This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for January, 2012

Mosaic Knitting: Color with Slip Stitches

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 30, 2012

Handspun Jacket

I knitted this mosaic jacket aeons ago, using my lumpy-bumpy beginner handspun. Apart from the experience in mosaic knitting, it taught me a valuable lesson about cleaning VM (= vegetable matter) out of fleece before spinning it. If you skip this step or card in a lot of burrs, leafy bits, and other debris, you will end up picking it out of the sweater for the rest of its life. I have whiled away many a boring meeting by picking bits of twigs out of this sweater. It’s a less thrilling diversion than it sounds.

Handspun Jacket

The central panel on the back is from Melanie Falick’s Knitting in America.

Mosaic knitting a name for working colours with slip stitches. It has a couple advantages: because it doesn’t require bobbins or carrying yarns along the back, the tension is very easy to control. The technique results in a slightly denser fabric than ordinary stockinette or garter stitch, which is desirable in outerwear.

Mosaic Knit Baby Jacket

I knitted this baby jacket for my son about 17 years ago. At the time I thought the pattern was my own invention, but it’s found in Barbara Walker’s Mosaic Knitting book, which shows that there’s nothing new under the sun! The background is a grey fingering-weight acrylic. The design yarn was a ball of lots of leftover yarns tied together. It’s an easy way to use up leftover yarns, as long as you’re careful to weave in the ends as you go. If you haven’t mastered the knack (not rocket science) you will go mad trying to darn in all the ends afterwards.

Want to give this a try? Here are some resources:

Posted in Crafts, knitting | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Don’t Eat That Carrot — Play It!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 25, 2012

I have no idea who heita3 is but he’s one heck of a musician with a knack for turning his fridge contents into ocarinas. Carrots, broccoli, cabbage, even bananas and eggs! He has a Facebook appreciation page but I don’t know his real name or what made him take up this unusual hobby. I admire his creativity!

Heita3 teaches you how to carve a carrot occarina — in English!

Posted in videos | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Real Life Intrudes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 24, 2012

Rosemary flowers

I snapped this photo of a rosemary bush at the bus stop on my way to the hospital yesterday. The rosemary photo is a bit over-exposed but I didn’t have a lot of time to fix it because I had to get on the bus.

I had foot surgery a year ago to correct a bunion (it was complicated surgery, because I’d had the bunion repaired years ago and it eventually came back, which it often does). Yesterday’s operation was to take out the hardware in my foot.

Here’s a photo of me waiting around in the day surgery area of Hadassah Mt. Scopus. I’ve had better days. This isn’t me looking my best. It was a long wait and I was tired. At least I had a comfortable chair to rest in. The red thing by my side is my camera case. Baruch took the photo.

I've had better days....

Here’s the stuff they took out of my foot. The bits are quite small, but it’s hard to tell because there’s nothing in the photo for scale:

Hardware from my foot

So I’m at home now and doing well. I have a big bandage on my right foot and wear one of those ugly surgical shoes and hobble around mostly with one crutch. I can put a little weight on the foot, which makes balancing and moving around vastly easier than when you can’t put your weight on one foot. So far I haven’t had any serious pain! (I keep expecting it to hit like a sledge-hammer out of the blue….) I took a couple painkillers before bed, as instructed, slept like a log, and haven’t taken anything since.

I’m off work for a couple weeks, with the follow-up scheduled for Feb. 8. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some knitting, embroidery, watching shows, and wasting time on Facebook….

Posted in photography | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Modular Knitting with Mitered Squares

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 22, 2012

Modular sweater

Does anyone remember the modular mitered square knitting craze a few years ago? It was great for using up odd bits of yarn. This turquoise sweater was knitted mainly from a beloved but very worn sweater that I knitted from Tahki Donegal Tweed yarn when I was in grad school. The sweater had lost its shape and the yarn was becoming faded and brittle around the neck and cuffs, so I unraveled it and reknitted it into this sweater, along with bits of my stash.

Here’s a view of the back:

Modular sweater

This purple vest has a similar origin. I had knitted a short-sleeve sweater around the same time, back at Harvard, and it was getting a bit worn. Also, the sleeves were a bit shorter than I liked, since I wasn’t religious in those days. I unraveled the yarn and it sat in balls in my closet for years, until a friend gave me a variegated yarn purple, blue and green yarn. This variegated yarn had a matte finish, in contrast to the mercerized cotton of my purple sweater. I used a repeating heart-shaped module for the front and back.

modular vest

Modular vest

I noticed recently that I have very few photographs of all the things I’ve knitted over the years, so I’m slowly trying to record these things.

If you’re interested in learning the basics of modular knitting, Vivian Hoxbro’s Domino Knittingis an excellent, clearly written guide.

For eye candy, check out Horst Schulz’s books:

There are a few newer books. I haven’t read them, so I can’t vouch for their contents but they look interesting!

I found a few sites with patterns:

and a video with Eunnu Jang:

That should be enough to get you started!

Tomorrow I’ll be literally off my feet for a while. I’m having surgery on my right foot, the same one that was operated on a year ago for a bunion. This time I’m having the pins and hardware taken out, so I’ll be off work for a couple weeks. Feel free to come by with offerings of chocolate and sushi. 🙂 (Not together, mind you….)

Posted in Crafts, knitting | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Wonderful, Wacky Gingerbread

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 18, 2012

Gingerbread laptop by Pavel.

Is there anything that people haven’t made with gingerbread? I admit that I’ve never made gingerbread cookies or houses, but I love the deep, spicy flavour of good gingerbread. I am also blown away by the creativity of some of these gingerbread artists. (And, yes, the idea of dedicating a blog posting to gingerbread was inspired by Pam’s lovely craft blog, Gingerbread Snowflakes. Before I learned about gingerbread snowflake cookies, I’d always wondered about the connection.)

This gingerbread AT-AT (from Star Wars) is the creation of Rachel Klemek of Blackmarket Bakery. They make a lot of unusual things, so if you’re near Irvine, California, check it out.

Gingerbread Atat
A round-up of strange gingerbreadiana has to include these gingerbread cameras by Doug and Jennie, who include a recipe and instructions:

Here’s a CPU, made by four creative Swedes who had a gingerbread party:

I love the unexpected juxtaposition of gingerbread gun by SanFranAnnie:

Tea & Gingerbread Guns

Here’s MezCraft’s incredible cuckoo clock with internal gears! She also provides instructions.

Actually, this is a good place to segue into the more traditional realm of gingerbread, er, inhabitable structures. MezCraft is a Harry Potter fan and she made the Weasleys’ Burrow (instructions provided):

Do you have any idea how many gingerbread Tardises there are? Too many to post all their photos, but here’s one from My Food Looks Funny:

Craft Tardis provides instructions for making a gingerbread Tardis. Her Dalek cookies were made with a holly leaf cookie cutter, which she flattened and bent into shape.

TopTenz hosts what can only be described as a gingerbread gallery for overachievers. You have to see the rest of their top ten clever gingerbread houses. Here’s a gingerbread cathouse (where gingerbread men go when their wives are out of town….):

Posted in Food | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Mayer Museum of Islamic Art

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 16, 2012

Meyer Museum of Islamic Art

Last Friday we braved a heavy downpour to visit the L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art on Rehov haPalmach in Jerusalem. If you’ve never been, or you visited a long time ago (perhaps when the stolen watches hadn’t yet been recovered!), this small museum is worth a visit. I was interested in the exhibit of Naftali Hilger’s photographs, “Travels to Yemen: 1987-2008.” You can see some of the photographs in these videos (some of the photos in these videos are not part of the exhibit). The exhibit hall is below the main entrance floor. Slide shows and videos of Yemenite life play continuously on the double screen in the middle of the room.


After looking at the photographs we wandered up to the watch and clock exhibit (photography isn’t permitted in the museum, so I took these shots from my hip). The Sir David Salomons Watch and Clock Collection is exquisite, with many examples by Breguet. There are clocks embedded in tiny, mechanical music boxes covered with jewels, with tiny birds that pop up, watches built into jeweled fans and rings, carriage clocks, and the famous Marie Antoinette watch, encased in rock crystal, which took 30 years to create and was finished some years after the queen’s execution. Videos (some in English) accompany the exhibit.

The story of the burglary appears on Wikipedia:

In 1980, British master horologist George Daniels (widely regarded as the most important watchmaker since Breguet) catalogued the Salomons collection and published a study on it. Three years later, on the night of 15 April 1983, the Mayer Institute was burgled and 106 rare timepieces were stolen, including the entire Salomons collection. The multi-million-dollar theft was Israel’s largest-ever robbery – by this time, the “Marie Antoinette” alone was valued at neatly US$20 million. The case remained unsolved until 2006 when a Tel Aviv watchmaker tipped off Israeli police that he had paid US$40,000 to an anonymous person to purchase 40 timepieces, including the missing “Marie Antoinette”. Forensic experts examined the timepieces they recovered and detectives questioned the lawyer who negotiated the sale; their investigation led police to an Israeli woman living in Los Angeles, Nili Shamrat, whom they identified as the widow of Naaman Diller, the notorious Israeli criminal who carried out the burglary and then fled to Europe, before settling in the United States. When Israeli police and American officials arrived at Shamrat’s home to question her, they found more timepieces and 66 of the stolen Mayer Institute timepieces were eventually recovered.

One point that the Wikipedia article doesn’t mention is that forty-three clocks showed up in France.

Watch and clock exhibit

The museum’s permanent collection, on the ground floor and the first floor, is dedicated to different periods of Islamic art. It’s an extensive (considering the size of the museum), well-rounded collection of textiles, pottery, jewelry, clothing, and weapons.

Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, Jerusalem




The museum is open daily, although the hours are somewhat limited. Check the web site for hours and admission prices (currently, 40 NIS/adult, 20 NIS/child). Like the Castell Museum, this is a small, specialized museum that you probably won’t want to visit every month but you should see it at least once.

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Pattern: Garter Rib Scarf

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 15, 2012

Knitted scarf

A sure sign of winter is knitting in my hands.

I used to knit a lot — lace tablecloths, counterpanes, doilies, sweaters, shawls, scarves, leg warmers, Moebius strips, hand warmers, hats, fruit, miniature socks with sewing thread and .5mm needles, wire jewelry, beaded bags, the list goes on and on. At some point I must have reached overload because I slowly realised that I had stopped knitting. (I haven’t even photographed most of my knitting!)

But I still knit when the weather turns cold. Taking up photography spurred me to take up knitting again, because suddenly I needed warm woolly things like leg warmers and fingerless gloves. Here’s a scarf that I just finished. The pattern is very easy but looks impressive. It’s reversible and it doesn’t curl. What more could you ask for? My version is 5 inches wide and 60 inches long, because I like to fold it in half and tuck the ends through the loop. You can increase the number of stitches if you prefer a wider version, as long as it’s a multiple of 4 plus 2.

The pattern repeat is only one row and it forms alternating strips of 2 stitches of garter stitch and 2 stitches of twisted rib (knit/purl). I made it from some German wool that had been in my stash for ages. The orange, blue, and purple strands match my purple coat. (I sewed this wool melton coat about 15 years ago and have worn it every winter since!)

Finished scarf

Garter-Rib Scarf

US size 8 (5 mm, UK size 6) knitting needles
150 grams (about 6 oz) of worsted weight yarn

Gauge: 9 stitches = 2 inches


Cast on 26 stitches (or a multiple of 4 + 2).

Row 1: * k2, k1 through back, p1, * k2.

Repeat Row 1 until you have about 24 inches of yarn left.

Cast off.

Posted in Crafts, knitting, tutorial | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Yinnon’s Last Day

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 12, 2012

Clearing out the corner

You can tell a lot about a man by his choice of headgear. Masha brought Yinnon a daisy crown for his last day at work.

For four years I’ve been photographing and blogging about my amazing officemates, Yinnon and Masha. Now our time together is over. Masha will still be here. Yinnon, however, is moving to New Zealand with his wife to do a Ph.D. in neuro-biology, specifically, pattern recognition in jumping spiders. He will be gone for four years and we will miss him!

Here’s Masha at this morning’s organized farewell party in the dairy cafeteria. Whiskey and tequila are part of a balanced breakfast.

Whiskey is an important part of breakfast

My going-away gift was a CD of photos and videos that I’ve made of Yinnon and Masha since 2009. Yinnon said that having an in-house paparazza was one of the best parts of his job. He said he’s never been photographed so much before and had such a good collection of portraits. 🙂 When he was single he used some of my photos for his on-line dating profiles.

Yinnon & Masha Photo CD

He’s been an amazing officemate, always interesting, cheerful, helpful, and very funny. He’s a recognized tarantula expert (and former breeder), programmer, and caterer. I’ve learned a great deal from sharing a room with him for four years. This is the first photo I ever took of Yinnon, a snapshot done with the Canon S5IS:

Bowler Hat

This is one of my favourite photos, taken a few hours before his wedding. Masha threw her arms around Yinnon and Rinat looked like she wanted to smash her bouquet over Masha’s head (they’re good friends, by the way).

Stop the wedding!!!!


Yinnon wearing Masha’s spider earrings:

Yinnon wearing Masha's earrings

Finally, this is the first cooking video we ever made together, “How to make boiled kubbeh.” We never did get around to making the meatball video. Maybe someday. Best of luck in New Zealand!

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Video: Fishing under Ice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 11, 2012

This amazing video is filmed upside-down, under the ice of Lake Saarijärvi in Vaala, Finland. It wasn’t easy finding information about the director or the video, but I did find this article on DiscoveryNews (Jan. 4, 2012). It looks like a lot of fun!

Credits and description from YouTube:

Fisherman: Eelis Rankka
Fisherman’s friend: Tommi Salminen
Boy with the balloon: Jukka Pelttari

Camera and editing: Juuso Mettälä
Manuscript by Juuso Mettälä and Eelis Rankka

Safety divers: Esa Vuoppola and Juhana Heino

Music: Stefano Mocini: The end of the doubs

Couple of things about this video:
Camera I used was Sony HDR-SR11 with Amphibico HD Elite housing.
The Wheelbarrow was saved from the bottom of the lake and I have used it many times after that.
The rubber duck and the balloon are also home with me.
None of the divers got any permanent damage either.
And yes, we had a lot of fun making this video.

Posted in videos | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy New Year! (Better Late Than Never)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 10, 2012

First sunrise of 2012

First sunrise of 2012! In Israel, January 1 is just an ordinary working day, so no parties, champagne, carousing for me last night. I got up early for a walk and got this photo of the sun peeking over blocks of flats in the Nofei Sela neighbourhood of Maale Adumim. I’ve been very busy at work with courses (one in UML and the other in HTML5), so I haven’t had much energy for creative projects.

I did remember to photograph my blooming cactus. A piece of cardboard is propping up the branch. The background is a scratched-up magnet board (I really need to buy a piece of black cardstock). The light is an ordinary fluorescent desk lamp. When you push up the black levels, the scratches and dust on the magnet board disappear! 🙂

Christmas Cactus

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »