Monday, August 28, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way. --Mark Twain

And so I offer up to you my favorite Slovenian English spelling mistake:

Costumer for customer.

Picture a corporate suit in a clown suit. That's my mental image.

Although if the customer were truly a costumer, I rather picture a garrulous Mickey Rooney or perhaps the late Burgess Meredith in a movie about a psychotic Hallowe'en shopowner.

I'm feeling quite the saint for having chopped apart a 29-page technical overview today down to 21 pages. Just call me The Hatchet. Because I hate extraneous BS.

OK, We Thought You Were Busy
Well, I am. But never too busy when the writing bug bites. And while the computer is still up and running, I'm gonna sit at it amid the boxes.

But the new place is bigger, better and I'll be ensconced by this weekend, I hope. You know how it goes. The movers show up, take the furniture, and after everything is out of the house, you find all the crap under furniture that you mistakenly thought didn't exist because you're such a fine housekeeper.

Sure. And then there are the 3,000 cat toys.

Black Bunny Rides Again
You know I don't do knitalongs or KALs, as they are called. However, I am making an exception for Carol, partly because I love her dyeing and partly because I'm in a vulnerable mood right now.

The Black Bunny Hop. Here's the button. I'll put it in my sidebar if I have the time and the inclination.

I may start a knitalong myself. The Buttkiss Brothers' Bib-along.

Go ahead, steal the button. I'm warning ya, I'm in one of those moods. You might just see the blog in a week or two.

Knit for Jesus...or the Virgin Mary. Or maybe Sataaaaan
Now, I find this totally offensive. Someone has started a Catholic Knitters group on Yahoogroups. Why?

If that's the case, I'm starting the ChurchLady Lutheran Knitters group and we don't want no stinkin' Catholics in it. Why do you think Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door? Because he loved to write?

When will this religion insanity stop? Now knitting is sectarian? If I want to join the Catholic knitters, do I have to do the Stations of the Cross while I cast on? We Lutherans don't do much that's cool like that, actually. I could make the Sign of the Cross with my needles, I suppose.

This what happens when you catch up with KnitList digests after deleting them for weeks. I suppose at least it's something interesting to read about.

Widder She Wander
On a kind of a serious note, and without mentioning names, I've heard from a number of women who read this blog and have recently lost their husbands.

You know me, I always write 'em back. Because I guess I'm a stellar example of a widder woman who made her way, albeit with zigs and zags.

I have a feeling that there are a few widows out there. It's a sisterhood to which you don't want to belong. But when you do, the more experienced among us do want to help the newbies. Because it's something that no one's prepared for.

I was reflecting upon this state of being on the way home tonight. The train kinda lulls you into a meditative stupor and although I knit, I still ponder.

And it occurred to me this one thing: Very few of my husband's friends, people whom we had known for many years, bothered to contact me after his memorial service. I had to turn around, change my entire life, and the people I thought I knew so well weren't there. This, unfortunately, includes my husband's brother, who I have seen about three times since Jimmy died, which is almost five years ago. And one of Jimmy's closest friends, who I have seen about the same amount. And I made the overture, not them. Sad.

Bob and Jean, long-time friends of ours, are the only ones who are still there. I still see them twice a year and they always tender invites to their Christmas and Memorial Day parties. In fact, Bob reads the blog every so often. But the rest? Gone.

So when women write me and ask me for advice, the first thing I tell them is, when the fog lifts, stand on your own two feet and make new friends. Because you'll certainly find out very quickly on whom you can count and who takes a powder.

I'm happy in my new life. I've made a ton of new friends and I'm content. But I've also grown a lot more cynical about those people that I thought I knew so well. So if you know someone who's lost a spouse, don't desert them after the last handful of dirt gets tossed. It's a long, hard road to recovery and just a phone call can make a world of difference.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Tom Cruise only makes one or two film appearances a year. A baseball player can be the hero or the goat one-hundred and sixty-two times a year.--Dave Winfield

If I need to tell you who Dave Winfield is, then perhaps you have lost sight of the fact that I am a Yankees fan.

Most certainly not a Tom Cruise fan, for sure. Give me Jeets or Johnny Damon any day. Yeah, yeah--I know--he was an (urp) Red Sox guy last year. But we all knew he was a Yank at heart.

Thank you all for your thoughts about my friend, Peggy. It has not been an easy week for me;however, one thing that we shared was our love of baseball and the Yanks. Her entire family wore Yankee caps at the funeral. Through my tears, I had to smile at that. Peg would have been laughing her ass off.

Go Yanks! Red Sox suck.

I know the Wolvies don't quite get my love affair with baseball. But that's OK. It's in the blood.

I can't help it.

Packin' Iron (and Needles and Yarn and Fiber and Some Dishes)
Don't you hate it when you pack things up nice and orderly for an impending move?

And then realize that the one tool/book/skein that you want to use/read/knit is packed?

Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives at work again.

No, this is not the stash. Just sundry weaving stuff. Scary, eh? It goes tomorrow on Norm's truck.

I thought about working on the Wedding Ring shawl this weekend, in the midst of beginning the week-long move two miles down the road. Actually getting out the gossamer merino, casting on and letting it rip, to coin a perhaps unfortunate phrase. And then, horrors.

It's packed. Damn.

The dilemma? I know which box it's in because I marked every box carefully. So.

Shall I open it? My steely resolve to keep everything together until I unpack is wavering ever so slightly.

In the meanwhile, there is some knitting going on, in small quantities.

Stoopid Simpleton Shawl
I had to do something. I was absolutely desperate. If I knit one more sock, it was going to be death by double-pointed needle impaling.

We're back to the Feather 'n' Fan option. I'm using the Folk Shawls pattern, although I added an extra pattern repeat, just to make the cast-on that much more mind-numbing. Because you see, this one is worked across. So there are 400+ stitches from the beginning. Really a stole rather than a shawl. To me, a stole is a rectangle.

If I were Mari Lynn Patrick, I'd use this bit to decorate a decolletage on an ill-fitting V-neck. How-some-ever, it's going to be a nice, utilitarian shawl. Something I can wear with jeans. Besides, I can do it without thinking while I think about other things.

Chasing Rainbows
If I buy anything at Rhinebeck, it will be more of this in a different colorway.

It's wonderfully grape-y.

I need to check Black Bunny Fibers to see what Carol has cooked up in her dyepot lately. Between Chasing Rainbows and Carol, I've been doing a lot of worthwhile spinning these days. Once I move and get settled, I will definitely be warping that loom. This warp is half completed.

Note to weavers: I got the Yarn Barn weaving catalog the other day. Some very nice things therein. A bit pricy but nice. I'll keep buying my weaving yarn from WEBS, though.

Offline and Out of Touch

Perhaps. Cablevision will be at the new place on Wednesday to install all the TV, phone and internet stuff. Here's hoping it works on the first go. In any case, the movers will come next Thursday to haul out the furniture. Corinne, Mike, Liz, Jenn and her boyfriend Norm and yours truly will be spending the next week moving boxes over to Oxford Rd.

I'm surprisingly conservative when it comes to my lifestyle. I'm a creature of habit and for many years, I didn't accept change very well. Certainly not moving. I'm a nest-builder.

Some of you who have known me for a long time may remember when Jimmy and I built our house up in Budd Lake in 1998--Loopy certainly does. I told him, the only way I'm leaving here is in a box. Don't ask me to move again.

Joke was on me. He left, not me. But after all the upheaval in the past five years, I've become far more flexible than I ever would have believed possible.

What I need is: family, friends, fiber, music, books and love. That's it. Those remain constants. The rest? Whatever.

So as I am toting boxes next week, once again my rare and handy life changes. And the way it's been going lately, it's most certainly for the better. And yes, I have another date tonight with JT. That's who's making it much better.

Talk to you all as soon as I get back online.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Well, I looked in my mom's closet and saw what I was getting for Christmas, an UltraVibe Pleasure 2000. --Eric Cartman

I looked in my closet and found:

  • 3 pairs of shoes that I don't want
  • Another bag of yarn that I had forgotten about
  • An empty Rubbermaid container (WTF?)
  • The cat
If anyone wants to gift me with an UltraVibe Pleasure 2000, no used equipment, please.

No pictures this week, kids. Nor probably next week. Possibly Labor Day weekend. I'm taking time out from packing, cleaning and generally pondering the state of my stash to write a little something.

Rhinebeck Spins
Odd as it may sound, with everything else that's going on, my mind has been on Rhinebeck, amongst other things and people.

I made my reservations at the Kingston Holiday Inn for that Friday and Saturday night. Hot damn.

Here's what I propose to do, as I mentioned in Franklin's comments. I'm going to bring my Joy wheel and a couple of spindles. How about having an informal spinning get-together at Rhinebeck, for those of you who will be attending (sans Kathy, of course, who will grouse about this endlessly)?

I was thinking about doing this around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, up by the food concessions. By that time, the tables should be free and we can sit and spin. And I would be happy to help the newbies.

Any takers? We've got some very experienced spinners who read this blog. Getcher asses in gear, eh? Come help the needy.

Happy Birthday, Ma
Tomorrow is my mother's birthday. She'll be 83. Hard to believe, especially when she asked me to buy her laceweight for her first lace shawl. I bought her the KnitPicks Shimmer that she wanted.

Ma's got cojones. She's been practicing lace and enjoying it. A real testimony to the old saw, "It's never too late to learn." I don't want to take credit but I think she was emboldened by the lace I've been knitting this year. She'll be working a shawl from Folk Shawls as her first one, I forget which design.

My mother, besides teaching me how to knit, taught me how to sing big band songs when I was little. And gave me my love of baseball. Closed her eyes when I rollerskated at breakneck speed over cracked sidewalks. Ran out at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve to buy my parakeet a present when I asked her if Santa was going to bring Baker the bird something too, so that I wouldn't stop believing. Shrieked with satisfying anguish when I nonchalantly walked into the kitchen with blood running down my leg, the result of letting a grass cut get good and gory to see if she'd actually faint. She didn't.

There were a few other things, including myriad evil looks and smacks on the ass.

Those of you who have met her know why I love her. Many more, Ma. I know I wasn't an easy kid to raise. But I survived and so did you. Thanks.

KnitPicks Needles
Thanks for all the input. I bought some of the small circs and they would appear to be quite nice. I've got enough needles otherwise that I don't feel I need the whole kit.

But lace needles are another story. I like the joins and the points. I'll test-drive a pair when I unpack the rest of my laceweight in a few weeks.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Enough socks, already. And for those of you who don't believe that I can knit that many pairs in such a short time, remember that I have this pattern memorized. And what's to a pair of socks, anyway?

Before I completely packed everything, I discovered a ball of Morehouse laceweight that I had already wound a while back. So I'm just going to knit a little Feather 'n' Fan shawl to keep me out of trouble. I don't forsee going back to the Wedding Ring Shawl until the middle of September. And I continue to spin the Chasing Rainbows grape merino/tussah. Maybe I'll have pictures of that next Saturday. It's a pleasure to spin.

And I continue plying the Emerald City because I'm going to give Selma the Axe Murderess what I have at Rhinebeck.

And finally, a word to the rare and handy among you: As Selma proved out, not everyone you meet online is a potential serial killer. I know this for a fact.

Today was a wonderful day and a terrible day. My dear friend at work, Peggy Mastig, my lunch buddy and work partner-in-crime, died Friday night of a massive heart attack. She was only 47. I am past grief. Peggy was one of those people who was the salt of the earth, the real deal. In the short time that I knew her, we became close friends. It won't be the same without her. My heart goes out to her partner, Debbie.

Nonetheless, I had a wonderful date with a wonderful man. Peggy knew I was going out with JT and she was all excited for me. She would have kicked my ass if I had not gone because of her. So, Peg, he's a special guy. I'm going to miss you so much tomorrow for coffee, and every day. Be at peace, my dear friend.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.'
'How do you know I’m mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,” said the Cat. 'or you wouldn’t have come here.'--Lewis Carroll

I'm certainly mad. That's why I'm here, writing this blog.

First, the Socks
OK, so now I'm sick of them. Almost four pair in less than three weeks and I've had it. Done. Finished. I need a project with some teeth. But here are the finished Pansy socks for your entertainment and eddyfucation. Carol, feel free to swipe the picture and use it as you wish. It is, after all, your brilliant dyeing talents that are at play here.

I had it in my head to rework my old, old 1997 Leaves of Grass sock pattern, which I designed for the Knit List Christmas gift thing, back when the Knit List was worth a tinker's damn. The original pattern was 2x2 ribbing down to the instep, and then a lace insert. What was I thinking back then? Yikes.

Believe it or not, Loopy still has the pattern and the yarn after almost 9 years. Of course, she hasn't made the damned things. Now she can make them with my reworked design.

The lace insert is a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker. I reworked it for circular knitting. Here's the first sock, almost done. Notice that the ribbing is now gone. And good riddance to it.

It's a bit hard to see the stitch pattern in this shot but basically, it's overlapping leaves, mirrored, with eyelet stems. Here's a better shot.

I hope you know that this was a damned hard picture to take, with my right hand in the sock to expand the pattern, the camera balanced against my right shoulder, and my left hand curled under the lens with a finger on the trigger.

I wouldn't let me handle any firearm.

This pattern will go to Fredda at The Knitting Vault. It's about time I gave her something to flog, even though I will eventually get the JamaicanMeCrazee hoodie sized and up there to. I swear, Fredda, I will. Sometime this fall, when I can breathe again.

There are freebies over in the sidebar. That's it. The rest, you pay for over at Fredda's.

IK, VK and a Handwoven that's a Woofer
I'm happy to say that I actually liked Interweave Knits this issue. I generally find something redeeming in IK, although it's been a real stretch of late. This issue, hideously fugly skirt aside (you'll know it when you see it), had a number of really good designs. Here's what I liked:

  • Gatsby Girl Pullover--nice stitch patterns, nice shaping and attention to detail, great color
  • Wanderlust Hoodie--ditto, although I might change the color. Downside: Bobbles.
  • Swallowtail Shawl--good lace for beginners. Too small for my taste but just right for someone who wants to get their feet wet.
  • Coral Crossing--pretty color, again good shaping. Get rid of the pockets. Ruins the lines. Neckline is too scooped. I'd put in a crewneck.
  • Father and Son socks--basic, easy, OK patterning.
  • Weekend Pullover--very pretty. But then, I usually like Veronik's designs. I particularly liked the side slits. Smart design detail.

So that's six that passed muster. The rest are not fugly but mostly forgettable. All in all, a good issue. For beginning lace knitters, Eunny Jang's articles are a must-read. Forget the rest of the articles.

With Vague, it wasn't quite as good an issue but at least I bought it. For the one spectacular spread of gray sweaters, Gray's Anatomy, modeled by a beautiful woman of a certain age. And the Fancy Footwork spread was fun. I loved Joan M-M's Victorian embroidered stockings. The other socks were nice, too. But will someone please tell Priscilla Gibson-Roberts that she is most definitely not a designer? Those "Scandinavian" socks of hers looked like spew. Just sayin'.

As far as Handwoven is concerned, for those weavers among us, I say: WHO WEAVES FOR PETS? Honest to God, WTF were they thinking? Other than my sister's retarded dog Charlie, who would look even more retarded in one of those woven coats, I can't imagine any animal in those things. Besides which, are you really going to spend the time warping your loom to make a doggie treat bag? I don't think so.

However, with weaving, you can always use the drafts for something else. In this case, I didn't even see any drafts I would use. I sincerely hope that the editorial staff of Handwoven regains its collective sanity and has terrible nightmares involving woven horse blankets, birdcage covers and kitty pillows. I mean, just stop it. Now. Or I'm done with the magazine.

In Other News
I want to thank reader Earin publicly for reading my whiny "I need a man" sob-o-rama and planting a dastardly idea in my skull. Earin and Loop both know what I'm doing. If it works and it looks extraordinarily promising, I will maybe say something when it's done. But maybe not.

All in all, it's been a horrifically busy summer. And that's good, I guess. I'm still playing seesaw with the Slovenians and still falling asleep on the train with knitting in hand. I have decided that the sight of bamboo double-pointed needles keeps other passengers from sitting next to me.

And now, I ask you the question of the summer:

Can I take knitting needles on the plane?

Sure, honey. Just make sure you swallow one in front of the nice security person, OK?

So now I return to my e-mail, finish that sock and start planning my next project. Which most likely will be an original shawl design that I've been working on for the past few months. The yarn? That rare and handy Starry Night. What else?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Best Quote I Heard All Day
New York is my Lourdes, where I go for spiritual refreshment... a place where you're least likely to be bitten by a wild goat.--Brendan Behan

Even the one wild goat that loiters on 23rd and 8th Ave. was felled by the heat.

Was it fucking hot this week? New York City becomes an Easy-Bake oven when it gets to 85 or so degrees. As I was standing by the Hudson at lunchtime on Wednesday, looking over at the city, the winds that always seem to blow were Gobi-like. No knitting outside, for sure.

The Sockratic Method

Will Plato really like the Opal Petticoat anklets? I'd better ask.

Just whizzing right along on these Pansy socks, given that I have averaged about 1 hour a day on them i.e., the amount of time that I can knit on the train each way before I doze off.

I must say, knitting socks with your own handspun is a tad different than knitting with regular sock yarn. For one thing, you aren't wasteful. I generally do a long-tail cast-on for socks, which I did this time as well but I gotta tell ya, I wasn't happy about the waste since I have exactly 427 yards of the Pansy.

Nonetheless, despite my best spinning efforts, in the knit fabric the inconsistencies show up like zits on a 14-year-old. But I rather like the homeliness of it. Feel like some cracked pioneer woman.

The Opal Petticoat socks are done. I was a bit piqued that there was a knot in one of the balls but I was too lazy to find the right starting place in the color patterning, especially since it was near the toe.

Fuck it.

I wish I could say that I've done more, but sadly that is not the case because I spend much too much time earning a living and would love to be supported in style.

If anyone knows of a fifty-ish guy who would love a quirky, bottle-blonde zaftig woman who is intelligent, fun and not yet ready to give up the ghost, I'm game. Especially if he can handle the fiber. And me. Read into that what you wish.

And preferably hetero. I love my gay guy friends but they will understand the other needs I might have. Right, Joe, Franklin, Ted, Lars? Did I miss anyone?

Gratuitous adorable grandchild birthday photo

Saturday Mourning
I have two reasons to be a bit sad today. One is the swan song of You Knit What. I enjoyed the fug, contributed a picture or two, and I wish both Punk Rock Knitter and Knittykitty all the best. I do, however, find seeing fug in public even more rewarding. Although taking fug pics at Stitches for the Gallery of Ghastlies seems to be out of the question, I can give it a shot at Rhinebeck this fall.

Yes, there are a few pub fuglies there. But very few indeed. Most of the wearers of fug seem to be concentrated around the Great Adirondack Yarn Co. booth.

I was also sad to read that Elisabeth Schwartzkopf (or as Franklin calls her, Betty Blackhead), incomparable soprano, died the other day at 90. If you're an opera buff, you'll know who this is. If not, she's Stormin' Norman's aunt. In any case, the Wolverinas are probably tired of reading about this, with the exception of Franklin, who loves opera as I do.

The Mags
I haven't gotten IK yet so I don't have anything to say about it. Yet. However, I took a quick look at the covers for Knitter's.

Scary. Of course. DragonBoy has outdone himself once again. Go see for yourself. I double-dog dare ya. Keep the slop bucket handy for spewing.

Of course, I had to check out what's going to be in the upcoming Handwoven. Jesus. Weaving for your pets. Do you suppose that Cleo might like a nice woven cape? Or perhaps a woven feedbag might be more the ticket.

Gratuitous adorable cat photo

The best she can hope for from me is some treats.

On the Road Again
Yes, it's that time of year once more. Time to break camp and move.

I can't describe how heartily sick I am of moving. However, this time we should be able to stay put until the Punk Princess graduates from high school. Reason for moving? Our landlord has put the house up for sale. Never mind that not a soul has looked at it in the two months it's been on the market.

We're outta here and moving to the next town over. Most fortunately, we've found a place where I will have my own fiber room with plenty of natural light and space for the loom, the books, the stash, a chair and more. The Joy and Matchless wheels will once again be in the bedroom and living room, respectively.

Labor Day weekend is the date. I start packing up the loom shit tomorrow. Feh. It's a start.

While packing, I intend to do a full inventory of my sock yarn. Just to frighten myself.

New Cheap Shit
KnitPicks has just sent out an e-mail touting their new Telemark yarn, 100% Peruvian wool, DK weight. Some very nice colors, too. And at $1.99 a 103-yd. ball, I don't fucking want to hear the Knitdweebs ever whine again that they can't afford decent fiber. That is so old it has ear hair.

There's a rather nice ski sweater pattern, albeit easy, that might appeal to those knitters who don't feel ready for Dale sweaters.

I do wish the color line was a bit more expansive, though. As far as I'm concerned, I'll stick with Dale patterns and yarns but I have a feeling that once I tell Mammy about this, she'll be ordering.

Loop bought a pair of KnitPicks dps but she hasn't yet said whether they're decent. I still prefer bamboo dps for socks but I'm open. She thinks that perhaps KP's new circs in the small sizes, #0-3, might be good for lace. Has anyone used these needles yet? I'm curious.

Anniversary #4
Thanks to all for your anny wishes. I daresay that I'll be doing this for a long time to come. For some reason, I always do have something to say. And that on three blogs, too, although I won't be posting to The Wedding Ring Chronicles until I have something more done on the swatch, which might even happen this weekend. As far as Swing Time is concerned, I try to write on that when I can.

Putting up photos is the most time-consuming task of blogging, for me. At least I don't need to post pictures of myself in manic mode when writing Swing Time. Being manic can be rare and handy but only if you stay up for 48 hours straight and design four garments. Otherwise, it's a bit much.