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.

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