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.