Thursday, May 05, 2016

Our First Knit-A-Long

The West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch (WeHo SnB) is holding its first Knit-A-Long! We've been in existence for over 11 years and we've never held an actual knit-a-long where we all start a particular project at the same time and watch each other's progression. We do have a talented pattern designer in our group, Brenda Castiel. Brenda offered us a discount on a few of her hat patterns. We voted on the pattern that we all liked the best and Brenda's Leighton Hat won!
Here is the description from Brenda's pattern:  Oversized and slouchy, but with an interesting twist of braids and optional beads, this hat is fun to work up as well as wear. The Art-Deco style of the trim on this slouchy hat was inspired by a visit to Leighton House in London. The main color uses about 2/3 of a a skein of Malabrigo, while the trim uses just small amounts of contrasting colors. This hat is worked in moss stitch (seed stitch) and features a delicate trim with garter stitch stripes, a braid stitch, lace and optional beading for a pretty, feminine look. The brim is ribbed for stability. It can be made in a close-fitting or slouchy style (shown). This lovely hat is certainly achievable for a confident beginner.

That's me, a "confident beginner" as far as knitting is concerned.  No matter that I've been knitting for over 50 years, I usually don't tackle difficult or challenging knit projects. This one sounds perfect. Plus, it's a hat! How long should it take to knit a hat?
I recently organized my yarn stash and separated it all by weight. So glad that I found the perfect combination of colors for my Leighton Hat! My main color is the rusty color. The olive green and gray-beige will be the contrast colors.
Looking forward to meeting up with my WeHo SnB Yarnies tonight to see the yarns they've chosen. Ready, Set, KNIT!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Noise Music

On Saturday Larry and I attended an event for "The Benders Circuit," an upcoming documentary about the underground audio-visual performance scene in Los Angeles. Phew! That's a mouthful. We knew a bit of what to expect at this performance. Our friend, Jeff Boynton was one of the featured artists and we'd been to one of his previous performances at Future Studio. 
A well-attended event. We ran into Mona and Tina!

This event was held fairly close to our house at the Muzeumm on Adams Blvd., an art gallery since 2009.  A series of rooms were set up with electronic equipment, circuit bent toys and devices, along with prints and paintings. In the back yard there were video displays, lights and refreshments.
The Teletubby becomes bent

Ellen at Jeff's Acrylic Circuit Installation

We recognized Jeff's set up in a corner because of the acrylic circuit board and his cello. Yes, a cello! In this atmosphere of noise, Jeff is one of the few artists utilizing a standard instrument. It was refreshing to have this musical element inserted into the performance. Yeah, I'm old. I appreciate musicality and the rich tones of the cello in this cacophonous atmosphere.
Artist, Musician Jeff Boynton
There are quite a few artist's studios on this stretch of Adams Blvd. There are also legendary watering holes like The Cork! Parking was not easy.

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Monday, May 02, 2016

Reigning Men at LACMA

Left: Yusuke Takahashi for Issey Miyake. Spring/Summer Ensemble, 2014

I didn't have any events or meetings scheduled for this past Saturday. What? I love it when I have a free Saturday! I decided to take myself to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see one of the current exhibits, "Reigning Men." This is an amazing collection of men's fashion from 1715-2015. Many of the items are from the Museum's own collection. I love how this exhibit was staged. There were pieces from the 1700s right next to modern fashions from today's designers, showing the influences. Wow! What marvelous juxtapostions!
I could not possibly post ALL of the fashion shown, but here are a few of my faves. GO SEE THE SHOW! You will not be disappointed!
Smoking Jackets

Jean Paul Gaultier's Lounging Suit, 1996. Notice the skeletal image on the back of the jacket that aligns with the wearer's frame. Brilliant!

U.S. Army Uniform Ensemble, 1944. I immediately thought of my Dad when I saw these "Eisenhower" jackets. This was Dad's preferred style of jacket for decades. #epaulets #membersonly

LOVE this outfit from the 1970s that mimics the 1800s version!

Walter Van Beirendonck, 2013. Love the shimmering insets, jewelry and floral trousers. Van Beirendonck wanted to show the glam rock of his youth. There are brooches on the jacket to signify David Bowie's mascaraed eye and Mick Jagger's sensuous red lips.

During the entire exhibit, I could not stop thinking about my slim and photogenic husband. He would look FANTASTIC is so many of the modern pieces. Too bad Larry's fashion icons are Levi Strauss and L.L. Bean.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

1939, Ansel Adams and Los Angeles

Olympic Trailer Court on Bundy Dr., south of Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

All photos by Ansel Adams, 1939, collection of the Los Angeles Library

In the 1960s, after going through some of his old files, photographer Ansel Adams came across many photos that he had shot in 1939 for an article in Fortune Magazine about aerospace workers in Los Angeles. Adams said that there had been a long period of bad weather during the time he was shooting and most of the photos were inferior. Fortune only used a few of his photos for their article. Adams wrote to the L.A. Library, nearly 20 years after taking these photographs, asking if they would like to purchase all of them for their archives. He thought a fair price would be about $100 for the collection, since he felt the photos were of inferior quality. Adams shot over 225 photos of daily life of these workers, mostly at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank and Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. The L.A. Library jumped at the chance to own this collection of Los Angeles photos by the renowned photographer and paid him $150!
I'd only seen the Lockheed and Burbank area photos. I hadn't seen the Douglas Aircraft photos and the shots in and around West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.  Wow! I found a treasure trove from the Olympic Trailer Court located at 2121 Bundy Drive on the border of West L.A. and Santa Monica. This location is between Olympic and Exposition Boulevards, actually at our newest Metro Train Line location. 
Just before and after World War II, housing in Los Angeles was scarce. The need for trailer courts and temporary housing was fierce. These little enclaves popped up all over Los Angeles during that time, especially in the outlying areas. There are still a few old trailer parks in the industrial areas of Santa Monica and Culver City. My Dad's family had a home just east of the Olympic Trailer Court, near Barrington and Pico. Dad used to say that most of the area consisted of bean fields...plenty of space for temporary housing.
Indoor - Outdoor Living at the Olympic Trailer Court

A little girl, holding her dolly at the corner store

The electrical box for the nearby trailers

White Picket Fences 

Laundry Shack at the Olympic Trailer Court
West L.A. Apartments and homes in the background

Thank you, Ansel Adams, for taking all of these "lifestyle" photos of my town in 1939. Thank you, L.A. Public Library for making the collection available to all of us! Boy, our town has certainly changed a lot in the past 75 years! Now, we need to find photos of the Cozy Courts on the South/East corner of Sawtelle and Olympic!

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Game of Yarn Chicken

The Chickie Run Scene in Rebel Without A Cause, 1955

When I first heard the term, "Yarn Chicken" I immediately understood the reference. I am a child of popular culture. The classic movie, "Rebel Without a Cause" is my yardstick by which I measure my life. In the movie, the kids end up playing "Chickie Run" which is a game between two rivals in the movie. They get a couple of beat up old cars and drive them to a clearing on the top of a hill that ends in a cliff above the ocean. They start to race. The first person to bail out of the car before the car flies off the cliff's edge is dubbed "Chicken." Poor "Buzz" got his sleeve caught in the door handle. This was a fatal mistake. "Jim" is the chicken, but at least he's still alive! Oy! Those kids! 
Chicken is a game designed to test the nerve of the players involved. There are no deaths in Yarn Chicken. Yarn chicken is a game in which a crocheter or knitter is not exactly sure whether or not there is enough yarn to finish a project and continues with the project anyway, yardage be damned!  Whoa! If that's not rebellious behavior, I don't know what is!
After my yarn stash purge and organization last week, I saw that I owned two beautiful, sock-weight yarns, one in gray tones and one in a kettle-died black. Both were ABOUT the same yardage. Perfect for one shawl! Instead of striping the yarn, I decided on the color-block method that is so popular right now. I found a nice pineapple crochet chart pattern on some Russian crochet website. 
Crochet Chart and Gray Section of Shawl

In order for the pineapples to be facing in the correct way for each end of the stole, you must join the sections at the center of the piece. I started to crochet with the gray yarn and finished 10 pineapple pattern repeats. I even had a bit of yarn leftover, just in case.

When I joined the black yarn in the center, I merrily crocheted along. I had ALMOST 10 repeats of the pattern and saw that I was running out of black yarn.  Oh no! Yarn Chicken! I started to crochet tighter. My heart was beating faster. I skipped a few chains, thinking that might conserve yarn!  Phew! I made it with about 10 inches of yarn to spare. I ripped back that last row and added back the chains I'd skipped.
OMG! I have so much excitement in my life!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CRestview 6-1793

Click on image to enlarge.
Thanks to Larry Ziff for posting this on Facebook today!

What's your exchange? For years, growing up, ours was CRestview. The CR was part of the phone number.  If you were to dial my family's home phone number on your rotary dial phone, you'd dial 276-1793. Look at the buttons on your phone, the "C" and the "R" correspond to "2" and "7." For added confusion, there was BRadshaw, also a 2-7 number! It seemed to me that CRestview was REALLY Beverly Hills. The BRadshaw numbers showed up on the periphery of BH. Then there was OL. The diagram above says that OL was for OLympia. I remember it being OLeander! The OL area was usually the east side of Beverly Hills. See this list for more exchanges. 
Our typical home phone instrument

You could always tell where someone was from by their phone exchange. A GRanite phone number was usually Westwood. EXbrook was Santa Monica. STate was the San Fernando Valley. HOllywood was, of course, Hollywood. These were the most used exchanges of my youth. I do remember television and radio commercials that used exchanges in their jingles, usually for businesses in the Downtown LA area, like MAdison and ANgelus.
In the kitchen we ALWAYS had a wall phone with a long chord so Mom could talk while cooking. It was usually in a festive color to match the kitchen, like Harvest Gold, Avocado or Sand Beige

When I was 16 I was given my very own telephone and NEW NUMBER, all to myself! I vaguely remember having to do chores like washing dishes, etc. as payment for said phone. I was very sad that my personal phone number was NOT CRestview! This was around 1968 or '69. By that time, any new phone numbers assigned were all numerical. The 2-7 / Beverly Hills numbers had been used up. My new phone number was 552-3692. My only consolation was that I could have any color, standard-sized phone (Princess phones were extra) I wanted. Naturally,, I ordered red, just like the Bat-Phone
Ellen's Teen Years Phone

Larry and I now live in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles, near Fairfax Avenue. The first two numbers of our home phone are 9-3...WEbster! Do you still have a land line with a recognizable exchange?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Arbor Day and the Ebell of Los Angeles

Officials of the Ebell Club of Los Angeles and two gentleman from the L.A. Chamber of Commerce plant a Washingtonia fan palm on Wilshire Blvd. in honor of Arbor Day, 1935. Herald-Examiner Collection, LA Public Library
You don't see much hoopla about Arbor Day in Los Angeles anymore. I guess we have enough trees planted in our urban landscape. In fact, many of those fast-growing ficus trees with their overgrown roots should be torn out before they disrupt our sidewalks more!

Arbor Day is usually celebrated toward the end of April or beginning of May. The date differs in each State, depending on their growing season. This is the day that we celebrate the role of trees in our lives and promote tree planting and care. The holiday originated in 1872, Nebraska. Those dusty plains needed trees!
Hmmm? It seems that Arbor Day and Earth Day are quite near each other! Coincidence?
I like this photo, above, of the members of The Ebell of Los Angeles planting one of those ever-present palm trees on Wilshire Boulevard on a rainy day. Today, I'm sure that tiny palm tree towers over the street! I wish it would rain again! Here are a few vintage photos of the Ebell building (1927, Sumner P. Hunt, architect).
Wilshire Ebell Theater, 1937. LA Public Library Collection

The Ebell looks much the same today:
The Ebell in 2014, during L.A. Conservancy Event 

This is a beautifully preserved cluster of buildings, encompassing banquet halls, a huge theater, patios, ballrooms and more. The Ebell of Los Angeles are still going strong. The club was founded in 1894 to further the education of women in America. Read more about it here

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Granny Square Handbags

I've made my share of Granny Square handbags and tote bags. I usually construct my bags with the squares positioned at right angles, not on the diagonal. The diagonal granny tote is sometimes called the Häkelbeutel bag. I've seen many of these on German crochet sites. The handles for many of these bags are also crocheted in one or two long strips, then attached to the bag.
I've noticed that when I've made straps in this manner, they tend to stretch out. That's why I've crocheted many bags using existing canvas totes with machine-made handles, as linings for my bags. Essentially, these are just bag cozies!
I was looking through my Ravelry friends' blogs the other day and noticed this bag by Leslie (aka CrochetBug13). I really like the way Leslie made the straps for her bag out of tiny granny squares and then attached the strap to the entire edge of the bag, not just at one point. I believe this will give the bag more strength.
Leslie's Flamingo Tote with Tiny Granny Square Handles

I also found this wonderful diagram on how to assemble different sized bags with diagonally placed squares. Bonanza! 
Summer is near. Time to crochet a few market totes on the diagonal. 

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple in the Air

It seems that the jacaranda trees of Los Angeles are blooming in acknowledgement of the death of Prince, often called the Purple Prince. Yesterday, when I looked up at our blooming jacaranda tree, I thought, how appropriate...nature is sending a tribute to Prince on the day of his death. I was saddened by the news of Prince's death at the young age of 57. He had so much more music to make. I never did see one of his shows in person, even though there was ample opportunity in Los Angeles to experience his music live. 
Jacaranda Trees on South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles

Prince's music always came as a surprise. He could reach back into old-school blues, R&B, funk and make it sound current and new. Visually, he was fresh and surprising and whenever I came across one of his performances on TV, I always stopped to watch and listen. Prince was the perfect fusion artist for our generation. RIP Purple Prince.

Why did Prince like purple and make it his signature color?  There are many theories. No matter which theory you like the best, from now on, every year when the jacaranda trees bloom on our street they will remind me of Prince.

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