Thursday, December 13, 2012

History of Crochet

The inspiration to many of my google searches is a penchant for not taking things at face value.  I read an article someplace or I see a show on TV, and a little radar goes off.  Ping: error!  And I need to look up the topic to see if I am right that what I read or saw is wrong!  Whew, does that sound convoluted so on to the topic today: the origin of crocheting.
Let me start off by stating that crochet is a method of creating fabric by intertwining loops of thread (or yarn) with a rod about the size of a pen with a hook on the end.  Crocheting can be used to make anything from delicate, lacy doilies to afghans to clothing items.
Now, back to the google search.
Of course, the first entry that pops up on Google is that treasure trove of information: Wikipedia.  Wikipedia states that there is no direct evidence on the origins of crochet.  There is a theory that crochet evolved from other types of needlecraft, needlecraft from China, Iran or South America.  The first real historical evidence starts in the early 1800's.
Other websites state the reason there is no early evidence of crocheting is that it was worked with the fingers (as opposed to today's hooks).  Since there was no tool used and the fabric disintegrated, there is no historical evidence.  I liked one website's response to that (  There are "... surviving pieces of knitted, woven, knotted, and other fabrics – everything, it seems, but Crochet. If it existed pre-1800, surely some fabric would remain?"
A few websites try to claim the Renaissance period as the origin of crochet.  But I notice one problem with that: they base this on the existence of lace.  Lace from that period was looped, braided and knotted thread - not crocheted.
So, it looks like the first historical evidence for crochet all date to early 1800's.  That is when crochet is first mentioned, that is when the first patterns are found, and that is date of the oldest surviving fabric proven to be crochet.  My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was in 5th grade, but I haven't crocheted in years.  Researching this topic made me want to start crocheting again!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hats of the Old Republic, Part III

Okay, okay, this is another post about hats I have found in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  But I have and excuse: I am so excited!  My sweetie and I brought our Sith characters all the way to level 50 (max in the game) and finished our story lines!  She has been letting me steal all the hats we receive so I have got to show them off.
So.... we will return to our regular scheduling but first a word from our sponsor: Hats of the Old Republic!
Here we have Sa'die modeling the latest in Sith Fashion. But wait!  There is more!  Not only does your Sith look chic, this little number does double duty and will cut down saplings in the yard.
And here is another piece from our gardening collection - hat and edging tool!
Now Sa'die is modeling the latest in holiday wear.  Imagine how this will brighten the holiday season!
And this hat brings back that vintage sci fi look.  It just screams cyborg!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hats of the Old Republic, Part II

Oh, those hats of the Old Republic!  They are so bad that they are funny.  My sweetie and I were playing last night and she got this new hat.  It looks like the back half of a cricket stuck on the top of her head.  So, I have been inspired to collect them!
This is one I received as a mission reward the other day.  It is actually rather decent.  And it matches my outfit, too!  What more does a fashion forward sith warrior want?  :D

Thursday, November 29, 2012


It is interesting how one thing leads to another.  Yesterday I was reading the Arts and Entertainment section of an old Sunday newspaper. I read a book review and an adjective was used: "coruscant".  "Coruscant"!  Isn't that a city planet in the Star Wars universe?
I love learning new words, so I had to look this up.  I googled the word and looked in online dictionaries.  Coruscant is an adjective meaning sparkling or gleaming, the verb coruscate means to give off or reflect light in bright beams.  And I looked at related words (I can't help it, I am a geek) and found another new word for me: fulgid.  An ugly word for resplendent or shining brilliantly.
But Coruscant is also part of the Star Wars universe.  It is a planet located in the galactic core completely covered by a planet-wide city.  Hmm... that makes me wonder if the planet or the city is Coruscant?  Time for another google search!
An urban dictionary defined Coruscant as the combination of Star Wars and Tokyo.  Wikipedia states that Coruscant is a planet in the fictional Star Wars universe.  Wookieepedia explains that Coruscant was originally called Notron.  The planet was located at the intersection of major "hyperlanes" (I am guessing an advanced form of trade routes) and given the hyperspace coordinates of 0,0,0.  That made it the center of the galaxy and served as the capital city for various regimes over the centuries.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hats of the Old Republic

I love video games, especially role playing games.  I never got into the MMOs, at least until Star Wars: The Old Republic!  My sweetie and I have been playing since the game was released.  I am really enjoying SWTOR but there is one thing I have to complain about - the hats! 

You can get some deadly weapons and some cool-looking armor - except for the head slot!  For those of you who haven't played a role playing game, in most games you can get armor to wear that prevents or decreases the amount of damage an enemy can cause.  The armor can include a slot for the head, a helmet of some sort.  The options in SWTOR are awful!  Silly hats!  Ugly helmets!  Sometimes you can find something that is not a hat or helmet, but is a face piece or a head band.  Or things that are a combination of face piece and helmet.
I wondered if any one else was as disappointed with hats as I was.  So I googled it!
Do you like my hat?                  What?  That's a hat?!?
I found a couple of  places where people complained about the hats or posted pictures of the awful hats they found in the old republic.  The best was on TorWars.  But I am sure that I can find even better examples so I thought I would start with this one.  This is my republic character wearing a horribly ugly blindfold.

I like the idea of finding more on the hats of the old republic so keep an eye on this space!  :D

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ZIP Codes

The inspiration for today's blog comes from this past weekend.  My sweetie and I were watching a TV show and they were talking about a ghost town in California.  It had become a thriving town during borax mining in the early 1900's.  They were showing old photos of mining, buildings in their prime compared to now, and so on when a guy said that the town had been so big that it even had its own zip code.  My radar went off - I thought zip codes came into effect after the town declined!  My new google search!
The precursor to our modern zip code system began in the 1940's.  Codes were first used in large cities in order to help quicken mail distribution.  The volume of mail increased dramatically after WWII and the US Post Office needed to adopt a new system nationwide.  Zip codes became mandatory for 2nd and 3rd class mail and bulk rate mail in 1967.  The zip code system expanded in the 1980's to include +4.  The +4 zip code is required for bulk mail.

I found out a few interesting things when I looked into this subject.  First of all, the zip code system was necessary because the amount of mail after WWII increased dramatically.  But the increase was due to business mail; personal correspondence (you know, letters) was actually decreasing and is now estimated to be less than 10% of the mail sent in this country.  Zip codes are not mandatory for first class mail (single piece)!  And lastly, I was surprised to find out that zip codes do not actually designate towns or even post offices but distribution centers. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Updating Papercutting

I am excited to be sending out Christmas cards this year; we purchased some E-Art Christmas cards!  We have decided on the custom piece we want - a picture of Noah's Ark.  The artist is having another show this weekend: Temple B'nai Torah and the JT News are hosting a Hannukah Gift Fair on Sunday November 11th, from 9am-2pm. The Temple is located at 15727 NE 4th in Bellevue, Washington.  I asked her permission to post some of her papercuts here, but believe me, pictures don't do her artwork justice.

This one is my absolute favorite!  In real life, this piece is about two feet long.  The detail is phenominal!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I went to see the works of a local artist earlier today.  She does papercutting, and her artwork was beautiful!  So that was the inspiration for today's google search.
Papercutting is an extremely old art form consisting of, obviously, cutting designs into paper.  Its origins are generally attributed to China, where paper was invented.  The art form spread worldwide and was adopted by many different cultures.  Some papercutters use scissors on flat or folded paper, while other papercutters use a knife to cut a single sheet or multiple sheets of paper on a cutting mat. 
Each culture seemed to have put its own spin on the art of papercutting.  I was amazed to see so many different kinds of artwork, from traditional to modern art, from folk to fine art.  Papercutting pieces were also melded with other types of art forms, such as origami or painting.

The artist I saw today specializes in Judaica.  When she first told me about it, I had images of her sitting with a pair of scissors but she wields a knife as easily as she works with a paintbrush.  The design is traced on the paper and then, with the paper on a cutting mat, she cuts the paper with a knife.  Her designs run the gamut from simple to very complex.
I am so impressed that we will be ordering a custom piece!  Check out her work here on Facebook!  E-Art Judaicuts!

Monday, October 29, 2012


When I was little (ages and ages ago!), I loved books and I could hardly wait to learn how to read.  That way I didn't have to rely on anyone else in order to tell me a story.  As soon as I learned how to read, I quickly went through as many books as I could and just as quickly got bored with the little kid books.  I wanted to read Fairy Tales!  I wanted to read about Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks and the like.  I encountered so many words that I didn't know and so I was delighted when I learned how to use a dictionary.  As I worked my way through the school library, the dictionary was always next to me.
Soon I graduated to more advanced books and my favorite stories were written in the 1800's, books like Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, Beautiful Joe and The Secret Garden.  I ended up with a more archaic vocabulary than most little girls.  Some words I loved to use just because other people didn't use them.  Starting about 5th grade, I used 'twas and 'tis as often as I could fit them into conversation.  And I just liked the sound of other words, words like betwixt and frippery!
That habit has a tendency to raise it head to this day.  I wrote a poem the other day, well, I guess I should say the other night.  I can suffer from horrible insomnia.  I just can't shut my mind off, and words will go round and round making sleep impossible.  Sometimes, I can turn my mind off and get some sleep by "using" the words in a poem.  I titled the poem "Agrypnotic", I thought, appropriately, as it means wakefulness or sleeplessness.  It is Greek for chasing sleep.  I like that word, I like the sound of it.  Agrypnotic.  Agrypnia.  A lovely word.  I like it much better than insomnia; chasing sleep is so much more descriptive than insomnia!
But I found out that the word was rather archaic.  People reading my poem had to look the word up in the dictionary.  So I decided what a wonderful word to Google!
Agrypnia also means vigil: keeping watch, a nocturnal exercise before a feast or festival.  Agrypnotic is also used for items that prevent sleep such as strong coffee.  There is a neuropscychiatric syndrome called agrypnia excitata that is a life-threatening form of insomnia.  There is a musical group called Agrypnia.  As far as I can tell, they play classical music and I found a lovely piece by Bach on a six-string electronic bass (BWV639).  And the last thing I am going to mention is a Greek movie about a corrupt cop, originally called Agrypnia but renamed The Wake.
Oh, this was fun!  Hmm, I wonder if I should post the poem that inspired this blog?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hoosier Cabinet

I like finding new things, not new in terms of age but new as in "I have never seen/heard this before!" Today, the new thing is Hoosier cabinets! But let me back up a little... I was reading a story on Lillian Gilbreth. Back in the beginning of the last century, she worked with her husband as an industrial engineer; they invented motion study. In the early 1900's women were not accepted as professionals in the workplace so even though Lillian Gilbreth was a full and equal partner in their endeavors, she stayed in the background allowing him to be the "frontman" and get all the credit. But after he passed away, she had to support the family (twelve children!). She was not accepted in the industrial sector anymore so the business changed direction and she focused on the home.
Now I had heard of Lillian Gilbreth before but I did not remember many details and as I was reading the article I kept thinking "Oh, yeah, I had forgotten about that!" Lillian Gilbreth was responsible for designing the layout of the modern kitchen! In describing how she came up with the layout, the article described what kitchens were like back then and it mentioned Hoosier cabinets. I have never heard of that before! What was it? So I started googling.
Hoosier cabinets were freestanding pieces of kitchen furniture, the precursor to our modern kitchen cabinets! Back in the day, they were considered the very model of high tech efficiency. There were all sorts of options available and the cabinets could be customized to fit the needs of the cook! In looking at old advertisements and various pictures of Hoosier cabinets, I can see where we get the look of our modern kitchens!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

I want to do an introductory post before I start this new blog. Call me MJo.
I think getting started is difficult and awkward, so I will just plunge on in.  I have a couple of online blogs but they seem limited in scope - one is my Bodie Blog (posts about Bodie, my German Shepherd puppy) and another is my posts on Gamespot (a video game website).  But I want a forum to talk about what interests me.  So I decided to start a new blog that will allow me to talk about whatever has gotten my attention, whatever I end up googling about.
So, let the adventure begin...