Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads and keep them in bowls of water around the house.--George Bernard Shaw

No flowers--improvise.

Warp Speed, Mr. Scott
Too many bad puns to be made, no? Well, bite me, I'll keep making 'em.

In any case, I actually spent my weekend spinning silk, finishing up one sock, and winding the warp for the kitchen towels I'm making for Ted and me. Much to my everlasting chagrin, it would seem that young Buster, the cat-in-training, decided to take a chunk out of the blueberry cotton cone, so it will have to be the weft and the magenta the warp. No matter.

490 fucking threads. After doing half of them, I decided that putting all 490 on the warping board would be too much, so I'm making two warp chains. One is done, the other half-finished. By this weekend, I'll be ready to sley and thread the chains.

Nota bene: Sley means putting the threads through the reed slots, threading means putting them through the heddles that are connected to the shafts. Just so you know.

Warping is a huge pain in the ass but I'm bound and determined to discipline myself and use the old sock adage: When you've finished the first sock, start the second immediately.

When I've finished weaving these towels, I'm going to start another warp immediately. That way, I'll keep up on my weaving and maybe learn something.

Big Socks
Making a man's sock in size 13 is no laughing matter. It just goes on forever. But I actually did finish this last night and started its mate, so I'll have it done in a few days. If I focus on only socks, I can usually whip out a pair in four or five days. However, there is the Lavold sleeve to start, so this will get done when it gets done.

The bad thing about making socks for men with large feet is that you need two of the 100-gram balls because one is not enough. So my thoughts for this pattern are: Make a kid's size too, father and son socks. Works for me.

Spring Vague
I picked Vogue Knitting up yesterday along with the new Handwoven (excellent issue on overshot, by the way, for those interested).

Now you know I'm not going to buy it if it doesn't have some redeeming articles and designs. This issue, albeit a spring one, which season I generally don't care for, had several good things in it, to whit:

  • A new Surplice Baby Surprise Jacket that Meg found in one of EZ's journals
  • Some good buttonholes from Meg
  • Some nice lace garments
  • An interview with Maie Landra
  • Always Lee Ann's Made in Canada column, which is usually the only thing worth reading
The rest left me underwhelmed but most of it was not ugly, just boring. Although there were two absolutely hideous garments but I'll let you figure out which ones they are.

The cover garment is an amazing lace dress by Shirley Paden.

Now, I generally eschew knitted dresses in general for obvious reasons: hem droop and baggy-ass syndrome. A 1978 effort done in fingering weight yarn (and incidentally, included the cat's paw lace motif used in Paden's dress) taught me much about knitting dresses. The knitting needs to be firm and you need to find a shape that ain't gonna turn you into a Fat Bottom Girl.

However, this dress is just beautiful and designed in such a way that you need not fear baggy-ass and who cares if the hem drops?

As designed, it's suitable for a 20-something. But you could easily lengthen it. I would do so and knit it in black. Unfortunately, the largest bust size is 40. That sure ain't me, Ms. Tit-o-licious.

In any case, I couldn't be bothered making this, unless Liz suddenly decides the punk look is out and she wants to emulate Barbie. That ain't gonna happen. But Liz is about the only person I know who could pull this dress off.

Hot Tuna
Is there nothing worse than a tuna melt? I'm downstairs making lunch a half-hour ago and was ruminating on my method of preparing tuna for a sandwich.

As you know, I rarely, if ever, put up recipes on this blog, although I love to cook. But I do make tunafish rather oddly. Here's what I do, keeping in mind that all ingredients other than the fish are eyeballed.

Mar's Basic Tuna Sandwich
1 can Progresso tunafish
small amount of mayo
equal portion of ketchup
Gold's Extra Hot horseradish
chopped onion (optional, but provides flavor that celery doesn't have)

And then there's my weird Japanese-Chinese tunafish:

Mar's Weird Japanese-Chinese Tuna Sandwich
1 can Progresso tunafish
small amount of mayo
equal portion of hoisin sauce
chopped scallion.

Somehow, I think a Tex-Mex version would be completely revolting and certainly not rare and handy.

Bon appetit, as she used to say.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers.--Jonathan Swift

Where the fuck is spring? They say it's here.

The hermetically sealed phials are in some box in the basement, I guess.

A Brief Respite
Took a couple of hours Tuesday to run down to Montclair and have lunch with Mumsy. And visit Stix-n-Stitches. This has become my local yarn shop, even though it is a 34-mile drive each way.

S-n-S is one fabulous yarn shop, for you North Jerseyans and anyone else in the area. They have the best selection of sock yarn I've ever seen in one place, lots of wonderful yarn, a big book section, and they are some of the nicest knitting shop people I've ever met. One of them dragged every single Lavold book out for Ma, rather than her trying to do it herself. Between this place and Twist, I can't bitch.

Although I do wish that I lived next door to Halcyon or Harrisville.

Facing Forward
The Lavold front is almost done.

Now, I'm going to complain about Lavold's directions, which are singularly peculiar and often misleading, to put it mildly. This being my third Lavold, I've come to find that you simply cannot trust the charts nor the directions. I've found mistakes in each of the charts. No schematics in any of her books. She does a particular type of raised increase, which is explained in her first book but not in any of the later books.

So if you buy one of these softcover books and you don't understand how the increase is done (and it must be done her way), you're shit out of luck.

Out of Print
Get your eBay seller's page ready because the Harmony Guides are now out of print. I got that from Stix-n-Stitches, so I scooped up the copies I was missing.

Do I hear a starting bid of $100 a piece?

Charts and Stitch Patterns and Barbara Walker, Oh My!
I like the Harmony books, despite the fact that the earlier ones are not charted. Well, neither are the BW Treasuries but so what? I generally chart them myself. And frankly, the Treasuries' stitch patterns are now so overused that it's gotten to the point where if I see them on a garment in a mag, I often keep going. Twenty-five years of looking at all those patterns, you know?

These days, I use my old Mon Tricot Knitting Encyclopedia 1500 Stitches, Beautiful Knitting Patterns, and an old Burda stitch pattern book from the early '80s.

Michelene commented upon the commercial potential of having the BW Treasury patterns charted. That's an interesting proposition but one that would be an enormous undertaking. I doubt you'll see it, although I think they would sell. Jeez, with all the bad knitting books out there, it would be great to see classics like these revamped.

When Spinsterina made the comment that she was going to convince Eunny to switch to the Japanese charting system, I was amused. The Craft Yarn Council of America will waste a ton of money pushing their Yarn Standards, but no one seems interested in standardizing chart symbols.

I learned charting using the Japanese system in the early '80s because I was a machine knitter at the time. I would not necessarily choose Barbara Walker's system over that one but the knitting industry should pick one and stick to it.

Stitch 'n' Pitch
For fellow baseball fans, TNNA is promoting this. I always take my knitting to ballgames but due to security issues, it's not that easy to drag a large knitting bag into Yankee Stadium. Sock knitting is about all I'll take.

Seems to me that if anyone can turn knitting into an "event" these days, they will. Enough, already.

I'm rather pleased that I didn't see the Yankees on the Stitch 'n' Pitch schedule. Only the Mets. But then the Mets are a warm and fuzzy team, whereas the Yanks are not. They're just rare and handy. Eleven days to Opening Day against the Devil Rays.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Men have become the fools of their tools--Henry David Thoreau

Not much time to blog, I'm afraid.

So I'm opening the blog up to you. For a day or two, anyway.

Open Mike Tuesday

View this and discuss.

Monday, March 12, 2007

IK Update
Pam Allen is going to Classic Elite as creative director.

About time CE figured out they needed a deft hand. Their designs and yarn hit rock bottom after Kristin left.
Alert the Media
I just found out that Eunny Jang has been named the new editor of Interweave Knits. An inspired choice. Read about it here.

One of the reasons that it makes sense is that Eunny not only has the technical knitting knowledge but a solid sense of what comprises good design.

I would be sorry to see her blog go away. It is a repository of excellent info and interesting knitting projects. I don't know if she'll be able to continue. It would seem to be a conflict of interest, for one thing. For another, how the hell she'd ever have the time to do both is beyond me. But stranger things have happened.

IK has had its ups and downs but it remains the most viable of all the mags. I haven't always found each issue to be particularly appealing. Nonetheless, I've stuck with it since its inception because I've felt that the staff cares enormously about the kind of articles and projects they publish. And they care about their readers. Which is more than I can say for the rest of the garbage magazines out there.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
You do wonder whether she's destined for "Dancing With the Stars" at some point.--Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, about Ann Coulter

I'm rooting for Heather Mills McCartney.

Heather v. Ann. Now there's a ratings dance-a-thon.

Getting Lavolder by the Minute
Coming along nicely. I do find the directions rather oddly written at times. For example, you are told to place markers but not where. I decided to block out the patterning with them. It's obvious where the chart begins and ends but I like the markers there, even though I know when to work the chart. Markers = blankies.

I do like the pointy thing; however, it will not be pointing at my ass. The back is plain stockinette with the garter stitch border. Good for when I'm watching Heather do her hiphop routine.

So at least I now have a major project along with the minor (socks) ones.

At some point, I would like to get started on the Wedding Ring Shawl. Even if my teammates chicken out. Perhaps in the spring, when I can sit on the deck with no distractions.

Lazy Me
I'm going to make some observations about the last two entries' comments. Because I'm fatigued today, having lost an hour of sleep with this idiotic early Daylight Savings Time nonsense. I just can't wait to see what wonderful energy savings this will elicit. Seems like it's pissing more people off than not.

Freyalyn: And the Arwen cardi - unexpectedly narrow in the upper arms. Impossible to alter without pulling entire hood out. Resistant to blocking (but real wool might be better). Buggrit.

Yeah, I thought that the directions for the sleeves seemed to make them awfully narrow, based on the amount of plain knitting between the shortrowing. Real wool is always better, dontcha know?

Helena: Spiffy bangs! My sister and I had those too! We hated them.

Ah, you have no idea how much I hated those Buster Brown bangs. Once I became a teenager, I let them grow. My mother would say, "You look like a sheepdog." She still says it.

Michelene: I think if the neckband on the Lavold sweater was narrower, and the button/pin holding it closed was some type of brushed metal and echoed the knotwork, the sweater would be(in the words of the yougest resident teenager) "spifftastic". I'd also nip in the waist, and slightly bell the sleeves. Does the back of the sweater have a point too? I don't need directions to my booty.

Agreed re: the neckline. I'm not nipping in the waist and belling the sleeves. I will certainly shorten the sleeves, though. Because I do not have gorilla arms. My booty needs no GPS indicator. Let alone a knitted one.

Lee Ann: I'd give an opinion about the idea of sweatering a dog, or even about what colour you could go if you (gasp) gave up blonde, if I could only stop laughing at Tricky's notion of a guy wearing that Lavold sweater. I am turning 40 in two months, but clearly I am emotionally a wee bit younger, because I swear, I'd have to make up a song to go with that front flap action.

So, where's the song? I want the song. Turning 40 in two months? Ya think you're getting any sympathy from me, girlfriend? Huh.

Liz: I knew you lived in Morris County somewhere, hadn't realized it was Wharton. I went to MacKinnon MS while my dad was posted at Picatinny.

The Punk Princess is a Duffy ES and MacKinnon MS grad. I've lived in Morris County since 1988, other than a two-year absence when I lived in Allamuchy--10 years in Rockaway Township, 5 years in Budd Lake, 1 year in Mine Hill and now in Wharton. Before that, I lived in Montclair. Grew up there. But I love living in Morris County, although it's getting a bit crowded these days. My sister belongs to the Picatinny Waterpark. I like wangling invites there when I get tired of Mt. Hope Pond in the summer.

So, between widgets, wikis and what-have-you, the web is sounding more and more like a Frankie and Annette beach party movie.

Here's my opinion on wikis. Who needs 'em? They are potentially spurious repositories of information, since the general rule is that anyone can add information. And if they are in fact screened for veracity, who's doing the screening? The wiki owner? And who might that person be? Wikipedia has had its share of problems. Smaller, less controlled wikis are open to worse.

And as a dear friend of mine, who shall remain nameless because she also blogs, says, what's the point of having all information in one place?

We don't. And we won't. Because we can't. It ain't happening in our lifetimes. This is more of the instant gratification business that seems to be so pervasive these days. "I want everything handed to me right now, the way I want it."

I far prefer sifting through information that I've culled from Google or going through my bookcase than going to a wiki. There's something much more fulfilling in doing research that way than having it handed to you, all nicely wrapped up and tied with a bow. Because the thrill is in the hunt. And I am the one who determines whether the source is reliable.

I realize that there are several people now engaged in developing knitting wikis. At one time, I thought about doing it. And then asked myself, "Why?" Did I really want to waste my time maintaining something like that when I could perhaps be knitting something? Did I honestly think that any wiki I might start would be the end-all and be-all of knitting knowledge. Nope. After all these years, what I don't know about knitting is what keeps me fascinated with it.

You know the KnitDweebs will continue to ask idiotic questions on the lists. Because if they won't use Google, what makes anyone think they'll bother to use a wiki?

I won't be going to the knitting wikis either. I have books.

So with that, I need a cup of coffee and some TV. And perhaps get to bed early because sleep is a rare and handy commodity, especially when you wake up at 2 a.m. with a dry mouth. Spring in NJ can't come too soon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I am a Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz, as you can plainly see.--Dr. Suess

I do not like green silk with ramie. I do not like them, SamIAmie.

Or words to that effect.

Tell me if this is not a Dr. Suess hat? On a Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz.

I just couldn't leave that Julia yarn alone. I talked myself into breaking the boundaries. Such fun it was, too.

Many thanks to the Punk Princess for obliging her Gangsta Gram. Now mind you, she doesn't want the hat. But she's completely convinced that by modeling my stuff, she gets her Warholian 15 minutes.

I hope she never becomes disillusioned.

I knit this over the course of two evenings. It could be done in one day, easily. I suppose I'll have to wear it, like the Mad Hatter. It's a token toque, as it were. The square crown was fun to do. As was the rest of it.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant
OK, so to clarify:

  • I love dogs.

  • I loathe the thought of knitting for a pet.

  • I am not going to darken my hair.

  • I will be reworking the neckline and the armscyes for the Lavold sweater.

  • I don't have a problem with the pointy crotch thing.

  • I would marry M-H if I were a lesbian. Although I don't know where that would leave Sandra. But she makes a great friend and I can't wait to meet her at Rhinebeck next fall.

  • Tricky is correct: JT's socks are made from Step. Great yarn. Haven't had any splitting so far.

  • I've promised Ted some kitchen towels so now I must warp the loom.

  • In answer to Denyse, my Arwen is dying on the needles. For some reason, I just don't feel like working on it. The yarn may be destined for something else.

There you are. Got it? Good.

On Beyond Zebra
I haven't said much about this issue of IK because frankly, the less said, the better. However, I did like the new layout. I've been through the magazine's several iterations and it's always been improved. They're smart--the redesign isn't in-your-face, as the last Knitter's was a few years ago. It's subtle but very classy. Now, if there were one thing in the issue that I wanted to knit, that would be nice.

OK, now you're going to truly cremate me. Because I bought Arctic Lace and wish I hadn't. I thought it was totally boring, with the exception of the Moebius scarf. Which pattern I could live without.

I am not interested in the Cup'tik knitters. I have little interest in knitting with quivit, although I may spin some if presented with the opportunity and the money.

I realize the value and importance of documenting Alaskan knitting for historical purposes but to be honest, there was too much of that and not much in the way of actual stitch patterns or designs for the knitter, at least nothing challenging or enticing. I didn't hitch my bandwagon to Cowichan stuff either, so it's a matter of taste, as it usually is. I don't care for Native American knitting motifs. Now weaving, particularly Navajo, is another subject entirely. That I do like.

My bad. I grabbed the book when I was in the Reston Barnes & Noble because it was the only knitting book they had that I thought I might want. But didn't look at it first. So I have no one to blame but myself.

I Wish We Could Do What They Do in Katroo. They Sure Know How to Say "Happy Birthday to You!"

My little brother Rich is 53 today. Happy birthday, mein bruder.

Sorry I hit you on the head with a milk bottle. Sorry I pushed you out of the apple tree that time. Sorry I tortured you daily. But when the chips were down and the neighborhood bullies went for us, we were a fighting team.

And you're still the one person I'd call for a pickup baseball game. And the one I'd send into Old Man Cornell's yard to retrieve the ball.

A rare and handy brother. And my dear friend. Love ya, Rich.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.--George Carlin

The 503 mile roundtrip from Wharton, NJ to Reston, VA is 809.5 kilometers.

Now doesn't that sound exhausting?

It's so good to be home again, back in Morris County. I gotta say, Reston and Herndon are two of the most soulless places I have ever visited, including Toledo. All concrete, impossible traffic, and more malls than God intended anyone to build.

If I've offended any Restonians or Herndonians, tough shit. I'm a Jersey girl, whaddya want?

No Hope Sunday
I refreshed my jaded palate by visiting with Joe and Thaddeus yesterday down in New Hope, PA, one of my favorite places and definitely two of my very favorite people. Not that I needed to drive more but it's a mere 57 miles from my house to theirs. And certainly far more fulfilling a trip.

Naturally, Joe and I went to Twist first. Naturally, we both bought stuff. Every time I walk into that place, I buy stuff. Deb Brady just knows what to stock. So here's the damage.

Two Elsebeth Lavold books. I haven't seen any of her more recent books, not since the second one, which I didn't care for. But these are gold.

Naturally, I had to buy some Silky Wool to make this sweater from Book Nine.

And yes, as ever, the ball of sock yarn to add to the collection.

(I did not bring my camera, so if you want to see a lovely mugshot of moi reveling in my purchases, Joe put one up on his blog.)

I love to shop with Joe. We have almost identical tastes so we're terrible enablers of each other. Which makes it all the more fun. Read all about the folk-art fish on his blog. I'm really tempted to go back there and buy it, if it isn't a gazillion bucks, which knowing New Hope prices, it probably is. And I have no idea where the hell I'd put it. But I want it.

Boyfriend Myth Solution
I don't believe that crap. However, I think that if you feel a pressing need to knit for your boyfriend, the solution is a pair of socks. For starters.

After all, not everyone LOVES handknit sweaters. My brother won't wear them.

Blasphemy. So bite me.

I had started this design last year and then it got lost in the shuffle. So I resurrected it, got some Soft sock yarn and started a pair of socks for JT. He doesn't know he's getting them yet, but since he does read the blog when he thinks of it, he'll find out. This is his reward for keeping me electronic company in VA so I wasn't too lonely.

I worked on these socks during the little downtime I had. As Joe says, if you don't travel for business, you have no idea how little free time you actually get to knit.

Now, this is a type of broken rib pattern, based on a 2/2 rib. The purls always remain constant, but the knit stitches are broken with purl, alternating every other unit. I stretched out the sock so you can see what I mean.

The nice thing about this stitch pattern is that the purl breaks do not diminish the rib's natural stretchiness. And being an 8-stitch repeat, it works nicely for socks.

If JT's a really good boy, he might get a sweater next. But only if he asks.

More Small Shit
The Julia yarn that Kristin gave me when she was at my house was burning a hole in my bag this week but all I could do were the socks. So today, I started my pillbox hat design, for which I had done the charts. This is lovely yarn to knit with.

Obviously, I haven't gotten very far but I'm liking it. It seems to me that for the past year or so, I've moved away from the bright colors that I generally seek, like a magpie seeks shiny things.

It's time to go back to my colorful roots. Heh. I think I need to think outside the box, to use an express I generally abhor.

Do you all find yourselves stuck in a color rut at one time or another?

(I'm even thinking that my hair color is in a rut. I'm tempted to go a bit darker. After all, I've never made any bones about being a bottle blonde.)

So maybe just because I'm going to be 57 (or 37, as I believe I am mentally) next month, perhaps change is in the wind.

Just sayin'. Alert the media. Oh, shut the fuck up.

You Read It Here First
I'm going on record to say that I will absolutely warp the loom within the next 10 days. If only to shut JT up. He's been razzing me about it.

I'm going to put aside the Morehouse warp and go back to the cotton warp for the kitchen towels. And just try to get something on the loom.

Will tatting be next? Now there's a rare and handy craft for which I have no talent. And no use.

Postscriptum: I want to go on record by saying that the Men Who Knit and the Dogs They Knit For, or whatever the fuck that book is called, is filled with the fugliest designs I've ever seen. Yeah, I know. It's a Modesitt creation. It's totally hideous. Gets my award for the worst knitting book of the year, bar none. So have yourselves a flame-o-rama. Ugly is as ugly does. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, as I always do.