Monday, January 31, 2011

Movie Monday - 1/31/2011

It was another week of fun at Chez Merry Karma that prevented me from going to the movies.  There are some good movies out right now that I really want to see, but pesky details like family and work can be so demanding.  I hate that.

The SAG Awards were presented last night.  The King's Speech won Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture...the equivalent of Best Picture.  Now, that's more like it.

I streamed some flicks on the iPad.  Smash His Camera is a documentary about Ron Galella - a paparazzo before the word paparazzi became famous.  He was the bane of Jackie O's existence, as he virtually stalked her to get a picture.  He did photograph many other famous people, but he had a special place in his heart for Jackie.  It was an interesting look at the right to privacy debate.

Lovely, Still is a really sweet movie with Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau who play an older couple experiencing new love.  The movie is more than it seems, as it starts becoming apparent about half way through the film.  I really liked it.

Dogtooth is Greece's entry for consideration for an Academy Award.  It was actually nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.  I don't know how many movies Greece has ever entered for awards, but for as far as I can remember, it hasn't received any Oscar nominations.  I did notice that it was playing at the Texas Theater in Dallas in an exclusive presentation.  I've never been to that theater.  Anyway, I was able to stream it on my iPad.  First, let me say, this movie is not for everyone.  I don't really think it was for me.  It is about a couple who are trying to homeschool and shelter their three rather old teenaged kids from the outside world.  Only the father ever leaves the house to go to work.  The kids have been told that there are ferocious cats outside the fence around their property that kill humans.  They are told the wrong definitions for words.  The film is rather perverse.  The only redeeming value for me in watching this film was that the actors spoke Greek, and since I understand Greek, I didn't need the subtitles. Yuck otherwise.

MK out.

Friday, January 28, 2011

FO Friday - 1/28/2011

Wanna see something cute?

The pattern for the booties is Saartje's Booties.  The pattern for the hat is a name I cannot currently recall, but will return to edit when I remember.  Please forgive my lapse of memory.  Sizes 7 US needles for the hat and size 1.5 US for the booties.  I think I should have used larger needles for the booties cause they came out a little small, but live and learn...The yarn is Berroco Comfort DK.  I enjoyed making this project.

So, the contenders for the February Sock Club sock were, Coriolis out of Koigu:


Aquaphobia out of Fleece Artist Merino:

I chose the Coriolis out of Koigu by that time-honored method of "eeny, meeny, miney, mo..."

...cause that's how I roll.

MK out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 1/26/2011

I try to take pictures of my projects as I work on them during the week, but am not always successful.

This past week has been one of those types of weeks.

The last few days, I have been working on that Lacy know the one:

As you can see, I haven't taken a recent picture of it.

I will say that I finished the Pumpkin Hat and Booties, as well as the knitting on the Surprise Bag.  I hope to felt it tomorrow. 

I've been making plans for next month.  I have some Koigu that has been caked for over a year.  I've been meaning to take Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters Book 1 for the longest and knit the master sock for each pathway.  I know I want to use the Koigu and make the Coriolis Master Pattern with it.  I am doing a self-imposed sock club this year but don't know if I want to do one a month until I've done all, or intersperce other patterns in between or what...More on that tomorrow.

I also have seven skeins of Tahki Yarns Tweedy Cotton Classic. I thought about doing Swiffer cloths, but this yarn is a little too classy for that.  I found a cute little boy cardi that might fit the bill.  It has cables and I wonder if they will get lost in this yarn.  And then there's, "Do I care?"

Decisions, decisions...

MK out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Day!

I am so excited!!!  The 83rd Academy Awards Oscar Nominations have been announced!  I am thrilled because I have seen all but three of the movies nominated, and will be able to see them all by the ceremony on February 27th.  (It doesn't take much.)

I am happy to see that True Grit garnered some nominations.  I can't believe The Social Network won the Golden Globe for Best Drama.  Seriously?  Hopefully, a more deserving picture will win the Oscar.

MK out.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Movie Monday - 1/24/2011

For some reason, there hasn't been much movie watching in the last week at Chez Merry Karma.

I did stream Babies on my iPad.  It's a cute little documentary looking at four babies in their first year of life.  One was born in the US, one in Japan, one in Mongolia and the other in Namibia.  Their upbringing has many similarities in that first year...probably because what all babies want early on is to hear momma's voice and to nurse.  Not all babies have a billy goat come check out the situation during bathtime, but if they have a sibling, they will take abuse - no matter where they live.  It was entertaining.

I went to the theater to see The Company Men with Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Craig T. Nelson, Chris Cooper, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kevin Costner and Maria Bello.  Affleck is an executive with a nice house and a fancy car.  He is among many of his coworkers who get downsized by this company that prefers to build new buildings with luxury offices for the top officers than to do what it can to retain the employees that keep the company in business.  It was interesting to watch Affleck's character go from materialistic to altruistic.  Maybe the word altruistic is going too far, but at least he learns what the important things in life are.  I liked this movie.

I also when to see Blue Valentine, the much-hyped because it started out with an NC-17 rating movie.  First of all, I think most of the movies rated R today should get an NC-17 rating for the sex or the violence in them.  Secondly, this movie had one scene that was racier than most R-rated movies, that probably was the one that was in question.  I am not going to argue what rating this movie deserved here.  Instead, I will discuss why I didn't think this movie was all that great.  The acting (Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling) was very good...don't get me wrong.  I failed to see how this movie communicated its premise...or at least the one some of the critics are saying is the premise.  This movie is supposed to show how relationships start with the couple not being able to get enough of each other because they are so in love and then life happens and they find themselves so apart.  I don't think a handfull of sex scenes showed real true intimacy at the beginning of this relationship.  Maybe, it was the editing...Yeah, let's blame it on the editing.  Seriously, this couple did have a little spark, but they got married for circumstantial reasons that I don't want to give away.  So, six years later, here's this woman who wanted to be a doctor now very dissatisfied with her life.  She is married to a housepainter who is very happy being a husband and father and feels he is just where he needs to be.  Maybe, the filmmaker is going for a nuanced story...I don't know, but it doesn't take rocket science to know that this relationship was doomed from the beginning.  If the plan was to show how love can lead us to make poor decisions, then the filmmakers succeeded.  Star-crossed lovers facing conflict and staying together against all odds??? No.

Cynical, much?

MK out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

FO Friday - 1/21/2011

The long awaited completion of the Mermaid Socks:

The pattern is called Mermaid Socks from Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks, Warm Feet book.  I used her Cat's Pajamas yarn in the Mermaid colorway on size 1 1/2 US (2.5mm) needles. I did the wavy cuff again.  They were knitted two-at-a-time on two circular needles....because I'm anal that way.

I loved making these socks...the yarn felt yummy while knitting and the colors are so happy. 

I am so close to completing the other projects currently on my needles, but I guess y'all will have to wait until they are done.  Maybe, I will get a lot of knitting done this weekend...

 MK out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 1/19/2011

That pumpkin hat needs some booties; so, I chose the Saartje's Bootees pattern since I thought a two-toned bootie was in order:

I started an afghan this weekend, since I can never leave well enough alone. It will be a long-term project.  I am not expecting to finish it this month, nor will I attempt to do so.  I saw a pattern somewhere where one casts on the length of the afghan, knits a row, cuts the yarn for self-fringing, attaches another color or the same color leaving a tail for the fringe...well, you know...but now I cannot find that pattern.  The general idea will do:

I am still working on that lace top and the felted bag.  No new pics to show for those two projects. 

Will I finish my January projects (except for the afghan) this month?  So far, I am on track...but ya never know.  One thing, whether or not all projects are complete, the Internets will know...that's a little intimidating....

MK out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Movie Monday - 1/17/2011

Movie Season, or the Road to the Oscars, is officially heating up.  Last night, the Golden Globes bestowed the best dramatic picture honors to The Social NetworkThe Kids are Alright also brought home some important awards, including Best Comedy-Musical. We will see which one wins out at the big show....Nominations will come out next week.  I can't wait!

Still in theaters:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third installment in the series. It was very well done…a very good adaptation of the book. The story begins with the younger Pevensies (Lucy and Edmund) living temporarily with their cousin Eustace. Soon, the three are heading to Narnia, meeting up with Prince Caspian and are off on an adventure. The 3-D feature lends itself well to this fantasy film. I really liked it.

I don’t think I’ve seen the original True Grit. (I know…shocking!) In it, John Wayne plays the role of Rooster Cogburn, the marshal hired by Mattie Ross to find her father’s killer. This new version is directed by the Coen Brothers and follows the book more closely. The story is told from Mattie’s viewpoint. Jeff Bridges plays Rooster and Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie. Josh Brolin and Matt Damon are also in the movie. It was very well acted - I’m thinking multiple Oscar nominations will result. It was very good.

I didn’t really like Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, and directed by Sophia Coppola. Dorff plays Johnny Marco. He’s a movie star who has abused drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. He doesn’t seem to have many real friends. Fanning plays his daughter Cleo, who spends a little time with him before she goes off to camp, since Mommy leaves to find herself. Roger Ebert states, in regards to Coppola, “She sees, and we see exactly what she sees. “ True and what I see is a depressed, waste of potential. I cannot feel any sympathy for this guy, because while I understand that movie stars live challenging lives – being stalked by their admirers, not having any privacy, living their lives in the public eye, not knowing who their real friends are…the list goes on – it’s a choice. They can choose to live a simpler life away from the limelight. It has been done successfully by many actors. They can choose not to partake of the drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. Not all actors are in rehab, contrary to popular belief. To be fair, I am aware that I don’t like this movie, because I don’t like Johnny Marco, or the type of person he represents. This character is trying to get somewhere, but he ends up nowhere.

Made in Dagenham is a delightful period piece set in England in the late 1960s. It is based on true events. Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Rosemund Pike and Miranda Richardson star in it. There was a common practice at that time of paying women lower wages than their male counterparts. The Ford factory in Dagenham, England was no different. The women sewing the seat upholstery were fed up and decided to strike. It was a very good movie.

Out on DVD:

The Social Network is the story of how Facebook began, and is based on the book by Ben Mezrich, The Accidental Billionaires. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerman, Andrew Garfield plays Eduardo Saverin and Justin Timberlake plays Napster founder Sean Parker. I’m not really sure how much of the movie is factual, but the film didn’t leave me with a high opinion of Mr. Zuckerman as a person. I found it ironic that he started a social network, when he doesn’t seem to have any people skills. I liked the movie, but Best Drama?  I don't know...

Easy Virtue is a cute, cute, cute comedy with Jessica Biel, Kristen Scott Thomas, Colin Firth and Ben Barnes. Biel plays Larita Huntington, an American car-racing widow, who marries John Whittaker – a British aristrocrat. The plot gets interesting when the newlyweds go home to meet John’s parents (Scott Thomas and Firth). It seems that Mummy isn’t too keen on the whole whirlwind wedding thing, especially to a “floozy.” Money problems, cultural issues and the widow’s past all play a part in causing conflict between the newlyweds. It ended with a bang. I really liked it.

Until next week...

MK out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winter Weekend

It's been more gray than not the last few days.  I've been knitting and doing things around the house.  I like quiet times such as these.

I took a picture Friday morning of the last of the snow.  It was all gone by the late afternoon:

Now it's Sunday, and a new week is about to begin.  I do have a little teaser for you:

You'll have to wait til Friday to see the finished product.

MK out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

FO Friday - 1/14/2011

I am still working feverishly on those projects I wrote about in my last post.  I may even finish the socks today or tomorrow, but they aren't finished yet...

Remember that little mint green thing that I couldn't show the whole project because it hadn't reached its recipient yet?  Well, little Miss Despina is now in possession of this item:

The pattern is by Sarah Hoadley for Lion Brand.  It's called Child's Sun Top.  I used Lion Brand's Cotton Ease.  I hoarded some of this yarn when it was discontinued a few years ago...I would find it at such places as Tuesday Morning.  Anyway, they've since brought it back in new colorways, but this is vintage Cotton Ease.  I made the skirt part longer, because I wanted more of a sun dress.  I like the way it turned out...and it took less than a week to make.

Finally, I blocked my Heavenly Scarf.  I used the 198 Yds of Heaven pattern by Christy Verity and that one skein of Berroco Lustra that I couldn't return to the LYS since it was already caked:

I don't think the yarn was the best choice for this project.  It is a single-ply merino blend, and I think better suited for non-open work projects.  It also didn't get as lanky after blocking as I had hoped.  It is awfully pretty though.

MK out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 1/12/2011

I have not bought any yarn since October 15, 2010.  That's three months, People!!!  I just thought I'd share.  My Cold Sheep Year is going strong still...

I have, however, been knitting.  There are four projects in the rotation currently.

First, the little pumpkin hat...I knitted a little on it this past week:

Second, the Surprise Bag...It doesn't look too different from last week, but I did start the I-cord handle at the theater the other day while I was watching Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

Third, the Mermaid Socks are coming right along...I worked alot on this project this past week, and I will work on it again tonight:

Finally, I pulled one of the problem children out of time out and knitted some on it yesterday...the Lacy Summer Top (aIthough it is not summer these days)...I will work on it again tonight too:

Lots of knitting going on.  Hopefully, some finishing will be happening soon.

MK out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Movie Monday - 1/10/2011

I present another installment of movie comments.

First, via DVD or Netflix streaming on the iPad:
Paris, TX is a slow-paced movie from 1983 that came up on my Netflix “watch instantly” app. It stars Harry Dean Stanton as Travis – a drifter - who returns to the son he left four years prior in order to try to put his life back together. Nastassja Kinski plays his wife, with whom he also tries to reconnect. It was alright.

The Extra Man is a quirky movie…quirky with a capital K. Kevin Kline plays an eccentric (read quirky) New York City playwright who is a sort of escort for older ladies when they are in need of one to attend a social function. Paul Dano plays a (quirky) writer who loses his Princeton prep school job, and comes to NYC in order to find himself. He starts rooming with Kline, who schools him in the art of enjoying the finer things in life without paying for them. Katie Holmes and John C. Reilly also play quirky characters. It was really good. I loved it.

Temple Grandin is based on a true story about an autistic woman who overcame many obstacles and now happens to be a professor at Colorado State University. (I asked The Kid and he doesn't know her.)  She studies animal behavior and has devised more humane methods of handling and slaughtering animals. The movie chronicles how her mother refused to institutionalize her as a small child and worked hard to get her into school. I had to google her and find out more about her. Many of her research article abstracts are on her homepage.  Dr. Grandin also has a website devoted to autism. She has written many books on the subject. She seems like a fascinating individual. Claire Danes did a marvelous job playing Temple. I really liked it.

To say that I hated I Hate Valentine’s Day is a little too strong. Nia Vardalos wrote, directed and stars in this movie about a woman who loves romance, but hates relationships...until she falls in love. John Corbett, her co-star in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, joins her in this one too. The dialogue is kind of dumb. I didn’t like this movie.

The Ghost Writer is a suspenseful thriller about a guy (Ewen McGregor) who is hired to complete the memoirs of the former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), who recently came under suspicion of committing war crimes. He is brought in after the guy who was helping the PM previously is suddenly and mysteriously found dead. The writer soon comes to believe that the previous writer was killed for discovering a link between the PM and the CIA, and realizes that his life may also be in danger. It also starred Tom Wilkinson, Jim Belushi, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, Kim Cattrall and Eli Wallach. It was good.

Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart is an examination of this couple’s grief after losing their only child. It was raw and heart wrenching. I cannot say enough of Kidman’s performance. I forgot that it was Nicole Kidman up there acting. She was phenomenal. The film is very good and is a must see.

Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Matt Damon and Cecile De France, is a movie examining different people’s take on what happens after we die. Damon plays a once successful psychic, who is trying his best to stop using his powers to make money. De France plays a French journalist who experienced near death in a tsunami and whose life is changed. There is also a twin boy, whose brother is killed, and he is left trying to contact him again. The lives of these characters intersect. It was a very good movie.

Hey!  It snowed here yesterday. 

MK out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

FO Friday - 1/7/2011

I really have been knitting more since Wednesday's post.  In fact, I am knitting as fast as I can - when I am not at work or participating in other types of life's obligations.

Right now, I have only three projects going.  Did I forget to mention the little hat and booties project I started the other night?  I looked at my Ravelry Stash page and saw the orange Berroco Comfort DK sitting up there in the first position and thought - Hey!  I should make a pumpkin type hat or something for the baby gift box.  Well, it may have to be my spin on a pumpkin hat, as I don't think I have a good green to go with the orange....It is Cold Sheep Year around here; so, I'm not going to go out and buy a whole ball of yarn just for the top of the hat.  I'll think of something.

All this talk just to say, I don't have any new finished projects to share, but here's one that I finished in July.  I made it as a wedding present for a good friend of mine:

I found the pattern online...It's a free Crystal Palace Yarns pattern.  I used a worsted weight yarn doubled and size 15US needles.  I like the monochromatic textured look.

Speaking of the Cold Sheep Year...I am having a lot of fun looking through the stash boxes and coming up with projects I want to make.  I've had a particular project in mind for most of the yarn I've purchased throughout the last ten years.  (Can you believe that prior to that, I had no yarn hanging around my house...except for the ancient UFO that I've had for about twenty years?  I don't want to talk about that right now.)  I've changed my mind about a few of those proposed projects, several times since I've bought most of that yarn.  

There's some yarn I've bought with no particular project in mind...It was a "good deal."  Those good deals sure have a way of coming back and biting you in the butt. 

Then there's the sock yarn...It can turn into...well, socks - but the actual patterns I will use are still a mystery.  Some sock yarn may turn into a shawl or two.  I don't know....I kind of like the mystery.

MK out.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 1/5/2011

I didn't really knit more than a couple of rows a day this past week.  I have two projects going.

First, I am still working on the Surprise Bag that will be felted:

Secondly, I started the Mermaid Socks.  I am making them two-at-a-time - they are a bit slow going.  I really like using this yarn.  It's really squishy and the colors are happy.  I like the pattern.  I feel like I have a smile on my face the whole time I am knitting, but maybe I am just smiling on the inside. 

I am still very excited about my Cold Sheep Year.  I have some really neat yarn, some super needles and I enjoy knitting.  It's a win-win for the Merry Karma!  For you needle hos out there, Signature is expanding the size range a bit for their circular needles.  When they make the sock needle size circulars...I will be really happy.

MK out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Movie Monday - 1/3/2011

It's the first movie post of the new year!!!

Still in theaters:
The Fighter is based on the true story about Micky Ward, a boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts. He overcame his dysfunctional family, including half-brother Dicky Eklund – a fighter turned crack-head, whose claim to fame was that he “knocked down” Sugar Ray Leonard – to have a fairly successful fighting career. Mark Wahlberg plays Micky, Christian Bale plays Dicky, Melissa Leo plays their mother Alice and Amy Adams plays Micky’s girlfriend Charlene. The acting was phenomenal. It was a very entertaining movie to watch, even with the fight scenes.

How Do You Know?, starring Reece Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson, is a fluffy rom-com about a softball player who gets cut from her team, and a businessman who is about to get indicted for things he didn’t do. They meet, he likes her, she doesn’t know she likes him…balh-blah-blah…..The end. It was cute….probably a renter.

Black Swan is a beautifully filmed and well acted psychological thriller, with a little supernatural mixed in. It’s also very artsy, and I am not talking about just the dancing parts. Natalie Portman stars as Nina Sayer, a technically proficient ballerina who finally gets her chance to dance the lead in the company’s rendition of Swan Lake. Overall, the movie isn’t the best I’ve seen in a while, but Natalie’s performance is really good.

Paris 36 is a cute little French film, subtitled in English. It is set before WWII and centers around the staff of a small vaudeville house in the Faubourg district of Paris. It isn’t doing well until a girl named Douce shows up. It was pretty good.

The Baader Meinhof Complex is in German with English subtitles. After WWII, the Red Army Faction – a left-wing terrorist group became more prominent. By the late 60s and early 70s, it was also known as the Baader-Meinhof Group (named after two of its members) and was made up mostly of students against Western imperialism and the establishment in West Germany. It was an interesting film to watch – suspenseful, yet violent. I’m not sure how historically accurate it is. I also wonder if terror tactics ever really solve anything. It’s not for everybody.

Easy A is an engaging little film that parallels Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Olive, played by Emma Stone, is tired of being invisible. She tells her best friend a little white lie about a fictitious date she had with a college student that gets spread throughout the entire high school student body. Also starring Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Amanda Bynes and Dan Byrd – it’s a bit fluffy, probably a renter, but definitely worth seeing.

MK out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011!!!

I am not one for resolutions anymore, because over the years, I noticed that they were always the same.  I like challenges better.  2009 was the Year of Decrapification.  Right before the holidays, I hired a professional organizer, and most of the decrapifying was accomplished before the end of the year.  2010 was the Year of Redecoration.  Right before the holidays, I had the painters come in and they've done the first floor.  (Are we seeing a pattern here?)

I picked an easier challenge for 2011 - The Year of the Cold Sheep.  For the muggles out there, it means that I will not buy yarn this year EXCEPT I have allowed myself to make a thoughtful purchase or two at DFW Fiber Fest in April and at Sock Summit in July.  But that's it. I will shop from stash only.  I have plenty of yarn to make all kinds of things.  I can be perfectly happy for a long time, and I am starting today...Well, actually, I started November 1, just to get myself in the groove. 

I deleted all the tempting e-mails from the local yarn shops advertising their year end sales.  I didn't go to any...and remember, the last two years, I worked at one of them?  It was hard, I tell you.

So, today, I will list my problem projects (remember that post a few weeks ago?) and start tackling them one at a time, but not before I start my first project of the year...a pair of socks in my self-imposed sock club.  For January, I am going to make Lucy Neatby's Mermaid socks.  I've made them before, but this time, I will use Lucy Neatby's Cats Pajamas yarn in the Mermaid colorway. 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

MK out.