Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
You're always a little disappointing in person because you can't be the edited essence of yourself.--Mel Brooks

It's late and I'm tired after a 16+ hour day at work. But I didn't want to miss the opportunity of writing something on this, my 4th anniversary blogging.

In the four years that I have been writing this blog, I have made some enemies but many more wonderful friends. For that, I will be forever thankful.

And to all of you, from California to Indiana, from my Aussie friends to those in Germany, Sweden, Russia and all over the world, to my local folks (yeah, I read my web stats and I know you're out there, you guys in Flanders, Randolph, Roxbury and the rest of the Joisey-ites), I want to say thanks for reading and sticking with me for four years.

I may not have 600+ comments every day but I cherish my readers. You are all rare and handy. You don't kiss my ass, you're intelligent and you are willing to take me on. Even though I am often running amok at work, I do read every single comment.

I hope I've been a good knitting and spinning role model. I know you can do it if you want to and I'll never tire of telling you like it is: Don't buy the crap. And always challenge yourself.

Here's the first post I ever wrote. So you don't have to go back and read it. I was amazingly optimistic about VK. That died a quick death.

The Fall 2002 Vogue Knitting
The state of knitting magazines being what it is lately, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the decent designs featured in the Fall 2002 issue of Vague. Mind you, there are still enough designs for the HYUKs (Hip Young Urban Knitters, a ghastly acronym invented by the ubiquitous Lily Chin) and some silly ones at that. But I understand Vague's marketing needs...and I can appreciate their bowing to demographics. What was most interesting to me were the mini-histories of the yarns used for a number of the designs.

For example, I had no idea that some of the European yarns have been available on the Continent for as long as they have, yet only recently distributed in this country. Dale of Norway's Heilo, the yarn used in the Olympics sweaters, came out in Norway in 1939 and 1983 in the USA. Makes you wonder what other fine fibers are hiding out across the Atlantic. Two designs caught my eye--the knit-in-one-piece Noro Kureyon pullover and the square shawl-collared Donegal Tweed pullover. Neither are particularly challenging, insofar as they use very simple techniques and stitches--seed stitch for the Noro, a diagonal 2/2 rib for the Donegal.

Nonetheless, the Noro design makes good use of a variegated yarn without the usual blotching so common, for two reasons: First, the knitter uses 4 different colorways, working them in sequence; second, since the garment begins at the bottom welt, then increases for both sleeves, the dye path is stretched out across the entire width of the garment. Pretty neat. Add some seed stitch to help diffuse the blotching and you've got a nice sweater. My only gripe was that Vague managed to choose the most unappealing colorways available from Noro.

And if you plan on making this baby, my caveat to you is to buy a 40" circ--the directions only specify the needle sizes, with a 16" circ for the neckline.

God help you if you attempt this on straights.The Donegal seems pretty straightforward. Haven't read the directions yet but the garment's architecture seems easy, based on a quick eyeballing of the photo. And Donegal is a classic--if you haven't worked with it, you should. Been around since 1979 or so and Tahki keeps it fresh with good colors.

Meg Swansen wrote a throw-away article on some techniques that I think would have been worth revisiting, especially for novice and intermediate knitters. A little on steeking, a little on the provisional cast-on, a little of this, a little of that. Steeking in particular bears a repeat since so many people are seemingly terrified of cutting into the fabric. I guess this would be a good forum for me to publish my thoughts and experiences on steeking, for what they're worth. Another knitting bugaboo, along with using double-pointed needles, that needs to be cremated.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
So this is how the world works, all energy flows according to the whims of the great magnet.--Hunter S. Thompson

And the great magnet has caused my energy to flow into making money and not writing the blog for two weeks. I just didn't feel like writing, plus it was either work on projects or write, in my spare time.

Bite me.

I won't even go into the situation in Lebanon because I'm too mindfucked to even think about it, Bush and the plethora of idiots who run the world.

Bush is most certainly not the great magnet. The great honeydipper, perhaps.

It's time to retreat into the world of fiberosity.

Only the Truly Twisted Know So Well
So last weekend, amidst the hideous weather here in Jersey, I took myself down to Joe's for a gander at his stuff, his quilt and most especially to see Thaddeus and ma petite parapluie, Miz Kathy.

Joe's quilt is amazing. Far more beautiful than any picture that I've seen. The fabrics are lush, to be expected from Kaffe, and the quilting inspired.

If Corinne and Mike have a baby, which is the plan, I will make them a baby quilt.

You heard it here first. Liza, hear me now. I will need your help.

We had lunch in Lambertville at a great hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant, where Thaddeus convinced me to try some brain-expanding chicken and lemonweed soup. I was not the same thereafter.

So after dropping Thaddeus off, we headed to Twist, which is one of the loveliest and best-stocked fiber emporia in the area. Site of many Joe and Mar purchases.

My bad. This place is too much to resist. Plenty of Chasing Rainbows fiber and lots of good yarn.

Kathy looking distinctly unmoon-faced

Joe contemplating the Kama Sutra of stuffed sheep as a possible gift for Dolores

You can see from the pictures why we go here. If you're in the Bucks County, PA area, I highly recommend this shop. The owner, Deb, is wonderful and her wares are beyond reproach.

Yes, I bought some shit. You know I did. This merino/silk from Chasing Rainbows was too much to resist. I've already started spinning it on the Joy but because it's so dark, being purple and called "Concord," I took a picture of a bit of it rather than what's on the bobbin.

As you can see, this is beautifully combed but as merino and silk always are, a bugger to spin.

However, I'm used to it now, after having spun both fibers quite a few times.

The new poly drive band on the Joy is great but I needed to tighten it up a bit and spin at a higher ratio than I normally do with merino.

Dog Days
Summer is traditionally my sock knitting time and so far, I'm about 1.75 pairs to the good. I finished the scuzzy pastel socks for Rin and started on the Opal Petticoat.

I also finished Carol's Pansy Corriedale-type, which came out perfectly, if I do say so myself. I wanted to spin fingering weight and that's exactly what I got. Finished plying it yesterday.



And of course, I had to skein it and set the twist this morning. It was dry by this evening.

So Carol, it was wonderful to spin and I can't wait to make some socks from it. There's 427 yards, just right.

And last weekend, I plyed and skeined some of the Emerald City too.

I gotta tell ya, this picture is nowhere near true to the actual colors. It's heavily olive, with a soupcon of puppy-shit brown. I am not liking this overly much. But perhaps Selma would like it. She looks great in these colors. Not me.

Yo, Jimmy!
This entry has really been about two weeks worth of writing and pictures. But I couldn't resist putting up just one more picture.

This is one-half of the soon-to-be famous garage band, Yo, Jimmy! formerly known as the Dead Ends. Zach and Liz, without the bassist, Tommy, who can't be bothered showing up for practice and is about to be replaced, and newly added lead singer, Angel.

I asked Liz if the band's name was in memory of her grandfather. "Uh, no, not really," said the punk princess. "It just came to me."

I suggested Penguins on Parade, which she liked.

But in retrospect, Yo, Jimmy! is far more rare and handy.

Rock steady.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The desire for self-expression afflicts people when they feel there is something of themselves which is not getting through to the outside world.--Fay Weldon

It's always been my belief that I write because in many instances I believe I am incapable of expressing what I'm thinking verbally.

Speech is ephemeral. Writing, to the writer, is not. Speech reaches a few. Writing can reach many.

On July 25th, I will have been writing this blog for four years. I went back and started reading some of my early entries. Gads. I must have been manic or something when I wrote them because they made me cringe, for the most part.

The longer I write this blog, the more serious I've gotten. What does this mean?

I think it means that there's only so much ranting about the lousy mags, Tiny Diva (although always a figure worth poking fun at), and the crap yarns that anyone can do.

Ya gotta move on. Unless, of course, the X-men put out an even worse issue than before.

That's entirely possible and highly likely.

Socked In
Summer is traditionally my time to knit up a pile of stoopidly simple socks. And although I'm a bit late this year, I found a pair of socks I had been working on for Corinne, so I'm finishing #2.

Yes, totally insipid colors. But that's what she wants. As opposed to her ma, who likes these:

This is just a small sample of the sock yarn that I own. I collect sock yarn like some people collect stamps.

I'm pretty busy and I don't always get time to read the lists these days.

Must have been about three weeks before it dawned on me that I hadn't seen a mailing list digest in quite some time. I was getting Wolverina mail, though. Could it be the vagaries of Yahoogroups?

No. I found all of my mailing lists in my Norton Spam folder. Heh.

Read into that what you will. I salvaged a few and marked them as Not Spam. Somehow, Knit U managed to escape the Spam mill. Go figure.

The KC Mailbox
I get e-mail from people who seem to think that I might give them free exposure on the blog.

Yeah, I'll expose ya.

Here's some lace gone bad:

Never mind the Ann-Margaret Viva Las Vegas look and the unhemmed pants. What are those growths on the bottom? Bobbles?

It never ceases to amaze me that PR people and knitting "designers" don't bother to read this blog before they send off their press releases or "exciting news about our new Stinkle yarn in fabulous fashion-hip colors."

Get bent, willya?

How Pissed Off Am I?
Completely. Besides New Jersey's little budget debacle this week, which I more or less ignored, since I give not a rat's ass as to whether anyone can gamble in AC, I was totally horrified that the New York courts voted down gay marriage. Un-fucking-believable.

I have a number of gay friends, two of whom live in New York. But that's not the point. The point is, I am gravely sick and tired of this country's governments, Federal and state, who seemingly do what the fuck they want and ignore the majority's wishes. Whether you are straight or gay, it matters not. What matters is that you and I are cut out of the process and don't count. I've never considered myself an activist, per se, but I think it's time to get back into my 1968 mindset.

The Proust Questionnaire
Some interesting comments ensued. I will explain some of my answers.

I identify with Elizabeth I, not because her father executed her mother but because I understand what it's like trying to be a competent woman in a man's world. Perhaps not on her level but it's a quality of hers to which I have always related.

If you have never read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, you are missing arguably one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century. Sadly, Toole committed suicide in 1969, so this is the only work he ever completed. His mother, after going to countless publishers, managed to get one to take it. It won the Pulitzer Prize. Besides being incredibly funny and quirky, the characters are so richly portrayed that it makes your head spin. And then there's the New Orleans setting. Read it. You'll learn a lot about pyloric valves.

Blog Updates
You may have noticed that I restored the Haloscan comments and shut down Blogger's. I hated to lose all the wonderful (and not-so) comments from the past four years. So last night, I made the fix, added some stuff to the sidebar, and finally got around to doing July's Bizarro Link.

Loop had sent me the Diet Coke and Mentos clip but since everyone's probably seen it already, I opted for something else.

I can't think of anything more rare and handy than re-creating the Bellagio Fountains.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It is better of course to know useless things than to know nothing.--Tom Stoppard

My cranium is a cesspool of things useless to others but certainly not to me.

Case in point: I discovered my old "100 Things About Me" that I used to have on the blog. Completely outdated and more than useless.

And then I thought, why not do the Vanity Fair version of Proust's Questionnaire (which of course, wasn't created by Marcel; he just took it a couple of times).

Vanity Fair contains much in the way of useless things. But I think the questionnaire is ever so fucking erudite. And ultimately tells you much more about the individual than a laundry list of shit.

So here it is. I'll put it in the sidebar, eventually, along with April 25 and some other stuff.

The Wedding Ring Chronicles
I couldn't leave well enough alone and take a breather from the Melanie. I had to start swatching on the Wedding Ring shawl.

Loopy, Ted and Franklin will be joining me at the Wedding Ring Chronicles. I've already posted, Loopy is signed on as a team member and Franklin and Ted are clearly promenading around Chicago and ignoring all things cyber. As they should.

So check it out. I'll be posting about the shawl's progress there, not here.

Weekend Antix
Boy, all this time off and I can't decide what to do. Besides the Wedding Ring shawl, I was working on a pair of incredibly boring plain socks for Corinne and I needed something simple but juicy to work on when tired of gossamer merino.

So I found three skeins of Morehouse laceweight that I had bought this past winter while at Selma's and decided it would make a good enough stoopid scarf. All I could think of when looking at the colors were autumn leaves at sunset. Therefore, a leaf pattern was in order.

The picture actually came out a bit pinker than it really is but it makes for simple knitting and the yarn is thin enough so that I can knit it in the heat.

In the meanwhile, I finally sat down to ply some of the Emerald City, in between doing things around the house and working on the Wedding Ring swatch.

It's looking rather puppy-shit brown in the picture but if you look at the strand running along the Woolee Winder bar to the left, you can see that it's a lot more interesting than what you see on the bobbin. Very heathery, very muted, very different. I see a jacket in its future.

Sometime this fall, I will work the Starry Night into a shawl design that I'm doing for the book. That's been fermenting on my to-do list for a while.

They're Baaack.
The newlyweds have returned home, with Liz in tow. Corinne read all of your comments and says, "Thank you." And so do I. It's not often that we have a big family event anymore.

And now we get to look forward to moving. Again. Just to the next town over but it might as well be out of state. So I can see that this weekend will have to suffice for max fiberage until August.

Never a dull moment in this rare and handy life, that's for sure.