Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going.--Professor Irwin Corey

And that's the topic of the entry, mostly.

I've been doing a considerable amount of thinking about the blog lately. It occurred to me that I'm boring myself. And that's not good.

I have to admit, over the last year and a half, I've said all I feel like saying about KnitDweebs, Knitter's, the X-men, the Tiny Diva, et al.

After all, what else is there to say about any or all of them? Not much. Until something new and moronic shows up on the scene.

I take my writing seriously. It's something that I've been doing since I was eight years old and I know intuitively when I need to stop. If I have nothing to say, then I don't say it, in person or on the page. That does not mean I intend to cease and desist writing the blog. What it means is that I need to take a different tack. And I'm not yet sure what that is.

My intention, when I first started writing the blog, was to sound off on what irked me in the knitting world. And so I did and have. And didn't much give a shit whether anyone read what I wrote or not. I still feel that way. If I had wanted fame and fortune from knitting, it sure as shit wouldn't have been through this blog, God knows. I would have kissed ass and probably written stupid little articles and designed stupid little garments and worked the magazine editors. But these days, I find myself perhaps more interested in being a solution rather than yapping about the problems. Independent bitch that I am, I will have to figure out exactly how to do that on my own terms.

So what I am saying is this: I will continue to write what I want and if that goes off into another realm, so be it. You may be reading more about what I like and less about what I don't. You may see more of my design work and less crabbing about other people's stuff.

Who knows? Of course, you are always welcome to voice your opinions. I might just listen.

Compute This
I can always get enthusiastic about computer applications, especially those that make my knitting life easier. When Cochenille first came out with their Stitch Painter program, I owned a Mac G4 and was totally enthralled with creating my own charts, some of which I even used.

Alas, the G4 was long ago consigned to some computer landfill place and I was forced to PC myself. So I bought Stitch and Motif Maker, Version 2 from Knitting Software, the company owned by knitter and programmer Carole Wulster. I found it to be not as "robust" a program, as they say in corporate America. To put it mildly, Stitch and Motif Maker lacked a lot of Stitch Painter's versatility.

Version 3 is now out. And finally, here's a charting program to be reckoned with, if the advance info is on the money. I just ordered my upgrade. And I can't wait. Hey, a 50-page Help manual, well-written and concise, is available to read on Carole's site, as is a free downloadable demo. Check it out.

December's Bizarro Link
I'm already getting some submissions from readers, but I'm going to issue a challenge: Find a bizarro link in keeping with the holiday spirit. Be it Christmas, Chanukah, K'waanza (hope I spelled that right). You know what I'm looking for. Or you should.

If you've sent in a link, I'll be checking it out. I may not use it this month. I may not use it at all. But I'll look at it.

Thanksgiving Weekend
Thursday I cook for the family. Friday I'm going with John and his daughter to Saratoga Springs to visit some friends of his. The Lavold vest goes with me and I expect it will be totally finished by Sunday. Hope you all have a good holiday. If you don't live in the US, then it's just another Thursday, isn't it?

A four-day weekend is way too rare but nonetheless handy.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I've been trying for some time to develop a lifestyle that doesn't require my presence.--Gary Trudeau

My imaginary lifestyle: Get up at 7 a.m., knit until 9, write until 12, eat lunch, do errands, shop, clean until 3, come home, knit until 6, have dinner and spend the evening with John, watching movie and knitting.

My real lifestyle: Get up at 5 a.m., get to work by 7:30 or so after sitting in traffic for 1-1.5 hours, write P&P, put out technofires, eat lunch at desk, go to boring meeting, get home around 5:30-6, eat some soup, stare at news, knit a few rows, doze off. See John for an hour or two, go to sleep at 10.

Christmas Knitting
Well, I don't. At least, I don't think about it unless specifically asked to make something. It's a cruel thing to award some knitted objet to a friend or relative in lieu of a real gift. Yeah, yeah. I know. Knitted gifts come from the heart. Horseshit.

If I were my friends or relatives, I wouldn't want a swell pair of knitted mittens, beautifully giftwrapped. Gimme a book, a CD, a DVD, some perfume, nice earrings, etc.

Last year, Elly asked me to make her a pair of Cashmerino socks for Christmas. And so I did and she loved them. (Elly refuses to make socks, by the way. Has no interest in them, lets me do it for her.) This year, my friend (and boss), AnnMarie, admired two balls of absolutely gawdawful rayon eyelash that I bought for some bizarre reason at Stitches. So...I am making her a scarf. Here it is. Now you may all laugh.

The scarf is now about 5 feet long and ready for hideous fringing. AnnMarie will love it. She really wanted the Lavold vest, though. I don't think that's gonna happen in her lifetime.

The point is, spare yourself the agony of Christmas knitting horror deadlines and the potential rejection of your precious knitted gift ("Oh, um, how nice") by only knitting when asked.

I can't wait to read all the post-Christmas Knit List messages about how SuzyKnittrForJesus's Aunt Sally opened the gift of the handknitted Dazzleaire tea cosy and said, "Did you get this at Target?"

Blocking Piece by Piece
Since I had to go back and add a few rows to the armhole of one of the Lavold vest fronts, I've been blocking the pieces one at a time, while working on the scarf and the Queen Anne's Lace (yes, I'm back to that). I must say, though, that although I wished I had been able to get Silky Wool when I started the vest, the Debbie Bliss merino is quite nice and blocks out beautifully. For any cabled garment, I like to use blocking wires and cold water spray. Here's the back. Now I just have to block the fixed piece and I can start assembling it and doing the bands.

I really do like finishing. I get enormous satisfaction from assembling something I've knitted and have it look great. So many people knit well and finish poorly. Even so-called designers. Notice some of the lousy finishing in the magazines?

Writing Time, Knitting Time, John Time
It's been a long month and I've been busy but I'm sure looking forward to cooking next Thursday for the family and then having four days off to spend with John, do some knitting, etc. Today I'm working from home. Tomorrow is Friday. Projects continue to build up at work but I miss my writing time very much. The time I spend writing the blog is, along with knitting, one of the most fun things I do. Often it's hard to wedge everything in but I'm grateful that my time is so richly filled and that I am happier than I have been in a long time. There's no doubt that I have been very fortunate to have met John. Finally, a relationship that's working, and working well.

And then there's been all the friends I've made this year through this blog. Other than the two jerks I bounced out, my readers are a rare and handy lot.

Missing in Action
By the way, where the fuck is Knitter's? I went over to the website last week and they're still showing the last issue. Of course, that web site is such a mess, who could find fuck-all? Not that I'm panting to see it, but there is supposed to be another Lavold design therein.

And I've noticed that I've not gotten any mail from any of my Yahoo groups for the past two days. Shall I send dozens of e-mails to each of the lists asking why I haven't gotten any mail?

Time to get rare and handy. There's an Admissions Policy and Procedure Manual, Rev. B that's calling me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Don't rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head.--Andy Rooney

And thank God for that.

Party On, Wayne
Far be it from me to bite the hand that feeds me fiber. Kathy brought her unwanteds to my house last Sunday...five garbage bags full. Joe and Lisa and I had lots of fun digging through the goods. Here is my living room floor, bedazzled and bedecked.

Holy shit. My stash as-is equals about this. Well, maybe a bit more but not much. I tend to be pretty project-oriented. Here are some more pictures you can look at: Joe and Kathy expounding. Lisa holding up the one skein no one wanted. I guess Joe was still talking. Heh.

Joe gave me the latest Rowan magazine AND A Yorkshire Fable for a housewarming gift. When I look at the Rowan designs and the ones in the Jamieson books, I know for sure that the American magazines have no fucking excuse for the total excrement they've been publishing of late. Even the easy Rowan designs are elegant.

It's a good thing to get together with your friends. More than anything else, writing this blog has given me the opportunity to meet extraordinary people like these.

Far better than going to some goofy knitting guild that hangs on TKGA's every word.

For some strange reason, I thought this issue was going to be better than the past few. It just bored me to tears. Not that the garments were woofers. They weren't. They were just dull. But it was a $5.95 ennui-filled 10 minutes of reading. The thumb gusset article was mildly interesting. The article on prisoners knitting was also sort of unspellbinding. Unfortunately, I didn't see any potential poster material for Joe that might pander to his fixation with serial killers. In fact, all of the articles rather set the tone of this issue's mediocrity.

I'm getting to the point where I am tremendously more interested in the ads. Blue Sky Alpacas had one of the most arresting ads I've seen in a long time. The web site is the same. It's not that the designs themselves were so incredible. But it shows you what spectacular photography and great art direction can do. And looking at how the Classic Elite ads have gone down the toilet, it makes you wonder. Frankly, the Lion Brand ad is more interesting than CE's.

One company that has been advertising of late in the mags is Fiddlesticks Knitting, a Canadian company owned by Dorothy Siemens that features her lace shawl designs. I'm thinking that if I ever finish the Forest Path Stole, I may go for one of hers. Really nice designs, if you're into lace.

Knitbloggers Knitting Basket Project
Saw this on Joe's blog today--this is a good thing, people. Teresa, Wendy, and Deb (Yentala) have put The Knitbloggers Knitting Basket Project together. I think it's a very appropriate charity, otherwise I wouldn't endorse it.

If you want to do something charitable for the holidays (or any time--do you need an excuse?), check it out. I'm sure you can manage a buck or three.

When I catch up with myself, I may find that I have once again aged two years or so. At least, it seems that way. Work is sucking up a lot of time, as is my relationship with John. Not to mention planning my 2004 e-business stuff. Initially I thought I might do an e-magazine and I still may, down the road. Then I thought about doing a newsletter, also online. But in the end, I felt that keeping it small and manageable was the better part of valor. I've pretty much decided that I will start publishing my designs myself and selling them on the internet. I have not worked out the how's, why's and when's, so don't ask. But I'll keep you posted.

One thing I do know. I will control my product, not some pompous twit who knows dick about publishing and design. And I will not sell the designs from my blog. My blog is my blog. I never intended it to be a commercial venture. Of course, she says with a snort, somebody's gotta pay the fucking cyber bills around here. Domain names cost money, server space costs money. And so it goes.

I'm going to get my butt back into a regular posting mode on the blog. I need time and space to write. And only I can make that time and space.

So it is written, so it shall be done rare and handily.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.--Al Franken

Fucking up knitting is a state of being that belongs to all.

FO Pas
After all the comments from the last entry, I can't help but agree with some of my readers that fear of fucking up is causing many new knitters to avoid anything more advanced than scarves.

Now, before you get your knickers in a collective twist again, hear this: I completely understand that there are A) beginners who don't just knit scarves; B) beginners who don't just use eyelash; and C) some beginners (and others) who like the hip knitting books.

OK? We don't need to discuss the above again, I think.

I will fully admit that I continue to fuck up my knitting, even after 35 years. It's easy. It happens when I don't pay attention, get complacent, and watch TV while doing a complex pattern. And I have made gigantic fashion faux pas in the past, none of which were photographed. All of them reside in the landfills for which Jersey is so famous.

Some of my more memorable screwups: The infamous aqua acrylic ribbed coat (circa 1975); Jimmy's Aran sweater (Candide pattern), where the sleeves were 4" too long; the vest that had two right fronts (I redid one, needless to say). And lately, on the Lavold vest, forgetting to increase along the left front side edge.

Feel free to confess yours in the Comments. My name is Marilyn and I fuck up my knitting.

Patternworks Fall Catalog
I've read stories about their alleged poor service. I just ordered red rubber markers from them and they came within 4 days. So much for that. But I still can't get over the Falkenberg scarf kit for sale for $170. I'd love to know who plunked down the coins for that.

I'm really hoping that Keepsake Quilting (you must make a trip to their store in Center Harbor, NH, even if you don't quilt) will open up a retail warehouse like the place in Poughkeepsie. P'works is my preferred mail order company and I have gotten the KQ catalog for years too. I'm liking KnitPicks a lot these days, though. With my nutsy schedule, I'm lucky if I can get to The Yarn Loft in Sparta on a Saturday. I'd rather support my local yarn shop than mail order.

Short But Sweet
John's coming over tonight and we're going to watch The Bourne Identity. I'm seeing a lot of him, steadily. Fun guy. So tonight's entry is short. At least I can knit while he's around. He's got an old chenille scarf that oh God help me I suppose I should replace with a Touch Me scarf. Well, even I can be convinced to knit a scarf.

I'll be selling the pattern for $5 a pop. Heh.

Look for pictures Sunday night of my little knitting get-together. Kathy's bringing her stash cast-offs. I will not say publicly how many skeins of Koigu she owns. That's for her to confess.

Let's just say that her Koigu Kollection is, um, hefty.

And handy. And certainly rare, in that quantity.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The most overlooked advantage to owning a computer is that if they foul up there's no law against wacking them around a little.
--Joe Martin

My computer reported me to DYFS for alleged abuse. Of course here in NJ, it's unlikely that a caseworker will be calling...

And now, for the third fucking time...

Celtic Knotwork
I'm quite taken with this little book. With my interest in Aran knitting--my first sweater and first design were both Arans--I'd like to study Celtic knotwork a bit further.

I found this book in Barnes & Noble a few weeks back. Never saw it before. And it's not specifically for knitting. Rather, it guides the reader through the specialized charting needed to create a drawing of knotwork.

Nevertheless, I think it has its applications to knitting, even though at first glance, you might toss it aside as irrelevant.

I've gotten very interested in exploring the differences between Lavold's cable motifs and Barbara Walker's "closed ring" cables (for those who asked, Walker's technique can be found in the 3rd Treasury). I think a combination of the two could result in some very fascinating cabled motifs.

Lavold's cabled motifs are diamond-like, rather than rounded, because she develops her cabling set-up over 3 rows. She begins with two added knit stitches on the first row, works the wrong side as the stitches face the knitter, and then adds two more knit stitches on the 3rd row to complete the 4-stitch cable set-up.

Walker's closed-ring cables are completely developed on the first row. This makes the bottom of the cabled motif circular in shape. It also makes for knitting acrobatics, since you do a lifted inc, then knit in the front, back, and front of the next stitch, and then another lifted inc.

Mind you, I have not done the Walker method yet. But I'm going to mess around with both to see what comes out of them, design-wise. Stay tuned.

Little Shitty Knitty Books
As I mentioned in the Comments the other day, I did get a chance to flip through the Stitch 'n' Bitch book at Borders. Besides thinking it was pretentious as hell (although better written than The Urban Knitter and with a lot more projects), I keep wondering why the fuck do we need ANOTHER beginner's book with projects? Aren't there enough of them out there with scarf patterns?

As far as reference and how-to books, God knows there's a shitload of them. Why would you learn to knit from some trendy grrlll book when you've got old reliables like Maggie Righetti's, Montse Stanley's, or even Vague's? One or all of these books will stand the novice knitter in far better stead, I think.

Let's not re-invent the wheel for the sake of some scant publishing bucks and dubious fame.

Listen Up
I was exceedingly pissed off the other night upon reading the Comments and seeing a disagreement between readers, one of whom got nasty and personal. Her ass is now banned.

I will not tolerate that crap. Ever. If I read it and you wrote it, you can rest assured that I will have your sorry butt offloaded. No questions asked.

If you disagree with someone's views, that's fine. It's not difficult to disagree civilly. I think that discussion and conflicting views make life lively. You can attack the institutions and the public people who run them. God knows I do. Attacking someone who is voicing an opinion on my blog is unacceptable.

Got it? I'm sure you know I will keep order around here. I'm German.

Need I say more?

Bizarro Links
I love my readers. They send me great links. So I think I'll continue the practice of letting you all do the work for me. Keep sending me those bizarre links and I'll pick one for the month. This month's winner (or lose-ar, as my friend Willy would say) is Rob Matyska. His link is so, um, Diva-ish.

Judy Austin sent in an excellent link for those of you who have religious issues with lingerie. I'm saving Judy's other link for another time--it's a scary Japanese cat site that will help us all understand Hello Kitty.

And Denise Satterlund submitted two links, one of which makes me wish I weren't menopausal, so I could do this fun project!

Such rare and handy readers...
Quick Note
After writing two, yes two, entries and losing them both, I'm wondering if it's the new puter. So hang tight...I'll write something later and we'll see what's what. If this publishes successfully, then I know it's a shit happens deal. If not, well it's back to the ThinkPad for blogging.