Archive for December, 2011

Keep Calm and Blog On

December 30, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939, during the beginning of World War II, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. The poster was third in a series of three. The three posters were issued and used across the country, as the British Ministry of Information assumed that the events of the first weeks of the war would demoralise the population.

The “Your Courage” poster was much more famous during the war, as it was the first to go up.

In 2000, a copy of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was rediscovered in a second-hand bookshop. Since copyright expires on artistic works created by the UK government after 50 years, the image is now in the public domain, and the many take-offs have gone viral. You can now find “Keep Calm” slogans on everything from posters to clothing to mugs to doormats to just about anything.

Some have variations on the word “carry”, listing a number of real and fictional characters of that name.

You can find a Keep Calm product with just about anything you may be passionate about.

How about one for Chanuka? (I know, I know, it’s over…)

Of course, major (and minor) cultural and literary themes are not ignored…

Perhaps fiber-related animals?

Some are a little confusing…

(Wait….what??)

And some just head over to the flip side…

Nostalgia notwithstanding, I guess we all feel a need for the main message here, a need for calm in the midst of chaos, in whatever we need or want to do. It has become a logo for all of us as we go through current hard times.

Are you keeping calm???

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Crawl on!

December 29, 2011

The other day was a treat – a Yarn-n-Falafel yarn crawl in Haifa.  And since I had appointments that day (morning and late afternoon) I wasn’t working, so I managed to sandwich in some time for the crawl.  (Got there late and had to leave early, but never mind.)

Folks came from all over, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Carmiel and everywhere else in between.  Marina was here visiting from Toronto and Sherah from Germany, so there was lots of sharing and catching up to do, all while enjoying oodles of yummy yarn.  And some brought their own wares to share as well!

First stop wasn’t really a yarn shop at all, since Avital runs an online shop – but since we were getting together in town she invited us all to her home, where she spread out the yarn and knitting supplies for us.

(That rainbow yarn is what I knitted my Revontuli with!)

We sat and chatted, had tea and cake, her computer was logged on to Ravelry so we could check patterns, etc.  We managed to deplete her stock quite nicely.

Then we were off to lunch (and knit) at a local café.

Of course part of the day was showing off various finished objects and WIPs

After lunch we continued the crawl, visiting yarn stores and enabling each other to… um…. enrich our stashes.

Until finally we again scattered in all directions to plan and plot what to do with all the new fiber goodness…

I was pretty good, actually!  I had planned to buy some more BBB Martine, since I loved working with it so much for kidlet’s slouchy hat.  Bought two more colours of that for two projects in the queue.  The only impulse buy was a new Mondial yarn, Setoso – a merino, silk and acrylic blend – in a denim-like shade that methinks is destined to become a cardi.

Good food, yarn stores, knitting, and friends.  Just what the doctor ordered.  In between doctors.

(Ahem…  Marina!  Don’t go back to Canada, I need more massages!)

First candle ups and downs

December 21, 2011

Happy Chanuka to all!

I missed posting for the first candle – by the time I could sit down to blog I only wanted to fall into bed and grab some very-much needed sleep.  Which I did.

Not getting much sleep at all lately.  My health has taken some very weird turns, what with the hip and the jaw and the tooth and something as yet unidentified that popped up during the last CT.  Plus, kidlet is back in hospital for more tests and observation and treatment, and could be there at least a month, so she’ll be missing all of Chanuka at home at the very least.   Plus it means that I’m driving the hours to and from work so I can get to her on time for visiting hours.

Yesterday, after a long day at work and then going to a funeral – which involved lots of standing and walking and I didn’t bring the crutches – our first candle was lit with all the other kids and parents and staff on the hospital ward.  Not the cheeriest of settings, although they did their best with songs and jokes.   I didn’t get home until really late, exhausted and kind of depressed, and totally in need of a pick-me-up.  And there was my Chanuka swap package from Jackie just waiting for me.  Eight gifts, one for each candle, but instead of waiting and opening up just one, I tore into all of them – which was just what I needed!

Oh my, WOW!!!!!!!

The yarn – absolutely gorgeous 100% handspun cashmere!!!

It is soooooo incredibly soft!  I’m thinking…maybe mitts…..

Then, a whole lotta knitting notecards and pencils

Yummy Mighty Leaf teas and Dove chocolate!

A beautiful little tin with the most amazing Chanuka stitchmarkers!

A little book about knitting, with quotes and history. (To show how little, I photographed it with an ordinary house key…)  Check out the charm on the bookmark!

Since we’re both fans of House MD, Jackie made me a House puzzle, which I can’t wait to start!  (I may need to collaborate with a friend or two, some of the questions look difficult.  Either that, or spend some time with google….)

Actually, since I’m such a puzzle freak and she did her homework well, she sent me the House crossword, pages of cryptograms, and a wonderful tiny jigsaw.

The jigsaw is so tiny it comes with tweezers and a magnifying glass in order to do it.   I’ll have to set up a space where the catbeast can’t reach….

And finally, since we so rarely get snow in Israel, some glasses to turn any light into snowflakes!  Perfect for looking at the Chanuka candles…..

Such a wonderful and thoughtful package of goodies, it cheered me up tremendously!

(Sylvia in Belgium is showing much more restraint, she has only opened one of the eight gifts I sent her – can’t wait to see which she opens tonight!!)

My name is Chana and I am a swap addict…..still…….

 

Knitting Knotions – Tools of the Craft

December 18, 2011

What are your favourite knitting tools you carry with your projects?  Or in your knitting drawer/shelf at home?   What is essential?  What’s not but just nice to have?  I’ve talked about various notions as I use them – but what is the best way to have what you need at hand?

I  carry a little hippie sheep pouch with most of the notions I need in my knitting bag, along with a knitting notebook and pen to jot down what I will want to remember about each project – what cast on I used, to mark off rows, increases, decreases, other details – especially if I’m changing or personalizing a pattern in some way.

Inside the pouch I keep what I need the most:

Scissors, a couple of tape measures (not sure why I have two in there, but never mind…), a needle sizer (which is used a lot), different sizes of  crochet hooks – I don’t crochet much but I use them for repairing dropped stitches or weaving in, needle point protectors (I usually have a couple of different sizes, but some are in use at the moment), a stitch holder, cable needles, highlighter tape (which I love for charts), extra crochet thread for lifelines.  (Lots more thread at home, but this is for emergencies…)

The tiny little tins hold stitchmarkers in different sizes or colours

And the blue plastic tube is for tapestry needles

(The tube used to hold bubble gum, and the tins had chocolates or mints in them…)

There are usually row counters in there, either the rotating kind or a chain

or a kacha kacha

but when I snapped the picture, they were all being used on projects.

The other things I usually carry with me are this little wallet with post it notes for marking patterns, etc.

    

and a couple of clothes pins for clipping a chart onto something to make it easier to read.

I used to carry a couple of extra knitting needles, circulars in sizes I use a lot, or an interchangible set….but now I keep them in a needle drawer at home. (There’s a pattern drawer, and a swaps drawer, and a blocking tools drawer…I’ve gotten very organised about it since I moved…)  There’s also a box just for stitch markers at home – the  fancy ones, the beaded ones – and materials for making more.

Each WIP has its own project bag, and whatever notions I’m using just for that particular project.  There are usually a couple of projects in my knitting bag at any one time, to be worked on depending on circumstances.

Although I’ve made up my own, I’ve seen lots of different knitting tool kits for sale, either by LYS retailers or etsy folks.

On etsy:

Sarah – thesexyknitter – uses altoid sized tins to make “tool tins”.  I love these, because they’re very compact (much smaller than mine), they’re decorated with knitting (or whatever else you want), and they have a magnet in the lid so you don’t lose your needles.

Blu Onyx Expressions sells a keychain with knitting notions all hooked together so you don’t lose them.

The Electric Carnation also sells a little notion kit in a heart shaped box.

Amy of Knitwit Knits also uses a little tin to make a knitwits knit kit.

In many LYSs, you can find the Knit Kit:

Kind of a knitter’s army knife.

The one thing that does get me in trouble is the pair of scissors.  Many times I have to check that at the entrance when I go into government offices, etc.  (Or I leave the scissors in the car.)   I need to buy one of the approved versions, like the itty bitty hiya hiya puppy snips

(And they come in purple….)

What else?  Tools kept at home are things like blocking boards and blocking wires.  T-pins are notions, of course, and I really need some of those.  I use ball-tipped straight pins for blocking.  I have never used sock blockers – there are quite a few good tutorials for making your own.  When I get around to it.

One little doodad I’ve just discovered is the fix-a-stitch – kind of like a double-ended crochet hook but not exactly.

This is how it works:

 

Hm…gotta get me one of those….wonder if they come in any other colours besides pink…..

So….what knitting tools do you shlep around with you?

 

 

 

 

 

Hipster Hat, Swedish Style

December 13, 2011

The Swedes have a rather bizarre sense of humour sometimes.  I have learned about this to some extent, as partner is from Sweden.   But let’s not go there….

Now a pair of Swedish knitters have designed the “Hipstörmössan” – or Hipster Hat.

Not Amy Duncan’s Ironic Hipster that I knitted with Indigodragonfly’s luscious yarn.

copyright Amy Duncan

Nope, designers Tove Greitz and Minna Magnusson have designed the Hipster Hat for the frozen ear:

And here it is modeled for us:

?

While I agree that it’s pretty funny, I confess I’m at a bit of a loss.  I mean…if your ears are frozen, why not just knit a hat that’s long enough to cover the ears?  Granted, the little  ear hat is pretty cute, and would be a very quick knit.  But still, isn’t this much better (and superbly hip)?

Maybe I’m totally missing the point, which isn’t that all unusual.  If so, I do hope that someone will enlighten me?

Chana-ka??

December 10, 2011

I’m still being good, haven’t opened my Chanuka swap gifts.  Although Jackie tells me that if I do decide to open the packages before Chanuka, I can always declare it “Chana-ka” whenever I want!

I have mailed my package to my spoilee already.   I do find it highly peculiar that most Chanuka gifts that I get from abroad have Chanuka wrapping paper…but in Israel there is none to be found.  And I’ve asked at the largest stationery and gift shops, as well as little hole-in-the-wall shops that usually have everything.   All the salespeople look at me as if I’ve lost my mind.   Chanuka decorations are everywhere, but no wrapping paper.  So… I made my own.   Hope my spoilee is amused!

I’ve passed the halfway mark with Slouchy Kid, kidlet’s slouchy hat.  There have been no more goofs – let’s hope that continues.  It really is a wonderful project, I love the pattern, and the yarn is fantastic to work with.  I’m knitting with BBB filati Martine, 100% superwash merino, in the colour kidlet chose:

It’s very soft, and very tightly twisted, so that knitting with it is a joy and the stitch definition is so sharp.

(Even if my photography isn’t…)

I do have more of this yarn in another colour, and I think on my next LYS crawl I may pick up more.  (Ahem.  Yarn diet?  What?)

I won’t have any days off during Chanuka, which is a bummer, since kidlet will be home.  We’ll have to work something out for the weekend.  In the meantime, right now it’s off to the Galilee to visit her!

 

 

Secure? Yep. Safe in an emergency? Wellll…..

December 6, 2011

OK, so thieves these days can manage to break their way in to almost anything.  I understand the need for innovative security.  But this chain lock, while much harder for a thief to navigate from the outside, has more drawbacks than advantages.

This lock, called the Defendius Labyrinth Security Lock, was designed by the Art Lebedev Studio.  Constructed of 100% titanium alloy, nothing less than a level forty-two spell of ultimate cutting will break it open.   There is only one possible solution to open it, although I’m sure with practice you could do it pretty quickly.

It sells on Think Geek  for $49.99.

The reviews have not been so positive.

The  Offbeats  website (“deviating from what’s ordinary, usual, or expected”) commented  “You will never leave the house drunk again.”   (Nor, methinks, will your guests – although granted, watching them try may provide some amusing entertainment.)

At dornob.com, it was noted  “The question is no longer ‘can they get in’ but rather ‘can you get out?’ This funky chain lock design is anything but fire-safe…”

And there’s the main point.  In an emergency, such as fire, or an air raid alert, with the brain buzzing and the adrenalin pumping, could you work the maze in enough of a hurry to get out?  Could your kids? And depending on the age of your kids, would they be able to let themselves out at all?

Hell, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with this on a daily basis, leaving the house in a rush at 6am to get to the driver waiting outside.  Yes, I’m always in a rush in the mornings.  (And – surprise surprise – I am not at my best at 6am…)

So….while I love the design, being the puzzle freak that I am, this is not going on the wishlist.  (There is enough there anyway.)

‘Tis temptation time again

December 5, 2011

My Chanuka swap package has arrived early – with more than two weeks to go before the holiday!

Jackie has sent me 8 gifts, one per candle, from Colorado.

Now the question is….can I resist temptation, or will I start unwrapping before the holiday???  Especially since one of those little packages is supposed to contain yarn.  And another, according to a hint she posted, contains “something I made myself, but not by knitting, sewing, crocheting or baking.”

How exciting.

Stay tuned.

How did I do that?

December 4, 2011

Today was a day of doctor’s offices, tests, climbing up and down from exam tables, being poked and prodded and pushed.  Pulling out my knitting for brief spurts of time before having to shove it back in my bag when I was called for something new.  I must have taken out kidlet’s hat at least 20 times…sometimes knitting just a few stitches, sometimes a round or two if I was lucky.

And I made a goof I’ve never made before.  When I finally got to sit down for lunch in between doctors, once more out came the project bag, and I started happily knitting away.  And suddenly I encountered…a gap.  In between stitches.  How can there be a gap in a 1×1 rib???  At first I thought I had dropped a stitch, but on examination there was no bar across the gap to pick up, and a couple of stitches looked pretty funky there.  Huh?  I was baffled for a whole minute.  (Hey, I was tired.)  Then it hit me what I had done.  On one of my many starts, I had turned it around and started knitting in the wrong direction.  OK, it’s a reversible rib, so front and back are identical, but how in the blue blazes could I have missed where the working yarn was???   Yikes.  At least I only had to tink one round to get back to where I had switched direction, and the hat is once more on track.   With no gaps.

That’s what I get for not paying enough attention.

Any other silly mistakes you can share so I don’t feel so foolish?   😀

December…Holidays…Uh oh

December 3, 2011

December is here, and the race to finish (OK, in most cases start) knitting holiday gifts has begun.

Kidlet picked out a hat pattern and yarn ages ago, so that’s one Chanuka project on the needles already. It’s the Sixty Cables slouchy hat by Gabriella Krisztián…and it wasn’t until I went to cast on that I actually paid attention to the name of the pattern.  Yes, it does indeed have 60 cables every 4th round…but luckily, done without a cable needle.  (Otherwise I would now be shrieking that I don’t care what she chose, she’s darn well going to get something else…)  Working on it has been a challenge while she’s home this weekend, although there was a nice space of time before she woke up.  When she was up and around I worked on grand nephew’s scarf.  And then again time when I dropped her off to see a friend and son and grandbaby –  it was generally decided that since I have a cold I shouldn’t be cuddling infants.

So I headed over to a local café for a chai latte until it was time to pick up kidlet and drop her off at another friend’s for a bit.  Great, more time for knitting.  Still working on the hat brim.  The chai was lovely, and very good for my cough…

For those who haven’t yet seen it, all this month the Yarn Harlot is blogging ideas and advice for non-knitters who love knitters.  With lots of gift recommendations to make knitters happy.  The first installment is here, and I love the stuff in the second installment even better!  Very much worth checking out – non-knitters, get some great ideas, and knitters, something to send to all your significant non-knitting others.

Besides the wonderful knitterly gifts recommended, I found something else that is definitely on my holiday wish list.   The Warner Brothers official shop has this lovely mug

And when you fill it with hot liquid it transforms to this

(The shop also has more mugs, shirts, wands, a time turner, etc…but I really love this mug the most.)

Other gifts are also in the cards, but I shan’t mention them yet.  Some things should be a surprise.

Now back to the needles.  After I make myself another cuppa.