Friday, April 18, 2014

Ellie, My Knitting Mommy

Best Quote I Heard All Day

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either." 
  -- Elizabeth Zimmermann

Yes, it's been months since I've blogged. Why? Primarily because my mother Ellie was failing and I spent time with her. Many of my readers remember me writing about Ellie a lot! So here's why I'm writing about her again. Finally.

So Long, Mommy!

Mom died last month, March 28th, on her own mother's birthday date! And at 90. Here she is on her 90th birthday last August. Looked great!
Back in 1957, Ellie taught little Marilyn how to knit. Why? Because little Marilyn loved to fuck around with her mother's knitting markers, due to their colors. We lived in Montclair, New Jersey, where Mom still lived until she passed away.

So Mom dragged me to Upper Montclair's 5&10, buying me Red Heart multi-colored yarn and a pair of Boye aluminum #8 needles. Told me I could make myself a scarf. She cast on stitches for me and showed me how to insert the needle to make a knit stitch. "Do this to all the loops, dear. Until you reach the end. And I'll show you how to make more stitches!" Yeah, I remember what she said.

I was excited! And loved to see the colors change as I made new stitches. She sat with me and hugged me. "When you finish this, I will show you how to make the other kind of stitch, sweetie. It's called a purl stitch." And she did.

By the time I finished my little scarf, Mom started showing me how to cross-stitch. So by the time I was 8 years old, could knit and sew. Here I am with her at 8, with my brother Rich too.

Stopped knitting until I graduated from high school. And Ellie wasn't knitting either, doing needlework. But once I had my two daughters in the early '70s, we both knit for them. And Mom showed me how to cast on again because I had no knitting books then.

Here we are last year, knitting together. All my Facebook friends have seen this picture. I love it.
EZ's quote above is so true. Yeah, still knitting madly, sans Ellie. And still crying for my Mommy loss; however, she saw my recent knitting the day before she died. And loved it, although was too sunk to knit in the hospital. My sister is donating all of Mom's knitting needles and yarn to her church's knitting group. Blessed.

Recent Design Shit

Yeah, I'm not working still but am designing. Gonna create an e-book called "Sock It To You!" that will contain a pile of my sock designs.

The book will have socks done in lace, textures, Fair Isle, and more. I'll put it up on Ravelry for sale. I've designed Gansey and Aran socks too. My last post has pictures of two designs that are going to be in the book. Go, Go Gansey socks and Tweetly Dee socks. Was going to put them up on Ravelry but due to Mom's illness, didn't finish the directions. All the book's designs will be available individually too.

Take care, my beloved skanks. I'll be back writing again. Mom loved my book and I know that she'd be concerned that I stopped writing due to her death. Next week is my birthday.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vogue Knitting Love!

Best Quote I Heard All Day

“Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.” --Elizabeth Zimmermann

Curmudge Love!

EZ's quote was what I took into my brain, way back when. Back in 1973, when I was working as a psychiatric technician at Overbrook Hospital, the largest county mental institution in the U.S., my head nurse, Florence, was a knitter, and she pushed me back into my childhood knitting, starting with a garter stitch afghan. My first sweater was a Spinnerin Aran. But now, knitters have wonderful events. Vogue Knitting Live, Stitches, and Interweave Knits Lab. I taught myself and pushed my ass to be an expert knitter by 1983, when I was hired as the Assistant Knitting/Crochet Editor at McCall's Needlework & Crafts magazine, the major knitting mag then.

So when Vogue Knitting Live (VKL) in New York City started, I went and had a great time!

It was at the NY Hilton but now it's at the Marriott on Broadway near Times Square.

Yeah, I still go, although I don't take classes. But the VKL Marketplace is fab! The vendors there include the top NYC yarn joints--Habu Textiles, School Products Yarn (the oldest NYC yarn shop, and String Yarn. And tons of other incredible yarn shops and companies. One of my faves is Neighborhood Fiber Co. and they're there. I'm doing a design for them now.

As far as the classes are concerned, the instructors are top teachers. Even though I don't take classes, I always tell beginners to take their asses to VKL. In my novice book, "You Can Knit!", VKL was the first event I placed in the book's Reference chapter.

And there are fashion shows too. I watched the Rowan and Schachenmayr Fashion Show. Cool.
Knitting and crocheting art? Yes! This was artwork created by Ashley V. Blalock. The picture I took doesn't really show you how huge this lace piece is. But it's enormous. Check out her website.

So if you live out West, there's gonna be a VKL in Seattle March 14-16.  Go!

My Fiberality Designs
Yes, I'm not working again. As an IT Technical Writer and Trainer, gotta get contract jobs. And ain't got much money so I've decided to start selling my knitting designs, up on Ravelry. Here are the two that I'm putting up this week:  Go, Go Gansey Socks. I made the picture big so you can see the stitch patterns easier.

Here's the TweetlyDee Socks.

Got a ton of sock designs that I have to photograph. Did these with my iPhone. The feet belong to my plastic mannequin.

I wish I could get a full-time job editing on a knitting magazine again. Being a magazine editor was wonderful work.

So take care, skanks! Have had two readers friend me on FaceBook. Lots of my FB friends are readers too. Next week, I'll be the Steekin' Geek again, telling you about smartphone knitting apps.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Steekin' Geek Is Back!

Best Quote Heard All Day

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.--Steve Jobs

I'm a senior technical writer and trainer, that's the money career. Not knitting.  Way back in 1983 I was the Assistant Knitting Editor at McCall's Needlework & Crafts magazine. That's where I began my life as an editor and writer. Later on, in the '90s, computers hit the publishing industry, and me and my Art Director were the help desk peeps because we dealt with the magazine layout on PageMaker, one of the first magazine layout apps.

So these days, we've got a pile of knitting apps. My first computer was an Mac Plus back in the '80s. Now I own a MacBook and a Toshiba PC laptop. So my first knitting app went on the Mac Plus, it was Cochenille Design. I own a pile of knitting apps now but the charting apps are the ones that I use. Let's talk about them, skanks! I've given you the links so you can check each app's features. Read the user manuals that you can download for free. That will give you the info you need.

Charts Chasing

I own three charting apps--Knit Visualizer, Envisioknit Design Studio, and Intwined Studio. My original favorite charting app was Knit Visualizer, which I bought in 2008. Having used Microsoft Excel to do charts, I was pleased to get Knit Visualizer. However, it has never been updated, so it sucks. It also costs $185, available for Mac and PC. Too damned much money nowadays because Knit Foundry, the company that produces it, hasn't added upgrades. I created a chart in all three of these charting apps. This chart is just a dump of symbols, not a chart I've knitted. Just wanted to place symbols in a chart so you could see the same chart for each app. 

Here's the Knit Visualizer version.
Here's the EnvisoKnits chart:

And here's an Intwined Studio version:

These days, I use EnvisioKnit Design Studio or Intwined Pattern Studio. When you're creating a chart, your stitch symbols appear in a palette to the right of the chart. Intwined provides a "Stitches Used" tab on the palette, so when you're using a pile of symbols, you don't need to scroll down the palette constantly because your symbols are in this tab. Both EnvisioKnit and Knit Visualizer should add this to their apps.

Given all the features in these apps, you can download a demo for all of them. And there are other charting apps--Stitch Mastery, KnitBird, Knitting Chart Maker by Jacquie (an online app that's free!)and Cochenille Stitch Painter 3.

So check 'em out by downloading the demos and the user manuals, which are freebies. If you own a Mac, you can't get EnvisioKnit Design Studio. That's something EnvisioKnit's developer, Jane, who I met down at MD Sheep & Wool two years ago when her app had just become on sale, should do.

I'm pissed off about Knit Visualizer's lack of upgrades. Last week, I upgraded my MacBook's OS and now my Knit Visualizer Mac version doesn't work. I own the PC Knit Visualizer.

 There's a pile of apps for smartphones too. Just bought an iPhone because my Samsung Galaxy 3 broke. So I'm familiar with knitting phone apps too. Will let you know about those, eventually. I dumped the Steekin' Geek blog, so I'll be tech writing here. Not next week.

So long, skanks!