Saturday, May 29, 2004

Just a quick note before I sail off to Saratoga.

Many thanks to J-Jen for alerting me to the fact that only bloggers could comment. Holy Shit! You KNOW I would not have set up the Comments that way. As it turns out, the default setting is for "Registered Users." I recall setting it to "Anyone." Now it's fixed, I hope.

Shit happens. Comment away, anyone and everyone.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.--H. L. Mencken

I'm in floral mode. Flowers in my knitting, flowers my deck, flowers in the house.

Primrose Path
Now, being a Taurus (if you believe that stuff), I love beauty and luxurious things.

It must be true then, the horoscope BS?

I couldn't just design any old baby outfit, I had to find something really different for the baby to wear and for me to fuck around with. Thank God for Barbara Walker's books. They are the most used of my collection, and I unashamedly and unabashedly rob stitch patterns from them constantly.

I defy any designer to say he or she doesn't do the same.

These days, if I'm knitting anything, it's for the book. My new mantra, the book. So when I decided to design an outfit for my new grandniece, Sophia, it was the book that motivated me. After all, the kid doesn't care what she wears at this stage of her life.

BW's Second Treasury (and my personal favorite) has a nifty little slip-stitch pattern in three colors called Three Flowers. How fucking original. I think it's on page 111, for those of you who would like to look at the directions. I thought this would make an excellent motif for a pullover, hat, and sock ensemble that I'm calling Primrose Path, for lack of a better name.

Here's the initial swatch, still in its natural state.

The colors are pretty true, I think. The yarn is Dale Baby Ull, which has been hiding out in my stash for about 2 years. I have no recollection of why I bought it, since there were no babies in the family at the time.

This stitch pattern is quite simple to do but I think the results are pretty nifty. I very much like the bobble and may separate that out and use it within the garment pieces, probably around the cuffs and the neck. Haven't decided that yet.

You may be asking yourself, why the jade as the background and not for the stems? Two reasons. One, I have a ton of the jade and only one ball each of the yellow and pink. That's reason enough. Second, I rather like the contrast and may flip it for the hat and socks, if I have enough--I should. In other words, make the hat's motif yellow with green stems and pink buds. Or pink stems and green buds. Whatever works. And then make the socks' motif pink with green stems and yellow buds. I dunno. Gotta get through the pullover first.

I'm working the pullover in the round. Side seams and this motif just don't mix. The motif cannot be interrupted, in my mind. Obviously, the hat and socks would be knit in the round anyway. Should be a fun project. I've already written the preliminary directions for the pullover and have cast on the first row. No ribbing, just a rolled hem. Got the picture?

I will not be showing the photos of the finished book projects. If you can get the milk for free, why buy the cow? Isn't that how it goes? But I will publish my working swatches for your knitting amusement.

Summertime Blues
Good God, but the knitting magazines are awful for summer. Of the big three, the worst by far was Knitter's, as if any of us would be surprised at that. Besides the Lily of the Valley shawl, which was done far better and more interestingly in the last Spin-Off, every single item in this issue was positively fugly. And the worst two were the X-Dragon's designs. I think either Cojo or the Fab Five need to get out to SD and give this boy a 6-month intensive style and taste rehab.

Mind you, I've viewed these things via the internet. Heaven forfend that I would go to a bookstore and waste time looking at the issue in question or worse, buy it.

Not much hope, is there?

Out and About
With the holiday weekend approaching, I'm taking two days off prior to the weekend, although I've just been called back to the office for a few minutes today to e-mail some documents to the new owner and my new employer. Otherwise, I'm a busy girl this weekend: Saturday I'll be at Bob and Jean's annual Memorial Day barbecue and then leave to join John at our friends Emily and Mitch in Saratoga Springs. So this will be the last post until Tuesday, most likely. Lots of knitting, little computing. As it should be.

Have a rare and handy holiday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
What we call 'Progress' is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.--Havelock Ellis

So here it is, the newly redesigned blog. Simple. Somewhat elegant, I think. And fully functional.

You can access it from either or from Both work.

Unfortunately, all the comments from Halospan are history. It's just easier to use the incorporated commenting function. So bite me.

I still have work to do, adding links and so on. But finally, it's graphically endowed. Or some such shit.

Your feedback is always welcome, if not always heeded. Heh.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day

If there is, in fact, a Heaven and a Hell, all we know for sure is that Hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix...—Hunter S. Thompson

Although I can’t discuss it in any detail, TCI’s buyers have made me an offer I can’t refuse. I’m staying with the new regime.

And they’re headquartered in Phoenix. I’ll be staying in New Jersey. Thank God. But I fear some of my friends will not be kept on. And that makes me truly sad.

Frou-Frou Frolics
Jesus. The crap proliferates. Bad enough that I got the Patternworks’ Summer Update this week with multitudinous pages of crap, crap, crap and instructions on how to make scarves from crap, but today I had the frou-frou nightmare of a lifetime. Of course, it all began with a link that Loopy sent me from the Knit Flame list that you must see and to which I make reference below. A sweater of such hideous combinations (and wholesale swiping of patterns) that it’s not to be believed. But anyway, the horror continues.

Today I took Elly to a yarn shop she wanted to check out and didn’t want to drive to, blessedly not our regular shop but one that I occasionally venture into on the infrequent lunch hour. It’s actually a pretty nice shop but lately, the frou-frou ratio to decent stuff is about 100:2.

Elly’s shopping for a summer project and knows pretty much what she wants—something stupid to knit that’s light but not cotton. Like me, she eschews cotton for the most part. The store is quite crowded, with four women sitting at the table knitting, and several others poking about the bins. I grabbed some Rowan for socks for the book and was quite interested in the new Trendsetter Taos, a fashion yarn I could live with. Quite pretty. But I digress.

The women at the table are all knitting incredibly hideous “yarn.” As I wrote to Loopy earlier, “one of them delightedly held up a felted bag that was so incredibly ugly, I think it should be an accessory for this babe's horrorshow. I must have made a face (Elly who was in back of me of course was saying not-so-sotto-voce, ‘I'd never knit with that crap’) because the woman started to tell me that I should try knitting with it, that I'd really like it. I told her I'd rather chew nails. THEN she holds up this glitzy shawl-like thing and tells me she'd be happy to teach me ‘how to knit a triangle.’ At that point, I simply said to her, ‘I'm a traditionalist--I knit real shawls’ and walked out.”

I really should have bitch-slapped her.

I can’t stand this shit, I really can’t. I know, I know. The yarn shops need the revenue. But damn it, the stuff is butt-ugly. And it dumbs down knitting to the point of no return.

Maybe we all need to fight back. There’s more and more and more shit coming out, like a bad case of the runs. I keep hoping that the ScarfDweebs will get bored and go away. Which is worse? Knitting with Eros or knitting with Homespun. I honestly don’t know.

Widdle Kiddle Booboo Baby Shit
Now, I’m not a great believer in knitting baby stuff. Frankly, they outgrow it so quickly, it’s not worth the effort. I never even knit for my own kids until they were at least four or five, and I waited until Dizzy Ms. Lizzy was three before I made her a Minnowknits dress.

Joe has made a few things for babies, specifically two blankies, both of which were great. At least blankies don’t get outgrown. But I find them boring as hell, as I do afghans and the like.

So when my nephew (son of Jimmy’s brother) and his wife had a baby girl last Monday, my first thought was, “Fuck them, they didn’t even thank me for the wedding present AND I wasn’t invited to the baby shower anyway.”

On the other hand, I am nothing if not forgiving. To a point. And I thought, well, I’ll design a baby outfit for the book and if I really feel charitable, I might give it to the kid. After all, it’s not her fault her parents are ingrates.

So I now have three projects for the book: the linen stitch jacket, the Widdle Kiddle Booboo Baby Ensemble, and some socks. Each will end a particular chapter. And there will be more. Yep, the book is coming together, slowly but surely. And I’m pretty happy with it so far.

When it’s done, I think I’ll approach Running Press. Or self-publish it. I figure it will be done by next summer.

Boring Technical Note
I’m going to try to ftp the blog off of my domain,, tomorrow morning. Please don't ask me to explain what that means if you don't know. But I really need to give that a shot and get the blog back into shape so I can display graphics and photos. You should still be able to access the blog while I’m working but if you can’t, you’ll know why.

And then I’ll be off to AnnMarie’s for a visit. I’ve almost got her convinced to knit socks. Another rare and handy knitter in the making.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
A sympathetic Scot summed it all up very neatly in the remark, "You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk dancing." —Sir Arnold Bax

I admit to having been forced to learn folk dancing in grade school.

A Knitting Smörgåsbord of Techniques
There’s not a technique in knitting that I haven’t tried at least once.

And many that I’ve tried and not used again. But the knowledge that they exist makes me a better knitter. I’m a great believer in having as complete a selection of techniques at hand as possible.

However, there are knitting techniques that I have deemed useless for my ends. One is the technique of knitting backwards. I know that many people love using this for entrelac. I’ve never found it tiresome to turn the work. Doesn’t faze me in the least. More trouble to learn how to knit backwards.

I don’t knit toe-down socks. It’s not that I think it’s a worthless technique, it’s more that I’m comfortable knitting cuff-down. I made one toe-down pair, and just didn’t care much for it. Never had a problem getting my socks to fit, even if they were for other people. It’s not all that difficult.

Another technique that I don’t bother with is intarsia, primarily because the results look awful on me. There may come a time in the future where I will use it.

I think mirror knitting for lefthanders is laughable. And stupid.

I learned the Magic Loop technique. As far as I’m concerned it may be useful if I can’t find a suitable pair of dps when working a sleeve in the round.

I know and use three methods of casting on: Long-tail, cable, and provisional.

I know three methods of increasing and use one of the three, depending upon the design’s demands.

In fact, I know and have access to many, many different modi operandi. Realstricken tells me that I will use a core number of methods to achieve the maximum success. Understanding that there are other, more obscure options available makes me a knowledgeable knitter. Using those obscure techniques does not make me a better knitter.

Off I Go
I submitted my letter of resignation this morning to my boss. As of June 1, I will be Operations Manager for Eagle Rock Alliance, a disaster recovery company based in West Orange, NJ. This happened very quickly last week right after I returned from Florida—my former boss is a director at this company and has engineered the offer that I received last Wednesday. It was one I couldn’t refuse.

New horizons, new opportunities. I’m relieved and sad at the same time. I’ve made some wonderful friends at TCI, who will always remain my friends: AnnMarie, Mary, Pat, Johnny B, Warren, Edna, Rob, Jackie, April, Cathy, Gary. If any of you guys are reading this, you’re the best. Thanks for 4 great years.

You want to talk about rare and handy people? These TCI guys put up with my wackiness, supported me through Jimmy’s death, listened to me kvetch about selling the house, and welcomed John Hargreaves as part of my new life.

They are the true rare and handy ones. I will miss them.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day

That’s about where I’m at with TCI. Details next week, when I’m free to discuss in public what’s going on with me careerwise.

Slut-tique Knitting
Good discussion about Rowan’s R2 designs in the last entry’s Comments. Do the knitters who make these designs (and I use the term loosely) understand that what they are making look like shmattehs, as this native-born New Yorker likes to call them?

There’s something about Yiddish that, whether you’re a New York Jew or not, conveys the true sense of the meaning. Shmatteh in Yiddish means “rags.” But there’s a delicate connotation that implies a certain trashiness too, I think.

The garments in Rowan R2 are all shmattehs. In fact, the rise of shmattehs in all the magazines would worry me even more if it weren’t for the fact there are still decent designers using decent yarns.

Even if I were 25, svelte, and elfin, I would not make those garments in R2. I remember exactly what I was making at 25: Arans, simple sweaters with lace panels, that sort of thing. If you have any knitting booklets from the late ‘60s, you know that many of those sweaters were completely hideous and shmatteh-esque. It just seems to me that there’s been a recent proliferation of knitting crap the likes of which I haven’t seen in more than 30 years.

As long as the yarn companies keep selling the good stuff, the knitting sluts can wear what they want. I’m just not into making holes in my work unless it’s lace. And as long as the KnitDweebs buy eyelash to make scarves, the march down the road to knitting mediocrity will continue to be promoted by the yarn companies and the magazines.

It’s the economy, stupid. It surely is.

I keep records and lists of all my knitting fantasies and plans, not to mention my work tasks, grocery lists, birthday and Christmas lists, ad nauseam. My mother taught me at an early age to “write it down.” And so I do. There’s this vision in my head of some descendant of mine discovering my Franklin-Covey 200 years from now and going, “What the fuck?!”

This weekend’s fantasy includes winding and swatching the linen stitch jacket. It’s almost easier for me to work on writing the book than to force myself to set up the ballwinder, load up the swift, and get out all my plastic baggies. Yes, I’m putting the Koigu in plastic baggies, numbering them with the color code AND the sequence in which they’ll be used.

And this OCD behavior segues nicely into my absolute mania for detail and planning.

The problem with me is, I can’t just pick up sticks and string and go off into the woods singing a chant and knitting away. I have to plan. With 8 different colors of Koigu, all shading from one end to the other, I know I’ll never remember which color is which when doing the progressions in the jacket.

And then there’s writing the directions. I swatch a lot, get the gauge for the fabric I like best, and then write preliminary directions with all the math done first. As I go along, the directions get edited where needed if any adjustments are made.

Does this obsessive planning interfere with my creativity? I think not. My creativity lies in color sense, in balance of stitch patterns and texture, not in developing the Right Angle Motorized Five Decrease Modular Knit-Around Cardigan. Some people can do that—I prefer to work my color and texture ideas into a traditional garment shape. At least I know my sweaters fit.

I like to know where the pitfalls are before I put my foot into the swamp, you know?

And with that, I am off to lunch and to see what rare and handy entrees the cafeteria has to offer. That should take a nanosecond.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
No one traveling on a business trip would be missed if he failed to arrive.-- Thorstein Veblen

Unless, of course, you have 3 co-workers with you.

It’s good to be back. Florida was a trip, in the Timothy Leary sense of the word. Besides traveling from West Palm Beach to Delray Beach on I-95, which was really New Jersey dressed up with palm trees, it truly is a psychedelic land of amazement.

Little lizards that replace our ubiquitous chipmunks. Flora straight out of Little Shop of Horrors. I loved it. But I wouldn’t live there.

Traveling Stitches
So yes, I did take my bamboo dps on the plane, with dangling sock. However. When you have an aisle seat and another passenger next to you, it’s damned hard to negotiate the elbows, which in my case, have a singular ability to end up in the other person’s ribs. I didn’t knit on the way down; instead, I read an Ian Rankin mystery—quite good, if you like mysteries, which I do.

I’m not the sort of person who really cares whether there’s an abundance of yarn shops at my destination. In fact, I’ve found that, for the most part, yarn shops away from home generally carry the same crap I can buy anywhere. To my mind, there are three kinds of “shops”: the regular we-carry-some-imports-fuzzy-scarf-yarns-and-nice-acrylics; the high-end frou-frou atelier boutique; and the real honest-to-god fiber place. I only bother with the latter when I go away, if I yarn-shop at all.

When I go to NH, the Fiber Studio in Henniker is always on my list, as is the Yarn Shop in Laconia. One of these days I’ll get to Harrisville. And of course, Patternworks is now located in Center Harbor, NH, with a retail shop. I know Keepsake Quilting well, since I occasionally delude myself into thinking I’ll do a quilting project one of these days.

General Knitting Shit
I’m finishing up the Ran tunic, working on the Forest Path Stole here and there, and about to swatch for the linen stitch jacket. I don’t count socks as projects, ever. As far as I’m concerned, I make socks mindlessly with an eye to stuffing my drawer full of them for winter. Why people consider them “projects” is beyond me. It’s like calling a swatch a project. Or worse, calling a warshcloth a project.

What wid dat? People’s definition of “project” seems to extend to the minutest piece of knitting. By the way, on Joe’s blog in the Comments, Kim Salazar left the link for a free Fuzzy Dice knitting pattern. I printed it out.

That’s my next “project.” In pink, with black dots. What else? Can you think of anything more rare and handy than angora fuzzy dice?

Monday, May 03, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Miami Beach is where neon goes to die.—Lenny Bruce

OK, so I’m going to West Palm Beach on Wednesday. Is there any difference?

I’ll be bringing the laptop with me but I don’t know if I’ll have much time to blog. There is the issue of going to the Campus Management Conference in Delray Beach and knitting poolside at the Delray Marriott whenever possible.

Yes, I am bringing socks to knit on the plane.

No, I am not writing the Knit List to ask their collective permission to do so.

Bowing to the Goddess, Kinda
You know I don’t buy that “wo-man as goddess” bullshit. But I have to say, some of the nicest yarn I’ve seen recently is the Goddess line by Maria Gornatti. Check out the link here.

This is a basic line of yarn that parallels Debby Bliss’s, with two notable exceptions: It’s better quality all around (and cheaper, too), and the color saturation in all of the fiber blends is remarkable. The pictures on the website do not do this yarn justice. In addition, Gornatti’s pattern line, while a bit simplistic for me to consider, is well worth a novice/intermediate’s attention. These are classic sweaters with classic shaping, a cable here and there, even some beads thrown in, but all beautifully presented and far better than the crap in the magazines. The directions appeared to be very well-written. I will most certainly work with this yarn at some point.

I was fortunate enough to see and handle the yarn at The Knitting Basket in Denville, NJ. The pima cotton/silk is far superior to Bliss’s. And I don’t care for cotton. But I sure would knit this. Karen, the owner, said she’s the only shop in the country to carry this yarn—you have to buy it online, generally, and she had a tough time convincing Maria Gornatti to sell it to her. Gornatti is concerned that if she sells to shops, she’ll have a hard time keeping up with the demand. She’s right. This is fantastic stuff.

While I was in the shop, Kristin Nicholas’s sister, who lives in Denville, came in and said that Kristin was in town visiting their father in the hospital. Karen is hoping to entice Kristin to do a workshop for her. I may break my rule of “no classes” and go to that one, if it happens. Kristin is apparently doing a great deal of designing with the Goddess yarns. Certainly Classic Elite’s loss. Have you noticed how ghastly their designs have become since Kristin left the company? And the Classic Elite yarn? Right down the old shitter, in my opinion. I still have 20 skeins of Willough that I’m hoarding for a special occasion. Wouldn’t touch CE now if my life depended on it.

I didn’t go. So you’ll have to read Joe’s blog to hear all about it and how much Joe hated the smell of sheep dip. Wish I could have gone but since I’m off to FL, I figured I’d better save my money. Besides, did I need anything? That’s strictly a rhetorical question, at the very least. I do agree with him that it is a better show than Stitches, insofar as you will see yarns from small producers that are truly unique. And if you spin and/or weave, you can’t beat it for buying opportunities.

I expect to make Rhinebeck in October, which I understand is becoming almost as big as MDS&W. On top of that, SOAR is being held at the Pocono Manor in October this year, a mere 45 minutes from minutes from my house. So it will be a one-two-three weekend fiber extravaganza in October, with SOAR the first weekend, Stitches the second, and Rhinebeck the third.

Contributions to my October FiberWallow Fund will be graciously accepted.

Let me ask my Florida readers: Any good yarn shops in Delray Beach?

Heh heh. I’ve already looked them up. Because I believe in Google as an art form. So rare and handy (and recently gone public, too).

See ya after Florida.