Category Archives: Film

A knitted teddy bear

Knitted teddy bear

Last week I was listening to the Knitting Pipeline podcast, and my ears pricked up when I heard Paula and friends oohing and ahhing over a cute knitted teddy bear one of them had made. As I’ve mentioned here before, my son loves stuffed animals; in fact, he had a friend over last night, and when I woke O up this morning, Goatie (stuffed goat) was tucked under his arm. He just doesn’t care if kids tease him and shrugs it off, reasoning that they’ve probably got some “childish” habits, too.

I checked out the pattern and it was, indeed, cute as all heck and reviews said it was easy to knit. Some knitters had completed all the knitting while watching a movie. That’s my kind of pattern!

My teddy was knit with a partial skein of Bernat Pipsqueak, an acrylic novelty yarn that was perfect for this project: it knits up into a soft fabric that hides a multitude of seaming sins, of which I committed many. Like many knitters, I found this to be a quick knit; I accomplished all of it while watching Skyfall on Netflix. Mmm, Daniel Craig … such a sexy Bond!

I wanted my little bear to have a Christmas-y look, so instead of knitting the scarf, I tied a tartan ribbon around his neck. As for the nose, or lack thereof … I don’t know. I kind of like him without one. He looks less threatening (O has a bear phobia). What do you think?

For the next couple days I’ve got to crank out the knitting and clean up the house. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

The passing of years

Last night I was in the mood for a movie so I checked to see what was on HBO. (For some reason, Verizon gifted us with three free months of HBO so I’ve been taking advantage of it.) Moonstruck was one of the offerings, one of my favorite films. So many lines in that movie are ones that have been adopted by my own family: “Snap out of it!”, “I’m confused,” and “Bring me the big knife!” are a few.

After the movie ended, I wracked my brain trying to remember where, when and with whom I saw this movie. Was it ten years ago with my husband? No, it must have been made in the 90s, I thought, since the World Trade Center buildings figure so prominently in a few of the scenes. Then I convinced myself I’d seen it with a boyfriend in the 1990s. To verify, I checked IMDB, where I was stunned to learn this film was released in December 1987. Then I remembered: I’d seen it during my senior year in college … over 25 years ago!

It seems like yesterday I saw Moonstruck in a theatre, and indeed there’s little about the film –sans the Twin Towers– that dates it. Yet I can’t remember who was with me: the guy from my hometown in CT who I pined for my senior year? A blind date set up by my ex-boss? Perhaps I saw it with my college friends … my mind is blank on the details, except for how much I remembered from the movie: the plot, the argumentative Italian-American family, much like my own argumentative Irish-American family; the funny, clever one-liners.

Today I’m peevish and melancholy. I think how fast those twenty-five years have slipped by me. Yet, when my eyes tear up, I think of how much has changed. In 1987, I was unsure of myself or what I wanted to do with my life, even though I harbored the hope of becoming a writer of some sort. I remember all the years I spent working in advertising, then marketing, feeling like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. I remember turning 30, when suddenly I wanted to settle down yet everything around me was in flux. I met my husband when I was 32, we married, we had a baby in 2001. Now that baby is 12, a funny, articulate sixth grader who spends at least 30 minutes every morning getting his hair just right before he gets on the school bus. I’ve beaten cancer, said goodbye to my last two living grandparents, and traveled all around the world, visiting countries I’d dreamed about as a child. My corporate days are long behind me, and after countless magazine articles, four non-fiction books, and two novels (published under pseudonyms), I can unashamedly call myself A Writer. And now that I’ve reached that goal, I find myself casting about for my next act: a nurse? An MSW? I just want to feel useful, to feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life: I’ve closed the book on chasing money and fame.

Looking back at those 25 years has reminded me how much really has happened, yet how much slid by unnoticed. And rather than continue to feel melancholy about it, I’m determined now to capture more of it so that the next 25 years –which I’m sure will fly by even faster than the last quarter century — can be more accurately measured for its riches.

It means I will post here more frequently about the seemingly mundane, but special things I want to remember. Of course I will continue to talk about all things Anglo that catch my fancy, but you’ll have to forgive me if I veer off the path, which may happen more frequently than before.

Onward to 2038!



Flora Poste’s hat

One of my favorite rainy day films is Cold Comfort Farm. It’s funny, the dialogue is a treat for the ears, and it’s just one of those movies that puts me in a good mood.

In the scenes where Flora Poste (played by Kate Beckinsale) travels to the farm from London, she’s wearing a jaunty cream-colored knit cloche:


This summer Churchmouse Yarns & Tea released a pattern based on this hat and sponsored a knitalong on Ravelry. While I completed the cloche in record time, it took me a few months to photograph the final result:

Flora Poste's hat

Full Ravelry details here.

I purchased the yarn at WEBS this summer, fully intending to select the cream-colored Blue Sky Alpaca Silk, but in hand I felt kind of meh about it. This lovely grapey purple spoke of fall to me, so I went with that instead. The hat’s a little snug–my noggin’s on the large side–but I’ve also had my hair cut since the summer so I’ve got some reduced bulk to fit under there when winter comes. It’s not my warmest cap, but it’s certainly my most elegant knit topper.

September is kicking my butt, thus why I’ve been so quiet. O is slowly easing into middle school, although the transition hasn’t been the smoothest. He’s not a morning person, nor am I, so the 7:15 a.m. bus arrival has been a trial by fire for both of us. Luckily the school is an easy bike ride on the trail, unlike his elementary school, which was a good four miles on the other side of town. O also has a lot more homework, and with my studying for nursing school I’m exhausted by 8 or 9 p.m. Everything has suffered–blogging, housework, keeping up with family and friends–but this week feels a little more settled. Fingers crossed!



Queuing up

My mother called yesterday wondering if I’d like a gift certificate for Christmas so I could buy more yarn. Normally, my heart rate quickens at the promise of such a gift. But I heard myself telling her, “You know what, Mom? I have plenty of yarn, so no thank you, not this year.”

I explained to her that I have so much yarn packed in a glass-fronted bookshelf that I have trouble matching skeins to projects. I’ve found that I like knitting with a plan. For the rest of the year, as well as into 2013, I’m going to make a list of projects, prioritize them, and hopefully by the end of next year I’ll have piles of knitwear instead of bookshelves full of wool.

My stash is quite modest by most knitting standards; still, I get antsy and ADD when I have a lot of wool staring me in the face. I find I’m less tolerant of “stuff” these days … it ties into the rampant consumerism that bothers me. OK, it’s just wool and it’s useful, but I do I really need more than I could ever knit in my lifetime? It bugs me when I pull out a couple skeins, knowing that I’d earmarked them for a specific project, but time and the allure of new projects have me completely befuddled what exactly those skeins were for.

So here are my knitting goals for the rest of 2012:

* Finish the projects I have on my needles, including a Simplest pullover, pair of socks, and another Gaptastic cowl.

* Knit a balaclava for biking from stash.

* Knit Thorpe hat from Rowan Colourscape Chunky just purchased from Wild and Woolly in Lexington.

* Knit another pair of Toasty fingerless gloves for biking in CEL Portland Tweed in stash.

* Knit Norwegian stockings from Folk Socks (yarn purchased at WEBS in September).

* If I have time (LOL) maybe knit a new pair of felted French Press Slippers.

I’m sure I’ll add more to this list, but for now this gives me some direction.

My brother Matt is heading over to pick up his truck so he can head down to NY/NJ to help with the storm cleanup. He told me this morning he was in Rockaway last weekend and it looked like a war zone. He does not use those words lightly since he’s actually fought in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine. Anyway, it will be nice to see him, if only for an hour or so, since he’s been so busy with school this semester.

And tomorrow morning, my husband, son and I will catch the early showing of Skyfall — only $6! — as our birthday presents to each other. We all happen to have birthdays in a three-week period so this will be a fun way to celebrate. O is excited because it’ll be the first time he gets to go a PG-13 film, woo-hoo! Then Monday there’s no school because of Veterans Day, so we’ll be thinking of all the men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our great country.

What are you doing this weekend? Have you seen Skyfall yet? What did you think?


November, November


November is not my favorite month. After the autumn colors of October, it feels so stark and dreary to me. Even the word November sounds cold and lonely, maybe because it rhymes a bit like “woe” and “slow” and “snow.” I also struggle with seasonal affective disorder thanks to my northern European genes coupled with living in the northeastern U.S., and November is when it seems to hit me the hardest.

I have high hopes for this November, though. I’m focusing on all the wonderful things about the month. First, it’s my birthday month. I used to dislike celebrating my birthday, but the older I’m getting, the more I appreciate every year I have on earth. There’s still so much I want to do and see. Two years ago when my doctor told me I had cancer, the first thing I thought was, “But I still have so many things I want to knit!” Silly to say, but that thought pulled me through some dark moments, and today it guides me toward a more productive life day after day, whether knitting, writing, cooking, or traveling.

It’s also my son’s birthday month, and he LOVES his birthday. His enthusiasm is always contagious.

November delivers some great books and movies. This year it’s a new Bond film and Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, and while it came out in October, I’m eager to see Ben Affleck’s film Argo. As for books, I have new releases from Barbara Kingsolver and Ian McEwan to enjoy.

All the great produce is gone from the supermarkets, but November has some food gems. I’m happy to see the nuggets of candied fruit for fruitcakes, large bins of mixed nuts, peeled chestnuts, bags of fresh cranberries, and tiny orange clementines piled high in the stores. O and I can begin looking for Candy Cane Joe-Joes at Trader Joe’s. And closer to Thanksgiving, one can start looking for stollen in the bake shops.

Unlike summer when it’s light out until 9 p.m., I don’t have to feel guilty about plopping myself down on the couch to knit an hour or so before bedtime. In the summer I spend my knitting time fretting about dozens of garden tasks I should be doing while it’s still light.

November is a month for slowing down, no permission needed. Taking a nap on a summer afternoon always feels so indolent to me, but during a chilly Saturday, tucked underneath a down comforter? No one raises an eyebrow.

Any other sweet spots in November?

I leave you with this picture of O and his best friend L from last night’s Halloween festivities. O went as a medieval ninja, and his friend is a scary book character whose name I can’t recall. I was very impressed with L’s costume, though. When O and I arrived at their house, his parents were madly tacking on strips of ripped fabric to his clothes. L had forgotten the costume he’d planned to wear at school, so this was improvised. I think they did a fantastic job! (P.S. I couldn’t stop giggling at the size of O’s feet. He’s at that age where his feet are humungous and his body hasn’t caught up.)


New Skyfall trailer

I was just thinking this a.m. that November is nearly on my doorstep.

And that means a new James Bond film, just in time for my birthday. 🙂


I also found this CNN video on the best Bond scenes. I agree with John Cork, the Bond expert they interview … the action sequence in the beginning of Casino Royale can’t be beat. This remake also happens to be my favorite Bond film. What is your favorite? Are you looking forward to seeing Skyfall?

Olympic Fever!

Friends and family keep asking me, “Don’t you wish you were in London right now?” Guess they don’t know me very well because my idea of hell is being stuck in loud, sweaty crowds with no easy means of escape. Not to mention if you want to watch the Olympics, the best seat in the house is usually at home where you can see everything much better thanks to network cameras. I’ll save London for another day. I’m content to see the sights from this side of the ocean.

I did stay up last night to watch the opening ceremonies. Well done, I thought. Not much of a surprise there as I like Danny Boyle, but I did find it odd that it overly emphasized British literature, film, and music over than sport and athleticism. I’m not going to complain, though, because the soundtrack was outstanding: the Clash, Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Chemical Brothers, the Pet Shop Boys, Clapton, and more. We did not see Elton John or Coldplay. And I loved that when Queen came on, their music got an extra cheer from the crowd.

Speaking of queenly matters … did you like the James Bond short? I thought it was fun. And good for the Queen for playing along, although she looked rather glum all night.

Another thing I enjoyed about Boyle’s direction? The homage to Britain’s sense of humor. The Brits just don’t take themselves so seriously, unlike Americans. (A huge generalization, I know.)  I doubt you’d see the likes of an American director let someone like Rowan Atkinson goof around with a renowned orchestra. I mean, look how offended we get when Ricky Gervais pokes fun at Hollywood celebrities? Wait — I guess it’s the Hollywood celebrities who get offended. But I stand by my original assertion.

I loved the look of the Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms for the U.S. athletes, though I was dismayed to find out they were made in China. Grr. And while I’ve seen the athletic wear that Stella McCartney designed for Team UK, I wasn’t thrilled with the look of the uniforms they wore at last night’s opening ceremony. (Those gold patches under their arms? Yuk.) I also liked Canada’s outfits — they were simple, but really stood out.

Anyway, it was a pleasant way to spend the evening and I managed to get a good bit done on my 2012 Ravellenic Games entry, my Go America! socks:

socks for Ravellenic games

I had to rip them back a bit after I’d discovered I’d cast on an extra stitch, but otherwise good progress. This morning I manged to add another two inches to the leg, and I suspect by the end of the weekend I’ll have the heel turned. My son is down in Connecticut this weekend, so I have some extra free time.

Are you watching the Olympics over the next several weeks? Are you participating in the 2012 Ravellenic games?

That’s Bond, Sir James Bond

Yesterday I spent another dreary, rainy day with my knitting, watching Casino Royale (the remake) and Quantum of Solace, both for the nth times. And yes, I can’t wait until November 9th, when the next Bond film, Skyfall, will hit the big screen here in North America. (You lucky dogs in Britain get it two weeks ahead of us.) I’ve got a lot of anticipation riding on this installment: Sam Mendes directing, starring roles for Ralph Fiennes (!!!) and Javier Bardem, not to mention more of broody, rough Daniel Craig and the always-a-pleasure-to-watch Judi Dench.

I’ve also been catching up on my show biz reading this weekend, and just learned there’s another guest star scheduled for the film: Queen Elizabeth! According to The Telegraph, Bond will be receiving a knighthood in Skyfall, and the Queen has agreed to participate in filming the scene. How cool is that? I’m also loving that the London Olympics will somehow play a part in the film.

I hate to get my hopes up — I’ve had some big Bond disappointments (A View to a Kill*? The Living Daylights?). On the other hand, with all this great casting and a top director, how can they miss?


*A View to a Kill, imo, has one of the best Bond songs. Duran Duran rocks it 4 ever … just don’t judge the song by the video. That hi-tech Walkman, LOL!!!

Friday finished object — Owls!

Owls is D-O-N-E.

This sweater has been knit, ripped, re-knit, hibernating, ripped, re-knit, ripped (by cat), re-knit … oh gosh, I can’t keep up with how many times. But the last end has been woven in, and now all it needs is a bath to be ready for my mother’s birthday in April. I hope she likes it! (Don’t worry — she won’t see this. She never reads my blog or Ravelry page!)

I’d originally started knitting this for myself, but when my mother expressed delight in the softness of the wool (KnitPicks Swish Bulky), I decided to change plans. I may knit up another one for me, but I’ll knit mine with a longer torso (oy, my long waist!) and in gray wool. Now that my mother’s version is done, I’m ready for a completely different sweater for me, perhaps a simple, no-fuss  top-down cardigan knitted in Berroco Ultra Alpaca (colorway: Oceanic). Would be perfect for summer movie theater visits. Am I the only one who freezes all summer? Bloody air conditioning! Most stores (and movie theaters) have theirs set to “meat locker.” By late July, the artificial chill has me pining for fall.

Another sweater high up on my list is Kate Davies’ latest release, the Betty Mouat sweater. I fell in love with it when Kate first posted pictures of it last year and have been waiting patiently for the pattern release. And yay, this week it appeared in the 2nd edition of Kate’s magazine Textisles, which includes a fascinating story about women’s knitted swimwear. Anyway, I know Betty Mouat would have looked wonderful on me 20 years ago when I had a 22″ waist and tight, toned triceps. Now I feel that I’m thick of waist and long of tooth; will it still flatter? There’s a schematic for a long-sleeved version, but I really like the short sleeves.

I don’t buy a lot of knitting books, preferring instead to check them out of the library. But here’s one that I quickly added to my personal library after skimming through the copy I’d gotten through interlibrary loan:

What I like about Knitting in the Old Way is what I like about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books: a can-do attitude about design, and just enough explanation to help me get where I want to go. I’ve never been good about following directions slavishly and prefer to go off and do my own thing once I’ve got my sea legs, and this book meets my needs. There are no actual patterns in here; just illustrations of different styles and ethnic designs that a knitter is free to borrow for her own work. Anything that’s remotely complicated (such as the overlapping welts at the join of a Danish Nattrøjer) is explained clearly, but otherwise the knitter is given just enough info to forge ahead successfully. I anticipate this book will become a well-loved addition to my small collection of craft books.