Archive for the ‘My Patterns’ Category

September is always a busy, busy time … the beginning of the school year (a son returned to university), the Jewish holy days, family birthdays and the resumption of the choral season.  And then there was the presidential campaign as well this time around.

When not working at the local Obama campaign office, I managed to squeeze out enough spare time to finish a number of special projects.  In honor of the Jewish New Year, I finished a knitted shofar and pomegranate, symbols of the holiday.  In advance of Sukkot (in October), I added some new knitted and felted etrogs for our family sukkah, to make the space even more hospitable to the interfaith and peace groups we expected to visit. (more here).

The Sarah Palin “pigs in lipstick” broohaha prompted a bit of needlework fun – to raise a few smiles at the campaign office and on the street (and as a contribution to the Knitters for Obama fundraiser on Ravelry), I executed some crocheted kitsch:  Pigs on Parade – a toilet paper cover, lipstick case, mobile phone case, condom amulet, keychain and badge.  For a few weeks it seemed I couldn’t make them fast enough! (more images here, and more information here and here).  With the holidays imminent, I also made a few Obamulke’s – one for the Minyan Project, another for the Ravelry fundraiser (inspired by the efforts of Jews for Obama to encourage the use of political kippot).  Seeing this kippah featured on Judaicablog was especially gratifying.

My youngest sweet niece-let had her 5th birthday this month, and she asked for a set of playfood for her kitchen (“Some ice cream and desserts, and hamburgers and hot dogs. Any maybe some sandwiches. And hot chocolate. And ….”).  What did I manage for ZB’s big day?

  • Breakfast:fried egg, toast point, turkey bacon slices and a croissant
  • Lunch:  cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread (cheese, tomato, lettuce)
  • Dinner: cheeseburger (bun, burger, onion, tomato & lettuce, cheese slice) and curly french fries
  • Desserts: 2 ice cream cones, 3 oreo cookies, and 3 chocolate cookies

[For the ice cream cones I used the Scooped, by Em-En, at I Like Lemons patterns.  The rest of the food items were improvised, though influenced thoroughly by many wonderful examples of others’ work (such as here, here, and here, here, here and here). more images here.]

There must have been a few moments of spare time, since I signed onto my first “swap” on Ravelry, the Day of the Dead Swap.  This Mexican holiday is something of a family favorite, in spite of its Christian and pagan meaning, and I began to research furiously in order to come up with something special. With so much information stewing, I found it hard to avoid making calavera skulls wherever I went and with whatever material I had at hand – that meant masks made from hot glue (left) or felted wool (right), or craft project leftovers at my niece’s birthday party (center).


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With the change of weather it’s been a challenge to continue to work with wool, to finish all the projects over-flowing my baskets. The arrival of bright new green leaves has brought with it a desire to work small, to knit growing things. Inspirations?

The Color Orange project prompted me to try some jewelry, to design a few items that could be worn easily at the Beijing Olympics. I’ve managed some knitted peapod earrings, with coral “peas” to start. The lives of musical friends and relatives have also inspired some knitting … a friend’s new organic garden produce knitted peapods with dyed-green pearls, and another friend’s successful loss of more than 100 lbs (!!) led to “New Leaf” earrings, a variation of a Mountain Laurel Leaf pattern (available here on Ravelry)

A sister-in-law’s second cabaret show inspired me to try a version of the How Does Your Garden Grow lariat designed by Roxie Day (Marnie Maclean’s mother; pdf link here). Showing all of us just how to live after 50, there was no way I could avoid celebrating my SIL’s success but with something special. She’s a cabbage rose lover, so this was perfect (and I certainly learned much more than I’d anticipated about knitting and felting flowers along the way).

Finally, an invitation to test-knit came from fellow Ravelry member linnaea resulted in this artichoke. As children in the early 1960’s, my sister and I often snuck downstairs on weekend mornings to watch re-runs of the Little Rascals shorts. A favorite was The Pooch (1932), for its hilarious artichoke-peeling scene and Stymie’s memorable line: “It might choke Artie, but it ain’t gonna choke Stymie”. I’ve had a passion for artichoke’s ever since.I managed to finish most of the leaves (35 in all!) during a day’s jury duty, a public knitting event which let to a number of interesting conversations about needlework with the women sitting nearby. As far as I know, the pattern is now available as a Ravelry download (here). This artichoke will be a wonderful addition to our harvest basket of sukkah decorations next autumn.

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Even the eye of Horace couldn’t see through the Darkness

This week is the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach, in Hebrew), commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery, as narrated in the Hebrew bible (the Five Books of Moses or Torah, known to Christians as the Old Testament). Throughout the centuries, in all lands, Jews have gathered on Passover to retell the Exodus narrative and eat unleavened bread or matzah (“flatbread”), the holiday’s primary symbol (of the hasty departure from Egypt). Most of us are familiar with the story: we’ve all seen Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, right? We know about Moses and the burning bush, his threats to Pharoah to “let me people go” before each of the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians to persuade them of the superior power of the Israelite god, and watched the Red Sea part to enable the Israelites’ escape, and then engulf the Egyptian army, right? In their haste to leave the Israelites baked their bread before it had risen, producing matzoh, or “unleavened bread”.

The Hebrew name for the festival, Pesach, refers to the scriptural account of the sacrificed animal that offered the Israelites protection from the fatal final plague. The holiday is also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread (since that’s the only bread to be eaten during the week), but it also gets its English name from the scriptural account of the tenth plague, when God “passed over” the Israelite homes and killed the firstborn Egyptians (a more faithful translation of the Hebrew narrative describes God hovering over, or guarding, the Israelites … passing over to them rather than from them).

As members of the Reform Jewish community, my family’s celebration of the holiday consists of a family Seder (or two, if possible) the ritual meal in which the narrative is retold (and even re-enacted symbolically), and a week of matzoh and Passover-friendly cuisine. As the oldest sibling in my family, I made most of our family seders when my sons were small. Now my youngest sister has taken this on, and we all contribute to the meal. This year there were seventeen of us at the table, from three states, aged 5 to 75, and including one Holocaust survivor. It was a very special seder.

I’ve been “knitting” Jewish holidays for the past year or so, producing knitted fruit (knitted etrogs and grapes) for the autumn harvest holiday of Sukkot, and a knitted dreidel and menorah for Hanukkah; these were part of a series of Patterns for Peacebuilders I’d initiated to publicize the co-existence and peace-building efforts taking place between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. I’d planned to create a pattern for Elijah’s Cup, used during the Passover seder to welcome the prophet heralding the age of peace. But as I researched the background of the cup, I decided to expand the project and “craft” my own seder – to explore the ways in which holiday traditions and meanings are created (and to have another way to delight my youngest niece-let at the seder table – it’s always a challenge to keep children at the seder table given the length of the service and meal).

So this year, in addition to my usual contribution of freshly-ground horseradish (maror), gefilte fish, and chocolate-coconut macaroons, I studied and knitted the principal symbols of the seder:

  • Maror (bitter herbs), representing the pain of slavery (I knitted the top of the root, which we use on our table)
  • Charoset, a sweet paste made from dried and/or fresh fruit, nuts and wine, signifying the mortar used by the Israelites in their labor for the Egyptians
  • Karpas, another bitter vegetable (typically parsley, as I knitted), the humility of servitude, which is dipped in salt water (slavery’s tears) before being eaten
  • a roasted Shankbone – the Pesach (sacrifice) before the 10th plague; and
  • a roasted Egg – a symbol of spring by Reform and Conservative Jews (or a symbol of mourning for the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem by traditional Jews
I completed a silver cup for the prophet Elijah (and plan a cup for Miriam for next year), and a plate of knitted matzoh. Researching the ten plagues and sorting out how to execute them was the principal challenge of the week leading up to the first seder – as I worked my way through them I explored materials (including plastic bag yarn, or “plarn” – for blood, lice and hail) and techniques (including felting for the origami-knit frog), and strategies of representation, from the most playful (the hail-cloud), or costume (mask of darkness), to realistic (afflicted cow and locust).

Along the way, I played with other elements of the meal, “cooking” a bowl of felted matzoh ball soup (with sliced carrots) and a plate of felted gefilte fish and boiled egg on a bed of TikkunTree leaves. A very last-minute addition (completed only minutes before we sat down to start the seder) was the kosher-for-passover chocolate cake, to celebrate the five April birthdays in the family, and the liberation of my sister’s mother-in-law from a German concentration camp.

(More photos of my “knitted seder” are available here

UPDATE:  3.23.09

If you are interested in knitting your own seder, patterns for the knitted seder plate items are now available on Etsy, here.

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Unable to shake this new passion for cables, I’ve indulged myself completely, and learned that cables can also engage my ongoing interest in peace in the mid-east. How can a knitted cable possibly function ethically or politically? I’ve managed to work cables into some TikkunTree project leaves – here, the use of two colors and intertwined stitches express well the necessity of co-existence between Israel’s Jews and Palestinians.

For patterns (and a bit more discussion of the “politics” of these knitted leaves), try here.

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What would happen if the moderate majorities in Israel and in Palestine demanded results from their leaders – if, with one voice, they called for ongoing, immediate, and uninterrupted negotiations toward a two state solution, to be reached on or before a given deadline – December 12, 2008? from, One Million Voices

What if moderate Americans supported the moderate majorities in Israel and Palestine, and demanded results from their leaders – if, with one voice, they called for ongoing, immediate and uninterrupted support for ongoing, immediate, and uninterrupted negotiations toward a two state solution, to be reached on or before a deadline acceptable to the moderate Israeli and Palestinian majorities? What if. Anyone can find out more about that moderate majority in Israel and Palestine by checking out: One Million Voices, to learn more about the One Million Voices Campaign and OneVoice’s Platform & Methodology

The work of this group prompts this knitting musician to maker some needles sing. Here’s my chart for the next project, based on the One Million Voices logo:

One Million Voices, hand in hand, on my hands. I expect to be making a pair of fingerless mitts just as soon as my sportweight Peace Fleece yarn arrives.

Add your voice!

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Revised 12.11.07

Hanukkah has arrived, the Jewish “Festival of Lights” celebrating both the military victory of the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks (c. 165 BCE) and the purported miracle of the oil which burned in the ner tamid (eternal light) in the temple of Jerusalem after it was regained and purified ritually. Try here for more information about the history of Hanukkah, the Jewish “Festival of Lights”? So here’s an idea:

Happy Hanukkiyah: knitting a Hanukkah menorah

With nearly-grown sons, I’ve given myself a Hanukkah gift this year – the time to knit some nifty Hanukkah objects. My knitted menorah (or hanukkiyah) is underway. Even in progress it’s lovely with candles. Of course, we can’t light our candles on this menorah – the silver yarn is definitely not fire proof, but we’ll enjoy setting it up alongside my grandmother’s brass menorah.

There are 8 nights of Hanukkah. This year I’m sharing my knitted menorah pattern (one of my Patterns for Peacebuilders) during the 8 nights of the holiday. I’ll post a piece of the pattern each night, and describe the process of knitting this (and other) sculpture. I’m looking for company on this project. And …

And I’m looking for company to knit for peace. There are 8 nights of Hanukkah, and we could knit one leaf each day for the TikkunTree Project, a community- project to create a conversation around the issue of peace issues between Palestinians and Israelis. The TikkunTree will gather hand-made leaves, candles, and peace doves into a crafted sculpture, to be included in an exhibit on the olive tree in the planning stages; we hope to include participation from ALL fiber crafters who would like to participate. The Tikkun Tree Project gives us the opportunity to use craft to express our interest in peace. You are welcome to participate regardless of the faith tradition in which you identify

These links will take you to information and guidelines, and original patterns, for the project. I’ll revise this post daily for eight days, adding to the pattern as Hanukkah progresses. I’d be delighted to include images of your work if you send them to me at: tikkunknits (at) yahoo (dot) com. After the holiday, send your leaves for the TikkunTree to: The TikkunTree Project, P.O. Box 2088, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Happy Hanukkah!

Note: All TikkunKnits patterns are created as Patterns for Peacebuilders, and this one is no exception. So, this pattern will be available free until the end of the holiday, and then available for a contribution to one of the peacemaking organizations featured here. More information can be found here.


Happy Hanukkiyah: Making a Knitted Menorah

The TikkunTree Menorah

4 December 2007 … 1st night of Hanukkah
Making the candle holders.

5 December 2007 … 2nd night of Hanukkah
Making the Shamash and setting up to knit the body.

6 December 2007 … 3rd night of Hanukkah
Connecting the 8 holders and Shamash, and thinking about decoration.

7 December 2007 … 4th night of Hanukkah
Designing the shape, beginning to knit the body.

8 December 2007 … 5th night of Hanukkah
The body of the menorah and decorating options (Magen David/Jewish Star)

9 December 2007 … 6th night of Hanukkah
Decorating the body.

10 December 2007 … 7th night of Hanukkah
A candelabra-style body, and a Magen David design

11 December 2007 … 8th night of Hanukkah
The base

Happy Hanukkiyah!!

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The past few weeks have been challenging, with intensive rehearsals for performance of Robert Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri (Paradise and the Peri) with the Philadelphia Singers Chorale and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In spite of the hectic schedule, there was time to knit (during preparations for three performances in Philadelphia, and especially during the trip to the Carnegie Hall (!!) performance last Friday).

So what’s the state of the UFO knitting basket after all the to-ing and fro-ing?

I’ve finished the first of a number of Hanukkah knits – a working dreidel. My knitted menorah is proceeding slowly (photos coming soon), and the latkes are waiting to be felted. More information about the dreidel, including the pattern (one of my “Patterns for Peacebuilders”), is available here and here.

My second Noro Striped Scarf (popularized by Jared Flood) is nearly done. The first I share with husband and resident son. This second is for my nephew, HS; it’s about time I finish something special for him, after all the attention I’ve showered on my niece-lets. (In the spirit of fairness, to me – he returned, unworn, and without explanation – the felted clogs I made for him for Hanukkah last year). HS chose this project, and I look forward to seeing it wrapped around his impressively-growing frame. This is a project that gets attention wherever it appears – the miracle of Noro and the miraculous properties of its variegation.

A pair of Malabrigo Loafers were completed, and now join the basket of “house shoes” that greet visitors to our home.

For a final push to finish the Clapotis I started a year ago for my sister’s birthday, I’ve joined the Second Wave Clapotis KAL. I used the 3 hanks of Ottawa hand-dyed yarn from Handmaiden’s Jane Origami Pullover pack, but neglected to alternate skeins as I proceeded; thus, beautiful even variegation for the first two hanks, but serious concentration of gray and blue on the third. Fortunately, my sister loves this “sin free” yarn from Nova Scotia, however the colors are distributed over the shawl. We’ll see if I can, with communal encouragement, complete the last corner before her next birthday in mid-January.

On Sunday I began the R.S. Tikkun Knitters project in religious school classrooms. Four teenage students in the “Confirmation Academy” learned to knit. In a few weeks they’ll begin their projects with Peace Fleece’s Baghdad Blue, which will give us many hours of conversation about knitting and peace.

I’ve also (finally!!) completed my entries to my Ravelry account. It’s taken an unreasonable and inordinate amount of time to do so, made that much more difficult by the distractions offered by the sometimes fascinating group discussions. My principal commitment is to the “Knitting Our Way to Peace” forum, a noteworthy group in which interfaith and inter-ethnic conversation takes place with remarkable respect and mutual concern, though not without occasional fireworks.

The challenge of the past few weeks have included not just the seemingly endless project of emptying the UFO baskets, but also finding a way to to do so without developing carpal tunnel syndrome. To that end I’ve embarked on a journey to expand my repertoire of knitting techniques (which will also expand the ways I can assist new knitters). So, I used my version of the Kusha Kusha Scarf to learn to knit Continental style. Online resources (1, 2, 3, 4) provided plenty of instruction (video and written) for Continental knit, Continental purl, Eastern continental knitting, Eastern continental purling, alternating Eastern (K1, P1). [[Note: The Habu Kusha Kusha Scarf kit was beyond my budget (two sons in university), but I located sufficient discussion online to be able to work out my own version. It’s taken the better part of two cones of Habu’s silk & steel thread, so I may not have saved myself much. But I love the indigo & red merino lace from Handpaintedyarn.com , and am looking forward to felting the scarf soon.]] After more than 40 years of “throwing” my yarn, American (or English) style, it’s been a revelation to carry the yarn in my left hand. It works! I’m almost accustomed to the different directions the knit and purl stitches face (at least the way I’m producing them). Next? Ambidextrous knitting

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