Monday, December 31, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

Best Quote I Heard All Day
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust

Hey, I'm gonna get you too

Another one bites the dust
--John Deacon (Queen)

You know me--no fucking resolutions for the New Year. If I'm gonna do something, I do it. Whenever I decide to do it.

What I prefer to do is look back over what I've done the past year, analyze it, and see what I can do to make my life better. It's been yet another tumultuous year, albeit one that saw a few milestones:

  • Went back to Telargo in August (this bears review, for sure)
  • Had two articles published in Interweave Knits
  • Half-assed moved to East Stroudsburg next door to Neal
  • Drew Carey takes over as host of The Price Is Right--but wait! there's more!
It's still not completed, the move. I'm living in the apartment but the furniture won't be moved until next Saturday, after a couple of delays. I live like the gypsy I am.

You can see that the important crap has been moved already. This is the living room taken from the bedroom hallway.

And then, there was Christmas. With die ganze Familie, below.
Well, almost the whole family. Scrappy the Sister (Ted calls her Scrappy and I think that's more apropos than the Scrap Curmudgeon) and family show up for dessert.

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters. Yes, her necklace did light up. You can get cool stuff if you work for Party City.

And now for the obligatory cute grandchildren pictures. Ian Skywalker, whose Force is something to be reckoned with, and the Punk Princess, who had to have her picture taken three times before I got her to stop mugging it up for the camera.

It was a nice Christmas. And probably the last one I'll cook. In a way, I'll miss it. But then, it will be nice to be the feedee instead of the feeder.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
As it is with Joe, right now I simply feel like knitting small projects. I finished a pair of socks for Neal while in Tampa, plus another diagonal scarf. And then, I picked up the latest issue of Spin-Off, an outstanding issue filled with lots of good stuff. The gloves made from fingering weight handspun intrigued me. I knew I had a ball of the Starry Night in my spinning basket, which had 376 yards, just enough for the gloves. I can use these, too.

Knitter's Shit
Oh. My. God. Did any of you catch the incredibly awful picture of DragonBoy in the latest issue of Knitter's? It took my breath away. And caused small amounts of puke to disgorge themselves.

The issue itself was a stone bore. Who the fuck is still reading this? Other than last spring's issue, which was half decent, it's back on track with its trajectory to the recycling bin.

I realize that I am tremendously biased towards Interweave publications. There's a reason for this, besides the fact that I write for them (next, an article on Ravelry). I will not write for some rag that deserves my contempt. I can afford to be picky because I don't depend on this income. I have always appreciated Interweave's efforts to be the best they could, although they've stumbled here and there. That's not a big deal. No magazine can be perfect every issue. I do hope that the next issue's photography is improved. The last one was terrible.

I hope this coming year brings a bit more stability. I think it will. And I would like to thank all of my readers for showing up for the extravaganza. This month has been a bugger and I couldn't write as much as I would have liked. With things settling down now, I'll be back to my regularly scheduled entries.

Open Mic Thursday will begin again on January 3. This will give me some time to think of a good topic. Of course, Neal did come up with one that has absolutely nothing to do with knitting and everything to do with sex. If you'd like, I'll do his topic. I know he'd get cheap thrills from reading your responses. Such a rare and handy man. With friends like that, one can go far in life. Sorta.

Happy New Year, skanks!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas, Baby

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 know, I used this quote before, on a Christmas entry past. But it's particularly apropos this year. I've been a very bad girl. In a very good way. Use your imagination.

Long time, no post. I've been insane with work...and Neal. A week in Tampa too, stuck there an extra two days because of the storm that hit the Northeast last week and canceled my flight.

Not that I was really complaining with a view like this from the hotel terrace where I had my morning coffee and got done what little knitting I could manage. The ubiquitous socks.

Welcome to my real work world. My ecstatic trainees, waiting for me to put the camera down and start training them in the fabulousness of our mobile asset management system.

Now it's done and I have some peace. The peace I get in E'burg. The final move will be New Year's weekend. But first, I do my Christmas dinner for the troops. And start a two-week vacation that is needed badly, although most of it will entail buggylugging shit up to the apartment.

However, Neal has made sure that our network is now completely wired. We pulled cable last weekend and I'm ready to go live as soon as the desktop gets moved up. As he says, "I'm the nerd, you're the geek." So true. He's the hardware magician, I'm the apps pro, although you'd be amazed watching me help him pull cables on his job the other Saturday. Untangling cables is very much like yarn messes. I don't know that I would want to do what he does, which is set up complicated multi-media systems. But I get him, completely. And he gets me. So there you have it. That's why you've not heard from me.

But life seems to be returning to normal, whatever the fuck that is.

So, my dears, I will probably have a lot more to post soon. Right now, I'm about to pick up the Lavold sweater that has been languishing in its bag and get it finished. One spinning wheel is in E'burg, the next is about to follow. And the loom is going too. I'm going to keep it.

Have a wonderful Christmas, you skanks. And this song, by my favorite Jersey boy, is for everyone and especially for my nerd, who is one rare and handy man. I'm blessed.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Oh. Hai. Mar, Wur U Bin? Nidding?

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The trouble with cats is that they have no tact--Sir Phillip Sydney

While not strictly an lolcat, this picture is certainly indicative of my vast improvement over the past two days. And possibly indicative of how my brain perceives language. That's fine wid me. Hai. I'm back. Nidding.

Stoopid Scraf 101

I wasn't kidding. This is the best I've been able to do. There's something positively mind-numbing about garter stitch. Garter stitch + Seroquel = karmic bliss. Or some such shit.

In any case, if my whiny sister really wants it, she can have it. Never mind that my mother has already made her two of these. This is actually a very good pattern for Noro Silk Garden. It's free--you can find it here, if you're not already familiar with it. It's been around for a while, designed by Karen Baumer.

I used Silk Garden Lite, 2 balls of 2018, one ball of 2017. Sale shit that I found while trying to gather up all the odds and ends that I've planted around the house. (Have I mentioned that I find pseudo-words like "lite" and "nite" terminally offensive?)

Let's just say that I've been contemplating winding some Morehouse laceweight and working out a lace pattern on KnitVisualizer. Plus, I'm headed up to E'burg later. Camping out for a few days. I need to start acclimating myself. Neal's been on my case for weeks to do this but I didn't feel up to it until now. After having a nice conversation with Mammy yesterday, where she also pushed me to get up to the apartment for some of the coming week, I figured that was a powerful combo--Neal and Ma.

One Week to Tampa

This is the view from my bedroom. Great. Fucking snow. Neal says the roads are clear, so I guess I'll venture out to I80 and hit the road.

Next Sunday, at this time, I'll be airborne and on my way to sunnier climes, even though I'll be working. Nice digs at the Tampa airport Embassy Suites, two days with Susan to get stuff ready for the sales training. Home on Thursday. But I'll have the laptop with me, of course. And now that I have an air card, it's internet all the time.

I do have a love-hate relationship with this shit. On the one hand, there's nothing that thrills me more than opening up a new computer box, trying out a new app and learning it, getting a new gadget (next purchase, a jawbone to replace my Bluetooth earpiece). On the other, I find peace spinning and knitting, and an almost sexual thrill at starting a new project.

While it's true that I'm a geek girl, there are moments when I'd like to throw it all out the window.

Old Friends

That said, if it weren't for the internet, Marcia wouldn't have found me. Two days ago, on Classmates. com, I get an email from her. I have not seen Marcia since June 1968, yet we were good friends in high school. All of a sudden, here she is. My dear friend Peggy Carroll found me through Classmates two years ago.

Through a series of email, I found out that Marcia lives in the Poconos, not far from E'burg. We're going to get together. I still see her as she was at 18. Yikes. That's probably how she sees me, too.

Well, I don't look bad for 57 but it's been a long, hard road since 18. And we have almost 40 years to catch up on. Marcia was always a rare and handy person, and that has not changed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mar in Wonderland

Not much time to blog, sorry to say. I'm extraordinarily busy at work, and half the time I feel woozy from the drugs. So...I'm taking a respite from Open Mic Thursday because A) I haven't had time for a topic and B) I'm writing all day long in preparation for my Tampa trip.

This weekend, I hope I have a few minutes to take some pictures and write about my Knitting for Dummies. Because that's about all I've been doing. Stoopid scarves that I'll give to someone.

When the fog lifts, I'll have something more pithy to say. But right now, I'm more pits than pithy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Legacy with Legs

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks--William Shakespeare

Tomorrow I will cook the last Thanksgiving dinner in my long career of providing holiday meals. I'm a bit wistful and yet a bit glad that next year, I can go off to my sister's or wherever and chow down.

In any case, I'm sure thankful that I have four days off, in which I will move stuff, go listen to some great live music on Saturday night in Bethlehem, PA, perhaps get a tad of knitting and spinning done, and in general take it a little easier.

Feeling good, gang. That's the word up. My thanks tomorrow go to my dear friends who have been there for me the past few weeks. You know who you are. And you know how much I love you. And Swing Time is back in full force.

Gone and Never Forgotten
Reading the NY Times online the other day, in between doing training and writing, I saw that Mary Walker Phillips had died. To quote the Times's obituary:

What Miss Phillips did, starting in the early 1960s, was to liberate knitting from the yoke of the sweater. Where traditional knitters were classical artists, faithfully reproducing a score, Miss Phillips knit jazz. In her hands, knitting became a free-form, improvisational art, with no rules, no patterns and no utilitarian end in sight.

Phillips's Creative Knitting was one of the first knitting books I ever owned. And although I do not treat my knitting as art, in many ways, she was a greater influence on me than Elizabeth Zimmermann, to whom I came rather late in my knitting studies, around 1982.

Through Phillips's work, I understood the freedom in my fingers, far more than I did by reading Zimmermann. Her other knitting book, Knitting Counterpanes, is a wonderful resource. I'm sorry that she was not more prolific in her writing.

Back when I worked in NYC and went regularly to the Strand bookstore to cull it for knitting books, I remember asking a clerk why there seemed to be a lack of them. I found out that Mary Walker Phillips lived on Horatio St. and was in the Strand all the time buying up all the knitting books. I couldn't beat her out on the books, damn it. But I was really blown away that she went to the Strand too.

Another great knitter gone, leaving a wonderful legacy.

Last Saturday
I thought I would have time to write about my get-together with Joe and James on Sunday but I ended up feeling unmotivated to write. Probably the medication but nonetheless, I just couldn't seem to sit down at the computer.

Joe did a fine job chronicling our day, though. And I will put up pictures of James's gifts to me. Including the possum fur giftie. They are quite extraordinary. As is James. What a sweetheart he is! And such fun to be with. We had a wonderful time and I wish he lived closer. And I do wish Mary-Helen had been with us as well. Don't worry, M-H. He had nothing but nice things to say about you.

I love my Aussie and Kiwi knitting friends. Someday, I'd like to get down there and inflict myself on them.

Open Mic Thursday
Yeah, I know it's Thanksgiving, and I hope to hell you're enjoying the day and not reading my blog. However, if you are, thanks.

The topic from last week certainly brought out some strong opinions, with which I did not disagree. The photography was disappointing, at best. The garments, while not ugly, didn't excite me. And I am at least happy to see shaping returning to where it should be.

I don't care one way or the other about the layout. I'm only interested in clear pictures of the designs. Where those pictures live doesn't make me no never mind.

Over the course of the past few years, due primarily to the mediocrity of the knitting magazines, I have tended to either turn to books or my own creativity for my projects. I would rather invest in a knitting book by a favored designer, which may yield a number of projects, than depend on magazines to pique my interest.

So, tell me.

From what source do you get your knitting projects? Magazines, books, or your idea-jammed brain?

Celeste's Campanula is the only magazine-published design that I've done in quite some time.

I Promise
There will be more pictures and stuff this long weekend, probably Sunday night. I got a copy of Kristin's book in the mail and it's hot. Plus I've finally finished that last sleeve to Lavold's Estrid from Book #9, so I'll be doing some finishing this weekend, time permitting. I always think I'm going to get more done than I do, but I swear there will be some time set aside just for that. Because for me, finishing something is rare and handy.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya turkeys. Eat heavy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Speak when you're angry, and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret--Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Boy, I do love a good knockdown, drag-out fight, especially if I'm an innocent bystander. We had a doozy at work yesterday. The CFO and VP of Sales, both of whom should have behaved themselves, screaming at each other over an expense report. Stupid.

I thought about offering them some pharmaceuticals. And then thought better of it. I am peaceable. Usually.

Open Mic Thursday
Not much time tonight to write. I'm in the middle of writing a pile of stuff at work, plus another article for IK, on Ravelry this time. I'm glad you all enjoyed my stuff. I probably had a better time writing the articles than you did reading them.

This past week, there's been a lot of perhaps not-so-trash talk about this issue of Interweave Knits. The new layout and the photography, to be precise.

So I ask you to lay your thoughts out on the table.

What did you think of the Winter issue of Interweave Knits?

Leave my articles out of it. I appreciate your thoughts but I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say about the rest of the issue.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Still working on that damned sleeve. Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives says this: The last sleeve is always endless.

This is a truism. I'm managing to knit a little on the train but seem to fall asleep with needles in hand. This morning, a nice woman had to shake me when we got to Hoboken.

Which is why this is a short entry. Sunday I'll have lots to write about, since Joe and I are taking the Kiwi Terrifico of Fibre Alive fame, James, around to local yarn shops on Saturday. Lots of pictures and maybe even some of my work, although a slowly growing sleeve is a stone bore. I'm really looking forward to meeting James. Joe I already know all too well, my gay brother.

I gotta get to bed earlier, so that's it for tonight. But there's a rare and handy four-day weekend coming up. Moving will take first place. And extra sleep.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mmmmm, Psychotropic Drugs. Just Like M&Ms

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Some may never live, but the crazy never die.--Hunter S. Thompson

Here's another one lost to the perils of manic depression. God, I miss the Duke. But you'll be glad to know that I'm back, medicated, and feeling much, much better.

Seroquel is my lifesaver. With a soupcon of Lamictal. Well, perhaps a tad more than just a soupcon.

Thank you all so much for caring so much. The email I've received, from friends and readers alike, and the wonderful comments you wrote jump-started my morale.

You know, of course, that I'm a stubborn bitch and that I won't rest until I get what I need. I didn't. Damn the system and full speed ahead. That said, I've reinstituted, regurgitated, and generally resurrected Swing Time, the blog I wrote specifically about my manic depression. It's got some good links that I've collected and a far better place to write about my disorder than here.

I stopped writing Swing Time more than a year ago, in part because I thought perhaps it wasn't healthy to write about my disorder and also because I abhor pity parties. I was wrong. First, my writing style does not tolerate my feeling sorry for myself. Second, I think it does help others of my ilk to read about what I do, to talk about disorder management, and to pass on information that I churn up from the depths of wherever.

Seems to me that there are a lot of bipolars who read this blog. Well, get your butt over to Swing Time and let's tawk. And leave this blog for the fiber shit.

I finally got my copy of Winter IK. I'm not going to say much about the issue other than to say thanks to all who wrote me about my articles. Needless to say, they edited "Brackets" to the extent where a lot of good stuff was left out. Oh well. I'm not complaining. I'm OK with the editing.

I always give credit where credit is due. And honestly, Brackets is not my invention. It's Neal's. When I first met Neal, he wrote me this absolutely cracked email, written in part by Brackets. Neal's Brackets. [Why do I ALWAYS have to explain everything to everybody in here. I need a raise...or at least better billing...Brackets, what kind of name is that?...MOVE ON!!!..."]

That's Nealie's Brackets talking. So Neal, you're the best, for being my muse and for being my friend. And for being there for me last week when I wasn't exactly too well put together. [Oh Jesus fucking Christ, willya just stick to knitting, ya lazy skank. Enough with the thank-yous. Why don't you fucking start thanking your mother since this is disintergrating into an Oscar circle-jerk?]

Now, that's the Brackets you didn't read in IK. [And obviously, the medication didn't take the edge off, did it?]

Obligatory Knitting Shit
So in the spirit of my newly anointed and medicated self, I actually got some knitting done this weekend, despite moving more stuff up to E'burg. Remember this?

Well, I finally got off my ass and started the last sleeve. Because I really want it finished. It's a pretty sweater and it was about to grow mold in my knitting basket, along with a couple of other projects like the Magenta Diamonds shawl, and several unfinished pairs of socks. And I did finish one bobbin of the Las Vegas Brights silk and started the second.

Perhaps Seroquel should be renamed UFOquel.

So, that said, I will leave you now for my Ikea chair and TV, where I can watch rare and handy crap while I actually get something done.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Due to Circumstances Beyond My Control

No Open Mic Thursday this week. Why? Because I'm tired, stressed out, and dysphoric. Hence the story below, which yesterday and today still makes me hot under the collar.

As many of you know, I am bipolar. A well-managed, functional bipolar, to be sure, and one who's always on the lookout for those situational and seasonal triggers that can cause me to feel lousy and need medication adjustment.

Sunday, after running around like an idiot, I realized when I finally got to E'burg with my carload of boxes that my mood swings were spiking fast and furious. As it's known in the psych biz, rapid cycling. Always a big red flag for me. Neal, the world's perfect new next-door neighbor, grabbed me and fed me some of his famous spaghetti because for some reason, I hadn't been thinking about eating. And had managed to drop 8 pounds in a week. Another red flag.

Time to get a checkup from the neck up. And lo! My former doctor is no longer with the clinic, retired. Shit. And I can't get another doctor for at least three weeks. So Monday, I call the insurance company's behavioral services, figuring that I'll walk the party line.

Aetna was surprisingly helpful. They offered to find me a new doctor and suggested that, in the meanwhile, I go to the ER and they'll evaluate me and get me fixed up with a med change or increase, whatever is best.

Sounded like a good idea to me. So I leave work, go to my local ER, explain to the triage nurse exactly why I was there and what the insurance company told me to expect. Fine. She puts me in a treatment room. And there I sit. For two hours, which was briefly alleviated by the comic-relief appearance of a Filipino nurse who ordered me into a hospital gown. She didn't quite realize who she was ordering. A dysphoric, very cranky, bipolar woman, who basically told her to take the gown and shove it where the sun don't shine.

Finally, a woman from the psych ward appears. "Oh, no, we don't prescribe medication here, we only admit and you're not sick enough for that." Gee, so you're telling me that I got to sit here for more than two hours and you won't help me? Right. And here I thought I was being "proactive" in managing my disorder. So, if I had taken the blood pressure cuff, wrapped it around my neck, and pumped it up, they would have given me some drugs?

I was upset. And Mary, the psych ward lady, gave me two phone numbers to call the next day, one for the local behavioral center and the other for a crisis intervention center. "One of these will help you with your meds right away," she says. OK, now three hours gone and still nothing, so I decide it's time to leave the hospital and go home. I was in tears, completely frustrated.

But wait. There's more. Now, the ER head nurse comes in and says, "Oh no, you can't leave. You told the triage nurse that you were agitated and you wanted to hurt someone, so you can't be discharged."

What the fuck? Discharged? I didn't know I had been admitted. I stared at her and I knew that if I blew my stack, they'd probably commit me. Or worse. So I took a deep breath and said, "No, that's not at all true. Yes, I don't feel well but no, I would never harm anyone." (And Brackets, the little voice in my head, said, "But we'll gladly make an exception in your case.")

Fortunately, Mary turned to the nurse and said, "Oh, that's ridiculous. This woman only came in to see if we could help her with some medication. I gave her some contact numbers and she's going home." So the ER nurse, giving me the evil eye, said, "Fine, Mary. YOU can take responsibility for her." And left, her skull unsullied by my fist.

Out the door I went, disgusted by the state of mental health care in this country. I suppose if you want to get immediate help, you'd better wait until you're a raging homicidal and suicidal maniac. Let yourself stew until all of your juices are at boiling point and then the only solution is to admit you to the hospital, thus making the whole episode even pricier than it needed to be. I ask you, who's making bucks from this? Not hard to guess.

As it all turned out, I have an appointment tomorrow morning for a med review at the crisis intervention center with their shrink, and have an appointment with a new doctor at the end of the month. Two days later, granted. But I was able to hang in there, persevere, and ultimately get the treatment I needed, albeit not when I needed it. I made the calls. I got nothing from Aetna, at least so far. I thanked Mary profusely, because she cared enough to help me. The only one.

The one thing that I've decided is that it's important for me to increase my mental health advocacy. It's time to become an activist. And I will because with the Parity Act languishing in Congress, which, if passed, would put mental illness on an insurance par with physical illness, it's time for those of us who suffer from mental disorders to put our money where our proverbial mouths are.

I want the care I need. Without a runaround, without having to go to a psychiatrist who will not take insurance because the insurance companies do not want to cover it. Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance, as best as we know now. Here's a sobering statistic: As many as 1 out of every three people with bipolar disorder try to kill themselves. It can be deadly.

So let's make care and medication immediately available to those of us who are willing to seek it in order to manage our disorders and live a happy, productive life. I don't think that's asking a lot.

And now I'm going to bed and get some sleep, a critical component of feeling well.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Last to Know, Of Course

Best Quote I Heard All Day
There must be a magnificent disregard of your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it--Dorothy Parker

And I do magnificently disregard my readers. Because I write for me. Always. I do not pander to the great unwarshed.

You know, of course, that subscribers are starting to receive their copies of the Winter Interweave Knits.

Unfortunately, that is not true of this writer. Ah, me. I have not yet seen this issue, wherein I have two articles, the interview with Kristin Nicholas, and the endpaper, Ravelings. I suppose if I were a subscriber, I would have done.

There was some very minor editing done on the interview, which I saw and approved. Didn't affect it much and frankly, once you write something and submit it, it ceases to belong to you anyway. However, I don't know if the Ravelings, originally submitted as "Brackets", was ever edited. I never received any edited copy. I sure hope it wasn't, too much.

My one sadness is that the person who inspired me to write "Brackets" has not yet read it. I hope they will.

But my mother is very proud of me. Even when you're 57, having your mom tell you that means a lot.

You May Have Noticed
Or not. But I have started using titles for the blog. Why? Well, because evidently Ravelry needs a title in order to present a screenshot of your blog on your page.

We'll see how long I last with this.

The Latest Blog Superstar and Greasy Kid Stuff
Ya know, Liz kills me. Whenever I put up her picture on the blog, she somehow thinks she's received her 15 minutes of fame. Um, not hardly likely. But few of you have ever seen a picture of my other grandchild, Ian, aka Birthday Present.

It's been said that Ian and I share the same impish eyes and smile. We almost share the same birthday. Ian was born on April 26, I on April 25. If his mother's labor hadn't been so gawd-awful long, he would have come a bit sooner.

Ian's with us this weekend. He's my favorite 10-year-old, bar none. Although I must admit, I don't get the fascination with Transformers. But Ian loves my spinning wheel, thinks it's very cool machinery.

I'm waiting for him to transform it.

Rhetorical question: Why do all toys seem to be two mints in one these days? Car into robot, robot into flowerpot, eggbeater into megamonster. Whatever happened to yo-yos, kites, toy trains, et al? I know. I'm an old fart, even though I'm a technogeek.

And don't get me going on safety considerations for playtime. I managed to make my way through childhood, riding a bike sans helmet, rollerskating like a dervish (without kneepads), walking across the jungle gym with no protective padding beneath me, without ever cracking my skull open or breaking a damned thing.

Of course, I did often get grass cuts, which I allowed to bleed down my leg, for maximum shock effect when presented to my mother. It was worth the blood drip to see her practically faint.

More Spinning Shit
Back by semi-popular demand. This is all I've been able to do the past few days. No knitting at all. I do like this Las Vegas Brights silk. It will be interesting once plyed.

I'm now finished the yellow bit, into the orange, and then it's back to the blue and the sequence starts all over again.

I will probably begin spinning the other roving at a different spot in the color sequence so that I get a blend of colors when plyed.

Re: Ravelery groups, I did join some spinning groups that I've found very worthwhile, Schacht Spinners and Spin Tech, along with the generic Spinning group. There's been interesting discussion about Scotch tension versus double drive tension, which is better.

The Joy is Scotch tension only; however, the Schacht Matchless can be set up as DD or ST. For this silk, I decided to fuck around with Scotch tension because I rarely use it on the Matchless. I rather like it, actually, although in spinning this silk, very little tension is needed, as is with merino.

The one thing that many newbie spinners don't realize is that once you set up for one tension or the other, you can't switch mid-bobbin. You've got to see it all the way through to the end.

I'm fast becoming a Scotch tension convert, though. I have always liked it on the Joy. No reason not to like it on the Matchless. It's true--you can control the tension much better than with a double-drive tension setup. And besides, setting up a single driveband is a lot easier than a double.

Enough of this. I've got a busy day tomorrow, a brunch at Stix-n-Stitches down in Montclair, a whirlwind visit with Mammy, and then up to E'burg with another load. This is the 4th time I've moved since Jimmy died in 2002. I'm sick of it. It's very unrare and extraordinarily unhandy. And I've been finding that I've been missing him very much lately. Despite my "new normal."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day

If you be sick, your own thoughts will make you sick--Ben Jonson
Based on the rash of infested groups that have sprung up on Ravelry, I'd say that there are a lot of sick knitters out there. A plethora of disease-filled needle 'hos, if you will.

Knit 1, Wheeze Too--perfect for those of you with respiratory ailments who want to share your sputum with other infected and affected souls.

Knitting With Pain. Yep, chronic pain sufferers.

Thyroid Yarnies. Self-explanatory.

Neuro-Diversity. OCD, ADD, and any other neuro-abbreviation.

These are real Ravelry groups, gang. Along with other excitingly contagious groups such as Crunchy Christian Crafters, *fiber faeries* (whose tag says: "fiber makers who believe in faeries note: joining will save faerie lives! "), Busdriver's That Knits (yes, busdrivers who knit in Norway) and a bunch more.
Fortunately, there are worthwhile groups to join, that eschew this nonsense. I rather fancy Porn-knitographers, myself. Those who write erotica, knit, and sometimes do both at the same time. I practice what I preach.

Many groups have few members. I understand people's need for support if they are dealing with an illness. However, I have found that if you are needy, you will tend not to manage your disease or disorder but look for tea and sympathy. Looking for information and direction is fine. So find a group solely dedicated to your problem and leave knitting out of it.

But let's be glad that Jess and Casey have opened up the forums for these people who seem to need to add yet another attachment or malady to their knitting talk. At least we don't need to read this crap on the lists. And in actuality, I've pretty much given up reading the lists anyway.
These groups do affirm my believe in the species KnitDweeb, how-some-ever.
Some knitting lists have started groups on the Ravelry Forum. I find that quite interesting as a social dynamic.
So I guess you can see where this will lead. Yes, to...
Open Mic Thursday
A bifurcated topic this week. Because, as we all know, I'm rather bifurcated myself.
1) Do you think that the Ravelry groups portend the demise of knitting mailing lists as we've known them?

2) What disease/disorder/malady would you like to see represented on the Ravelry Forum? Use your imagination.

If this ain't grist for your mill, it sure is for mine. By the way, ask Carol about her group. It has to do with kielbasi. And Koigu. Together. A greasy, merino-y combination. Ravelry, if nothing else, is an equal opportunity community. Me, I'm all for big sausages. Fuck the Koigu. Really, you don't want to know about this group.
Yes, I Still Do Fiber Shit
So this week, I managed to get some spinning done. Finally finished plying all of the Black Bunny Fiber alpaca that Carol gave me for my last birthday. A pleasure to spin.

Not satisfied with that, I started spinning some silk roving that I bought at Rhinebeck last year, suitably called "Las Vegas Brights."

I do love bright colors. Like a magpie. And I have two lengths of this roving, 2 ounces each. Enough for a scarf or something. Silk is one of my very favorite fibers to spin.

I'm liking this single a lot. I started with the blue and segued into the hot pink.

And a day or so ago, I was reading Carol's complaint that she couldn't seem to spin thinner.

Ted gave Carol some very good advice: Stop worrying about how thin you're spinning and be more concerned about consistent drafting.

Well, here's the key. As Mabel Ross always said, "Measure and count." You must consistently enter the same amount of fiber into the twist, while you treadle evenly, with the same number of wheel rotations for every length of fiber introduced into the twist.
It's all a matter of that, plus knowing how much twist the fiber needs. Combining treadling speed with whorl size and tension to get the grist you want takes some experience. And that's where sampling comes in.
A new spinner should sample, sample, sample. Until all of the aforementioned actions become instinctive and the desired thickness of yarn is achieved. This is not something that can be taught, in my opinion. It must be felt. Brain connects to hands, and you're in.
As Ted says, it's actually harder for an experienced spinner who has produced thin singles to spin heavier weight singles. However, if you have the feel for how much fiber you need to introduce for the weight you want, you can do it.
Just remember the first time you held knitting needles and tried to make a stitch. Awkward. Klutzy. And then, brain engaged hands and you had it. Same thing here. (Of course, I was only 8 when I learned to knit but I remember the brain-hands marriage as clear as day.)
And now, it's time to return to the rare and handy wheel because that silk is calling me before I go to bed. And then there's the boxes of stash lined up in my dining room, ready to go to E'burg. So I've kept out what I need and the rest goes over the Gap on Saturday. (And yes, this is being published prior to 12 midnight, as is my habit.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
A friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself--Jim Morrison

After last weekend filled with friends, who love me for myself, now I'm moving next door to a dearly beloved friend who epitomizes Morrison's quote.

This is what I had alluded to in a previous entry, and now it has become reality. I will be moving to East Stroudsburg, PA, right over the Delaware River from New Jersey. Into the apartment next door to Neal's, a lovely one-bedroom place with a back porch and much lower rent. I am leaving the kids to do their own thing. It's time, for me and for them.

The move will take place slowly, over the next two months, because I want to wait until after the holidays and to give the kids a chance to find a place for themselves.

Over the course of the past five and a half years, I have been through many changes, most for the better. Ups and downs, back and forth, with lessons learned and many tears shed. For those of you who have shared those times with me, know that I have grown enormously. Even reading the early blog entries, I can see the difference.

Independent, happy, fulfilled. I never thought I would get to this place. I have. Yo, Jimmy! I done did good, no?

But I am still a Jersey girl. And I always will be.

Open Mic Thursday
This topic actually came up in the course of Wolverina correspondence today. I was on the road back from Maryland (no, didn't have time to go to the yarn shop in Hyattsville--I had three staff members and six drivers to train), sitting in gawd-awful stopped-dead traffic outside of Philly in miserable weather.

The work Blackberry allows me to read my e-mail, and there was quite the discussion about a Rhinebeck attendee who whined about how the festival was child-unfriendly, how people were rude to her as she pushed her stroller through the buildings (and how there was no yarn specials--WTF?).

This is a hot-button topic.

Should people bring their kids to fiber festivals or into yarn shops, and expect these places to be child-friendly?

I will say this: My children, who were quite well-behaved (because if they weren't, they got the Look, at the very least), were never taken to events that were primarily for and about adults.

First of all, I believe that subjecting children to situations where they will become bored and fractious within five minutes is selfish on the part of the parents. Second, as much as you love your kids, other people won't, especially if you try to push a large stroller through a crowded building. While I would happily give way to a handicapped person in a wheelchair who wanted to shop, kids in strollers are not the ones shopping.

If you can't leave the kids at home with a sitter or an indulgent grandparent, don't go. I didn't go much of anywhere with the kids until they were at least 12 or so. If I wanted to go to the yarn shop, their father watched them. If he couldn't, I didn't go until he was available.

Not every damned thing needs to be a family affair. Sometimes you need to leave the rugrats at home. And go by yourself. It'll do the whole family good if you do.

Happy Birthday, Bunky Bear
My first baby is 38 years old today, sharing her birthday with the Charge of the Light Brigade, that infamous military blunder of the Crimean War.

My God, I was so young. Nineteen years old, and as you can see, quite the hippie chick. Crocheted floppy hat, clogs, paint-spattered jeans. Other than the hat, I haven't changed much, fashionwise. Once a flower child, always a flower child.

Jenn is the mother of my "Little Guy", Mr. Ian, a software QA analyst, a top-notch seamstress and embroiderer, and like her mother, a voracious reader. When she has time, she plays the Celtic harp.

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward. Happy birthday, sweetie. Mamoo loves you.

La Musica
Those who know me, know that music plays an enormous part of my life. Classical music, rock, folk, you name it, if it's got a singable melody, I'll listen.

So tomorrow night, I'm going to a taping at our local Cablevision studio of Aztec Two-Step, Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman, courtesy of my friend Bob, who's been a cameraman and now producer there. Anyone remember them? Wonderful duo from the '70s who are still singing. Bob says I can bring my camera and take pictures when the camera isn't rolling. This taped show, "Horses Sing None of It," will be shown on various cable stations, from what I understand.

And the beat goes on. I always wanted to be Chrissie Hynde, a most rare and handy singer, but my stage these days is in the car. For all motorists who enjoy my basso profundo.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Best Time I've Ever Had With My Clothes On.
This is Rhinebeck.
And this is Rhinebeck.
But most of all, the people are Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck-a-looza. What a glorious day it was, too. Many pictures, kids. Not enough words to express how much fun this day is.
So the story begins. I get there at 9 a.m. sharp, before Joe, before Carol, before Ted, and I head over to see Dr. Mel and David. I had missed Mel and David last year and felt terrible about it, so I made sure that they were #1 on my list. Mel was wearing the kilt. And it is the first garment he has ever made. Unfuckingbelievable. (Carol did lift the kilt--I'll leave it to her to tell that tale.) And of course, I bought some wonderful black baby alpaca top from them.

Within moments, Carol shows up. OK, C, I know this isn't the most flattering picture of you but it does show you in a pensive mood. Or something.

I leave Mel and David to their rapidly increasing line of customers and head back towards the concession stands, where the Wolvies traditionally gather, kinda like flies on shit. Suddenly, I spy the Frecklefaced Girl and the Code Monkey (who inconveniently turned his head when I took the picture but he's a handsome young geekboy).
After all this time of emails, I was very glad to meet Jess and Casey in person. As far as I'm concerned, if this is the face of young knitting, then I'm thrilled.
Jess and Casey came with Ravelry buttons, so I put that one on my right tit, my Rhinebeck Bingo Square button on my left tit. It seemed the esthetic thing to do.

Finally, the rest of the crew shows up: From left, with his back to the camera, it's JoeWi, Ted's friend David (a new spinner and a swell guy!), Fredda hugging Ted. Let the games begin. And to my great surprise, Lars showed up. Appearing from nowhere. We weren't expecting him to come and I was shocked and awed that he had found time in his insane schedule to come.

At this point, it's getting close to noon, time for the Ravelry/bloggers get-together. I perched precariously on a bench to take this shot. Is this fucking incredible or what?
A lot of people came up to me, some with Bingo cards in their hands. "Who are you?", waving the sheet in my face. "Well, who do you think I am?" I always make people guess. Usually they figure it out. But as Ted said, if I'm too nice and gracious, then people won't recognize me. Good point. I should have said, "Who the fuck DO YOU THINK I AM???" But I really tried to be on my best behavior. Kinda.
Honestly, one thing I enjoy enormously is meeting my readers. And I met quite a few, although rumor had it that some people were afraid to approach me. I hear that every year. Come on, people. Get some balls, willya?
Jaya (left) and Monica had balls. And we had a wonderful conversation. The two of them were funny, smart, and a pleasure to talk to.
Oh yeah, and Rhinebeck's all about the food, too. Fried pickles, artichokes, apple crisp a la mode, and whatever the fuck Ted was eating (I think it was one of Thaddeus's sandwiches that he snuck in under security's collective noses.)
I do love these two men so much. I can't ever say how much they both mean to me.
And then it it was time to break out with a rousing verse of O Canada. DUDE.
Yes, it's Lee Ann and Spiff, with Ted's incredible Shetland stole wrapped around her neck. The color was perfect for her and she looked ever so chic. But Lee Ann and Spiff came sans Twinkletoes, much to my great sadness. I completely understand why they chose to leave one of my favorite little girls home with her grandmother. Frankly, were Corinne and Jenn of that age, their asses would have been parked elsewhere too. But I'm always glad to see Lee Ann. Wish I had had more time to spend with her.
Canadians were all over the fucking place. And I have to say, they are some of my favorite people. I was thrilled to meet Veronik Avery in person, finally. We've corresponded at times and I've always felt she was one of our top designers. If I don't get off my ass and get her book, well, my library is still incomplete. Somebody took our picture together but I don't have it. I think it was Carol.
And then...there was the primo Canadienne. With her sidekick Juno. It was showdown at the OK Corral. I walked up to her and threatened to beat the crap out of her. Blood on the streets of Rhinebeck. Just so everyone could see how much we hate each other's guts, which is what they love to think.
Um, sorry to disappoint. Steph's another one of my favorite people. There was no blood, just a big hug. I loved her sweater and damn, I forgot to ask her from whence it came. It was spectacular.
Later on, at Morehouse, which is sadly closing its shop doors in Milan, NY, and moving to online sales completely, I ran into Kristin Nicholas, who took me out to her car to show me her book. Now, having interviewed K for Interweave Knits Winter issue (shameless self-promotion), and having photographed many of the projects for the article, this was the first time I'd actually seen the book. Kristin Knits. It is fabulous. And that's not just because K is my friend, either. It's because she's a fabulous designer. So buy it, already.
Last but not least, here are some pictures I took of winning entries in the knitting and spinning competition. The lacework and the spun boucle were so inspiring, I had to include them here. Because this, to me, is also Rhinebeck.
At 5 p.m., with sore feet, I began my trudge out of the fairgrounds. I was going over to Morehouse (yeah, I bought some laceweight--pictures of the Rhinebeck loot later this week), and then to dinner with Ted, David, Carol and some of Carol's friends at the diner by the Holiday Inn. Except that Carol got the wrong diner, dope-e-lah that she is, so it was Ted, David, me. I was sorry to miss the Ravelry party but I needed some quiet time before I made the 2-hour drive back home.
As I walked out, I saw this woman. And all I can say is, that's the way to end the day at Rhinebeck. Nothing more rare and handy than a beach chair and knitting. Anywhere.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.--Mark Twain

Other than to Texas, when I went with my dear friend and bosswoman Susan, I tend to travel alone for work.

Like yesterday, to Wilkes-Barre. Now, would you ask anyone to accompany you there? I sure wouldn't. Although the ride up and down the hills was beautiful, with the trees finally turning colors. And then there was the lovely place in East Stroudsburg, where I stayed Monday and Tuesday nights. Ah, the spaghetti sauce was exquisite. (And there's a very nice yarn shop a block away, Mountain Knits and Pearls.)

Next week, I'm off to Hyattsville, MD, for two days. The following week, Danbury, CT. November 13-16 down to Wilmington, North Cackalacky, as the late husband called it. Second week of December finds me in Tampa for a sales training conference. All fucking week.

But this Saturday, it's Rhinebeck. The most important trip of them all, bar none. I will be there at 9 a.m. sharp. I'm looking forward to meeting those of you who are going. Don't hesitate to grab me. I'll be with JoeWi, as he's calling himself these days, along with Carol, Ted, and a few others. But it's people I really want to see, even more than all the fibroid extravagances.

Oh yeah, and once again I'm a Square for those of you playing Rhinebeck Bingo. I still have last year's button, so what the fuck.

Big Muthafucka Needles
OK, will someone tell me why you'd want to knit a scraf in an hour? No, I didn't misspell that. Anything rectangular that poses as a scarf and is knit on these needles is a scraf in my book.

These needles are too big for even Wenlan Chia.

Please. Size 50 is what they are. Nothing new. But Lion Brand calls 'em Speed Stix, somewhat reminiscent of the deodorant. Stix 'em up yer ass.

I want knitting needles that double as vibrators. And light up. The Wolvies will know whence I speak. Now those, I'd buy.

Open Mic Thursday
Somebody, whose name I'm too lazy to look up, wanted to know last week why the Open Mic Thursday appeared prior to midnight, even though the post was marked as 12:01 a.m. Well, because I ain't staying up that late so I cheat every week. Bite me.

This week, I'm in a mood political. I know, generally Joe does that deal; however, I'm highly political and of course, highly opinionated. Neal and I often discuss politics--we're both news and politics junkies--and he's of the opinion that the time is ripe for an independent party/candidate to make an appearance. Here's the topic for Thursday:

Would you vote for an independent, such as Al Gore or Colin Powell, for example, rather than the party choices?

I agree with Neal, completely. It may be the right time for an independent. I am completely dismayed with both parties. As he says, the Democrats are just Republicans in cheap suits. You have to wonder why the fuck the Dems have squandered the opportunity presented to them last November to set some shit right.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Nothing. Absolutely nothing worth discussing. Just socks. I'm fried so that's what I can do on the train. This is bad, very bad. However, when I catch a breath, I will go back to the several projects that are yet unfinished: The Magenta Diamonds shawl, which needs only the top edging, Jenn's Campanula, and my Lavold that is missing a sleeve. Plus, I misplaced and then found the battery charger for my camera, hence no pictures, even of stoopid socks. But plenty of Rhinebeck pictures will be forthcoming.

I have noticed that the KnitDweebs are busy creating dee-liteful groups in the Ravelry forums. Scary. In case you're interested, there is not yet a warshcloth group. So if you're a Sugar 'n' Cream devotee, hurry up and start one. You'll be flooded with members, no doubt.

However, there are plenty of intelligent groups available and I've joined a few. Spin Tech, Historic Knitting, and of course, Jersey Represent, which has a brilliantly written intro to the group that I recommend all Jersey wannabes to read. As they say,

cuz life's too short to be pumping your own gas (especially when there is knitting to be done!)

I only learned to pump my own gas when I became a solo act and had to travel out of state on my own. Now I'm a pro and I wish we could pump our own gas. But it's against the law in NJ. And I believe Oregon also.

So, with that, I will pump my own gas, catch some sleep now, and see you all on the rarest and handiest day of the year. Rhinebeck cometh.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.--Charles Dickens

It's all about money, this entry.

Micawber, that charming ne'er-do-well, memorably portrayed by W.C. Fields in the original 1935 movie version of David Copperfield, could well be my favorite Dickens character.

The Micawber Principle. One that we all try to live by, I suppose. Hence the following topic.

The World's Most Ridiculously Over-Priced Knitting Kit
Yeah, I found it. And it's not some chi-chi designer sweater kit, either.

It's the Let's Dish dishcloth kit, which I discovered while wolfing down my dinner tonight. In the latest Patternworks catalog. One needs reading material while eating, at least I do.

Here's what you get for $24.00 plus shipping:
  • Sufficient linen yarn to make one 9"x9" cloth, in either grape or red, crocheted in a simple circle OR (drumroll) knitted in an Old Shale stitch. Instructions included.

  • One bar of "organic" soap
Gang. What's wrong with this price? First of all, you can buy a skein of 270-yard Euroflax Linen for $20 in a variety of colors, not a mere two. I would hazard a guess and say that you'd get three of these dishcloths from one skein.

"Organic" soap? Shit, my supermarket sells that kind of stuff for a couple of bucks. Cheap scented soap, anyway. Maybe not "organic," but who the fuck will know?

The stitch patterns? Available EVERYWHERE. For free. Somewhere, in one of your knitting books, you can find Old Shale, Feather and Fan, or the many variations on that shell pattern. Look in any of the free pattern collections on the internet and you'll find one of them. Google is your friend, after all.

Rip-off alert. I need say more?

If I ever am reduced to giving handknit dishcloths as "housewarming or bridal shower gifts" (quotes are from the catalog), I beg Joe to come to my house with an Uzi and put us all out of my misery.

Open Mic Thursday
Well, you knew it was coming. I've made my stand on this topic. Now it's your turn. So, sharpen your Crayolas and tawk amongst yourselves, as I would say. (Yep, I do say "cawfee" and "tawk")

Our new Open Mic Thursday avatar. I'm a little verklempt now.

You design your own garments/accessories, you write about knitting, you could teach a knitting technique to others. You are offered the opportunity to have your work published or the chance to teach in the knitting spotlight. However, you are offered only the opportunity, without financial reimbursement, with the rationale being that you are getting "exposure."

Do you accept those terms? If not, does it matter how much you are paid? A token sum or market value?

Go for it, kids.

Fire Sale
Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that I must sell my loom, for reasons that I really can't go into at the moment. Yeah, something's brewing. When and if it happens, you know I'll write about it.

So, if you live within driving distance of Wharton, NJ and want to buy the following for $2500, email me and we'll talk. I'm giving my readers first refusal, and then the Ravelry hoodlums.

Here's the package:

  • Schacht 8-shaft Mighty Wolf floor loom
  • Loom bench with one side pocket
  • Schacht warping board
  • Raddle
  • Stroller wheels
  • 10- and 12-dent reeds
  • Two boat shuttles
  • Swedish bobbin winder
  • All of my weaving books--I have to make a list but I have a few
  • All of my Handwoven magazines (probably 10 or so)
  • Two boxes of coned yarn, mostly pearl cotton, some shetland
  • A Halcyon gamp kit

The loom is completely heddled, so you wouldn't have to assemble it. It folds up to about 18", even with work on it. And I've barely used it, so it's in primo condition. The price is firm. Non-negotiable. So whoever makes the first firm offer wins.

Give We Must
I just want to give Ravelry another plug. As much as I am not a bandwagon kinda person, this is a remarkable achievement by Casey the Code Monkey and Jess. If you haven't yet gotten onto the beta site, they're letting more and more people in. But they are doing this gratis, everyone. Until they start getting some advertising up there, they depend on the kindness of strangers. We who use the site for free.

So, if you are a Ravelry beta user, how about going to the Donations page and droppin' a dime on these two. I will do so on Friday, when I get paid. Because being an IT person, I know what kind of work goes into an endeavor like this. Frankly, it runs better than some of the software for which I've written manuals. A great deal of planning, thought, and coding has gone into it. Let's give them our support. Put yer money where yer mouth is, in other words.

Calendar Girl
Well, it would seem that in general, most of us think it's a waste of paper. I will say, though, that I was incorrect in saying that the calendar is comprised of stitch patterns. It is not. It contains actual garments, scarves, dolls, hats, and other ephemera, both knitted and crocheted.

Somehow, that almost makes the whole Ripley's Believe It Or Not solicitation worse. As I said in the comments, I don't believe she was being at all malicious. Just clueless. And because I don't suffer fools gladly, I did what I did. I've hopefully educated her now.

My nonknitting friends, with the exception of my goofy sister, the self-proclaimed Scrap Curmudgeon, who persists in giving me knitted fuglies, never would even think of buying me that calendar as a gift. I must agree with Michelene's POV. Gimme a gift certificate. Or maybe some earrings. I'll pass on the Glenlivet, though, since I don't drink these days.

Perhaps my nonknitting friends know me all too well. I will say that they are just as rare and handy as my knitting friends, absolutely.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The pen is the tongue of the mind.--Cervantes

So here is the culmination of the Susan Ripley Pattern-A-Day spam-a-thon. Her response to my letter and my final response to her.

Case closed.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not

Susan's response to my letter:

Hi Marilyn,

You can absolutely delete it and I am sorry - as protocol, I have checked profiles and searched wherever I could to find an email address – I must have missed yours completely. That is my preference. I by no means want to anger or take advantage of anyone’s space (that doesn’t do anyone any good – least of all me and the calendar). The message is actually set-up as an email so that I can give it to the owners and let them decide whether to post it or not to post it. You should be able to find as many if not more blog owners that I contacted by email and only by email. The same is true of pod casts, yarn shops and other related websites.

It is my sole intent to let as many people know about the contest as possible. They can they do what they want at that point. Most of the blogs actually have a review process where I could post the information and the owner could review prior to it ever being published. I have to say although I do web design – I don’t do much blogging at all and I find the interface very difficult sometimes, but it is one of the best means to finding knitters and crocheters out there.

I completely understand and respect the designers that I have come across that don’t want anything to do with this project. I feel that it is a good opportunity on multiple levels. The first is for the newbie or non-professional that wants a published piece. Many contributors do it solely to receive the calendar in exchange for one of their pieces. Some do it for the prospect of winning the prize money. And many do it for the advertising/profile raising of getting their website listed in the calendar and don’t care about being published or the prize money. But that being said, I am a business owner and an artist at that and 100% understand that this is a person’s time, talent and in some cases primary means of income and I would never want to diminish that.

Please feel free to post my apology on your blog and I will be more than happy to post it on the website or my blog as well – I really meant no harm. I would be happy to call and talk with you about it if you give me your phone number as well. I am truly sorry that my posting on your blog upset you, your readers, and other bloggers at that, I really didn’t expect it to be this upsetting and would not have considered it an option had I known it would have this kind of response.

Susan Ripley

My response to this:


Indeed, I know many people who received your email and deleted it out of hand, were annoyed, but probably won't bother contacting you. A number of bloggers who I know simply deleted your notice from their comments. I chose to make an example of you because I find that kind of thing absolutely uncalled for. I don't think you quite understood what kind of ill will you would spawn when you placed your solicitation into people's comments--you're viewed as a spammer, and frankly, that's what it is. You're defeating your own purpose here. Rather than do that, leave people's comments alone in the future.

I accept your apology and I will publish your letter. Fair is fair. I'm sure you didn't mean any malice; however, you do expect to make money from the calendar, presumably. No matter how you cut it, it's a commercial venture, and one that will be populated by virtually free material. Of course, going unpaid is the choice of those people who want to contribute. I don't encourage people to do work for nothing and I would not endorse your contest. There is much too much of that going on in the knitting industry, with wannabes hoping for some publicity. It devalues those of us who do get paid for our design work, our writing, and any other related work. I am a professional writer and I believe that if one does the work, one should be paid something, at the very least. The only people for whom I work gratis are my friends.

I would hope you understand my stance on this subject and respect it. I will respect your commercial venture also if you conduct it in the proper spirit and manner.

Marilyn Roberts

Can you guess what Open Mic Thursday's topic will be? Get ready. Two days away.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse?--Bruce Springsteen

Between Springsteen's interview tonight on 60 Minutes ("every writer has something eating away at them") and talking to the Squeeze today about my writing, I had yet another epiphany.

My life has been full of epiphanies. I believe that if you don't have them, you're not digging deep enough into your soul. I'm the Con Ed of epiphanies. Dig I must.

So the Epiphany du Jour says it's been writing, writing, writing since I was eight years old. It wasn't knitting that was a compulsive act, beyond my control. It has always been the writing, which often spills out like a bad case of the runs. It cramps you up until you let it out. Nonetheless, knitting has been a means to the end, and a fine one too.

But the reality is that I've never lived up to my potential. Fuck writing a knitting book. Why should I, when it's a limitation to what I could produce? Knitting doesn't eat away at me. Technical writing, while clearly a large part of my life, both as vocation and avocation, serves mostly as the paycheck conduit.

There is much within that needs to be put down, whether many read it or no one. So while I will continue to write this blog and write my manuals, there's a new horizon out there.

Wholesale Stealing
Was I pissed off when this Susan Ripley person takes my comments and uses them as a freebie ad to procure virtually free material for her Pattern-A-Day calendar? If you read my edit to her ad, you can only imagine the extent of my ire.

First of all, my email address is in my profile. If you want to write to me, and readers do, you can easily find it there. Second, I will not tolerate spam, which is what I consider Ripley's lengthy beg-a-rama. Those calendars, from what I've seen of them, are a waste of paper. Go out and buy the Walker books, the Harmony books, and the other stitch pattern books. Spend your money on those. Then, if you want, buy the dopey calendar.

Ms. Ripley managed to spew out 347 words, for which she will receive an invoice from me for $347.00. This is an open forum for my readers. It is not space for a business to steal. And that's exactly what she and her company did. So now she can pay my advertising rates.

Of course, Carol was brilliant and left an ad on her blog. I also left a message. I would encourage you all to do the same, if you feel as I do. And let this be a warning to any business who thinks they can plop whatever bullshit they're flogging into my comments.

I'm not that nice a person when it comes to stealing. Righteously furious about this shit? Absolutely. Mar enraged is rare and handy.

Ripley Update, October 8
Here is the letter that I sent to Ms. Ripley. I won't ignore bad behavior. Yeah, Carol, you can be the attorney of record. Heh.

Dear Ms. Ripley,

I was completely infuriated to see that you left your unsolicited ad regarding your Pattern-A-Day calendar in my blog comments. This is unacceptable and unprofessional, at the very least. In addition to angering me, you have angered many of my readers and many fellow bloggers, who also have been victims of your unwanted comments invasion.

Courtesy in the cyberworld means that you contact the site owner or blogger via email if you wish their assistance in promoting your product. My email address is located in my blog profile, which you obviously ignored. You did not write to me, nor to a number of other bloggers. I consider your "comment" an ad and I will charge you for that privilege at an advertising rate of $1.00/word. Since you managed to write 347 of them, your company owes me $347.00, payable within 30 days.

If you do not remit payment, I will consult my lawyer, whose blog you also sullied with your ad. I would think that as a businesswoman, you would have had more sense than to alienate your market. My blog reaches many knitters and I had no hesitation in writing publicly about your behavior. Even knitters sans blogs were outraged. And what is worse, you offer a "contest" in lieu of payment for a stitch pattern design. I don't know which is more offensive, hijacking someone's comments or offering an opportunity to be paid via lottery.

Please remit $347.00 to:
Marilyn Roberts
Wharton, NJ 07885

I would expect a public apology to all bloggers whose blogs you infiltrated, not just mine. That would be the decent thing to do and might help restore your reputation with bloggers and blog readers.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.--Philip Henry Sheridan

Indeed. Sorry, my Texan readers, but Little Phil's quote still holds true. (Extra credit to those readers who know who he was.) I must say, though, that the people who I have met here have all been terrific. OK, I know. It's HIS home state. Well, I won't cast aspersions on the fine citizens of North Texas. He ain't from here, anyway.

Scene leaving DFW airport with Susan, getting on 35E. Does this look any different than westbound rush hour traffic on I80 in Jersey? Nah. And what was worse--it was about 1 in the afternoon.

I understand that San Antonio is very nice. However, I like hills. No hills here, other than Flower Mound, or so I hear. Great name for a town, no?

And the fucking killer crickets. Worse than the damned Canada goose shit that coats NJ parking lots. These crickets will eat your toddler for lunch. And they're all over the place.

With only the cellphone camera, the pictures are a bit limited, I fear.

Howsome-ever, the room was upgraded to a suite, with a HD TV in the sitting room. So I'm not too cranked out. It's been fairly grueling, with Susan and I team-training user groups. But we finished by 3:30 today and took off for the hotel pool and Jacuzzi. Plus, we had a hugely expensive dinner last night courtesy of our VP of Sales at a place called Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, a Houston-based chain, that makes Ruth's Chris look like Sizzler's.

So I ain't bitchin'. Except I'll be glad to return to Sopranosland Friday afternoon.

Clothes or Yarn?
I would say my luggage was balanced appropriately. Enough clothes and plenty of yarn. Plus, I packed my Comet spindle and actually have done a little spinning in the evening. Ted would be proud of me.

And I've been working on the Squeeze Socks. If the stitch pattern looks familiar, it's because I've used it before with fingering-weight sock yarn. This time, it's worsted weight. Cascade 220, to be exact. In a man's size 12. So the rib is compressed, making the sock look weird. I do have a live model lined up, though. I liked the socks Joe made, so I decided to swipe the cuff-heel-toe second color deal.

And I packed about 4 different sock yarns because I expect to have the Squeeze Socks done by tomorrow. Yeah, I knit in the lobby before meeting Susan for breakfast. And of course, it was nothing but knitting on the plane.

Did you know that you can take knitting needles onto planes? WOW. Who knew? Loopy suggested that I send many posts to the KL, asking if it were OK. I decided to take my chances. And knit half the leg and the heel during the three-hour flight here. Oh yeah, and we took off on time and landed a half hour early. Go figure.

Open Mic Thursday
So having loaded the suitcase with yarn selections, I have no terror of running short of something to knit. And it is a true fear. I often refer to my knitting as my Linus blankie because it's my comfort, especially away from home.

But yarn shops away? Here's your topic for this week:

When you travel, do you compile an itinerary of yarn shops? Or do you pack your luggage with projects and eschew fiber shopping?

After asking about knitting on planes, the single most annoying question on any large knitting list is the "Any Yarn Shops in Curacao?" type of query. Of course, I suppose that's arguable. There may in fact be far more irritating questions asked by the professional maroons who infest these lists.

The New and Improved Spin-Off
I have to say, the latest issue is excellent. The redesign is actually much more successful than the recent redesign of IK, in my opinion. The beauty of this redo is that the magazine retains its unique personality while getting an infusion of modernity. Not easy to accomplish. The articles have improved greatly over the past few issues. I recommend the ones on using mini-combs, working with camel down, dyeing a silk hankie.

However, the greatest improvement is in the book reviews. Finally, real reviews. The good, the bad, and the ugly as opposed to flat reportage. Whether this will apply when Spin-Off reviewers write about Interweave Press books remains to be seen. That will be the proof of the pudding.

So I will be back over the weekend. And as usual, I am post-dating this so I can get some sleep. I may post on Sunday, if I'm not otherwise occupied by a rare and handy friend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
When your hobbies get in the way of your work - that's OK; but when your hobbies get in the way of themselves... well. --Steve Martin

I think mine has long since gotten in its own way. So I'm thinking perhaps it's time to simplify.

Does that mean I will buy nothing at Stitches and Rhinebeck? Like the presidential candidates, I ain't promising shit. Will someone please tell me why lately Hillary insists on laughing at anyone who challenges her? I find that most annoying. But then, I'm no FOH.

Open Mic Thursday
Now, when your hobby gets in the way of life's necessities, then you've got a problem, methinks. So, in deference to one of my beloved Wolvies (and because I'm fucking brain dead, as usual these days), I am offering up her topic for this week's Open Mic Thursday, in her own inimitable words. I wouldn't be so presumptuous to paraphrase her. Of course, if she wants to own up to this one, she can so do in the comments. But you'll probably guess who it is, anyway.

Would you rather have sex or knit?
(Maybe it'll bring Susan Maurer out of the woodwork to tell us about God's plan for our sexuality.)

I rather doubt that dear Susan reads this blog. However, if she does, please take your comments and post them on Joe's blog. He loves it when you infiltrate his comments and cause all of us to spit up small amounts of vomit. A self-proclaimed hits 'ho, he finds it satisfying to view his stats after a Maurer polemic.

Yee Haw or Some Shit Like That
Dallas looms on Monday. I'll be posting over the weekend, and most certainly from Denton next Thursday, since the laptop is always with me, as the camera will be too.

I asked Liz if she wanted me to bring her back something from Dallas. "Yeah," she sez. "I wanna cowboy hat." Cripes. Perhaps one in black with pink accents? Do they make punk cowboy hats? No doubt. I'll do my best.

The War
I don't know if any of you have been watching Ken Burns's documentary but I've been glued to the TV while knitting the Squeeze Socks (pics on the weekend). I've even forgone watching the Yanks, it's been so engrossing.

I was born a scant five years after the war's end and I still remember my mother talking about rationing, seeing my dad in his Army uniform when he went to Ft. Drum for reserve training. Because my father was German, I was frequently called a "Nazi" by kids in school, even though my dad and his family fled from Germany in 1939 because my grandfather was a Jew and my grandmother a Gentile.

Dad learned English from comic books, or so he told me. He was 16 when they came over and was immediately shipped to Oakwood Friends School, a private school in Poughkeepsie run by the Quakers. One of his pals was the actor Lee Marvin, who had been thrown out of many private schools and was incorrigible. He and Dad made moonshine and got caught. Lee was booted out. Dad got suspended.

However, the Quaker teachings did make an imprint. He wanted to be a medic in the Army but because he was a German national, they decided to put him into Intelligence, where he spent the war behind the lines, interrogating captured German Army and SS officers, and the like. He once told me that he would have become a Quaker because he believed in their principles, except that he understood that war sometimes was a necessary evil. As it was in WWII, well he knew. So he did his bit.

I think he would have enjoyed this documentary. As necessary as WWII was, the war in Iraq is its precise, reckless opposite. Dad and the men of his generation understood what truly constituted an Axis of Evil. They were a rare and handy breed. We will not see their likes again in our lifetime.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says 'I need you because I love you.' --Erich Fromm

I read this the other day somewhere and I was blown away by it. Succinct. And very true.

No FibreFest North for Me
With huge unhappiness, I've had to cancel my trip to Wiarton from September 28-30 because I have to go to Dallas for the week of October 1-5. Well, to be more precise, Denton, TX, where I will be training a pile of our newest client's employees. I have not been to Dallas since 1995, when I spent an uneventful and rather boring January weekend in Arlington, covering a doll show at the Marriott across the way from the Rangers' stadium. Talk about drizzling ennui.

I have mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, it's always fun to go somewhere new. On the other hand, I'm not the world's most enthusiastic flier. I do it but I don't like it. I'll be taking the camera and the knitting, though. Susan, my boss and buddy, wants to learn how, so since she's going to be stuck with me that week in Denton, looks like she'll be my captive pupil.

But there are two trips that will not be canceled by any client, thank God: The Rhinebeck weekend. A one-day foray down to Baltimore for Stitches Market on the Saturday. Yeah, I'll be incognito in my Foster Grants and perhaps a fugly sweater, if my sister can find one, which I'm sure she can at some hideous garage sale.

Open Mic Thursday
Apropos of the upcoming fiber extravaganzas, here's this week's topic:

Of the three, which would you like to attend most? And if you have been to all three, which was the best? Stitches, Rhinebeck, or Maryland Sheep & Wool? Or would you rather stay home and go to some S 'n' B at an overpriced coffeeshop?

I have my preference, which I'm sure you already have figured out. I have attended all three.

The Squeeze
Loopy takes credit for this moniker, since I am not naming names so that I don't cause any untoward embarrassment. But The Squeeze sometimes reads the blog so he knows who he is. I'm happy to report that all is well in Squeezeland. The Squeeze likes my socks. And actually asked for a pair.

And I'm right now concentrating on that, knitting manly socks on the train because they can be shoved into a laptop bag without much damage. Which led me to thinking about redesigning a pair I did last year, making them in Cascade 220 so that they're heavy socks. Not usually my modus operandi but this weekend, I'll see how it swatches up.

No Obligatory Knitting Shit
Nothing this week. I'm lucky if I do a few rounds on the socks before I nod off on the 5:31 out of Hoboken. I have two unfinished projects that I'd like to tackle this weekend, along with the Cascade 220 swatch: the Magenta Diamonds, which needs two rows ripped out and the final top edging done, and the Lavold pullover that needs one sleeve finished.

Other than that, all I have to say this Thursday is: LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! SHE'S A HUMAN BEING!

My role model at 15 was Jean Shrimpton. Anyone remember her? You have to be of a certain age, I suppose.

I so wanted to be her at that age. And she was and is a very smart woman. She's 65 now but I bet still striking. And rare and handy. Not like the Twit Sisters, Britney, Paris, and Lindsay.

Oh yeah, and I'm putting this up before midnight, cheating as usual. Because I'm fucking tired, so bite me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I wish there were pig-men. You get a few of those pig-men walking around, suddenly I'm looking a lot better. That way if someone wanted to fix me up they could say, 'Hey, at least he's no pig-man.’ --George Costanza

How's this for a new boyfriend? At least he's no pig-man.

Mmmm. That come-hither look.

I always had a thing for redheads. With facial hair. Oh well, he's taken. But then, so am I.

Garden State Sheep Festival
I headed southwest yesterday to the land of Pennsyltucky to meet up with Joe, with my ulterior motive being to cadge some of Thaddeus's fine espresso. And so that we could wander around this show, perhaps to buy. And so we did. It's becoming a very nice little show, doubled in the number of vendors since I last went two years ago.

Very pretty baskets. Oh yeah, and the pretty boy, too. It was damned chilly and windy--he must have gotten goosepimples on those sexy legs of his.

This is actually the second building of vendors, along with some animals. The first building was filled. The vendors are primarily local, from New Jersey and PA, with a lot of nice wares.

These women were examining a fleece. It was gorgeous, Jacob, I believe. I was so tempted. But then, I don't have enough time to fuck around with washing and carding a fleece. So I passed. However, I did meet up with some of Dolores's near and dear ones.
I immediately suspected that this was Dolores's cousin Arabella; from a distance, the family resemblance was striking, I thought. However, it was some snooty bitch from Bucks County. Fuck ewe.

The original Sam the Ram was resting, in between signings of his new book, Stuff About Me.

This local lady had one of the most elegant proboscises I've ever seen on a sheep. Long, aristocratic--clearly a ewe of good breeding.

I bought some Jacob to play with and two cones of lovely heathered purple wool--all reasonably priced.

All in all, a lovely day. I met up with BJ, one of my readers, who lives in my neck of the woods. Always great to meet you guys, ya know. So sorry Carol couldn't make it. She was stuck at home so we missed her muchly.
And, I did not sing "The Lumberjack Song" to Joe. I value our friendship.

Back to the Future
Well, 39 years ago, it was going to be my future, I thought. Wilson College, in Chambersburg, PA. A women's college, ranked 13th at that time. Six-hundred girls, most of them always clad in their gym suits. Not quite Seven Sisters but pretty respectable.
And my mother's choice, not mine. I wanted to go to NYU. That was forbidden, due to the kind of trouble I supposedly would get into in NYC. Remember, this was 1968. So she packed me off to this godforsaken college, her hippie daughter, to keep her out of trouble.
Well, that didn't happen. I got into plenty of trouble. At the end of my 2-semester stay, I was pregnant, flunking out, and they were happy to show me the door. Even though I managed to be stoned most of the time, I was not exactly euphoric. In fact, this was the onset of my manic-depression. I can date it to September 1968, when I put my bags and trunk into my dorm room and realized that this was about the end of the line in my 18-year-old life. It sucked.

Jimmy, bless him, came down to school every weekend that he was off duty, driving from the Sub Base in Groton, where he was stationed in the Navy, all the way down to Chambersburg. So last week, when I missed my exit for I81, I had to take a local state highway to pick it up again--in Chambersburg. I had not been there since the day I left in the spring of 1969.
I had to take a picture of the tree where I told Jimmy I was pregnant and he said, "Well, I guess we should get married." Boy, was I ever lucky with him. It was a cold January Saturday night, he had parked his white '65 Barracuda right by that tree, and we got out and walked over to it. I don't know why we did that. But that's where my future was sealed.
The place hasn't changed physically in all those years. It's exactly as I remembered it. I drove around campus for about 10 minutes and then, as I did 38 years ago, I left as fast as I came.
Copyright and Making Shit for Friends
Well, interesting comments from you all. Now I'll tell you how I handled it. First of all, let me say that the person in question is no longer my friend and I have not seen her in a number of years. That was my choice. She's a miserable, sorry soul, most certainly an alcoholic, and one of the most self-centered, critical people I have ever met. We had been friends for a very long time but she changed dramatically over the years.
I refused to make the garment. Not because of the copyright issue because at that time, I wasn't quite as aware as I am now about that. I refused because I knew that I could make money by doing some finishing work, without having to deal with her. Besides, as many of you noted, she was quite imperious about it. She had never understood my knitting, and frequently made fun of it, in fact. So no way was I going to knit her something, whether she paid or not. I did offer to teach her to knit, though. And got a snide comment in return.
I will knit for friends and family but on my terms. And for free. They know that when I knit something for them, it's special. Rare and handy, if you will.