Monday, August 06, 2007

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours.--Harry S. Truman

Well, you could have knocked my socks off when I got the phone call at 9:30 this morning.

"We're sorry but the Board has decided that due to financial considerations, we have to let you go. But you did a great job and this was a very hard decision to make."

Yeah, well. Big fucking deal. I know I did a great job, I don't need the Senior VP of Products to tell me that as he hands me my hat. And to be truthful, I'm not all that unhappy about getting the boot. I've got enough freelance work going right now (that they didn't know about) to keep me going for a bit, along with the severance and my untaken vacation time, which I never had the time to take. As far as I know, the rest of my team got canned too.

The only real problem is that I lose my health benefits as of midnight tonight. That sucks. Of course, if we had some kind of national health care here, it would not be an issue.

Tech writers are in huge demand. So I'm not particularly concerned. And I did need a vacation badly.

I picked up the IK special on felting/fulling, Felt. It's mostly reprints of projects published in IK and book excerpts, but if you're interested in really learning the different techniques, this is worth buying. I've done a couple of fulling projects and enjoyed them. It's something I'd like to take further than just bags and totes, however.

Felting/fulling is one of those techniques whose outcome can be really neat. Or really ugly. For example, that cover bag is not something I'd want to make, ever. But I'd consider doing fulled pillows rather than just knitted ones.

Felted fabric is much stabler than knitted fabric. For one thing, it's more receptive to surface design. Whereas I would only use certain embroidery stitches on knits, on felts I would feel comfortable adding something like satin stitch, for example. A fulled afghan? I might do that rather than just a knitted one, given that I could add quite a bit, embellishment-wise, that I would not otherwise consider.

I find afghan knitting a stone bore. But it might be interesting to design squares, say intarsia or Fair Isle, full them, and then see what you get, once sewn together. Or even apply fulling to a shawl knit in DK, for example.

Anyway, for what it's worth, Felt is a good reference if you want to give the technique a shot.

Arans and Things Irish
I was very saddened to read that Tommy Makem passed away last week at 74. For those of you who are into Irish folk music, Tommy was a remarkable singer and songwriter, long-time member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and an all-around great guy. I met Tommy many years ago, after a concert at Carnegie Hall. And his song, Four Green Fields, is a classic.

Jimmy and I shared a love of Irish/Celtic music. My daughter Jenn plays the Celtic harp. And there's not one drop of Irish blood on either side. Go figure. (Yeah, being German means oompah music. Oh, and Beethoven and a few others.)

Watching Joe knit his Aran made me think it was time to get back to my knitting roots. My very first sweater was an Aran, my second-ever design was an Aran, too. However, for quite a few years, I've been concentrating on other projects, with nary an Aran on the list.

One of the books I've been coveting is Janet Szabo's Aran Sweater Design. And I finally bought it.This is an extraordinarily well-written technical guide. If you're looking for a pile of patterns, go elsewhere. If you want to be spoon-fed, don't buy it. If you truly want to learn how to design Arans, you must have it in your library.

I grant you, highly technical books such as this can often cause glazed eyes. But many of the things that I learned the hard way, such as planning your cable row repeats to the same numeric factor, arranging your design motifs carefully, making sure that your center motif ends gracefully at the neckline, and a bunch of other little nits that have to be picked--Janet addresses this all and more, step by step.

In degrees of design difficulty, I still maintain that lace is the most difficult if you are creating a fairly complex design. Arans surely come in second. In many ways, the pitfalls of Aran design are less obvious. Particularly if you choose to shape your garment, rather than opt for the easy way out and do a dropped shoulder.

I also bought Melissa Leapman's Cables Untangled. Not for the designs but for the stitch patterns, of which there are many. I'll be planning a new Aran design in the next few weeks because I'm saturated with lace and need to do something completely different.

Well, I guess I'll be blogging a bit more now. And knitting. The Magenta Diamonds shawl is almost done, except that dope here managed to go 3 rows past where she should have because? I was too poor to pay attention. And I started Jenn's Campanula as well. So at least I can feel a little less stress as I knit by that rare and handy pool in the backyard.

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