Friday, December 31, 2010

Under the "B"....

Night on the Town by Ilga Leja
....yes, you are right, I failed to note that December was National Bingo Month. Here is the link to prove it and also a listing of all the other celebrations that I failed to write about (about which I failed to write) in Decemeber.  Well, there was just so much else going on. I just didn't have time to note:

National Bathtub Day - 5 - I shower
Pawnbrokers Day - 6 - I preferred St. Nicholas' DAy
Pearl Harbor Day - 7 - yes, I did miss this.
Personal Passion Day - 9 - I write about knitting every day (almost)
Human Rights Day - 10 - Next year - both worthy causes
Nobel Prize Day - 10
Poinsettia Day - 12 - I bought one - does that count?
One Day! Day - 15 - Any ideas on this one are most welcome!
Boston Tea Party - 16- Does Sarah Palin know about this one?
At the Piazza by Ilga Leja
Wright Brothers Day or Aviation Day - 17 - Many flights did not get off the ground this December
Humbug Day - 21 - Or Read Your Charles Dickens Day
Phileas Fogg Wins a Wager Day - 21 - next year
National Under Dog Day - 21 - maybe next year too
A' Phabet Day - 25   (as in No "L" Day?)- How can you have a day without "L"ove? -  national 'ove day
National Whiner's Day - 26 - for what you didn't get?
Make Up Your Mind Day - 31- I'll have to think about this one.

Now back to Bingo month. I know that there are a lot of people out there that play Bingo. It's a "soft" kind of gambling, but to have a whole month dedicated to the promotion of it, is a little sad. Maybe I'm wrong.  All comments on Bingo welcome.

The pictures are of elegant people in elegant knits going elegant places - there is more to life than Bingo!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When is a pen like a knitting needle?

When it's a de-stresser. Apparently someone has invented a pen that will measure the user's stress level and give bio-feedback to help that person de-stress! Think of playing with pens in a nervous or stressful situation. Well, our new stress pen will measure these actions and if they are too stressful, the pen will itself become more difficult to "play" with, thereby slowing the actions down and calming the user. Amazing!!

Now knitters have known all along that "playing" with sticks is a de-stresser. Maybe that's why we keep several projects on the go at once. Some knitting just naturally slows us down - lace for example - while other projects zip along when we are perhaps less stressed.

Footnotes from Fiber Trends
I think we could take this de-stressing idea a little further.  What about de-stressing shoes for the toe-tappers. Could shoes be programmed to be more difficult to maneuver, the more we tapped our toes or the more we swung our legs? We could also take a look at jewellery - rings and pendants could become more resistant, the more we twisted them. I'm not sure we would want to extend this de-stressing idea to body parts for the hair twirlers, nail bitters, nose and ear pullers etc.

As good as knitting is, it is still difficult to pull it out when being interviewed for a job or getting a traffic ticket. But I have seen a serene looking mom knitting and discussing life's problems with a know-it-all teen - you may have to rip it all out the next day - but you, at least looked calm at the moment!

Personalized Pouch from Infiknit
Dinner? Maybe Penne. I find that pasta is always a de-stresser. I have it a lot - does that mean that I am over stressed? Last night I decided to use up what was left of the smoked salmon we had as an hors d'oeuvre on Christmas Day.  I made a bechamel sauce added some mushrooms, smoked salmon, scallions, pepper and parsley. I never know what herb to use with smoked salmon. I could use dill - but no one else likes it. I could use tarragon, but it's not my favourite and I forgot all about rosemary - lucky I had lots of parsley.

The pictures are of knitting and crochet with a flare for writing!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Wisteria Beaded Gloves & Socks from Le Tissier
I was given two books as Christmas gifts (along with other lovely things which I will share later). The books are "Click" by Ori and Rom Brafman and "Split-Second Persuasion" by Kevin Dutton. Well, I am half way through the persuasion book and I have come across a word that is a new word for me - "mitochondria" or cell power - actually more correctly the power sources of cells. The mitochondria extract what they need from the body and convert it into energy needed by the cells.

Cold Harbour from Woolly Wormhead
I love new words! and this one is a mental and linguistic tongue-twister. In fact, it must be quite new. It is not in my shorter Oxford English Dictionary or said dictionary is a little old. Hmmmm. Anyway the author, Kevin Dutton, is British and the book is a pop-psychology book, so I guess they(editors) are allowing a few more than their usual slate of 300 or so words that are the only words to be used when writing a book!

The publishing industry obviously takes a dim view of the intelligence of the reader - insisting that writers always write "down" to them.  I really must read more 19th century literature.  The vocabulary of Dickens, the Brontes et al was so much richer.

Pinafor from Goddess Knits
I spent sometime thinking of the mitochondria of knitting.  If the knitted cell is the stitch - either knit or purl - which is in fact the same stitch depending on which side you are on - of the knitting that is - then what is the mitochondria? What is it that takes from the yarn what it needs to give power to the cell/stitch.  Is it the design? - instructions that say, twist this, skip that, red here, black there.  Or are our hands really the mitochondria? Is it the knitter that actually empowers the stitch by creating it.  Subtle differences, but it's always good to look at your artistic work from a different perspective occasionally.

Dinner to-night? For most of us it will be left over turkey. For those who ate out, maybe just a boiled egg, you may have eaten enough for 2 or 3 yesterday.

Pictures - knitting with some stellar mitochondria at work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Donkeys from Cork

Donkey ornament from wine corks
OK, who said that there are some Christmas tree ornaments out there that are UGLY!  I think that it must have been some journalist who was trying to get attention because newspaper sales are down and the best way to get noticed is to "dis" on everything and sound "funny". I know that some people think that lawn ornaments are ugly.  I say that it depends on the lawn ornament and the viewer and the neat story behind the ornament.

I did a post a few years ago on pink flamingos and the demise of their creator.  Here's the link.  I have come to love pink flamingos.

I also remember taking an art class from an off-beat art teacher - this is redundant, I know. What art teacher isn't "off-beat?"  We were to create lawn ornaments and we had a discussion of lawn ornaments.  I suggested that there were a lot of grottoes in front lawns in ethnic areas of Toronto that could be considered lawn ornaments - I got the 3 or 4 eyed stare - art teachers are good at this. So I went on to create lawn ornaments that I thought wouldn't get that stare - art is still very compromised - but, I needed a pass!  I actually created 8 wooden cats - I'll get them out this spring and take pictures! Then I realized that cats are also very good at that 3 or 4 eyed stare - alas - damned if you do and damned if you don't!
Mini nativity from Jean Greenhowe

Now back to those ornaments. So this article made me think of some of the ornaments that I put on the tree every year, many made by my kids, as the Friday afternoon craft\art project. These are not as glitzy as the store bought ones and I am not sure why I put them up, year after year.  Sentiment? maybe - but I have been know to dispatch a stuff toy that was just too grungy to keep - Hexes? - if I get rid of it will it come back on me - the stuffed animal has, too many times - Fixedness? - if we change something will our world fall apart?

So I took a really close look at the ornaments.  Those from mother-in-law stayed - these were her spirit with us - my mother didn't "do" ornaments. The origami ones from the box of Christmas origami given to my son as a gift stayed - the friend is now back in NZ - but she is with us through the ornaments. This and that stayed, while this and that was chucked; but somehow I couldn't throw out the wine cork donkey.

My now 28-year-old made this in grade 3 when he was 8.  I have always been fascinated by the fact that a grade 3 teacher of 30-40 odd students - was able to collect 200 to 300 wine corks (7 or 8- per donkey, maybe. He's missing his tail - plus spares) - hey, why should I be surprised - you would need something to come into a classroom of 30 - 40 kids everyday.

Felted ornaments from Fiber Trends
Anyway - here he is Jing-a-lay-o or something.  It reminds me of a conversation that I had once with Graeme Greenhowe - Jean Greenhowe's son. Jean created the first knitted nativity scene; but many who knit it said that she was missing the donkey and so they published a mini nativity scene with a knitted donkey.  I didn't tell him at this point that they were also missing the camel. Will that be one hump or two?

Dinner, well now that front yards are being turned into vegetable gardens, and the whole of Toronto and other cities, towns and villages will become "cabbagetowns," or "corktowns," so named because the poor Irish that settled there in the late 1800's planted vegetable gardens - mainly cabbage - to help them eke out an existence. I think that it should be something with cabbage. Actually the vegetarian offering on the menu at a restaurant that I went to the other night was stuffed Swiss Chard leaves.  It sounded very delicious.  Can I do cabbage rolls even if it isn't Irish? - my grandmother was German.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Families happen!

Family Cable Crossing
I just love the way families "happen." Yes there is always the traditional family which happens when a husband and wife have biological children and this is good. It is the foundation of a society. What fascinates me more, though, is how people, that are not part of this traditional family structure, create their own families.

Many adopt children. Some of these children are close at hand, within the extended family; others come from half way around the world. Most children are adopted when they are young; however, sometimes a family friend is "adopted", taken in by an older "mother and father" perhaps and that person becomes the child that either they never had or the child that is not with them now and the "child" is the recipient of shelter, care and respect that might not otherwise be theirs.

Snowmen hats from Woodsmoke Woolworks
I love merged families - man with children, marries woman with children and they become a large family - the Brady Bunch is the classic. I also love the way the gay community has created families, today. Something that might not have happened as "easily" a generation ago.

I love organizations like "Big Brother" and "Big Sister" that reach out to children who may have a very limited family and enrich their lives with expanded family experiences.

I have often thought that there should be something similar for people of grandparents age - maybe "Adopt a Gran." There are a lot of very able-bodied seniors who would love to take a child fishing or knit for them or teach them to knit etc. Again this is extending the family experience or at least prolonging it.

I understand that some faiths (Seventh Day Adventists for one) require that you include a stranger at your table for Christmas dinner. Maybe this is the family experience for just a day - but an important day for many. Others just have a big dinner for anyone who hasn't a family close by and for awhile, they are "the family."

Fulled Mitts from Catherine Vardy
Dinner? Something that will feed the 5,000, if you are thinking of a lot of people. Soup works, as does spaghetti - Lasagna has become too expensive, I think. Any recipe with beans - chili works. I hope that your family experience is wonderful!!

The pictures are from patterns sized for the whole family!  Enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holly Night....

Garden Holly 2010
Well Holly is or can be holy depending on your interpretation of the language.  There is this blurring between words, languages and dialects. The great castle in Edinburgh - Holyrood - is pronounced "hollyrood" - which is possibly a doric form of haly ruid - or holy cross. On the other hand, Holly, the shrub, has for centuries been assigned supernatural powers.  In celtic mytholgy, it housed the fairies, who in turn brought luck to the home that protected the holly. In Christian mythology the holly's cycle of green, white and red berries follows the story of the life of the Christ child.
Sprig Scarf from Queen Anne's Lace

I planted two Holly bushes years ago in the garden - you need two bushes - a prince & princess to grow the berries - and the bringing of the Holly into the house each year, to me, is magical.  To have in the middle of winter, when everything else is dark and dormant, a plant as bright and lively as the holly to pick sprigs from (or from which to pick sprigs) is amazing. We have also managed to grow, with a lot of struggle, Ivy.
Sparkle Scarf

Ivy now creeps across my bedroom window. On icy days, it is still green and crisp, the presence of eternal Spring. Holly and Ivy both symbolize fidelity, harmony, and hospitality.

The last of the sacred sprigs is mistletoe - revered by the Druids as a symbol of life and fertility - well that's what follows a lot of kissing under it, I guess :)

Flake Scarf
A few years ago I designed Winter Lace Scarves. I decided that if I had to live for 3 or 4 months of the year in the cold and dark, I might as well try to enjoy it. Sprig scarf is my translation of a sprig of holly, with berries, into knitted, beaded lace. I added to the collection "Sparkle" because I wanted to capture the lights and festivities of the Christmas Season also in lace. I used a diamond motif for the glitz and a tassel for the ornament. Finally I couldn't have a winter collection without snow. So I added Flake! Flake can also be beaded at each double decrease for more sparkle.

So tonight, when Christians celebrate again the presence of God among us, we are reminded that the spirit of life and that which is truly holy, resides in simple things, a branch of this, a sprig of that - a lamb, a donkey - common people, labourers.  There is dignity in work and joy in creating. There is also a renewed respect for poverty, sacrifice and the ascetic life, because, we know that the real riches in this world, knowledge, understanding and compassion are not material; they are learned from experience and brushes with the divine - Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tom Bawcock's Eve

Fish Wall Hanging from Lucy Neatby
Always being one to extend celebrations as long as possible, I embraced Tom Bawcock's Eve - it's an early start to Christmas partying.  This is an event that is celebrated in a tiny fishing village in Cornwall, UK. The village is Mousehole pronounced "Mowzel" and every Dec 23, villagers and visitors celebrate the story of a fisherman from the area, named Tom Bawcock.  Now stories vary, but, the one I like is the tale of how Tom Bawcock saved the village of Mousehole from starvation by cooking up a pie of fish heads and tails. It was called "starrygazey pie" - no doubt alluding to the fish eyes that were abundant in the pie. (You may see it in wikipedia as stargazey pie - but that's wrong. I still have ties to Penzance.)

Ironically in googling for more information I came across a song called Starry Gazey Pie. I have the feeling that nothing will be isolated or obscure again.  It seems that the more esoteric an item is, the more it will be embraced by the creative, only to become mainstream by its popularity and the hunt for the obscure begins again.
Tug Boat socks from Lucy Neatby

I have been to Mousehole a few times; but sadly never on Dec 23. Now I've been to Marazion - not too far away in global terms for a New Year's day sing-song in the local pub - magical. I have also been to St. Ives - no sign of the cats!

What does all this have to do with knitting - not a lot except that knitting draws from the obscure.  Hand knitting is a niche interest. OK, maybe it's shared by a million people worldwide...that's just 1% of the world's  population.  The styles and stitches, that have been passed along, come from the nooks and crannies of the earth - islands in the North Atlantic, small communities in Japan, mountain villages in Greece or Peru. Those who have had an opportunity to experience life's oddities from the tiny corners of the world can appreciate the special nature of knitting and it's obscurity.
Inka Hats from Cabin Fever

Dinner tonight?  OK something obscure. My knitting friend, Brenda, and I both have the book "1000 things to eat before you die." We try to do something from that every once in a while - it's not a cookbook per se - it's more of a catalogue of the esoteric. We could try oysters, because it reminds me of a restaurant on Hilton Head that flew in oysters from places as far away as Tatamagouch and Malpeque Bay.  You could add some Solomon Gundy - pickled herring - which tastes in Digby, NS exactly as those cured herrings did, that my grandmother would buy from the German delicatessen on Bloor street in TO. Add some Oka cheese and some bread from an Armenian or Estonian bakery and you don't have to go any where. Your holiday is on your plate!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How now brown car....

Argyle Gloves from Le Tissier
Apparently the brown car is back.  That is, brown, as a colour for cars, is back. Is this a late 20's or early 30's thing?  Brown coloured cars were popular both during the great depression and in the 70's, which apparently, sported a number of brown cars, and I guess, now.  Maybe this is a recession "thing."

Well, recessions and brown cars may come and go, but, I am still in love with the Camargue.  It's a classic Rolls Royce that I had set my sights on when I was in my twenties and poor.  I had decided in my naivete that some where between earth and heaven there was a land that would support a "liberal" that drove a brown Rolls Royce. Well maybe there isn't, because I am still a liberal; but I don't drive a Rolls Royce.

However, I still covet a Rolls Royce, a Rolls, in that understated suede shade that whispers wild horses, in the nether regions of the south of France.  These are not mustangs -  horses that are wild - but without "culture".  These are the wild horses of that mysterious realm of so much money, that I have to go in cognito and hide away in some neverland or is it netherland?

Queen of the Earth from Queen Anne's Lace
I always remember a classmate of mine in the old Ontario Grade 13. We were both in a Latin class that was scheduled after school had been dismissed because that was the only time a room was available.  Anyway, all of us in that class bonded in the way that all people who feel as though they have somehow been wronged, bond - 40 minutes passed dismissal and all for Veni, Vidi, Victi was torture. (Remind me to tell you of another classmate in that infamous class and if you join me on Facebook you can also be part of Latin Wednesdays with Benjamin Levisay of Knitter's Magazine, XRX et al)

Well, my friend was brilliant, but decided not to go on to University. Her father bought her a Jaguar (used & brown) - I think it was really something that he had always wanted himself - and my friend went to work.  Well, didn't she end up marrying the mechanic who looked after her Jag. They both moved to Nova Scotia and the rest is history! There is something to be said for vintage brown cars.

Country Silk in Pumpkin
What does this have to do with knitting? Well, not a lot except that it's good to keep an eye on colour trends at any level.  It's also good to have a story to close a sale in let's say a chocolate brown yarn that someone is dubious about, and it's good to have a dream of wild horses or magnificent cars, or fabulous yarn or the south of France!!!!

Dinner - It has to be cassoulet.  My husband found a recipe for a variation of Cassoulet in a Sobey's flyer and it has become our escape to the south of France for an hour or so over dinner!.  Here it is.

The pictures? Knitting escapes in brown!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I think that I shall never see.....

Streaming Leaf Scarf from Fiber Trends app as lovely as a tree.  I was just reading about a fellow in NYC who used a database of city info to develop an app that gives you information about any tree in NYC. Well, at least the trees from the city's database. So you could be at Broadway and 42nd St. and look up on your IPhone with this app and it would give you all the specs about the tree under which you are standing - I know I could have said "the tree you are standing under" - but I didn't!

Leaf Lace Throw from Fiber Trends
I thought, How Cool! Brett Camper (apt name), the developer said that he created the app as part of a competition sponsored by the city. He chose the city street database and trees especially, because, as he said, it enriches your life to know more about your surroundings.  The article went on to discuss how city trees are inventoried, especially in Toronto, and why trees are so important in urban development. (I'm so glad my daughter is studying Urban Planning.)

Well, I thought wouldn't it be great to have an app that would allow you to inventory the trees in your immediate area and then be able to transmit this data to city hall. Then you could create another app to show all the trees on various streets, so when you went for a walk you could comment on each one - maybe even give then names - Charley the Chestnut....or something. Or record minute data, such as, trunk size and number of leaves, age, height etc.  You can see why I knit.  I love the microcosm.

You could even have competitions between neighbourhoods or towns and cities for tree diversity and coverage. I can see private funders opening up their wallets to add to their tree base and the city would reap the benefits by not having to shell out as much money to plant new trees each year.

Now, maybe we could combine trees with knitting sculptures - a little like yarn bombing only with taste. The problem with knitted "things" outdoors is they get worn and look very sad after a while. Somehow we have to inventory knitting and yarn available for viewing that maybe begins with yarn shops but extends to the local community.

Autumn Leaves from Cabin Fever.
I say this because knitting to me is like a tree - it grows; it enriches our lives; it is healthy (mentally anyway); it's a let's harness the power of those stitches!!

Dinner? Something green and leafy - a salad. Here's a great link to a site that has lots of EASY recipes for salads. The pictures are of knitting patterns with either tree or leaf in the title - inspired by nature.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A solstice by any other name....

 Sivia Harding's Moonshadow
....would be as white...maybe, maybe not.  Actually a few years ago it was very green and warmish.  There was no snow, no skiing and well it looked like the vernal equinox. I wrote about it then. Here's the link.

So this year it is quite different. There's lots of snow and bitter winds with little sun and long cold nights; but it is still my favourite day of the year. It is the day when the earth turns on its axis and starts to head back north and yes the saddest day of the year for me is around June 21, the summer solstice, because the sun begins to leave the north - the beginning of the end!

Winter Solstice from Heartstrings
This year, though the solstice will be special - here's why - from the CBC -

"This year's winter solstice on Tuesday will fall on the same day as a full lunar eclipse for the first time in 456 years..." The moon will appear "red" and it will virtually be a full moon!

Get something on those needles because it'll be awesome!!

The word solstice actually means - the sun standing still - so for one brief moment the sun will stand still, the moon will be red and round, the earth will pause between the moon and the sun and the heavens will hold their collective breath. This will be around 3:00AM - EST. So if you are up, seize the moment, hold the thought, do something that you won't be able to do for another 456 years!

Dinner? Something ethereal! Well, I think that it has to be mashed potatoes because they always remind me of angels - seriously - and maybe salmon - I was thinking moonfish - but salmon is readily available and red - sort of. I am avoiding poultry, because of the turkey in a few days - but add something green and the heavens are yours!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm so glad this didn't happen

Wedgewoord Knitted Teacup from Infiknit
I was reading a review of mobile phones and apps on the weekend and the article noted that Microsoft (Bill Gates and all) actually had an operating system for hand held devices in the mid 1990s. They obviously decided not to pursue the idea of mini computers at that time, probably because they were building an empire in regular sized personal computers. Maybe they were keeping their idea under wraps for a time when they had exhausted the demand for desk tops and lap tops and then they would move into palm tops.
Tapestry from Our Heirlooms

Well, surprise, surprise someone (or 2 or 3) beat them to it and now they are late players in an almost saturated market. For anyone who has read Malcolm Gladwell's "the Outliers" (people in the right place at the right time), the story of Bill Gates and QDos(Quick and Dirty Operating System) is legendary - he was in the right place at the right time and had put in his 10,000 hours and reaped the rewards.  But he was also in the right place at maybe the right time for mobile computing and he passed on it or delayed on it. How does this fit into the theory of "Outliers"? Perhaps not only do you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right idea; but you have to act on it as well.

Push Up Toys from Craftime
Anyway, I am glad that Bill Gates was sleeping at the gate on this one and other players were able to sneak through and open up the competition or we might all be at his mercy for mobile computers, apps, and who knows what else may be coming down the pipe in the future. Actually the BG foundation , I understand, is busying itself creating a storage bank of seeds and maybe soon DNA of all living species. Do you think that he is out to control the world as we know it - not just the computing world?

Dinner? Something by hand so tortillas, pizza, and sandwiches work. The link bills itself as the world's largest collection of sandwich recipes. This could be a good one. I always think that there is no wrong time for a sandwich!  The pictures are of knitting and needlework still waiting for their right time!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Literature and other Niceties

Baby Bears from Fiber Trends
I always love reading missives from those who edit and review books, since they have to have a greater command of the language than anyone else because they critique people who use language to a very high degree to start with. So I loved reading in the Sunday Star these lines from the literary journal Taddle Creek:

"The magazine wishes it didn't still have to be said, but it does: no stories about September 11, Y2K bug and Tsunamis."

Knitted Snowflakes from Heartstrings
And I thought that knitting was slow on the turn around of themes and ideas. Well knitters might be faster on the turn around; but, once onto a good thing, perhaps they don't know when to stop. No one, I guess has ever thought to post on websites that do pdf downloads for knitting patterns something similar:

"The website wishes it didn't still have to be said, but it does: no patterns of knitted alien figures, seasonal ornaments and wavy scarves will be accepted"

How to say "no" nicely is a practised art and editors have honed it to the nth degree. Especially the first few publishers that turned down J.K. Rowlings and her Harry Potter manuscript saying that young people would never read anything that long - surprise, surprise!!

Shetland Lace Scarf from Le Tissier
I often have to make decisions as to what I will post on the Infiknit site, given that any patterns uploaded come with a cost as far as paying staff to enter all the details in the system - so I am a little like an editor in that regard - there are times when I just have to say, "No".  I don't like to, but, it is just part of doing business. To date I don't think that I have ever turned down a Rowlings look-a-like in knitting - I hope I haven't anyway and if I have had to say no to anyone, I hope that I have done it nicely!

Dinner? Something literary and nice and I am stumped. What do you serve at a book launch? Finger food - we've done that. Nothing alien, monstrous or wavy unless it's pasta. Boarding school food? Well I do remember eating lunch often in the Woman's College dining room at U of T.  They often served quiche with some stewed tomato confection and greens. This could work.  I have posted a link for quiche earlier. Here's another one from basic recipes.  The pictures are of knitted patterns that I am glad that I accepted and posted.  They are wonderful!


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Druids among us.....

Norwegian Mittens
The Druids have taken up residence, in the house, once again. Yes, we have brought in "the tree" which will be, the Christmas tree. I love Christmas Trees, partly because I love trees in general; but I also love an occasion to bring a tree into the house and decorate it (i.e. worship it). This is, in itself, sacred.

I found to my amazement a Druid site - they are still among us - this quotation I think sums up my fascination with the tree and particularly the Christmas Tree:

"Trees in particular are mysterious, and seem direct embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life."

Nordic Mittens
So now in the presence of "the tree" we will set about for the next few weeks to try to understand or at least to come to terms with that which is the "incomprehensible in life."  We will have people time and/or family time and ask "is this the meaning of life?"  We will explore quiet times and times filled with music and song and ask "is this the meaning of life?" We will do small things and BIG things and ask "is this the meaning of life."

And in the end we will be perhaps a little further along in our understanding of what it's all about. And in fact we may find that really it is all about the process - that the reality of life is the journey - the effort made to try and understand the incomprehensible. It is, in fact, something that will never be truly solved. But then that may also be the fun. Who wants a cryptic crossword puzzle with answers!

Dalarma Mitts
Dinner?  Well I just did meatloaf which I think is about as cryptic as it gets for dinner. How about Tourtiere which is a fancy meat pie for festive times. This recipe is OK. But I would add lots of things like bits of carrot and turnip and parsnip. I have had Tourtiere with moose, venison, caribou, (I have connections in Iqaluit). I'll bet that there were a few made with rabbit etc. Make it as interesting (read cryptic) as you like.

 The pictures are of patterns from Beth Brown Reinsel's collection


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Knit a Poem

Cloths of Heaven from Queen Anne's Lace
Actually it is craft a poem and it is a new group that has just started on Ravelry - Dec 11, 2010.  The object is to submit a design (or drawing or recipe) inspired by a poem.  There will be prizes awarded each month; but you don't have to commit to a project a month - just read a lot of poetry and knit (or craft) a "something."

Here is the link:

I have offered as a prize for January my pattern for Red Rose Shawl. Robbie Burns is a suggested poet for January. (Jan 25 is Robbie Burns' Day).  I have also offered for June or July - that's a long way off - "Cloths of Heaven," from W. B. Yeats. I am waiting to see if it has been accepted.

This could be a lot of fun.  I think that the recipe part would be great too. Imagine cakes and cookies dedicated to poems or a casserole or two.  Sandwiches would work, as well. It could be a Dagwood, if it's after "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

In reading the threads, I am coming up with poems that I have never read, so it is a good way to keep in touch. I will also post the reference to the Leonard Cohen group. This is totally unrelated but another group I joined on Ravelry is one that knits and studies Latin. I enjoy Latin Wednesdays on Facebook with Jonathan Levisay a lot, so I thought that I'd add a little more Latin to my week.  These guys on Ravelry are serious - some even studied medieval Latin - I had trouble with the most current - just before it died - Latin!

Dinner?  I am going to do Shepherd's pie. This one is called "Lazy Shepherd's Pie." Well lazy shepherd's don't end up with enough sheep for a pie - but as a cook, it should make life a little easier. I picked this dish because a few years ago I did a post on a poem entitled "My Lost Shepherdess."  You can take it from there.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Windy, Wild and Wonderful....

Mabon from GoddessKnits
What is it about the words, wind and wild that are so rich.  I think of titles that use these terms and each phrase seems to have taken on a presence of its own - Gone with the Wind, Inherit the Wind, Whistle Down the Wind, to name a few. Again terms, such as, "wilderness and wildflowers"  for example, conger up a sense of freedom and abandonment - something wonton and feral.  Why are these words so thrilling? Do they speak to a nature within us that of necessity has been bridled?

There is an old song by Bob Dylan that is part of a new ad, now.  It has the lines, "try and catch the wind."  There is something elusive about the wind. Something that cannot be harnessed and maybe that is what we sense and long for. Perhaps we are hard wired to be free; but we know that we would then have to deal with everyone else's sense of freedom and maybe that wouldn't work in a city of several million or even a town of a few hundred. So we are nice, because we want everyone else to be nice and we control the desire to be one with the wind.

So what is our escape? For many it is art, because art is an acceptable "wildness." We can do whatever we want to within a certain medium. We can even try to catch the wind! Fibre artists are perhaps a little closer to their inner wildness than some other artists in the sense that they work with natural materials, often from animals. There is an airiness to spinning and fleeces. Dance, I think must be another form of expression that can capture a sense of abandonment. Cinematographers have the world at their disposal for both wind and wild.

Wildflower Shawl from Goddess Knits
People tell me that Newfoundland has an elusive quality about it, again a feeling of coming a little closer to that feral core. Being a fibre artist in Newfoundland might just be that ultimate state of inner "freedom." I did read of an architect who is building an artist's community on one of the islands off the coast of NF. Hmmmm.

I went looking for pictures of knitting with the word wind or wilderness in the title and found just one on the infiknit site. Loosen up knitters!  Set free your inner wild person! I did add Mabon, also from Goddess Knits as she is a pagan goddess of Autumn - wild spirits! Actually I have on my list to do a lace shawl entitled, "Candle in the Wind." I think that Elton John, at times, captures that elusive inner being in his music. Maybe all great artists do in their best works.

Dinner tonight?  Something like mussels. They always remind me of a scene from the movie Tom Jones - things got pretty wild after dinner in that movie! My apologies, if I have offered this before as a dinner suggestion - but nothing says that you can't eat the same thing again once in a while! Go wild in your dreams!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tower of Song

Wall of Yarn - Singing colours

I have to believe that Leonard Cohen is the hottest 76 year-old on the planet.  He is just about to end a two and a half year tour and judging by the reviews he is/was amazing!!!  There is a group on Ravelry dedicated to knitting and to the poetry of Leonard Cohen - awesome! Below is their theme song/poem - they have changed the title slightly to Tower of Yarn - well it is Ravelry and we pay our dues where we must. Actually I have to believe that Leonard Cohen wouldn't mind. Anyone who could write a poem about the Song of Bernadette has to be all encompassing.

Tower of Song
Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song

Cottonwood Coat - Oat Couture
I read a review in the paper the other day of one of his concerts in BC and the writer said that if Cohen "ached in the places where he used to play,  it was not obvious. He delivered more than was promised." I play a lot of Cohen's music - a lot. And I think that Hallelujah has to be one of those songs that transcends all barriers - a bit like Cohen himself. I saw a documentary of an impoverished area in England that was enriched through the creation of a choir - one of the songs they sang was Hallelujah!!

Cohen's Hallelujah is a little like Gordon Lightfoot's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" just about everybody who is somebody has "done" it. OK Leonard's is more cerebral - but they both "ache" and they are both Canadians, in their 70s and still performing! How did that happen!!

If poetry can garner this much of a following and if choirs and other celebrities can sing the poetry of a 76 year old Jew from Montreal, who himself is still singing and if knitters can gather 57 members to worship in a tower of song or yarn or...or.... than I think that we may have reached some sort of Nirvana!

This is an eclectic union of souls so diverse on the surface and yet so united in spirit that I have to say Hallelujah! I also think that you have to read this thread from the Ravelry group.  The title is "How did you fall in love with Leonard Cohen?" Sorry you will have to login to Ravelry; but it's worth it to see how a real live poet from Montreal has moved the souls of people around the world!
Bistro Shirt from Oat Couture

Dinner to-night? Hmmmm. How about some Montreal smoked meat, some cole slaw and\or potato salad, some nice rye bread, some dill pickles and a soup since it's December and you've got a meal! Sorry All I had in pictures was my wall (tower) of Alpacalicious yarn. Oh yes and Famous Blue Raincoats err sweaters from Oat Couture!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Make it your own!!!!

Lucy Neatby's Paradoxical Mittens
I always love it when a knitter takes a design and makes it his/her own,  I posted a while ago about a friend of mine who knit Lucy Neatby's Paradoxical Mittens and added a bit of the red trim to the thumb of the right-hand mitten so that you could always tell your right mitten from your left.  Here's the link.

These are, of course, organized people.  I'm lucky if I remember to go out with mitts and even luckier if they are matching. Now do I have to worry whether I have them on the right err correct hand or not?  Anyway, I loved the concept so much that I had to write about it.

Now another friend of mine, Julia, has taken a pattern by Le Tissier Designs and made it her own.  Julia took the basic pattern - Fretwork Fingerless Mitts and re-did the bead work in a pattern of her own design.  Julia still used Lynette's basic mitt construction, which included a thumb gussett (I have to do it - I'm a gusset groupie) but added these awesome diamond beads in her own pattern and knit mitts to die for.

I love Lynette's design; but I also love Julia's and I know that Lynette would love the fact that Julia made them her own!  Teacher's are like that!

Dinner?  I made African Peanut Chicken from an earlier post and it was delicious. I left out the carrot; didn't bother to marinate the chicken and substituted sour cream for coconut milk and it was still delicious!!

Please send me examples of your personalized knitting from any pattern that we distribute and I will rave about it!!!

Hame is Auld Reekie

Argyle socks from Cabin Fever
Well, Auld Reekie (Edinburgh) is hame (home) to my brother and sister-in-law anyway. I think it must be the season - getting close to Christmas and all - but I have been thinking a lot about a time before children when my husband and I would go back to Scotland for Christmas to visit his family there.

I miss a lot about going back. First, I miss what was then an hour's drive over the moors from Prestwick (the airport) to Blantyre. It was always very early in the morning and usually there was a hoarfrost on the ground and the land looked like something from a long time ago. I miss too the row houses all made of stone, set on winding streets, that rolled like the moors; but what I miss most of all is the language.

Part dialect, part ancient tongue (Doric), it produced passages like:

"Here we go again, neen o’s ready for winter an nae jist the cooncil bit oorsels as we glower oot at a fite carpet o sna, stakes markin the hingin-luggit stems that the streen proodly held the last o the bonnie blooms. Procrastination be the thief o time."

I took this from a column written for an Aberdeen newspaper - Press and Journal. Click on the link - there's lots more - feed your inner Scot. Actually I was thrilled to come across this bit of journalism entitled Doric Column. Most sites gave translations of individual words and phrases; but Doric Column sounds just like my mother-in-law!

I have also spent some time lately on sites that translate classic Doric expressions such as:
Fair Isle Tam and Mitts from Catherine Vardy

It's a sair fecht fur a hauf loaf! - It's a hard fight or difficult struggle for very little.

A lot of greetin' fer a lit'l oo  - a lot of grief/crying for a little wool or a little remuneration.

Lang may yer lum reek! - long may your chimney smoke - may you have enough money to warm your house for a long time.

What does all this have to do with knitting? A lot, really.  Preserving old languages is a way of preserving history, a way of preserving life styles that may be fast disappearing. We are fortunate to-day in that a lot of young knitters have come along to carry on a tradition that was\is part of a charming older life style. Ironically the internet has helped to preserve and foster what might have disappeared. YouTube especially is great for instructions, for filming traditions and for recording how a language is actually spoken - the more things change the more they will now remain the same!
Felted Flock from Fiber Trends

Dinner? Something from Scotland and you are allowed to serve a salad with any of these.  I do remember asking my husband when we headed off to Blantyre to remind his mother that I would really like something green on my plate from time to time. I think it was a difficult concept for her, though, as she often served, two types of potatoes with dinner - one was the starch and the other was the veg. Or veg. might be butter beans (white) brought to life by soaking the dried beans overnight and then cooking them. It was all very delicious, though, I must say!


Thursday, December 09, 2010

I am in awe!!!

Alveare from Woolly Wormhead
I am putting the patterns of a new designer, Woolly Wormhead, on the Infiknit site. These are gorgeous hats, beautifully constructed, and wonderfully knit. As a result, I have spent some time on her site and was amazed by her blog. On Dec 6, 2010, Ruth and her family moved into a converted double decker bus!!

Here is the link: There are lots of pictures.  It is really quite stunning!!! Living in such a creative space has really given, Ruth a lot of inspiration for her designs as you can see; they are fabulous!
Buttonette from Woolly Wormhead

I remember taking double decker buses daily when I lived in London years ago. Now these were red and did not have a covered top; but the concept is the same. So to see a vehicle like this completely outfitted as a home is a revelation! I have always wanted to live a bit like a gypsy in a Volkswagon van and move from place to place; it's a wonderful sense of freedom!

Now, I did spend two years in my early 20s hitchhiking around Europe. This was a nomadic life - sleeping on beaches, in hostels, on trains or ferries - picking up with people here and there, to-ing and fro-ing as the spirit moved you - awesome. I was not knitting at that time, though - too disruptive.

Dinner tonight? Why, chuck wagon chow! Here's a great link to pioneer food. I guess in my mind a converted bus is not that far from a covered wagon. Feed your inner gypsy!  The pictures are hats from Woolly Wormhead. Enjoy!