Friday, September 30, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?--Stephen Wright

I admit publicly that I cannot function without a cup of coffee immediately upon rising.

Nor can I write anything without the second cup.

These days, I'm completely enamored with my Melitta One:One coffeemaker. I drink "Buzzworthy," an Arabica that's made for the Melitta. Killer stuff.

Some people are wine connoissieurs. I am a coffee connoissieuse. Or at least, to a very minor degree. If the coffee has sparks, I'll drink it.

The Weaving Novitiate
It's been a long, long time since I really felt like a rank beginner. Setting up the loom has been an interesting experience and Loopy has been holding my hand throughout the whole deal. But I'm finding that I don't mind being a newbie at all. In fact, it's been great learning something new.

Heddles. 992 of them. They separate the warp thread. One thread through one heddle. Obviously, you don't use all the heddles at the same time. But they're there on the loom. As my sister says, "What the fuck kind of word is 'heddles'"? You can't explain these obtuse Olde English spinning and weaving terms, like "Mother of All" and "heddles" to someone whose medium is paper.

They're the wires hanging down. Actually, it wasn't hard to put them on the shafts. Just a bit tedious. I don't mind tedious if the results are worth it. Next step: Warping the loom. Warp drive, Mr. Scott.

What I don't know about weaving would fill volumes. But I'm excited at what I will be able to do, when I understand what the fuck I need to do.

This is why I really do have infinite patience with new knitters. Not KnitDweebs. Newbies don't know enough to be KnitDweebs. There's a big difference between the two.

Obligatory Knitting Crap
I thought I would have been finished with the Field of Flowers shawl, but I have yet a few more edging points to make before I'm done. The shawl is about two hours knitting time away from being finished. That's today's goal--get it done and get it on blocking wires tomorrow. So no pictures right now. However, I will post the blocking process in the next entry. In the meanwhile, I have my own lace design project that I'm swatching. More on that next week.

You'd think, being at home now, that I have loads of leisure time. In fact, I'm up very early spinning, then writing from 8 to about noon, then screwing around with the loom from 1 until 3:30 or so, then knitting from 4 on. I've found this to be the optimum method of getting things done.

Of course, there are days when I need to do other shit, like run to the supermarket, go pick up Liz from cross-country, go to the dentist, and so on. But I try to stick to a fairly organized schedule.

Working at home takes discipline. I have always found that I tend to work harder and longer at home than I ever did in an office environment, something that employers don't seem to understand. No annoying interrruptions from co-workers who love to run their mouths, no irritating phone calls. No moronic meetings where everyone sits around jerking off and nothing gets done. No "telecons" for three hours (same as moronic meetings, except they seem to take longer).

So what's the point of what I'm doing? You'll see. If you haven't already.

It's a rare and handy thing to be mistress of your own life. And that's where I am now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It's no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, 'Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.'
By then, pigs will be your style.--Quentin Crisp

I would hope that XRX has not turned into a pig farm. However, I suspect that it has.

And run badly, at that. If the magazine is any indication.

Really, Knitter's was meant to be the prima ballerina of the Knitting Universe. Unfortunately, it's devolved into a dancing pig.

A magazine managed by un-managers who fancy themselves the voices of the knitting world. And to some knitters, they are. For the majority? I wonder. I could make a comparison between the current government's rampant cronyism, lack of response to its citizens and general self-congratulatory manner and XRX. But I won't.

I find it telling that there has been scant mention of Stitches East on the major lists. That's very unusual. It's already Wednesday and people are long back from AC. I'm remembering Selma the Axe Murderess's wonderful Virtual Stitches posts on the Knit List long ago.

Joe has written some excellent suggestions on improving XRX and Stitches' woeful condition. Read them. They are just what the pig farmer ordered.

I know that I would love to see Knitter's and Stitches become viable entities once again. We criticize because, ultimately, we care. A once-wonderful magazine now a sorry rag and a once-enchanting knitting event now a dull, throbbing circus. Sad.

Rhinebeck Beckons
On a more positive note, it's little more than two weeks until Rhinebeck, aka New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, opens. This has become my highlight event of the year. And I'm working to finish the Field of Flowers shawl so I can wear it there. No doubt I'll need it, too. It's getting cooler, finally.

I have one more side to edge and then it's blocking time. The edging's points are quite curled now. But this will block out nicely. For the eddyfucation of those interested in knitting lace, I will photograph that process and publish it this week sometime. I would expect to have the edging finished by tomorrow.

Ma gave me some new-style yarn bras--see picture above. They are much finer than the old ones and come four to a package. She bought extra because she knew I'd probably want some. Saved my ass with this laceweight ball because it started to implode, as balls sometimes do. A real problem when it's fine yarn.

Heirloom Knitting
I bought this book at Stitches and it's one that I knew I wanted and needed for designing lace. It's absolutely worth every penny of the $55 price tag.

If you love lace, even if you're not interested in designing it, there are many wonderful stitch patterns within.

Flogging the Public Domain
I've ordered the new Vogue Knitting On The Go: Crocheted Hats because EVIL Kathy Merrick has several designs in the book.

Kathy does great hats. Not that I generally look terrific in hats but I do like making them. And I would like to do some more crochet. Crochet that isn't too tacky. Kathy knows exactly how to make crochet look elegant.

Of course, she's an evil bitch. But then, many of us around here are. Oh well. I guess I'm not going to discuss how I knit endlessly for charity, send prayers and hugs to the world, and house 450 stray animals.

That would diminish my continuing efforts to be rare and handy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
All the pleasures of Maya are tasteless and insipid. In the end, they shall all fade away.--Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show that Never Ends
I'm back from Stitches East. They had a large, prominently placed sign that said, more or less:


This was the first time I had ever seen the sign (or perhaps I missed it in years past). I was not about to let the X-men take my not-so-cheap Nikon. There were large, dykey gorilla security women everywhere I turned.

In addition, I actually did not see even one awful shmatteh, besides Sally Melville's self-patterning sock yarn legwarmers. (Come on, Sally. The '80s are so over and the legwarmers looked really tacky with the heeled boots. Manolo would cry at the Sally Melville lack of the taste.) It was, after all, 80+ degrees on Friday. Not conducive to wearing that Homespun poncho. Or maybe people are wising up. The true pieces of shit tended to be display garments at booths. I saw a beautiful lace shawl, several lovely cotton lace shells, as befitted the weather, and a few classic, discreet vests. All well done.

Unfortunately, the pictures that Carol S. took on her cell phone didn't come out well enough for publication. And even she didn't find that much to take.

So, as a consolation prize for no Gallery of Ghastlies this year, a special KC award for Ghastly Yarn of the Year goes to:

I suppose nobody's told Yummy Yarns that anything jelly is completely passe. To say the least, I am surprised that this is made in the U.S.

I would have marked it as a Japanese product. Of course, the Japanese would have made it edible and called it something like "Kreepy Happy Yarn."

I'm suggesting this as the perfect project for your Yummy Yarn.

The boa is a nice touch. Here's the free pattern if you can't resist. I know you have will power, though.

And no, you really can't eat this stuff. You can, however, aggravate your senses and your CTS at the same time by trying to knit with it. [Ed.: It's plastic, in case you haven't figured it out. And it comes in two weights--fine and bulky. Great for those plastic socks and ponchos.]

Stitches Market Statistical Analysis
or Why the Market Really Sucked This Year
The Market was really in sad, sad shape. First of all, there were unquestionably fewer vendors. In addition, some pretty major vendors who have always been at Stitches Market were glaringly absent. So where were:

  • Wool Connection
  • Cherry Tree Hill
  • Black Water Abbey Yarns
  • Crochet Guild of America
  • Chester Farms
  • Carodan Farm
  • Cascade Yarns

and a bunch of other smaller vendors?

I happened to save my Market guide from 2004. Here's the statistics:

2004--114 vendors
2005--104 vendors

Number of vendors who showed in 2004 but not in 2005--43

Number of new vendors for 2005--28.

And it's not just that there were fewer vendors. The quality of vendors has sunk. As has the yarn being shown. Frankly, I could have ordered the books I bought via the internet. I only bought 2 skeins of Stretch Regia for Liz. Could have bought that on the internet as well.

Stitches is worth attending if you are a novice/advanced beginner and want to take classes or if you live a considerable distance from a yarn shop or if you have no access to the internet. As far as I'm concerned, it's a waste of time for me. I'm looking forward to Rhinebeck.

The Loom Has Loomed
It showed up via freight truck on Thursday.

In a big mother box. It's in the house now, resting. I have to start putting the heddles on it. Google "heddles." I can't explain it right now.

If you're from the NY area you know this is what John Sterling aka Jam Master J, the Yankees' radio announcer, says when the team wins. They won yesterday. John and I were at the game and I took this picture from the stairs going up to the subway, which is elevated in The Bronx.

I wants me some handy Lady Wears and rare Blanckets. Go Yanks!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth. --Bill Clinton

So what took you so damned long, Bill? Instead of immediately condemning Bush's total failure in responding to the Katrina disaster, you say nothing until last Sunday. Your successor is making your quote very viable indeed.

The Democrats had better get their act together and show some leadership in the Senate now rather than worrying about what they're going to do in 2006.

A Fine Ending
At last, the edging for the Field of Flowers has begun. I tried to take pictures of my provisional cast-on for those of you who have never done one; however they came out a bit dark. This is the best shot, where you can see the crocheted base and the laceweight stitches picked up and ready to be knit.

It's one of three cast-ons that I use. The other two are long-tail and cable. Don't need more than that in your repetoire.

What I'm saying is, don't bother to teach yourself the Half-Twisted Reverse Toe Loop Czechoslovakian Cast-On. It's good to know that it exists but you'll probably never need it.

I always use cotton yarn as waste. It has no loft, no fibers that will catch onto the laceweight and cause a disastrous mixing of yarns. I also crochet more chains than is required, just in case. In case, for some reason, the chain starts unraveling. In case the loosely knotted end of the chain comes undone.

You can't be too careful.

So I stayed up until 1 a.m. this morning getting the edging started. It's pretty much a no-brainer stitch pattern. After you've cast six stitches onto a dp, you slide them back onto the lefthand shawl needle, work the first row of the edging and end with knitting the last stitch of the edging together with one shawl stitch to join. That's it.

Once it's blocked, the points will really stick out. Right now, they're feh.

Veni, Vidi, Blogi
You may wonder why I don't list a thousand knitting blogs in my sidebar. That's because I don't read more than a few blogs on a regular basis. I simply don't have the time to waste reading about someone's Red Heart Clapotis, someone's iPod cover or someone's latest health crisis.

However, lately there have been some really outstanding knitting blogs started by some incredible people. And I'm reading these regularly. (Besides Joe's, which I always read and have since he started.) I thought I'd let you know what's good out there.

  • The Panopticon--Franklin, who often comments here, has one of the best new knitting blogs I've read in a long, long time. Not only is he a gifted writer and photographer but he's fucking funny as hell. Franklin's only been knitting for a year or so but he's got the beginner's angst down pat. He won't be a novice for long.
  • YouKnitWhat--I know, we've all been reading it but for those who haven't, you must. Although it honestly saddens me to see that they've got plenty of material.
  • Manolo's Shoe Blog--Yeah, I know it's not knitting. But it's The Manolo and The Manolo he knows the crappy fashion.
  • Parlez-Moi--I just read this blog last night for the first time--Kathleen Valentine, the blog writer, e-mailed me regarding my blog and I went to check hers out. Her lace knitting is outstanding. And the writing's excellent as well. Plus she lives in Gloucester, MA, one of my favorite places.

I read others as well, though not as frequently. I like String Or Nothing and Tricky Tricot, both excellent. But it's good to know that there are writers/knitters out there who do something more than Einstein jackets.

Readers' Comments/ Questions (with apologies to Joe for fucking up his header the first time. There, it's fixed. Happy, my gay bro?)

MOG asks, "576 stitches?!?! Are your wrists killing you?"
Nah. I wear a wrist brace and generally ignore my CTS.

Sravana asks, "perhaps it would be a good thing if you would pixellate the faces of the gastlies?"
Well, besides misspelling "ghastlies", Sravana has a good question. I believe I did that last year and the year before. If I forgot, tough shit. However (and Franklin can correct me if I'm wrong), if you're in a public place, no one has to either ask your permission to take your picture or hide your face via pixellation or a big fat fucking black box over your eyes.

Valerie asks, "Do you have tips for learning to spin? Or could you point me in the direction of books?"
My tip for learning how to spin? Keep at it and don't give up. I'm not going to teach everyone how to spin on this blog. However, the two books I found most useful when I was teaching myself were Lee Raven's book Hands On Spinning and Bette Hochberg's Handspinner's Handbook. The Big Book of Spinning by Alden Amos is a fabulous reference book but much too much for a beginner.

Even though I like a lot of KnitPick's yarn, their exclusive designs are as dull as day-old toast. I mean, I understand that Kelley Petkun's husband owns the company but must we be inflicted with her hideous designs and her face spattered all over every single catalog? And heaven knows, it's good to see unknown designers given the opportunity to publish but most of these designs look like they came straight from the Knit List Christmas Gift Patterns. Feh.

Interesting that I've receive a complaint about them from a professional designer who shall remain nameless. This designer says that KnitPicks' "design coordinator," Bridget Suma, when Googled, shows her as a stagehand in a college theatre production a few years back. Hmmm. Kinda figures, given the level of designs KnitPicks uses.

The designer in question submitted eight designs a number of months ago. KP thought they were wonderful, agreed to the industry's going rate the designer requested, would get back to her the following week and then she heard...nothing. Until now. When they decided to take one of her designs and offered her half. So she's pissed and refused to deal with them, having kept these designs on hold for more than three months and not offering them to other publishers.

I'm not saying that KnitPicks deals unfairly with everyone. I don't know if they do or don't. I only know what this designer has said and it's her word against theirs. But I wouldn't be surprised. The yarn industry is a nasty, dirty, miserable business. If you design for publication, you'd better be prepared for the bullshit.

The yarn business is not the most rare and handy of industries.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Too fucking busy, and vice versa. [Reply to her editor who was bugging her for her belated work while she was on her honeymoon]--Dorothy Parker

As always, Dot has le bon mot. Busy I have been and busy I will be this week.

Howsomever...let me introduce you to my stereo.

I call him Nigel. Sometimes I call him Japanese Piece of Shit. Isn't he cute? Sadly, he's due to go into a garage sale. He's not that cute. I'll throw in his handknit cover for free. Even Cleo won't sit on it.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Warm-up for Rhinebeck
Thanks to Joe, I found out about this last week and so I dragged John and his 15-year-old daughter Katie on a trek down to the Garden State Sheep & Fiber Festival at Hunterdon County Fairgrounds to check it out.

This is it. I wasn't expecting Rhinebeck but a nice, simple local show and that's exactly what it was. Some fiber, some sheep, some llamas, some alpacas, a few bunnies and sheepdogs.

I stopped at the North Country Spinners booth, where they had samples of their judged work on display. Because I am self-taught and have always spun in a void, without physical contact with spinners (other than Joe), I was very interested to see how my work compared with that of the guild members. I was really pleased that my work was equal to theirs.

Nice stuff. Very interesting to read the judge's comments as well. I've never been interested in entering my work, either knitting or spinning, into a competition because I do both to please myself, not some judge. However, I can see where some people get so wrapped up in competing that they forget why they're doing it to begin with.

I also got to see the Woolee Winder in action. A very worthwhile tool. Even though shifting the yarn from hook to hook isn't a big deal for me, I can see where it speeds up the spinning.

And no trip to any show is any good without pictures of recalcitrant alpacas, who refused to stay still for the photograph.

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of The Lace
I'm almost there, 576 stitches on the needle and ready for the edging. The edging is begun with a provisional cast-on, and then each fucking stitch is attached to the edging, which is worked with a double-pointed needle. So here it is, some of it anyway, looking like a sorry sack o' shit.

Still doesn't look like much. However, it should be finished by next week. Three weeks from start to finish. That's pretty good for me.

Stitches Prep
God, I can't believe it's that time again. The camera is rested and ready. The cell phone aka Clive is ready. Ma is ready. I will be going next Friday and next Saturday. Friday is Ma's day because I'm a good daughter and I'm happy to spend the day yarn/book shopping with her. Saturday I'll meet up with Kathy, Liza and I hope Lisa. And of course, we'll have to free Carol from her booth duties at Rosie's Yarn Cellar. Lisa Myers, Rosie's owner, always brings good stuff.

So please, if you spot me at Stitches, don't hesitate to say hello. I don't bite, really. I'm quite friendly. And besides, you'll make my mother proud. She still doesn't quite get the whole blogging thing or the writing, for that matter.

Since I will be out of my mind for the entire weekend, between two days at Stitches and John's birthday next Sunday, I imagine that it will take me until Monday to publish the Gallery of Ghastlies. That is, of course, if I find good fuglies wandering about.

And I will find them. The KnitDweebs continue to use Stitches as their Promenade of Fugliness. So I'm sure they will be suitable garbed in tacky shit. Perhaps the X-men would like me to teach a class next year on rareness and handiness. Oh but I will be so disappointed if they turned me down for lack of teaching experience. Heh.

Addendum: Really good news! Loopy's son AJ is being sent home from Kuwait and discharged from the Army. The bad news? His back is fucked up, hence the good news. But at least he won't be a sacrificial lamb for Dubya's swell little war. That's one kid home safe and sound. Let's get the rest of them back. NOW.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Everything popular is wrong. --Oscar Wilde

Poncho Day? PONCHO DAY?

Inmate #55170-054
I guess this was to be expected--the poncho lives and will be dragged out for a public relations opportunity. But what's worse, Martha's flogging the poncho--the poncho itself, not a kit and instructions on how to make it--in her

Granted, the proceeds go to help women and families in need. However, according to the copy that accompanies the photo, this is a "unique, handmade poncho."

Do I smell Chinese women crocheting ponchos for $.25 a piece? Especially since you can get the yarn and the pattern from Lion Brand. I can't imagine why you would want to buy or make said poncho. (Although I'm tempted to make one for Kathy for her birthday next year. In Homespun. Her choice of color.) Interesting that I did not see Nancy Thomas's face in the LB poncho-wearing group picture.

I don't dislike MS. In fact, I admire her business sense enormously as well as her gardening talent. I always enjoy her info on plants. However, you always get the feeling that Martha gets one of her staff to deal with the needlearts. Or gets Melanie Falick to come on the show to explain all things knitting.

Martha's turned her prison stint into a warm-and-fuzzy experience. You have to hand it to her, she's the Queen of Image. Listen and learn, Tiny Diva. Although you're probably not smart enough to accumulate the kind of stocks MS did, which was what got her in trouble in the first place.

Don't forget to watch Martha today. Diddy's gonna teach Martha how to rap. Word up.

Lace Progression
I started this shawl on Labor Day. So a week and a half into it, I am now halfway through the Old Shale border.

This is a picture of one of the corners. With 470+ stitches on a circular needle, it's not easy taking a decent photo. But you can see the stitch patterns fairly well.

The biggest challenge in this pattern, as I see it, is not the actual lace knitting but the assembly of the components--border to square, edging to border. You absolutely must be able to pick up stitches properly or you're fucked. The FiberTrends directions are excellent, by the way. Although I wish they'd stop using that damned blue paper to avoid people copying. It's hard to read black print against a blue background.

Everything Old is New Again
I will be putting my lace tips into a .pdf and linking it from the sidebar. In fact, since I've gotten some requests for Achim's Socks, I'm going to put back all the Freebies I had on the old website.

For some reason, I had started a Yahoo! photo page way back when and then totally forgotten about it until the other day, when I was mucking around with my cell phone to see if I could upload pictures. (This is a fall-back if my camera gets confiscated at Stitches East. You never know.)

Anyway, I discovered this picture, which I had also totally forgotten about.

Yes, it's that pouty, moist-lipped gay brother of mine, modeling the Nasty German's Gansey at the late, great Simply Knit during one of our get-togethers. He came out looking better than the sweater did.

My sister, Karen, aka Kar, aka The Scrap Curmudgeon, e-mailed me last night to deny vociferously my claim that she is She Who Should Not Be Allowed In Shopping Malls.

"I was at the mall yesterday and did not buy myself anything. Cleats, shinguards and socks for Nick."

I would say that the mere fact that she was even at the mall qualifies her for that title. Because she thinks the mall is rare and handy. I do not.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.--John W. Gardner

Perhaps it is time to reiterate what this blog is really all about. Read the above quote.

The Deatheaters
You know, I really find that to be amusing. That some reader on the Knitty message board describes me and some of my friends in terms of Harry Potterism. They criticize me because I don't mince words or suffer fools gladly, I suppose. I'm "mean." No, I'm practical and I'm too fucking old to beat around the bush.

What these sorry fools don't seem to understand is this: I criticize those people who publish knitting magazines, books and designs for one reason only. Because they publicly promote mediocrity, and mediocrity is unacceptable.

Perfection, incidentally, has absolutely nothing to do with it. I'm far from a perfectionist and I hope to shit that I never get so confused that I flagellate myself every time I make a mistake. Because I've made them all and gladly admit to it.

However, I learn from my mistakes. And keep pushing myself to learn more. This, after years and years of knitting. Complacency never leads to excellence.

Round the Bend
The Field of Flowers shawl is really going fast. I've finished the center square and picked up the border stitches during the Yankees/Red Sox game last night. Baseball is so conducive to getting max knitting completed.

John asked me if I were knitting a bag. Sure doesn't look like much yet. But there are 352 stitches now jammed on my needles, with the total-to-come of 576. I will have to switch to a 32" circ eventually.

For those of you interested in lace knitting (or knitted lace, take your pick), a few things that I do and have observed that might be of help. And what nobody told me about working lace when I first did it.

  • I use Addi Turbos whenever I knit lace because I prefer sharp points. Decreasing in laceweight yarn is a royal pain in the ass, especially if you are doing a double dec. The slippery factor is always there but I have always been able to avoid stitches sliding from the needle. Some people prefer bamboo. Whatever.
  • When decreasing, I give the two (or three) stitches to be decreased a tug with my fingers to open up the loops. If this doesn't help sufficiently, I insert the needle through all the stitches from back to front and open up the loops with the needle. I then reinsert it from front to back to decrease, presuming that the instructions don't read "k2togb."
  • Yarn-overs are not complete stitches, insofar as they are loops and therefore lack a bar or "heel" to control their position on the needle. So, when working the yarn-over on the following row (generally the wrong side of the work), the loop will affect the position of the stitch that followed it, causing both the yarn-over and the stitch to roll on the needle. It's very easy to mis-knit these stitches, thus causing a big mess. Watch those rolling stitches and if you're not sure, move them back into order with your fingers.
  • The easiest mistakes to make in lace are: forgetting to make a yarn-over, forgetting to pass a slipped stitch over dec'd stitches and dropping a stitch. If you forget to pass that slipped stitch, you can do it on the wrong side when you come to the dec'd st and the slipped stitch. Just do it then, before you knit on.
  • To protect against mistakes, some people use a lifeline, which is a thread (some people use dental floss) that is run through all stitches on a plain row so that if a mistake is made, there's a safe go-back. I don't bother with lifelines because I'm a pro at ripping out lace, much as I hate to admit it.
  • Mistakes occasionally can be fudged but if you want it to be right, you have to rip out. I rip back stitch by stitch. I never take the whole mess off of the needles, as I might with, say, an Aran.
  • Pay attention. This is not sissy knitting but it's not that hard either. Watch what you do and why you do it. Read the pattern a thousand times. Work a swatch first (which you do as a rule of thumb anyway) until you completely understand the stitch pattern(s).

I'm giving you this information because looking at pictures is lovely but learning something you can use is better. Especially for those of you who have not yet done lace. By the way, if you have questions, feel free to e-mail me. Lots of people do.

The Lime-Navy-Aqua Merino
Got it washed and it blossomed.



Fortunately, there was no overtwist despite the fact that I thought I had put too much twist into the singles. It's dry now and I need to take it down, wind and measure it, do a wpi and see what it will make.

Lessons learned from this: Spin the merino with a higher ratio whorl so the singles are thinner and do it on the Matchless, which can handle that better than the Joy. The finished yarn seems to me to be at least sport weight, if not heavier. I prefer to work with lightweight yarns.

The Honorary KC
Loopy has been the Honorary KC from the beginning of this blog. You often read her comments but probably don't know who she is or why she's been accorded that dubious honor.

Loopy Gizzardface is the nom-du-guerre of my doppelganger, my knitting partner-in-crime and long-time friend. I won't give her real name away, but Loop and I have been friends since the early days of the Knit List. Those of you who remember the Evil Twins will recall her and Lisa Schweitzer, aka Twinny.

Loop and I have corresponded on an almost daily basis since around 1997 (I think). Besides the fact that we both seem to knit the same projects a good deal of the time, we share a love of most things fiber and neither of us have ever learned to shut our mouths.

However, it's much more than just knitting. She was there for me when Jimmy died. When her son AJ was sent to Kuwait, I was there for her. We both have a child apiece that we'd like to throttle on a regular basis. And when I was down in the deeps with depression, Loop was always there with a smart-ass comment about some knitting shit that would make me laugh.

We only met once in person, a few years ago. I know we'll get together again, at least I hope so. Only Loop gets to be the Honorary KC. So now you know. She's rare, handy, and a skank of the first water.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Sometimes the most positive thing you can be in a boring society is absolutely negative.--Johnny Rotten

Unfortunately, I was right, according to Carol S.

ClothsForKatrina. A new Yahoo group. Warshcloths for refugees. Just what I would want after spending a week on a rooftop or in a foul stadium with no water, food or hope. A knitted warshcloth.

How fucking stupid.

Simply, um, Boring
I used to look forward to the Jamieson books. Until the Simply Shetland books took over. Simply Shetland is the North American distributor of Jamieson yarn. Joe or Kathy could tell you the whole story re: David Codlington and Greg Courtney. This is all entangled with the late, great Tomato Factory, She Who Litigates in Scottish Courts, and that whole debacle.

Unfortunately, the latest book, Simply Shetland 2, is simply boring and at times, simply awful. I ask you, what the fuck does Nicky Epstein have to do with good design and Shetland yarns?

Sorry, but I'm not from the school of dangling felted or knitted objets. Perhaps "growths" would be a better word. Applied knitted crap on top of knitted crap = knitted shit.

What's worse, Ms. Epstein is now leading their Shetland Isles Escapes, during which tour you take a seemingly endless workshop with her over the course of the tour and felt a bag (hopefully not this bag). I can't think of anything more incongruous than having Nicky Epstein as your guide through the Land of Shet. Perhaps no one else would do it. And I'm sure having a knitting "celeb" is some kind of draw. But not for serious Fair Isle knitters, of which group Epstein is not known to be a member.

Some dim positives about the book: An absolutely lovely Fair Isle by Hazel Hughson. A number of Carol Lapin's designs, although her work is looking very same-ish these days. Same colorways, same stripes. Too much of a rut.

I'm not buying this book, obviously. And it's too bad because this is the first one in the series that I've decided was not worthwhile.

I'm waiting for cooler weather to get back to the QAL. So in the meanwhile, besides working on my own lace design, I started Fibertrends' Field of Flowers shawl, designed by Evelyn A. Clark. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace, color Tahoe. Wonderful to work with. This is a fairly basic Shetland-style shawl, "-style" meaning that the center square is worked flat. The square's pattern is easy--isolated cat's paws.

Obviously, this has not been blocked but rather given a slight yank to open up the eyelets a bit for the picture. The bottom pink yarn is my provisional crocheted cast-on. These stitches will be used for the border, which is Old Shale, the ole favorite. The edging is a pretty but basic lace edging.

I've been busy working on my own lace stuff. Below is the chart of a design that I've decided to shitcan for various reasons.

I'm much happier with my new stole design, which incorporates a reworking of a more complex lace pattern from Susanna Lewis's book Knitting Lace.

Incidentally, if you are interested in learning how to design lace shawls of all types, there is no better book from which to learn than Martha Waterman's Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls. It's published by Interweave Press (who else?) and I've learned a ton from it.

Because I Can
I rarely play the Grandma card heavily but I really liked this cartoon Liz did on Paint, freehand no less. She wants to be a professional skateboarder and cartoonist. It's doubtful Tony Hawk has much to worry about.

I particularly like the shirt. She's a pretty rare and handy cartoonist. Never mind that she put the apostrophe for '05 in the wrong place. I won't tell.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence. Elbert Hubbard, American editor, publisher and writer, 1856-1915

Nice to know nothing much has changed in a century.

Thank you all for commenting on the last entry. These are bad times indeed and it's good to let it out. I have written both my senators, Lautenberg and Corzine, urging them to demand a full congressional investigation into this debacle. They're both Democrats, for what that's worth. Right now, probably not much.

A few knitting blogs are doing their own fundraising. I will not list them here because I am of the opinion that if one cares to donate, one should donate directly to the appropriate charity rather than fuck around with auctions of previously owned knitted garments, yarn and the like. If you wish to do the auction thing, I'm sure you know where to find it. Please understand that I don't denigrate others' efforts to raise money. Doing something is better than doing nothing. I simply think that it's more efficient to infuse the charities directly, quickly and without fanfare.

Donate the cost of your next knitting project. If you're like me, that'll run you about $100. And don't forget, money will be needed next month and next year too. If you don't have the money to spare, by all means see if you can donate bedding, which is needed, or whatever else works for you.

My readers are sharp enough to do what they need to do without my holding their collective hands or putting up one of my schmattehs for auction. You know what's right.

That's it on the Katrina disaster. And now, back to our regularly scheduled bullshit.

The Color Experiment
Can't watch the news all the time. It's healthy to take a break and do something fiber-oriented. When we last left off, everyone was voting for what color combo I should use. A was the overwhelming favorite, with 16 votes, followed by C with 11 and B with 10. D got one half-hearted vote for a thong for Joe.

I love him dearly but I think he can spin and knit his own thong far better than I.

In any case, A was also my favorite and Liz has been salivating. Here's a reminder picture.

Here's the denouement.

I spun two half-filled bobbins, alternating colors as best as I could. There was more navy than the other two colors. I would take about 6 inches worth of one color, spin it, then join the next color. Not very scientific but it made distribution of the colors easier.

Merino is not easy to spin, I discovered. It's short-stapled and I had to give it a bit more twist than I normally would have done. This morning, I did the plying. I was most definitely not liking what I saw on the bobbin, although I knew upfront that the plyed yarn would be marled.

This is the finished yarn on the niddy-noddy and I was actually quite pleased with the outcome, despite my initial reaction to the plyed yarn on the bobbin. I think the colors are pretty true, since I shot the photo this morning in natural light. It remains to be seen if there is sufficient yardage to knit Liz a pair of socks. I doubt it. I haven't done a wpi yet but since my plyed yarn is usually about 18 wpi, I figure that's about right for this.

Working with color like this is a good exercise for me. I will try another of the methods I had mentioned in a previous entry for C. However, I want to get back to Starry Night. There are two bobbins waiting to be plyed since prior to my move.

Crochet IK
OK, now I'm going to piss off my crocheting fool friend Kathy Merrick by saying: I don't like how crochet looks. And now I'm going to say that I really thought Kathy's tote bag in the latest issue of IK's Crochet was the best piece in the entire magazine, hands down. (It's in the upper righthand corner of the collage picture.) Her scarf was nice too. The rest of the designs were so fugly and retro they reminded me of why I dislike crocheting.

That said, I enjoy the act of crocheting. It's fast, it's fun and I like having just the one hook in my hand. Sorta the way I view sex these days. Problem is, Kathy is one of the few, if not the only, crochet designer whose stuff I'd make. I wish she'd publish the pattern for her incredible crocheted jackets. I don't know if I'd have the skill or the patience to crochet with DMC flosses like she does. I bow to the mistress. Few can match her talent.

I always buy Interweave magazines even if the designs are barfola. For some strange reason, Interweave manages to present the worst designs in the best light. Maybe it's their layout. I don't know. Fugly is as fugly does and all of the magazines are suffering from fugola these days, Interweave included. Fresh blood is needed.

Time to end this and go rummaging in the garage for my Barbara Walker books that are MIA. I'm working on a to-be-published lace shawl that's currently in various stages of swatching, having been charted. Yikes. Not a job for the faint of heart but a rare and handy job that's been very rewarding.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
They don't have a clue what's going on down there. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.--New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin speaking about the Federal Government's lack of response

No knitting today. I haven't mentioned the disaster in the South, mostly because I tend to keep the blog for knitting discussion.

However, the egregious stupidity of our lackluster leader, Dubya, in his ignorance and Disneyland view of reality makes my teeth rattle. People are dying and this moron spews homilies and platitudes. And where was his ass when the shit hit the fan last Monday? Did he show up on the air telling us he'd made the command decisions needed to get these people help? Of course not. Gee, he flies home from vacation and takes a look-see from Air Force One. Big fucking deal. And now maybe he'll show up in Louisiana later today. Too little, too late. I suspect that if he shows his face in New Orleans, he's a prime target for some gun-toting, half-starved rioter who would gladly take a potshot in exchange for three squares and a dry prison cell.

From Paul Krugman's editorial in today's New York Times comes this, a true and honest summary of this hapless and dangerous administration:

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

I'm giving the Red Cross money. So are many people. If the government can't or won't act in a timely fashion, the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama should know that individuals do care and are concerned.

WEBS is donating 10% of all purchases made through September 10 to the Red Cross. I'm sure there will be other companies that will follow suit. Thank God I haven't read any posts on any of the lists suggesting that we all knit hats and afghans. This disaster is far past that--they need money to buy them life. Water, food, clothing, and perhaps a restoration of hope that someone out there gives a shit.

I had always wanted to visit the Big Easy but was never able to do so. I am saddened that I may never have the opportunity now. Here's hoping the Big Easy swings again.

Back to knitting the next time. I don't think I can write much more about this disaster without becoming even more upset.