Thursday, February 27, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod." --Sir Winston Churchill

After spending the past 4 days in a Fundamentals of Supervision training class, I'm more plod than prod...

IK and Vague Knitting, Spring Editions
Feh. I'm not even going to review them on the No Affiliations review page. Of the two, Vague was fact, if I were 25 years younger, I'd love it. I really like Sasha Kagan's designs--her cardi in Vague was nice--and actually made one once in 1986, but these days, I wouldn't bother because I'd rather put the effort into something else. IK is so blah, I nodded off while thumbing through it. Nothing awful in either (well, the white pants in Vague were a bit looney).

Stick to books, kids. Or design your own. Or better yet, just hang tight. The new issue of Knitty will be out momentarily.

Tuning Up the Quirks in my Personality
I'm coming to the conclusion that designing my own is a far better bet than expecting other people to provide me with my knitting fun. Having had my personality profile done during the aforementioned training class (the DiSC profile...much better than Myers-Briggs, by the way), I now understand why I like to design. It's a control thing, an independence thing...the profile was scarily on the money. "Easily bored, highly independent, direct and to the point, critical of those who do not think as she does..." Hoo boy.

Fourteen pages all about me, me, me. And all of it right, right, right. Sheesh. I need to learn to be a better listener. How true. But learn to be patient with morons? I don't think so. Suffering fools gladly just doesn't fit into my "life agenda," as it were.

Stitch 'n' Bitch at TCI
So I've been coaxed into doing a knitting thing at work again. Last year (or was it the year before? I forget.) I taught about 6 or 7 people how to knit. It was great fun and a nice break in the workweek. However, Human Resources won't let me call it Stitch n Bitch. So it's Stitch n Learn, or some such shit. Never mind that.

My work friends are by and large excellent people and I'm happy to take an hour and learn them some knitting tricks. And March 4th I'll do another spinning demo at Liz's school for Colonial Night. I do promote fiber art in my own way...gotta give back something.

1,237 Posts and Nothing On
(Apologies to Bruce Springsteen...or is that Springstreet? Heh. Dustin Hoffman is even older than I am, so we must forgive his little faux pas. The Grammys were quite good, I thought. Except Bruce should have won for The Rising.)

All the list posts piled up in my Inbox added up to a big, fat ZERO, content-wise...endless messages about Stitches West (who gives a shit?), someone looking for the link for Mary Maximum [sic], the usual yarn substitution requests, the Richard Rutt book reissue (that's good news, although my first edition is probably now worth about a dollah-three-eighty on eBay).

Knitting During Working Hours
One Knit Lister, who clearly has lost sight of her priorities, bragged about knitting at work while waiting for her computer to boot up. Here's what I think: That's so incredibly dishonest, I can't believe this woman would admit to it in public.

Her stand? "Thank goodness I have the whole mailroom to myself all morning, no control-freak managers to tell me to stop knitting!"

If I were her manager, she and I would have to have a Come-To-Jesus talk.

Stitch n Bitch a Deux
Meeting Annie Modesitt tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Rte. 10 Parsippany Barnes and Noble. If you're in the area, come join us. We'll be the two broads in the corner of the cafe, knitting weird and yukking it up!

Annie is so rare and handy, it's scary!

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.--Oscar Wilde

The fashion magazine Marie Claire has decreed that skinny scarves are out...
Thanks to daughter Jenn, who buys these magazines by the gross.

10 Redux List Topics

10. Copyright
9. Patternworks' Poor Service
8. Why I Have a Stash
7. Stash Enhancement
6. Left-Handed Knitting
5. Knit Sighting (Celeb, TV, Lit, etc.)
4. FO Reports
3. Happy Birthday Reports
2. Any Lily Chin Post
1. Where Do I Find [fill in blank] Because I'm Too Lazy to Google

Think of it...if these 10 topics were eliminated entirely, would the lists be more interesting? (Strictly a rhetorical question, of course.)

And More Inanity...
Have you read the thread on the Knit List about the Iron Knitter Challenge, a la Iron Chef (one of my favorite programs, by the way)? Ye Gods. Bad enough that a lot of us suffer from CTS and related orthopedic problems, these idiots are talking about how cool it would be to have an Iron Knitter Challenge at the next Stitches to see who could knit something in an hour? What's the fucking point here?

Appalling, absolutely appalling. Like this has anything to do with anything other than hurting yourself? Cripes.

Knitting as sport. I'd sooner watch curling. And I mean that.

Mail Order v. Local Shopping
Vis a vis the above, I am inclined to do more and more shopping at my local yarn shop, The Yarn Loft in Sparta, NJ, even though it's an hour to and fro. Renee, the owner, can get me virtually anything I want if she doesn't have it, I can touch the fiber, and it allows me a chance to talk shop with a knowledgeable knitter. I'm fortunate in that New Jersey has lots of really good yarn shops and we don't pay tax on yarn either (except for yarn for afghans and the like).

Unless one lives in a remote part of the country or the world and has no choice, I'm thinking that it really pays to support those people who bust their asses to make a living running yarn shops. I do mail order if it is something totally unique, such as designs/patterns I could find nowhere else. Otherwise, I'm really into those Saturday trips to Renee's.

Ah, Ennui!
Here's my favorite word du jour, coined by my granddaughter Liz: Borederism, as in "I'm suffering from terminal borederism."

Liz, just go knit or something, OK?

She's a rare and handy girl.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
There's a helluva distance between wisecracking and wit.
Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.
--Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker...brilliant writer (and consummate knitter)

If u cn rd ths, u cn gt a gd jb
When did it happen that we all started using acronyms and abbreviations in our internet writing because we’re too damned lazy to type it all out? And I’m seeing more and more endlessly long, totally meaningless acronyms on the lists. I had enough trouble remembering WYSIWYG when it first became popular.

FO is Finished Object, UFO is UnFinished Object. (I won't even go into that totally moronic knitting acronym, SEX. If you need an explanation, go ask on the Knit List.) Besides being terminally stupid, what the fuck do they mean anyway? I don’t think of my knitting projects as “Objects.” A lamp is an object. A car is an object. My knitting projects fall into numerous categories but certainly not “objects.” More like karmatic states.

So if I were to make up knitting acronyms, they would have to reflect my real life. Which is frequently more bizarre than even I could ever explain.

Here’s one for those lovers of classic Latin: LONGOTY LIB HIC (Left On Needles Going On Three Years, Lost in Bag Hidden in Car)

Here’s more that I made up. I realize that they may not become the standard for knitters but I’m willing to live with that.

BASS WIGN (Bought At Smiley’s Sale, Why In God’s Name?)
I collected a few BASS WIGNs until I finally decided some years back that Smiley’s sales were a buy-a-thon of junk, mostly. (For those readers who are not familiar with Smiley’s sales, click here.)

OPEC—OverPriced Expensive Crap. We all have some of this in our stashes, no?

SOSHTY (yeah, pronounced like you think it is)—Swatched One Skein, Hate The Yarn.
And its corollary—B52 ASS SOSHTY—Bought 52 At Smiley’s Sale, etc. The number can be sized up or down, depending upon how yarn-stupid you were at the time of the sale.

You’re welcome to contribute some of your own acronyms down yonder in the Comments area. You guys are such a clever, wise-ass bunch, I’m sure you’ll scare me. Acronyms that include the word “warshcloth” are allowed.

I have Antonio to thank for this post’s inspiration—he was curious to know what Da Chin meant by HYUK and that sent me off on this acronym tangent. I have made up my own acronym for myself and will gladly share it with all and sundry if you promise me that you’ll take it for your own and use it ad nauseam to refer to yourself on all of the lists:
Unrepentant, Periodically Cranky, Hardly Your Usual Knitter.

IOW, how rare, how handy. Or HRHH. Take your pick.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

For my Achim and all his tone-deaf pigs...and for anyone who's ever tried to teach the mentally deaf.

Mairzy Doats and Gansey Doats
I have spent this snowy weekend (about 21" worth or so) working on a challenging design project. I wanted to make Achim a sweater (it's a surprise...I have to tease him about something) and having used cashmerino for his socks, I figured that I'd do an entire garment out of it. It's good stuff, great stitch definition, soft as shit...and I just can't afford the cashmere I'd love to use for him.

Compromise, compromise, compromise.

The yarn is a blue-purple--more blue when put against another blue, more purple when against purple. Very nifty and unique shade. And it immediately said to me, "Make me into a gansey." And so I dug out my copy of Gladys Thompson's Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans, which I've had for about 20 years. You never know when you're going to need some book. That's why I have so many.

Gansey construction is not all that difficult and I've kept most of the traditional elements, including armhole gussets. (I haven't designed any kind of raised stitch garment in a long time. My last Aran design was more than 4 years ago.) It's knit in the round, of course, with a centered 6-stitch cable that runs from the bottom of the ribbing to the neckline. The body will have three bands of raised stitches each separated by 2 welts of reverse st st. The yoke will have squares of various traditional stitch patterns, bisected by the centered cable. Unlike Loopy, who just finished her Guernsey recently, I am NOT going to bore myself silly with a stockinette body.

Needless to say, I've already got 6 inches done and am well into the first band on the body. See what being stuck in the house will do?

As soon as I have enough on the needle, I'll do a photo and publish it here. This may be the first design I charge for, simply because of the amount of design work involved. Directions and charts will take a lot of time.

And sizing will take even longer. I am not a believer in offering only one size, unless the design's parameters warrant it. And then I would probably discard the design idea anyway...I want people to make my designs, not be discouraged by them. Many times I've been totally frustrated because a particular garment was available only for a 34" bust. That ain't me. One sweater I've always loved is Cape Cod, from Fishermen's Sweaters by She Whose Name Must Not Be Written. I will never make this sweater because it's written for a size 36. And I'm not even going to attempt to resize it.

Shopping Trip Part II
We've agreed to wait on Part II. I think it's smart--in the next couple of weeks, I will be immersed in selling my house, getting rid of my late husband's business, which takes up the entire basement, and getting the daughters to move out too. Achim is leaving Friday for Australia for another 6-week stint. When he comes back the beginning of April, he's planning to take me to Europe for 3 weeks towards the end of the month. It's my birthday present. The diamond bracelet he gave me for Shopping Trip Part I is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I've ever received. But the most important thing to me is him.

So when the time comes, I'll let you all know. And it will come.

Stay warm, stay handy. And naturally, stay rare.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Happy Valentine's Day

Thanks to Jen Tocker for the swell heart!

And thanks to everyone who posted a comment or wrote to me about Elly. She's just started a new sweater--we'll take this each day as it comes and she's in good spirits. Didn't EZ say, "Knit on, through all crises"? Well, we do in my family.

Small Spinsters and Spinmen
What better way to spend a Valentine's Day than with your grandchild's 5th grade class? I did a spinning demonstration for all the 5th grade classes at Duffy Elementary in Wharton, NJ. Elisabeth was thrilled that Grammy lugged her wheel. Grammy was thrilled to be with kids for a few hours.

And the kids were polite, interested, and asked far better questions than any adult would.
"Do you make money with your yarn?"
"If you reverse the wheel, does that make the yarn stronger?"
"Who taught you how to spin?"

What great kids! It was an enlightening morning and I came away the better for it.

Getting What You Don't Pay For
There was a little to-do on the Knit List regarding a poorly written free pattern, wherein Joe Wilcox and Kathy Merrick pointed out that a lister's piano scarf pattern was, um, highly suspect and not very nice knitting technique. They were absolutely right in their criticism. In fact, although Joe was quite nice about it and made some cogent observations, the lister became past indignant:
This is a free pattern freely given to knitters to promote our craft. I feel insulted that members of this list have chosen to pick it apart. If you don't like the pattern, you got what you paid for it.

So free means badly written? Free means you have no responsibility to the end user?

I don't think so.

Any time anyone publishes anything, they have a responsibility to the reader/user. I spent hours on my free patterns because I'll be damned if I put out anything that reeks and sign my name to it. I know other knitters who take the same care with their free patterns. And some are just inexperienced and do not know how to write instructions. Or maybe just can't knit well enough and shouldn't put out any designs.

It's always caveat non-emptor in this case. However.

Those who spread their knitting ineptitude across the internet to unsuspecting knitters should take their medicine publicly and make it right. Free has nothing to do with it.

It has everything to do with taking pride in your work. It has everything to do with doing your best.

Simply Knit Review
Just go to the No Affiliation Knitting Review page.

Free = handy. Well-written = rare.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Quick Note
Just got back from spending 4 days in MD with Achim. He bought me the most beautiful diamond bracelet as my belated Christmas present. I'm absolutely incredulous! But unfortunately, I came home to bad news. My mother Elly has two lesions, one on each breast. So after driving 200+ miles this morning, I spent the afternoon at the oncologist with her. We don't know yet what's what. So I'm making this post short because I'm exhausted. I'll probably do more tomorrow when I have more energy. Hope you are all well and knitting away.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
36. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
--From "50 Things You Wish You Could Say at Work"

Do I need to adjust the horizontal on that striped sweater you're wearing?

Tag Board
For those of you who know HTML, I commented it out. For those of you who don't, I didn't like it, it wasn't me, it's gone.

Michelin Women
You know, I had...and still do...a weight problem. Lost almost 80 pounds this past year by shutting my mouth at the appropriate time.

But. I swear to you that if I thought a sweater would make me look fatter, it was left out of my knitted repertoire. And as I thumbed through the new issue of Cast-On (which I will review as soon as I have Knitter's and Interweave Knits to kill three birds with one well-thought out review), it occurred to me that I was looking at a lot of candid shots of chunky, nay, fat women wearing garments that truly made me wonder what kind of mirrors they own. I mean, we're a tubby lot, it seems to me. So why are so many knitters making items that, um, were photographed on a 100 lb. model, not on a 200+ pound grandmother? And having been a member of the latter group, I think I can opine about this subject.

I know, I know. The fantasy world of fashion. If they market it on a skinny babe, you'll start believing it'll look like that on you. I'm thinking that perhaps the knitting mags might want to run a "10 Sweaters to Make You 10 Pounds Thinner" feature.

Just a thought.

So now I'm teaching my granddaughter Liz to knit. And it's not because she thinks Gram is exactly cool, although I hope I'm one of the more cool grandmothers. It's because her teacher knits and will be teaching her 5th grade class how to knit and crochet. And I've been asked to do a spinning demo for them on Valentine's Day, since they're studying Colonial America. So Liz had to get a head start, little overachiever that she is. And she's doing well, I think. Got the hang of garter stitch. Here we are, knitting together. (You'll notice that my left hand is bereft of rings...I now have two more hints from Mr. Scheffler: We're shopping for something for me AND it begins with a "J". Hmmm...I just don't know what it could be, Achim. I really don't.)

She's about the rarest kid I know...and handy, of course.