Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother's tasted better the day before.—Rita Rudner

My mother is smart—she eats her holiday meals at my house.

God Bless Us, Everyone
Yeah, it’s a bit early for my Tiny Tim routine but I would like to speak to the amazing comments from my last entry before I shift the mood back, as it were, to fiber.

When I wrote that little piece on manic-depression, I did so primarily because I was pissed off once again at the neverending lack of legitimacy accorded mental illness by our half-assed health system.

I’ve never made any bones about being manic-depressive. In fact, I’m almost sure I’ve mentioned my disorder during the two-and-a-half years that I’ve been writing my blog. No, I don’t go around with the Scarlet MD on my chest. I don’t put it on my résumé. But I don’t hide IT (or the fact that I dye my hair blonde either). Bravery has nothing to do with it—I just don’t care whether people think there’s something “wrong” with me or not.

Thank you all for coming forward and writing about your own situations. Cathartic, isn’t it? And a little scary, I’m sure. But not only have you helped me, you’ve helped each other. Every story, every personal experience, is gold to another person. Incidentally, there is an excellent online resource for manic-depression—The Pendulum. I highly recommend it.

And I was truly gratified to see so many lurkers commenting. I wish they would come out of the shadows more often. After all, it’s not all about me writing—it’s about everyone writing. Contrary to popular belief, I welcome comments. As long as the comments aren’t about puling puppies, warshcloths, or any topic that has a KnitDweeb smell to it.

Paper Barf
That’s what Knitter’s is this issue. At least, if you’ve checked out The Gall-ery. I am not buying this issue. In fact, I haven’t bought an issue since the one with the Lavold vest in it, whenever that was. I refuse to put money in the X-men’s pockets. And this may extend to attending Stitches, although Elly so looks forward to it, I don’t have the heart to say no.

Joe will review the issue because the dope plans on buying it. I say, just look at the pictures on line. Since Knitter’s seldom publishes technical articles anymore, I’m not concerned about missing anything. Although I do so miss Alexis’s overblown, hyperbole-laden prose. And Dr. Perry’s droning anecdotes about knitting and whatever.

That’s the kind of writing you see in freshman English 101.

The Crabbies
I may have to start my own awards for the year’s worst design(s) in a magazine. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, there are a number of category possibilities. Yeah, I know. The sock scarf is a clear nominee. And if you have a favorite, feel free to let me know. I don’t read Cast On but I did see the last cover.

More on this in the weekend post. I’ll be setting up categories with nominees and then YOU all will vote. Heh. Could be almost as much fun as the Christmas Crapalong.

Fiber TrashTalk
The fugly wool/hemp gansey remake is out, the China vest from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Vests is in. I’d have a picture for you but my daughter Corinne borrowed my digital camera the other day and hasn’t brought it back.

Elly gave me the yarn for this vest last Christmas—it’s Rauma 3tr Strikkegarn, which she got from Nordic FiberArts. She had already made the vest and raved about the yarn and the incredible color saturation of the red. She’s right. This red is unbelievable.

Spinning continues on the Wensleydale. I have only a half-pound left to spin. The rest is either plied and skeined, plied and sitting on a bobbin, or singles waiting to be plied. Mammy will never know how much fucking work this has been. And I hope she enjoys knitting with it.

Flip Me the Bird, Johnny
John and I are team-cooking on Thursday, Elly and brother Rich are coming to eat. The kids are both out of state to their respective significant other’s parents’ houses.

May you all have a good Thanksgiving. And if you’re from elsewhere, may your Thursday be the day before Friday, which is a rare and handy thing.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
You're only given a little spark of madness. You musn't lose it. --Robin Williams

Insanity is the Best Defense
Today I am forgoing my usual fiber-related posts to talk about mental illness, specifically manic depression. Feel free to skip this entry. It’s going to be somewhat on the long side.

I am a diagnosed bi-polar II. Or, to use a term I prefer, manic-depressive. It is believed to be a chemical imbalance of the brain, although not conclusively proven. It is also most likely hereditary.

Sounds scary, eh? Believe me, it can be.

The reason that I'm bringing this topic up is because during the course of the past few weeks, my mood swings have become increasingly more troublesome. Not to worry, though. I know well the signs of my illness and I no longer ignore those signs. It's time to go back on medication.

Some of you have family or friends who are bi-polar. Some of you may be bi-polar yourselves. If so, you understand how unbelievably difficult it is to obtain decent, affordable treatment and medication. I had to leave my psychiatrist more than four years ago because she did not accept insurance and I could no longer afford the $180/45 minutes. At least I was lucky to have help for a while. After that, I was dependent upon a primary care physician who knew little about psychiatric illnesses and even less about psychotropic drugs. Not good.

Today I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who takes my insurance. One of the few. Despite my needing to see someone quickly, because bi-polars can go south fast (sorry, couldn’t resist), I was lucky to get an appointment for December 7th. And this doctor is located about 50 miles away from my house.

I will need, at the very least, an antidepressant, which takes 2-3 weeks to kick in, definitely lithium, and probably an anti-convulsant too. So maybe I will feel better by Christmas.

My point? If I had pneumonia, I would be able to see a doctor immediately. If I had broken my leg, the emergency room would take me in an hour or two (or three). Ten years ago, during an acute episode, I was taken to the ER and forced to wait ten hours because mental illness just doesn’t command any medical reaction unless you threaten to kill yourself or harm others. Sadly, people who do reach that point are often ignored by the medical community early on, when they perhaps could have been helped.

The state of mental illness care is a national tragedy. There isn’t anyone in this country who has not been affected by it, whether directly or indirectly. And yet, ten years after my initial diagnosis, I find that nothing has improved. I have little hope that it will, especially under the current administration, which probably views psychiatric care as a tool of the Devil.

However, I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Manic-depressives are usually creative, bright people who have given much to our culture. The list of talented manic-depressives is huge. So I do like my special club.

Someone once asked me if there were a “cure” for manic-depression, would I get the cure? Never. Manic-depression has made me, for better or worse, the person I am. If there were a possibility of losing my creativity, of losing my ability to soar mentally, I’d never risk it.

Nonetheless, manic-depression kills. In fact, it kills all too frequently. Suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse all contribute to the manic-depression death statistics. I’ve been very lucky, insofar as I have a mild version. Many others have not been so fortunate. And many, many people will not discuss their illness because of the stigma that is still attached. Perhaps that is why I also fight against homophobia and discrimination of all types—boy, do I understand.

But ya gotta keep fighting. There’s always another day. I love what Bruce Cockburn says about manic-depression: "Keep kicking against the darkness until it bleeds daylight."

Yeah, what he say.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Only one thing registers on the subconscious mind: repetitive application - practice. What you practice is what you manifest.--Fay Weldon

So, after a disasterous Saturday, wherein my Schacht spinning wheel, never troublesome and always welcoming, decides to have a hissy fit and do all but fall apart in a heap of wood, I have decided that to blog on Sunday is a saner activity overall.

When shit doesn't work, it's because you've fucked up. Simple as that. You are what you eat.

When the drive band slips, it's because you have installed it badly.

When the wheel mysteriously goes the other way and you inadvertantly head south with your singles in a pile of twisted mess, it's because you weren't paying attention.

Once I acknowledged all of this, the wheel settled down.

Two skeins plied, despite the battle. That's OK.

Mairsie Doats and Gansey Doats
I have been reworking the Nasty German's Gansey in Dzined's wool/hemp. After almost 8 inches or so, I'm still not sure I like how it looks. The picture makes it look hideously boring. But I will carry on.

Hard to see any detail, although it shows up much better live. Here's the original a bit further along in the construction.

Damned hard to photograph circularly knit garments while in process.

I'm making some minor design changes in the new version but they are very minimal.

And of course, just so you know, I'm working on the usual pair of socks. I don't count socks as a "project." They're like Kleenex--I make them and toss them in the drawer.

Just my Plain Vanilla sock pattern, which I have memorized and can do at any time, when needed.

Garter Stitch-Covered Hangers--the Perfect Christmas Gift
You know it's the holiday season when the KnitDweebs on the Knit List start talking about their Christmas knitting. Every friggin' year, this topic comes up.

This year, they're talking about what to knit for people you don't know. Hey, what a concept! Rather than inundate your family and friends with useless knitted items, give 'em all to strangers. Of course, this thread started because some poor cluck's husband asked her to knit nine gifts for his coworkers.

Yeah, sure, honey. And let me bring you your paper and pipe. Sheesh.

As far as the goody-goodies on the KL kvetching about those of us who criticize the knitting magazines are concerned, they wouldn't know quality design if it hit them between the eyeballs. These Pollyannas are so filled with the milk of "Christian" kindness that they find any criticism offensive. The criticism, at least mine, is written with the faint hope that these magazines might improve. Not that anyone from these magazines reads my blog or others--most likely, they don't. But their readers do.

When the knitting magazines' youth market boom fades, they'll be scrambling to find the older, experienced knitters market. It may not be there for them. The rest of us have found other resources. I certainly have.

Christmas CrapAlong
Chanukah is a great holiday but just not quite filled with the tackiness that pervades Christmas, although I'd love to see some ecumenical submissions for sure. And in answer to the question posed about materials, no, you need not use frou-frou. Carol's winning submission last year was not frou-frou. I believe it was RH, but Carol will correct me, I'm sure, if I'm wrong.

Another thing: When you send the .jpg, try to make it a reasonably small file, OK? Big files clog e-mail.

Well, time is growing short and the weekend is almost over. I must return to my Rock 'Em Sock 'Em spinning wheel and see if I can get more of my mother's Wensleydale spun. This is turning into a major project, no doubt about it.

But time enough to be rare and handy and get the remaining 3/4 of a pound spun and plied.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day

The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.—Paula Poundstone

There. One more inane cat face for ya.

If she misbehaves, I’m shipping her mangy butt off to Wendy.

Mag Season
By now, perhaps many of you have seen the Vague Knitting Holiday issue.

An absolute abomination.

Just when you thought that Knitter’s had perhaps the worst designs, along comes VK and Trisha Malcolm to triumph over the X-Men in their continuing pilgrimage along the Path of Mediocrity. I have not seen the Winter issue of Knitter’s yet, but the Fall issue, while not as awful as previous ones, was simply boring at best.

Interweave Knits and Piecework are just out on the newsstands and both are well worth buying. These days, my three favorite fiber magazines are IK, Piecework, and Spin-Off. No surprise there—Interweave publishes quality books and magazines.

I’d been worried that IK would be going the way of Knitter’s; however, the past two issues were exceptionally good and I have great hope that Pam Allen will continue the trend. IK blows away the competition.

I’ve mentioned Veronik Avery before but I think she’s outdone herself with her jacket and skirt in this issue. I don’t do embroidery on knits and I think that were I to make this outfit, I would leave it off. However, this is a perfect example of the kind of dressmaking detail that is so sorely missing from today’s designs. Anyone with any body shape could wear the jacket and skirt, the skirt being knit sideways in shortrowed sections. That’s the smart way to make a knitted skirt that won’t droop, you know?

And of course, we go from Avery’s sublime to Patrick’s ridiculous. Joe’s already mentioned the terrible finishing job on the side seam of Mari Lynn Patrick’s latest “Guess What Knitted Garment I Am?” I’m surprised that Pam Allen didn’t ship it back to her and tell her to redo it or forget it.

I buy Piecework because I am also very interested in other needlecraft and have done a lot of embroidery in the past. But not on knits. Piecework always has some knitted designs, and if you are at all interested in the history of needlework, it’s a wonderful read.

Joe’s done a great job reviewing this issue of IK and I agree with his assessment. I might add that I honestly don’t think the men’s ties were much to write home about.

More Wensleydale
I spent Sunday plying the Wensleydale. Here’s an advance look at Mama’s Christmas present.

The Wensleydale is on the right and that hideous teal wool-of-unknown-origin that I spun prior to Rhinebeck is on the left. The bowl is from my blue-and-white collection, although I specialize in Flow Blue. Yet another passion, Victorian porcelain.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Heh
Guess what? It’s that time again. Time for my annual Christmas Crapalong. As you may recall, last year’s winner was Carol S., with her fabulously appointed toilet seat cover, complete with lights. Wow. Can you top that? Can any of us?

So, my charmers, send your .jpegs to me at knitz@optonline.net. Deadline will be December 22nd. The prize: Some crap from my stash but I promise it will be high-quality shit.

Please, no willie warmers or tired, overdone marital aids or lingerie, OK? Be original. You know what I like. Tacky is good. Very tacky is even better. Get out that frou-frou you bought in a moment of weakness. It’s gotta be good for something other than a scarf.

Be rare and handy in your creative processes.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue.--Richard Nixon

Until last Tuesday, RMN arguably held the title of Biggest Presidential Liar in History.

Congratulations, America. You've managed to forget every lesson supposedly learned in the '70s and renewed the contract of a man who doesn't read, let alone understand the lessons of history.
To paraphrase Abby Hoffman, rest his soul: Stay away from needle drugs. George Bush is the only dope worth shooting.

The Microcosm
Here's a theory that I've posed to Loopy and which I believe to be true.

If the Democrats had read the Knit List and read some of the knitting magazines for a year prior to Tuesday's election, they would have completely understood the nature of the average American voter and realized that they would not win unless they spouted THE WORD.

Which is to say, everything must be simple, easy, quick, with no thought behind it, and if you disagree with me, you are not a human being but a worthless piece of ka-ka because you don't go to church every Sunday. If you read the rubbishy comments left by those denizens of the X-World in the entry before the last one, I think you know who and what I mean.

These knitters come to my blog and other blogs to leave their droppings because I and other bloggers challenge their "moral" values by speaking our opinions. Well, hush mah mouth. Not.

To do something well, to fucking think about what you're doing and why, to read and learn and question, to take time and pride in what you do, and to challenge those who take the easy way out--is that so subversive? Apparently so.

My little world is fibercentric. Maybe not so important to most people. But it's what I love the best. And I can't seem to keep my mouth shut when I see sorry representations of knitting that only magnify the creator/wearer's philosophy of mediocrity.

Yeah. Anything worth doing isn't worth doing half-assed. Knitting being besides the point.

But to lighten the mood and get me off my soapbox, here's an excellent piece by Michael Moore sent to me by my sister, The Scrap Curmudgeon. Thanks, Karen. There is arguably a higher ratio of ScrapDweebs to KnitDweebs, according to her. My sister, of course, takes scrapbooking to the highest level. Her books are beautiful.

Rhinebeck After the Fact
Finally, some pictures.

Just one of the many shopping opportunities, although that particular yarn was nicer from a distance than it was up close.

There were two best parts. The shopping and seeing my friends.

From left: Selma the Axe Murderess, Kathy's back, Thaddeus (a man for all seasons but mostly Joe's), Debala aka Yentala, and Joe.

And no tour of Rhinebeck could be complete without a picture of Kathy being chatted up by a sheep.

I thought the sheep costume looked a bit scraggly, myself. And the Hello Kitty-type ribbon was a bit much. But there were a lot of kids there, so I'm sure the Sheep was a big hit with the Under-Fives.

In one building were the prizewinning knitted articles along with fine examples of spun yarn. The entries, by and large, were much higher quality than those generally seen at fairs. I particularly liked the shawl below.

Next stop: Maryland Sheep & Wool next May.

Dinsdale, oh Dinsdale, oh Wensleydale
Sorry, just remembered Monty Python's parody of the Kray brothers. Anyway, one of my purchases at Rhinebeck was the incredible Wensleydale I mentioned in a previous entry, which I'm spinning up as a Christmas present for my mother, who wishes to knit some of my handspun. Hey, handspun only a mother could love, eh?

The singles are 24 wpi, so this should make a nice DK weight when plied up. I bought a pound and a half of this stuff, plenty for her to knit a vest for herself. The Wensleydale spins itself. Unbelievable fiber. This is why I need to forgo any shopping at Stitches and concentrate on MD and Rhinebeck.

Other Fiber Crap
I'm reworking the Nasty German's Gansey in Dzine's wool/hemp for possible publication. Fortunately I had all my design notes filed away, so it's been fairly easy to reconstruct. This was my train knitting while commuting 3 hours each way to NYC. I'll post a picture anon, when I reach the yoke. Right now, there's only about 8 inches done and not terribly interesting 8 inches at that. And I have the requisite sock on the needle, but I don't count socks as projects, per se.

Grammy's Worth Something
Liz, my 12-year-old granddaughter and erstwhile novice knitter, found that Gram's knitting completed her Hallowe'en costume last week. Shawlette in Koigu supplied by Gram's endless supply of costume possibilities.

The cane and dress are not mine. Yet. Ever.

I suppose publishing a picture of one's grandchild is akin to rambling on about one's pets, sort of. But Liz does knit, although whether she'll ever progress to purling hangs on her getting six inches of garter stitch knitted.

I did like the rolled stockings. Nice effect. Making your own costume is rare, handy, and in keeping with family tradition.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Best Quote I Heard All Day
One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people's minds.--Frank Zappa

To my U.S. readers: Vote today. Vote for Kerry if you are interested in keeping our country intact.

Remember, the only real bogeyman on Hallowe'en is Bush. Who, I have decided, is actually much worse than Nixon. And I never thought I would see another like Tricky Dick in my lifetime, and a less accomplished liar at that. At least Nixon understood foreign policy.

Long Time, No Write
My God, I can't believe it's been three weeks since I last posted. Other than one day's respite at Rhinebeck, I've been caught up in a heavy, totally time-consuming work schedule plus family obligations. The good news is, next Wednesday is my last day working as a consultant in NYC. So it shall be back to posting twice a week as of then.

Everyone has long since posted their views and pictures on Rhinebeck but I will nonetheless add my dollah-three-eighty. I enjoyed this show much more than I did MD S&W. For one, the facilities are much nicer. And for another, I felt that there were sufficient vendors, many of whom show at MD also, to satisfy my spinning needs. I'll still try to go to MD next spring because it is excellent. But I'm very happy with Rhinebeck.

I bought a ton of shit, almost entirely to spin. I bought some incredible Wensleydale specifically for my mother, who wishes to knit some of my homespun. The singles that I've spun so far are 24 wpi, which plyed should make a nice DK weight. I'll have pictures up shortly.

And of course, there was the trip to Morehouse Farm, where I bought this laceweight. Don't know yet what I'll do with it. The possibilities are endless.

The best part of the entire day was being with Joe, Thaddeus, Kathy, Selma, and Deb. And meeting some readers. I think what I'll probably do is put these pictures up on a separate page on Saturday, since they are still sitting in my camera.

I did get my little mitt slapped by a snotty woman at Mostly Merino (not the owner but someone who works for her), who for some reason thought I was taking pictures of her precious sweaters to copy, I suppose. She was absolutely and completely rude, and Gestapo-esque in her request that I not photograph their booth, lecturing me as if I were a three-year-old. I was so taken aback that for once I had nothing to say. It's too bad that she didn't bother to ask me WHY I was taking pictures of the booth, since the sweaters were quite beautiful. Now no one who reads my blog will see Mostly Merino's wares. If she had approached me nicely, I would not have thought twice about slamming Mostly Merino in public. The yarn is fabulous. The help is gawd-awful.

I do not do business with rude, ignorant people. There's plenty of fabulous yarn to be bought elsewhere.

I need to keep this entry short, since I'm finishing it right before work. I will have plenty of time now to post, so there will be a fairly large entry over the weekend.

Be rare. Be handy. Get to the polls.