Thursday, January 30, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted;
persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished;
persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. --Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

No motives, no morals, and certainly no plot in this blog...

KnitDweebs Defined...and a Short History of the Etymology
I suppose I will bow to public pressure and try to wax poetic about the word "KnitDweeb" for those who want to know.

Actually, I coined the word (at least, I think I did) during a prolonged and otherwise torturous stint on a BIO (By Invitation Only) mailing list.

Here's the story: Several years ago, a knitting friend decided that she wanted to start her own list but that it would be limited to those people that she wanted. A number of those people, myself included, were KnitList members. Loopy was also on this list for a very short time, I believe. (Loop, if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me--my memory's a tad rusty.)

Much to my dismay, the list membership grew to include a disproportionate number of knitters who seemed to be interested in a limited number of techniques, who used garter stitch to the exclusion of almost everything else, who apparently thought that knitting warshcloths was state-of-the-art, who would have rather bought Wool-Ease on sale at the local Wal-Mart than to save their pennies and buy decent yarn. And even this would have been acceptable if these knitters had been novices.

But they were not. What was worse, they had no interest in looking past the restricted and restrictive confines of their abilities and considered anyone who did a "purist." All the while spewing religious homilies, bad poetry about knitting, and sending each other sappy e-cards. Gad.

So I began calling them "KnitDweebs, at first only to Loopy and also to the list owner, who I'm afraid was in fact one of the biggest KnitDweeb of them all. I called them KnitDweebs in part because I could not understand the limitations that they placed upon themselves, in knitting and in life. And in part because I find that those people tend to be the world's biggest hypocrites. And that I truly can't abide. Beneath the sweetness and light often resides a nastiness and viciousness that masquerades as "well-intentioned."

The denouement of this whole episode was that I was unceremoniously thrown off the list for voicing my opinion, as was the list owner (don't ask, it's a long, stupid story--ask Loopy). She groveled her way back onto the list. I was relieved to be rid of it, since I had really stayed because of my friendship with the list owner.

KnitDweebism is a state of mind, pure and simple. In my opinion, it's not what you knit but the attitude you take towards your knitting and anything else you do in life. Many members of the internet knitting community reflect what is really just a microcosm of what's out there at large: small-mindedness, hypocrisy, laziness, the inability to see beyond the end of one's nose, and the unwillingness to learn and challenge oneself.

I think it may be a national epidemic. I hope I'm wrong. I think I may be right.

But I've met some really rare and handy people nonetheless. They're out there. So there's hope. There's always that.

In Memoriam
JJR, 12/25/46-1/31/02.
The best and the brightest.
Always loved, always missed.
The original rare and handy man.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.--Ingrid Bergman

I'm speechless...

Return of the Native from WB
Shopping trip next weekend, hopefully. If not, for sure the following weekend--now, not only are we dressing up BUT Achim says it's not to buy a car AND we will definitely have a glass of Champagne. We drove from WB on Saturday so he could meet the family. And the family loved him. I knew they all would. As Bette Davis said, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."

Well, not bumpy perhaps...but infinitely rare!

Knitting Stuff
Did exactly one-half of a row on the Pickpocket Tunic in WB. Now that I'm home and Achim is off to Cleveland for five days of BS training, I realized that my sock wardrobe is getting slim. So a quicky pair of socks is in order, with more Regia Stretch in another variegated. Incidentally, my original pair of Regia Stretch socks, now washed millions of times, have held up extraordinarily well and look brand-new. Try this stuff. It's good. Better than good. I also have some Regia Stretch in an off-white that are destined for an Aran-ish design.

I had about 300 listish (or is that "listless"?) e-mails that I skimmed this afternoon quickly. There wasn't anything remotely interesting. Nothing. Not even anything totally inane, with the exception of recycled threads such as Left-Handed Knitting, the usual quota of FO listathons, Kitchener Stitch Angst, and so on.

I must be tired.

So I'm going to knit.

Be handy!

Monday, January 20, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
In spite of all evidence to the contrary, the entire universe is composed of only two basic substances:
Magic and bullshit.--unknown

It was a magick day wrought with bullshite...
another frabjous day, calloo, callay, at TCI.
I need to retire.

The Magick Loop
I don't generally pay a lot of attention to the fads and furbelows of any list I read. But after a recent stop at one of my local yarn shops, the owner convinced me, albeit with a weak argument, that the Magic Loop technique might be worth a try.

"You'll never need double-pointed needles again," she insisted.

Well, I really don't mind dps at all, myself. I've not had any problems using them and the Socks Soar technique, with the two circular needles, seemed to me to be a waste of time. I had visions of me inadvertantly strangling myself with one of them while doing what seems to me to be hazardous knitting with the other.

However. The Magic Loop technique uses one circular needle, and is quite a clever idea once you get the hang of it. You cast on X sts, and then exactly in the middle (more or less, if you don't have an even number of stitches), you pull a loop of the circ's cable out between. I can't possibly explain it any further but you can knit a small number of stitches in the round without dps. Buy the book, it's only $8. FiberTrends publishes it--take a look at the picture on their web site.

Here's what I discovered while fiddling around with it this weekend:

:: You absolutely must steam the shit out of your circ's cable so that it becomes as a wet noodle.
:: The book says you can use a 32" or 40" length--longer is better. Trust me.
:: You must practice on worsted weight first, as the book suggests.

Here's what I'm not going to knit with the Magic Loop: socks. I'm fine with dps. If you have laddering problems, though, this will definitely cure them.

Here's what I will knit: Fair Isle sleeves. I really will be happy to remain on circulars all the way through.

And of course, my cranky mother Elly was thrilled about the Magic Loop because Elly does not do dps, on anything. The woman who taught me to knit shies away from the more esoteric knitting conventions. But she's almost 80 and is the worst yarn junkie of them all.

Shopping Trip
Going to "Wilkes Berry" on Wednesday to be with Achim. I am NOT saying one word. Well, let's see how much self-control I have.
We'll see. I've waited 7 weeks to see him. That's plenty long enough.

He's about the rarest German I know. And sehr handy!

Friday, January 17, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Well, who am I to deprive an American of what little tradition he can get?--Georgie, in the movie Shooting Fish

But do we need to transmogrify old knitting traditions from Europe and turn them into McYarn?

Holding Your Yarn--It's the "American" Way
OK, now I'm really pissed. In fact, I am so thoroughly offended that you might think I wasn't born in this country. (Well, OK, I'm first-generation American but that doesn't factor.)

Here's the latest and greatest term making the rounds of the Knitlist: Knitting in the "American" way e.g. holding your yarn in your right hand to knit.

Huh? News to me. "American" way?

Not in any knitting book I've ever read.

And bad enough that one person used this term. Of course, a number of the KnitDweebs followed suit. This was in a discussion about left-handed knitting, and began by discussing which hand you use to knit with. Which of course some interpreted as those poor handicapped lefties who have to learn how to knit looking into a mirror. Another tired, overwrought thread. Again. I'm not even going there, given that I'm a southpaw. I'm so sick of this moronic back and forth about who-gives-a-shit.

So I took cyberpen in hand. And here is what I wrote to the KnitDweebs, in my continuing yet futile attempts to help educate:

I don't believe I have ever heard right-fingered knitting called the
"American" method of knitting. It's commonly called the English method,
since knitting as a ladylike pastime rather than an occupation or necessary
chore came about in Victorian England in the mid to late 1850s, during the
Crimean War. Ladies knit for the war effort and were taught to hold their
needles like pencils, using the right index finger to throw the yarn. It was
called "the drawing room" position and supposedly made women look more
poised and proper while knitting. Until that time, knitting was utilitarian
and done by people who had to survive off the land. Those folks didn't care
how their hands looked. Plus, the Dale knitters in England were great
production knitters. They didn't work in drawing rooms either :-)

Continental knitting was originally called the German method, from whence it

A little piece of knitting history, as it were.


I don't expect anyone read it. I'm amazed that the English and European listers aren't up in arms. And I don't make this history shit up. It's in every reference book I have that mentions knitting history--Richard Rutt, June Hiatt, et al.

So enlighten me, please. Did Americans suddenly invent holding the yarn with the right hand? Or is this just another example of McIgnorance?

"American" way--so rare, it's not in any book I own.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
People who are fond of laws and sausages should not look too closely at how they are made.--Otto von Bismark

So please. I've now discovered that knitting may be illegal in some circumstances...what next?

Don't ask.

So Bite Me...or Arrest Me
Knitting is against the law for jury members on duty in New York.

In New Jersey, it's against the law for men to knit during fishing season.
Given the condition of auto insurance costs in my beloved home state, it stands to reason that this law is on the books.

You can't make this shit up. My daughter Corinne told me about a site, Dumb Laws, and you wouldn't believe what's against the law.

I'll be hitting the trout fanatics at Flat Brook in April to make some citizen's arrests...

Just BS, That's It
I'm totally brain-fried from work. Endless hours of writing process and procedure against a deadline of now...or perhaps yesterday.

So you'll not get much in the way of writing from me this week. Except that Achim is back. I'm happy. I'll let you know the denouement.

Knitting is getting done, albeit slowly. The pieces to the Oceania cardi are finished but my eyes are too tired at night to do the assembly. I'm back to working on the back of Carol Lapin's Pickpocket Tunic from the first Jamieson book. I swear, I have to get my digital camera connection working with my laptop...this blog needs pictures BADLY.

I'm handy...and usually rare. But at this point, consider me half-baked and possibly well done.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted and intelligent.
The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb.
--Marshall McLuhan, 1969

Internet Explorer has ceased to function on my laptop and will have to be reloaded...I am now grim and using Mozilla, but still more intelligent than the machine I use...I think. Lighthearted does not factor into my day right now.

There's Designers...and Then There's Technicians
The whole discussion in the last post's comments about EZ was pretty interesting. I don't believe in worship for worship's sake and when I see that sort of glazed-eye adoration towards anyone or anything, I'm immediately on my guard.

In my never-humble opinion, there are two main types of knitting designers: The Artists and the Technicians. The Artists have the color sense, the sense of balance, and use stitches and color to present their design ideas in an eye-pleasing manner. The Technicians, on the other hand, have the engineering savvy and innate mathematical talent to create fascinating shapings and constructs. In a perfect world, a knitting designer will have an even balance of both the Artist and the Technician. That happens rarely. And frankly, there's a few designers around who have neither and still manage to get published. Go figure.

EZ, to me, was a superlative Technician without an artistic bone in her body, at least when it came to garments. I agree with many of your comments--her garments are ugly, by and large. Her major contribution to the knitting world was to encourage people to push the envelope of their knowledge and to gain confidence in their skills by taking control of their knitting. I know her books certainly helped me to do that. But for a pattern resource, I go elsewhere.

So EZ, while a valuable contributor to my bookshelf, is not exactly my design muse, y'know?

My favorite designers? Deborah Newton, Lucy Neatby, Carol Lapin for general designs. Starmore, Feitelson and Schweitzer for Fair Isle. Robert Powell and Eugene Beugler for lace (not that I've done much but I like their stuff).

Just some ruminations on a Saturday afternoon when I should be cleaning...or knitting. Which I will, when I'm done with this.

Russian Joining
OK, I bit. This is the most obfuscated method of joining two ends of yarn that I have yet encountered. Makes regurgitating onto one's ends almost inviting...

However, it looks like it might be worth using on lace joins. I don't believe in collecting techniques for techique's sake. But this one I think I'll file for use with the Pacific Northwest shawl, if I ever restart the damned thing again.

Don't work lace in black mohair, kids. That's my advice to you.

It's quite unhandy. And rare enough to make you go blind.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
22. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
--50 Things You Wish You Could Say at Work

I plan on saying this to the head of Human Resources soon...

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll, Religion, Politics
After the screaming flame war on the Socknitters list a day or so ago, I promise never to discuss or allow discussions of the aforementioned topics.

With the possible exception of rock 'n' roll, and only to say that I also will not allow any discussion of K--s, if rap is really music, or whether Stairway to Heaven is the greatest song in the annals of rock because it's always #1 on every rock radio station's top 100 all-time hits.

Please write a 500-word essay on the following topic:
"The Contrapuntal Leitmotivs of Milli Vanilli"

To Toss...or Not to Toss
Now that it's January (and yes, he's coming home on Sunday--I am so happy!), I'm starting to weed through my knitting stuff because I suspect that I will have to compact and/or compress or something. Stacks of magazines: Mon Tricot, old Threads, Piecework, Spin-Off, McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Handmade (anyone remember that one?), Vagues up the wazoo, Knitter's, IK, BHG when they did a knitting mag, Family Circle Knitting (years before FCEK), INKnitters, old Fiberarts...this is scary.

And the books...ah me. More than 30 years of collecting knitting books. If it's old, I own it. And more than likely bought at the Strand Bookstore in NYC, which, if you ever make it there, is well worth the trip. I know only two other people who own at least as many and the same books as I: Loopy and my friend Susan Berke.

My stash is not as grandiose as some I've seen. But sufficient.

I made the decision last night, after talking to Susan, who is also recently widowed and needing to clean out stuff, that I will part with most anything else. Can't toss the mags, or the books, or the yarn.

I will most definitely toss out my daughters. If you're 31 and 33, respectively, you don't need to come back home to live for more than, um, a week?

Wise choice, dontcha think?

Null Knitting
This is my new technique that I "unvented" as recently as last night. (It just occurred to me that I really don't like that word, it's dumb.)

Here's a step-by-step method for you. Works for me every time. Make sure that you're sitting in front of the TV. That's key to your success.

1. With any size needles, cast on stitches as indicated in your pattern directions.
2. Work one row.
3. Wake up at 2 a.m.
4. Repeat next night.

With that said, I'm off to watch the news and knit. Film at 11, with one row knit. Sheesh.

Oh. One more thing. Do you think there's a Guinness Book of World Record for Slowest Knitter? Or maybe I can just get into Ripley's Believe It Or Not, thereby immediately becoming a caricature of myself, not unlike the Knitting Diva? Or maybe it's better likening myself to the CNN newsticker. I know, I know. I'm picking on her again. But she's such a fine target. Read Knit U, if only for her latest post. You'll thank me.

How rare! How handy! (and elasticized, too)

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.--George Bernard Shaw

I'd like to be called an accurate cynic, myself...

J Lo Seen Knitting a Cabled Sweater in Made in Manhattan
So, do you want the pattern? Well, you're SOL, because there ain't one--that's just my cheap-shit way of getting your attention. Heh. Or would you rather knit a pile of Harry Potter scarves? Perhaps a Dr. Who scarf? Or the Ciderhouse Rules vest? None of which was particularly interesting but never mind that.

I think I now truly understand why the KnitDweebs are so ecstatic every fucking time they see a pair of needles on the silver screen or read a paragraph in their latest mystery book about someone knitting.

It's what I call knitting self-justification. This revelation came over me as Loopy and I exchanged e-mails today about the ludicrous movie-book knitting sightings on the lists. I mean, is this SO important? I think it may be to the KDweebs and here's why.

This is what I postulated to Loop in my e-mail to be the thought process of the KDweeb knittinginmovieorbook citer:
So to justify my knitting, I'll be able to cite any number of movies and books where people who are far superior to me are knitting, thereby making ME legitimate.

Does it take well-known celebrities and authors to make knitting a valid thing to do? I guess it does for some people...and I suspect they are the ones who bravely Knit In Public, as if they were coming out of the knitting closet, as it were.

Spare me. Making something from scratch is validation enough or should be.

Sweet Charity
One of the comments in the New Year's Eve post really got me thinking (do read the entire comment). Kathy said: Do you think Bosnian (or any other sort) refugees or abused women in shelters really need orange acrylic hats?

No, I don't. And although I am all for knitting for charity, especially for kids, such as the Linus Project and premie hats, I often do wonder about knitters who crank out mittens, socks, afghans and all sorts of knitted accessories for charities when many of these people want and desperately need food, medicine, and cold hard cash.

What really concerns me is the motivation of some of these knitters, especially the ones who frequently list all of their charity knitting ad nauseam in breathless posts to the lists. Are they knitting to make a difference in these people's lives...or knitting to make a difference in their own egos?

And yes, I am challenging motivation here and I know this is a sacred cow. So be it. If you're going to knit for charity, make sure it's needed. And shut up about it. Just do it. Without some personal agenda.

And yes, I have knit Linus squares. And for other charities.

And yes, kids are so rare...