Saturday, May 14, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Art is making something out of nothing and selling it. --Frank Zappa

Which, I suppose, would make people like Mari Lynn Patrick artistes.

I make neither art nor craft. I make shit to wear. That's it, sum total.

You might say the X-Men are artists because they make nothing out of something.

It's all arguable. Just don't do it here.

Skank Shrugs and Other Useless Items
After flipping through the endless shrugs in Interweave Knits, I had a sudden epiphany as to what their genesis is--bedjackets.

Who among us remembers lying in bed as a child, sick with measles, and wearing a pink sateen quilted bedjacket with ribbon ties that inevitably fell off your shoulders?

My aunt and grandmother loved pink. No doubt the bedjacket came from them. These shrugs have about the same appeal. Something to wear if you're sick. And frankly, I'd go for a shawl anyways.

I predict that the next useless knitted/crocheted rage will be snoods. If you don't know what those are, you are most certainly younger than I. You probably are, most likely.

I cry out in the wilderness to knitting magazine editors: Stop with the crappy shrugs, ponchos, bikinis, stuffed animals, felted anything. You've been alienating your other readership far too long. The HYUKs will move on. The rest of us will still be knitting worthwhile projects. You owe it to your HYUK readership to teach them, not to lull them.

I'm done now.

Slainte, Part IIIa
The ribbing is almost done. Got the camera back but I'm not taking any pictures until I have at least one full repeat. Not worth it otherwise. I'm just doing a simple twisted rib--nothing fancy.

Other Shit Going On
I've been busy getting the townhouse decluttered because I'm selling it. It goes on the market tomorrow. Financials indicate I must do this, although I've managed to get myself a temp gig at John's company until something better comes along. This has been a tough three years, no doubt about it. However, for some bizarre reason, I've been totally optimistic and not at all down about my reversal of fortunes. So please don't pity-party me. I have John, family and friends and plenty of yarn. And Carol sent me some paperbacks to read--thanks, C!

I don't generally like to use the blog to whine about my personal life too much. Because A) I can't imagine anything more boring and B) there's always someone else out there who has it worse. And, it's spring. That pretty much helps any woes go away.

I call my problems Horatio. As in Lord Nelson.

Joe and I generally agree on most everything and I'm always inspired by his blog. I like the opinion he has about lefthandedness and knitting. When my mother taught me how to knit, she never even considered my being lefthanded. I learned to knit, period. This whole business about mirror-knitting is absurd. I've taught plenty of people to knit and I'm sure some of them were lefthanded but I never bothered to ask.

Well, I'm off to the local greenhouse to spiff up the place with hanging baskets. If you are ever up in my area of Warren County, NJ, make an effort to hit some of the commercial plant growers who are open to the public, like Godalewski's. Great plants, great prices.

Apartment living may be a rare and handy thing. Maybe. But I need a deck or balcony for outside knitting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

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'm complaining. The expensive Dell laptop has fried itself. The hard drive is no more. It has ceased to be. It has gone to meet its Maker. It's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! This is an EX-HARD DRIVE.

So I'm working on my old IBM Thinkpad down in the rec room, which is slow but at least functioning.

Road Trip
Mammy and I went off to our local yarn shop yesterday for a boredom buster. She was looking to buy some Spring Garden, I needed markers.

I like to patronize yarn shops, even though I occasionally order online. Selling yarn is a tough business and I really prefer handing over my ducats to a live person who I know. Besides, there's always the gossip, the fiber handling, plus the yarn shop owner frequently has access to info that you might not see online. For example, yesterday I saw the preview pictures of the forthcoming Simply Shetland book.

I have to say, based on a quick scan of the pictures, that the new SS is nowhere as good as the previous editions. There is one beautiful Fair Isle and another one done in unfortunate baby-blue shades. A nice men's cabled sweater. The rest of the garments were totally forgettable. I'll buy it, simply because I have the others and I did like the Fair Isle.

Interesting to find out that the owner thinks the frou-frou scarf craze is dying out, at least around here. She's not selling the same quantities of crap that she had been.

The Summer Mags
All lousy. That's my take. Not worth dissecting. Or buying, although I did buy IK because I like the layout and the articles, usually. And I don't generally knit cotton either. However, a nice pima is always OK.

Up in Flames
Thanks to reader Cynthia9292 for the info on the recall of Fizz and Fur Out due to flammability(see previous entry's Comments). When you think about it, all synthetics are fire hazards. All the more reason to knit kids' sweaters and blankies in superwash wool rather than acrylic. Plastic melts, you know?

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I've written down what looks appealing and I'll be off to the library.

Slainte, Part II
Well, still no camera. However, my rare and handy daughter Corinne managed to win herself a Canon digital camera yesterday in a contest on Z100. That kid wins more shit--concert tickets, ski trip. Sheesh. So no pictures until Liz is finished her science fair project. However, I now have the motif placements and stitch count done, so I'm close to starting. Much scribbling on paper and going back and forth between different motifs. It's a matter of choosing motifs that will compliment each other, whose row counts work together, and that will be the right width.

I like to choose motifs where the action happens in concert. For example, I start with the main motif, which is 24 rows. I then pick other motifs whose row counts are factors of 24 i.e., 12, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2. When knitting, this makes it a bit easier to keep track with one row counter. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible, particularly if I like a motif whose row count doesn't fit but is harmonious. Really, designing an Aran is like conducting a symphony.

So now that I have my medium-size markers (all I had were small, believe it or not), I'm ready to go.

And the weather is so rare and handy, I believe I'll be out on the deck shortly.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.--Carl Jung

Yes, indeed. The seesaw of Aran knitting. The sandbox of swatching. The scraped knee of ripping out.

Slainte, Part I
A shot of Jameson's is definitely in order before starting an Aran design, that's for sure. So I've started swatching for this sweater but not in the way you might think.

I sort of subscribe to EZ's method, which is to figure out what motifs you want, arrange them, and then work a large swatch to get the gauge, turning it into a hat at the end. My method is similar; however, I begin with a swatch that incorporates all of what I call "throw-away" stitches: seed stitch, moss stitch, double moss, and reverse stockinette.

My Aran has two sections--the central panel, which is composed of one main motif and then x number of motifs on each side, and the side "throwaway" panel. In order to leave the central panel intact and undisturbed during armhole decreases, I use one of the throwaway stitch patterns to frame the panel and complete what I need for the piece. So I will do the throw-away stitch swatch and then after I've arranged my motifs, I will do a swatch for the panel. This applies to the front/back only. I'll explain the sleeve later.

It's really a guessing game with the front panel as to how many stitches will work. The motifs to either side of the main one have to be interesting enough to be enjoyable to work, yet not so distinctive (or too wide) as to unbalance the panel. Plus, you have any number of "divider" stitches that delineate each motif.

Once I know what the width of the main panel is, I then calculate the number of throwaway stitches that I will need to complete the piece. Obviously, if I'm working at 4.5 spi, I'm going to want about 14-16 stitches on either side to accommodate the armhole decs. I'm also going to want to look at the main motif to see how it will work with the neckline decs. The best (but perhaps not the easiest) way to troubleshoot any design pitfalls is to chart out the whole damned piece.

I should have the swatches finished by this weekend when I retrieve my camera. By the way, the Wool of the Andes is a pleasure to knit. And I hate Trinity stitch, so you won't be seeing that. Torture of the damned, in my opinion.

Victoria & Albert Museum
If you've never been there, you are missing one of my favorite museums. I had the great good fortune to visit the museum in 1986 during a business trip to London, where I saw one of the most incredible special exhibits on knitting. The V&A has an impressive website. Joe and I are two of the blogs listed there, along with other excellent knitting blogs. I'm truly honored.

Book Suggestions Needed
I'm out of reading material, so I'm looking for some assistance. I read a lot of mysteries, history, some novels. Kathy knows I'm a big Ian Rankin fan and he has a new one out but my county library sucks, so getting new books is tough. Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.

And now it's time to do some rare and handy laundry. My God, I hate housework.