Tuesday, December 31, 2002



Best Quote I Heard All Day
I drink to make other people interesting.--George Jean Nathan

And it works, on occasion...

I Hereby Resolve...
Never to make New Year's resolutions. Never have, never will. What a moronic waste of time.

Do I plan? Of course.

Do I set my mind to accomplish as much as I can? Definitely.

Do I need a specific date upon which to start anything? Hardly.

And I also do not remember what and how much I complete, knitwise, in any given year. I don't keep lists of FOs, UFOs, CEOs, whatever. I'm lucky I remember where I parked my car at work.

What I Do on New Year's Eve
This year, I'm staying at home, knitting and listening to music. And rather than make up useless lists, I think about the good things that have happened this year. And it will be a REAL challenge for 2002. This has been a horrific year for me personally. However. On the plus side, I now have Achim to love, I feel like my creative juices are back in action, there's lots of interesting things ahead for me in 2003, and I'm still not feeling particularly old.

So life is good. I hope that all of you have an excellent New Year's Eve and a fine 2003. And thanks for reading my scribblings. I know you're out there.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

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

Well...I dunno, EZ. "Slightly below-average intelligence" hasn't helped some "knitters" much.

Knit It and FCEK Reviews
Gave them a down 'n' dirty review on the No Affiliation page.

Sweaters From Camp and Ruminations About Fair Isle
So one of my best Christmas presents came from DM Elly, who gave me the aforementioned book. Thanks, Ma! (There's nothing better than having a mother who is your knitting partner-in-crime and general enabler.) I'd been wanting this since Stitches East but Elly decided it would solve her what-to-give-Marilyn problem.

I've got all the major Fair Isle books--Starmore's, Feitelson's, MacGregor's--and a few other, lesser-known books on the subject. Sweaters From Camp has the best technical section on Fair Isle that I have ever read, bar none. There's info here that you'll find nowhere else. So for my money, that's worth the price ($39 or so) alone. I was somewhat less enchanted by the designs...not that in 38 patterns you're not going to find some uglers. And really, most of the designs are nice enough and some are spectacular. The Shirt-tail Tunic by Feitelson, Autumn Color Fair Isle cardigan by Betts Lampers, and the Fair Isle Pullover with Vertical Stripes by Jane Hill are three that I thought were totally splendiferous.

But there are a fair number of designs that use the most garish of colors...and historically, if you look at the famous painting of Edward VII wearing his Fair Isle vest, it would seem that would have been the case. Certainly, it's a matter of taste. But shades of aqua and then a firehouse red border? Nah. Didn't do it for me. In fact, there were two other garments where bright aqua plays a leading part. But that's a small quibble and I won't be making those sweaters anyhoo. And I figure, if there are at least five that I do want to make--and there are--then the book is welcome on my shelf.

I think that what really makes a Fair Isle sweater appealing and challenging to knit is the subtlety and the amount of shading used in progression through the motifs. Starmore understands this concept fully, as does Ann Feitelson and Ron Schweitzer, one of my favorite newer Fair Isle designers. It's a rare talent, putting together color artfully, that few designers possess. I can only wish that I had it.

Gettin' Knitty-ish
I'm really pleased! Amy has accepted a sock design AND an article from me for the next issue. The socks are done, the article is written, and no, I'm not giving anything away except to say that the socks are done in Koigu. Only Loopy has seen them at this point. Everyone else waits until March publication. This is one magazine that I happily support and have from the beginning. Would that the others learn by example...but they probably won't.

Achim's Socks Redux
I really am tired of making socks at this point, though. I've made 4 pairs of Achim's Socks now, plus the design for Knitty, and I think it's back to sweaters for me. In the meanwhile, Achim's in Brisbane, it's 110 degrees there and I betcha he ain't wearing the socks! Heh! Beach weather! I should have knit him one of those sexy bikinis European guys wear...but that's way too HYUK-ish and Chin-ese for me.

Although...here's another thing. I had given some thought as to doing directions for some of the Staples' ad knitrocities, just for a yuck, particularly the hat, which I loved. My friend Pat thinks I would be better served by knitting the mousepad, but that's referred to in the ad as macramed. If I can get a good look at the hat, I can do the directions. Don't egg me on...not that I need egging.

Do you think people were screaming bloody murder about the ad because THEIR knitting looks like that? Some kind of transcendental recognizance or some such shit? Methinks the knitters protesteth too much.

A green knitted octopus.

How handy! And not as rare in knitting as we might think, I think....

Friday, December 20, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.

Is this the KnitDweeb motto?

Note To Self
If I see "dyeing" spelled "dying" one more fucking time on any list, I'm posting...and it won't be pretty.

Weeding Out the Stash
If you were born before 1960, you might get the pun there.

Ack. I think I have about 900 skeins of sock yarn. Lately, I've been shifting the stash around subconsciously and modifying its lebensraum so that I now have apparently subdivided and relocated it into two main spaces:
Fabu Crap
Not-so-Fabu Crap
I've noticed that there is a pile of shitola that lives in my walk-in bedroom closet in Rubbermaid containers --old Lopi given to me by DM Elly that I've used for some felting experiments; all yarn ever purchased at a Smiley's sale; odd-ball skeins because I cannot throw any yarn away, ever; a lot of Encore, also bought on sale for the grandkidlets; Sam the Ram kit (Loopy's fault that I bought that, no matter what she may tell you); other crap that I will not admit to owning, let alone buying and is at least 15 years old.

Against one bedroom wall are three large bookcases, filled with knitting/fiber/spinning books and magazines. The result of 30+ years of serious knitting. One bookcase seems to be attracting the fabu stuff, like the suri alpaca I bought at Stitches East, all my sock yarn, Koigu, a basket full of funky novelty yarns that will end up in something as accents, a pile of Noro stuff, more laceweight merino than I'll ever knit, including two nifty Margaret Stove handpainted skeins bought at P'works. Oh, and more fiber than I will ever spin.

No Red Heart in the closet...but perhaps a skein of WoolEase. And a ball of Kitchen Cotton that I got from someone gratis.

I don't knit scarves...and I never do warshcloths. So perhaps the Merryheart Nursing Home in Roxbury will be getting gifted soon.

Why I Loathe Picture Knitting
And I must make the distinction between picture knitting and intarsia. Intarsia is the technique but I classify it in my mind as more artsy, less Mary Maxim. (I never was hot for Kaffe, even though I enjoyed his designs for the most part. But never tempted.) As I remarked to Loopy today, the result of picture knitting is a garment that looks somewhat akin to a finished Venus Paint-by-Numbers piece. I have no burning desire to knit an Alpine scene into one of my sweaters nor am I enamored of the cutesy Christmas intarsia sweaters that all the women at work seem to fancy. Knitting Rudolph's nose is not my idea of fun or artistic gratification.

Not that I wouldn't do intarsia IF the mood struck me...but that's unlikely.

Land of Oz Boy
Achim is sort of stranded in Oz (notice how I slyly snuck in a link to his pic), not able to do his work because the equipment needs a part that no one has...his computer security key didn't work, so they sent him another one and now THAT doesn't seem to work either.

I was hoping they'd send him home for Christmas, but that doesn't seem likely at this point. It looks like the middle of January still stands as the homecoming. So in the meanwhile, I guess I could think about knitting him something else--but what? I could do a cashmere sweater but that would be way past my meager means at this point. And I think that the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, even the DK weight that I used for his socks, is too heavy. Anyone got a good resource for a cash blend that's fingering weight?

I've got to stay handy...and rare. Heh.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Ah... I see the fuck-up fairy has visited us again!"
From "50 Things You Wish You Could Say at Work"


Hmmm...but I do say that at work, frequently...

The Scottish Play
At the risk of being sued by some seemingly egocentric Scots, I dare say that the well-known knitting designer, She Whose Name May Not Be Writ Large (AKA AS), is making her wee self a wee bit unpopular these days in these here States. Inquiring minds on the KList want to know the true story behind the huge eBay flap, wherein the aforementioned She has had eBay pull those auctions that feature her kits, yarn and any ephemera with HER NAME on it AND also threatened LYSOs with lawsuits for advertising the dregs of her yarn that they are trying to unload. The logic: The name is copyrighted (and that includes AS, which I always thought was a preposition and hence owned by no man or woman).

Sooo...check out Knitting Beyond the Hebrides for an interesting story about the major flap. Given that she took her knitting toys home in a snit several years ago, this may or may not shed some light on that curious event. I have my own opinions on this one...but you read and make up your own minds.

Scots wha hae where Wallace bled...something's cookin' in the kitchen and it ain't haggis.

All the knitting news that fits, we print, kids. With apologies to Mad Magazine...

My Random Thoughts About Knitting
1) Stuff you knit wears out eventually--so you knit more.

2) If it doesn't fit the recipient, it will fit someone--but you fucked up, didn't you? Figure out why.

3) Knitters should worry less about professions, Staples, handedness, and Knitting Sightings in Movies and TV and worry more about making a gauge swatch and learning how to knit well.

4) If you passed 3rd grade arithmetic, you can design your own.

5) If you failed 12th grade chemistry, you can dye it yourself.

6) Don't ask until you've Googled. Or figure it out. Then if all fails, ask.

7) Taking knitting classes is no guarantee of knitting mastery.

8) Read every pattern three times--once for general overview, again for detailed overview, and finally for comprehension. Then swatch.
Then read the pattern again. And again.

9) Most everyone will admit to using Red Heart at one time or another.

10) Not everyone loves knitting or receiving knitted gifts. This is a truism that must be swallowed whole.

And not everyone is handy...or rare.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
There are only two sentences you need to remember to survive in life:

~I have no recollection of the events in question.
~The cat did it.


Milo, j'accuse! Dumb shit cat...eats yarn, plays with my Christmas lights, weighs 28 lbs., is my best friend at 3 a.m.

Sheesh.

Sprucing Up The Blog For Christmas
I was going to turn it all red and green but when I did the prototype, it was so friggin' ugly I settled for the cutesy animated .gif and the Bach.

I like Bach. If you don't, you know what you can do, right? Yep. Bitez-moi.

I'll change the music to suit my whim because it's my blog. Heh.

Some Fetid Observations to Pressing KnitList Questions
1. There is no right or wrong way to knit. As Descartes said..."I knit, therefore I is." This whole argument about whether or not southpaws should learn to knit with a mirror or what's the right/wrong way is total garbage. When WILL they talk about knitting?

2. Stop with the professions. No one cares. None of it has anything to do with knitting.

3. Now the thread is Compliments I Have Received From People Who Haven't the Vaguest Idea of What it is I Make.
I suppose Happy Dances are no longer enough...

Taking Finishing Into My Own Hands
So the Oceania cardi isn't quite done but I have already decided that I will NOT do garter stitch buttonbands and collar. I saw my mother's finished effort (you know Elly always makes what I do--it's inevitable) and it was meager, at best. Plus the pick-up seemed to me to be too much. I've decided to add a crocheted picot edging and make one large Sculpey button, rather than to mess with sagging buttonbands. The yarn is delicate enough so that a crocheted edging would be appropriate.

Not that I'm a huge proponent of crocheted finishing. How some ever. On cottons and certain lightweight wools, it works well.

Let the punishment fit the crime. That's the byword of successful finishing, IMO.

Of course, it's a given that you know what the hell you're doing. And so many don't.

Rare? But of course!

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.--Jeff Raskin

If I told you I had to switch to Mozilla because Microsoft IE refuses to load ONLY the Blogger editor, you'd believe me...wouldn't you?

Professions of Knitters
So far, according to what I've read on the KnitList, it would seem that there are a lot of RNs (touchy-feely people) and chemists/engineers (touchy-feely people who stroke test tubes and duct tape). And a shitload of lawyers. Loopy's take on all this? (I do give credit where credit is due, especially when I couldn't have put it better myself.)

I'm a hooker. I knit my very own fishnet stockings. Right now I'm working
on a thong, but Lily keeps trying to steal the pattern for some HYUK thing
(I think it's a lung ailment). Next will be a matching peek-a-boo bra, if I
don't get beat up by my pimp too badly for wasting all my time knitting!
Gotta keep filling the coffers, ya know!

Now you know why Loop is an honorary KC...

I Spit in Your General Direction
So WTF is the latest fixation with the use of bodily fluids to splice yarn? And why are we concerned with the word "spit"? Personally, I prefer to use a #1 dp to dig out ear wax, roll it flat, and conjoin the two yarn ends that way...

To spew a little more--in reality, I never splice, not even on lace. More trouble than it's worth. I simply tie a half-hitch (get out your Girl Scout/Boy Scout manual and read the fucking directions because I'm not going to tell you how to make it), and continue knitting. When the mood strikes me or when I have knitted an inch or twa, I undo said half-hitch and weave ends into the backs of the stitches. And yes, this does work on lace if you know what you're doing. Flinging a lunger onto my yarn is not what any diety intended me to do.

There's nothing worse than spit-drenched fiber...unless my cat Milo has licked it, in which case, cat spit is definitely slimier than human spit.

Am I Knitting or What?
Well, I'm fiddling around with yet another sock design for "varugated" yarn--this time, it's a woven stitch. Yeah, yeah, I'll put the pattern up on the Freebies page but I swear to God, this is the absolute last free pattern I give you guys. I mean it! I really must get back to the Oceania and the Pickpocket and the Grand Avenue vest at some point. But socks give me such instant gratification. And I haven't done a thing about my Rock n Roll Sock Collection since my ulnar nerve went bad this summer.

So the winter will be filled with lots of knitting, if work doesn't get in the way...or a swell shopping trip. For all of you who responded to my poll request, I will absolutely let you know if you're right. In four weeks or so...

How infinitely rare! And indubitably handy (although not always)...

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you.--David Letterman

Chicago was great...I could live there...or Philadelphia.

Warning: Snotty Knitting Shop In Chi
So while Achim was working the Philips Med Systems area at the Radiological Society of N. America show, I went traipsing all over Chicago. What fun! And one night, when we were walking over to an Irish pub we really liked, I spotted...Tender Buttons! Yes, a branch of the famous Tender Buttons in NYC. Of course, I was there the next day. Lovely shop and superlative vintage buttons...and a very nice woman who pointed me towards a yarn shop around the corner on Oak St.

Now, I'm not one of your knitters who MUST go yarn shopping when I am out of town. Frankly, I have better things to do. And it's been my experience that it's unlikely that I will find anything I haven't already seen. Better bets are farmers' markets for handspun stuff. But what the hell, I went over to this shop, We Keep You In Stitches.

Not much to laugh about there. It's a 4th floor atelier and I guess I didn't make much of an impression on the two aging babes who were minding the till. Because I stood there for 5 minutes looking at last summer's issue of Rebecca and gazing at the woeful selection of Anny Blatt yarn without either of them even flapping their eyelids at me. So fuck it, I said to myself and opened the door to leave. "Can we help you?" one of the gargoyles asked.

"Too late," said I and down the stairs I went. If you're in Chicago, don't bother with this place.

Non-knit Poll
(Loopy is sick of this, I'm sure, but I have to ask absolutely everyone, so bear with this story and then give me your dollah-three-eighty.)

Over some Guinness Wednesday night, Achim held my hand and said, "When I come back from Australia in 5 weeks, you will put on a nice dress and I will put on my suit, and we will go shopping."

"Why the dress? Why the suit?" I didn't have a clue as to what he was talking about.
"Because that is the custom in Germany," he says with a shit-eating grin on his face.
"What are we going to buy?" I couldn't even imagine, especially with yours truly in a dress and Mr. Jeans Guy in a suit.
"Can you keep a secret?"
"Sure." Now I was really curious.
"Good. So can I. So shut up and don't ask me because it's a surprise and I'm not telling you."

And he won't. Despite my pestering him. What do you all think we're going shopping for? I have my thoughts but I'd love to hear yours.

Could it be handy? How rare!

Monday, December 02, 2002

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid."-- George Bernard Shaw

And I know ever so many sincerely stupid people...

Greetings from Chicago
God, it's cold here...and nasty...and snowy. But having a great time, this is a terrific city. AND there is a Tender Buttons 3 blocks from my hotel. How handy!

And Can You Get Cashmere to Knit With?
Achim asked me that the other day. This was after he was gifted with the socks. Heh. I think perhaps he needs a virtual trip to Patternworks' web site to see exactly how much a sweater hand knitted in cashmere costs. Am I thinking about doing this? Yep. OK, I'm a sucker for him, I admit it. But the opportunity to design and knit a cashmere sweater is very appealing.

Will the finished sweater go on the Freebies page? Will I ever start charging for my patterns?

Film at 11. And yes, I'd better start charging. I need the money. Period.

Knitting on Planes
You can. I did. Are we finished with this now? I hope so.

Staples Commercial
Who gives a rat's ass? Honest to God. Sincerely stupid idiots who worry about commercials, that's who. I know what my "image" as a knitter is. Bite me.

And as the snow comes down, I can only say to you all...

How rare!