Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.--Jonathan Swift

One of my favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, took its title from this quote.

This is a remarkable book, all the more so because the author (and after his death, his mother) schlepped the manuscript to more than twenty publishers before it was finally published in 1980. I read it the year after it won the Pulitzer Prize and I've re-read it many times since.

It's arguably one of the best books ever written about New Orleans as well.

And it's Jonathan Swift's birthday today, as it is Mark Twain's. Two wonderful satirists that never pale with age.

More on the Weaving
Thanks for all the comments on the weaving. The red and blue is still on the loom but before it gets removed, I did a sample of what I'd like to do for the placemat.
This is not earthshaking. Please remove your sunglasses.

Fortuitously, I dug up an old issue of Spindle Spindle & Dyepot from Winter 2004/5 bought this summer in New England that has two very good articles within: One for beginners about planning projects and the other by Tom Knisely of The Mannings on plain weave and its variations.

Both articles will be a big help in getting the placemats off the ground. Judy asked: "Are you going to use 3/2 perle for your placemats? and are you threading all 8 harnesses, or using 2 or 4?"

Yes, I will be using 3/2 perle from Webs. The sampler that I will do is actually in 10/2s unmercerized cotton, too thin for placemats, I think, and I'm certainly not going to use unmercerized for this because of the shrinkage factor.

I'll be using 4 harnesses for the time being. Since I'm a weaving rookie. I like that term.

I don't think my mother is going to see these placemats for Christmas but then, she didn't really expect them as gifts, per se.

Is what I call this Touch Me thing that I'm making for John, Mr. "I Only Like Rayon Chenille Scarves".

I really am quite sick of this schmatteh.

As I took the picture, Joey, our boarder for two weeks, decided to plop himself down on the scraf. We have three cats--Boo, Buddy and Cleo--none of whom have the slightest interest in my yarn, my wheels, my loom, my knitting.

Joey does. Unfortunately for both of us, he has been caught walking across the weaving on the loom. Joey goes home next weekend. He's cute but he's also a pain in the ass.

Ars Libris and other Diva-like Self-Promotions
The book is coming along quite well and those people who have read what I've given them--Chapter Uno--have been most encouraging and offered up excellent suggestions and criticisms.

To paraphrase our Esteemed Leader, writing books is HARD.

I will be reading a heretofore unpublished essay on knitting, April 25, on Brenda Dayne's Cast-On podcast. This is scheduled for December 9, for those of you interested in hearing my weird voice.

Personal appearances of the Knitting Curmudgeon are scheduled at the Wharton, NJ Shop-Rite, the Sparta German Christmas Market on December 2, incidental and brief appearances at the Rockaway Mall, and a cameo at Dr. Sinisi, DDS in Union, NJ on December 5. I don't charge for autographs.

If I ever feel the need to set up a special link to my personal appearances, you all should go read someone else's blog.

Let me whisk myself away to my rare and handy atelier, located directly between the kitchen and the dining room.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I love to go shopping. I love to freak out salespeople. They ask me if they can help me, and I say, "Have you got anything I'd like?" Then they ask me what size I need, and I say, "Extra medium."--Steven Wright

Shopping online is the nirvana of those who hate to go to stores. I hate shopping, I hate malls, I hate traffic.

I do the shopping thing as rarely as possible, as opposed to my sister who is intimately acquainted with every mall in the Northeast.

Does that make me an odd woman? Most likely. However, the men in my life have always cherished that quality and appreciated my anti-mall credo.

There's nothing better than boxes on the doorstep.

Weave, Wove, Woven
I dedicated my some of my holiday weekend to finishing up my sampler so that I could get on with my weaving life. After fiddling around with different treadling sequences, I finally got tired of looking at blue and red and switched over to plain weave aka tabby.

As you can see, I managed to break a warp thread, much to Loopy's glee. (She's been waiting for this with great anticipation.) It really wasn't difficult at all to correct using Chandler's T-pin method.

I'm getting better at this shit.

And my mother, having finally seen the loom on Thanksgiving, was impressed enough to ask me for placemats. Almost as good as warshcloths, only far more useful. So I put together these three colors for her placemat.

And I worked out a simple chart which will help me when I warp and weave. I'm not yet 100% confident of my drafting skills for weaving but this is simple and will suffice, since the placemats will be plain weave.

It looks quite stark in the chart but I think it will make acceptable placemats for my mother. The chart really shows more the finished product than the set-up. The warp will be 22 purple, 2 red, 22 violet, 2 red, ending with 22 violet. The weft will be the same. So use your imagination until I get it on the loom.

And please, no comments about those Red Hat idiots. I've been using purples and reds together for years. What scares me is that the RH dopes are women my age, who presumably went through the '60s fashion revolution. Now they think that red and purple are daring.

Starry Night Ad Nauseam
My other weekend project was to get two bobbins of Starry Night skeined and washed. These are motherfucker huge skeins, thanks to the Woolee Winder, which is very efficient in winding the bobbins evenly. I haven't yet measured the yardage but I'm betting they run about 450+ yds each.

This yarn presents an interesting challenge designwise. It's a good thing I will have plenty because there will be a good deal of swatching with this before I settle on an appropriate design. It's 20 wpi, which pleases me greatly since I am finally spinning what I want to knit.

On the other hand, it would make for a wonderful weft, with perhaps a silk warp. But that's just a random thought. I'll probably knit it.

Oh Yeah, the Other Thing
My mother, who is an excellent knitter but not one given to designing her own, asked me for a vest pattern now that she's finished a number of projects and is ready to knit the Wensleydale I gave her last Christmas.

Good thing yarn doesn't get stale.

Never mind that she has the Ann Budd books. She can't seem to take a basic pattern and add a cable to it. Ma claims that she can't visualize anything and I believe her. So I took a cable from the Harmony Aran book and did a quick vest pattern for her using Sweater Wizard.

Nothing exciting or extravagant. However, the charts in the Harmony book were so awful because they use bizarre symbols created by the author that I had to redo the chart on Stitch Motif Maker, which was a pain in the ass.

I'll take a picture of her wearing the finished vest. Knowing my mother, it will be done by Christmas.

I hope you all had a filling Thanksgiving. If I never eat turkey again, it'll be a rare and handy thing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.--David Letterman

Every so often, like a perverse homing pigeon, I feel the need to return to the city of my birth.

Well, shit, it's only 50 miles away. And John's brother and sister-in-law are here from California for the holiday and staying in the city, so we usually all get together the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This year, they wanted to do something different. So yesterday, all of us, seven adults and three teenaged girls, went to an interactive play, Accomplice, where you walk through lower Manhattan, from South Street Seaport to City Hall to the Brooklyn Bridge to Chinatown to Soho.
A good stretch of the leg. John and I brought Liz and his daughter Katie. Liz had never been downtown before.

So rather than write anything fibrous today, I'm just going to run some of the pictures I took yesterday while we walked the streets and did the play.

If you have never been to New York City, Accomplice is a nice walking tour of lower Manhattan and worth doing to get a feel of the city. I was a bit bored by the "mystery" but it was a magnificent autumn day to be walking around downtown.

And my feet are killing me.

I'll not be posting again until after Thanksgiving. Shopping, cleaning and other mundane activities. And then the all-day cooking spree on Thursday, wherein I spend my time cooking a meal that's eaten in fifteen minutes.

And if you are not American, I'm hard pressed to explain a national holiday that's comprised of stuffing yourself to the brim with cooked turkey, sweet potatoes (often with marshmallows, feh), stuffing, mashed potatoes, assorted cooked veggies, pies by the dozen, and antacids. And the endless televising of football games, parades and horrible holiday TV specials.

Friday's another story. Have a rare and handy holiday.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
We do what we must, and call it by the best names. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Joy the Joy wheel, Bobby the bobbin and Conehead the cone all admire Louella the loom.
(Windy Balls, Swifty Skein and Shocky the Schacht wheel not available due to scheduling conflicts.)

Sorry, uncontrollable fit of sarcasm. Must have been the oysters I had for dinner last night.

Naming inanimate objects. Please explain. The only names I've ever bestowed on anyone or anything were my kids and my cats. If I get reasoned responses I will have a contest to name something of mine. What that something is, I'll leave to you.

Why I don't knit for animals

I don't own a dog. If I did, I wouldn't knit for it either. Unless it begged heavily. Yeah, I know. Little dogs need protection from the cold.

This isn't a little dog, just an overdressed one. In a hideous yarn. Although the color's good on the dog, I must say.

If I knit something for Cleo, she'd probably shit on the bedroom carpet as retaliation. Buddy would wear it but he wears a size 4T. Never knit for an animal that which would fit a child.

No Knitting, Spinning, Weaving
Nothing this week at all, other than a few rows on John's Touch Me scarf while watching TV. I've spent the entire week working on the chapter of the book that deals with books. Which means constant cross-checking of titles, spelling of authors' names, date of publication and all that good shit.

I'm also trying to catalog my entire fiber book collection (sans magazines) for the bibiography, which is a huge chore but something that I should have done years ago. I'm going to put the catalog into an Access database, make it available on the blog and keep it updated. Those of you familiar with Access will be able to modify it to your needs as well.

Sometimes I wonder why I bought some of the books I own. For example, where did the Popeye knitting book come from? I honestly don't recall buying it. The only explanation is that it was a gift from someone. Probably my sister. Or one of the kids.

I bet it'd be worth a lot on eBay.

Short entry today. I wasn't even going to write anything but because I'm in a "pissy mood," as Joe calls it, where better to spew my phlegm than on the blog?

After all, it's a rare and handy thing when you can be pissy in public. I do so enjoy that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor. -- Neil Simon

From my August 14, 2002 entry:
The blogs represent all that is innovative on the internet knitting scene today, in my opinion. My greatest fear is that the K-Dweebs find out about blogs and we start seeing "My Knitted Warshcloths" blogs and "Kathie's Kute Kool-Aid Knits" blog......but nah. To do a blog means you need to be technical...and then the K-Dweebs would have to start a list that would answer such questions as "What is HTML?" and "when I click 'Publish,' I can't find my website." But forewarned is forearmed. This could happen.

What I wrote three years ago has to a large extent come true, unfortunately. However, the innovative blogs still exist and continue to multiply, perhaps not at the pace of the "FO! FO!" blogs. (There is in fact a list for knitting bloggers.)

Now along comes a new innovation, the podcast. Brenda Dayne, a Wales-based American writer who often contributes to Interweave Knits, has started Cast-On: A Podcast for Knitters, an audio knitting magazine.

Brenda is a born broadcaster with a voice that doesn't grate but is low-key and pleasant. I found her podcasts just the right length, just the right modulation. She plays unusual yet compelling music--thanks for turning me on to The Lascivious Biddies, Brenda--and still keeps the focus on knitting with essays on knitting by knitters and her own thoughts and views on knitting. Intelligent talk in an innovative medium. I must say, though, that I'm glad she salvaged her Clapotis and made it into something potentially far more useful.

You'll have to listen to understand that last sentence.

Franklin's going to be doing an essay for Cast-On soon. Can't fault Brenda for her taste. I'll be listening. And I hope you'll give it a shot too. (Be patient, these mp3 files are big and take a while to download, so do something else while you're waiting.)

In Lieu of Fiber Pictures

This picture made the rounds when I worked at The Chubb Institute. We all had a copy. When my boss left the company, I gave him a framed copy as a going-away gift. (He had a great sense of humor.)

Whether you work, whether you're at home with the kids or retired, it's a good one to keep at hand.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Several projects--the Diamusee socks, the Melanie shawl and my weaving sampler--aren't yet finished so I'm not going to bother putting up photos this entry. Perhaps the next one. I did ply and skein some more of the Starry Night so I might take a photo of that because it's been a while.

Merry Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice!
Here's Your Handknit Felted Water Bottle Cover
I'm not the one to knit holiday presents so that I can make the holidays even more insane than they already are. I tend to knit socks as adjunctive presents but I never make a trumpeted announcement to the intended recipients beforehand. That way lies disaster.

Besides, my family likes getting my socks so I know ahead of time that they are worthy handknitted gifts. I never did get the general KnitDweeb frenzy of forcing a horrific knitting deadline on oneself, only to be frantically finishing Susie's WoolEase hoodie at 2 a.m. Christmas morning.

I'm usually wrapping presents at that hour, myself.

Take a Music Bath
Oliver Wendell Holmes was exactly right. He said: Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.

Franklin's entry of yesterday, while funny as always, points to a larger topic, as does Brenda's podcasts. Music and knitting go hand in hand, rhythm to rhythm. Spinning too. I have music playing almost constantly, music of all types, when I knit, write, spin, weave.

Here's a sample of what I'm listening to this week: The Boston Camerata's album A Renaissance Christmas. This is a wonderful early music ensemble.

And then there's this: Lou Reed at his finest.

I listen to opera, rock, classical, punk, folk, reggae, jazz, even the occasional Patsy Cline song. No rap. Can't do rap. If I can't sing or whistle the tune, it's not music to my ears.

I might add that William Shatner could be one of my favorite male singers. What a rare and handy crooner.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wake-up letter.--Steven Wright

Marshmallow mattresses should be banned from hotel rooms. Or at least, you should be allowed to select your mattress when you book your room, as you do other amenities. This past Saturday night, I moshed right into the mattress and woke up feeling my age.

I have loved hotels since I was old enough to run amok in them. And my grandparents, who were sehr europäisch, made sure that the family spent hours and hours eating endless Sunday or birthday meals in New York City's Plaza Hotel's Oak Room. I would make my escape as quickly as possible on the pretext of going to the ladies' room. From there, it was off to ride the elevators, wander the lobby, talk to the concierge, check out the private parties, look in the shop windows. And then wander back to my family, where my grandfather would let me draw pictures on the tablecloth with his pen.

I was Eloise incarnate, and about the same age too. When the book came out in 1955, I was immediately presented with a copy by my mother, who found Eloise charming but my behavior not so.

When I start feeling too adult, I go back and read Eloise. As Eloise said, "I am Eloise. I am six. I am a city child. I live at the Plaza." Whenever I stay in a hotel, I think of The Plaza and swiping petit-fours from the cart in the Palm Court. Sometimes it's good to remember when you were six and hotels were your personal amusement parks.

A Curious Mix
Yarn and candles, oh my. My trip with Corinne and Liz to Massachusetts was a whirlwind success, although Corinne and I were wiped out by the time we got home yesterday afternoon.

Going to WEBS is almost overwhelming. You have to have a plan or you're going to shop indiscriminately and buy tons of shit. My plan was to buy 8/2 cotton for weaving and that was that.

Walking up and down the WEBS's warehouse aisles, I was blown away by the cones and cones of amazing stuff: 60/2 silk, so fine that I can't even imagine warping a loom with it; chenille for weaving (don't worry, Loop, I didn't even consider it); and Shetland 2-ply and other weights of silk. And all cheap.

So I bought some Shetland (left) and some silk (right).

I swore I wasn't going to buy any knitting yarn but since I'm a pushover grandmother, I bought Liz some Rasta colors for socks and a scarf, two skeins of each color.

I haven't a clue as to when I'll even get to these. And the idea of making plain stripes makes me want to choke. But the kid wants stripes. I'll work my way around the "plain" for sure. Maybe a slip-stitch stripe pattern. This whole Rastafarian thing started when Liz went on a cruise to Bermuda this summer with her father. She's very involved with music anyway--plays the drums. However, now it's Bob Marley, reggae and Rasta colors.

Fortunately, she does not want dreadlocks.

Bloggy Goodness
Yeah, I'm full of it.

Two friends just started their own blogs, so it's Flog the Blog day. Ted Myatt and Carol S., both inimitible knitting talents in their own rights, have finally gotten off their asses and started blogs. Ted's blog, KnitterGuy, already has a wealth of information on spinning fine yarns. And Ted does incredible lace as well. I have enormous respect for his abilities.

You all know Carol S., past winner of the Christmas Crap-along, designer of Bipolar Betty and guest hostess on QJ's blog. We've been pestering her for months to start her own blog and now she's stepped in shit but good. Traipse over to goknitinyourhat and load up her Comments with annoying suggestions as to what kind of hat she should knit in and whether you take knitting needles on planes. Then discuss.

At least you know on both these blogs that the writing will be worth reading. Yay Ted. Yay Carol. Yay knitting.

And now it's time for me to get back to my regularly scheduled rare and handy work.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.--Steve Martin

The blog is now up to 281 entries. One of these days I swear I'm going to take all the entries, shove them into one Word doc and count the words so that I can feel something akin to accomplishment. Or perhaps sadomasochism.

And then maybe ask myself why I feel it's necessary to write a book.

Huh? Wha?
I'm still noodling through the questions posed in yonder below Comments.

What's the most I ever won at poker? About ten bucks. I believe in giving rather than receiving.

Have I ever knitted anything naughty? No, but I have my ways with a darning egg.

And Yet Another Topic
Another Marilyn (great name, that) asked: My Mom gave me one of her pre-WII sock patterns. It's written simply(12 small paragraphs of instructions including 2 of darning advice)not 3 pages and more.I cherish it and use it. How do we push or encourage or whatever the knitting community to educate itself so patterns can be that simply and effectively written again? Too much wasteful and unecessary verbage in patterns for me. Would you comment, please?

In general, people do not think for themselves these days. It's done for them, and they expect nothing less from knitting patterns. You can't push the knitting community into thinking for themselves because this lack of self-reliance and thought is a national disease. Consider our current administration, which is a macrocosm that every day exponentially exudes incompetency and ineptitude. Knitting is merely a microcosm of society and it's filled with people who don't think for themselves, let alone use Google.

Here's my take as a writer: When I wrote test procedures, as-is configurations and other lovely technical documents for the U.S. Navy, I had to learn to write to a 9th grade reading level. That's not easy. If your writing is obscure and unclear, it will come back to bite you in the ass. This is particularly true of knitting directions. You must spell everything out with the presumption that the reader knows very little. And won't know unless you tell them.

My personal test when writing technical directions was to hand my work to someone I knew to be a total dolt on the subject. If that person could understand and follow my directions, I knew I was on track.

Verbiage is only wasteful if it says nothing. It would be lovely if every knitter were to the needles born. There are a lot of knitters out there who should find another hobby, like scrapbooking. Or perhaps bungee-jumping. Off a precipice.

Now that I've pissed my sister off with derogatory statements about scrapbooking, I will pretend to be contrite.

Nicknames and Thelma/Louise Trip
I was thinking the other day about family nicknames. Somewhere, in some e-mail I read, someone asking about what your family calls you. My sister calls me Sissyboo. My kids occasionally call me either Mamoo or Mommy Dearest. John calls me "Juicy" (from a quote in Reservoir Dogs). Most everyone else calls me Mar because it would seem that the three syllables in Marilyn are just too much to say. I sign everything except legal documents and checks as "Mar". Because three syllables are too much to write.

My daughter Corinne had the best nicknames as a small child: Grundoon the Groundhog Chile and Bumbawoo. I have no idea where Bumbawoo came from.

Anyway, Bumba, Liz and I are leaving tomorrow morning for Massachusetts for a weekend trip to Webs (Mamoo) and a trip to Yankee Candle (Bumba...and Mamoo). Just we three girlillas on the road. The guys are more than pleased to have the weekend to themselves for scratching, farting, playing computer games and going fishing.

So I'll take the camera, I suppose. I'll be looking for mill ends for weaving. The hotel has an indoor pool. That means a rare and handy swim in the evening. More on Monday.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit.--P. G. Wodehouse

I can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

An amazing array of topics you have proposed. Of course, some of them I'll answer in the book, particularly the ones that require a more extensive technical response. (Incidentally, feel free to let me know what you'd like to see in the book. Most likely, I've already considered addressing it but since you've been a font of ideas, go right ahead and opine.)

Mostly because yesterday I was a veritable tower of technicality and I've about blown my wad this morning.

Diamusee in the Rough
Remember the Diamusee? Well, it is on its way to becoming a sock.

I have several more rounds to do in this odd little stitch that I may or may not have invented. Basically, it's this: *make a backwards loop on the RH needle, k1, pass loop over the k1; repeat from * around. Then knit one round. It's not apparent in the photo because I've only done the two rounds. I'll add a few more and then see if it's worth keeping. This was all charted ahead of time, with some modifications made along the way. I tend not to design on the needle, simply because I like my menu planned in advance.

Your Topics
I liked most of the suggestions. There were so many of them that I had to copy and paste the entire Comments into a Word doc so that I could cull through them.

I'll start with Rob's because I did promise him a response.

I could use some moral support in my complete suspicion of "secret pals" who send luxury yarn, candles (?), needles, expensive stitch markers -- packages obviously worth upwards of $60 -- to the next person on an email list. I gotta admit, when I have an extra $60 of knitting money, I don't mail it to a stranger. Help me, Knitting Curmedgeon -- I can't be the only one, can I?

Nope, I'm with you. I must admit, I have never fallen prey to the Secret Knitting Buddy nonsense. First of all, I don't have the time or the inclination. Second, I'd rather share my stuff with my real-life friends. This has everything to do with sending shit to people you don't know and I'm not interested in the Random Acts of Kindness silliness either, another pet peeve of mine.

And that's not to say that I'm an uncharitable or stingy person. However, what Rob is describing smacks of self-aggrandizement.

Out-of-print books. A number of comments about those. Other than the Alice Starmore books, I can't think of an OOP book at the moment that needs to be republished. I certainly wouldn't do it as a publisher, in any case. And it's unlikely that the Starmore books will ever come back again, given the legal aspects of that situation.

Designers that I respect?

  • Veronik Avery and Shirley Paden, for their ability to translate dressmaking techniques into knitting and their fine senses of style.
  • Coffee Faucet, for his extraordinary color sense and his wonderfully witty designs.
  • Arguably, AS, the best Fair Isle designer, with Ron Schweitzer keeping her company.
  • Sharon Miller, who has created some of the most challenging lace designs and blessed those of us who do lace with a great book.
  • Lucy Neatby, who does interesting things using interesting techniques.
  • Joan Schrouder, who doesn't get nearly enough applause for her work, her teaching and her ever-patient answers to the list boneheads.

That's my short list.

And finally, to the personal questions. My oldest unfinished piece is Queen Anne's Lace, which is now 2.5 years in the making and not going anywhere. I've made many garments that I loved making and wearing; my most favorite project was the Morning Glory vest from Starmore's Stillwater book. Unfortunately, it is now too big for me to wear. I still have it, though. Christmas? I have no idea of what I want. As usual.

Last question, from Franklin: If you could bring one out-of-print knit book or mag into print, which would it be?

There are three OOP magazines that I would love to see in print again: Handmade, the old Threads and American Home Crafts. Can't pick just one.

I will write more about my weaving adventure. I'm just finishing up my first sample and have found a pile of blue and white perle cotton, 8/2s probably, in the stash. Probably bought at some Smiley's sale years ago. I'll be warping with that next.

Gratuitous Cat Photo
When I spin, I go into that ethereal zone wherein I am totally unaware of anything other than my drafting. Spinning tends to clear my head of all the racing thoughts that I enjoy as a manic depressive. Heh.

The other day, as I was zoned out, I became dimly aware of someone watching me.

Buddy sez: I'm gonna have a fucking seizure if you don't stop that thing.

He never moved an inch from the time I went to get the camera to the moment I took this picture.

At least he leaves my fiber and yarn alone. That's one rare and handy feline.

Monday, November 07, 2005

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I have absolutely nothing to write about today.


So if you'd like to support your tired, overworked and crabby blogger, let me know what you'd like me to write about.

Put your suggestion(s) in the Comments. I'll pick the one that I find most interesting.

And then maybe I'll feel more inspired.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door--Coco Chanel

The next time you see someone knitting fugly, contribute generously. Give them a decent skein of yarn. Support their efforts to knit nice not nasty. Don't just point and snicker. After all, you wouldn't make fun of an armless knitter, so why ridicule the fiber-impaired?

Brought to you by Sistah Knittahs Against Nasty Knitting -- a foundation established to assist the profoundly damaged knitter. We're SKANKs because we care. Occasionally.

Danger, Will Robinson
OK, so it's not only fugly fiber that can kill ya. Yesterday while shopping in a new yarn emporium (more on that later), I was standing at the register, paying, when another customer came up and stood next to me in line.

I glanced over at her and here she had her purse wide open, so jammed with knitting that she couldn't close it.

And two needles sticking vertically from the bag, points out, ready to impale some unlucky slob. Scary.

Never mind that she stuffed the bag so that her knitting was probably wrinkled. So I said something to her. Like, "I really don't want your needles in my arm."

Ever since my daughter Jenn was impaled on a knitting needle stuck in my mother's couch (it was Mom's, not mine) at age five on Thanksgiving and we had to make a trip to the ER, I've always been careful to keep my needles in a proper bag so that the points keep to themselves. Straight needles are really the worst offenders.

You'd think people would be more careful. You'd think and you'd be wrong.

The New Yarn Place
I seldom write about local yarn shops because they really have no bearing on anything in this blog. However, I'm making an exception because yesterday, after lunch with Ma and Sissy, we walked down the street to check out an exceptional new yarn shop.

I grew up in Montclair, NJ, which is about 12 miles from New York City, as the crow flies. My mother still lives there and I do go back from time to time, although Montclair has become SoHo Lite in recent years. The new shop, Modern Yarn, is around the corner from my mother's apartment on Church Street, a once-shabby and now chi-chi part of town filled with expensive, mostly pretentious shops and bistros.

A new yarn shop on Church Street? The last new yarn shop there was run by a Teutonic Brunhilda who enjoyed bullying her customers and only sold her designs. She didn't last long, thank God.

This new shop reminds me so much of the late, much lamented Simply Knits, where Joe, Kathy and I hung out at the beginning of our friendship. Wonderful selection of yarn: Manos, Cascade, Cherry Tree Hill, Habu (yes, they've got Habu), Rowan, Hemp for Knitting, Cascade, Frog Tree---and they've only just opened.

Nice atmosphere, too. Light, airy, welcoming. I met Kristen Carlberg, one of the owners, and she was very pleasant, helpful and knowledgeable. So you know I couldn't leave without buying something.

The picture does not do the colors justice--muted shades of aquas, pinks, greens, browns variously plyed together. It's Diakeito Diamusee Fine, a 100% wool fingering weight, with an spi of about 7.5 and 239 yards. Made in Japan and distributed by Dancing Fibers.

I'll be designing a sock pattern for it--the Gansey Sock. In my, um, spare time. While watching CSI. I've got the patterns charted already. Stay tuned.

Change UP
I'm seriously considering switching the blog to TypePad. I've had this argument with myself on and off for more than a year and I actually have a prototype layout done in TypePad. However, despite my web dev background, I hate fucking with code these days. However, recently I've been having "issues" with Blogger's image uploading system. And it's pissing me off.

If I do decide to go to TypePad, I'll forewarn you. It won't change the URL but I may have to take the blog offline for a day or two. Don't know yet and I haven't made a final decision. However, I'd welcome comments and opinions from those of you who blog and use TypePad.

Blogging can be rare and handy but Blogger often is not.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Best Quote I Heard All Day
You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.--Jessica Mitford

I'd love to embarrass Billy Gates publicly for his crappy products that I use every day.

You guessed it. More laptop problems. Last Friday, I had el crasho grande again. Second time in four months. Saturday--reload every application, reestablish every cookied password, redo all my links, redo e-mail addresses. Saved e-mail is gone. Feh.

Thank God I had the presence of mind to back up my book on a jump drive before this happened.

Today IE just wouldn't cooperate. I am now going to use Foxfire because I believe it's more reliable.

And don't say "buy a Mac." I owned Macs for years and loved them. However, now all of my software is PC. My child the computer school grad says the laptop runs too hot for the constant writing that I do and I should buy a desktop. So I did. I'll get it the end of next week. And the laptop use will be relegated to trips and when I feel like writing outside on the patio. Next year.

I dragged out the neverending Touch Me scarf so that I could bind it off and be done with it. And start another for John, since this one is too short for his taste. He wants one to his knees or something.It almost looks woven. However, it's simply seed stitch, which I find works well with chenille. Those aren't worms--it hasn't wormed at all. The purl does tend to bubble a slight bit but not enough that I would call it worming. It'll get the washer/dryer treatment this afternoon. And I'm starting another one, this time guaranteed to drag at the ankles.

CMV Little Bits
When we went to the Garden State Sheep & Wool festival the other month, John managed to gather up bunches of CVM (California Variegated Mutants) shorn pieces. These are probably second cuts (when the shearer goes over the sheep a second time) so the spinning viability is potentially questionable.

Nevertheless, I washed the shitload yesterday. The fleece was not all that dirty or vegetable-matter ridden, fortunately. One good hot-water soak in Tide for 45 minutes, spin, soak in plain hot water, spin, soak in hot water and a cup of white vinegar, spin. Good recipe that I got from The Joy of Handspinning, an excellent web site if you're at all interested in learning how to spin.

Loopy suggested that I wash my fleece in a net bag. Another smart idea. So now it's spread out to dry. Next, it'll get carded. John's hot to try this. We'll see. If he's good, he can card the five pounds of Lincoln that I have to wash next.

The Day After
Because I'm relatively indulgent, I promised Liz that I would put up a picture of her (and friend Murph) in her Halloween costume. And I promised Carol S. I'd do the same for her kid. And then there's my grandson Ian, resplendent in his Obi-Wan outfit.

So here they are. Carol made the fish costume. Incredibly rare and handy she is.