Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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

I make my living using a computer. This I admit, in the way that a substance abuser might introduce himself at his first 12-step meeting.

My name is Marilyn and I use computers incessantly.

Because I am at heart a born-again Luddite, I will not hesitate to say that both my Dell and my IBM laptops are in danger of being hatcheted.

Due to the twin computers' insouciance today, I will not be bringing you the other Christmas Crapalong pictures AND the picture of the finished Lavold vest. Beelzebub and Beetlejuice are not cooperating, e-mailwise, in letting me publish the pictures.

This will be remedied when I come back from Saratoga Springs next week. Gack.

Lavold-ish Things
Having finished the vest, I decided to get moving on the Ran tunic from the latest book.

In case you are interested, there is a mistake on the chart for this design. The size start indicators for M/XL and S/L were transposed.

This caused me about 2 hours of grief while I cast on, knit the set-up row, counted stitches, ripped out twice, and finally determined that the chart was fucked up. No corrections on Knitting Fever's site; however, Lavold does have a page on her site that lists the four corrections so far for the book.

Knitting directions are notoriously difficult to edit and check, so I think that only four errors is not bad, considering that XRX publications are filled with them. And frankly, the Ran error is probably the most egregious of the four.

If you go through the site, you'll see that she has also done a book on I-cord, available in Swedish only. Can't say that I'm holding my breath for the English translation.

I-cord has its uses but it looks tacky when used as faux cabling or for weird surface design treatments.

In general, I would say that Lavold's directions could be better written for the American audience, who needs their collective hands held at every juncture.

These designs are for the mentally organized knitter, believe me. You don't swatch? You don't count rows? You don't read the directions five times before starting? You never block? Buy some Wool-Ease and make an afghan.

Interestingly, there were two identical questions on the Knit List last week about the Lavold vest back neckband. I actually bothered to answer the first question publicly. Of course, the answer the two KListers sought was right in the directions.

I was overcome with Christmas spirit, what can I say?

Off to Saratoga Springs
This afternoon, I'm trekking to upstate NY to stay with Mitch and Emily, John's friends. He's already there...I had to put in time at work, hence my late departure. So I will be out of range, out of touch, and out and about until I return next Sunday.

This year has been far better for me than last year--I met John and that's truly been the hallmark for me, along with selling the house and moving into my new place.

And thanks to all my Tontant Weaders for reading. You know how much I appreciate you. May you all have a rare and handy 2004.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It was the classic mother B.B. gun block: "You'll shoot your eye out." That deadly phrase uttered many times before by hundreds of mothers, was not surmountable by any means known to kiddom.--Ralphie, in Jean Shepherd's Christmas Story

I had a Daisy air rifle.

If you have never seen this movie, do so. It is the essence of every child's Christmas, or should be.

Christmas Crap-Along Winner
Oh yay. The moment you've all been waiting for. Considering I got 4 entries, it was a tough choice. All of them were crappy and all deserve recognition. I'll publish the runners-up after Christmas because time is short and I need a cup of coffee and some rest.

The winner is Carol Sulcoski, for her magnificent rendition of A Thing of Beauty, which, as Carol says, "is a joy forever, especially when it is made entirely of petrochemical byproducts and will sit intact in a landfill for millions of years. Attached is my entry for the Holiday Knit Crap-along. Crappy materials, crappy design (my own), crappy execution. Even a crappy pun, crafted by my beloved (but not crappy) husband."

Truly worthy of publication in a House of White Birches mag. Or perhaps kitted up by Herrschner's. Carol wins the Schaefer merino--CS, send me your address and I will ship it out to you ASAP.

This entry will be short because it's Christmas and we're all fucking busy, no? Hope you all get what you want and may you wallow in whatever it is.

I'm looking forward to cooking for ganze Familie, which includes daughters Corinne and Jenn (and their boyfriends Mike and Norm), Jr. Curmudge Ms. Liz and my grandson Ian, brother Rich and Elly, and last but never least, my Johnny Heartthrob, the Iron Sausage. Achim? WTF was I thinking? John is the real deal.

Be rare and handy, o Tontant Weaders, and have a swell holiday, whatever you celebrate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


For fun today, I did a Google using "knitting." Oh man, I came up #10. Holy shit.

Now smack me if I'm just too taken with this concept, OK?
Best Quote I Heard All Day
All men would still really like to own a train set.--Rita Rudner

I can't quite see buying Johnny Heartthrob a train set, although he might appreciate a lathe.

There's always room in my life for a man who loves wood. Wood-and-power-tool-love mitigates the all-encompassing enormity of stash-love.

Why Celebrities Mostly Knit Stupid Stuff
I now understand why celebs can't possibly see their way past garter stitch. My new hypothesis is that their knitting skills are directly related to the amount of plastic surgery they've had. I mean, what else could there be to do but knit while waiting for your plastic surgeon-du-jour consultation? In addition to this, you have to figure that celebrities will be knitting scarves to hide their turkey necks prior to surgery or to hide the bandages after.

Sarah Jessica Parker is featured in Celebrity Scarves and she has had some wonderful plastic surgery. I therefore presume that SJP might be capable of executing a fine stockinette stitch, certainly a step above Daryl Hannah's tortuous attempt at garter. And we all know Daryl's had more than her share of visits to Dr. PeelGood.

I know there's a scientific explanation for the existence of knitting celebrities. I just need more palpable proof.

Christmas Crap-Along
So far, there's been one entry. And a tremendously strong entry at that. The deadline has been extended until December 23 and I will publish the winner's name and entry on Christmas Eve, during a respite from marinating my sauerbraten and eating too much junk.

The prize will definitely be the huge hank of Schaefer merino--nice colors of mauve, sage green, etc. I'd take a picture of it but I'm too busy right now. And if you win, what the fuck do you care anyway? It's a freebie.

Winter Knitty
At the risk of sounding a bit whiny, I have to admit to being disappointed with the winter issue of Knitty. Bland, bland, bland and too many stupid hats, little goofy projects, and uninspiring sweaters. The one project I found interesting was the French Market basket. In Knitty's defense, you get what you don't pay for and free is free. I'm glad we have Knitty, even with the doofus projects.

That said, I actually found the ads to be a good thing and totally unobtrusive. Accepting advertising was a smart move. And the articles are always worth reading. I particularly liked the one in this issue on frogging, although you don't have to wash the ripped yarn--steaming it works just fine. And Rob's definitive article on felting (or should I say "fulling"?) is a classic. The caveat on "free-range" felting alone is worth reading. And the editor in me loves a guy who lists his references. Some of the other articles were way too chatty and too long but at least provided some meat, unlike the commercial hard-copy mags.

Christmas Present
Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl.--Bess Streeter Aldrich

And it still is, to me. Lots of things going on lately--I've been busy interviewing at Chubb Corporate HQ in the hopes that I can stay with the company. These are grim days at work, with speculation and rumors running amok.

But there is no doubt in my mind that despite the varying disappointments and pain of the past two years, there has been an overwhelming abundance of good things and people in my life. My old life is gone, the house is sold, the kids are off in their own place. I have a great family, wonderful friends, and my Johnny Heartthrob, who is always there to make me laugh, to make me feel loved, and to be my friend.

It always ends well. And life for me is always rare and handy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.—Jonathan Miller

15 days until Christmas.
Presents Bought: 0

I cannot cope with the idea of wrapping the unbought.

Wrapping presents is the ultimate form of torture by paper and is, in my opinion, the second cousin to origami, another fine Oriental art-as-torture.

I was born to create with yarn, not paper.

In my neck of the woods, when someone “scarfs” something up, it means they inhale their food. So I suppose I could use this form instead of “scarves” to describe my scarf-making activities. Two finished, one to make in red and black eyelash for my little punkista grandchild, Lizzy, and another in Touch Me, which is for someone who reads the blog. Liz wants all articles of clothing to be decorated with flames.

Jesus, but scarves are boring. However, the Multidirectional scarf did keep my interest, sort of. Thanks to Judy for the link. Here’s my rendition in Noro:

I put a single crochet edging around it, as suggested by Lisa. I think it stabilizes the garter stitch as well as eliminates the garter bump edge.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled knitting.

Stitch and Motif Maker 3
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Carole Wulster’s software for knitters. Well, I got my upgrade to Stitch and Motif Maker 3 and I’ve had a chance to play with it.

Oh boy! What a vast improvement over the original. Finally, a charting program that’s worth having and using. And I am using it. The new features are so plentiful, it would take me way too much space to list them. Suffice it to say that Carole has included pretty much everything needed to make this software easy to use and more important, useful. Here’s a sample chart that I did.

Don’t bother knitting from it because it’s just bullshit symbols. But you can see some of the new features—the ability to draw horizontal and vertical lines (handy if you want to separate motifs visually), a fine array of cable and stitch-action symbols, and a nice selection of general symbols that can be used alone or in combination with the color palette for Fair Isle.

Which brings me to a personal pet peeve—why do magazines and books persist in using only color blocks for Fair Isle charts? I truly dislike them. It’s so much easier for my aging eyes to follow symbols that are assigned color numbers.

But I digress.

What I found most handy was the ability to save the chart directly as a .jpeg or .bmp rather than importing the chart to Paint and then doing the save there. The user can still import to Paint if you want to add a “legend,” which means you can type any damned instructions you wish along with the chart. See what I mean?

Add to all of this the new palette format for the symbols and colors AND a gamma box for selecting custom colors. I haven’t even mentioned some of the other new features. Just take a trip over to Carole’s website and see for yourselves.

It’s so nice to see something useful for knitters, for a change. Give me a tool like this rather than dopey teddy-bear point protectors any day.

Lost in Space
For some stupid reason, the mail from all my Yahoogroups lists, the Knit List, Socknitters, and a few others, bounced while I was away for Thanksgiving weekend. So naturally, I shipped off a reply to the e-mail Yahoo sent me to reactivate.

They didn’t reactivate. So now I get no mail except from Knit U, which I read only sporadically anyway.

I don’t miss any of the lists. I mean, I can still read them from Yahoo, but have I?

Nope. I may be list-less for the first time since 1996. I’ll depend upon you, Tontant Weaders, to let me know if there’s something new or amiss in KnittingListLand.

Christmas Crap-Along
So, what gives? Anyone doing anything? All this big talk about dressing action figures and I have yet to see one submission. Not one fucking thing.

Of course, I haven’t checked my Yahoo e-mail in two days. But still. I can see that I will have to take out my boxing nuns that Sissyboo Karen gave me a few Christmases ago and do something for one of them. Am I going to have to enter my own contest? And worse, win?

Get handy, you knitting ass-sitters and get with the fucking program. I’m not German for nothing, verstehen sie?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."--Frank Zappa

There's snow coming.

If it's yellow, don't eat it.

Cold Shot
There are few things more boring to knit than scarves. I can say that, having pretty much finished AnnMarie’s Fancy scarf, executed in carefully knit garter stitch. Ye Gods.

However, I’m reconsidering my general attitude about scarves, due to the fact that the wind chill factor was 9 degrees Fahrenheit today in downtown Dover, NJ and I froze my face off waiting on the platform for the Hoboken train.

Last weekend, while visiting in Saratoga Springs with John’s friends Mitch and Em, I went with Em to the new yarn shop in town and bought one skein of that Tibetan silk yarn for a scarf. Em’s a knitter and her sister who lives in VT is a weaver, spinner, and knitter. Johnny Heartthrob has some nifty friends, for sure.

I’m thinking that Tibetan silk is not the way to go.

Xmas Crap-Along
I’ve been giving this little contest a bit of thought and I suppose I will have to award a prize. I could give away some of Kathy’s stash that I inherited but I decided that a major award should be something from my own stash. It’s terribly tacky to regift, don’t you think? I will rummage through my stash and see what’s good. There’s plenty of nice sock yarn available. And I believe I have a huge skein of Schaefer merino from a few years back that’s pretty nice, from which someone could make something. I’m willing to give that up. But I’ll make my decision by this weekend and let you know.

So here are MY rules for the Crap-Along. Let’s make it a Xmas Crap-Along, since I’m wallowing in the season’s spirit.

You may knit any item you wish. Nothing is sacred.

Materials: Must be all acrylic or any sleazy fiber you wish to try. No natural fibers.

Theme: You can pick religious or secular, I don’t give a fuck. Those of you fixated with the Jesus concept are welcome to work your knitting magic.

Presentation: You may send me a reasonably sized .jpeg of your project (please keep it to about 200K or 500 pixels, or whatever). You may style the photo as you wish. Extra credit and consideration will be given to those with wild imaginations. No action figures of Janet Reno will be accepted.

Due Date: Get these pictures to me by December 20. That gives you plenty of time to make a mess and still get your Christmas shopping done.

You may enter as many times as you wish, although God knows why you would waste your time doing more than one. And even one entry smacks of excess.

But I bow to my readers’ infinite wisdom and total lack of taste.

Getting It Done
I know, all I do is complain that I have too much to do at work. However, it seems true to me. This week, I have spent two days in Jersey City doing audits. Friday I have to go to North Brunswick. For those of you who do not know New Jersey, these are two cities that won’t appear on your “New Jersey and You—Perfect Together” tourist brochure.

In defense of my home state, just remember that The Scottish Designer Whose Name May Never Be Mentioned Because She Hires Process Servers Weekly based an entire book on Stillwater, New Jersey, which is right down the road from where I live.

In the midst of my work and personal life maelstrom, I have managed to begin the final finishing of the Lavold vest, knit one sock in the left-over Debbie Bliss merino, and eyeballed the Forest Path Stole. And now I’m going to put all of those project aside to knit myself a warm wool scarf and perhaps some gloves. The Isotoners just don’t keep your hands warm.

For Christmas, Liz has asked me for some fingerless gloves in black and red, with “flames” shooting here and there. I’ve gotten the new version of Stitch Motif Maker, so it looks like I will do a bit of charting on the weekend. I’ll let you know how the upgraded version is.

December Bizarro Link Winner
As much as I admire Lisa McNulty’s amazing assortments of links you wouldn’t show your mother, she’s already won. And my new rule is, if you’ve won in 2003, you may not win again until 2004. Which is next month, so big fucking deal, eh? So the winner is: Judy Austin, who sent me a bunch of good links. And I've selected a particular holiday project from one of them. You'll love it.

I already have January’s winner, so don’t send me any submissions, OK? There's a tie for January, so we'll have two swell sites to look at.

And thanks to everyone who submitted. I've just had time to go through them all tonight, so if you haven't heard back from me, you will. Eventually.

And now, because I'm getting a rare and not very handy cold, I'm going to bed.