got dressed and ran out and was already outside when I noticed I was still wearing my slippers.   But that was by accident.  This pajama look is intentional.   (And probably costs 4-10 times as much as a regular pair of pajamas, too.)

This one did get her pajamas off:

She just forgot to get something else on instead.

You can’t tell me this is comfortable.  I can’t even tell what it is.

Do you think it molts?

And this?

Now honestly, where would you wear this?  And how would you get there?   I don’t think that thing would fit into any car I know of.    Wearing it to a concert or movie would make an awful lot of people sitting behind you angry.    So where?  A parent-teacher conference?  The grocery store?  Hm, it might be handy at an amusement park, the kids couldn’t lose you.   Although they may desperately want to.  I embarrass kidlet enough in public, just by knitting.   (And hey, is that knitted???  The little see-through over-thingy?  What a waste of yarn, if it is.)

Now, these boots from Japan are different.  And those are evidently real horseshoes.  But omg, do they look uncomfortable!  I don’t even want to think what they would do to my back.

(On the other hand, I could have a whole lotta fun making “footprints” in interesting places…)

Then last month there was Milan Fashion Week, which was pointed out to me by my friend Marina.   And one of the features was Frankie Morello’s “Unfinished Knitting”…or, as they said, “La sciarpa non finita” di Frankie Morello.

Suddenly all the pressure is off!  If I don’t finish a gift for someone in time, I don’t have to apologize, or give them something else, or ask them to wait.  I can just give them the gift still on the needles, and it’s high fashion!!!

WIP = Finished Object?   Think I could get away with it?

Of course, it means having to buy more needles all the time.  And I would sure as hell be nervous wearing that scarf, so I don’t get poked in a sensitive place.  Or even an insensitive place.  I doubt anyone would sit next to me on the bus.  Or anywhere else.

Actually, it looks finished/long enough to me.  Why not just bind off and save the needles?

This one is much scarier, especially on the poke potential meter:

I doubt he’ll be smooching anyone wearing that hat.


I think I’m going back to ignoring the fashion world.  And finishing my knitting projects.    Bah.


Little gifts and big wails

February 8, 2011

Kidlet has just finished a unit at school on working with leather.  We went out to her school to visit yesterday and she surprised me with a gift – this purse she made.

She continues to excel at all kinds of crafts…but still doesn’t knit, although she knows how.  I suppose that’s understandable.  She wants to shine in her own way.  And she does.

(Check out the paw prints on the back of the purse…love it.)

A friend at work gave me a new mug – she doesn’t drink that much tea and she thought I would like this.

Complete with a little slot to hold the tea bag string.  When I use tea bags.

Little gifts, for no special reason.  🙂

Saturday news brought a wail of “Noooooooooo!”  from me.  Not long ago…last month, in fact…I mentioned how much I love IKEA.  Well, I bought all my new yarn storage boxes just in time…our IKEA store  has burned to the ground.  Saturday morning, a fire started on the roof of the building, and destroyed the entire place.  Nothing left.  The damage is estimated at over 100 million dollars.

Luckily, it happened on Shabbat, which meant that there were no people working or shopping there, and therefore no one was injured.  The government has established a committee to determine how to support the 400-or-so employees until the company rebuilds – they say within a year.

At least there’s another branch in the country – farther away, but available.  I have a feeling that their business is going to skyrocket.    (I wonder why the IKEA in Israel doesn’t take online orders – I understand they do in other countries.  That would make life easier.  And the bank account emptier.  Hm.  Just as well.)

What do you like better – shopping online, in the  comfort of your home, no crowds or lines, or wandering around a store, using all your senses, not just sight, to inspect the goods, compare them, make your decisions?  When do you do more impulse buying (if you do…like me)?

To find the best deals, I usually shop online. You can find great bargains online that you wouldn’t find in stores.  But when I need something quick, I run to the stores. I also window shop a lot, and when I find something that I really like I usually go online to see if I can find a better deal.

Unless it’s something I can’t get here.  Then online shopping is a blessing.

Which do you prefer?

Miracles and Mysteries

February 7, 2011

What a lovely way to start the day.

I actually went to work too early to see it, but partner snapped this on her way to work later and sent it to me.   Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could take 360° photographs, and get this view from the west and the sunrise from the east all in the same photo?    Two miracles for the price of one.    Since we can’t, this one will certainly do.

I have a mystery on my hands.  Back in early December, I sent a RAK gift to Lynn in Canada – some handmade Hamsa stitchmarkers.  She loved them, we started corresponding a bit, she sent me a gorgeous pattern, and said that she was sending me some stitchmarkers that she made, her first attempt!  I waited with excitement…and nothing arrived.  After a suitable amount of time had passed, I asked at the post office if a little envelope had arrived for me from Canada.  Nothing.  After a month I asked again.  Nope.    I figured that they were making a slow journey, and may or may not eventually arrive.  It happens.

Last week I was taking mail out of my mailbox and noticed something kind of stuffed down in the bottom that hadn’t been there the day before.  At first I thought it was an ad, or a periodic notice from the housing committee.  I fished it out.  And there was a note from Lynn, with a Sudoku puzzle on the back and the stitchmarkers pinned inside the note!   No envelope, no address written anywhere, not even last names, just the note to Chana from Lynn.    Huh???   I searched the ground all around the mailbox.  Peeked in the trash can nearby.  No envelope.  Who would take an envelope and stuff the contents back into the mailbox???  And how would they get to it in a locked mailbox anyway?  And how could it get to me without an envelope???   I wrote to Lynn right away and thanked her for the gift, and told her about the mystery.  She was also totally puzzled.

The next day I went to the post office and told them about it, asking if they knew anything.  They were just as mystified as I was!  They said regular mail doesn’t come through the branch, the mail carriers pick it up from the central post office, so if it was just a small unregistered envelope and not a package they wouldn’t have handled it.   They told me the only person to solve the mystery would be my mail carrier, I would have to ask him.

And therein lies the problem…the mail is delivered when I’m at work.  I usually don’t see the fellow at all, only on the occasional Friday when I happen to be home – and outside – when he delivers the mail.  And Fridays are the only time that I have to run a whole bunch of errands that I can’t do after work, so I really don’t want to waste a day sitting and waiting.  Couldn’t this past Friday.  By the time I catch him, he may not remember what on earth I’m talking about.

So this mystery may well remain unsolved.    How very unsatisfactory!

At least I now have a very challenging multi-level  Sudoku to play with, and these great stitchmarkers!

Aren’t they cute?

(Thanks again, Lynn!)

To top it off,  partner just sent me another photo – what a magical day!

And SnB is still to come…

Saturday Matinee – The Lion in Winter

February 5, 2011

We’re back to Katharine Hepburn.  🙂    The Lion in Winter – the 1968 film, not the remake – based on a successful Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey from Goldman’s adaptation of his own play.  A wonderful, intelligent, witty film, with outstanding performances. 

The plot has many twists and turns.  It is set during Christmas 1183.   King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) keeps his wife Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Hepburn) locked in the Salisbury Tower at Windsor Castle, and only lets her out of her prison for the official occasions where the Queen must be present.   Henry wants his son Prince John to inherit his throne, while Eleanor wants their son Prince Richard the Lionheart. The middle, unfavoured son Geoffrey schemes and pits everyone else against each other.  Meanwhile, King Philip II of France, the son of Louis VII of France, Eleanor’s ex-husband, has given his half-sister Alais, who is currently Henry’s mistress, to the future heir, and demands either the wedding or the return of her dowry.    (Following so far?)

Everyone has an agenda, the King and Queen, the three Princes, the visiting King of France, and they battle it out verbally, emotionally, physically, meeting all over the castle at all hours of the day and night, plotting strategy, exploding, threatening, throwing others into the dungeon, hiding from sight.   

One of the earlier scenes, with Henry and Eleanor sparring:

Eleanor’s first meeting with her son Richard, played by Anthony Hopkins in his film debut:

The meeting of the Kings, Henry and Philip (played by Timothy Dalton in his film debut):

Following her defeat in one of the battles, Eleanor is (temporarily) in despair.  The monologue is one of her most outstanding performances:

Eleanor with all three of her sons – and an observation of humanity:

The Lion in Winter is fictional: there was no Christmas court at Chinon in 1183; although there was a Christmas court at Caen in 1182. None of the dialogue and action is historical, though the outcomes of the characters and the background are historically accurate.  Richard later became king from 1189-1199, John succeeded him from 1199-1216.  Geoffrey never held the throne. 

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won three.  Critics were sad that Hepburn had won Best Actress the year before (for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?), since they felt she deserved it even more this time and it was very rare that anyone won two years in a row.  But win it she did, in an even rarer tie with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl.  The composer John Barry, who passed away last week, won for Best Score. Goldman won for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

(There was a remake, made for TV, in 2003.  Although Glenn Close won great acclaim for her role, I haven’t seen it.) 

One of my all-time favourite films.