This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for February, 2012

Olafur Eliasson: Rainbow at the Israel Museum

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 29, 2012

Olafur Eliasson Installation, Israel Museum

I took this photo in the “Route of Passage” entrance hall of the Israel Museum. I liked the way it reflected off the floor tiles. The photo is more effective against a black background. I took the photo with a 50mm lens, having left my zoom lens in the locker because I wasn’t planning to take photos in the museum itself. (I did manage to sketch a lot of pagan statues and amulets, a Christian zoomorphic lamp, and a splendid demonic mask.) The work measures 50 x 8 feet.

Olafur Eliasson‘s installation, “Whenever the Rainbow Appears” (2010), comprises 300 individual paintings comprising the spectrum of colours visible to the human eye (more information on this commission at ArtDaily.) Born in 1967, Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic sculptor, best known for his large-scale installations in public spaces. He will be exhibiting at the London 2012 Olympics (slideshow of his work). For current and archived news articles about Eliasson, see his topic page in the New York Times.

Short video of “The Weather Project” at the Tate in London.

Posted in photography | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Photos from a Wedding

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 28, 2012

Bride Circling the Groom

After buying yarn in Yetsirah, I walked to Yarok be’Ir on Yad Harutzim for the Goldstein wedding. I didn’t take many photos because I was there as a guest, not as a photographer. The photo above shows Shoshi circling the groom, Ma’or, under the chuppah.

Shoshi was led to the chuppah by her mother, Zahava, on her left and Ma’or’s mother on her right:

Bride with Mothers

Close-up of Shoshi with Zahava. By the way, this is the same Zahava whose son’s bar mitzvah I blogged a few weeks ago.

Bride with Mother

Some dancing on the women’s side. When the bride is young, her friends tend to be very young as well. The girls wearing scarves on their hair are already married.


People look so different when they’re dolled up for a wedding, especially brides. Here’s a photo of the same couple three months ago, at the bar mitzvah. Maor and Soshi are at the back of the group, on the left of Shmuel, the bar mitzvah boy and Shoshi’s brother. This photo required a lot of work because I didn’t have a flashgun and they were standing under an overhang (air conditioning duct, I think) and squeezed between two tables. The light dropped off very sharply, so that everyone in the back row was in shadow. Maor’s skin tone is quite dark, so I used layers to lighten everyone standing against the wall. (I ended up taking a few family group shots because they hadn’t hired a photographer and I happened to have my DSLR with me. If it had been a paying job I would have used a flashgun.)

Goldstein Bar Mitzvah

Posted in photography | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Ruffle Mesh Scarves, or “We Are All Individuals”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 28, 2012

Kartopu Fancy Lace Yarn

I’m going through another lemming phase. Is there any corner of the world that hasn’t been hit by Ruffle Mesh Scarf Frenzy? I thought it was an isolated event, perhaps an English thing, because the first ruffle mesh scarf I encountered was knitted by the English mother of a coworker. Here’s Elana’s black and grey scarf worked in Samba yarn:

Elana's Scarf

I thought I would have to order yarn from the UK, until I happened to see ruffle mesh yarn in Yetsirah in Talpiyot (HaUman Street) and bought a couple balls from their wide selection of Kartopu “Lace”, a Turkish yarn:

Ruffle Mesh Yarn

The next day, I walked into Ahuva’s room at work and … she was wearing a ruffle mesh scarf that she had made. She doesn’t even knit! The store owner in the shuk taught her how to “cast on” six stitches and work back and forth until the yarn was used up. She used an Israeli version of this yarn manufactured by Teddy. (Photo below: Ahuva, multimedia wiz and Gur hassid — not a combination you encounter every day):

Ahuva with her Scarf

Just for the record, Ahuva thought the Teddy yarn was too limp and fine. She ended up casting on 8 stitches and skipping meshes in order to get a fuller ruffle.

Here’s my first finished scarf. Subdued little critter, ain’t it? It makes my brightest sweaters look muted.


Ahuva passed on a useful hint. This yarn gets very twisted when it comes off the ball and you spend a lot of time untwisting the yarn and spreading the meshes. It’s much easier to work if you wrap the ball of yarn around a piece of cardboard.

Mesh yarn on card

You need 100 grams for one scarf. Prices vary between 24 and 26 NIS (and if you’re thinking of making a killing on Etsy, you’re about three months too late!). The technique is not true knitting. It’s a looping technique that uses knitting needles. I had no idea how these scarves were made when I bought a couple balls in Yetsirah on my way to a wedding at Yarok be’Ir in Talpiot. I asked the saleswoman what size needles I needed and she insisted on showing me when she realised that I had never knit it before. She cast on 6 stitches, knitted a row, watched me knit a row, and slipped the stitches onto a paper clip. Here’s a video that explains the process. One difference is that I was taught to tie a knot in the yarn at the beginning. The knot doesn’t show. After I cast off, I pulled the tail through the last loop, tied a knot, and cut the tail off. It seems to hold well and doesn’t require sewing.

Posted in Crafts, knitting | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Very … Slow … Photo Project

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 27, 2012

Fig Bud 4

A coworker suggested that I do a photo project of a fig tree in the courtyard at work. I started on February 14, 2012, and so far “my” tree has done … nothing. Not a thing Oh, well, it’s still early in the year. Something should happen soon, right?

Fig Tree 6

I’ve taken 9 photos (haven’t uploaded today’s yet) over two weeks so far. At the moment you can see the bud slideshow and the tree slideshow. It’s a good record of our local weather, including a day when the rain was pouring down and I stood outside under an umbrella photographing the same old tree. I’ve also figured out where to stand so that I can get roughly the same view of the tree each day.

Watch this space….

Posted in photography | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Spiral Crochet Kippah

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 16, 2012

Spiral kippah (in progress)

I always keep a few mindless projects going (for those times when I don’t have two brain cells to rub together). I’m doing this in double crochet, although it results in a softer kippah than usual, because the spiral shows up better with a wider stripe. I’m using perle 8 cotton (medium blue and variegated orange) and a 1 mm crochet hook. I could have used a smaller hook for a tighter stitch but I don’t enjoy embedding sharp objects in my fingers while riding in moving vehicles.

Spiral Crochet Directions

Spiral crochet is quite easy but my brief instructions presume that you already know know how to make spiral in a single colour, starting from a central ring.

First colour: Chain 5, slip stitch to form ring. Chain 2 and work 5 double crochet in ring. Drop this colour, leaving a large loop so that the stitches don’t unravel.
Second colour: Slip stitch into ring, chain 2 and work 5 double crochet in ring. Work 2 double crochet on the 2 chain of the first colour. Continue working in the tops of the stitches of the first colour until you reach the loop of the first colour. Drop this colour, leaving a large loop so that the stitches don’t unravel.
First colour: Using the loop you left, work 2 double crochet on the 2 chain of the second colour. Continue working in the tops of the stitches of the second colour.
Remember to increase so that the center lies flat. It’s difficult to give precise instructions for increasing.
When you want to finish, try to have the colours on opposite sides of the kippah. Taper off each colour by working successively shorter stitches (e.g., 3 half double crochet, 3 single crochet, 3 slip stitch, fasten off).

Other Kippot

Here are a few that I made for my son, back in the day when he would wear almost anything I made.

Intarsia Kippah

The bar mitzvah kippah was done in a type of crochet intarsia. I didn’t carry the colours all the way around. When I finished a few stitches of a single colour, I carried the colour back over to the right (i.e., to the point where it would be required on the next round). I crocheted over the loose strand on the back. It’s easier to show in a diagram than words, so that will have to be the topic of a future blog posting.

My son's bar mitzvah kippah

My son's bar mitzvah kippah

Fair Isle Kippot

I made these two Fair Isle kippot when I had a lot more time on my hands. I made up the patterns as I went along, choosing small repeats so that they would be easy to fit into the number of stitches. I don’t have patterns for these. In any case, crocheted kippot are very difficult to write patterns because the number of stitches in each row is so dependent on one’s tension. So if you really want to try this, pick up a book of Fair Isle patterns, choose some geometric designs with very short repeats (say, 3-5 stitches) and a couple colours and just have fun!

My son's baby kippot

Posted in Crafts, crochet | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Romanian Point Lace

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 14, 2012

Thing 25. My first Romanian Point lace motif

Today most of the world is celebrating Valentine’s day by making restaurateurs and chocolatiers rich, so I’m posting this small Romanian point lace heart. I made this sample in February 2008, when I was participating in a Thing-a-Day project. It’s always held in February, so if you’re interested, put a reminder in your calendar for next year.

Romanian point lace, also called Romanian braid lace and macrame lace, is one of the easiest needle laces to master. You crochet a flexible braid (seen around the outside of the heart in my motif), tack it down with a needle and thread to a cloth backing, and then work various lace fillings with a needle through the loops. It works up quickly because it’s such a coarse lace. My motif was worked in perle 8 crochet cotton. The only tedious aspect is crocheting miles of braid if you want to work a large doily.

Getting the braid started can be tricky. Once you’ve done a few stitches, you can work on automatic pilot for hours … days …. Sunshine Creations has produced an excellent video that explains the process. See her blog for a full tutorial.

Joanne in Manitoba has posted a clear tutorial with photos. There is also a Flickr pool.

The best book on the subject is Angela Thompson’s and Kathleen Walker’s Romanian Point Lace. Clearly written and beautifully photographed, it will keep you busy for quite a while. Every time I open this book, I want to grab my crochet hook and start churning out yards of braid.

Romanian Point Lace

Romanian Point Lace

Romanian Point Lace

Years ago a woman used to sell Romanian point lace doilies in front of the Mashbir department store in Jerusalem. Romanian immigrants in Israel made simple doilies and clusters of grapes and leaves (very similar to Irish crochet). I found a Hebrew book on Romanian point lace, published in 1987, in a used bookstore.

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

Orenburg Square Medallion Shawl – Approaching the Halfway Mark

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 12, 2012

Orenburg Shawl

Update (Feb. 16): As Isabelle and others have noticed, there are mistakes in the pattern. Fortunately, Mairi has written corrections on her Ravelry page.

I just realised that I’m long overdue for an update on this project. The pattern is the Square Medallion Shawl from The Gossamer Webs Design Collection: Three Orenburg Shawls to Knit. I was starting to despair of this shawl ever being finished.

I started knitting this shawl in linen and realised that linen isn’ t stretchy enough for Orenburg shawl construction, although it would have been fine for a Niebling doily. So I ripped it out and started over, using a lace-weight off-white wool (Botany Bay, probably a knitting machine yarn).

Then I found a hole:

Hole in Orenburg shawl

It was too large to ignore, so I ripped back 60 rows. That was painful. The wool was so springy that picking up yarn-overs proved tricky. In the photo below I ran a 1.5 mm circular needle through the stitches. Even working under a magnifying glass I still ended up with half the stitches from one row and the other half on another row.

Almost ripped back

After ripping out thousands of stitches (60×200 rows or so), I put away the project for a while. I resumed it after the pain of ripping out all those stitches had faded.

Have you tired of my knitting posts yet? 🙂 I was housebound for two weeks, so there wasn’t a lot to photograph. Now I’m back at work, with less time to knit.

Posted in Crafts, knitting | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Tu b’Shvat (New Year of Trees) Seder

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 9, 2012

Candle and Fruit

Yesterday was Tu b’Shvat (= 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat), the Jewish New Year of Trees. The earliest reference to this new year is post-biblical (Mishnah RH 1a). It was developed by the kabbalists in Safed, Israel, in the 17th century. That seems to be when the custom of holding a Tu b’Shvat Seder (modelled on the Passover Seder) began. Nowadays, schoolchildren plant trees on Tu b’Shvat and everyone eats fruit. Lots of fruit.

The custom of holding elaborate Tu b’Shvat Seders seems to be fairly recent. Unlike the Passover Seder, which has stringent requirements, the Tu b’Shvat Seder is not standardized (here’s an example). Not all families hold a Seder. Some prepare a festive meal with the Seven Species of Israel (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates, according to Deut. 8:8). Others eat a few pieces of fruit and call it a day. Still others hold long, elaborate communal seders. My husband really enjoys these, so this year I agreed to go with him to a Seder organized by the Nachalat Yehudah congregation (Carlebach minyan) in our neighbourhood. I stayed for 2 hours, up to the second cup of wine. My husband came back at 11:30 and said they were still going strong.

Everyone walked around the table at the beginning of the Seder, a custom that is inspired by the Sephardic custom of the leader of the Passover Seder carrying the matzah wrapped in a napkin on his shoulder and circling the table. (By the way, there’s also a Rosh Hashanah Seder at the New Year.)

Tu Beshvat Seder

Tu b’Shvat haggadah

Tu Beshvat Seder

Posted in Judaism, photography | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Channeling My Inner Hobbit (Finished Cowl)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 7, 2012

Finished Cowl

Finished Cowl

I wanted a really fast knitting project to use up some of my yarn. I was very surprised to find this bulky roving-type yarn in my closet because I almost never knit on needles larger than 4 mm. It must have been someone’s stash cull. It’s not the sort of thing I would buy. I have no idea of the yardage because there’s so little information on the label (Tsemer haHasidah “Berber”) but the entire piece took 430 gms of yarn. The pattern is called GAP-tastic Cowl, a free download on Ravelry.

Yarn order arrived

I haven’t purchased yarn for years, unless you count the small quantities to make kippot (yarmulkes) for the menfolk in my family. Someone told me about Esse, a site that sells Estonian yarn, so I bought 150 gms of Aade Löng Natural 8/2 in grey and Aade Löng Artistic 8/2 in “Rainbow,” along with some circular needles. The order was shipped within two days and arrived two days later by registered mail. I’m very pleased with the service so far. It seems to be located in Haifa.

The stock seems to vary from week to week (I couldn’t find the same grey yarn when I checked the site today) and is limited to Aade Löng wool in 3 weights, various Grignasco cottons, and a large selection of Addi needles and crochet hooks. Wow. When I came to Israel in 1989 it was nearly impossible to find lace needles, circulars in different lengths (other than 100 cm), and very thick or thin needles. It’s unbelievable to see how much is available nowadays.

Dust Storm, Maale Adumim

Today is my last day of sick leave. The stitches were taken out this morning and I’m wearing normal shoes again. I had hoped to run a few errands but the country is in the midst of a severe dust storm. A strong, bone-chilling wind is blowing sand and dust everywhere. The sky looks yellow. Normally you can see buildings on the hillside across the wadi. I took this photo from my balcony.

Posted in Crafts, knitting | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Bullion Crochet Flower: Success At Last

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 6, 2012

Bullion Crochet Flower

This small accomplishment makes me absurdly happy. I tried crocheting the bullion (aka roll) stitch last night in this variegated cotton yarn and ended up with some impressive sculptural effects but nothing that could be identified as bullions. So I went to YouTube for tutorials and found a number of workarounds developed by clever crocheters. This video had the most elegant solution and it worked very well for me. The video is in Russian, but you don’t need the commentary. Just pick up a tapestry needle.

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