Friday, April 25, 2008

Is 90 the New 80?

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

Let's see. Yes, it's true. I'm 35 today. Mentally.

There's been much rumination and ensuing angst about turning 58. Now the day is here and I'm in a relatively sanguine mood. Even though I'm looking down the gun at 60. Shit, so what.

So Happy fucking Birthday to me. (There may be some of that later, too. One never knows.)

I try not to dwell on my age but it's almost impossible to avoid it. However, the past week, with a whirlwind trip to Indy this past Monday and Tuesday, I had a great deal of time in airports to knit and ponder.

Over the past few years, I've made some incredible friends. My beloved Neal, for one. Johnny Hargreaves, aka Iron Sausage, who just called me to wish me a happy birthday. What a sweetheart. There's Loopy, who's been with me through the tough times. She's always there, always funny, always someone I can lean on. Joe, Carol, Lisa, Ted, the whole knitting crew. Need I say more? Susan, my boss. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone here but these post-Jimmy people have helped me in turning my life around. You can't do it alone.

My 40th high school reunion is looming. June 21st, to be exact. And I am actually looking forward to it because I'll be reunited with my dear childhood friends, Marcia and Dottie.

I almost never write about my non-knitting friends. I do have quite a few who are dear to my heart. Marcia Ancier , Dottie Melcher and I have been friends for almost 50 years. Marcia and I went to the same elementary school, Watchung, so I guess we kinda knew each other in kindergarten, although I really more remember her from 3rd grade. She invited me to her birthday party (which she doesn't remember now, but I do).

Dottie has always been a constant in my life. In 4th grade, I moved from one end of town to the other, to Uppah Montclair, the chi-chi part of town. Right before my 10th birthday, I'm riding my bike around the corner to explore the new neighborhood, going up the hill on Macopin Avenue. And there's this kid, with blonde frizzy hair, sort of hanging out vaguely on the street. I stopped and we talked, as young kids do to strange kids. Dottie struck me as almost as weird as I was. I was a very odd child. And so was she. She drew, I wrote. We made an instant connection, one that has never ceased throughout the years.

In high school, the three of us melded. Marcia had and still has this wry sense of humor. Dottie was always delightfully drifty, although probably one of the smartest people I've ever known. And then there was me, off the wall writer, musician, general freak who didn't give a fuck if she was "unpopular." Peggy aka Pegret was added to our girl group, a beautiful Janis Joplin lookalike who wrote poetry, had big tits, and was the ethereal one. (Yes, there were freak guys too--my high school crush, Bert Eisenstadt, Jimmy Henry, Jimmy Garland, Jimmy and Kevin Brown, Aaron Myett, Chris and Tim Andres, Tracy Jones, and many more.)

Our high school crowd, the freaks, were far more interesting a group than the blonde cheerleader types. So Cindy Binzen, what the fuck did you do with your life? I guess I'll find out if you show up on June 21.

So you Montclair skanks, if you're reading this, we can turn back the clock and dance on. That is, if Melcher can ever learn how to do the Mashed Potatoes, which I doubt. I love you

My birthday means I can look back on those halcyon days with great fondness. When we were young. As we still are. Rock on, gang. And be rare and handy no matter what. And Happy Birthday tomorrow to my sweet Ian, known as Birthday Present, my rapidly growing grandson. Who I love more than life itself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gimme that remote. NOW!!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Men don't care what's on TV. They only care what else is on TV.--Jerry Seinfeld

Here's what I really don't get, as much as I like to think I understand men well enough to communicate with them on any level.

The remote issue, butt of many jokes. Except that it's true. The other day, watching the Yankees
game, I felt compelled to hand my love the remote, even though I didn't think he'd switch it. He didn't, because it was the Yankees.

Otherwise, it's deference to the TV God. Yikes. Flip, flip, flip, every channel a mere shadowy image and then another, and another, and another. I will never truly know how one can determine what's worth watching if you don't spend a minimum of 20 seconds on each station. And then there's checking the TV listings. Heaven forfend. Like asking for fucking directions.

Men complain that these are stereotypes. Not with the men I know. It's reality. They do it and it's not funny. It's annoying. But I love them nonetheless. And since I don't shop 'til I drop, whine if they forget an important date, want to change their sorry t-shirt clad asses into a GQ poster boy, expect them always to pay for dinner, and all the other female bits they complain about, I figure I can knock 'em for this.

So, you want my take on this? OK. There are not words venial enough to express my utter disgust. And the cover? By the so-called "Knitter's Design Team"? Positively guaranteed to
provoke gastro-intestinal eruptions.

What's with this Design Team? And who, besides DragonBoy, is a member? Speaking of whom, my fantasy is to corner him at Stitches and color his awful red leather pants (and his hair as well) a fine shade of lime green with a paintball gun. And then take a picture. Carol came as close as anyone I know to letting him have it full force. I would prefer to do some damage but he'd probably press charges. Unless I appear incognito, perhaps dressed up as the Tiny Diva.

Except that I think he'd guess it was a faux TD. Since I tower over her and I have about 75 lbs.
on her, too.

But I could be as shrill and manic as she is. Give me a few months to practice. With Franklin coming next weekend, I may ask Dolores for lessons. She's so good at it. A true pro.

Thanks for the compliments on my spinning. It's been a long road and I still am not always happy with my consistency but then, I have Ted as a model, so I'm doomed. Perhaps. As I
mentioned in the last set of comments, I bought my Matchless at the 1998 MD S&W, brought it home, along with about 3 pounds of merino/silk/angora. Clueless as I was, I didn't realize that this blend of fibers would be horrifically difficult for a beginner to handle. It was. And I made a gobby mess of it.

So the wheel became a quaint living room decoration. Until about 3 years ago, when I saw what
Joe was spinning on his Louet. Shit, I said to myself, if he can do it, WTF is the matter with you? And then I realized--I needed to spin plain ole wool, not some exotic fiber. Within a couple of hours, the brain engaged the hand and I was able to spin a lot better. Here's a picture of some of the first plyed wool I made, on the right. And a recent BBF angora skein.
I dare to publish the close-up of the old stuff:
Pretty ratty looking. But everyone starts this way, except for Ted. I swear he began spinning laceweight the moment his hands touched a spindle.

Anyway, for those beginning spinners out there, keep doing it. Every day, if you can. I spin for at least 5 or 10 minutes when I get home every night, and I try to do 1-2 hours each weekend day. The more you do it, like sex, the better you get. Promise.

Scary Blogger Feature
Blogger has just added a video upload tool. I own a webcam that I never use. So...maybe I'll think about doing a video for anyone who's not met me and is interested in how truly psychotic I am. I like to think I'm rare and handy but in the case of a video, I may hand it over to the next-door neighbor, who's the video/sound nerd. And let him guide me. Or tell me to live in the real world, which he frequently does.

P.S. To my friends mentioned in this post, sorry I didn't set up the links. I'm tired, lazy, and want to sit outside in the beautiful late afternoon so I can knit. Everyone knows where you guys live, after all.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just Shut the Fuck Up, Already

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President? —Hunter S. Thompson

As always, the Duke is the best source for a pithy comment. Whatever happened to gonzo journalism? That was writing that teetered on the edge, always radical, always insightful, if you dared to accept it. Now it’s nothing but talking heads. And talking, bickering candidates of the Democratic Party persuasion.

Prior It Tease
…are becoming skewed, slivered, and fricasséed. At this point in time, it would appear that my life’s list is as follows:

1. Work—write endlessly boring text about how to click buttons, track vehicles, run reports. And becoming an expert on DOT regulations for “motor carriers.” Trucks. Of all shapes and sizes.A thrill of a learning experience.

2. Sleep and food, the latter generally provided by Neal, the former by medication.

3. Knitting and spinning

4. My family and friends

5. My blogs

One month since I posted. Sheesh. Work is sucking the life blood out of me and that’s going to come to a screeching halt. I need this job, especially with the recession enveloping us, but they need me more, in a way, than I need them. So I’ve decided what my priorities will be and make sure all of them get equal attention.

Traveling Mar
Yeah, it’s going to be one of those months—just spent two days in Uncasville/Taftville, CT, working with a new client. However, I stayed at Mohegan Sun, a place glitzy enough to cause epileptic seizures. Staying there was the idea of our high-roller VP of Sales, who got us all rooms on the cheap. I played the slots for approximately a half hour and lost $30. That was more than enough. God, what a mindless activity.

Off to Newburgh, NY, then Indy. That’s April. In May, off to Russellville, Arkansas. Bleah. But that may do it for the travel until next fall. I hope. I’d druther stay home these days.

Technology Roolz or Droolz, Take Yer Pick
Kinda. For the first time, I’m using Word 2007 to publish my blog entry. Think about that. Blogs have so proliferated that Billy Gates figured he should add a blog publishing feature in the latest version of Word. You connect Word with your blog account—Word gives you a number of blog publishing choices—and then you can click “Publish” when you’re finished and up it goes. We’ll see. This could be a good thing.
Obligatory Knitting Shit
I finished the Icelandic Lace Shawl. My one comment on this freebie shawl is that I would have decreased the crocheted chains on the edging by 25%. Too many—they should have been spaced more equably. The pattern itself is somewhat on the odd side, constructionwise. It was not terribly straightforward, with a center stitch that disappeared in one stitch pattern, resurfacing in the next.

I’m busy working out the sock designs for the book—Chantilly Lace is charted and I’m proving it out. Born in the USA’s prototype is done. Two down, 16 to go.

I also finished the Las Vegas Brights silk, plyed it, and skeined it up. From 4 ounces, I got 853 yards of laceweight. Not enough for a shawl, too much for a scarf. So maybe it will do for two scarves. And yes, Sissy Scrappy, I might give you one.

As soon as the LVB was off the bobbins, I started spinning some black alpaca I bought from Mel and David at Rhinebeck. Now of this, I have 14 ounces, more than enough for a shawl. Yes, I know. Knitting lace in black is a bitch. And your point would be? It’s too HARD, as Junior Bush has said? I can handle it. Although I may whine about it at some point, once I start knitting lace with it.

Thoughts on Lace
It dawned on me the other day that of late, meaning the past two years, I’ve only really been interested in lace. Hence the newest train knitting project, the Cobweb Crepe shawl from Sharon Miller’s book Heirloom Knitting. This is constructed in the center square/diamond-border-edging method, one that I like very much. This is done in Helen’s Lace by Lorna’s Laces, quite nice to knit with. It does look like a bag one might buy in the Salvation Army store.

Sharon offers different ways of working this construction—you can pick up around the edges of the center for the border, then knit on the lace edging. Or you can work the damned thing flat, with seams to sew. Supposedly working this in the round is HARD, or at least for “experienced” knitters. Nonsense. In my mind, working something in the round and eliminating seams, particularly in lace, is far easier than fucking around with flat pieces. It is truly not at all hard, as long as you pay attention, work the edge stitches of the center properly so that they can be used in the border pick-up, and remember that garter stitch in the round is knit one round, purl one round. No big deal.

So here’s the “bag” so far. The border is a simple Old Shale derivative, the edging Clematis. This is a construction that is relatively easy to design with. I worked the center diamond as written, in garter stitch, but a scattered eyelet pattern would be nice. I wish I had thought about doing that before I started. I particularly like what I call “columnar” edgings, ones that are vertical rather than horizontal. I think that the symmetry found in these types of borders lends itself well to the mitering of the shawl’s corners. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

Well, I bought the new Vague. About the only design I found appealing was Kaffe’s cardigan. Other than that, it was the usual snoozer. However, you spinners out there—buy this issue of Spin-Off. It’s one of the best they’ve published in a while. With most of the other fiber magazines thudding along, Spin-Off has pulled itself together with the new layout, new editor, and it’s well worth buying. I highly recommend Abby Franquemont’s article on plying. I found it extraordinarily good and enlightening. The article on making cabled yarn was the one that intrigued me the most, although it’s rather a belabored process.
A Franklin Extravaganza, with Hot Wolverinas Attending
My darling gay son will be in Philly in a week. (I'm stealing from his lovely mother, and Franklin is the same age as my daughter Corinne, so he could be her gay twin brother--except that she's blonde.) Read all about his shoot at Wool Gathering in Kennett Square, PA. And if you live within driving range, getcher ass there. It's Saturday the 19th. I'll be there, as will Carol Sulcoski, maybe Joe, maybe some other Wolverinas, although Liza can't make it.
I don't recall ever hearing of any other knitting gaggle (or is it a murder of knitters?) quite like the Wolvies. And who are the Wolvies? I will give big kudos (such an oily word) to any reader who can name all 8 members of the Wolverinas. You've got 4 already if you read carefully. Now, come up with the other four. I bet ya can't do it

Anyway, kids, my lunch hour is well over. But it’s Friday, so fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. I’m glad to have had a few minutes to write something that means more to me than any other prose that leaks from my electronic pen. Here’s some close personal Hoboken friends, who greet me every morning as I walk towards the Light Rail that takes me to Jersey City.

Some rare and handy birds, although they shit all over the place. But my Oma always told me that bird crap on your head means you’ll be lucky. I can do without luck in that instance.