Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It takes a long time to grow young.--Pablo Picasso

So, another year will bite the dust tomorrow. Numero 57. Yikes!

The older I get, the more ambivalent I become about my birthday. On the one hand, I'd like to celebrate the fact that I'm alive for yet another spring. Watching the mallard float on the pool upon the pool the other day made me laugh. Dopey duck. He kept diving and finding nothing.

On the other hand, I hate looking down the barrel of the gun that is 60. Sheesh. Whyfore how come I don't feel any older than, um, 35?

Yeah, numbers are numbers. I'm still the wild child I ever was. That hasn't changed much.

Any birthday dinner invitations will be gleefully accepted. Heh.

Spring on the Delaware with the Wolvies
Well, Joe and Carol beat me to it but I'll throw up some pictures, with blessedly none of me. It was a perfect spring day down in Stockton, NJ and we had a lovely brunch. I hadn't seen Kathy since Rhinebeck, so that made it all the betterer. The Punk Princess deigned to come along, knowing full well that Carol would make her pay if she didn't show.

I just can't help myself. Too kewl.

A good picture of Kathy and a rather goofy one of Carol. What does Joe have in his hand?

Live fast, die fun. Certainly my motto, too.

Why I love spring in New Jersey

They Say It's Your Birthday--It's My Birthday Too, Yeah

My sibs and I sing that to each other on our respective birthdays. Karen was born a week before me, albeit 12 years later, and brother Rich exactly 7 weeks before, 4 years later.

Carol gave me the most wonderful birthday present. Look at this--alpaca top, dyed by herself, the Mistress of All Messy Dyepots.

And you know that as soon as I got home, I hit the Matchless with a vengeance. (Well, after oiling it, fucking around with a new drive band, and fiddling with the tension.)
This begs to be laceweight. It cannot be anything else but a lace shawl. So for the hell of it, I separated the two plys of some leftover Jaggerspun (formerly used for the Melanie shawl) and compared my single. I've made some observations about spinning laceweight that I'll write about in my next entry.

Topeka! (Shut the fuck up, I'll make my puns and be damned.)

My pictures do not do this alpaca top justice. It is a magnificent sunset of pinks, reds, and a dab of purple, orgasmic to spin. The shading is unbelievable. If you don't buy from Black Bunny Fibers, then you've lost out on an experience worth having time and time again.

Open Mike Tuesday
OK, gang, we're back to this. And I promised a topic that's more positive, so here it is, courtesy of Carol, if I recall correctly:

Who's the best new knitting designer
(say within the past two years)?

I know who my choice would be, but I'll leave for you to clutter the comments.

You know it's time to go to bed when Letterman has Sanjaya doing the Top Ten. Sleep is much rarer and handier than a 17-year-old talentless wonder enjoying the last of his 15 minutes.

Please, God, let him drift back into obscurity. For music's sake.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep -
He hath awakened from the dream of life -
'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife,
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit's knife
Invulnerable nothings. -We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.
--From Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Another vicious tragedy, in a country that is rapidly sinking into the depths of utter squalor. I don't know my country any more. With the deaths of these students in Virginia, you have to wonder how much more madness will there be? A fearful question.

As with 9/11, when I wept at the faces of the spouses left behind, the children crying for a lost parent, here I see in my mind's eye the faces of these parents, whose children in a supposed safe haven are gone on a mundane Monday morning.

But then, death often visits in the course of a regular day. On a mundane Monday morning. When spring is in the air.

I'll wait until next week to do Open Mike Tuesday. I'm not much in the mood.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.--Kurt Vonnegut

In the midst of the Imus/Baby DannieLynn media circus, the death this week of one of the great writers of our time has been relegated to a sidebar.

If you have not read Kurt Vonnegut, start with Slaughterhouse-Five or Breakfast of Champions.

New House Rule
After the troll incident this past week, I will say this:

You are welcome to express your opinion at any time, be it assenting or dissenting. However, if you cannot present a reasonable, well-worded point-counterpoint, and resort to what is known as "snip-n-drool," the language of inarticulate trolls whose only purpose in life is to draw attention to themselves, I will delete your comment without notice and you will be banned from commenting.

If you are unsure as to what snip-n-drool really means, I suggest you read this, link courtesy of Carol S.

A better essay on trolldom I've not read, written by Bill Palmer.

As I have said many times before, this blog is not a democracy. I own it, I pay for hosting it, I write it.

Every time someone comments, I receive an e-mail from Haloscan that contains the comment, which I generally read. I have the ability, as site owner, to edit and delete any comment, and to ban the sender's IP address and/or report it as spam. I can also determine, through my web stats service, the IP's location and its service provider.

Obviously, I can't tell who's using that address; however, I can and will report the IP to the service provider if any abuse is forthcoming from that address.

I will not put the comments on moderation because that's a pain in the ass, and 99.9% of my readers are sane, reasonable, and intelligent people who do not deserve to be treated as kindergarteners.

Frankly, I shouldn't have to explain all this. Unfortunately, there are trolls out there, as we've seen.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
The sleeve to the Lavold sweater is about 1/4" from being finished.

My preferred method of attaching sleeves to the body is by using a 3-needle bind-off. That entails a little extra work but the resulting seam is well worth the time and effort.

How do I do that? Well, by leaving the sleeve stitches on hold, rather than binding them off, sewing the shoulder seams together, and then picking up the same number of stitches around the armhole as there are left for the sleeve top. Once you have that done, you can bind the sleeve to the armhole, resulting in a perfect seam. That is, if you've picked up the armhole stitches cleanly.

If you want to use this finishing technique, it's critical that you make sure you incorporate selvedge stitches on the front and the back. And it works best on dropped shoulders, since there is no sleeve cap shaping, although I imagine it would work if you short-rowed the sleeve cap.

I've never tried that, but why not? The only caveat I can see is that you'd lose the decorative decreasing if that's a design element, such as in a raglan. I'd be interested to know if anyone has done sleeve caps this way.

Lackluster Spring
With a nor'easter brewing for Sunday and Monday, I can see that Saturday will be for running around doing errands. Sunday I'll finally sley the loom and maybe even get the entire warp done. Easter got in my way last week.

Who in the Northeast is not tired of the grim, gray chilliness that's passing itself off as spring?

The view from my bedroom/office this morning.

No forsythia in bloom on the 13th of April? What wid dat? And the potential of snow on Monday? Shoot me now.

Reading Frenzy
I have to admit, I read as much as I knit. Possibly more, and certainly faster. One of my favorite books is Pride and Prejudice, and being a Jane Austen devotee, I am very picky about those present-day authors who seek to emulate Jane. However, I highly recommend a wonderful trilogy by Pamela Aidan, An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire, and These Three Remain, written from Fitzwilliam Darcy's viewpoint.

You will not be disappointed.

So now it's time for another cup of coffee. Or perhaps a nice cup of tea. Tea is as rare and handy a drink as exists. Chai, anyone? No petit-fours today, howsomever

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Poetry has done enough when it charms, but prose must also convince.--H.L. Mencken

I stopped writing poetry when I was about 18. Just around the time I realized that simply being charming was not going to earn me a living. (Although it's helped a lot during job interviews.)

Lately I've been on a Dixie Chicks kick. Their Grammy-winning album, Taking the Long Way, is one that I highly recommend. Wonderful lyrics, outstanding music. And I'm not a country music fan, per se, so this is not your typical "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" kind of album.

The title track, Taking The Long Way Around, has lyrics that truly remind me of my own life. Because I always seem to take the long way.

Open Mike Tuesday
Two suggestions, one from Patsi Purl and the other from Gauss. In deference to Patsi's fin
e suggestion, I think many of you opined on that topic already. So it's the Gaussian equation this time around. (Sounds like something that was discussed in my senior chemistry class, the one I barely passed.)

What is the fugliest design you've seen this year? Name names.

Next week, though, let's have a more positive topic of discussion. Negativity can be tiresome. That doesn't mean I want the Pollyannas to crawl out of the woodwork, mind you.

Ongoing Lavold

Put the socks down and went back to the Lavold sweater, since I'd rather like to get it done and move on to the next thing. The front is done, so I will do a sleeve, then the back, and finally the other sleeve. That's usually the order I use when knitting a sweater that's in pieces.

I realize the picture sucks but I was too lazy to take it downstairs to the living room, where it might photograph better.

I will say one thing. If you've never knit a Lavold design and use this book, you won't have the foggiest idea how to make the increases a la Lavold. And as I was reading through the directions for the sleeve to check the sleeve increases, this one sentence struck me as absolutely astonishing:

If necessary, work the last few increase rows closer together.

Excuse me? That tells me two things. One, that whoever wrote these directions--Cornelia Hamilton Tuttle, I believe--really doesn't give a shit about some poor soul who has no experience in calculating sleeve increases and won't have the foggiest idea as to how to figure out if this needs to be done. Or that it's possible to get away with not doing the final few increases. Two, that perhaps the sleeve increases weren't calculated against the row gauge. You have to wonder.

I'm shortening the sleeve and using the directions for the next size down, since I hate baggy sleeves. I opted not to do the sleeves as set-in, since my other Lavold sweater has dropped shoulders, which I modified for a better fit. I will do that on this one as well.

Crochet Shit and Assorted Rants
Whenever one of the Wolverinas does something wonderful, I reserve the right to make a big fucking deal out of it.

My friend Kathy Merrick has made the cover of the latest Interweave Crochet. And it's about time, too. Kathy is unarguably the best crochet designer out there. When you see the crap put out by people like Doris Chan (where on earth did she come from?) and most of the others, Kathy's work is sublime.

One thing I will say in agreement with the comments made about last week's Open Mike discussion. Wenlan Chia's designs are absolutely ghastly. I worry that her "sweaters" will make already bulimia-ridden models believe completely that they are indeed fat.

Uh oh. I have a new name to add to the KC Glossary. ChiaPet.Sorry. Can't help it. Bite me. She's fine fodder.

Lefthanded Knitting and Other Tedious Topics
Obviously, I was being much too obtuse for some readers when I said, quote unquote:

Personally, I'd like to see opinions about the excrutiating difficulty endured by lefthanded knitters, whether knitting needles would have been considered weapons of mass destruction on a JetBlue plane resting on a runway for eight hours, or whether combined knitting is a bigger pain in the ass than it's worth.

Did you honestly think I was asking for a discussion of lefthanded knitting? Please. Perhaps my feeble attempts at sarcasm went over some people's heads.

And I think we've seen altogether much too much whining elsewhere about "I'm scarred because I was told I knit wrong." Shit, I've been a southpaw for years, so what? I knit weird and I don't give a flying fuck. Heh. My fingers do little crab-like movements when knitting. Now that's bizarre.

Combination knitting? I thought perhaps that some Modesitt aficionados might have screamed, "Combination knitting saved me from the depths of despair and the knowing, sly looks of other knitters." Ted, dear, of course anyone with half a brain should be past all of this nonsense. But I maintain that if you can't comprehend the construction of the stitch by some intelligent observation while you knit, learning combination knitting isn't going to make you all the better informed.

Time for bed. Staying up this late isn't so rare and handy. I will post this at the stroke of midnight, just so it's actually Tuesday. And then turn into a rutabaga. Or a pumpkin. Pick a veggie.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I think a poet is anybody who wouldn't call himself a poet. --Bob Dylan

It's National Poetry Month. So in keeping with the spirit of things, I'll be printing some of my favorites.

My first writing efforts as a child were poems. I wish I still had them. However, these years, I find poetry in music lyrics that speak to me. Here's one of my favorites, And She Was, by David Byrne of Talking Heads.

My Talking Heads
Well, that was quite the onslaught of comments. I have no comment, other than to say that some of you are almost, if not more, vitriolic than I am.

One thing I don't do these days is badmouth other bloggers in public. (Well, there's one I have jabbed in the past but that blogger is so boring, it's gotten to the point where I don't bother, since she's now a parody of herself.) That's not to say that I don't have my opinions but you may presume that if I don't mention them, I don't read them.

There is one thing for which I will be forever grateful. The comments that I get are not from asskissing idiots who have nothing better to say than

"I luuuurvvve your blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Spare me. What may interest you is that a few of the "popular" bloggers have less of the milk of human kindness running through their veins than they'd like you to believe. But since they write their blogs for the great unwashed, that's what they get in return. I'm pleased that my Comments are a forum rather than a mass paean to my wonderfulness.

I started off opinionated from the get-go. You know what you're getting with me. If you don't, you'd better leave in a hot New York minute.

That said, I will entertain Patsi Purl's suggestion about bloggers you don't like. But I'd like other suggestions from the rest of you. It can be controversial. Or not.

Personally, I'd like to see opinions about the excrutiating difficulty endured by lefthanded knitters, whether knitting needles would have been considered weapons of mass destruction on a JetBlue plane resting on a runway for eight hours, or whether combined knitting is a bigger pain in the ass than it's worth.

That's how I'm feeling about them lately. It would seem that this week, all the knitting I've been able to manage has been on these ubiquitous sogs.

My endless fascination with socks has to do with several potential personality flaws.
  • I love symmetry. It must be the German in me.
  • I can be anal-retentive when it comes to matching the dye repeats perfectly
  • Sometimes I have a short attention span when it comes to knitting and I need to get something finished
Sock-making happens in the spring and the summer, in order to replenish my sock drawer and to make something knitted for my loved ones. Socks are almost always welcome gifts.

Today brightened considerably when a package from Black Bunny Fibers arrived, posthaste.

Yeah, more sock yarn. Nobody dyes like Carol does. Rainbow Bright on the left, Lively on the right. There's nothing I like better than bright colors for socks that I wear.

I was once described by a certain doctor as an effervescent breath of fresh air. Well, maybe sometimes. I think you can tell by the socks I'm wearing if that's the case on the particular day. With my 57th birthday looming, I'm rather seeing through a glass, darkly. However, it will pass and I'll be back to my teenage mentality shortly.

Bright socks help. A lot. So does sex.

Not this week. Too much work and the eyes are too tired after 5. I'm going to try to get my towel warp on the loom tomorrow. Sunday is Easter, so die ganze Familie is coming over for ham, raisin sauce, red potatoes, fresh asparagus and green beans. I enjoy having an excuse to cook.

I'm sure Mammy and I will sit and knit. I have to re-educate her as to Lavold's particular increase methods. She can't figure it out. Jenn and Rin will run their mouths, Norm and brother Rich will chat about movies, Liz will make a 5-minute cameo for dinner and then go back to her room to talk to her friends. The self-named Scrap Curmudgeon will show up with my nephews, I hope, if her in-laws leave at a reasonable hour.

In other words, a typical family get-together. Rare? No. Handy? Absolutely. Because they're the best and I love them to pieces.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Let's make a law that gay people can have birthdays, but straight people get more cake - you know, to send the right message to kids--Bill Maher

Tomorrow, April 4, is QueerJoe's birthday. Please go to his blog and leave happy birthday wishes for the hits-whore. He'll be watching his stats counter all day.

I see that there have been a lot of new readers. That's great. Lia asked, "Who's the Tiny Diva?" Although it was answered, I'm guessing that many of my references may leave some readers in the dark.

So here's the KC's official glossary of terms that I use frequently. Some to disparage those in need of it.

  • The X-men - Alexis and David Xenakis, mutilators of Knitter's magazine
  • DragonBoy - Rick Mondragon, fashion disaster and blue-pencil wannabe for Knitter's
  • KnitDweebs - The unknowing, the uncaring, and the clueless. Credentials include publicly announced Random Acts of Kindness, overt ego-enhancing charity knitting, an aversion to Google, and a predilection for petroleum-based yarn.
  • Tiny Diva - The frenetic, pulsating, and frequently pink Fun-Fur clad Lily Chin
  • Vague - Vogue Knitting (I don't necessarily take credit for this one.)
  • The Wolverinas - my hoodlum knitting friends, who include the aforementioned birthday boy, Kathy Merrick, Selma the Axe-Murderess, Carol S., Lisa the Human Gaydar, Franklin, Liza Prior Lucy, and the inimitable Loopy
  • The Punk Princess - granddaughter Liz
  • The Scrap Curmudgeon - My sister Karen, who just can't seem to come up with an original handle for herself

I know the Wolvies could add more. They may, if they like.

Canada Redux
I promise never again to make fun of "aboot" et al. However, stop being so fucking sensitive, my dear Canadian friends. No one gets more abuse than a New Jerseyan. Not even Canadians, eh?

If you live in New Jersey, and I have many readers who do, you know that most people's image of NJ is the Turnpike and all other opening sequences of the Sopranos. And if you land at Newark Liberty Airport, that's what you see.

As for my accent, bite me. So I say "cawfee" and use other horrific pronounciations. Fuck that. At least I'm articulate. Besides, every time I hear Loopy on the phone, I get audio hallucinations of Ann Landers. (Now I'm gonna get it.)

There's still plenty of farmland here. We can only pray that the current housing market decline will keep it that way.

Open Mike Tuesday
I guess everyone liked last week's, so I'm going to make it a regular feature. That is, as regular as I make anything. Not much going on with fiber. I'm in stasis, dontcha know. Haven't done a damned thing in the past two days, not a stitch to be discussed. Probably more on the weekend.

So here's your topic:

The one knitting designer or "personality" up whose ass you'd most like to stick a hot knitting needle.

Go for it. And gay boys, let's answer this in an appropriate manner, OK? I can almost hear Franklin now.

If you have a topic you'd like to see in this space, let me know. I'll entertain it.

Make sure it's rare and handy, especially if you're new to the blog. Because the old-timers will tell you what happens if it isn't.

Update: First--if you didn't get the Letterman April Fool's joke, don't admit it publicly. Second, today we'll finally know who DannieLynn's father is. I'm breathless with anticipation.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
We'll explain the appeal of curling to you if you explain the appeal of the National Rifle Association to us.--Andy Barrie

For those of you who don't know who Andy Barrie is, read this. Now you know.

O, Canada!
Today was Canada Day in my house. I had a wonderful phone-o-rama with my beloved friend, Ted Myatt, and read Lee Ann's blog.

And realized (or is it realised?) how many Canadian knitters and Canadian yarn companies have influenced me.

The short list, besides the two aforementioned people:
  • Veronik Avery
  • Kate Gilbert
  • Lucy Neatby
  • Sivia Harding
  • JoVE
  • Barb Brown
  • Katherine Matthews
  • Lars Rains
  • Koigu
  • Fleece Artist
  • Fiddlesticks Knitting

I know, I've left out just a few. No offense intended and some were omitted on purpose. But those listed are the ones that I appreciate the
most. (I'd do links but it's late and I'm lazy, so Google.)

The first Canadian I ever met was at college. She was born in Canada but raised in Brasilia, her father being a Canadian diplomat posted there, and could sing Tommy James and The
Shondells' Hanky Panky in Portuguese. What a pisser she was. And it was the first time I heard anyone say "aboot" and "hoose." I was completely gobsmacked. Of course, my skanky New Jersey accent was the butt of her jokes, too.

Some guys I knew from high school fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War, and are still there, Canadian citizens, despite the amnesty. Makes you wonder if it's worth fleeing there now. Such a sane country.

I'm looking forward to seeing my Canadian friends at Rhinebeck. As well as my Aussie friends

Of the knitting blogs I read, half are Canadian, Australian, and British. Probably because they lack the idiotic flavor that has permeated the American knitting blogs.

Rapunzel Rulez
Or some shit like that. Spinning was about it today. After being invaded this afternoon by daughter Jenn, grandson Ian, and Jenn's boyfriend Norm, I got absolutely no warping done. Eh, so what. I always love seeing Ian, who's never had his picture published solo on the blog. So here he is, the most recent picture I have, taken at Christmas:

He was born the day after my birthday, hence his nickname "Birthday Present." Ian's modus operandi is to run into the house, say "Hi Gram, bye Gram," and then run outside, hopefully with one of cousin Liz's skateboards. If Liz is not at home.

Anyway, I decided to spend my evening spinning the Grape merino/tussah silk. The bobbin never seems to get any fuller. It defies the laws of physics, possibly. I'm sure there's some rocket scientist who reads this blog and will correct me.

I've not been spinning much during the past four months or so. Time to get back to the wheels. After talking to Ted about his dyeing efforts, I'm tempted to fiddle with some of the Bluefaced Leicester I have ageing in the stash.

April's Fool
It's now after midnight, which means that it's April 1. Three more days until Joe's birthday. Twenty-four until my 57th. I could have done another April Fool's post, as I did last year, but I'm rather retarded tonight. It's enough to write this and update the Bizarro Link of the Month.

However, I do have some news to impart.

Two days ago, I received a call from the David Letterman show, asking me to appear on the show next month doing a Stupid Human Trick. I won't spoil the surprise but those who know me can guess what I'll be doing.

Yes, it's rare and handy. And almost superhuman, too. Will I beat the Tiny Diva at her own game? Stay tuned.