Monday, October 31, 2005

Enough Already!

OK! I think this is it! Halloween is officially over. This year Halloween turned into a four-day holiday! Actually, judging from the store displays, Halloween is the beginning of the Christmas season.
Our Saturday was fun-filled and very hectic. The Petersen Automotive Museum held a Vintage Hearse Procession starting at the Museum (Wilshire and Fairfax), traveling east down Wilshire, south on La Brea, west on Olympic, then back up Fairfax to the Museum. I was racing from the westside of town (yarn shopping, you know), so I just caught the tail end of the procession on Olympic Blvd. A vintage ambulance truck brought up the rear. It was a traffic stopper!
Later in the afternoon our neighborhood, Wilshire Vista, held it's annual Halloween Haunt for the kids. It was really well-attended. All of the little kids and many of their parents were in costume. There were games, storytelling, bouncing environments, a haunted house, food, candy, prizes, etc. We have so many talented residents that donated their time, energy and artistic know-how to prepare for this event. It's always a fun time.
Around 9pm Larry and I bundled up in warm clothes and drove up to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It took us at least 30 minutes to find a place to park....what a crowd!!! For about 5 years the HF Cemetery has hosted a Dia de Los Muertos Festival on their grounds. People set up altars to their departed loved ones. There are art displays, food booths, vendors, live music, projected videos and movies, etc. We had never been to this event. Wow!!! It started at 3 pm and ended at 11 pm. This was the most elaborate Dia de los Muertos display I have ever seen. Next year, I want to go at dusk so I can really see all of the altars.
It was a busy Halloween, but a really satisfying one.


Friday, October 28, 2005

WeHo Stitch 'n Witch

It was a wonderful evening at the WeHo SnB "Stitch 'n Witch" at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. Natalie organized a great party. Crystal helped with decorations, Faith, Sara-1, Gwen, Jeffrey and Shannita brought refreshments (pictured). To see all of the photos from the evening, click on the Stitch 'n Witch album at

I won the prize for the Best Use of Yarn in a Costume. Faith won for Scariest...she was the Evil Queen from Snow White. Darcy won for most Clever Costume. Darcy came as the masthead figure on Crazy Aunt Purl's blog. Her costume was brilliant! She even brought her 4 "kitties" with her. Natalie and I provided the prizes. I brought some special yarn and books. Natalie's prizes were denim totebags, hand-needled felted by Miss Natalie. Great designs!

Thanks to everyone for contributing and participating in this fun party!!!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Plain or Frosted?

I go to the Original Farmers Market quite a bit. We live right down the block, so I think of it as my personal outdoor patio. Last night Larry and I were there with our regular Wednesday night dinner group: Perky Amy, Bored Robbie, Inquisitive Stuart and Engrossed Joan W. You can tell that the Market is setting up for it's Fall Festival as well as other Halloween related events. I believe that Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts at the east end of the Market has the best freshly baked doughnuts in the City. We couldn't decide last night between plain or frosted, so we got both!

There are tons of Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos events happening this weekend in Los Angeles. My friend, artist Tony de Carlo is loaning slides of his many Day of the Dead paintings to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery at Gower and Santa Monica. On Saturday night, these slides will be projected on a huge mausoleum wall, people will set up altars to their dear and departed ones, and there will be music performances. Also, just outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on Saturday at around noon there will be the world's longest hearse procession. It starts at Fairfax and Wilshire, continues east down Wilshire to La Brea, then heads west back to the Museum. I'll be on that parade route with my camera!
Come back tomorrow for photos of our Stitch 'n Witch!!! Happy Pre- Halloween


Monday, October 24, 2005

Halloween in Hollywood

Halloween is a big deal in Hollywood...especially in WEST Hollywood. Every year there's this huge parade on Santa Monica Blvd. between Doheny and La Cienega. The costumes are amazing, the people outrageous...there's dancing, live music, costume contests, etc. There's a Mardi-Gras type hilarity in the air. It's wild.

Conversely, our little Stitch 'n Witch Halloween party at the Original Farmers Market this coming Thursday night will be a much quieter affair. I'm still working on my costume. I've been working on it all weekend!

We did break for a few activities this weekend. We had dinner with Audrey and Jeff on Friday night at one of my fave Thai restaurants, Chao Krung on Fairfax. After dinner, we zoomed over to East Hollywood to La Luz de Jesus Gallery to attend a book signing. The shop was supposed to be open until 9pm. We got there at about 8:45....the doors were locked! So we cruised back toward Virgil Village where we had previouslly seen some interesting and colorful Halloween yard art (see photo at top of article). Audrey and I got out and clicked some photos after checking with the occupants of the building to see if it was OK. We love Halloween decorations.
On Saturday night Larry and I headed eastward again to Eagle Rock to attend a b-day party. It was a friendly gathering. Then, Larry went to an art gallery opening while I raced across the valley to Encino to meet knit designer and instructor, Annie Modesit at Laurie's house. Laurie has posted pix of this gathering. Many of my fave SnB'rs were there, sitting in the unusually warm patio, sipping wine, eating pizza, applie pie and knitting or crocheting away. It was an inspiring evening, giving me the boost I needed to sit on the couch all day Sunday and work on my Halloween costume!!!


Friday, October 21, 2005

Halloween Preparations

Ooooo....we were all buzzin' last night at the WeHo SnB. Next Thursday, October 27th, we're going to celebrate Halloween at our meeting. We'll call it Stitch 'n Witch instead of Stitch 'n Bitch! Everyone is working on their costumes. We will have prizes (good ones too!) in three categories: Best Use of Yarn in a Costume; Scariest Costume; Most Creative Costume. I'm aiming for the best use of yarn. I can't divulge my whole idea yet, but I've finished the "crowning glory" portion of my ensemble.
Everyone's invited to attend. We hold our Thursday night SnB meetings at the Original Farmers Market, 3rd and Fairfax, upstairs dining area from 7-9:30 pm. Bring your camera!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Little Serbia in Culver City

For the past year, Larry and I have been going to the Metro Cafe in Culver City for the most wonderful dinners. I've finally decided to share the info. We read about this place in the L.A. Weekly. Jonathan Gold wrote a glowing review.

Aleks and Sasa, from Serbia, took over the existing coffee shop at the Travel Lodge on Washington Blvd. in Culver City. This is a quiet stretch of Washington, just east of Sepulveda, next to the Elks Lodge and across the street from the vintage Cozy Inn bar. The regular menu is strictly coffee shop fare. In the evenings, you can ask for the "specials" menu. Aleks and Sasa make the most amazing food. Some of it is from their native Serbia, some is based on European, continental cuisine, some is just basic, down-home Americana. Everything we've tasted has been wonderful. None of the entrees is usually over $12. Dinner includes vegies and usually yummy garlic mashed potatoes. They automatically give you a little basket of sourdough French bread with this creamy red, peppery spread....divine. They have other appetizers, pastas, salads and a few desserts.

See photos of some of our meals.....yes, we photograph everything! There are Lamb Chops, Bouillabaise (Larry Armstrong in background), Weiner Schnitzel, Serbian Sarma (chopped meat and rice, rollled into sausages), Trout. The salads are really wonderful. If they have it, we order the hearts of romaine lettuce, drizzled with some sort of oil, then slightly browned on the wood-fire grill, topped with freshly grated parmesean cheese.....Magnifique! Have you ever had hot lettuce?
Aleks and Sasa are truly hospitable and friendly. Most of the customers are regulars, so at times the little dining room can feel like a party. Sometimes, later at night, some of Aleks' and Sasa's friends come by. One particular cold week night, 3 hunky Serbian guys who looked like Fabio were sitting outside, smoking, drinking espresso and tossing back their gorgeous blonde heads...nice. Who knew Little Serbia was so glamorous and located in Culver City?


Monday, October 17, 2005

Knit in the City

Saturday was the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research event, Knit in the City at Memorial Park in Pasadena. My crochet friend, Marsha and I zipped up to Pasadena for the festivities. It was a beautiful, sunny day (it’s raining in L.A. today). There were tons of booths highlighting various guilds, shops, manufacturers, etc. We hung out at the Stitches From The Heart booth and the Stitch n’ Bitch table.
There were so many samples of gorgeous knitted and crocheted items: Felted fish (which I call Gefelted Fish), washcloths, scarves, hats, purses, ponchos, shawls, sweaters, baby items. I saw Kathy, the knitting teacher at the Ariel and Will Durant Library in Hollywood, instructing novices on how to knit. We watched the knit and crochet fashion show with items from the various designers and yarn shops. It was a grand day and quite inspirational!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The ART of Knitting & Crochet

Yarn art has often intrigued me. As a child I primarily knitted clothes for my dolls...especially Barbie. I still have the moth-eaten little clothes I made for Barbie...Mom made the top and as you can see, I clumsily made the skirt!
Later, in an art class in college I decided to incorporate a crocheted piece into a multi-media project. I was a last-minute homework type of person, so the fastest thing I could think of to complete the assignment was to crochet a net, then twist it and attach it to a painted board using nails, wire and glued-on found first multi-media piece. Sadly, I didn't think to photograph this work of art, however I received an "A" on the of my only good grades during my college career. I was slightly more interested in boys at the time than in studying!
Last spring I received a postcard from the Velaslavasay Panorama (another interesting L.A. place) about Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane. It seems that scientist Daina Taimina came up with a crocheted model to illustrate the structure of hyperbolic planes. Huh? I didn't know anything about the hyperbolic stuff, but of course I was interested in the crochet connection. I attended the lecture and brought along extra yarn and my crochet hooks. There were about 20 people sitting around crocheting these little models. The more you crochet on the models, the bigger and more interesting they become. Here are some samples. Daina Taimina explains her epiphany like this:
“I was seeing patterns and algorithms in knitting and crochet but I was not connecting it with my professional work in mathematics until I became a Visiting Associate Professor at Cornell University. Professor David Henderson was showing a paper model of hyperbolic plane that was made using William Thurston's idea of annuli. And then it came in my mind - if one can make it out of a paper, then I should be able to crochet it and to get a more durable model to use in my geometry class. In 1997 I crocheted my first classroom set of hyperbolic planes and used them in my geometry class. It was amazing to see how much they helped my students to understand the nature of hyperbolic planes.”
There have been many articles and radio stories on Taimina. One of my favorite magazines, "Interweave" has an article on Taimina in the special Crochet issue. There's this wonderful site, Knitting as Art: Sculptural Knitting and Crochet that highlights Taimina's work and the work of others. Click on the ARTISTS link at the bottom of the page. Knitting and Crochet are not only useful skills to use to make garments, they can function as ART too!!!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Felting Magic

Wear wool in Southern California? Never! Knit and crochet with wool in Southern California? All the time!!!

Felting is magic. The process of knitting or crocheting an item in wool, then throwing it into the washer with an old tennis shoe and watching it shrink up to a fluffy, wonderful item is truly thrilling.
Way back in May, I bought some gorgeous hand-spun, hand-dyed wool from Christine at our local WeHo Stitch 'n Bitch gathering. This particular vision of pink and orange was named "Post Office." You'll have to ask Christine about the name. Anyway, the yarn is luscious. I just didn't know what I wanted to do with it. When in doubt, make a purse! A few weeks ago, I dropped all the various projects I was working on and knit up this little beauty. I used up positively every last inch of yarn on this project, even crocheting a flower for the front of the bag. My photos aren't too great, but you can see the fluffy miracle purse before felting (photographed on burgundy carpet) and after (photographed on a yellow background. I really only shrunk about 2 inches all around. Can't wait to use this little jewel!
To read more about felting and how to do it, check here.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Curating the City

Yesterday was the all-day self-guided driving tour of Wilshire Boulevard sponsored by The Los Angeles Conservancy. It was a long day, but well worth it! We started at The Elks Club, built in 1925, overlookiing MacArthur Park, just west of downtown. Next stop the art deco Bullock's Wilshire, buillt in 1929, which is now owned by Southwestern Law School and only open periodically for tours. We continued down Wilshire to the Byzantine domed Wilshire Boulevard Temple (1929). The murals inside are incredible. Johnie's Coffee Shop at Wilshire and Fairfax (1955) has been closed for the last 5 years. This was the most active docent stop. The entire Modern Committee helped in cleaning the place, adding vintage displays of postcards, menus, matchbooks, etc. There were 3-D slides of the original coffee shop at this location, called Romeo's Times Square. Members of the ModCom dressed in waitress and waiter outfits and even served pie and coffee to the visitors. It was a stand-out location! Since Larry and I live about 4 blocks from Johnie's, we stopped at home for a quick refreshment and fluff-up, then continued to the last two stops on the tour.
We zoomed out to Westwood to see the oldest building on Wilshire Boulevard, the Victorian Wadsworth Chapel (1900) at the Veterans Administration area, north of Wilshire, just west of the 405 Fwy. The earthquake in '94 did a number on this place. Phew! It's a mess. Some film companies have gussied up the place recently, but the Chapel needs major renovation!
Our last stop was the Spanish Colonial Revival styled Miles Playhouse (1929) in Santa Monica. This is a charming little theater that specializes in children's productions.
There's a new book out called "Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles" by Kevin Roderick and Eric Lynxwiler. Eric was on the tour yesterday and autographed books for everyone. This is one of the best histories of Los Angeles that I've ever seen. If you're interested at all in the roots of our City, get the book!
Tonight at sundown is the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, starting with our New Year celebration, Rosh Hashonah and ending next week with our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Happy New Year everyone! May your year be blessed with sweetness and sucess! Eat some honeycake and apples!!!


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