Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The secret of eternal youth is arrested development.--Alice Roosevelt Longworth

The original curmudgeonette...

Achim's Socks
Here's the photo...

The pattern is on my Freebies page. Help yourselves. The photo is actually a scan of a pair that I'm making for my Sissyboo Karen for Christmas. Achim's actual pair was knit in dark navy.

The True, Ghastly Story About Being an Editor
My last blog entry about the devastation of Knitter's magazine garnered a lot of comments. And I realized that many knitters really don't know what happens when a knitting editor plans an issue and gets the sweaters you see into print. This is how it happens, pretty much.

1) Editor works out editorial calendar (what each magazine will contain vis a vis garments and articles, themes if any, etc.). Because magazines must be planned so far in advance, due to the time it takes to produce each issue, the editorial calendar is usually at least 6-8 months ahead of the actual time it is sent to designers.

2) Designers submit their swatches and sketches to the editor (generally, they do not submit finished garments but may submit small projects that are complete). Editor invariably changes at the very least the color of the design, the yarn used (particularly if he or she is under pressure from the advertising department to feature a particular company because the company just contracted for a big ad), and often will even change the shape of the design, i.e. "I don't want bell sleeves, make them 3/4 sleeves." "Take the collar off and replace it with I-cord." "Remove the ribbing from the cuffs." And so on. Designer does what she/he is told, if they want to be paid.

3) Designer knits the garment according to the editor's specifications, most likely grumbling. But it's a job and you don't piss off the boss by telling him you think his ideas suck. So you do what you're told and you get to keep your job and get paid. Designer writes up directions, does charts if needed. Editor sends directions to pattern writer (or will rewrite her/himself) for sizing and formatting according to the magazine's style.

4) Garment that bears little resemblance to the designer's original concept is what you see in the magazine, 9 times out of 10.

And this is exactly why I no longer want to be an editor and why I prefer to write and self-publish my designs. I hate sucking up to anyone, especially advertisers. And I'll be damned if some editor with no taste fucks with my stuff.

A real bedtime story for the uninitiated...

And now, I must go make an apple pie (Try pie, try!). Happy Thanksgiving to all. I leave for Chicago on Friday afternoon to be with my guy. If I can, I will post something from Chi. If not, see you all when I get back on December 5th.

How rare! But make sure your turkey's cooked...

Friday, November 22, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing. --Kingsley Amis

The Rise and Big Fat Fall of Knitter's
Well, you knew that I'd open my mouth on the Winter 2003 issue sooner or later. But so many people have been trashing this issue, on the KnitList, in private e-mails to me, that there's not much that I can add, except my dollah-three-eighty.

The issue is past bad. It is the worst melange of mediocrity and silliness that I have ever seen, in any magazine.

WTF is XRX, specifically Rick Mondragon, thinking? Very honestly, when Nancy Thomas left the magazine and Rick was named editor, I had some trepidations about him. I don't know the guy; however, Nancy Thomas produced arguably some of the best issues ever. As editor of VK, she had a proven track record. Rick had no editorial experience. And it showed immediately in the first issue. You'd think he would have learned something since then but the content has gotten worse and worse, culminating with this horrorshow. Editing is not an easy job--I know, I did it for 18 years, starting at McCall's Needlework & Crafts in 1983 as assistant knit/crochet editor and ending as a financial editor at S&P in 2000. But someone needs to tell the editor he's missing the mark, big time.

It's also curious that Alexis has not recently written any of his long, overblown, rambling discourses on the "Knitting Universe." Is he distancing himself from Knitter's? Does anyone remember how fast he pulled the rug out from under Weaver's? Is history repeating itself? I doubt it, although I could see them dumping the magazine, which probably barely breaks even, in favor of increasing the number of Stitches across the country (those probably do make money for them) and knitting camps and continuing their book publishing.

It's unfortunate that KnitU is so tightly censored. Of course, Knitter's owns the list and can manipulate it to their own benefit. That's their right. But it's also curious that there have not been the usual sycophantic, slobbery, ass-kissing posts praising this issue. The list has been pretty silent. However, the KnitList has not. People are fed up and are not resubscribing. Is XRX is so engrossed in its own self-aggrandizement that it is incapable of judging the readership's interests? It would seem so--the magazine is catering to some bizarre market segment these days. Haven't we had enough of garter stitch yet?

Therefore, I suggest that all of us who are disgusted with Knitter's write to Alexis Xenakis or Rick Mondragon and tell them why.

Do your part--send an e-mail to Alexis Xenakis or Rick Mondragon. If you have a knitblog and agree with me, put their e-mail addresses on your blog so that your readers can write to them too.

I mourn the death of Knitter's. It was once the best. It's now the worst. And no hope of resurrection.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
You'll shoot your eye out!--Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story

A mother's mantra...and I remember my Daisy Air Rifle. No dollies for me.

I know, it's a little early for Christmas. So bite me.

My Pre-Christmas Knitting Poetry Extravaganza

I do so love Eartha Kitt, truly one of the great chanteuses, in my opinion. And Santa Baby is absolutely one of my favorite Christmas songs. (If you don't know it, click on the link--you need RealPlayer to hear the clip.)

So here's my version of Santa Baby...for knitters.

Santa baby, slip a cable needle under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa baby, some variegated silk too, light blue
I'll knit it up for you dear
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa honey, I wanna Schacht and really that's
Not a lot
I haven’t bought much all year
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To a Local Yarn Shop
Santa cutie, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa baby, please fill my stocking with hanks, and thanks!
Just add some skeins to the stash,
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some sterling silver circs bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you come through for me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little clue, Koigu
I don't mean goldfish
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Give me some alpaca tonight
Give me some alpaca tonight

(No, second thought, give me a blank check and we’ll call it even)

Even the Curmudge has Christmas spirit..
Deck the Halls with rare!

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better."-- A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)

Indeed. This week at work looks like I will need to write faster and better. Ten manuals, no waiting. And no knitting, methinks.

My Favorite Knitting Malapropisms
Well, maybe "Misspellings" is more appropriate. That's right, kids. You can't make this shit up. Loopy and I have been reading the knitting lists for years and we're constantly amazed at the stunning ignorance and sloppiness of some knitters when they write about knitting. To whit:

:: Fair Aisle
:: Varugated
:: Guage
:: Dying

I'm sure more will come to me but these are our favorites. If you've got some of your own, feel free to add a comment.

Thus Sprach Loop:
"Attention shoppers: Hand knit sweaters...aisle 1!
Spelling lessons...Isle of Fair!"

And Let's Not Forget...
The one question I read on the Knit List several years ago that left me speechless--

:: How do you make a slip knot?

Some people really should just take up hang-gliding or marathon napping...anything other than sticks 'n' strings.

I'm thinking that my new motto should be: Instructare utque offendare

How excruciatingly rare...albeit ever so handy!

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you." --Rita Mae Brown

It's not me, it's not Mary, it's not it must be Loopy.

Five Socks a'Gusseting, Four Addi Turbos...
Here's why I never make people knitted Christmas gifts. Because I will never finish anything in time for Christmas and it's bad enough trying to get everything else done without the added pressure of making crap that no one wants and that I don't want to make.

I will gift special people when the whim strikes me. I gave a friend of mine a beautiful royal blue mohair tam for he 50th birthday. I'm making Ma a pair of socks on the QT because she refuses to make socks (her last attempt in 1955 was a pair of Argyles for my father--that done did her in). I'm making Achim his socks. None of these people were promised anything. It's always a surprise.

And none of these gifts are for Christmas. They're just because I only knit for the people I love. When I want.

And I don't bake, either. I let my kids do that.

I tell the kids, "When come back, bring pie." They get it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?--Unknown

From 7:15 this morning until I finally walked out the door at 4:40 p.m., I dealt with stupidity on its highest, most sublime level...

Which Is Why...
I shut my office door for 20 minutes at noon and worked on Achim's socks. I think I'll put the pattern up on the Freebies page when I'm done, plus a picture. These are so smooth to work, the cashmerino is positively orgasmic to have in my hand, and I'm rounding the heel and gusseting my way down Sock #1.

Tempest In a Tosspot
The latest mini-thread on KnitU (and soon to spread to the other lists--I've already seen it on Fairisleknitting) is the supposed conjecture, purportedly made by Lucy Neatby in a Stitches East class, that it matters in which hand you hold the contrast yarn when knitting Fair Isle, that the "upper" strand must be the contrast color.

After reading this post (written by someone with whom I have had some brief correspondence and who is clearly living in the State of Confusion about all things knitting), I think she probably totally misunderstood what Neatby was trying to demonstrate in this Stitches class. Loop and I agree--the only thing that matters is consistency. Just don't switch hands. Keep your background color in one hand always, the contrast in the other always.

I love a non-issue started by a Knitdweeb, who then, after totally confusing all the beginning Fair Isle knitters on the list, posts again and says, "Oh, gee, sorry, I was confused."

I might say I live for this shit but that would be a bloody lie.

And the segue to this is...

Knitting Non-Problems I Don't Have
Here's a list of these problems I have not encountered:

:: Contrast stitches disappearing in my Fair Isle work
:: Ladders in the knitting at the junctures of my double-pointed needles
:: Holes at the sock gusset junctions
:: Garter stitch garments that grow like Topsy (a little of g-stitch being just enough, IMO)

I grant you, these are real problems for some people...but it's only because they don't know the solutions yet. And there are solutions for every knitting non-issue.

The real knitting issue(s)? Tell me. I'd love to hear your opinions. Or bite me. Whatever. It's my belief that people cannot follow directions because they do not read them for comprehension first. Knitting or otherwise. That's my favorite issue lately.

You can be handy too. And most rare!

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I have the heart of a child - I keep it in a jar --Stephen King

My Sunday equation:
Ian + Elisabeth = my grandchildren who live with me * (slamming doors + tattling + pestering)

Knitting in the Movies, on TV, KIP, etc.
Who gives a rat's ass?

I mean, really.

Why do the KnitDweebs think this is of any interest? Why do they send meaningless posts to the lists about this? The latest "sighting" seems to be in The Santa Clause II.

This is, of course, strictly a rhetorical question, as are all my musings about KnitDweebs. I don't pretend to understand any of their idiocy.

Achim's Socks
So while my favorite German is off doing business in, where else, Germany, I have decided to design and knit him a pair of socks to take with me as a surprise when I stay with him in Chicago after Thanksgiving.

Now, he's already told me that he doesn't wear sweaters. So imagine my surprise the other weekend when I discover that what was at first glance a dark blue T-shirt under his shirt-shirt was in actuality a fine-knit cashmere pullover. Aha.

Well, I can't afford to make him one of those. However, I do have some KYI Cash Mereno (same as Debby Bliss's Baby CashMerino) in dark blue, enough to make a pair of socks that he'll like. It's a little heavier than what I usually work in--I'd say it's probably a DK--so I'm knitting it at 6 spi on #2s. This renders a nicely firm fabric but doesn't ruin the hand at all. Two baby cables run along the side of the instep from cuff to toe. I'm liking this sock a lot. It's simple to do but appropriate for a guy.

And Achim, if by any chance you finally got your DSL problems resolved and you're reading this: Ich werde Dich diese Socken für einen großen Kuß und eine Schokolade tauschen. Und vielleicht mehr als Schokolade.

Wie selten! Und wie handlich! (Yep, that means what you think it does)

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant of.

If Dubya were a knitter, I'd have to lump him in with the KnitDweebs...

And Here's Another One...
Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence. --Manly's Maxim

And after wrestling for the better part of 2 days trying to get SQL data to rock steady in an Excel file...I know this saying to be true. God knows it's true of knitting, innit?

Vague Winter 2003
Feh. Double feh. I am no longer wasting money on magazines. I was so underwhelmed by this issue that I am just going to stick to my J&S book, my Starmore-ever-in-the-making, and my own designs. The cover was nice, though...liked the hat--hated the sweaters, by and large. I guess they're fine for the HYUKs that the magazines seem to cater to these days.

And I am a funky traditionalist, I do believe.

I love funk...but it has to be done right and with a soupcon of whimsy. Or a large tureen.

November's Bizarro Link of the Month
Do check it's what I like to call The Toboggan of Death Game. Lots of fun, well-done Flash entertainment. See if you can get the toboggan team through the Ring of Fire without crisping them all...and enjoy Gunter Schnell, one of the commentators.

Knitting? Nah...
I'm still plodding away on the Oceania cardi. The byproduct of my surgery seems to be shooting pains into my little finger and wrist when least expected, so I haven't been doing much knitting or much writing, other than work writing. The good news is, I'm getting feeling back into my hand, so clearly the surgery was successful. But the recovery will be longer than I thought, evidently.

But I slog onward, eyeballing Koigu and lace-weight Cherry Tree Hill suri alpaca on my shelf...and perhaps, a pair of Baby Cashmerino socks in blue for someone if he's good.

How utterly, utterly rare...and more handy by the day.