Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finished Object: Cabled Socks

Pattern: Cabled Socks by Lynne
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: Manzanita

The photo on the left is a more accurate depiction of the color. These are the most beautiful socks that I currently own.

Book: "The Plague of Doves"

In 1911, a white family living near a North Dakota Indian reservation is murdered. The white community lynches 3 young Indian men and nearly hangs to death a fourth. These events have repercussions lasting through the end of the century.

My rating: **** (out of 5 stars)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

DVD: "Wall-E"

I didn't dislike this movie, but didn't enjoy it as much as the critics did. Although one can't argue with its message (anti-materialism and pro-environment), the robots just didn't have enough personality for me (which may be an unfair criticism given that they're, well, robots).

My rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finished Object: Lifted Twill Helmet Hat

I"m very pleased with how this hat turned out.

Pattern: from Winter 2008 Interweave Knits

Yarn: Sheep Shop Yarn Sheep Number Two, #F72 lavender and #F31 green

Friday, December 19, 2008

Knitting Sweatshop - Production Report

I had not planned to do any knitting for Christmas gifts, partly due to my ambivalence about celebrating Christmas as an atheist and partly due to my dislike of knitting on a schedule. However, a few days ago, I did decide to knit small gifts for my family in California. The late decision meant that in order to meet the goal of having the gifts arrive by December 25, I had to be very disciplined and could not afford to encounter any significant knitting problems. Needless to say, that's not what happened.

The fingerless gloves for my daughter-in-law Evelyne went smoothly. I had knitted this pattern, Fetching, about 5 or 6 times before, so there were no surprises. I then moved on to a hat for my granddaughter. The pattern I chose was Lifted Twill Helmet from the winter issue of Interweave Knits. Granted, I didn't do a gauge swatch. When the hat was nearly finished, with just the earflaps remaining to be done, it was clear that there was no way this hat would fit a 9-year-old child. It was way too small. I knew that re-sizing it would be time consuming, so I switched the recipient to my one and a half year old niece. If it doesn't fit her now, it will eventually. For granddaughter Essi, I bought new yarn and made an old reliable - three color Fair Isle hat.

I then moved on to the fingerless gloves for my son. My gauge moved down to 6 stitches per inch, so it was going to be a time eater. Plus, since these gloves have short fingers, I had to struggle with the finger gussets - another time eater. Wednesday I took the project to knit night and while doing the tubular bindoff I accidently Kitchener stitched a finger closed. I finally got the gloves done yesterday. Now all that was left was mittens for grandson Niepa. Fortunately, I was again using an old reliable pattern, so they were finished today. I'll try to get the gifts in the mail tomorrow if the post office is open Saturday morning. There's a slim possiblilty that they'll arrive in California by Christmas.

In spite of this knitting being done under near sweatshop conditions, no 12-year old Cambodians were involved in the production of these items.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

First Cross Country Ski Outing of the Season

Today I skied at Ogemaw Hills near West Branch with 3 other Genesee Wanderers Bike Club members. There had been lots of snow recently and the trails were freshly groomed. With temperatures in the mid to high twenties, the skiing was fantastic!

Monday, December 8, 2008

DVD: "Tropic Thunder"

I had modest expectations for this movie, but found it hilarious. It spoofs "Apocalypse Now," "Forest Gump," Hollywood egos, celebrity adoptions, and so much more. Not for the easily offended - lots of vulgar jokes and over the top depictions of fake movie violence.

My rating: **** (out of 5)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book: "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" (translated from the French)

Renee Michel, concierge at a well-to-do apartment building in Paris, hides her considerable knowledge and sophistication from the tenants due to childhood fears. Meanwhile, Paloma, a 12-year old tenant, alienated from her family, plans to commit suicide and burn down the apartment building on her 13th birthday. When the two get to know each other better through a new Japanese filmmaker tenant, their lives both change for the better.

My rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On the Needles: Clapotis Scarf

Yarn: Mountain Colors Merino Ribbon
Size 6 needles

I made a narrower scarf than the pattern calls for because I'm not tall enough to pull off the larger size scarf. I may give this to someone. It's a drop stitch scarf and it's lots of fun to deliberately drop a stitch to create the ladder.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Last Day in the Bay Area

Michael and I went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and saw the Martin Puryear show. On the way back to the car we stopped at Beard Papa for cream puffs. In the evening we celebrated Essi's ninth birthday. Here's a picture of her wearing the sweater I knit for her birthday. Her brother Niepa is holding her new book.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Movie: "I've Loved You So Long" (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime)

I saw this movie with my daughter-in-law, Evelyne.

Kristen Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein give fantastic performances. At the beginning of the movie Lea picks up her sister Juliette, whom she hasn't seen for 15 years at the airport. During the rest of the movie, the reason for this absence is gradually revealed.

My rating: ***** (out of 5)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Movie: "Bolt"

I saw this movie with my son Michael, and grandchildren Essi and Niepa. Great animation and an appealing story.

My rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lunch at Cesar

Today we had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, Cesar, a tapas bar. We had olives, pimentos de padron, a tuna egg sandwich, brussels sprouts, cauliflower salad, chicken salad, and sangria. Delicious!

Essi Bakes a Pie

On Wednesday, my granddaughter Essi baked a pumpkin pie with minimal supervision from me. This is one of our annual traditions. She did an excellent job, even with crimping the crust. Next year I'll be able to just hand her the recipe and let her go it alone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Movie: "Man on Wire"

This is a documentary about Philippe Petit, who walked a tightrope between New York's World Trade Center Twin Towers in 1974. There were interviews with the principal participants and recreations of the historical events.

The movie entices you into supporting this dangerous and illegal endeavor even though Petit comes across as a bit of a megalomaniac.

**** (out of 5)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lunch at Chez Panisse

I treated myself to a wonderful lunch at Chez Panisse today. My son, Michael, had to work, so I went there alone. For a starter I had celery sunchoke soup with turmeric. The entree was pan-fried petrale sole with cabbage, celery root, and caper butter. For dessert I had persimmon pudding with chantilly cream. I can't remember the name of the wine. There were lots of people in the restaurant and I was too self-conscious to take photos of my food. Maybe I'll get bolder after I've been blogging longer.


I arrived in San Francisco yesterday and we stopped by Twin Peaks before heading home to Oakland. That's me and my granddaughter, Essi. Then off to a birthday party for a 4-year-old at a sports park. What energy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

French Bistro Cooking Class

Today I took a class in French Bistro cooking at Schoolcraft college, with my friend Dolores.

The first course was potato mushroom soup with fresh sage. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.

This was followed by a tart of shrimp, oyster mushrooms and watercress.

Then we had a small filet topped with cafe de Paris butter.

Dessert was frozen Grand Marnier souffle.

The food was delicious. Even though the recipes were fairly complex, I expect to cook some of these dishes in the future.

DVD: "The Chorus" (in French)

A new teacher at a strict reform school for boys teaches them to sing. It stretches the imagination to believe that choral singing can cause a child to totally change his life. However, the music was good and the movie was appealing despite the sentimentality.

My rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, November 17, 2008

On the Needles: Cabled Socks

Pattern by sock maven Lynne
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: Manzanita
Size 0 needles

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yarn Shop Hop - Stimulating the Economy

Today 5 local yarn shops had a "shop hop." If you visited at least 4 shops and spent at least $10 per shop, you got a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. Fortunately, I didn't go too crazy. Now, pardon me, please. I have some yarn to wind with my new yarn winder.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Homemade Applesauce

Several weeks ago at knit night, Lynne told me she had been making applesauce. I remembered my mother making applesauce when I was very young, but had never done it myself and didn't own a food mill. Lynne had an extra food mill, and yesterday she gave it to me. This morning I made applesauce using a Martha Stewart recipe. The only modification is that I added some lemon zest with the lemon juice. It turned out great! I'll definitely be making more.

Obama Sock Patterns!

I love to wear hand knitted socks. However, I don't particularly love knitting them. Nevertheless, when I made a contribution to the Obama campaign through Knitters for Obama, I bought a chance on a set of Lynne's sock patterns. And, guess what? I won! I got them directly from Lynne last night (she attends my knit night). I probably won't be casting on soon, because I already have another pair of socks on the needles.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book: "The English Major" by Jim Harrison

This was a quick, enjoyable read by one of my favorite authors. Cliff, in his sixties, taught high school for 10 years, then spent 25 years farming in northern Michigan on his wife's family farm. When the wife divorces him and sells the farm he goes on a road trip where he meets up with one of his former students, sexually voracious but mentally unstable Marybelle. He embarks on a project to rename the states after the Indian tribes who had inhabited them, and to rename the state birds.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Finished Object - Essi's Pulli

Pattern: Kid's Top-down Raglan by Gail Tanquary
Yarn: Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill
Color: Ivy

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lunch at Zinc

After French class today, we went to Zinc for lunch. I had a crispy calamari salad. Delicious!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Movie: " Happy Go Lucky"

British director Mike Leigh's movies tend to be black comedies (You're never more than 30 feet away from a rat in London) or bleak social realism dramas (Vera Drake). This movie is about Poppy, an eternally (and sometimes irritatingly) cheerful elementary school teacher, who thinks she can make everything better. Of course she can't. The British dialect was difficult to follow at times.

My rating: ** (out of 5)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thai Cooking Class

I took a Thai cooking class this evening. We made chicken pad Thai, Gang Gai (coconut curry) chicken, cucumbers in Thai cucumber sauce, and Pad Prik (green beans in brown sauce). I forgot to take photos while at the class, but got this photo of my take out box at home. Delicious!

Book: "Out Stealing Horses" by Per Petterson

This highly acclaimed book moves back and forth between the summer of 1948 and 1999. Trond spends the summer of 1948 with his father in a remote area of Norway near the Swedish border. He and his friend Jon ride a neighbor's horses without permission, referring to this prank as "stealing horses." During the summer Trond discovers several secrets about his father. He also takes some tentative steps toward adult responsibilities. At the end of the summer, his father sends him home to Oslo. The father later sends a letter to the family announcing that he will not be returning to them.

In 1999 Trond, now divorced, has moved to another remote area of Norway without notifying his two children. He encounters Jon's younger brother and this meeting evokes memories of the earlier summer.

My rating: **** (out of 5)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cider Mill

On Mondays I take a French class in Bloomfield Hills. For the last few weeks I've been stopping at Franklin Cider Mill, established 1832, to buy some of their unpasturized cider.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More Fall Color

Question: When does a photo taken looking up from beneath a tree become a cliche?

Answer: It was a cliche before the first photo I took. This one is in our side yard.

Knitting Progress: Essi's Pulli

Tina, from Knit Night, has a knitting gathering on the first Saturday of every month. Today I worked on Essi's pulli, finishing the second sleeve and doing about 2 inches of the body below the sleeves. I'm quite happy with how this is turning out.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Movie: "Rachel Getting Married"

This movie makes my and your families look like the Cleavers (Ward, June, Wally, and the Beav). Ann Hathaway was very good playing against type as Kim, released from rehab to attend her sister's wedding, who thinks the entire weekend should be about herself. Rosemarie Dewitt, as Rachel, does a good job portraying the sister who believes she's been neglected because of the attention given to her troubled drug addict sister.

My rating: **** (out of 5)

Book Finished: The Other by David Guterson

As a teen, Neil, from a blue collar family, becomes friends with John William, from a wealthy Seattle family. The two embark on several dangerous wilderness expeditions. Neil moves on to college and becomes a high school teacher. John William drops out of college, and with Neil's assistance, drops out of society to study Gnosticism (whatever that is) and to live on his own in the remote Hoh River Valley where he meets his death.

The reader suspects that John William's social isolation is a result of his abusive and neglectful mother. At the same time, however, it's clear that John William understands the environmental damage that has already been done as well as the effects this will have on the future. He seems to believe that withdrawal from society is the only way to live with integrity.

My rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An October Sunday

Sunday I went to Fiber Expo in Ann Arbor. This is the second year for this event, and it is not a large fiber festival. There was much more roving than yarn available from vendors. Although I'm far from needing more yarn, I did buy some sock yarn from Yarn or a Tale.

On the way home I stopped by Zingerman's Creamery for cheese and at Matthei Botanical Garden to hike their trails. The fall color was beautiful.