Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
They sicken of the calm that know the storm.—Dorothy Parker

A fine brunch was had by the participants below at The Stockton Inn this past Sunday, one of Dottie’s favorite places.

Beginning at left: Liz, Mar, Joe, Liza, Kathy, Selma

If you are ever in Stockton, New Jersey, make a point to have lunch at this wonderful old inn.

A get-together such as the one we had on Sunday is something that I treasure. And it’s not just about getting together with other knitters. It’s about spending time with friends. People who share life philosophies, who enjoy each other, and who care about each other. We’ve spent a couple of years developing this circle—first it was Joe, Kathy and me. Then came Lisa and Carol. And then Selma and Liza.

It’s a privilege to be part of this group, and I ain’t bullshitting.

After lunch, where my granddaughter Liz ate the most incredible desert, we went over to Joe's, where his partner Thaddeus was waiting with Mennonite carrot cake and the best espresso I've had in years. Liza brought along some interesting crochet that I thought was quite funky.

And then there had to be the obligatory cat picture. Joe won't put this on his blog but I will. Their cat Gage is beautiful. And sweet.

Hot Flashes From (and About) the Knitting Mag World
Sorry. I thought everyone had hot flashes. Shall I discuss mine in detail? Or perhaps you’d prefer reading about an injured extremity? I do so enjoy photos of maimed, bruised digits, don’t you? I could post a picture of me drenched in sweat at 4 a.m.

Anyway, I was initially shocked to hear that Interweave Press had been bought by Aspire Media a few weeks ago. My immediate reaction was, “Oh no. There goes the neighborhood.”

I’ve changed up my mind, as we say in my house. I think, in fact, that this sale may be a very good thing. Why? Read this and you’ll understand why. Clay Hall, the new CEO, understands the craft publishing market. This is not Kraft Foods buying a publishing company so that they can diversify. Hopefully Hall will sink more money into their book publishing efforts as well as expanding their magazine titles.

Knitting magazines in general are missing a huge market—their old one. Every knitting magazine, including Interweave Knits, has targeted all their editorial focus on the HYUKs. And they’ve alienated a large number of knitters who are more interested in quality designs with a more traditional slant.

So if any of you knitting magazine editors read this blog, hear me now: If you want to corner the market, start a magazine dedicated to the Dark Side. I’d suggest calling it Traditional Knitter or something like that. You’ll get all the rest of us who are sick of glitzy scarves, ponchos, knitted bikinis, and the rest of the junk that you’ve been publishing.

I’m available for an editor’s position, by the way. Feel free to contact me at knitz@optonline.net. I’m dead serious. Besides having worked for McCall’s N&C, MacKnit, Dolls, and a few other places, I once edited and produced an entire issue of Ships In Scale on my dining room table. That means pasting it up the old way, before computers did it all. How’s that for bona fides?

Iron Sausage Socks and the In-Stallment of Slainte
John, who likes to use the screen name Iron Sausage when he plays online poker (it’s from a Zappa song), will be the recipient of these lovelies.

That's John modeling his Iron Sausage sock. The yarn is Socka Colori, with a nice stitch pattern courtesy of Barbara Walker. And I will put the pattern up for sale in three sizes on the Knitting Vault because it's about time I made some chump change from this hobby of mine. Slainte got ripped out to the ribbing because I was A) not in love with what I’d designed and B) I left out a separator stitch. It’s in the bag, so to speak. Which means that I may work on it over the holiday weekend.

Interweave Redux
As most of you know, I consider IK the best of a very bad lot. Got a glimpse of the latest issue this weekend and besides some horrifically ugly designs that made my jaw drop (I know one of the designers, so I won’t be specific unless someone spews coffee on their keyboard and threatens me with cat stories), there might be one or two redeeming designs and articles. I did want a better look at the Shibori article. There was also a Veronik Avery design that looked good. I admire Veronik’s work very much. I'll leave the in-depth reviews to Joe. I can't be bothered any more.

Of all the Interweave magazines, I truly love Piecework. It’s consistently excellent. The latest issue, July/August, is absolutely spectacular if you love lace of any kind. There is a simple Nancy Bush scarf done in an Estonian lace pattern that I’m going to use for a larger shawl—now I can justify the suri alpaca purchase at last year’s Stitches.

Over the years, however, I’ve made it my business to learn more than just knitting. I can sew, quilt, embroider, crochet, and sometimes I stray from knitting for one of the others. For years I made a lot of my own clothes and some for the kids. I almost always made their Halloween costumes. I own a Bernina sewing machine that doesn’t get nearly the use it ought. I learned how to quilt because I had a quilting magazine dumped into my lap when the editor quit suddenly and found myself entranced with the color opportunities and the challenge of making a quilting stitch. I embroider because I love color…and I enjoy stitching samplers. On 32-count Belgian linen, not Aida cloth.

Learning these other needlework skills has enhanced my knitting skills. And I truly believe that if you wish to be an expert knitter, you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about other needlecrafts. You’d be amazed how you can apply one to the other and most important, learn what does not work with knitting.

Things From England (with no apologies to Scott Muni) and Other Interests
Somehow it came up in one of the comments that I do have other interests besides knitting and needlework. So here they are.

I am a serious Flow Blue collector. Flow Blue porcelain was made primarily in England from the 1830s to about 1912 for export to this country. I’ve got a pile of it and wrote an extensive cover article about my collection for a now-defunct collectors magazine. (By the way, I don't recommend buying any antique from eBay unless you are an experienced collector.)

Other antiques that I collect are miniature porcelain tea sets, Victorian porcelain in general, black rag dolls and Frozen Charlottes (doll collectors will know what those are). And I collect chintzy plastic snow globes from each city or region that I visit.

I play cribbage and poker online.

Although I studied violin for 15 years and guitar for 4, I haven’t played either in a long time but…I’d love to teach myself Celtic harp. My daughter Jenn plays it quite well.

I read incessantly, as you know. Big on history and mysteries.

Gardening is one of my favorite activities, either indoor or out.

Baseball is my passion, the Yankees in particular. Tennis is the other sport I’ll watch.

Well, enough is enough. That ought to make up for two weeks of void. Not exactly rare and handy to be so sporadic a writer but you know what I always say. Bite me.

Monday, June 27, 2005

No quote today. This woman is tired.

Selling townhouse, working, getting ready to pack up and no time for writing, I'm afraid.

However, I had an absolutely spiffy day yesterday with Joe, Kathy, Selma the Axe Murderess, Liza Prior Lucy, and Lil' Liz. I needed to see my friends badly. More tomorrow night when hopefully I get home at a civilized hour. Got tons to write about and I can't do it at work, damn it. Way too difficult.

They've got a camera on me. I swear to God. It's because I work in Finance. Talk about feeling creeped out. Jesus.

Tomorrow. I promise, it will be a long entry.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
All great truths begin as blasphemies.--George Bernard Shaw

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The music had to go. Sorry. It was getting on my nerves and, I'm sure, yours.

Two-Minute Blog
I have exactly one half-hour to write this, so it will be short and low on substance. There's cleaning to be done before the realty hordes descend upon the townhouse, beginning at 10 a.m. One of them wanted to come at 9. She was disavowed of that idea quickly.

I will be at the lake today and tomorrow with Ma, knitting and swimming.

Slainte Part IV
I've actually made substantial progress on this--now into the body and I will post a picture as soon as there's enough on the needles.

I've found a swell way to fiddle with the layout of the Aran motifs and I don't know why it never occurred to me before: Make photocopies of each individual stitch pattern you are interested in using and slap them on a piece of paper. You can either photocopy the picture from a book, if that's what you're using, or take a picture of your pattern swatches and use those. Before you paste them in permanently (I used a glue stick), you can rearrange them, add or substract patterns, and leave enough room between the pictures to notate those extra reverse st sts or other small stitch patterns that you need for fill.

Not unlike playing with paperdolls, which I did once as a child and immediately dismissed as a stupid way to spend time.

It's important not to jam bigger cabled motifs together without those separators. Otherwise, the total design balance becomes a wreck. The eye needs to be able to discern the patterns easily and giving those larger motifs room to breathe is a good idea.

This playing-with-paper was well worth my while, even though I'm pretty good at visualization.

I also wrote in the number of stitches for each segment, plus the extra separators, and I had a fine road map. If you like, I'll try to scan in my map when I have a minute.

Old, Older, Oldest
I've decided that the word "elderly" is going to be eliminated from my vocabulary, despite the fact that I now qualify for some "senior" discounts. Egad.

When I consider the women I know who are 60+, "elderly" is not only a poor adjective, it's insulting. And I don't much like "seniors" either.

These age qualifiers are awful. When I think of my mother, my next-door-neighbor Helen, and a few others, who skated into their later years with aplomb and verve, I realized that not giving a rat's ass about their age is the secret to their success.

Consider this: Of my closest knitting friends (Kathy, Selma, Joe, Carol, Lisa, Liza, and Loopy), I am the second oldest. (Sorry, Chris, you win the big prize.) Lisa is the same age as my oldest daughter and yet I never feel like there is any generation gap whatsoever. Of my non-knitting friends, my dear friend AnnMarie is almost 10 years younger than I am. Only Bob, Willy, Dotti and Peggy are my contemporaries. I still marvel that I'm now 55. Must be a huge miscalculation.

It's all in your head, for sure. I recall Grandma referring to women younger than she as "old bags." That's the philosophy to espouse.

And now I take my rare and handy self up to the deck for further knitting and coffee intake. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


it's dynamic...
it's contrahip...
it's usually thrown together on Saturday mornings

signature collezione

America's Beloved Snotty Skank
and Slow-as-Shit Knitter

invites YOU

to send LOTS of money immediately



You've read the words, now start buying my shit sight unseen. Call your yarn shop NOW! And don't forget, with every purchase you'll receive a FREE autographed picture of me.

Just like the one above, with a handsomely stamped facsimile of my very own scrawl. You'll love it and so will your knitting friends!

'Cause it's really about me, anyway. And I love me.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.--Laurence J. Peter

As I always say, I haven't an original thought in my brain. I just remember a lot of shit and correlate it at the appropriate time.

Which means that having excellent cerebral retention is at the very least something worth admitting to. Tell me that anyone in knitting is doing anything much original these days and I'd be happy to hear of it. I do have a designer short list...very short.

Poseurs Tricoteux
With so many "professional" knitters on board these days, Loopy just had to send me the copy from her local newspaper about a "world-famous" knitter (I have forgotten her name, but it was forgettable) who was charging $75 a head for a one-day workshop in which one could learn how to knit her designs. No doubt she hired advance men and paparazzi to proclaim her arrival at the local yarn shop.

Hey, everyone's a fucking star, including a few fellow knitbloggers who need to keep their egos in their pants and just shut the fuck up.

Those knitters who have talent but just go about their business because they love knitting are the ones from whom to learn. The others have no clothes, as we know.

Here's my list of those people:
Kim Salazar
Jean Miles
Jenna The Girl From Auntie (forgot her last name...it'll come to me)
Jen Tocker

There are others and I may piss someone off by forgetting to mention them. But rest assured, most likely they're not so full of themselves that I'd hear about it.

Going Native
And while I'm at it, why is it that some designers feel the need to translate every textile technique into knitting? Sorry, but I've not yet seen a really good translation of quilting into knitting. Why might that be? Because quilting is quilting and knitting is not quilting. Somehow, I find patchwork knitting to be mediocre at best. Marianne Isager is an exception.

Trying to make knitting look like weaving is tricky, at best, although it can be done via slip stitch.

I love those designers who try to make knitting look like crochet, and vicey versey. What the fuck for? Because you can. Or as they might say on the Knitlist, BYC.

You seldom see a good translation of ethnic fabric motifs into knitting, either. Again, Isager is an exception. Otherwise, the result is usually tacky and without merit. I love Japanese textile motifs but I'll be damned if they work with knitting. Trust me, I've tried. Perhaps that's yet another good reason to buy a loom, eh Joe? Let the punishment fit the crime. Along with the flowers that bloom in the spring, trala. Maybe I should change the name of my blog to The Lord High Executioner. 100 bonus points if anyone gets the music reference.

On hold until I can get some time to do serious charting. I need at least two to three days to translate written patterns into charts. Two of the major stitch patterns come from Walker, the central motif from Mon Tricot, and if I'm really ambitious, I might try to design my own cable motif. But don't hold your breath. I'd druther be knitting that putting heavy time into that. I'm trying to finish up some socks, my traditional summer knitting non-project. Socks are like toilet paper or worse. Ya use 'em and abuse 'em and then they go down the shitter and you need more.

I'm back at work, temporarily. Probably a long-term gig but at this point, don't know. Everything is up in the air until I get the townhouse sold and have some stability. The Dell laptop is still on the fritz and I'm using the Stinkpad. I type faster than it thinks.

I Love the Smell of Merino in the Morning
The plan is to get that huge freakin' bag of wool/mohair spun by October and Rhinebeck so I can buy more. As it stands, I have 3 bobbins spun and need to ply. I'm debating on doing a 3-ply but that will make it heavier than I may wish. My singles are 36 wpi, with a 2-ply at about 18 or so. The treble would make it 12 wpi, I guess. Those more experienced than I could perhaps offer their thoughts.

So not much really getting done, I'm afraid. I'm a slow as shit knitter anyhow, with the thrilling medication side effect of palsied hands. In addition, I've been rather lackadaisical about knitting. These slumps come and go but fortunately don't last long. A revving-up is looming.

I need new yarn. That's it. There's nothing more rare and handy than buying something new, ogling it for a week, and then tossing it in the stash to age for ten years. But it does get the blood up.