Archive for April, 2011

Socks and Murder and Hats, oh my!

April 30, 2011

Cast on the first  Minion Tiara sock during the royal wedding, very appropriate.  Finished the cuff before going to bed.

Worked on the leg today, I’m into the third (and last) pattern repeat before starting the heel flap

(Colours came out terrible in that photo…)

There are a couple of minor “features” due to dropped stitches.  I am totally blaming the meds for them. 

Finished reading the first Jeff Resnick mystery during knitting breaks.  Time to start on the second.  I am loving the Kindle!

I must say, just seeing the hats at the wedding made it worth watching.  Most were lovely, tasteful, some were a bit more daring, and some were simply baffling.

This just looks silly.  No offense, of course.

A bit too gaudy, IMHO.  And a little….um…large.

This has potential, but too much of a hazard for near-by people.

How on earth is this thing attached??

OMG, what was princess Beatrice thinking??!

I love hats.  I wish they were more in fashion for everyday wear, and not just for hiking in the sun.  But some of these are just disturbing.  Entertaining, but disturbing. 

I should go dig out my good old fedora.  Let’s start a new trend…

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My application has been submitted…

April 29, 2011

I was naughty yesterday.  I went out briefly.  I needed some groceries, and the supermarket is next to the post office and I had a couple of packages to be picked up, and…well…it was really only for a few minutes.

My hip hurt afterwards, but it was so worth it – got my Smart-Ass Knitters World Domination package!

The yarn:  MCN sock (Merino Cashmere Nylon), in the colourway Now Accepting Applications for Minions.  (It’s got charcoal grey – for the minion,  brown – brown nosing minion,  white for the pointy teeth and tealy-greeny-blueish…the colour of ennui, or, perhaps…minion blood.)

The swag:  A fantastic project bag by Crafty Red Fox – featuring the SAKWD minion.  Note the yarn for brains, and eyes, needles for arms, knit socks, and the minion number #K2P2.

The pattern:  Tiara socks, designed by Susan Lutsky  (knitsnknishes on Ravelry).  How appropriate – I have cast on for the Tiaras while watching the Royal Wedding!

photo by indigodragonfly

So.  I am now propped up in bed, knitting bags and iPhone and Kindle by my side.  I guess I’m all set for the day.

Electronic ink

April 28, 2011

I did it.  After months of waffling, I bought myself a Kindle.  It arrived amazingly fast, brought to my door by a messenger who informed me that the  delivery company had paid the import taxes and I didn’t have to.  Which astounded me, to tell the truth.  But I’m not about to argue about it.  Nope.

I immediately plugged it in to charge, and while it was charging read the instruction manual.  And then started shopping for books.  Hey, I have to check it out, right?  Take it for a test drive.

I downloaded the first two Jeff Resnick mysteries by L.L. Bartlett.  (AKA Lorna Barrett and Lorraine Bartlett)  I’ve started the first, Murder on the Mind.  With many apologies to Stephen Fry, whose book The Liar is now being put aside so I can check out the Kindle.

I also bought a case, or sleeve.  Purple, of course, how could it not be?  (Yes, I know I could knit one, a great felting project, but later…)

Perfect timing, given my current stuck-at-home status.

Now partner says maybe she wants one too.

I’ll let her play with mine first.

More toys.  (Do we ever really grow up?)  Off to read now.

Knit two rows and call me in the morning

April 27, 2011

Been knitting.  Not so much blogging.   Harder to blog when I’m cranky.

The leg/hip is worse.  Physiotherapy isn’t helping.   Well…maybe it is, but it sure isn’t doing anything for the pain.  I’m seeing a hip specialist next week, was trying to hold on until then.  But the pain got so bad we ended up going to the ER.  They took more X-Rays, from all angles, hip and knee and spine, and a bunch of blood tests.  The orthopedic specialist on call said overall I was in terrific health.  Except I can’t stand up for very long.  Or walk very much.  Or sometimes even sit or lie down without pain.  Doesn’t leave many options!  So now I’m staying home on sick leave, with much stronger pain meds until I see the specialist.  And incredibly cranky.

Knitting is the best therapy, of course.  Oddly, I’m finding it harder to concentrate on reading – but that may be my choice of books, I should probably go for some lighter-than-usual reading right now.  So I’ve been working on my Criss-Cross scarf.  And I’ve  finished a quick gift for a swap package.

Did a whole lotta knitting while waiting in the ER.  Because waiting is basically what one does in an ER.  And, as always, it started many conversations.  A young Arab fellow, after watching me knit, came over and told me all about his grandmother who used to knit for the whole family.  And that started a group discussion with everyone around us chiming in about the knitters in their families/lives.  The general consensus – in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian – was that it is an art form that’s also practical.  I certainly won’t argue with that!

And beneficial in that it took everyone’s minds away from why we were all sitting there.

Over the holiday, I did manage to take decent daylight pictures of the nieces’ scarves:

Which is why I feel great about now knitting for me again!

I should knit me a new hip…  😛    Anyone have a good pattern?

Vacation

April 20, 2011

Well, the Seder is behind us for yet another year.   Kidlet did a lot of the reading this year, we all joined in the songs, drank the wine, etc. etc.  I had to restrain myself from eating too much. 

My contributions to the meal:

The Haroset.  There are so many family traditions and wide varieties of recipes for haroset, but whenever possible I prepare my mother’s:  apples diced tiny, crushed walnuts, sweet red wine, and cinnamon is optional.  Yum.

Pot Roast.  I originally planned to make Beef Brisket, but since I had to work up until the day before the Seder, there was no way to do all the advance preparations for the dish.  So pot roast it was.  I took the recipe, contributed by Robin Leonard, from one of my favourite Jewish cookbooks, Out Of Our Kitchen Closets – San Francisco Gay Jewish Cooking, from Congregation Sha’ar Zahav.  (I was a member of this congregation way back in the early 80s, and was lucky to snag one of the first of the cookbooks to be sold in 1987.)

The pot roast was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, so we weren’t at all sorry that the brisket plan got canceled.    And the veggies were cooked in the broth-that-became-the-gravy.

Killer Kugel.  From the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen website,  posted by author Barbara Fradkin.  Potatos, zucchinis, carrots, parsnips, onions and eggs make this a wonderful side dish.  Although I did switch the parsnip/carrot ratio.  (We like carrots.) 

There was no room for dessert, so the cake was ignored.  A couple of chocolate-covered almonds and that was it.  Oh, and a bite of the Afikoman, of course. 

Other than the Seder, the majority of the vacation seems to be playing chauffeur to kidlet.  Dropping her off at friends’ or at parties, and picking her up in the wee hours.  I did manage to run some errands today, and we all did a spot of shopping.  Including hitting a LYS, where kidlet announced she wants yet another hat, this time a slouchy one, and we chose the yarn.  After a pattern search, the pattern has been added to my Ravelry queue and the yarn reserved for it.  Too many things still on the needles for me to start now, but she is perfectly ok with it being for next winter, since this winter has departed. 

Racing from one errand to another, I had to stop to look at the view…despite the fact that it’s a view I see daily. 

Love this town.

How often do you stop to look at what you see every day?

Pesach in 2011

April 18, 2011

This was around a couple of years ago, but I still love it.  For those of you getting geared up for hours and hours of Haggadah reading, singing, and of course eating tonight, here’s the 60-second version of the seder:

And this year, a friend sent me this fantastic item a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve since seen it in a lot of blogs and posts on facebook and twitter.  What if Moses had been able to google Exodus?

OK, enough playing, time to get cooking….

Have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday!

Tea Snob Heaven

April 17, 2011

Oof!  I’ve been busy with preparations for Pesach…well, at least I’ve been trying to get the flat in order.  Between that and work, and running after kidlet on vacation, there hasn’t been much time to blog.    (I’m not really running after kidlet physically, just emotionally … like sitting up all night when she goes to an all-night party/dance/club.  Still takes a toll…  And I’m very glad that I’m not 16 any more.)  Still have last minute shopping to do, too.

Sent out one swap package, and just about ready to send out another.  And waiting very impatiently for the Smart Ass Knitters April package.

What has arrived is the Traveling Tea Box from Steepster!    It began its multi-continent journey  in January 2010, and after several snags along the way has finally arrived on my doorstep from the US, and will then continue to the original starting point in Europe.

Oh, my.  As opposed to the Ravelry TTB, which is tea and yarn, this box is purely tea-related.  Very few accessories, just amazing teas.   I honestly don’t know where to start.  And how much I can take out without emptying the box completely!  I am not nearly as much of a tea snob as I am a yarn snob ( 😀 ), but this is just astounding.

First, some of the scented teas:

Also some pure-leaf (no scents):

Various and sundry other teas:

A few tins as well:

Some tea bags and storage, and a disc of music that I plan to listen to as I sip

If I have time, I’ll sort out what I’m keeping before tomorrow, but it’s doubtful.  I will be putting the box away for Pesach  (rotten timing!), but I foresee an orgy of tea tastings immediately following the holiday!  And probably more than one tea party.

Mm.  Glorious.

A Doofus and a Geek walked into a bar…

April 12, 2011

Many times I have defined myself as a geek.  On occasion,  a nerd.  Not a dork.  Definitely not a dweeb.  And I hope that I would never be perceived as a doofus.

Yet I often see these terms used interchangeably.  I don’t know why, they’re not synonyms.   But lots of folks do seem to lump them all together.

I headed over to the Urban Dictionary.

Geek

The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult.

The term “geek” originally referred to the carnival performers whose act consisted of biting the heads off chickens and eating glass. Over time it came to be applied to anyone who got paid to do work considered odd or bizarre by mainstream society.

The term now enjoys a special status within the technical community, particularly among particularly knowledgeable computer programmers. To identify oneself as a “geek” indicates recognition that most people still consider programming computers to be a bizarre act, along with a certain fierce satisfaction in being very good at their inglorious profession.

That most software geeks now easily earn twice as much as the average laborer just sweetens their defiant embrace of the term.

Note: Unlike the word “nerd,” which is always pejorative, “geek” often carries a positive connotation when used by one of the group. The use of the term by outsiders is considered insulting.

This doesn’t quite fit in with the “Beauty and the Geek” concept…

Nerd

A person who gains pleasure from amassing large quantities of knowledge about subjects often too detailed or complicated for most other people to be bothered with.

An individual who does not conform to society’s beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obsession with a given subject, usually computers.

Non-nerds are often scared of nerds, due to their detailed knowledge, and therefore seemingly high levels of intelligence – and subsequently denigrate them as much as possible as often as possible.

Nerds exist covertly within the fabric of society, often choosing to ‘nerd it up’ in private or in the company of fellow nerds. It is for this reason they are feared the most – unlike geeks, who are easily identified, nerds can only be found out when casual conversation reaches a subject that they like nerding.

Is this really negative?

Dork

Dorks are typically more noted for their quirky personality and behavior rather than their interests or IQ which may or may not be on level with traditional geeks or nerds. They tend to be more humorous and extroverted and don’t mind laughing at themselves or with others at themselves, as the case may be.

Someone who does things that are kinda silly and not necessarily cool but often cute.

The character of “Kelso” comes to mind…

Dweeb

An awkward, ineffectual person; specifically connotes physical inadequacy. Often equated with “loser”.

Doofus

Someone who hasn’t got a clue!

They live in blissful ignorance of the world, fashion, personal hygiene and social skills.

Everything all clear now?

If not, the Great White Snark (Geek Life with Bite) has kindly provided us with a Venn Diagram to explain it all.

(Doofus hasn’t even made the scale…)   He also claims that he is a geek, not a nerd, the difference being that he likes Star Wars, but not Star Trek.

Ahem.  I like both.

What about the obsession part?   Can a geek be obsessed with something other than techie stuff?  Can one be a knitting geek?  Or perhaps a knitting nerd is more appropriate?

Elsewhere on the net I found this hierarchy:

Well.

To sum up the above:

To identify oneself as a “geek” indicates recognition that most people still consider [fill in the blank] to be a bizarre act, along with a certain fierce satisfaction in being very good…

[“Nerd”]  An individual who does not conform to society’s beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do.

 

Being outside the mainstream.   Not being a muggle.

Hey, I can deal with that.

How about you?

From the simple to the sublime

April 10, 2011

I’ve been helping the grand-nieces with their slippers for a few months now.  Remember the three 8-year-olds who wanted to learn to knit?  I bought all them “beginner’s needles” and bought a whole range of acrylic colours for them to choose from, and taught them a pattern that is all garter stitch.   And I taught them how to make pom-poms.

They’ve been working and working on their slippers.   And then at family gatherings, I help out, the grandmothers and aunts help out, we all knit a few stitches for them.  But they were all getting very anxious that the slippers weren’t getting finished (doesn’t that always happen with first projects?), so last weekend when we were visiting for a birthday party, the girls all brought me their WIPs and pleaded with me to take them home and finish them up before it gets too hot to wear them!

So I’ve been knitting simple acrylic with short plastic needles. Haven’t done that in a long while.

They were mostly done.  I’ve sewn most of them up, and still have to attach the pompoms.

But it started to hurt my hands.  So after a couple of hours of knitting the slippers, I decided I had to pamper my poor hands.  With my absolutely softest, most luscious yarn.

Which happened to be my long-staple DK cashmere from Indigodragonfly.    sigh

Yum.

I cast on for the #^@& You! fingerless mitts by Sarah Jenkins.  It was, after all, written for this yarn.  And the two mitts are slightly different, so there is no second-mitt syndrome.  Who says your mitts have to match exactly??    As usual, I’m doing them with Magic Loop instead of dpns.

My first pattern knitting a thumb, I usually just leave an opening for the thumb to poke through.  But this was great.  And it’s a fast and easy knit.

But oh my, the softness!    I’m prolonging the second mitt just to be able to keep knitting with this yarn.

After I’ve thoroughly pampered my hands with this project, I’ll go add the pompoms to the slippers.    There’s time.

The Royal Wedding

April 7, 2011

It’s only three weeks away, and I still haven’t received my invitation.  I just can’t understand it.

Oh, you’re not invited either?

Well, never fear, we can all be there.  Or have it wherever we are.  We can knit it.  Thanks to Fiona Goble, who has published this book  Knit Your Own Royal Wedding.

Everyone is there.  Prince William, Kate Middleton, the Queen.  Prince Harry, Prince Philip and Prince Charles, all in their proper uniforms, you understand, with a little explanation of each.  The Archbishop in his vestments with embroidered details, Camilla with her handbag and little ribbon rose brooch.  And of course how could we possibly leave out the corgis?

Once you have spent I-don’t-know-how-many hours knitting the wedding party, at the end is a chapter of alternate clothing, so you can fill out your wedding with guests, maybe even knitting yourself attending the wedding.  Honoured guest, obviously.   And a foldout illustration of Westminster Abbey so you can set the scene.

There is also a pocket in the book with a little balcony, so you can pose all the dolls.

My mind is boggling here.  Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something comes along and leaves you gobsmacked.  (That’s British for flabbergasted…I’m trying to stay in character here.)

The detail.  The research.  The amazing knitting.  I’m wondering how many copies of this book have been sold.  There have been reports that it has been popular in England.   One reviewer offered the idea that the dolls can be knit as voodoo dolls as well, if you’re so inclined, but that seems a bit rude.

And despite the fact that each project comes complete with clear knitting instructions suitable for both new and accomplished knitters, and full-color photos of the finished doll,  I do wonder how may people will really actually honestly truly seriously knit the royal family.   Even if they do kind of look like Muppets.

On the other hand, the book would be a fun and pretty unique souvenir for the knitters among us of what is being called the “Event of the Decade”.  (Good grief, people, it’s only 2011, the decade has barely begun!)

Would I like to have this book?  Actually, yes.  Because it’s one of those cases in which unless I have concrete proof in my hands, in the future no one would ever believe me if I told them about it.