Archive for September, 2014

Late Night Adventure

September 29, 2014

So Saturday evening kidlet suddenly decided we should have an adventure.  At the very end of a long 4-day holiday weekend, of course.  I love spontaneous, partner is not so good with it.  But she took a deep breath and agreed.  Originally boyfriend was to join us, but his visit with his mom went into overtime and he didn’t want us to have to wait.  So just the four of us (3 human, one canine) piled into the car and we headed north.

We drove through several towns looking for a good place to stop.  Conflicting requirements made this difficult, as kidlet wanted an isolated beach with no one around, partner wanted a safe place that allows dogs, and I wanted a comfy place to sit and gaze at the view.  Not that there would be much of a view, it was just past new moon and everything was pitch black.  But never mind.  Dark beaches are fun with the sounds of pounding surf.

We got as far as Achziv but the nice beaches there were locked and dark.  Kidlet was clamouring to keep going north to Rosh Hanikra on the border, partner was clamouring to turn around already and head back.  I wasn’t interested in getting off the main road to explore the dirt roads with no street lights, so we turned around.

Then by turning down random roads we found a nice almost-deserted beach just north of Nahariya.  No place to sit except on the sand, which we did for a while as kidlet wandered along the rocks by the shore.  Kidlet and I amused ourselves by snapping pictures in the dark, or under the light of the single path lamp, while partner fussed about the bad conditions for picture-taking and that we were being silly.

Well, yeah.  Adventure + silly definitely go together, don’t they?

night beach 2

There were tons of night-blooming flowers scattered around the sand a bit back from the beach.  So we turned our cameras on them as well.

night flowers

And a once-removed photo by kidlet – taking a picture of me taking a picture of the flowers…

night flowers once removed

When we returned to the car we decided we were hungry.  A drive down the main street in Nahariya (with the worst traffic-lights in the country, a 3-5 minute wait every few meters…pfui) and along the beach didn’t show anything we wanted, so we next drove to Akko.  After driving back and forth along the beach we settled on a nice café, with indoor seating, a huge deck, and a bunch of tables on the beach itself.

night cafe Akko 2

There were no tables free on the beach, so we opted for the deck.

night cafe Akko

Good food, too.  We all polished off our meals down to the last bite…

night cafe Akko 3

By this time it was well after midnight.  Vowing to remember this café, we took a final stroll along the boardwalk – well, kidlet, partner and dogbeast strolled, I sat on a convenient bench – and then headed home.

night stroll Akko

So do you prefer spontaneous or planned outings?  With something planned, you have a good idea of where you’re going, what’s available and when, and there’s no wasting time and energy.  With spontaneity, there may be more wandering, and more disappointment and/or arguments, but also more surprises and no pressure from a schedule.  Most people seem to fall into one camp or the other, but compromise is possible with a little effort, as proven by our adventure!

The Roaming Pomegranate

September 25, 2014

There’s an old joke that’s been around for years (even made into a song at one point) that says that Jewish holidays are usually based on three things:

  1. They tried to kill us.
  2. We survived.
  3. Let’s eat.

Food does seem to be central to any kind of celebration.  There are traditional dishes for almost any occasion.  Rosh HaShana is no exception.  Most of the customary food for the new year in the Jewish calendar is sweet, nothing bitter, in order to “ensure” a sweet new year.  (Partner’s father even used to forbid eating the gefilte fish with horseradish on Rosh HaShana, as it was too bitter.)

We dip apples in honey.

We dip challah (sweet egg-bread) in honey.  The challah for the new year is not braided as it usually is for Shabbat and other holidays, but spiraled or round, symbolizing the continuity of Creation, and raisins are often added.

We eat honey cake.  (Well, most do, nobody in our household really likes honey cake that much, so we don’t bother.)

We eat a “new fruit”,  a fruit that has recently come into season but that we have not yet had the opportunity to eat, saying a blessing thanking God for keeping us alive and bringing us to this season.  A pomegranate is often used as this new fruit. In the Bible, the Land of Israel is praised for its pomegranates. It is also said that this fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 mitzvot/commandments. I’ve never actually checked this out by cutting open a pomegranate and literally counting the seeds.  I really wonder who did to make the above claim, or why, or how they even thought of it. But I can attest to the fact that there sure are a lot of tangy-sweet seeds in those things.  Another reason given for blessing and eating pomegranates on Rosh HaShana is that we wish that our good deeds in the coming year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.

So.  At last night’s dinner we dipped our challah

new year challah 75

into honey along with the apples.

sweet new year 75


We saved our pomegranate for dessert – and then ate so much good food that there was no room for dessert.  Oops.  It will be eaten at tonight’s dinner instead.

So I took our pomegranate and started placing it around the house to symbolize a sweet and plentiful new year in many ways.

Catbeast was intrigued.

sny 75 cat

Dogbeast was a little wary of it.

sny 75 dog

And the pomegranate was on the move!

For a sweet year with plenty of work:

sny 75 work

For a sweet year with plenty of reading:

sny 75 books

For a sweet year with plenty of knitting:

sny 75 knitting

For a sweet year with plenty of healthy and tasty food:

sny 75 cooking

For a sweet year with plenty of music:

sny 75 music

For a sweet year with plenty of friends and laughter:

sny 75 friends

For a sweet year with plenty of travel:

sny 75 travel

For a sweet year with plenty of exercise:

sny 75 exercise


For a sweet year with plenty of rest and serenity:

sny 75 rest

And for a sweet new year of peace:

sny 75 peace

L’shana tova, y’all.


In which I begin the year juggling

September 24, 2014

Juggling projects, of course!  Together with life’s little complications.  Let’s see if I can keep it all going in the air, or if one of those little items is going to suddenly fall and smack me on the head…

Is it really too much to ask for one whole day without drama??

Never mind.  I’m on schedule with the Collectively Curiouser, made it to 40% on Sunday.

curiouser 40%

Definitely Space Age Chic.

The Leethal Adventure cowl is 2/3 done, I’m on the third of three skeins and will begin the last section very soon, just a few pattern repeats to go on the center section.

adventureKAL 70%

Can’t wait to lightly block this and really open it up!

Oh, and these two not being enough, I need a special baby gift for a new friend just born in London, so I’m quickly knitting up some MonsterPants.  I’m still at the “pants” part, the “monster” part comes later.

monster front 2


(I can post this now because the new mom is not a fan of internet/blogs, using basically email and skype and that’s about it…)

So.  Three projects that are great to change up, since each has totally different yarn and texture and they provide true variety.

I’m starting my 365 project a day early – even though 5775 (a palindrome year!) only begins tonight, I snapped a few pictures to get me started.  Kidlet had some tests done this morning, so after we left the medical center we stopped to treat ourselves to some chai latte and/or coffee to take home.  I liked this shot, very simple:

shana tova takeout 1

Although I officially chose this next one as today’s picture, since the catbeast decided to photo-bomb my picture.

shana tova takeout

(Oh, we also grabbed some Cinnabuns to go with the drinks, but don’t tell anybody!!!)

shana tova takeout 2


Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy and safe new year!!


A new year in pictures

September 17, 2014

The stove saga continues, but as new issues are developing daily and nothing is as yet resolved I will wait to update you on the whole freakin’ story.


On other fronts:

I tried doing the 365 project a few years ago.  Following the concept of documenting a year, by posting – every day – a photograph you took that day.

I failed miserably.  I loved taking the pictures, just didn’t manage to do it and/or post every day, and soon gave up.  Pity.

Then this week I read this blog entry by author Donna Andrews and was inspired anew.  Should I try again?

The Hebrew year 5775 begins next week.  A perfect opportunity for a fresh start.

Want to join me?   You can sign up (for free) here.  Let’s point and shoot together!

What lurks behind your stove…

September 15, 2014

Hopefully, nothing.  Still, scary.

I live in a rented flat, with an elevator because of my silly hip.  (Mine’s rented out to other tenants.)  It’s a big flat, with an awful lot of advantages (including said elevator and reserved parking space), but the landlord really hates to invest anything in it, so most of the plumbing and wiring and built-in stuff like cupboards are old and somewhat falling apart.  We manage.  Although kidlet is desperate to change the closets in her room.

The kitchen is really in need of some care, but landlord and I have different ideas about that.  So I do what I can with what I have.

And then there’s the stove.  When we moved in, landlord wasn’t sure if the oven worked.  It didn’t.  So I used it as extra storage space and did my baking, etc. in a toaster oven.   The gas burners were weak, but two of the four were ok to cook on for the first couple of years.  Then they just kind of gave up.

I called the gas company to come and check if there was a problem with the hookup.  The fellow who came discovered a bad gas leak in the stove itself.  Not his problem.  Oh, and the gas valve in the wall was way out of date, the company couldn’t approve its use.   So he turned the gas off, and unhooked my stove completely.   Even took the gas hose with him – I guess so I wouldn’t be tempted?  By what, if there isn’t any gas being supplied??  It’s a mystery.  But… I digress.  I had a couple of countertop electric burners to use in the meantime.   I figured I would just buy a new stove myself, instead of arguing with the landlord about it, then if/when I move out I take it with me.  The only discussion I had with landlord was getting his permission to toss the old stove out.  He waffled about it, but finally agreed.

Partner wanted to buy a new stove for my birthday, so we did some searching online then headed for the shops.  We also had to make sure that the folks who deliver the stove will take the old one away.  Found just what I wanted!  With quick delivery, within 3 days.  And that only because of the weekend.

Back at home, with some trepidation, I moved the old stove away from the wall to clean the whole space in readiness for the new stove.  And found a sticky mess.  Old grease.  Walls and floor.  Hey, I had never bothered to move the thing before, what with tubes and hoses and wires and stuff.  And I have no idea who cleaned it before me and when.   I always cleaned around it as best I could, but when I moved it, ew.  Hey, be honest, how often do you clean behind and under your stove?  Got out the super cleanser, buckets and scrubs, and started in, tile by tile.  I also attacked the grease that had spilled down the side of the fridge in between the stove and fridge.  (Luckily, that wasn’t nearly as bad.)  Kidlet did help by scrubbing one of the wall tiles clean.  Leaving the remaining 30-some for me.  She claimed it was impossible with her manicure.  Tell me about it, the cleanser ate half my nail polish and dulled the rest…

Many a scotch brite died in the battle.

stove wall

(This is an after picture, I would put a before picture but it’s just too embarrassing.)

The delivery guys were supposed to come yesterday between 8am and noon.  The salesman at the store had recommended I call the gas company and have a technician come out and inspect/turn on the gas after 1:00, so I could get service all in one day and begin using the stove.  Yeah, right.  Fortunately I listended to my gut and waited to call the gas company.  The delivery guy called at 2:15, said he was 10-15 minutes away.  I waited at the window so I could hit the remote to open the parking gate.  He got here at 3:00.  By the time I finally could call the gas company, their offices were closed.

But I have a stove.

stove packaged

I’ll keep you updated.

Oh, and I met the deadline and finished 20% of the Curiouser shawl.  New goal:  40% by next Sunday.

curiouser 20%

Curiouser. Collectively.

September 10, 2014

Last year I took part in Helen Stewart’s Curious Collective Shawl Project, first blogged about here, and the finished shawl shown here.  The “design by committee” and subsequent KAL was such a hit that Helen decided to do it again this year.  The voting for options of the pattern began on the Curious Handmade blog in mid-July.  After we voted on all the choices, Helen set about designing this year’s shawl pattern.  This year includes both textured and lace elements.

There will be prizes again for those joining the KAL.  We have a new element in the project this year – knitters can join a tribe, for social support and additional prizes!  The tribes are loosely based on the colour combinations one chooses.

With the yarn I am using from my stash – gray and blue – I am firmly in the Space Age Chic tribe, although the yarns I have chosen for my shawl are darker than the colours in the original KAL options.  I declared in the Ravelry discussion that this places me at the head of the Dark-side-of-the-Moon faction of the tribe, which Helen described as brilliant.

Curious KAL yarn 14

Space Age Chic is the smallest tribe, most folks going for English Rose, Enchanted Forest, French Vintage or Art Deco.  Figures.  Of course I would be in the most “exclusive” tribe, right?

The pattern was released this week, and we have a first target of Sunday the 14th to get 20% of the shawl done.  Once the pattern was released, I had the difficult decision of which colour to make the main colour, and which will be the contrast.  I chose the gray Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine for the textured body, with the  blue Alize Superwash for the lace contrasts.

The first 20 rows of my Collectively Curiouser were quickly done.

curiouser 1


So far I’ve managed to get  10% done, so I’m pretty well on schedule.

curiouser plus 10%

How can I tell how far I’ve reached?  Helen’s patterns make it very easy!  For all rows, she gives both the stitch count you should have at the end of the row, and the percentage of the project you’ve finished.  (That’s on the written directions, which she gives as well as all the charts needed…)

Curious pattern

I love it so  far – garter body, with a stockinette edge, instead of the opposite!  Yes, the edge curls.  It’s supposed to.   It curls as far as the extra-large eyelets, then stops, making it a lovely border for the garter!

curiouser edge

So as of this week I’m juggling this with the leethal Adventure KAL.  Come and join the fun!


knitting curiouser

A Leethal Adventure

September 9, 2014

Lee Meredith (leethalknits) describes herself as a maker of things, doer of stuff, with a main focus on designing original hand-knit accessories.  Her patterns are always amazing, like the Mikkey cowl I test-knit for her, shown in my last post.  Another test-knit was her Lerro shawl, a true knitting experience!

Lerro FO1

Lerro FO3

I spent many an hour with this going “huh?”, ruffling pages as I searched for clarification, then finally reaching the “oh!! cool!” moments, following up to 5 charts at a time, muttering to myself during stitch-n-bitch meetings.  (Luckily my knit sibs know me…I may have been giggled at a few times.  Ahem.)  The finished object is something I am immensely proud of!!

Lee has the ability to deconstruct stitches and put them back together in amazing and very unexpected ways.  She plays with colour.  She takes into account all possibilities, and many of her patterns are written so that you can continue knitting until your yarn runs out, or make whatever size or pattern combination you want. Complex but extremely thorough instructions – including tutorials – make her patterns many pages long, but the answer to any possible pattern question can be found there.  Last winter I knit her Robin shawl in no time at all, and it was great fun.

Robin FO


Lee’s patterns are always an adventure.  So when the 2014 leethal Adventure Knit-a-long was announced in July, I jumped at it.  More about it on her blog.  Parts of the pattern have been released all during August and into September, with an adventure story to accompany them.  Clues.  Teasers.  Hints.  Toys to play with.  There’s a mystery chest involved (and an attic).  The pattern is available in full pages, or in little foldable booklets.  Spoilers are clearly marked for those who want to be surprised.

adventureKAL books

The object and shape you knit can be chosen or randomly picked.  Cowls, scarves, shawlettes, shawls, and even a shirt in many possible shapes and variations can be made from the shape patterns.  Then there are 24 unique stitch patterns to mix and match, either deliberately or totally at random, they can all flow together.  So each finished object is different than all the others.

There are many different ways to randomize the (named and numbered) patterns.  You can just choose a number, or ask others in your family or circle to choose.  Throw dice.  Use a random number generator on the computer.  I already told you about the fortune teller/cootie  catcher(s) for patterns.  There’s also a Ouija board for choosing both shapes and patterns, pattern cards to draw, the fortune teller when laid flat can be the base for spinning a bottle, and a sheet to determine pattern choices by numerology!

adventureKAL randomize


I decided (without the Ouija) to knit a long strip or loop for a cowl.

I started out with the set-up and part of the first section with  Soul Wool Tibetan yarn in purple,  but it was soon apparent that as delightful as the yarn is to knit with, the colour changes were obscuring the patterns.

adventureKAL 1st 2

So the first attempt was frogged, and the yarn will be used for something else yummy.  I cast on again with Sublime Yarn Baby Cashmere Merino Silk 4ply, and it was a good call!

I’m halfway through the middle section, which means I’m halfway done!

adventureKAL loop sect1-2

(The colour is actually a lovely blue, totally washed out in the pictures…I’ll try to get better pictures when it’s done.)

This will be amazing blocked.  Some interesting combinations of stitch patterns are emerging from the (mostly) random order.  (The order muppet in me has interfered in this chaos muppet project a couple of times, in a general way.)

I especially like the Pallas-Virgo-Vesta combo:

Advkal pallas-virgo-vesta

and the Astraea-Aries-Sun combo:

Advkal astraea-aries-sun

And who knows what comes next!!!

I can later use the pattern for other projects, other shapes, either randomizing the stitch patterns or determining them in advance, for many more unique items to come.

The adventure continues.



Not cowed by cowls

September 4, 2014

I love cowls.  I don’t knit nearly enough of them.  But since I also love lots of other knitted items, I can’t be an exclusive cowl knitter.

I haven’t been able to discover how the  word “cowl” came to be used for the knitted or crocheted item that we know today.

From the dictionary:

The cowl (from the Latin cuculla, meaning “a hood”) is an item of clothing consisting of a long, hooded garment with wide sleeves, worn by monks.   Originally it may have referred simply to the hooded portion of a cloak.

OK, so many knitted cowls can be worn as hoods.  But in today’s fashion it is usually worn more or less loosely around the neck, often as an alternative to a scarf.  It can also be used to describe a type of  neckline on a sweater or coat…  But that doesn’t seem to be reflected in many modern definitions or discussions of the word.

Did you know that the top of Batman’s cape, or the thing that covers his head, is referred to as a cowl?  Not a mask.

batman cowl


Cowl is also the name of parts of chimneys, cars, and airplanes…  Yet although the fiber arts definition of cowl is not easily found when researching just the word itself, most images connected with it show our amazing range of knitting and crocheting talents!

I just finished my fourth cowl this year.  Castanho, by Mamã Martinho.  Lots of dropped stitches for a rustic look.   It is meant to be shorter, knit flat and seamed, but I wanted a longer cowl so doubled the cast on and joined to knit in the round.  I tweaked the repeats to fit.

castanho FO 2

castanho FO 1


The yarn – Winter Flamme by Americo Original – was perfect for the look.  Super soft alpaca & wool, and thick/thin ranging from a heavy sport down to lace weight.

Kidlet is insisting that we share this item.  Hm.

Earlier this year, the Sallah cowl by Bristol Ivy was the ideal pattern to show off the Unique Sheep Verve yarn – I love the pooling!

sallah FO 2

Interesting knit – the RS and the WS are knit with two different sized needles.  Like wildly different – 3.75mm and 6mm!  Kept me on my toes.  I also love the applied i-cord edge, it smoothed out the edge and was great for hiding the ends when I changed yarn.

My Rainbow Volcano – aka the Lava Flow cowl  by Dixie Norton – was a pattern that had been sitting in my queue for a very long time.  Knitted with Ornaghi Filati Cross, a wool blend.

lava FO 1

Simple rib, but those 24-stitch cables can be tricky.

Biggest cowl challenge was a test-knit for leethalknits, Lee Meredith.  The Mikkey cowl uses Lee’s amazing colourwork in a different shape and construction that had me scratching my head for most of the project.

Strips that join up to the body of the cowl…that will match holes knit into the body… and that are later grafted onto the other end of the body…

Mikkey 1

And it ends up as a fantastic double-looped cowl that can be two loops the same length, or one long and one short…

mikkey FO 1

Oh, and Lee’s adventure KAL project that I’m working on now will also be a cowl.

Because, as I said, I love cowls.

Flower on my shoulder

September 3, 2014

A couple of years ago Bat (crazyvet on Ravelry) hand dyed 500 meters of  superwash merino yarn for me in a Yarn & Falafel swap.

CrazyVet handdyed 2

Loved the gorgeous colours, but kept looking for the right pattern, without success.

Then Jenny (stolenpony on Rav) gifted me a pattern as a RAP (Random Act of Pattern) – The Hibiscus Shawl by Laura Chau, that had been on my wish list for a while.

It was a perfect match.  And a community gift!

Well, I finally got around to knitting it, in between other projects/gifts/testknits/KALs/and whatnot.

It’s a lovely, soft, open mesh shawl, with a big flower on the shoulder.

hibiscus FO 1

Hm.  Blurry picture.

Here’s a closeup of the flower:

hibiscus FO flower

Still a little blurry.

Kidlet was kind enough to model it for me, although it’s so hot out she felt the shawl was quite warm enough over her summer garb…

hibiscus FO 2

hibiscus FO 4

This will be a fantastic accessory when the weather gets cooler!  I predict much use.  And a warm reminder of gifts and kindness.