Thursday, October 25, 2007
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.
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
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).
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.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
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
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
"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.
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
- 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.
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
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.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Susan's response to my letter:
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.
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.
Can you guess what Open Mic Thursday's topic will be? Get ready. Two days away.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
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.
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:
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
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.