Monday’s Musing – And the Winner is?

Amuse

Congratulations to Bionic Laura ! Your parcel will be sent in the post to you later this week (as soon as I get your address!). I hope you enjoy this little windfall.

On second or third glance through the book I noticed a pattern or two that I thought I might like to try; so I have to admit that I took photocopies of two sock patterns before I posting it off. I don’t think that’s breaking copyright laws – considering I bought the book in the first place; the designer still gets royalties.

The Muse

It was great fun to have people participating in my little Bonanza. The contributions from Mairin, Sarah, Laura and Katalysis really put a smile on my face. It made me wonder what might have been, however, if other people – regular readers and sock-knitters to boot – had put in their entries (these are all written by me and I hope the subject each enjoys having her leg pulled a little!). 

Bridget’s haiku: 

Three kitties has she
To chase and chastise her yarn
As she knit 10 pairs

Sinead’s haiku:  

O Prodigal Sock
Left alone in a glovebox
Will you forgive me?

Helen (OfTroy)’s haiku: 

Oh Sensei*! I am
But a grasshopper to your
Vast Knitting knowledge

*Japanese word for teacher or mentor 

My head is in a Spin

Bemuse

And where would we be on a Monday without me being a little bemused, eh? 

This time, it’s the Elsica pattern again – in particular how it was printed in Yarn Forward. I finished mine on Christmas Day – a day late to give it to my sister for Christmas, however. I warned you I might have more comments to make about the pattern as I worked through the crown. Sure enough, it appears the chart for the crown has been printed with the legend over-laying it – such that you only get half of the information you need to complete the crown. Again, I’d blame those behind printing the magazine, rather than the designer. 

My recommendation is that you refer to the written instructions. They are pretty straight-forward. To help me keep count I broke the pattern into three sequences that repeated all the way around – I called them A, B and C. In the first round of decreases the decrease happens in all the A parts of the sequence; next round all the B parts, next round – C. The next round – no decreases at all, just to keep me on my toes. So, kind-of like a waltz, I was counting “A,2,3,4 and B,2,3,4,5 and C,2,3,4,5”.  Once I got my rythm going I didnt’ need the chart at all.

From reading Wooly Wormhead’s blog about her pattern, it seems the rights to the pattern revert from Yarn Forward to her in six months time. I reckon you’ll be safe going straight to the horse’s mouth, as it were, for the best version of the pattern when that happens. This is a really lovely pattern and a very enjoyable knit. It’s just a pity that the magazine couldn’t have been more careful about how they printed it.

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Bemuse A Muse and Amuse

Bemuse

We had an odd experience in Dublin City Centre last Saturday, while doing our Christmas Shopping. We went into Oxfam for more Christmas Cards and in the hope of getting a  present for my sister. DD decided that she wanted to get a set of building blocks for The Earl. She had brought with her a bag of miscellaneous coins that she’d recouped from her piggy-bank. There were Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, English sterling mixed in with the Euro and cent. The building blocks cost €21 so we sorted through the money and counted it all out. Dutiful mother that I am, I chastised her a little that she hadn’t counted it, let alone sorted it, beforehand and I also expressed concern that she was spending most of her savings on this one toy – rather than looking at buying lots of things; but she was adamant. In the end, she had just enough without having to start counting out the coppers, thankfully. We queued up – her holding the toy, me with both hands completely full of change; and she was delighted to have bought her littlest brother a Christmas present from her savings.

Shortly afterwards, while I was still browsing in the hopes of being inspired for my sister’s present, a lady approached me and asked if we’d got the toy. I was completely bemused and quite guarded – I have to admit that I worried this was some distraction technique. Then she started to press a card into my hand. I wondered if she wanted to buy the toy off me. When she kept insisting “It’s a gift – I want them to have this”, I began to realise that she wanted to give my kids something. After protesting with her for a while, I relented – after all, she was making it seem rude not to. I opened the card, expecting to find money inside – it’s an old tradition in Ireland to give luck-money to children. Instead of the €5 I expected (this being the smallest denomination of “paper-money” in Ireland, has led to a ridiculous level of inflation for this tradition) there was €50! I was in shock. I was speechless. The woman had disappeared.

Our trip to Oxfam was our last thing before we went to get the train home. On our way to the station, we passed by the Moving Crib so we decided to drop by. All the time, I was going over in my head what had just happened: on the one hand it was meant as a gift for my kids; on the other hand there are many people more hard-up than we are this Christmas, it doesn’t seem right that we should be benefactors. Okay, so we were counting out change in Oxfam, to make enough for a present; but I didn’t think we looked that hopeless – I thought it was a “teachable moment” for DD! Then, while all this debate was raging in my head, we noticed the contribution box for the Mansion House Fuel Fund. It’s a charity that supports those suffering distress in Ireland and contributions go towards the Simon Community, ALONE and the St Vincent de Paul. DH quickly assuaged all of my anxieties by putting €50 – of our own money – into the box. This way, we pass on the Christmas spirit to those that we judge need it more than us; and DD keeps her luck-money and remains the beneficiary of the kindness of a  stranger at Christmas.

A Muse?

Anyway, back to some silliness after all that hubris.

While searching for and reviewing books on Amazon recently I came across this title: “Haiku Knits – Serenely Beautiful Patterns Inspired by Japanese Design“. Once bitten, twice shy – as they say – so I have to admit I went straight for the more negative reviews to get a baseline for what the issues were. Reading the following comments, I knew to pass this one by:

“I was looking for some interesting project, new ideas and creative garment construction above all. I should have looked elsewhere. … 
A couple of the projects looked to me like plain reproduction of some Vogue Knitting patterns….. (legal?).
A couple of projects would only work with a very specific, expensive and hard to find sounding (metallic yarn…?). …
And can anyone find anything Japanese looking in these patterns?”

“This book has to be one of the most disappointing knitting books of the decade, it wasn’t worth the wait nor the money. “

Amusing

This comment made me laugh:

“The “Japanese flavor” is provided by five haikus strewn in the book, and that’s it. I guess somebody along the book production chain wanted to cash in on the current popularity of haikus.”

I had no idea, honestly, that the haiku was currently popular. So, if you also want to “cash in on the current popularity of haikus” go take a look at my Give-aways page! Write a Haiku in the comments of my post Ban-zai and be in with a chance to win!

And while we’re speaking of Haiku (though not in Haiku!) I also came across this website, which you might enjoy: The Torah in Haiku.

“No way! ”

“Yeah-way!”

Haiku to you!

A few years ago the email below went around our office. It prompted my boss to start emailing his instructions in haiku. There are times I think that the author of the Dilbert cartoons takes his inspiration directly from my work-life. Naturally, I had to rise to the challenge – along with one of my colleagues. It went on for about a week before he kinda admitted defeat by telling us – in haiku – to quit the messing and get back to work. Unfortunately, we can’t find any of the haiku we sent each other. He retired last year and we searched everywhere so that we could include them in a parting gift; but to no avail. The search turned up the original email and the haiku has been close to my heart ever since.

If you’d like to write your own haiku check out my Ban-zai Bonanza Post and put it in the comments. The entries to date have all been about the joys (or otherwise) of knitting socks. But yours could be about anything. The ones included below might give you some inspiration.

It’s a Give-away so by entering you’re in with a chance to win the prize which I’ll draw – by random number generator so it’s not a competition on quality or technique – on St. Stephen’s Day (26th December 2009) and send off by year-end. 

Joke Email re: Haiku

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules – each poem has only 17 syllables; 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third.

They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity.

Aren’t these better than “Your computer has performed an illegal operation”?

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
First snow, then silence
This thousand-dollar screen dies
So beautifully.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
“My Novel” not found.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao-until
You bring fresh toner.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Having been erased,
The document you’re seeking
Must now be retyped.
 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 
Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Ban-zai!

ban⋅zai  /bɑnˈzaɪ, ˈbɑn-; Japn. ˈbɑnˈdzɑi
[Japanese, (may you live) ten thousand years : ban, ten thousand (from Middle Chinese muanh, uan) + zai, year (from Middle Chinese swiajh, suaj).]
–interjection
1. (used as a Japanese patriotic cry or joyous shout.)
2. (used as a Japanese battle cry.)

  

Recently, I bought this book via Amazon.

More Occident than Orient

I had been won over by reading the reviews on Amazon with comments like:

“If you are a fan of complex socks, such as those of Cookie A, as I am, then you will love this book.”

and:

“All in all, this is a book of BEAUTIFUL socks, probably not for the beginner or early intermediate knitter. It would be a great addition to any advanced intermediate or advanced knitter’s library.”

Now that I have the book in my possession, I have added the following review on Amazon.com:

 
2.0 out of 5 stars Purely Occidental in Orientation, December 4, 2009

I bought this because of the gushing reviews I’d read here. I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed.

The “hook” for the book – in the words of the author “what would make my sock book different than the many that were already on the shelves” – is only developed in a very superficial way. She aspires to “introduce Western sock knitters to stitches and techniques they had never seen before”. As it turns out, the three new stitches the author introduces are so clearly explained that if you’ve knit a few socks before – be it by Cookie A or Nancy Bush – this book will not present you with too much of a challenge. If, on the other hand, you’ve made your own forays into working sock-designs out for yourself, either thanks to Charlene Schurch or Cat Bordhi, you’ll want to by-pass this book and get your hands on the Japanese Stitch Pattern books the author references.

The author’s description of her “crash course in Japanese culture” makes for cringe-worthy reading, I’m afraid. It becomes painfully clear that she has never visited Japan; neither does she appear to have plans to anytime soon: “One simple word would lead me to the far corners of the Internet, and often through thousands of years of history.” I’m sorry, thousands of years of history deserves more than a cursory nod.

The photography in this book may be beautiful but it is also completely useless. The photos are meant to be for a knitting book about socks and vastly different stitch patterns; and not a lifestyle book about sitting-around. The socks look baggy and unblocked; and many of the photos look like they were taken from the vantage point of the person wearing the socks.

I fear this may come across as arrogant but my sock-knitting skills have moved beyond this book. Don’t get me wrong, there are many beautiful patterns in this book. It covers a diverse range of yarn weights and sock styles. The photography and styling of the book are very pretty. It’s just that… I’m just not feeling the love. It’s not the book’s fault… it’s me… eh… I’ve grown in a different direction… and eh… right now… I need space…

You know me by now, whenever I fear I’m in danger of getting a bit too big for my boots I start to worry about re-balancing the Karma. So, I’ve decided to give this book away – set it free to find a better home where it can give happiness to others. And I’m doing it with a bit of a bonanza:

Orient Yourself!

In keeping with the Japanese theme, kitch as it may be, to be in with a chance to get your hands on this package you must write a haiku* in the comments for this post. I will enter all the names into a random generator and ship the package off by year-end – one of the two major gift-giving seasons in Japan “o-seibo”.

*The Wikipedia entry for Haiku is a bit too erudite and technical so I’ll include instead Judy Sumner’s description:

Haiku is a form of non-rhyming Japanese poetry in which simple words are used to “paint” an image in the mind of the reader. Among the most common themes are nature and the poet’s feelings and life experiences. Often in haiku, there are five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third, for a total of seventeen syllables overall. The challenge of haiku is to express the poem’s meaning and imagery in this sparse, strict format.

To start the ball rolling I’ll use the haiku she offers:

The Sock
Sock on the needles
Naked foot in its future
Warm and beautiful