Sunday, October 10, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It is too hideous and nauseating. Owners and owned, they are like the two sides of a ghastly disease. One feels a sort of madness come over one, as if the world had become hell. But it is only superimposed: it is only a temporary disease. It can be cleaned away. --D.H. Lawrence

D.H. was talking about the people who owned "scaly houses" at the seashore.

It's an apt quote for the Gallery of Ghastlies. Hang on, kids. There's a lot of pictures in this entry.

Stitches East 2004
Three hours down. Three hours back. One hundred and sixty-six miles each way, with a detour of 40 miles to pick up my mother. I left at 6:15 a.m. and got home at 6:30 p.m. Was it worth it?

I'm still not sure. It means quality time with my 81-year-old mother, seeing my friends, and buying some stuff. I can do all three without the traveling.

In any case, we got to AC about 9:30 and almost immediately ran into Carol S., who kindly took this picture of me and Mom.

Jesus, don't we all end up looking like our mothers? I should look so good at 81.

My primary goal was to buy sufficient sock yarn for the next 6 months. At the very least, Stitches is good for that because everyone brings sock yarn. However, as is always the case, there's one garment design that catches my eye. This Fair Isle vest, from Shelridge Farm, was a beauty.

Yeah, I bought the kit, even though they will be at Rhinebeck next week.

And here's a picture of the rest of my assorted purchases.

Doesn't seem like much but there's enough Opal, Socka, Socketta, and one lovely skein of Schaefer Anne to drill a fairly large hole in my wallet. The vest kit is on the left.

And of course, it's always good to run into friends--here's Kathy Merrick and Sandy Feinstein.

But enough of this. Now come the pictures you've all been waiting for.


A bumper crop this year. Many, many thanks to Carol for her able assistance and great photos. A baker’s dozen of the finest.

Are you ready?

This wouldn’t have been so bad if she’d left out those white stripes and the tuck rolled thingies. The yarn was actually quite nice. And as someone commented (Carol, I think), no one over 25 should be wearing peplums anyway.


I had to follow this woman around for about 10 minutes before I could get a decent shot. The pink ruffle added immensely to the Ringling Bros. effect.


Bad scarf. Bad color. Bad frou-frou. Far be it from me to comment on anyone’s weight but at least she had the sense not to make a sweater from this shit.


Beautifully made sweater. But this pattern belongs on the bedroom wall, not on someone’s body.


His vest is bad enough (clearly, the missus told him he was not only going to walk around the market carrying her purchases, but to add insult to injury, he’d have to wear this lovely vest AND pay for more drecky yarn) but the thing on the woman taking her order could not classified as a known garment. Perhaps a shawl. Perhaps a schmatteh. I vote for the latter.


Yes. You love purple. So do we. Lose the hair. Lose the shirt. And God help me, the pen was purple.

Carol took one of her too. Great minds, etc.

AND NOW, THE CS COLLECTION. Prints available.


The Revenge of the Schmattehs. As CS says, the worst garments were worn by the vendors.


Ms. Kathy Merrick makes a moue of disgust as she puts maximum distance between herself and the delightfully bedecked frou-frou Mrs. Claus jacket.


What? Why? What happened to the neckline?


Typical frou-frou garment often seen at Stitches. Pattern: Buy 25 balls of assorted junk glitz yarn, cast on a bunch of stitches, knit in stripes until piece goes around your body, sew together. Memo to self: Don’t forget to leave openings for arms. Oh yeah, and leave a hole for head.


CS suggests that this woman should be arrested for unlawful use of Noro.


Once again, Kathy plays photo decoy as unsuspecting modular-knitting, chevron-loving KnitDweeb peruses books.


Just imagine what this cost. The mind boggles.

Did that satisfy?

For all of you who cannot go to Stitches, I will say that there were some very nice garments worn, although they were scarcer than hen's teeth. I did see a very nice Fair Isle vest and several lovely cabled pullovers. But the ponchos, scarves, and glitz sadly overshadow them.

I can only hope that some of these knitters are buying books at Stitches and taking classes so that they can give up their addiction to novelty yarns. Elly thinks that despite the proliferation of crap, we'll be seeing a new crop of dedicated, skilled knitters arise from the "hipness" of knitting. My mother's usually right.

Oh, and one last parting picture, from CS. I leave you with this rare and handy photo of Carol herself and Carol's words from her e-mail to me:

A weavette shot for Joe "I'm too cool for Stitches but not too cool for a Weavette" Wilcox.
NEXT WEEK: Rhinebeck. And more pictures...but I hope not ghastly ones.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners. --Florence King

Thanks to reader Camille for telling me about this author.

I have a lover AND I take no prisoners. Don't necessarily agree with what she says but the elegance with which she says it is inspirational. Wit is indeed erotic, applied accordingly and with a deft hand. Heh.

Countdown to Fiber-October
I'm looking forward to next Friday, when my mother and I invade Stitches East.

So in preparation, I reviewed my brochure. Which got me to thinking how much I dislike sitting in classes, since I fidget even at the age of 54 and a half.

And some of the classes' topics are a huge stretch. "Fringe Benefits"--three hours of everything you could ever want to learn about fringe. Egad. "Easy Gift Hats"--three hours of learning how to make a hat. I wouldn't last five minutes.

However, for those people who need to learn some stuff, the Stitches classes are probably a godsend. If Stitches had been around when I first began knitting, I would have definitely taken some of the pattern drafting classes, fidgeting or no fidgeting. And nowadays, I would take any class given by Lucy Neatby, Joan Schrouder, Kaffe, and the folks at Habu. I guess I could sit still.

Somehow, though, I find the idea of sitting in a Stitches class with perhaps a large percentage of KnitDweebs highly unappealing.

Billy Gates Knits
Well, he should. I've often used Excel as an ad-hoc charting tool, although I own the fine Stitch Motif Maker 3. If you want to do a little charting on the QT at work, there's nothing better.

I thought I might do a quick tutorial for you all because I know that not everyone is a whiz at Excel. I use it a lot in my work and I've come to appreciate its power as an application. Plus, if you're running a fairly new PC, most likely MS Office came with your computer, so you have it.

Here's how you do it.

1. Open a new workbook in Excel.

2. Now, click on the square between Row 1 and Column A, so that the entire worksheet turns blue. As my friend and Excel mentor PJ Conway always says, "With Excel, blue is the clue." Your screen should look like the one below. Go into Format and set your Row height to 10 and your Column width to 2. You'll get a nice blank knitting graph. (I've tried to make the screenshots as big as I can but they'll still probably look like crap, so don't whinge about them.)

3. Now you're ready to create a design area and place your color palette. I took a random number of cells and just put a border around them so that I could delineate the design area. Now, to the right of the design area, you'll set up your color palette by filling in a single square with each color you wish to use.

The screenshot below shows my finished palette.

4. To create a charted Fair Isle design, you will copy the square of color you wish to place in the design area and then paste it into the correct square, as shown below:

I use the key commands Ctrl-C for Copy and Ctrl-V for Paste--much faster than going in and out of the menu. Just hold down the Control key and then hit either C or V, depending on what you're doing.

But, you say, I want color AND symbols. No problem, chica. Go to Insert>Symbol and a wealth of nifty characters will be yours for the placing.

There's a shitload of them. The ones in the screenshot below are just a sampling.

5. Now, you can place a symbol of your choice in a cell. If you want it nicely centered, go to Format>Cells>Alignment and select Center for both Horizontal and Vertical in Text Alignment.

BUT, you whine, I want symbols AND color. Jesus, this is so easy. Just add a color fill to your symbol cell and you're ready to cut and paste, like I did in the chart below.

6. Once you've finished your design, I would suggest that you place a border around each cell, even though Excel will print out the grid anyway. The border is a lot sharper. This time, highlight only your design area and then select the border that will outline the cell top, bottom, right and left. Got it?

7. And so, you have finished. Actually, doing this little pattern took me all of 10 minutes, if that. Obviously this isn't a real Fair Isle design, just my doodling. But you get the idea. And here's how it should look when you're done.


I have not used Excel to do any complex stitch pattern charting. I use Stitch Motif Maker for that. However, I'm sure you could create your own custom symbols by drawing in the cell, if you wished. Explore and play with it. There may be some usable items in Symbols. Try going through all the Wingdings and Webdings first.

Now I feel wholly righteous and that I've actually taught something online that might be worthwhile. Let me sanctify my efforts by getting a cup of coffee.

Consultant Agonista
I am almost done with my consulting stint in NYC, thank you Jesus. It's been difficult not having enough time to knit. Knitting on the train just puts me to sleep. So I've done almost nothing during the past couple of weeks. However, I have been able to get some spinning and knitting done on the weekends, albeit precious little.

As it goes, I seem to have just enough time to post once a week, on the weekend. I'm hoping that once my NYC business is done, I can get back to a regular twice a week entry, or more perhaps. This is why I've been writing more in each post, so that at least you'll have something once a week that is hopefully worth your time.

And let me just say that I look forward to meeting those of you who show up next Friday at Stitches. If you think it's me, just come up and say hi. I am quite friendly when fed. Besides, my mother will find it amusing.

The Gallery of Ghastlies will be on the blog sometime next weekend. I shudder in anticipation just thinking about all those unrare and definitively unhandy ponchos and ugly intarsia abortions.