Sunday, September 26, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I'll take any way to get into the Hall of Fame. If they want a batboy, I'll go in as a batboy.—Phil Rizzuto

Holy Cow.

I got into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday by paying.

Happy Birthday to Johnny H.

The Philosophy of Blog
I think I feel like two singles being excessively plied into overtwist. Busy-ness is not diminishing, nor is my angst at having to work on an excruciatingly difficult project. So going to Cooperstown yesterday with John, his daughter Katy, and Liz was a good respite.

For some reason the other day, John and I got into a conversation about why I write the blog, what I do when I meet people who read it, etc.

It’s interesting to see that blog writing, as a genre, is coming into its own in the media. Blogging, although not especially new any more, has caught the press’s fancy. There have been articles written about knitting blogs in particular, although Joe and I are seldom, if ever, mentioned. I hardly wonder why, since both of us share attitudes that are not the prevailing ones of saccharinicity and E-Z Simple Knitting.

I can’t speak for Joe but I am not interested in self-promotion—in fact, I find it abhorrent, although I understand why others do it. And as I explained to John, I would write the blog if only one person read it. In actuality, I have no idea how many people read The Knitting Curmudgeon regularly. I’m not into counting hits or web stats, neither of which really tell you who’s reading you and why. And why some people are obsessed with their blog stats is totally beyond me. Don’t mean a thing.

That said, when I meet people who read the blog, I feel distinctly uncomfortable. In person, I’m rather retiring upon first meeting, so I may disappoint my readers in person. On the other hand, it’s a bit empowering to have total strangers come up to you and tell you how much they enjoy reading the blog.

So although I will not wear a big sign on my ample bosom at Stitches East, proclaiming my identity, nor will I have an autograph party at the food concession, I do look forward to meeting those of you who are readers and will be attending.

The Asparagus Eggs Benedict Knitting Meetup
Well, that's what Kathy and I had last Sunday when we had brunch with Joe in Lahaska, PA. It's always good to be with those two, although we did miss Lisalisa and Carol S., both of whom had prior engagements.

Joe has already written about our Sunday in the Park with Yarn but I can add my dollah-three-eighty anyway. Two more interesting, stimulating people you won't meet anywhere. After Joe left, Kathy and I stood in the parking lot and chatted for another hour. I wish we could get together more often, but I'll take what I can get. And I wish the picture below showed off Kathy's jacket to better advantage.

Les Enfants Terribles

Knitting? Huh? What Dat?
I did finish Liz’s socks. Huzzah.

And I did chart out her skull for my own satisfaction, since I prefer to do my own thing in the final analysis. Anyone who wants it is welcome to heist it. (When I have time, I will put it on its own page, along with my other freebies that haven't been linked back on.) Now she’s told me that she wants the gloves black, with the skull pink. And perhaps a chain motif in pink around the cuff.

I do dislike knitting with black yarn, but you do anything for your grandchildren, usually.

In the meanwhile, I have resurrected the Queen Anne’s Lace, since the weather is turning cooler. I suppose I will finish it by year’s end.

I’m such a slow-ass knitter and I have absolutely no intention of changing that by altering how I knit. Need for speed is not a top priority, even though it would be nice to crank out more projects per year. When I realized that I have been working on the QAL for almost 3 years, it gave me pause for a nanosecond. And then I figured, what the fuck. In between times, I have churned out any number of socks, a vest, several other sweaters, miscellaneous hats, and one scarf. No necessity for concern about output.

I’ve realized that everything happens in its own time. As far as the book is concerned, I work on it when I can and when it gets done, it gets done. With crushing pressure at work, it would be ludicrous to self-impose more crushing deadlines. I depend upon my job for my income, not knitting. I would like to reverse that and perhaps I will, in the next year. I’m tired of working for other people, for sure. But that time is not now. But soon.

Stitches East and Rhinebeck
I will be at Stitches East on the Friday with Elly. I have not decided if I will make it on Saturday. Perhaps I am disillusioned with Stitches but I have no huge enthusiasm about attending this year. Based on my experience of past years, I am sure that there will be the Koigu/Noro overload, along with frou-frouness abounding. There are a few things that I’d like to buy, sock yarn being one of them. And hopefully I will see some new yarns, books, and tools that will be worth writing about.

Rhinebeck, on the other hand, is going to be great. I’ll be buying a lot of spinning fiber, for sure. And there’s the road trip to Morehouse with Kathy, Joe, and Selma as cruise director. How great will that be?

I promise pictures on the blog of both events. Of course, the Gallery of Ghastlies will be back. Perhaps we should all vote on our favorite Ghastly? What do you think, eh?

There could be some rare and handy lace-and-intarsia schmatteh that is so fugly it will need an award.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
America is just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.—Hunter S. Thompson

That the Assault Rifle Ban was not renewed by Congress is a shameful thing. That Bush did not push them to renew it is not only shameful but also immoral.

Gonzo knitting to the rescue. It may not change the course of world events nor stop the Evil Axis of Bush/Cheney/Rummy but it does make me feel better.

Especially with my AK-47 at my side.

Poncho Villa
You know, the other day while driving home from work I had a philosophical discussion with myself about ponchos and why I hate them.

Me: What is it you dislike so much about them?

ME: Well, any number of things. They’re so ‘70s, for one thing. Usually knit in ugly colors, often in garter stitch AND often fringed beyond belief. And there’s not much shaping, either. The only knitted poncho I’ve ever seen that was attractive was an Aran sampler poncho in Mon Tricot’s Aran issue, which I still have.

Me: That’s pretty damning. And you could apply much of the above criteria to shawls. You like shawls.

ME: True. But the shawls I like are lace and require a certain level of expertise (although I did make that Bell Shawl a few years back and I still use it).

Me: So where do the lacy little ponchos fit into your scheme of things? You know, those cover-up thingies?

ME: They’re OK. In fact, I’ve seen a couple that I liked. But for some reason, I think they’re more for kids. I could see making one in laceweight merino for eveningwear. Not that I’d ever have a reason to own something like that, since my T-shirt collection far outnumbers my collection of ball gowns. As our mother says, “Are you planning on wearing the Forest Path Stole to the opera?”

Me: So what you’re saying is, it’s OK to make a shapeless thing as long as it has a challenging pattern.

ME: Well, no. I am morally opposed to warshcloths. I can’t see doing a complex pattern in a warshcloth, although I’m sure some idiot has done so.

Me: But you’re not morally opposed to bedspreads, which are just huge warshcloths.

ME: Hardly. Bedspreads can be tremendously complex and take years to finish, which is why I’ve never bothered. You’re very argumentative, you know that? Go fuck yourself. I like what I like.

Me: Bite me.

I’m not sure who won. Or if it was even worth discussing.

When you consider that I’ve occasionally had conversations with my dead husband in the car, perhaps I should walk.

I’ve been busily crocheting the Noro Kureyon earflaps hat from the IK Crochet issue.

It's a really goofy hat, in my opinion. But sort of fun. I have another earflap to go and then the edging. I'm thinking instead of tassels hanging down, I may do a Keith Richards deal and suspend voodoo charms from the ends. I may not be caught dead in it. Haven't decided yet.

The pattern has its own issues, I’m afraid to say. The directions were, um, not very well edited. But I digress. I made a diagonally knit scarf from the same Kureyon last winter, so the hat more or less matches. Crocheting is a lot harder on my Carpal Tunneled hands, that’s for sure. But it’s fun nonetheless.

I don’t think I’ve crocheted anything in at least 10 years. No, more. Probably 20. I’m of the school of thought that believes crochet is an extremely useful thing for knitters to learn. For one, cotton sweaters gain much by having their necklines finished in reverse single crochet. And you can do the crochet thing to your steeks. AND if you’re having problems beginning laceweight in the round on 4 or 5 dps, doing a beginning bit in crochet and then picking up your stitches from that is very helpful.

I generally find crocheted garments to be repulsive, primarily because the designer tries to make crocheting into knitting. The most successful crocheted garments don’t do that. I love Kathy Merrick’s crocheted jackets, for example, and for precisely that reason. Kathy understands how to design with crochet stitches so that the finished article doesn’t look like something from Our Lady of the Precious Dripping Heart rummage sale.

One of the most interesting crochet projects I’ve seen in a long time is Kim Salazar’s filet crochet dragon curtain. You have to admire the workmanship and the design—I know my daughter Jenn, the medieval freak and card-carrying SCA member would love it. I could never master crocheting with steel hooks and thread.

Pre-Stitches Stitches
It looks as if we’ll be doing a pre-Stitches get-together down in Lambertville next Sunday. At least, Joe, Kathy and I can make it. Carol’s stuck at home and I don’t know what Janet Reno’s true love has up her lezzie sleeve.

Stitches East is just a few weeks away. As much as I hate putting my money into the X-Men’s pockets, I don’t cut off the old nose.

I fully intend to repeat the Gallery of Ghastlies this year, using Kathy, Carol, and Lisa as shills. Heh. One of them stands near the targeted Ghastly, I take a “souvenir” picture of them at Stitches. After all, I try to be somewhat subtle in my role as Stitches paparazza.

Hey, you wear a fugly sweater in public, you’re fair game for my camera. I can only imagine the plethora of ponchos on display this year.

I will probably buy mostly sock yarn, though. There’s really nothing else that I need or want, unless I see something spectacular. If it’s the same dull overload of Koigu and Noro, as it has been for the past few years, I shall be sorely disappointed.

It would seem that the Rhinebeck show might garner more of my paycheck, since I’m doing a lot more spinning lately.

Sk8or Designs
Now that I’ve finished Liz’s “short” socks, she wants a pair of pink gloves, fingers truncated, as is the fashion, and decorated with black skulls, presumably done as intarsia or perhaps Fair Isle motifs. I think this would be a fun thing to design. In fact, the young woman I work with, Torrie, overheard me discussing these gloves, and she wants a pair. At least neither of them has asked for scarves. Liz can knit her own, anyway.

Once again, Liz has dyed her hair. Having been through her Blue Period, she’s just switched to pink, a color heretofore castigated by her as “too Barbie.” Therefore, all clothing items now must be black and pink, a notable change from her previous wardrobe color scheme of black and red.

I love this kid. She’s getting the gloves as soon as I can sit down and chart the skulls.

I was thinking maybe I should adorn the gloves with little crocheted skulls, but there are those of my friends who might find that scary. And you know who you are.

Skull decorations can be rare and handy but probably only on a 12-year-old punk sk8or rat.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Thank God kids never mean well—Lily Tomlin

I know for a fact that as children, neither of my daughters ever meant well, except on Christmas and Mother’s Day.

My granddaughter Liz carries on that fine tradition.

Pre-Teen Yarn Shopping
The aforementioned Lizzy, now 12 and a punk sk8or (those of you with adolescents will understand this fashion trend), still likes to hang with her Grammy, and will ever so often become enthusiastic about “learning to knit.”

Lizzy has learned to knit on at least three separate occasions since she was seven. And does a mean garter stitch. If she ever successfully knits 6 inches worth, she will be taught to purl. That’s my rule, and I’m sticking to it.

On Friday, Elly and I went up to the Yarn Loft in Sparta to pick up our copies of Simply Shetland (more on that later). Lizzy was happy to come along in the hopes, probably, that Gram would buy her some yarn for yet another stint of learning.

Liz hadn’t been yarn shopping with me in about 2 years. So it was interesting to see her reactions to the selections available. I told her I would buy her two skeins of her choice for her birthday. And I let her loose in the shop.

I really thought that she’d go for the frou-frou. After all, this crap is what appeals to girls her age and I figured her garter stitch was good enough so that she could handle a novelty yarn.

Much to my surprise, she walked around, touched every skein of frou-frou and with every single one, said, “Ewwww this stuff is gross!” Her comment on a bright yellow eyelash? “If I knit a jacket from this, I’d look like a chicken.”

Is this the flesh of my flesh, or what? She ended up choosing two skeins of Kureyon with which she will knit a scarf for her mother. And a Leisure Arts “Learn to Knit” book. This time, she may learn to purl.

Oh yes, and she selected one skein of Regia Mini Ringel so that Gram could knit her “really short socks.” Here’s the first one, knit at Yankee Stadium yesterday during a tedious game, wherein the Yanks lost—again.

Simply Shetland
I wait all year for the Jamieson book. It’s totally displaced the magazines in the sphere of my knitting anticipation. And as usual, this was well worth waiting for. You can check out some of the garments on the Simply Shetland web site.

I don’t think that the designs are quite as good as the three previous books. That said, anything in these books is far superior to what you’ll find anywhere else. The type is large, the directions excellent, the designs classic. And often, one design is made in several different colors. Excellent idea. They've done this in previous books. I've never seen any other publisher do this.

I particularly liked the Sand Lodge pullover, a complex Fair Isle. This I will make, after I’m done with Queen Anne’s Lace. And Gregory Courtney has done some nice men’s sweaters (he also designed two of the scarves). I suppose I could be persuaded to make one for John, possibly Courtney's Glen Orchy pullover or maybe the Hjaltland pullover by Mari Dembrow.

Even the scarves show a great deal of thought in their design. There are three of them: a lace scarf and two textured stitch scarves. I would absolutely make any of them, and I’m not a scarf maker.

Carol Lapin, who I like very much, both as a person and as a designer, has several designs that were, um, OK. I do think she’s capable of better work. These designs seemed like rehashes of older creations, particularly Kaleidescope 2. I’m very tired of the chevroned look, although the colors in the jacket are spectacular, as they always are in Carol’s garments. However, it was Nadine Shapiro’s Cosmos jacket and vest that I thought was great fun, even though I hate intarsia. The jacket’s motif is so reminiscent of the Mary Quant logo. I could almost be persuaded to get over my intarsia dislike and make this set. Quite funky.

I wasn’t wild about the coat. But I’m never wild about knitted coats. And I could live without the ruana. More modular knitting. Let’s get over the modular knitting. It’s beginning to be a stone bore.

My only beef about the book’s layout, and one that I have had with other knitting books, is the color charts. I don’t like color charts for Fair Isle knitting. Symbol charts are far easier to read, in my opinion. Even better is a combo of color and symbols.

All in all, this is a book to buy. When you figure you get 21 decent patterns for $24 USD, that’s certainly better than wasting $6 four times a year on Knitter’s, wherein you’ll see maybe one decent design. Maybe.

Sob Sister
God, I thought I was going to commit hari kari with my circulars the other night. I have been working on the Forest Path Stole sporadically, maybe once a week. The other night, when I should have worked on something stupid, I picked up the stole and worked what I thought was the last panel on Tier 10.

It wasn’t. I chose the wrong stitch pattern, the Lily of the Valley. It should have been the Birch Leaves.

I’m going on record now to say that ripping out laceweight bobbles is impossible. I had to cut the entire panel. Knitting surgeon at work. I haven’t published a picture of it in a long time, so here’s as much of it in its unblocked state as I could fit into a photo.

I’m back on track now, and a better human being for having cut the panel, I’m sure.

It’s cloudy today. No lake. Just knitting. Tomorrow I go to adopt a 7-year-old cat named Cleo, who’s living unhappily with two other cats and two dogs.

Just so you don’t think I’m an animal hater, you know? Cats are rare and handy creatures. As long as you remember that they’re not human.