Monday, May 29, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.--Oscar Wilde

I am afraid this is all too true.

Here is an excerpt from an editorial by Adam Cohen in yesterday's New York Times. Read it and be very concerned.

The World Wide Web is the most democratic mass medium there has ever been. Freedom of the press, as the saying goes, belongs only to those who own one. Radio and television are controlled by those rich enough to buy a broadcast license. But anyone with an Internet-connected computer can reach out to a potential audience of billions.

This democratic Web did not just happen. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989, envisioned a platform on which everyone in the world could communicate on an equal basis. But his vision is being threatened by telecommunications and cable companies, and other Internet service providers, that want to impose a new system of fees that could create a hierarchy of Web sites. Major corporate sites would be able to pay the new fees, while little-guy sites could be shut out.

I don't know about you but this is a bit more important to me than knitting, spinning or weaving.

"Little-guy sites"? Cohen is talking about all the blogs you read, including this one. All the fiber suppliers you deal with. More important than that, he's talking about bloggers who write from places like Iran, China and other countries whose repressive regimes stifle free speech. These are the blog that count, not knitting blogs. And what about people who make a living with their small businesses on the internet?

While we watch our freedoms in this country get whittled away by the political counterpart of the Bad News Bears, here's just another sign of the times. However, this affects everyone in all countries.

This issue has huge ramifications. And they need to be addressed. One way you can voice your concern to your elected officials is by signing the petition started at Save The I signed it. And I urge you to do the same.

Springtime in Mine Hill

This is the place where I will spend a good portion of my summer knitting and spinning, weather permitting. And yes, that is the Melanie shawl, looking small but actually large enough to become a skirt, if that's any benchmark.

It will be finished by June 24th, even if I'm blocking it on my hotel bed in Williamsburg on June 23rd. Which is highly probably but also doable.

I can sleep on the floor.

The next picture you will see of the Melanie will be on Corinne's back at the wedding.

Junk Mail and Gadgetry
You know, I get a ton of crap in the mail every fucking day. I'm a catalog junkie and I desperately need a 12-step program.

But then, if I wean myself from my catalogs, what would I read in the bathroom?

I did get the latest Patternworks catalog. And I immediately turned to the gadget page, eschewing all the yarn because none of it interested me. (Ah, I long for the days when Patternworks was owned by Linda Skolnik and not a craft conglomerate or whatever Keepsake Quilting is.)

I also admit that I am a gadget and tool junkie, to some degree. That does not include buying a Weavette, however. I've found that there are a few gidgy-gadgets for knitting that really do help. And a few that are pretty fucking useless.

Tools and gadgets above and beyond necessities that I own and use, most of which can be found in the Patternworks catalog:

  • A lot of stuff that Nancy's KnitKnacks makes. (Best are the digital counter and the Knee-Sel. I like her niddy-noddy very much, too. And the Katie-a-Go-Go.)
  • The circular needle counter. Can't live without this one. I own three of them.
  • Red rubber counters
  • Locking counters (Clover makes these)
  • A pink Chibi. These days, they seem to be aqua.

Tools and gadgets that have the WTF factor:

  • Sheep Tape Measure. Do we really need yet another thing with a stupid sheep on it? Dolores can bite me.
  • Pom Tree. Pompoms. Never.
  • Rubber Needle Vase. Why?
  • Point protectors of any kind. Because they always fall off anyway.
  • Sterling silver ID bracelets that say "Stick to Your Knitting," "Cast On!" and "My Stash is Bigger than Yours." In any case, they hardly belong in the Tools section of the catalog. I would suggest that rather than buy something idiotic like this, you invest your jewelry money into pieces from Sundance.

See, Ted? I do buy nice jewelry. Like this:

And this:

OK, now it's time to get back to work. Yes, I'm working on Memorial Day. At home but working on a big project that's due on Thursday.

Work is only rare and handy insofar as it provides me with benefits. And a living.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“During many a single week, I daresay, more money is spent in New York upon useless and evil things than would suffice to run the kingdom of Denmark for a year.”--H.L. Mencken

And I daresay that a Wolverina get-together is frequently the impetus for purchasing things. Period.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
After being cursed all week with hideous weather, the sun really did come up tomorrow.

Granted, it was not going to be the full Wolvie complement. Missing in action: Joe, Franklin, Liza, Loopy and Selma. However, half a Wolvie get-together is certainly better than none. And we don't fuck around. The day started at 10 a.m. with me and Liz, Kathy Merrick, Carol S., Lisa McNulty and her mom Diane, and Lars Rains meeting at the door. Although I had corresponded with Lars, this was the first time we had met. And I am so glad that we had him along--he's a sweet bear, for sure. And he's one of those people who just takes his knitting and goes where it leads him. I was a bit disappointed that he didn't wear his NYPD uniform, though. There's something about a picture of a knitting cop that inspires.

First stop: Habu on 29th Street. (Jen Tocker, if you're reading this, I finally got my ass in the door.)

This is an extraordinary place, for those of you not familiar with Habu. I hesitate to call it a "yarn shop," because it is far past that. It is truly a textile emporium, with amazing yarns in a damned small space.

Lars, Diane, Kathy and Lisa's eyeball, all except the eyeball groping yarn

Besides this tiny alley, there were baskets of stuff in the front room. And that about sums up Habu's space.

With all the stuff I have, I wasn't really going to buy very much. However, I couldn't resist this silk in these colors, probably for a lace scarf of some kind.

The colors are a bit off in the picture but the silk is beautiful. It's called kusake zome and it's a 2/10 (read fingering weight).

Liz decided that it would be way kewl for Gram to knit her a wire bracelet after spotting one on the shelf. OK, so I'm a sucker for the kid. I bought some extremely fine silver wire. I'm going to knit it. God help me. But sometimes having her with me pushes me to try new things that I normally would not.

We finished up at Habu and walked up the street to School Products, which is on Broadway and 29th. Now, I've been haunting School Products since 1980, so it wasn't anything new to me and I didn't buy anything either. However, it is another New York yarn landmark, for sure.

Yikes, look at all that shit!

And then there were the hats:

Lars modeling his Camel Toe hat. What inspired genius.

Carol modeling a pricy Fun Furesque cap

We weren't done yet. Kathy wanted to hit Tinsel Trading on 38th St. This was a place new to me and it was delightful. Lots of trims, buttons, beads, incredible cloth flowers, and just some unbelieveable ribbon that Lisa and I thought would make fabulous facings. I should have taken a picture of that. But here's what I bought at TT: beads for this wire bracelet and some wonderful tin lithographed pins.

Oh yeah, and this. I don't know why. I just had to have it.

Will you bead my bride? Sure.

So now it was time to hike uptown to meet Lisa's wifey, Norah Vincent, for lunch. If you haven't read Norah's book, Self-Made Man, what's the matter with you? It's the best book I've read all year and that's no shit. I was very much looking forward to meeting Norah but mostly because she's my Lisa's partner. I knew I would like Norah and I was right. There's something about no-bullshit people that appeals. Besides, anyone who would have the fake cojones to dress up like a guy is someone I can appreciate. And then there's the writing. I always appreciate that.

We ended up in a little Thai restaurant in the low 50s. At this point, having walked for fucking forever, I was more than ready to sit my can down and eat something.

From left: Famous writer, me, the token adolescent other than Liz (Carol), Lisalisa, Lars, Diane (Lisa's mom) and the dwarf-loving Merrick

Thanks to Liz for taking that picture and for being such good company throughout. I promised her another trip to NYC the first weekend in June so she can go to the Hard Rock Cafe.

Note the purple and green fashion-statement braces.

It was altogether a rare and handy day. Now I need to go spin because it's Sunday.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.--Katharine Hepburn

As I recently asked Loopy, remind me why I hate to knit to a deadline.

I am Melanie-consumed. I have now reached the official Knitting Ennui level of a project, wherein you have long since mastered the knitting and are trudging your way to the next milestone, if there is one.

In my case, this will be picking up around the square for the border/edging. I'm almost there. No pictures until the shawl is hanging from the bride's shoulders.

But I do have plenty to write about, having not written anything of substance since my birthday. I've been in work hell, still. And it's not going to let up soon, I don't think.

The Final Fibs
Here are the Top Ten. Read 'em and weep. Good job, everyone. If nothing else, I promise you that I'm always on the lookout for stimulating topics and this one seemed to appeal to tons of people.

Of course, if you don't want to be stimulated, I can easily write about my runny nose or sucking chest wound, my adorable but annoying cats, my new haircut, or my kids (they're too old to be cute, thank God).

Or even better, I can regale you with stories about my rapidly disintegrating love life.

But I won't. We all deserve better.

Sit 'n' Spin (with apologies to Playskool's version)
When I'm thoroughly sick of knitting the Mel, I've found that spinning does refresh the palate. I finally plyed up some of the Emerald City and did a little science experiment with it. I plyed it to the brink of overtwist to see how it would react.

It was a rather dumb thing to do, admittedly. This fiber needs to breathe. Which shows to go ya that you can't ply everything the same way, just as you don't spin all singles the same way.

It may look lovely in the picture but trust me, it was not at all lovely to knit.

You can barely see the big honkin' gaps where the fiber is so tightly plyed, there is no loft whatsoever.

Now. Every book I've ever read on spinning says to take a single, let it ply back on itself and then duplicate it when you ply. I don't necessarily agree with this. This blend in particular needs some space.

I've never used a plyed-back single as a guide. I've always let the fiber tell me how to ply it. Gut instincts are still the best. However, I am really pleased with the color blending, that's for sure.

Etsy Wetsy (with apologies to Ideal Toy Company's doll)
OK, so I've been remiss. But Carol sent me the loveliest skein of her hand-dyed yarn for my birthday in all my favorite colors.

This rivals anything I've seen, either commercial or non-commercial. So off I went to Carol's online Etsy shop for her company, Black Bunny Fibers, and I bought this incredible roving that's marked as "similar to Corriedale."

I'm going to spin this on the Joy--there are 4 ounces of it so it should be enough for something for Jenn, since I'm making Corinne the shawl. Of course, I did promise Jenn a shawl from the Starry Night, since there's more than enough for one for each of us. Jenn, you can have either this or the SN. Take your pick.

Wolvies on the Prowl
Arguably one of the scariest things to hit any yarn joint would be a pack (a murder?) of Wolvies and that's exactly what's going to happen this Saturday. Carol, Lisa and her mom, Kathy, hopefully Selma, who is recovering from broken arm surgery, Carol's friend Ed, Lars Rains and me. Look for a ghastly photo essay on Sunday.

Mammy's Day
I had a peaceful Mother's Day getting my hair cut and colored and then taken out to dinner by Corinne, Liz and Mike. Didn't see Ma but I sent her a card and a potted kalanchoe because I just had to. We did chat on the phone though.

My mother will be 83 in August, but you'd never know it.

This was taken this past Christmas at my sister's house and it's really how I always have seen my mother--mouth open opining, with knitting.

So many people have "issues" with their mothers. I don't. And even though my mother doesn't read what I write and doesn't quite get the writing anyway, I'd like to take this space to apologize for the following:

  • Sorry I sat on top of the stove and turned on all the burners while you were on the phone when I was 18 months old.
  • Sorry I ran into the ocean at Atlantic Beach and almost drowned when I was 2.
  • Sorry I pushed the old lady down the hill at Forest Hills and rode on the back of her wheelchair when I was 3. I thought she needed some fun. It was a hell of a ride.
  • Sorry I ran away from Grandma's stateroom when she sailed to Europe on the United States when I was 4. I'm really sorry they had to hold the ship from sailing until I was found. It was a cool place, what can I say?
  • Sorry I took off for the big park next to our new house the day we moved to New Jersey from Queens. At least you found out exactly how good the Montclair Police Department was.
  • Sorry I hit Rich on the head with that milkbottle but he always had "victim" written on his forehead.
  • Sorry I experimented with your nailpolish and got it on your expensive bedspread.
  • Sorry I cut my hair with my paper scissors.
  • Sorry I got pregnant before I was married. But it did work out quite well, didn't it?

I'm sure there is more for which I should beg forgiveness--somehow, I think you forgave me a long time ago. But you did a damned good job, Mom. Even though you always claimed you were on the brink of a nervous breakdown. (And now, here's my sister's opportunity to chime in and make a big deal about how fucking good she was. Uh huh. Little brat.)

My mother is about the rarest (although she would never claim to be handy) person I know. And I love her.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

If I could draw like Franklin, I'd probably depict myself as a tangled mass of yarn being used as Dolores's medicine ball.

But because I write rather than draw, here's my representation of myself the past two weeks:

Yes, I'm fine. Work is incredibly busy and I'm basically in the same boat Joe has been in. Too much to do there and not nearly enough time to do much of anything else.

This too shall pass. The job is great but it requires massive focus and concentration, which is why I haven't done any writing of worth, other than at work. And I'm sure nobody wants to read that. I sure don't.

This weekend, I have nothing planned but to write the blog and torture the cats with the spinning wheel. I've got a ton of stuff to put up, too.

So patience, rather than discretion, is the better part of valor, Tontant Weaders.

Oh yeah, and I'm watching Liz because Corinne and Mike are down in Grand Cayman this week, so it's pick up and deliver and vicey versey, when I'm going to and from work. Yikes. Gram La Chauffeuse. Zut alors.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

And the Winner is...

I know, I'm a little early but I'm tired and as far as I'm concerned, the voting is over.

Oh yeah, the winner.

Amanda Limoges. Amanda, send me your snail mail address and I'll get your prize out to you.

And here's the winning Fib, as determined by those discerning con-o-sewers of poetry, the Wolverinas.

to knit
the worst damn
sweater I have seen
in my twenty-two years on earth.
A hideous cacophony of clashing colors.
I should not be surprised. You chose to make a sweater from the cover of Knitter’s.

More on Saturday, with the top ten entries and perhaps even a .pdf of all the entries, depending upon how energetic I am after this week of work. Nice job, everyone. It was rather amusing, eh? A change of pace. Something we all need.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fib Winner will be posted tomorrow night between 9 and 10 EDT. The Wolverinas are voting now. I'll get all the entries posted probably on Saturday. There's lots of them.

Thanks to all who entered. It's been fun.