Sunday, April 27, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."--Oscar Wilde

Knitting haiku?

Let's hope that this link, seen on a Socknitters post this morning, will not spawn reams of ecstatic couplets and the dreary messages that contain them.

National Warshcloth Knitting Day
Socknitters seems to be the teeming cauldron of revolutionary ideas among the lists these days, the latest being an International Socknitters Day.

O be still, my beating heart.

Whip out them socks and knit together for fucking world peace. Or whatever.

I am willing to sponsor a National Warshcloth Knitting Day, only to beat them at their own game. Why "National," you may ask. Well, I'm thinking that only Amurricans knit warshcloths...the rest of the world is smart enough to keep their warshcloth knitting to themselves, I suspect.

Send all pledges to me and I'll give you my address. I bow to Wendy's infinite wisdom in realizing that if you want something, you have only to ask and somebody will send you money.

I mean, the government asks you to send your contributions every April 15. Public TV has its beg-a-thons. Why not me?

The knitting-day possibilities become almost endless, when you think about it. Here's my short list:

:: International Willy-Warmer Day
:: National Einstein Coat Day (Canada included...heh.)
:: International Kool-Aid Dying Festival
:: Global Lily Chin Day (prizes awarded only to Lily)
:: Universal Knitters Magazine's Knitting Universe Day (open to subscribers only--all 437 of them)
:: First Annual TransWorld David Xenakis Knitting Photography Day (lyric photos only)
:: Christian Knitters Day (Knit for Jesus, blessings included. No heathens allowed. This means you.)

Oh boy. Can you stand it? Have I forgotten anything?

Rare, handy, and inevitable. You'll see 'em on the lists shortly.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"When I was born I was so surprised I didn't talk for a year and a half."
--Gracie Allen

Life still surprises me, every day...

A Woman of a Certain Age
The more birthdays I have, the less I am inclined to celebrate my birthday but rather to contemplate getting older.

I mean, what is 53 supposed to feel like? I haven't a clue. My grandmother was 53 when I was born in 1950 and it seems to me that she was always old. My granddaughter Liz doesn't view me in the same light as I viewed Grandma, I guess. Of course, getting older should be simply that, and no more. My brain hasn't grown up yet.

But the AARP sent me junk mail again the other day and I'm thinking I should join, if only for the discounts. Why be stupid about it, you know?

Knitting Naked in Public
And wouldn't THAT be fun? Whenever I read about KIPing on the lists (I've always equated a kip to a nap, Anglophile that I am), I wonder that some people are so attached to their knitting that they knit in restaurants, in church, in meetings, wherever. Mind you, I am a firm advocate of knitting in public, particularly if I am in Wait Mode. There's nothing worse than having nothing better to do in a doctor's office than read a 3-month old copy of Sports Illustrated.

And I can see knitting in lectures, where you can listen and knit at the same time. I suppose church would fall into this category, although I haven't stepped foot in a church in 34 years.

But knitting in restaurants? Knitting in the car, if you're the driver? Knitting at a business meeting? I don't think so. For one, knitting in restaurants just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If you're out having dinner with a loved one, friends, family, I think you owe them your full participation. If you're stuck in traffic, listen to some music. Even if I'm not moving, I like to keep my eye on the car ahead of me. And knitting in business meetings? Bad idea, in my opinion. Never mind that you know you can listen AND knit at the same time--that's not other people's perception. THEIR perception of you? You aren't interested enough in what the other meeting attendees are saying to stop what you're doing. And I don't buy the argument that knitting in a meeting is like doodling. It isn't, not to other people.

But I will knit in the airport waiting for Achim to come home, if today is the day. I sure hope it is.

This Old Blog
I'm going to be making some changes over the next several weeks. I want to include a page with some of the technical stuff I've written, a page that will serve as a Stuff-o-Rama for my project pictures. And maybe some other things. I dunno. I'd like to be using either Grey Matter or MoveableType to do the blog but I'll need a major amount of free time to do that. Maybe this summer.

Time, time, time. So rare these days...and a day off is just too handy.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
--Hunter S. Thompson

Me on handy!

Fair Isle Blah Blah Blah
So as promised, here's my little discourse on how I work Fair Isle. I don't know what the big deal is with this--in my opinion, lace is more difficult--but here goes not much. Take it for what it's worth.

Beginning at the beginning, I swatch. I used to knit across in pattern, cut the yarn, and then begin again on the right side to emulate circular knitting. I now use Meg Swansen's method from Sweaters From Camp, which is to knit across in pattern, then pull out a length of each color and loop around the back loosely. This leaves the yarn intact if I run out and need a bit more. And it's easier and neater.

I cast on using long-tail. This works fine, the bottom doesn't curl, and I don't have to learn the impossibly obtuse Half German Twisted Decaf cast-on that Meg teaches. (I have 3 basic cast-ons that I use--long-tail, cable, provisional. They cover all my knitting needs. I don't need to learn any more.)

Once I've gotten the thing going without twisting the usually 390+ stitches, I hold the contrast yarn in my left hand, the background yarn in my right. And I never, ever change this. Ever. It's my and Loopy's opinion that more problems are caused by switching hands in midstream than whether the contrast yarn is held in one hand or t'other. All I can say is that my work looks good if I do this. (Note to Kathy Merrick: I'm left-handed, dear one. Shouldn't make a damned bit of difference. I gave up trying to get people to believe I was handicapped years ago. Heh.)

Once past the ribbing or welt, I immediately separate each motif repeat with those little red O-ring markers. This way, if I make a mistake, I'll never have to rip out the whole damned round. And I use one of those circular knitting counters that acts as a marker for the beginning of the round. I always count rows on everything I do, not just Fair Isle.

As I knit, I tend to bunch up the knitting on the left hand needle but stretch it out once it's worked and on the right hand needle. This helps keep the floats loose enough to avoid Fair Isle clumping. And once I have a reasonable amount knitted, say 10" or so, I flip the work to the inside, with the wrong side on the outside "rim" of the circ. (The work won't stay put on the inside if you don't have some length to it.) This adds a bit more distance for the floats to be carried over. Think of a race car driving to the outside of the curve or the inside of the curve. The outside of the curve is a further distance than the inside. Same principle.

I steek using the checkerboard method. I hate the wrapping-the-yarn-around-the-needle method--too sloppy. I do not machine-stitch on either side of the steek sts, I just cut. Granted, I work in 2-ply jumper weight exclusively (Campion, Jamieson's Spindrift, etc.) and the stuff is like velcro.

When the garment is completely finished, I wash it by hand with Ivory Liquid or J&J Baby Shampoo, put it in the washer on gentle spin cycle to remove the excess water, and then block it on a wooly board if it is a pullover. If it is a vest, I block it by lightly steam-pressing it, avoiding the ribbing.

Oh, and reading the charts. First off, I really hate Fair Isle charts that have color blocks. Give me symbols and black-and-white always. Much easier to follow. I basically memorize the stitches to the motif for each row, and their relationships to the stitches in the row below. Most (but not all) Fair Isle patterns are geometric, so you need only to follow the stitch progression and understand it to avoid mistakes. The one Fair Isle that I've worked on that violated this rule was AS's Grand Ave., which has this huge, sort of freestyle motif at the bottom. THAT was a bitch because it had to be worked blindly row for row.

Now, mind you, I've never done a Dale sweater--that's Loopy's domain. I do have a Dale Kolibri Fair Isle kit in the stash that I bought in a fit of vacation insanity one year in New Hampshire, but I doubt I'll ever make it. Cotton is the absolute worst for Fair Isle. If you don't knit it like a machine, it will look like shit. Trust me.

When I get some more length on the Queen Anne's Lace, I'll put up a pic. I'm more and more enamored of Fair Isle the longer I do it. In fact, my next design project will probably be a Fair Isle in Jamieson Spindrift. But I'll finish this one first.

Focus is everything, ain't it?

Too rare in most knitters, I think.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Ninety percent of everything is crap."--Theodore Sturgeon

Oh yeah. I'm back.

My complete medical history can be read within any random post on the KList...

And Still Crabby
Of course I am. Now when you don't feel well and you pick up the Winter 2003 issue of Knitter's, which you thought you'd thrown away...


you need something to eyeball whilst eating your tuna sandwich...

there's nothing more irritating than reading the blurb-o-rama for the Kimono Wrap that says "It looks great with a flowing batik skirt on a 20--year-old and equally beautiful with a narrow gray skirt and pearls on someone 30 years older."

Excuse me? Hold on just one fucking moment. You talkin' to me, Rick? Pearls? Narrow gray skirt? Shall I throw away MY flowing batik skirt?

Is this age discrimination? Or just another glimpse into Knitter's taking aim at their perceived market? Or both? And how old is Mondragon? 35? Old enough to be my son, I suppose. Not that I'd ever claim maternity on that one.

Well, I wouldn't make the jacket, let alone wear it with a flowing batik skirt. And I wouldn't wear pearls either.

QAL Progress
I may beat my own speed record on this one and actually finish AS's Queen Anne's Lace in less than 2 years. Already got about 13" of the body done. When I feel better, I'll take a picture of it. I'm beginning to realize at this point in my knitting career that I truly prefer to do Fair Isles above all other types of knitting. And the more colors, the better. If it doesn't have at least 10, I don't want to do it. This sweater is so much more subtlely colored that it appears to be in the picture. Starmore is such a genius with symmetry and color.

And now it's time to go knit and wait for Achim to call, I hope. He'll be home either this weekend or next. I miss my rare German man terribly.

And he's so damned handy. Heh.

Monday, April 14, 2003

A Quick Note
Right now, I'm suffering from a pinched nerve in my neck and need to stay away from the computer for a few days. But I'll be at 11.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."
--Carl Reiner

April...snow...bah Humbug. Living in Weird NJ is becoming positively arctic.

Why I Hate Cotton
1) Because I have to knit all weights of cotton on #1 needles. All cotton yarn.
2) Because the magazines always publish patterns in worsted weight cotton. What wid dat? (And don't tell me you live in California and that's all you can wear because I don't care.)
3) Because no matter how carefully I swatch 'n' wash, the stupid stuff always grows.

Cotton and garter stitch--the KnitDweeb's perfect combination. No wonder there's lists for warshcloths.

Nonetheless, I do have some very nice mauve cotton/silk DK sitting in Rubbermaid bin #3. No, this is not an invitation to discuss my stash, your stash, or anyone else's stash. I keep the contents of my stash a secret, just in case someday I become insane and want to post to the Knit List again.

I may design a cardi with this stuff for the refrigeration unit TCI calls my office. Winter or summer, it's cold.

Why I Hate Lists
Bear with me...I have a pinched nerve in my right shoulder blade that's killing me, thus not sweetening my temperment much.

I have subscriptions to a few other knitting lists besides the main ones, lists that purport to have some kind of proscribed focus. And I've come to the conclusion that if there is a membership greater than ten people, you will get boring "me-too" posts, endless discussion on one or two Topics du Jour, and a consistent balance between self-congratulatory and ass-kissing prose.

This is true, no matter what the original intent of list. Once it's over ten people, you've got a babble. And seldom anything of interest.

I had 88 messages in one of my mail folders from one of these smaller lists today. I scanned them all in less than five minutes. And unfortunately, these members are probably better educated and better knitters than the bulk of the KListers. Yet, I was totally ennuied out. Fifteen of the 88 messages were on the same topic and primarily "me-too."

I like my list. It's just Loopy and me. We haven't bored each other in 6 years.

That's handy. That's why I don't post to lists.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Imagine what it would be like if TV actually were good. It would be the end of everything we know."--Marvin Minksy

All Saddam, all the time...I'm watching baseball, myself. And that's my way of coping.

And the Winner is...
Those astute readers who guessed that the KnitList post was the real McCoy were is actually a combination of two separate posts that I thought went beautifully together. The e-mail address may or may not be real.

I'm betting it is.

Oh shut the fuck up.

I did finish Achim's gansey but now he's being shipped to Korea next Monday for two weeks. He's pissed. I'm pissed.

Tired and Cranky
I am, indeed. Too much work, not enough knitting. Although I did start Queen Anne's Lace, which yarn Elly gave me a year ago when she decided she'd had enough Starmore to last her. After I finished fucking up the first row--don't do this at home, kids--and ripping half of it out, I have continued on to the 3rd row. Given my track record with Starmores, I should have this completed in April 2006, just in time for my 56th birthday and admittance to the Home for the Criminally Sarcastic.

I'll torture you with pictures of row after agonizing row.


I'm really feeling evil tonight. So who can I skewer with my multi-barbed tongue?

Random Inanities from the KL
Whomever was looking for a guage-o-knit, please contact me off-list.
And don't you know, she's dying with Kool-Aid...or perhaps Wilton's icing dye?

several years ago we went to Disneyworld and I made a lot of - this is going
to sound so weird - dishcloths. I had brought a few knitting necessities with
the idea I'd be making _something_, and then we found a Wal-Mart close by (at
that time, there were no Wal-Marts near us in MA, if you can believe that, so
this was a complete novelty) with lovely Peaches and Cream cotton. Aha!
inspiration! I made dishcloths for the nice ladies who cleaned our room, gave
away dishcloths to inquirers, made a pile for my mother-in-law, even had some
to take home.

There's some confused Disney hotel staff and some equally bewildered "inquirers" clutching stringy garter stitch squares and wondering, "What the fuck?" What her mother-in-law had to say about the "pile" can only be imagined.

AHA! Three hoorays for the run-on sentence...

In the fall of 2001 I printed out a scarf pattern memoralizing the
Twin Towers. Now that I have the time and the yarn I can't find the
pattern - can anyone help?

A truly fitting memorial to 3,000+ lost. Does the pattern come with matching Pentagon sockies?

OK, I've been snotty enough. Time to go to bed and wake up tomorrow less acerbic.

As if that would happen. How rare!