Friday, December 29, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Social Worker: You vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert!
Man: What? I came here for an argument!
Social Worker: Oh, sorry, this is "Abuse".
--Monty Python

Hot abuse, right here. Don't get the wrong idea. I haven't gone all that soft on ya.

Crankiness rulez, yo.

Lots of stuff to write about before the year is up. Happy New Year, by the way. This is the last entry before I start screwing up the date when writing checks.

2007, 2007, 2007, 2007, 2007, 2007, 2007, 2007.

Got it.

The beginning of my fifth year writing this rag. And they said it would never last.

The Oh-Shit-I-Fucked-Up-Again Cardigan
Yeah, I'll be writing about this one for publication, that's for sure.

The Arwen cardi. Started and ripped out three times on Christmas Eve because yours truly thinks she's so fucking smart, she doesn't half pay attention when she should. And starts a major project at 9 p.m. at night after running around like a psychotic chicken for those last-minute gifts.

However, I did get it right. And am well on my way. This cardigan is not for beginners so if you think you've got the cojones, go for it. Otherwise, don't whine when you screw it up.

For those of you familiar with the pattern, it's a Kate Gilbert from the latest Interweave Knits. Truly filled with excellent design conventions--a reversible cable, shortrow shaping on the sleeves, scary Kitchener stitching together of the cuffs, which are knit along with the sleeve. Here's two detail shots of the cable, which is great fun to work and easily memorized (after you've ripped it out several times):

The yarn is KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes, color is Black Cherry. I decided not to use the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran because all of her cashmerinos pill and I wanted a yarn that would stand up to heavy wear. WOTA is a yarn I've used several times and like very much; however, as with all the KnitPicks yarns, the colors can be less than enchanting. But there are a couple I like and this was one of them.

I have not knitted any garment for myself in two years. Shawls, socks, a few scarves, but nothing that has had to been assembled, per se. So now I've finished the Fair Isle vest and this is moving along quickly.

After this, I'll be starting the Wedding Ring shawl for real. Hear that, Loop, Ted and Franklin? I've at least swatched, so forewarned is forearmed.

There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters
You all know I love music. Well, I love Rosemary Clooney too. "Come On-a My House," my favorite. And big band music. And all those fifties schlocky singers like Como, Sinatra, Bennett. When my sissy and I get together, we usually sing "Sisters" from White Christmas. She's Vera-Ellen, I'm Rosemary, for sure. And probably a dork, so bite me.

So what did the Queen of Chaos give me for Christmas to gross me out? This.

Some old lady at her father-in-law's assisted living joint gouged him $34 for this set. Clearly Lion Brand faux chenille. In delicious camo-esque colors. Poor Karen. Every tacky gift she gives me to try to piss me off makes me laugh.

If you're looking for me at work, I'm gonna quit and crochet hat-and-scarf sets and sell them to unsuspecting senile old guys for big bucks. And then retire on the proceeds.

We did have a nice Christmas, nonetheless. Karen offered up her own burnt finger to the general blog community photo collection of nasty supperating wounds. She thought you'd enjoy it.

Not quite pus-y enough to rival other blog pictures I've seen.

Otherwise, the usual Roberts-Meyer-Snider Christmas extravaganza, with me doing the cooking as usual.

Ma ready to stick her dollah-three-eighty into the mix

Liz and nephew Alex affecting adolescent holiday ennui

Brother Rich and Jenn's boyfriend Norm discussing the movie mystique of Roger Corman

The Family Snider: Mike, Corinne and the Punk Princess

The Sisty Uglers, Jenn and Corinne

Mar and Carol's Most Excellent NYC Adventure
So yesterday, with a week's worth of free time on my hands, I traipsed into the city to meet with Carol and do some yarn shop trolling. We had decided that there were two shops we wanted to visit that neither of us had seen before: Seaport Yarns and Purl. I wasn't going to buy anything. I have enough fiber to last me and confuse me.

All I can say is, Seaport Yarns was a totally Fellini-esque experience. I ended up asking the owner what she didn't sell. Katia. Oh well. The place is a chaotic jumble of stuff. But incredible stuff.

A long, narrow hallway filled with yarn. Six or seven rooms that sprouted from the hallway, filled with yarn, books, tools. You name it, Seaport Yarns has it. Of course, I would highly suggest that you take at least a tab of acid prior to entering this place because it's really the Merry Pranksters Go Knitting.

Carol finds Nirvana at Seaport

Purl, on the other hand, was the antithesis of Seaport Yarns. Soho-chic, sterile, with beautifully arranged bins of Koigu, Lorna's Laces and other stuff. I didn't take pictures because I suspected that my camera would be confiscated. Suffice it to say that it's a small, airy yarn shop that has nice yarn. I think I far preferred Seaport, in all its looney glory. Being in Purl kinda made you want to blow your nose and fart, just to put it all into perspective.

I don't go for fancy-pretentious, I guess. Which is why I'm a Jersey girl.

Next time, it would be good to have all the Wolverinas together. Bad enough at Rhinebeck but positively frightening if let loose into NYC yarn shops. Given our behavior at Twist, Joe and I alone do plenty of damage.

With apologies to David Bowie.

I'm sort of in the process of reworking the blog layout, as you can probably tell from the sidebar. I've been doing it in dribs and drabs, putting things in slowly. Most likely now that Blogger is out of its beta stage, I will rework the template as well. There are just too many other blogs that look like this one or vicey versy. Joe did a great job on his and this one can stand some fluffing up. So look for more alterations. Still open for business though.

So while another year bites the dust, there's a lot I'll be pondering and planning for the coming year on Sunday night, while I sit and knit and watch movies. One thing I must do is finish my book, or rather, rework it. That's number one. The other thing is to write more outside of the blog, which is in the works already. Other than that, I'll go with the flow, try to keep aging gracefully and generally stay out of trouble.

And with that, have a safe and happy New Year. My thoughts and heart will be drifting to Cape Cod. But that's another rare and handy story for another time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU FROM MEIt's been a long, sometimes difficult year. However, I am thankful for my family, my friends and my home.

The ornaments in the picture are some that I hold dear to my heart. One of my favorite nutcrackers. The Little Matchgirl that Jenn made me many years ago. The cross-stitched Father Christmas ornament I made on Liz's first Christmas. The white ball on the left is one of the few that I have remaining from Jimmy and my first Christmas together. We had no money so we bought all of our ornaments at a local hardware store.

Christmas, to me, is my family and seeing friends. It's been a lonely five years now without anyone special to share it with but like Scrooge, I keep Christmas in my heart all the year and I keep working at making my life better.

So much for being a curmudgeon. Now you know.

May all of you have a wonderful holiday! My Tontant Weaders mean much to me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.--George Carlin

I've been a practicing bad girl for a hell of a long time.

So in the spirit of being a bad girl, here's what I'd like for Christmas, among other things.

I've already sent this to friends but you know I like to share.

And here's one from Loopy, that made the rounds today. Earplugs advised.

Tree Up

Oh balls. And the kitten who swats at them. If this tree remains standing through Monday, it will be a miracle.

Not much purposeful knitting going on. Mostly doing As Designed As Built Configuration reports for the Valve Factory. It's been an end-of-the-year crunch and I honestly don't know why the fuck I'm sitting here at the end of a long day writing.

However, in two days I will have a well-earned nine-day vacation, away from ADABCRs, ATPs (Acceptance Test Procedures), Qual Test Reports (yep, QTRs, you got the acronym fever) and all the rest of the documentation that these valves take with them to the customer, who might be Boeing, Lockheed Martin, or Mitsubishi. Or some ghastly Israeli firm whose people come over to visit every so often and make themselves completely unwelcome.

I believe in pyloric valves. That's what works for me, personally.

Yo, Word Up, Gangsta Grammy
That's Liz's new name for me. We have all sorts of names for each other in our family. Just because we're word people, I suppose. Or verbose. Whatever. Here's the short list:

  • Sissyboo--either me or my sister. I am Sissyboo the Elder.
  • The Gashlycrumb Tinies--collective term for family members younger than 16
  • Mamoo--what my kids call me, sometimes (late husband Jimmy started that one)
  • Bumbawoo--my daughter Corinne (unknown etymology)
  • Grundoon the Groundhog Chile--Corinne's other name
  • Bruder--my brother Rich
  • Fennifer--my daughter Jenn
  • Bisset--Liz, how she referred to herself when she couldn't say "Elisabeth"
So Gangsta Grammy suits, yo.

All this namecalling because I drove her to Michaels and AC Moore at 7 p.m. last Sunday night so she could buy an extremely tacky red foil mini-tree on which to hang her beloved cartoon ornaments.

Anything to keep Spongebob off my tree. Although he's still hanging there. But not for long.

Four Shopping Days Left, Huh?
And I'm not done yet. But I shall be by Friday. And then commences the wrapping, which I do not nearly as well as a five-year-old.

It seems inexcusable that someone who can knit, spin, crochet, write, cook and all the other things that I do pretty well, can't wrap a damned box. I cannot wrap. And yes, my gay brothers, Franklin, Joe, Lars, Ted, I know YOU can wrap. Tastefully, neatly, and splendiforously.

It's times like this when I almost wish I were a gay man.

But all wrapping aside, where it deserves to be, it's time once again for me to collapse in my rare and handy Ikea chair, glom at the news and fall asleep over the needles. Knitting, that is.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I bought my brother some gift-wrap for Christmas. I took it to the Gift Wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.--Steven Wright

Bowed but unbloodied, I continue in the never-ending search for gifts with one week to go.

It gets pretty scary when you leave the mall one evening after a rapid gift-hunt sortie, only to find a police helicopter with searchlight circling the parking lot and a passle of local cops and state troopies at the entrance milling about.

Ho fucking ho. Christmas in New Jersey.

Fleece Navidad
The vest is finished. Well, almost. Still stitching down the steeks. And then blocking. However, I managed to tuck in all but one end and take a picture of the penultimate garment.

It fits nicely and the shoulders, which are to me the most important fit, are perfect. No wings.

I'm still debating the button selection. I did buy these, which are Lucite containing bits of lavender. But I don't think they are quite right for this vest, nice as they are.

I'll continue the search this week. I'd prefer some nice wood buttons.

The Christmas Fug Scene
In the meanwhile, after seeing a number of fugly Christmas sweaters live and in person, I think that one of my 2007 projects may be to design a Fair Isle Christmas sweater that I can live with year-round.

My favorite Christmas colors are forest green, magenta and a dull gold, rather than the traditional primary red and green. More of a Renaissance coloring, I think. It's what you find at my house at Christmas.

This is just a graph doodle--that's the best way to mess around with Fair Isle design ideas--and the colors aren't exactly what I'm talking about. They need to be deeper and richer. Much. But for reference, it works.

Anyway, that's for next year. I generally don't care for humungous Fair Isle motifs. For one thing, they tend to limit the sizing range. If you have a motif that spans 48 stitches and you're working 8 spi, that's 4 inches right there that you've sucked up on the sweater.

There's little that annoys me more than a sweater offered in two sizes: 34" and 50". Not to mention the effect a large motif has on length, as well. Smaller motifs mean more flexibility in size.

And then there's the delightful elephantine fashion statement you make wearing one of these beauties if you're larger than a size 12.

Party On, Bob! Party On, Jean!
I spent a lovely evening last night at the Fivehouse annual Christmas party. Long, long time friends. Jeez, guys, it must be 20 years, at least. We met back when our kids were a lot smaller, that's for sure.

Jean discussing Weffriddles after several glasses of wine

The increasingly Claus-ian looking Bob the Brat

I love these two. And Bob, who was one of Jimmy's closest friends, makes amazing models of steam ships. In miniature. He sells primarily to the Mystic Seaport gallery but I know he's up for any reasonable offers. Here's his latest, a model of the Lusitania.

Those little dots on the deck? Brass deck furniture. I kid you not. Even the magnifying glass didn't help me. I had to take off my glasses and stick my nose up close and personal. He's an amazing artist.

Bob's going to help me with an upcoming project in the next few months. No, I'm not knitting a Titanic sweater, although I don't know a soul who knows more about the Titanic and the rest of the White Star fleet.

Suffice it to say that Bob does other things besides modeling. I'll be talking more about this project once it becomes a reality.

Time to get out of the dingy bathrobe and into jeans for the final assault on the Christmas tree. It's up, the lights are on, but it needs the ornaments. Corinne vacuumed needlessly last night, clearly forgetting that there will be more showers of needles as we trim the tree.

And I still need to shop. But I'm staying home today. Because where I live, half a mile from the mall, driving is most certainly not a rare and handy activity. These days.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don't let them take you ALIVE.--Sid Vicious

Here's my theory as to my raison d'etre. I must exist in a structure that supports chaos.

My chaotic personality, which runs the emotional gamut daily, needs structure in order to survive. This may or may not be part and parcel of being manic depressive; however, if I examine what it is that keeps me on the straight and perhaps not-so-narrow, the answer is clear.

Writing can be quite chaotic within the given framework of what must be done. As can knitting. I can freely ad lib doing those activities. Run amok while working a pattern, go wild with words, and yet focus on the solution while letting my brain go off into the stratosphere.

This is why I knit and why I blog, and why both have kept the disorder ordered and taught me to ponder the whys and wherefores of self while I knit, write, spin or attempt to weave.

A good thing. Don't worry, though. I'll never be so orderly as to put P-touch labels on all my Rubbermaid yarn bins.

The KC Family Tree
I was touched by Margaret's comment about never knowing her grandmother. Despite my grandmother's lapses into gross prejudice, she was nothing if not a product of her times. Nonetheless, I adored her. And to this day, I miss those phone calls at 9 a.m. where Grandma would say, "Marilyn, dolly, you won't believe what Phil Donohue has on his show! Turn it on now! He's got men dressed up like women!"

Yes, Grandma was indeed my mother's mother, although she couldn't knit. The story of how during WWII in a fit of patriotic fervor, she of no domestic skills decided to knit a Red Cross balaclava on five needles, ending up with the whole yarn mess on one, is legendary. My mother ended up fixing it and finishing it. Grandma turned her prodigious musical talents to good use and played piano at the local USO. A far better choice, since she was a teacher of many things in Staten Island, including music. And she was an opinionated, bossy curmudgeon of the first water, although not necessarily the first in the line. Ma certainly has her curmudgeonly ways, God knows. But Grandma's mother, a dour German, was apparently even worse.

So here's the fine tree from which this apple fell.

Curmudgeon line in purple, what else?

My father's mother, Oma, was a neurotic Teutonic diva who drove virtually everyone crazy with her neverending paranoia and anxieties. My fond memories of Oma include her chasing me around a park with a stick shrieking "I'm a witch and I'll eat you" in heavily accented German.

That's why I hated Hansel and Gretel, the story and the opera. Little wonder.

Oma was indeed a curmudgeon, albeit a whiny one. She opined constantly but fortunately my German and her English were not good enough for either of us to communicate to any great degree. And that was fine with me.

Grandma and Oma somehow had an armed truce, wherein they were polite to each other in a rather formal Victorian manner. Except when Oma got too neurotic and idiotic. Then Grandma let loose.

Here's my favorite: My father died very young, at 43. He knew he was going to die and so bought a family plot in the local cemetary, under a lovely large tree. Bucolic final resting place. Except that when Oma had the cemetary plant geraniums each spring, they always died. No shit--no sunlight, poor soil, whaddya want?

The complaining about the geraniums lasted for years. Finally, one day on the phone, listening once again to the geranium bitching, Grandma said, "Well, Elisabeth, if you really want the geraniums to grow, you'd better have 'em dig up the body and move it to a sunnier spot with better dirt."

I miss Grandma, every day. But she and Ma both taught me never to be afraid of saying what I thought.

I know if Grandma were still here, she'd be the first to write in the Comments, every entry. But she wouldn't like my foul language. Sorry, Grandma. I'm not cleaning it up.

(I'm waiting for my sister to claim that she's a curmudgeon too. And she is, actually. She just needs to fine-tune her skills. Which is why we should encourage her to start her own blog.)

Christmas Carol
So, after giving this to Purlmayer for her blog, for some unknown reason--perhaps I was feeling less Scrooge-ish that day--I'm going to republish a carol I rewrote back in 2002 when I had about 5 readers. I had fun with it then and think it deserves another go-round.

See, I like Eartha Kitt. Always have. And Santa Baby is one of my favorite awful Christmas tunes that I find cringeworthy yet singable. So here's my version. Yes, you can sing it to the melody.

Santa baby, slip a cable needle under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa baby, some variegated silk too, light blue
I'll knit it up for you dear
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa honey, I wanna Schacht and really that's
Not a lot
I haven’t bought much all year
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To a Local Yarn Shop
Santa cutie, and give me some alpaca tonight

Santa baby, please fill my stocking with hanks, and thanks!
Just add some skeins to the stash,
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some sterling silver circs bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you come through for me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little clue, Koigu
I don't mean goldfish
Santa baby, and give me some alpaca tonight

Give me some alpaca tonight
Give me some alpaca tonight

(No, second thought, give me a blank check and we’ll call it even)

I can the car, in the shower, to myself. So I won't record myself singing this. That would be past rare and handy. It would be excretable.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
She cuts you hard, she cuts you deep,
She's got so much skill
She's so fascinating that you're still there waiting
When she comes back for the kill.
--Billy Joel, Stiletto

Great song about sharp objects, no?

But you stand there pleadin',
With your insides bleedin',
'Cause you deep down want some more.

Yes, It's Steenkin' Steek Time in KC's Playhouse
I do love the torture some call finishing. I do. First, it takes every ounce of my skill.

Second, anyone can make a knit and a purl stitch. But the finishing is everything. If you can't finish decently, I don't care how wonderfully you knit. Because your garment's gonna look like shit.

So this post is devoted to the steek endgame. Yeah, plenty of people have written about this. And Eunny Jang wrote a decent article about it in IK. But there's more detail to it than appears in the article. So as I started playing with sharp objects last night while working the armhole of the Andean Treasures Fair Isle, I had the camera at the ready.

Are you ready? Ignition on.

It's Such a Clever Masquerade
I opted to try the crocheted steek reinforcement, simply because I hadn't done it before since I heretofore have only done Fair Isle in Shetland 2-ply, known for its Velcro-like propensity. This alpaca definitely needs to be reinforced prior to cutting the steek.

[OK, one thing that has me kinda bugged. Nowhere in Jang's article is there any mention of Amy Detjen, who, to the best of my knowledge, invented this technique. I first saw it in Sweaters From Camp and always thought it was a primo idea. So let's give credit where credit is due, eh? This book is still my favorite for Fair Isle technique info, no question.]

Most steeks are composed of either 8 or 10 stitches--sometimes you can get away with 6 if you're working in Shetland but 8 stitches is really optimum. The dead center, between stitches 4 (5) and 5 (6) is where you cut, right in the bar between them.

[Nota bene: In Kathi Taylor's pattern, she has you do the armhole and front decreases as dec 2 tog before and after the steek stitches. Well, this was no good. And here's where thinking through a pattern before you start it with an eye to the finishing, pays off. I decided to do right- and left-leaning decreases (k2tog and ssk), with an edge stitch, rather than just knit two together. So I lost 6 stitches in the body--two for each armhole and two for the front opening. Big deal, I lost an inch. I took that into consideration when I chose the size that I wanted to work. ]

I determined the midpoint channel of the steek and crocheted together the opposing legs of two stitches beginning at the cast-off edge where you begin the steek cast-on. Jang explains this very well in her article, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. Basically, you'll be leaving a half a stitch on either side of the channel. I used a very bright, visible color because I'm fucking blind.

You work single crochet up one side of the armhole to the neckline, end off, and then recommence the reinforcement crochet from the top back down to the armhole cast-off, as shown in the picture. Can you see the two halves between the crocheted lines? That's where you'll cut, in between those two halves.

You Know You Love the Knife

Now, grab those sharp embroidery scissors. Not your kid's safety scissors, not your kitchen scissors, not your sewing shears.

Sharp, small embroidery scissors. I'm not fucking around here. You need to cut slowly, inching your way up the steek.

Don't cut the crocheted edges, either. And don't think that you need to have a shot of Jagermeister or Valium or both prior to beginning the cut. That's such bullshit and every time somebody writes that about steeking, I want to hurl.

Done and done. And wonders. Nothing fell apart. The steeks will naturally fold to the wrong side.

Machine knitters have been doing cut and sew for years, especially when doing double-bed jacquard or Fair Isle. I learned how to do this when I owned my Passap and was slashing left and right.

But I digress. Now that the steek is cut open, it's time to pick up the stitches for the armhole band.

She Says She Wants Affection While She Searches for the Vein
To ensure that I picked up the stitches in a straight line, I used my circular needle to provide a guide by weaving one end of it through the channel where I was going to pick up.

This helps enormously in staying on the beaten path. I retract the needlepoint as I go along. In addition, I always use locking markers to indicate where the halfway point of the edge is. In the case of a long edge to be picked up, I may divide and mark it into quarters or even eighths. So with 128 stitches to be picked up, with 8 of those part of the armhole cast-off, I knew that I needed 60 on each side of the armhole.

What's half of 60, gang? Right. So it was 30 to the marker and 30 after. And I pick up between the stitches rather than using a half a stitch or even a whole one.

You Don't Really Mind the Pain, You Don't Mind the Pain
Now it's five rows of 2/2 ribbing and that's one band done. Because the pickup is done on the right side, the steek lays flat on the wrong side. Why do you suppose that is? Yeah, Mar, fuck the Socratic method--give 'em the answer.

Nope, figure it out your own selves.

Now a shoulder seam to do before I start the next armhole band. All in all, about 3 hours worth of work, I would say.

No Jagermeister, no Valium, no nerves of steel. Just some coffee, some music and a job well done, I think.

Now that I've diddled away Saturday morning, it's time to get out of the sweatpants, take a shower and go look for a Christmas tree.

Because it's a rare and handy time of the year and your writer has done nothing, absolutely nothing about it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.--Bobby Zimmerman

No relation to Elizabeth. You know. The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.

All the knitting divas and divers should take a hint from Bob. He made music because it was in his soul. Not because he wanted to be a star. That's creativity. Celebrity has nothing to do with nothing other than ego.

Useless is the Word
Just been busy, is all. Busy reading these useless Christmas catalogs that have flooded my mailbox, that contain things like crank-up flashlights that you wouldn't give to anyone as a Christmas present. I read them all when I eat dinner (other than reading The Historian, a wonderful book, by the way). And busy actually knitting--the vest body is one pattern band away from being done. Pictures next weekend. I spent the past weekend doing other fun things and didn't feel like blogging.

Now, understand that my sister, Karen the Queen of Chaos, aka The Scrap Curmudgeon because she either can't think of anything more original or because she's fucking lazy, has decided that she must hunt down the fugliest knitted thing she can find at the local craft shows and bazaars and give it to me for Christmas.

The last time she tried to give me something tacky, it blew up in her face. She gave me a garden gnome as a housewarming present. I loved it. She thought I'd hate it.

Or perhaps she thinks that by gifting me with a set of fine Fun Fur coasters, she will get her ass published on the blog. Heh. She's probably right.

The best knitted gift I ever received was Bipolar Betty, created by my dear Carol. Betty has a place of honor in the curio cabinet. For those of you who don't remember Betty, here she is in all her glory:

Edvard Munch had to have been the inspiration for this.

Useless Gifts for Knitters
You know how I feel about these things. And it seems that the bigger the knitting market becomes, the more we get flooded with crap. Mind you, I'm a sucker for a nice knitting bag. But some of the knitting gifties I've seen in the magazines make me roll my eyes and spit phlegm.

Besides the light-up needles, here is my short list of knitting crap that no one needs ever buy me for Christmas.

  • That stupid sheep bag
  • Any item of clothing with a sheep on it (Dolores excluded)
  • Earrings that are a) balls of yarn; b) knitting needles; and c) spinning wheels
  • Garment labels that say "Made with love by Grammy"
  • Bumper stickers or license plate frames that say something idiotic like "I'm a Knitting Fool"
  • Anything that has "Knitting Goddess," "Knitting Diva" or "Knit Wit" on it
  • Anything that says "I Heart _______" on it
  • A mousepad with a sheep, a ball of yarn, or some old gramma-type knitting in a rocker

And Kar, don't get any smart ideas from this list or I'll fucking jam your paper down your throat and then die-cut it.

More Useless Christmas Knitted Shit
I always love to peruse the hideous Christmas sweaters to see which one is the worst. Here's my pick for this year.

Yeah, what would Jesus have knit? If He'd have knit this, then I guess I could do an intarsia diorama of my birth at Cornell Medical Center, with my mother in labor for 27 hours and my unbelievably prejudiced grandmother kissing a "Negro" in the elevator upon learning of my birth. (Grandma told that story to me every fucking birthday until I was 35, when she passed away).

But the sweater does have the prerequisite sheep, so essential to the Compleat KnitDweeb's wardrobe.

I have my knitting. I define it, it does not define me.

Time to get back to the comfy chair, watch mindless TV and knit. Tomorrow is another day at the valve factory--a far, far better place than the Slobvenian Mindfuck Management Company. I get Christmas week off, paid. How rare and handy is that, I ask you?

Postscriptum: Go to If you want to drive yourself fucking nuts, dive right in. And don't ask me for any answers. This is a journey akin to solving The Seventh Guest or Riven. You need brains, stamina, and a lot of coffee. Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Publishers are notoriously slothful about numbers, unless they're attached to dollar signs -- unlike journalists, quarterbacks, and felony criminal defendants who tend to be keenly aware of numbers at all times.--Hunter S. Thompson

Gonzo journalism died the day Hunter blew his brains out.

I miss him. He was an exemplary member of my species--the manic depressive who lives to write.

And I wonder what he would have had to say about OJ's erstwhile suppository book. You may read that as a pun of taste, if you like.

The fact that Judith Regan gave as her reason for procuring the book her personal history of abuse makes it all the more despicable. Because if you know about the book business, you know that Regan would sell her slight soul to make a buck. And buying it through a third party? No, Judith. You know exactly who, what, where, why, when and how.

When Rupert Murdoch puts the kibosh on a deal like that, there's more than mere morality involved. Murdoch knew the book wouldn't sell. He doesn't lose sleep worrying about his high moral standards taking a fall.

You knew it would be available on eBay. Because they've already printed the first run and some of those copies will be floating around.

Slothful Times
I admit it, I'm lazy. Very lazy. Occasionally motivated but for the most part, the world's finest procrastinator when not at work. I have still not hooked up my DVD player after more than two months in this house.

However, I did start the KnitPicks Fair Isle vest by Kathi Johnson that Mammy gave me for my birthday last spring. It's fucking cold at work, for one thing. For another, I realized that it has been more than two years since I actually made a garment for myself. My last one was the Lavold vest from Knitter's, which was also the last issue I bought.

So rather than write, I've been knitting. This is a week's worth. A few more rows and I'll be steeking the armholes.

Here's the thing about this vest. For an experienced knitter, it's the proverbial walk in the park. But it is a very good pattern for first-timers. Twelve colors, so you won't get bored. Simple, easily memorized peeries. Decent directions, except that you need to rely on sources other than the pattern for steeking. I would recommend Eunny Jang's article in this issue of IK, or barring that, Sweaters From Camp. When I get to cutting the steeks, I'll take pictures because I thought the illustrations from Eunny's article could have been a lot better.

There are a few mistakes in the directions, though. The suggested needles are 3s for the ribbing, 5s for the body. The directions tell you to make your Fair Isle swatch with the 3s. I don't think so.

I always work my Fair Isle from the inside circumference. This helps keep the work from bunching up. I also stretch it out across the shank of the needle rather than let it gather there.

Another bitch I have is the chart. Please tell me what the fuck is going on with pattern publishers and designers when they insist on doing colored charts. There are three very dark colors in this vest. Unless you take the chart into direct sunlight and immediately write in the color names, you will not be able to discern black from forest green from dark brown. Absolutely awful chart.

But the yarn, Andean Treasure, which is 100% baby alpaca, is of outstanding quality.

So the F 'n' F shawl, while 80% finished, has been put to one side until this vest is done.

Ma's Shawl
Now, if you're whining that lace is too hard, just remember that my 83-year-old mother recently finished her first lace shawl in KP's Shimmer. And promptly handed it over to me for blocking.

I haven't yet blocked it so I stretched it out a bit so that you could see a bit of it.

This is from Folk Shawls and she worked it in a double strand of Shimmer, something she swears she will never do again.

Next project for her: another lace shawl, this time done in Harrisville 2-ply Shetland. She's buying me some for Christmas along with her order.

I seldom get an opportunity to showcase my mother's work. Besides being my first (and only) knitting teacher, she's an inspiration. Shows you that getting older doesn't mean you park your carcass in a rocking chair. She doesn't. I won't.

Awful. Just awful. I flipped through it in Borders yesterday and other than Nicky Epstein's felted Fair Isle bag, which would have been better presented as a sweater but had lovely colors and patterns, there wasn't one item in the magazine worth the cover price. That includes the articles, although for some, Meg's article on brioche stitch in the round may be of some interest. IK wins the Winter season Best of Show award, hands down.

Spinning Shit
No, I'm not spinning shit. I just got another roving from Carol's inimitable Black Bunny Fibers. This time, it's Corriedale. Another Pansy.
Carol sure knows what I like but you have to check her Etsy shop frequently or you'll miss out. I'm beginning to have a fine collection of BBF rovings and 4 ounces should be enough for a nice scarf or something. I don't think I'll be knitting socks again, at least not from this.

I did a little bit this morning on the Matchless, after having to replace the drive band due to fraying from Buster teeth. It spins beautifully. As far as the Curmudgeon superwash blend is concerned, I suspect that it wants to be spun a bit heavier and this will be a good exercise in changing spun thicknesses.

Right now, I'm spinning the Corriedale fine, as I always do.
My main goal is not necessarily to spin fine singles but to spin consistently, be it fine or heavy. I've seen an awful lot of spinners who consider themselves experienced producing thick and thin plyed yarns that they think epitomizes the pinnacle of handspun.

Well, unless that's specifically the type of yarn you are aiming to create, uh uh. It seems to me that a lot of people put the brakes on improving their spinning consistency the moment they produce something that can be called yarn, however loosely.

And the killer is, these people are selling their handspun lumpy crap on the internet for as much as $35 a skein.

Hey, if you can live with yourself selling junk, more power to you. There's a market for everything. And a sucker born every minute.

And For You Suckers...
there's Catirina Bonet. (OK, M-H, I know I'm guilty of spreading the spam. But with You Knit What gone, somebody has to do it.)

I won't put any pictures of the ghastly CB designs up on this blog. But my question is, who are these women (two of them, I believe) and why do they spam my Inbox on a regular basis?

Besides the fact that I believe knitted tea cozies to be in the same double-wide league as knitted warshcloths and felted bottle holders, Fun Fur scarves and the rest of the KnitDweebish fashion genre, the rest of their designs are so bad, it's good for a yuck to take a trip.

Check out the Babies & Kids designs. And tell me that you'd dress little Britney or Jason in duds like these, let alone knit them.

And with pattern prices ranging from $7 (tea cozies) to $34.95 (hideous multi-colored coat), you have to wonder who's going to pay that kind of money? It's one thing to fork over $18 for a Sharon Miller lace design--you get plenty of bang for your buck. But Catirina Bonet is another story.

Besides, they're based in L.A. I think that speaks volumes. Bling, bling, my ass.

Getting Turkey-fied
Hope you all had a good holiday. I was busy cooking up a storm all day for Ma, brother Rich, Jenn, her boyfriend Norm and my grandson Ian. Eight hours of cooking, 20 minutes of eating. But it was a nice day and all came out well. Corinne, Liz and Mike took off for W'burg to see his parents. They'll be home later tonight, if they don't get caught up in the DC Beltway Hell.

I had the house to myself for three days. And it was a bit weird being alone. I don't like to be without people. However, I got tons of laundry done, the bedroom cleaned and a lot of knitting completed. And tomorrow it's back to work, along with the rest of the world.

And now comes Christmas. A rare and handy season. My favorite. Maybe next weekend the tree, cut down in the wilds of Pennsyltucky. But no knitted ornaments. Or knitted treeskirts. Or knitted coasters. Or knitted gifts. You know how it is.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
We all learn by experience but some of us have to go to summer school. --Peter De Vries

Knitting summer school. Now there's an institution that needs to be created.

And I'm not talking about Meg's Knitting Camp, either. A summer school for lazy, recalcitrant knitters who should do better and don't.

I spent the summer of my 15th year retaking algebra because I was absolutely lazy. And far past recalcitrant. Did me a lot of good, insofar as I met a number of other like-minded slackers. Plus I made my parents happy by ending up with a C rather than a D.

Excellence was not part of my vocabulary in those days.

Fanmail from a Flounder?
Well, not exactly, Bullwinkle. But Emma Edwards, a British reader who lives in France, sent me some wonderful stitch markers that she made just for me, me, me. So thoughtful and yes, I'm using them.

So right, is it not? As soon as I got them, I put two on the F 'n' F shawl--the other is "Shut Up." And here are the rest:

Emma says, I included the very British 'arse' marker as I feel that it is a much more expressive word than the American equivalent. [Ed. note: I think that depends upon what kind of American accent you have--I say it and it comes out sounding like a Jersey girl trying to sound pretentiously posh.]

Thanks, Emma. I think you have a business opportunity with these personalized markers. Just sayin'.

Survivor: IK Off the Island and Back Into the Swim
It pleases me no end to see that IK has finally gotten together a winning issue. My God, it's been a long, long time since I actually wanted to knit something out of a magazine. So here's the low-down.

The cover garment by Norah Gaughan, Nantucket Jacket, is absolutely lovely. And a warning--many of the designs, including this one, are challenging. Finally. I want to make the Elwen hoodie, absolutely. It features a cable pattern that many of you will recognize from Barbara Walker but one that is a favorite of mine. The construction of the hoodie is quite unique and there's a lot to absorb when reading this pattern.

Eunny Jang has a very nice Fair Isle pullover, albeit in colors that I would never wear, along with a very good article about steeking. Jesus, I hope some of you read this because between shortrowing and steeking, there are an awful lot of people out there who need their hands held.

Shirley Paden has a terrific cabled jacket, there are nicely done thrummed mittens, and a pair of mitts that I would actually make for myself for driving. A bit lacy but not overly so. The Arctic Diamonds stole is one that I would consider doing, if I didn't already have a long lace knitting list of projects. I liked the Veronik Avery Bohus-inspired pullover, although it's not on my to-do list. And Mari Lynn Patrick's Provincial Waistcoat is a pleasant surprise from a designer who has been consistently lousy in the past. Makes you wonder what the editors have been forcing down her throat, designwise. This one is excellent.

OK, and then there are two that I wouldn't make, ever, let alone want to look at in a magazine. You knew this was coming, didn't you?

One is the Rambling Rose Cardigan and the other the Corded Yoke Pullover. The model wearing the Rambling Rose looks like Anna Nicole Smith doing a star turn at Stitches. The Corded Yoke Pullover? Come on. Another example of "I knit it because I can." Maybe you'd wear it if you were Britney (so sorry about the split, doll, but we all did see it coming). Otherwise, uh uh.

The other garments are more or less OK, with a tinge of feh.

The one thing I did note--designers more and more, at least the ones who can design, are putting a lot more detail and shaping into their garments. Good on ya. It's about time. The pendulum swingeth back to the center.

Adjunctive Junk That You Need. Or Not.
Carol was raving about the Fricke ballwinder in her last entry. This is one thing I need to get my hands on because I really dislike my crappy Royal winder, the one that I told JT was inserted between a man's legs. Perhaps the Royal should be used in some weird sexual experiment because I sure don't like it much for winding balls.

I am quite fond of my Fricke skein winder with attached counter. This has been a blessing. Previously, I had been skeining my plyed yarn and then using KnitKnacks' counter along with the ballwinder. That worked fine but this is far superior. Knowing the yardage ahead of time is good instant gratification.

Now, I'm going to say something about those light-up needles. First of all, I don't have any interest in knitting at the movies or in a dark room. In fact, heresy that it may be, I don't feel the compelling urge to knit everywhere. For heaven's sake, why do so many knitters drag their knitting into places where it honestly needs to be kept in the bag?

Do you knit when you take a shit? Or is that going to be the next KnitList topic of conversation? Wait. The Liststapo wouldn't allow that function as topic material. But it is here. Admit it, that's why you read this blog.

I read patterns in the bathroom. That is appropriate. In fact, there's a sort of odd logic to reading through directions whilst eliminating. You take something in, you let something out.

I comprehended shortrowing and other previously incomprehensible knitting techniques in la salle de bain. My bathroom currently contains the Rhinebeck leaflet, the aforementioned IK, and the last issue of Spin-Off.

If you think that there are tons of people who would appreciate the glow of your luminescent needles in the theatre, think again. Personally, I want to watch the movie, not be distracted by the light from your moving needles.

Despite the general belief that knitters love to knit in public, in the course of two years or so, I have seen exactly two people knitting outside their homes--one in a doctor's office and one on the train.

Band Geekiness
It was great reading all the comments from everyone about marching band. I was really surprised at the response--who'da thunk? Of course, I was never a band geek. You don't march with a violin. But I was a denizen of the music practice room. And actually, up until someone decided knitting was "hip," I was a knitting geek too. Because knitting still is pretty geeky, in my opinion. So I suppose I'm still a knitting geek.

Let's see, what other geekiness can I claim? I do crossword puzzles, I work with computers, I would actually like to ride a bike again (preferred brand would be a Raleigh 3-speed with a basket), I do not own a Prada handbag, I like to play Trivial Pursuit.

That's enough geekiness to make anyone rare and handy.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I have to give my family credit for putting up with the racket, because as some of you may know, it's not the easiest thing in the world to live with a kid who's trying to become a rock and roll drummer.--Max Weinberg

She rocks. And then she marches. I am proud to be the grandmother of a band geek. Yes, the Punk Princess has been spending a good deal of her time since August doing band stuff, besides practicing with her band, Yo Jimmy.

The Morris Hills HS Marching Band drumline is #1 in NJ. Needless to say, I've become a big band supporter, especially since I spent yesterday in Allentown, PA watching the kids compete in their final competition of the year. It was the first time I went and it was pleasant to sit in the stands with Corinne, knitting and watching all the kids.

Liz is playing the bass drum this year--she's second from the left. Next year she'll advance to the quints, which are five little drums that the drummer wears in a carrier. Seniority counts in band, particularly in the drumline. But what's more important to me is that these kids work damned hard and are learning not only how to be the best they can but they're learning discipline and teamwork. It's all about excellence. Something we see little of these days.

I would suggest that W, Cheney and Rummy join a HS marching band to learn a few of these qualities. It may be necessary to demand that future presidential candidates be band geeks.

Just sayin'.

Warp Tour
I can honestly say that I possibly fear warping as much as I did Kitchener stitch at one time. Perhaps more.

So after a long hiatus, I'm back to the loom. Frankly, there was little time for weaving and dealing with Slovenians.

So, against the advice of my mentor, Ms. "be careful with this shit" Loopy, I started this morning with the Morehouse laceweight that I bought at Rhinebeck.

OK, so I don't listen well. But I think if I take my time, the warp will be fine.

The orange-y side shows in this picture but there is a large dollop of rose and a bit of warm brown. All in all, a most pleasing colorway.

So for those of you interested in the particulars, I've decided to weave this in a 1/3 twill, at a sett of 24. I'll be using my 10-dent reed. We'll see how this comes out.

The aim is to weave a scarf first. I was going to do a shawl but then figured why get overly confident. Besides, I'm still a rank novice. So maybe a shawl next.

Despite the insane activity of Buster the Kitten, I managed to get the skein wound into a ball.

Now, as a sidebar, I recently had a gentleman caller who was interested in exactly what this "equipment" does.

Being a tad coy, I said, "That contraption over there is a ball winder."

"Oh, how does it work?"

"I put it between your legs and crank the handle."

As they say in bad novels, he blanched. So this picture is for him. Because perhaps he took me seriously.

I've just spent the better part of an hour or so winding the warp on the warping board and watching the Giants hold onto a precarious lead against Houston.

I have a ways to go yet. One of these days I'm going to hang this warping board so I don't have to abuse my 56-year-old knees.

If I'm going to get down on my knees, it's not going to be to warp anything. Or clean floors.

Got it?

So at the rate I am going, I probably won't get the loom completely warped until next weekend, unless I can do a little when I get home from work.

That being at 5 p.m. or so these days. And I do have a lot more time on my hands now so I am hoping I will be able to publish a middle-of-the-week entry as well.

We'll see. No promises.

Stitches East
Yeah, I'm not there. Thank God. I'm sure we'll all read reports about it on other blogs. Frankly, other than the Dragon Boy committing some obscene fashion act, which I'm expecting, I honestly don't feel like I've missed a damned thing.

The truth is, I'm jaded. I do acknowledge that I have the opportunity to go to Rhinebeck, to MD S&W, to Stitches East because I live in the Northeast in close proximity. I know that there are many, many people who would love to do these things and to them I say, if you can, do go.

But I've been to too many of them and this point, it's the same crap year after year, pretty much. I have plenty of fiber stock and I don't honestly need much of anything any more.

Unless I use up my stash, which is impossible. Loopy and I have a deal: Whoever goes to the big LYS in the sky first gives the other their stash. That's what friends are for. Although I won't include the Rubbermaid container of gray Lopi that my mother insisted I take. Because I really am her dear friend, and friends don't gift friends with Lopi.

So I'll just have a little rare and handy fiber party right here in Wharton in lieu of Stitches. And odds are, a lot of the party invitees came from Stitches past anyway.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Politics... have always been the systematic organization of hatreds.--Henry Brooks Adams

(Thanks to Neal for getting my blood up on the following topics--not that I need any encouragement.)

Fat-mouthed, conslobative Rush Limbaugh, besides making the usual and ubitquitous ass out of himself by shamelessly attacking Michael J. Fox last week (Rush, I'm sure that being over-medicated is a condition that you at best dimly remember), has also taken it upon himself to go after the Women Voices, WomenVote organization, backed by the National Women's Law Center, which is trying to get the 20 million single women who didn't vote in 2004 out to the voting booths for the 2006 election.

Rush whines: Some further digging reveals that WVWV is directly promoting leftist politics.

Yeah. They are directly promoting the following "leftist politics":
  • Better education
  • Better health care
  • Control of our reproductive rights
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Protection of Social Security and other programs that directly affect single mothers
Boy, those pushy lesbian Commie broads are really asking for a lot. No wonder nobody wants to marry them, eh?

Ladies, whether you are married or not, get out there and vote on Election Day. We have the power. Let's wield it.

I did find humorous Rush's "mea culpa" to MJF, though: So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act.

IF I am wrong? Nothing like a qualifier to make an apology sincere.

Fiberous Stultification
Despite a brief buying flurry last weekend at Rhinebeck, I'm still working on the same things, more or less.

Perhaps that's good. At least I'm focused. And I do have more time these days to knit, spin, and, um, maybe weave.

The F 'n' F shawl, enhanced by an additional quint skein bought last week at Morehouse Farm, continues its plodding way.

However, I did finally get my ass in gear and work out a feasible design for the lovely Black Bunny Fiber merino sock yarn in Berry that Carol gave me for my birthday. Of course, as Ted opined, whether these socks would stand up to any abrasion is questionable. Still, I think the pattern is quite nice, easy, and very suitable for hand-dyed yarn.

I'll give the pattern to Carol--perhaps she can flog it with her sock yarn and make a few bucks. I call it Berried Treasure. Apt name, I think. (Fredda, don't worry--I'm working on the Leaves of Grass socks, which will be finished next week.)

And then there's the Curmudgeon sock yarn blend (superwash, mohair and nylon) that I'm test-driving for Carol and spinning to a sock weight when plyed. Joe's also spinning it in a different colorway.

We both agree that it isn't really for beginning spinners. I believe it's because of the mohair, a tricky fiber to spin, at best. Mohair loves to clump and takes a good deal of pre-drafting and manipulation before it willingly works nicely into the twist. Even then, it's just not smooth enough for socks, in my opinion.

IK: Winter, Yes. Gifties, No.
The Winter issue isn't out on the newsstands until Nov. 14, but if the cover is any indication, I think this will be a good one. The cover jacket by Norah Gaughan looked very nice, complete with godets, a design feature that I like on jackets. Two of my favorite designers--Veronik Avery and Shirley Paden--have garments therein, which I look forward to seeing. And a couple of the worst designers out there have some items, too. But we'll just relegate them to ignominy, where they belong, by not mentioning names.

I did get a look at the IK Gift issue. Feh. Please. The cover alone was enough to give me knitted heartburn. If you knit some fruit-like objects and give them as a Christmas present to some unsuspecting schmuck, then to paraphrase Dickens, you should be boiled with your own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through your heart. Otherwise, there were some OK socks and hats and things but nothing that excited me enough to plunk down some money for this one.

Besides, you all know my stand on Christmas knitting. I don't do it. Waste of time and I had enough this year knitting to a deadline with the Melanie shawl.

Spinning Q&A
I enjoyed sitting and spinning on the Joy at Rhinebeck. And particularly enjoyed the questions, which I'd like to address here, for those of you who either are just starting or thinking about it.

What wheel should I buy?
Well, this question has been asked on fiber lists many, many times. The truth is, there is no right answer. I could hardly spin when I bought my first wheel, which was the Schacht Matchless that I still use. I bought it because I liked the way it looked. That's a hell of a way to buy a wheel. My advice? Don't do as I did. Go to a shop that sells wheels, if there is one near you, and try the wheels, even if you can't spin. Most likely the shop owner will give you a quickie lesson to get you going. Or maybe you have a friend who spins. And you can also see if there's a local spinning guild that could provide guidance and possibly people with wheels that you can try.

If you can't test a wheel out or can't afford one, buy yourself a spindle and play with that. Or you can go out and buy a wheel in ignorance. Most likely you'll love it, because it is your first. I would recommend Louet, Schacht or Lendrum, based on what I've used and what other spinners I know have owned. I spun on a Kromski and didn't like it at all. I don't like Ashfords, as a rule, although I do like the Joy very much. But wheels are highly personal, so don't go by what I say.

It's like buying makeup, you know? You may like Estee Lauder foundation--my face does just fine with Revlon.

What fiber should I start with?
Romney is good, as is Corriedale or just plain ole domestic wool. It's more a question of what you shouldn't start with.

Do NOT learn to spin with:
  • Merino
  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Mohair
  • Angora
  • Any combination of the above
Ask me how I know this. I bought some white merino/silk/angora and tried to spin it when I first got the Matchless. It damned near drove me crazy and I almost gave up on spinning completely until in a moment of enlightenment, I grabbed some domestic wool and gave that a try. As we say in my family, Topeka!

What's pre-drafting?
Pre-drafting is the process of opening up the fibers so that they flow into the twist more easily. Basically, you take a piece of roving and spread it apart with your fingers so that it becomes light and airy. I have found that combed fibers need less pre-drafting. For example, the grape silk/merino that I am spinning right now needs no pre-drafting at all. It just flows easily. If the fibers are fairly compacted, you'll want to pre-draft.

And don't make the novice's mistake of clutching the fiber in your hand. The tighter you hold the fiber, the harder it will be to release it into the twist. Remember that all you want to do is support the fiber while you let it enter the twist. If you are using a worsted draft (aka short draw), you'll control the twist with the thumb and index finger of your other hand.

Anyhoo, enough for the time being. I'm hoping to at least get a warp chain done with the Morehouse and perhaps warp the loom back to front for the first time at some point this week. Loopy has warned me that I need to be careful warping with the Morehouse laceweight and cautioned, "What I'd prefer is that you use a stronger cotton towel warp for your first attempt at b2f, but I know you won't listen. "

She's right. I won't. Because the shawl I saw at Morehouse was warped with the laceweight and I think using towel warp would totally ruin the look. So I'll be careful. And I promise not to whine if I break a warp thread.

Because breaking and repairing a warp thread is one that I've already had. Feh.

Blogger Blows*
As many of you also blog and use Blogger, you will know that the system has had numerous serious outages this week, culminating with the Saturday-Sunday non-publishing issue, along with a bizarre error message. Never mind the photo publishing problem that the Blogger team can't or won't address. I'm not affected by that since I have my own domain.

This post was originally written and ready to publish Saturday evening. It's now Sunday morning and I still can't get it online. So I'm past annoyed, as I'm sure legions of Blogger users are too.

In the past, I've considered moving this whole blog to another publisher but doing that takes time, plus I'm lazy. Now I think I may be motivated. Yes, I know what the options are. I'll do the research and see if I get unlazy.

Because with the new-old rare and handy job, I do have more time.

*For geeks only

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.--Woody Allen

We did an awful lot of laughing yesterday at Rhinebeck. But nobody drank any milk. We did, however, eat a lot of fried pickles. Don't ask.

Mably we should have. I'll let Ted and Lars explain that on their blogs.

O Frabjous Day!
The weather couldn't have been better. A perfect autumn day in upstate New York. Are you ready for all the pictures and the narrative?

Get a cup of coffee. Here we go.

So being the anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive German that I am, I got to the fairgrounds at 9 a.m., only to discover that they weren't opening the gates until 10. No matter. I sat on a damp fence and knit.

That rail to the right was quite moist. As were my pants, after sitting there knitting for 45 minutes.

The plan was to meet at the concession stands at 10. Kathy, Selma and Lisa were there first, with Lars and Ted right behind them.

From left: Lisa, Lars, Selma, Kathy, and Ted

Getting the Wolverinas and associates to shut up and stand still for one large picture is impossible. So I had to make do with this:

Foreground from left: Thaddeus, Ted, Kathy. Background: Fredda and Selma with backs to camera, Joe, Lisa with face hidden

Before we started shopping seriously, Joe pulled out his Celestine shawl.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

It's quite gorgeous and the picture in no way does justice to the color, which is sublime.

You absolutely cannot shop as a group of ten or more. So Joe, Thaddeus and I took off for a couple of places that Joe and I wanted to visit--Brooks Farm and Skaska, to be precise. The rest split up in groups of twos: Lars and Ted, Kathy and Selma, Carol and Lisa. Despite the lack of cell phone signal for some of us, we figured that we'd find each other in our travels.

Not really. For some reason, the only person Joe and I kept running into consistently was Stephanie.

For some weird reason, we kept running into Steph and Juno constantly while looking for Lars and Ted. Did we find Lars and Ted? No. Perhaps the Canadian god of lost friends was playing a mean joke on us.

I was sure when I went to the ladies' room that Stephanie would be in the stall next to mine.

I probably just missed her.

So onward we trudged, as the crowds started to amass and Joe started to whine about how this is absolutely the last time he's going to Rhinebeck. Please. He lies. Yeah, it was crowded but I still love going.

I bought very little, for me. Besides the inarguable fact that I have more yarn and fiber than could be used in any given lifetime, I really wanted to buy some silk to replace the lovely stuff I bought last year at Rhinebeck, spun and then terminally tangled when it fell from the swift.

Remember that?

So here's what I bought:

The top two bags are silk roving. The best buy was the ball of laceweight from Skaska at $29 for 1400 yards. Can't beat that. And then there are the two quint skeins of laceweight merino from Morehouse, one of which is shown at left. I saw an absolutely incredible woven twill shawl there and that's what I'll use these two skeins for.

And then there was the Russian embroidered pin from Skaska that I couldn't resist. Quite folklorique, I thought.

Anyway, back to the Rhinebeck Ramble. The weather was so glorious and the leaves were at peak color. I had to take this picture of Thaddeus, Joe's partner, standing under a maple.

I've never made it a secret that I adore Thaddeus and I'm not alone, that's for sure.

Around 2, we managed to find a picnic table that was relatively empty and some of us parked our tired asses down. I had the Joy and gave a spinning demo for those interested. More on that in the next entry because various people raised some interesting questions that are worth answering for everyone.

And then there was Fredda Peritz. You know Fredda. She runs The Knitting Vault, where you should go to buy patterns and Lucy Neatby's new DVDs, Knitting Essentials 1 and 2 (Lucy Neatby publishes patterns there too, if you need some kind of knitting goodness certification).

Have you ever met someone for the first time and known immediately that the person was just wonderful? I've had that experience quite a few times, fortunately, and Fredda is the latest. (Fredda, when I get good at PhotoShop, I promise us both that I will give us each primo chin lifts. I swear.)

Besides meeting Fredda for the first time, I also met Ted for the first time, even though we correspond regularly and talk on the phone every so often. But that wasn't really meeting him, if you know what I mean. He's my bestest Canadian boy. And then, on top of all these first meetings, I met Lee Ann of Fuzzy Logic fame, someone whose blog I read regularly and who I've been very much wanting to meet. Here's the two fine Canadians admiring Ted's Orenburg shawl purchase.

But this is a much better picture of Lee Ann, with head intact, thank God.

And while I'm publishing pictures of people that may or may not embarrass them, here's one of Lisa and my other Sissyboo, Carol. (Karen, you must meet Carol. You were separated at birth, hence her honorary SB title.)

Gads, this has run on and on already. One last picture and then I promise you, I'm done. One nice one of Lars, Ted and Fredda.

I do want to say, before I finish this Rhinebeck entry, that I greatly enjoyed meeting all the readers who came up to me for Rhinebeck Bingo, including those lurkers. Listen, lurkers. You're more than welcome to write whatever in the Comments. Don't be afraid.

Finally, Lars, Ted and I took a trip to Morehouse, as witnessed by my purchase shown above. The place was a madhouse, since there was to be a "Knitting Stars" book signing with Melanie Falick, Amy Singer, Debbie Stoller and someone else whose name escapes me at the moment. Since the three of us had no particular interest in buying these authors' books, we made our purchases and escaped back to the Kingston Holiday Inn, where we met up with Carol and her friend Jim. It was off to a diner for dinner and then the 100+ mile drive home for me.

I'm beat today. But let me tell you, it was a very, very rare and handy day and one that I wouldn't miss for the world.

But Ted, darling, please don't tell my mother that I have a New Jersey accent. She'd be so disappointed.