Archive for July, 2012

Games ON

July 28, 2012

The Olympic Games have begun in London, and the Ravellenic Games have begun worldwide.

Part of the northern contingent of Team Falafel met at my place for a cast-on party last night.  (Partner and kidlet went to a family birthday dinner, but got back in time for kidlet to play party photographer for a while…)  The opening ceremony wasn’t until 11pm local time, so we started partying much earlier.  Blue-and-white decorated table laden with lots of goodies – including traditional English food like cucumber sandwiches and roly poly with custard (thanks, Esther!!) – quiche and salads, decadent cheeses, fruit and munchies.

Watched over by my sheep mascot Tzimrit

(who didn’t manage to prevent the cat-beast from stealing some cheese – bad kitteh!)

Wore a new shirt that kidlet had made for me…well, decorated at least.  Very cool.

When the countdown to the opening started, we popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly and toasted the games and the cast-on…

Then we all got to knitting furiously as the ceremony unfolded on the screen.  I think we provided a much more entertaining commentary than those folks who were getting paid to do it.  Too bad we didn’t record it.  Rowan Atkinson was a favourite.

Dessert (besides the roly-poly) was a simple cake.  I had seen some pictures on the web of fantastic knitting decorations made from marzipan, so I checked out the VeganYumYum blog and watched the tutorial Lauren Ulm gave on the Martha Stewart show.   Then I got to playing with marzipan.  I think it turned out well!

The easiest was making the balls of yarn, but even that was a bit tricky at first and some got frogged. Luckily marzipan is forgiving…  I loved making the scarf and sweater, although it was somewhat finicky work.

 The cat-beast eventually stopped freaking out and grabbed herself a chair to supervise.

And the knitting?

I cast on first for my Team Falafel project, the Ravellenic Wings shawl.  Long cast on, but the rows are getting shorter…

As the hour got later, some of my fellow knitters headed on home.

Before the last notes of Hey Jude faded, I had also managed to cast on for my SAWDKofD project, the Out of My Ravellenic Head shawlette.  It’s a long garter tab cast-on, and I wanted to see if the sideways edge cast on would work.  It does!

The instructions say to CO 3 stitches and knit garter stitch for 47 rows.  Then knit 3, pick up 1 stitch in each ridge and make a YO between each ridge, then pick up 3 st from the CO edge.  Instead, I knitted the first row  – 3 stitches – then on the next row knitted Kf&b, K2.  Each right side I knitted K3, then turned the work, and on the wrong side again knitted Kf&b, K2.

Reaching 50 stitches (the 3 stitches for the tab and 47 stitches for the ridges), I just knitted the tab, then [YO, sl1] to the end, YO and pick-up and knit the 3 cast-on stitches.   Worked beautifully!!

At that point I bade farewell to Roberta, who had managed to hold up until the very end of the ceremony, and I fell into bed, as it was after 3am by that time.  I slept well, contented.   (For a change.)

Good company, good food, good knitting, good times.  Thanks to Roberta, Ayelet, Esther, Eyal and Reut!

The challenge is on!  Will I manage to finish both projects by the end of the Games?

Drumroll, please!

July 22, 2012

And applause for the mighty winner of the 3rd eclecticitee  blogoversary!!

Out of 136 entries (for some reason the 1 was erased from my list so I went from 2-137)

The result:   53.  The 16th prime number.  The racing number of Herbie, a Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of his own, first appearing in the 1969 filmThe Love Bug.   The code for international direct dial phone calls to Cuba.

And the 53rd entry in this blogoversary giveaway, belonging to:

Charlotte!!  

Charlotte will receive a skein of Indigodragonfly merino or merino/nylon sock yarn in the colour of her choice.  (She posted “As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly” as her fave.)

Congratulations, Charlotte, I’m sending off an email to you now.  May you enjoy every little twist and ply of this yarn!!

Many many thanks to everyone who visited, commented, shared, and helped me celebrate my third year of rambling.  Say hi here / on twitter / on Ravelry / on Pinterest.  And stick around, you never know what’s going to happen around this place next…

On to the fourth!

Champing at the Ravellenic Bit

July 17, 2012

First, I’m overwhelmed at the lovely response to my giveaway so far.  Great comments!  I wish I could reply to each one – and I wish each one could win!  Many thanks!

Most folks on Ravelry already know all about the stink with the US Olympic Committee banning us from calling our knitting event the Ravelympics.  Which was silly, but OK, they have the legal right to the Olympic name – and evidently, also just the “ympic” part of it.  What wasn’t OK was for a clerk in the USOC office to get snotty and insulting about the value of knitting in his “cease and desist” letter, claiming we were denigrating the athletes and the Games.

What the clerk didn’t anticipate was the immediate reaction of over 2 million angry fiber fans.  The wave of response crashed the USOC email, flooded their facebook page and was reported world wide.  And the unheard of was heard.  The Committee apologised.  With such a wishy washy non-apology that Ravelry fans were even more furious.  And within 24 hours another apology was issued, both for the first apology and for the initial drivel that started the hooha.   (I wouldn’t want to be that clerk…but it serves him right.)

Knitters and crocheters are truly awesome.

So…since we could no longer call our knitting-and-crocheting-and-spinning-and-weaving-competition-while-watching-the-Olympic-Games the “Ravelympics”, voting ensued to find a new name for the event.  And Ravelers settled on the Ravellenic Games.

Why?

The Panhellenic Games is the collective term for four separate sports festivals held in ancient Greece, over a four year cycle.  The Olympic Games were only one of those festivals, and the only one still celebrated.  (And that’s why the Olympics are held every four years…)  The other festivals – the Pythian Games, the Nemean Games and the Isthmian Games – were held the other years in the cycle.      While all the festivals had sports competitions, the other festivals also held competitions in art, dance, music, and theatre.

So it’s actually much more satisfying that Ravelry models its challenge on something bigger than the Olympics, in which the Olympics are only one part, and the arts are also recognised!

(Yes, it’s just semantics, so what?)

Anyway, teams have formed,  projects are being planned, events discussed.  Less than two weeks to go to the Opening Ceremonies and the official Cast-On!

I’m captaining Team Falafel this year, which is fun.  My planned project for the team is Ravellenic Wings, a Wingspan shawl designed by Tri’Coterie Designs, with Aade Lông fingering weight yarn.

It will be entered into the Shawl Sailing and Single Skein Sprint events.

I also signed onto Team Smart-Ass World-Dominating Knitters of Doom.  Of course.  (And I want the T-shirt.)  I wanted to make a small project, since I’m taking on the shawl above.  But I couldn’t find a small project worthy of the yarn, so – taking a deep breath – I have planned to knit another shawl.  Appropriately enough, I  chose Mona Mono‘s  Out of My Head Shawlette (which is a quite beautiful thing),for my Out of My Ravellenic Head project, with my lovely Goodbye Kitty organic merino.

This will be entered in the the Shawl Sailing and Single Skein Sprint events as well, and also into the Lace Longjump.

So I have certainly challenged myself, in the true spirit of the Games.

Project bags are prepared

with yarn wound into balls, needles chosen, patterns printed out, other bits-n-bobs at hand.

Ready for cast on!!

(I’d better hide the project bags now, so I’m not tempted to start before the Games do.)

What’s your challenge?

Giveaway! BLOGOVERSARY!

July 16, 2012

As promised, I’m having a little celebration to mark my third year of eclecticitee!

It has been a great ride so far, it gives me great satisfaction blabbing on a myriad of topics.  There are months of few posts, and months of many posts – I’ve attempted the NaBloPoMo challenge five times, and succeeded or at least came close.   I’ve made new friends, kept in touch with old friends.

What are some more benefits of my blogging?  Other than satisfying my ego, of course.   Let’s see.

  • It refines my writing skills.  I enjoy writing.  I love searching for that perfect word, phrase, paragraph.  I delight in experimenting with styles, voices, attitudes – sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes informative, sometimes just quirky.
  • It makes me a better researcher.  To write better, more interesting blog posts, I have to research my topics, and I’m constantly learning.  Just searching for illustrations – if I’m not using my own photography – can be fascinating.
  • It has connected me with so many other bloggers!  The more I write, the more I enjoy reading other blogs, providing me inspiration, interaction, and introspection.
  • It gives me the opportunity to indulge my passions.  I share what’s important to me, and it’s hard to say whether it is more for me or for my readers.   I write about things I enjoy, things that touch me, things that enrage me, things that amuse me, things that strike my  fancy…   And it’s so gratifying when others relate to my ideas and thoughts!
  • It requires persistence, patience and discipline.  A commitment and challenge to myself.  A kick in the backside to be productive!
  • It is a record of me.  Significant events (and not so significant), thoughts, feelings, experiences, pictures – snapshots of my life and surroundings as time goes by.  In many ways it is a journey of self-discovery.

Oh yeah….and it’s fun.

So…how are we  celebrating?  How about… a yarn giveaway?   I know, I know, so original….but isn’t it what we love?

The prize is certainly something I wax eloquent about in so many of my blog posts:  a skein of luscious Indigodragonfly sock yarn to the lucky winner!!

Check out the colours available for  merino sock yarn or merino nylon sock yarn on the Indigodragonfly website and post a comment here with the colour you would like to win.   You’re entered!

Want more opportunities to win?  You can – in addition to the above requirement –

  1. Like this blog post – easy extra entry!
  2. Follow me on twitter (and comment that you have) – one entry
  3. Tweet about the giveaway using the button below (and comment) – one entry
  4. Share the giveaway on facebook using the button below (and comment) – one entry
  5. Share the giveaway on your own blog and comment with a link to the blog post – one entry

A winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday, 22 July.

Tell your friends!  Let the fun begin!!!

Call to the International Olympic Committee

July 15, 2012

No, this isn’t about the Games-Formerly-Known-as-the-Ravelympics.

Forty years ago, at the Summer Olympics in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were massacred by members of a terrorist group.   Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during a failed rescue attempt. The three surviving assassins were captured, but later released by West Germany following the hijacking by Black September of a Lufthansa airliner.   They received a heroes welcome on their return to Libya.

There was a memorial service after the murders, and since then there has been no mention of it at any of the games.  Following the memorial service, the remaining members of the Israeli team withdrew from the Games and left Munich. All Jewish sportsmen were placed under guard. Mark Spitz, the American swimming star who had already completed his competitions, left Munich during the hostage crisis (it was feared that as a prominent Jew, Spitz might be a kidnapping target). The Egyptian team left the Games the next day, stating they feared reprisals.  The Philippine and Algerian teams also left the Games, as did some members of the Dutch and Norwegian teams.   American marathon runner Kenny Moore, who wrote about the incident for Sports Illustrated, quoted Dutch distance runner Jos Hermens as saying, “You give a party, and someone is killed at the party, you don’t continue the party. I’m going home.”   Many athletes, dazed by the tragedy, similarly felt that their desire to compete had been destroyed, although they stayed at the Games.  The Games went on as scheduled.

For forty years, the families of those killed have asked the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute of silence, in their memory.

Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Andrei Spitzer, has posted an appeal for people to sign a petition asking the International Olympic Committee to observe a moment of silence for the murdered Olympians.  In part, they are:

…asking for one minute of silence for the memory of the eleven Israeli athletes, coaches and referees murdered at the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich.   Just one minute — at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and at every Olympic Game, to promote peace.

These men were sons; fathers; uncles; brothers; friends; teammates; athletes.   They came to Munich in 1972 to play as athletes in the Olympics; they came in peace and went home in coffins…

The families of the Munich 11 have worked for four decades to obtain recognition of the Munich massacre from the International Olympic Committee.   We have requested a minute of silence during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics starting with the ’76 Montreal Games.   Repeatedly, these requests have been turned down.   The 11 murdered athletes were members of the Olympic family; we feel they should be remembered within the framework of the Olympic Games.

Silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret.

I have no political or religious agenda. Just the hope that my husband and the other men who went to the Olympics in peace, friendship and sportsmanship are given what they deserve.   One minute of silence will clearly say to the world that what happened in 1972 can never happen again. Please do not let history repeat itself.

40 years is long enough to wait.

A request asking for a permanent tribute to those killed has been refused again and again.  The IOC has declined to act, saying that to introduce a specific reference to the victims could “alienate other members of the Olympic community,” according to the BBC.   

With two weeks to go until the Olympic Games in London, more signatures are needed for this petition, found here.

Please add your name.

 

The Comfort of a Scarf

July 11, 2012

Over the past few years, within the network of shelters and hotlines in the US,  projects have sprung up for knitting and crocheting comfort scarves for victims of domestic violence.

In 2008, Handmade Especially for You was established as a non-profit organization in California.  Their mission statement:

Handmade Especially For You wants every woman who comes into a shelter to receive a comfort scarf simply because she was brave enough to leave her abusive situation. We do not see comfort scarves as rewards or incentives for good behavior in the shelter or for following rules or anything other than “congratulations” for leaving abuse. Leaving an abusive environment is a huge step for the woman who takes it.

Handmade wants to make an impact on the women who receive the scarves, most of whom have never received a personal gift, much less a handmade personal gift.  We want receiving these scarves to help lift their self-esteem and help them to begin changing their lives.  We hope the scarves are a symbol of every woman’s transformation.

The scarves are not for sale.  They are gifts, which we give from our hearts.  Yarn companies donate the yarn we use and women of all ages, ethnicities and social economic statuses donate their time to knit or crochet these scarves.  This is why we believe that they have such a powerful impact.    

Their website provides patterns for both knitting and crocheting a scarf to donate.  All the scarves follow the same specifications:

  • soft yarn (comfort)
  • happy colors
  • no more than 5 inches wide
  • no less than 60 inches long
  • open stitch (if you are going to donate the scarf for distribution in a warm climate)
  • individualize each scarf by adding fun fur, ribbon yarn, or something so each recipient feels she is receiving a personal gift.

In 2011, they distributed 15,000 comfort scarves to 43 shelters in Southern and Central California.  They want to expand that in 2012.

As well as providing patterns, they also have gift tags to download and other information.  Their Ravelry group is here

There are sister groups in other states, based entirely or loosely on the organization.

Scarves for Survivors provides comfort scarves in the Burlington Vermont area.

An additional group, founded in 2010, Comfort Scarves / Southwestern Pennsylvania serves nine shelters in six counties.

We currently need about 100 scarves a month to serve the nine shelters for new women entering a shelter plus provide scarves for all shelter and transitional housing residents for special events such as Mother’s Day, October Purple, Holiday Project, etc.

This is a year round ongoing project. Every fifteen seconds a woman is a victim of domestic violence. The shelters we serve each have 8 – 15 new residents each month thus donations are always needed and gratefully accepted.

This group does not specify any pattern, just size – 4-5 inches wide, 60 inches long.   Spring/summer scarves should be light bright airy/lacy type scarves.  They do ask that you include a tag with a simple personal message signed by you (first names only).

One of their special projects:  October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and the color is Purple.  They are collecting Purple Comfort Scarves to give to each resident in the shelters.   Each shelter observes this “Awareness Month” with various community and personal activities.  The deadline to receive purple scarves for this project is September 15th.

Check their website for details, more special events and projects.

Their Ravelry group is here.

(Can I resist any project involving purple?  Of course not.  The only question is before or after the Ravellenic Games.)

There are no knitting projects for the shelters here in Israel that I know of.  The last time I dropped off donated items at the nearest shelter – not knitted items, but other clothing and kitchen utensils – one of the workers and I started chatting about knitting, and kicked around the idea of me (maybe with some of the SnB group) teaching an ongoing knitting workshop at the shelter.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out since I’m basically tied up with kidlet and hospital and no time.  But I do want it to happen at some point.

Make a comfort scarf your next project.   Or two.  Or three.  Or more, they’re quick.  At least add it to your queue.  🙂

Baldersquash!

July 10, 2012

A veggie dish?  The hip new curse word?

Try the new indigodragonfly colourway and an exclusive pattern from Deb Barnhill in the latest shipment of the Smart-Ass Knitters / World Domination Club!

 

The yarn is in a new base, called Bleats Shoots and Leaves (merino/bamboo/silk), in the most luscious. orange. ever.  (The indigodragonfly genius in naming colourways has spread to naming yarn bases…)

Friends who have seen and patted the yarn say it’s much too special for socks, so I’m not sure if I will use this yarn for this pattern — but I will use the yarn, and I will knit these socks, in some configuration.

My mystery skein was merino nylon sock in the colourway  “Bright Lights, Big City,  Busy Highway, Slow Unicorn” – and methinks this will indeed become some very special socks.

 

The artisan swag is a beautiful yarn magnet from April Gates of Blackbird Pottery.   Indigodragonfly pooh-bah Kim describes April as one who “pokes nature with a fun stick, eliciting giggles from trees, blackbirds, polka dots and loose feathers.”  (And if you like her page on facebook you can get a coupon for her etsy shop opening soon!)

So my stash and my queue have grown in a delightful way.

Still WIP busting.  I did take a break from the WIPs to knit some kitchen cloths for the boarding house on the kibbutz, a thank you gift now that kidlet will be leaving and moving on to a new place next year.   I knit the Fruit Cloths set by Kris Knits, in cotton.

‘Twas a quick project – almost three cloths are about the same number of stitches as in one round of the Reunion Madness cowl.  It’s no wonder that the cowl is taking so long!

If it wasn’t such a pleasure to work with this yarn, I would have gone crazy from the teeny tiny endless stitches of stockinette long ago…

Well…  crazier.

I have my third blogoversary coming up in less than two weeks!!  I will definitely put my thinking cap on in the next few days and come up with some kind of fun contest to celebrate!  Watch this space for details!

Didja miss me?

July 5, 2012

Another lost month.  And then some.  I can’t tell you how much I miss my blogging!

Kidlet is again in hospital – the third time in the past year.  More tests, more med changes, more observation, more treatment.  It started this time when the kibbutz sent her home because of her condition… after a few days at home, because the youth ward was full at the hospital (no room?!), we reached a crisis and ended up at the ER.  Lots of waiting around, got a lot of knitting done (mostly the Reunion Madness cowl).  Interviewed by one doctor, then another, then a consult with a third, and they decided to admit her.  But the only place they had a free bed was in the small children/babies ward.  Where the rules state that a parent must stay with the child.  So they put me on a cot next to her bed, I texted my boss that I wouldn’t make it in the next day, and we settled in.  Or tried to.  I was wedged in between kidlet and a small child in the next bed who shrieked with pain.  All night.  His father on a cot on the other side of him managed to snore away, but kidlet and I spent most of the time just looking at each other as the screams went on.   Around 1:30 in the morning they wheeled in an infant in a crib and settled her across the room.  And then her mother spent an hour on her cell phone telling people all about it.  Loudly.  I mentioned to the woman that there happened to be other people in the room, trying to sleep, and she got all huffy.  And continued to talk.  When the poor little one next to me finally exhausted himself with screaming, he fell quiet for half an hour.   So of course the baby started to cry.

Not really one of the most enjoyable nights of my life.

The next day, as we waited for doctors to talk to and tests to be done, time passed slowly.  Some soldiers from the nearby base came to visit and amuse the little kids.  Kidlet hid under her covers, embarrassed – most of the soldiers were only about 6 months to a year older than her, after all.  Partner, who had been with us in the evening until we were settled in, came back early in the morning.  At least she got some sleep.  She brought me food.   Interesting that they require a parent to stay with each child – but only provide meals for the children.

Anyway, by afternoon a place had opened up in the youth ward of another hospital, so we played the bureaucracy game and got her transferred and settled in.

That was a month ago.  Life is a cycle of work, hospital, and sleep.  Very little of the last item.   I try and sleep on my commute, so not much knitting.  I did manage to make it to a Stitch-n-Bitch meeting one night after leaving the hospital, which was like a good shot of energy.  But for now no changes.

I am continuing with my pincushion sessions, and also with the Tui na – on those days partner goes to the hospital alone.  It seems to be helping – went to a wedding one afternoon and actually got up and danced – for the first time in two years!  Then a few days later I got overly optimistic and worked hard in the flat…and the pain is back.   My acupuncturist scolded me and told me work is bad for me.  I told him I wanted that in writing.  (Partner wanted him to stick needles in my butt with the American flag on them for the 4th of July – I wasn’t amused.)

Kidlet wants to come home, we’re hoping the doctor will agree that she can soon.

Let’s see…so let’s close the post with something positive.  Back in May, I was one of five winners of a JL Yarnworks   sock pattern giveaway!    Jackie’s fantastic new sock pattern is called Aim True – inspired by the Hunger Games, featuring an arrow pattern:

photo by JL Yarnworks

Can’t wait to knit these up – I’m thinking of using the Shinyyy SWN sock yarn I bought from my pal Bat (CrazyVet on Rav) at the Yarn and Falafel national gathering, in gorgeous sapphire:

They’ll probably have to wait until after the Ravellenic Games, though, as I am frantically trying to do some WIP busting before the cast-on late this month and then will be going crazy juggling two largish projects for the Games.

Hopefully things at home will be calmer then.

Feels so good to be back writing!!