Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hippo Bird-day to You, Mater

Best Quote I Ever Heard
Be quiet, Marilyn! I'm counting!--Eleanor Meyer
Yes, I have many things for which to thank my mother. This is one of them, although Mammy never said, "Shut up, I'm counting!" She hated "shut up" when I was a kid. I wasn't quite as circumspect with my own children, however.

So today marks my mother's 85th birthday. I sent her flowers. She spent the day running around, picking up her prescriptions, going to the municipal building to pay a parking ticket, and then over to the eye doctor to pick up her new glasses.
And she's swatching for yet another lace shawl. So what's your excuse, skanks? This is probably my favorite picture of her, taken Christmas 2006 at Scrappy's, the pose that is the Essence of Ellie (which, incidentally, my sister informs me, is how she spells it--who knew?)

Happy Birthday, Ma. I love you muchly and I treasure our time together knitting and talking yarn and patterns. Thanks for teaching me the proper way to grouch and to knit, usually simultaneously. And if you think she and I are pros, you would have loved Grandma, who was the ultimate in cantankery. But loved me, her Dolly. Awhile back, I did a Curmudgeon family tree. I think it's time to republish it. The women were all cranky. And I suppose my sister will now beg to be added. (When you hit 50, Karen. That's the coming of age for all curmudgeonly women, I believe.)

Kraemer vs. Kraemer
Sorry, I couldn't resist. Last week I took a quick trip to Nazareth, PA (or Baby Jesus Town, as Super Jeenyus calls it). Kraemer Yarns has been there for more than 100 years. I'd been there before, maybe 15 years ago. But now that the Loden Mist Jacket pieces are finished and awaiting blocking this weekend, I decided that I rather liked Kathy Zimmerman's Princess Jacket and drove down Rte. 33 to check out the yarn and the jacket in person.

It was in the last P'works catalog, done in Kraemer's Summit Hill, a lush 100% merino worsted weight that is almost orgasmic to knit. The model is done in a French blue, a little darker in real life than in the picture. I'm doing it in a nice burgundy. Because the blue was just too insipid for me. (Those sleeves do look horrifically long, do they not?)

The pattern is free from Kraemer's. This link is to the .pdf. However, there is a huge caveat. The charts are hand drawn and difficult to read. I redid the large charts. No big deal using Knit Visualizer. But as I cast on for the back and started reading the directions, I immediately found four glaring errors without having knit a stitch.

This does not bode well. So I immediately marked up my copy and I will let the nice folks at Kraemer's know about these and any other screwups that I find. And give them my charts so they can replace them. This is too nice a garment to be ruined by errors. If you plan on making this, let me know and I'll be happy to send you the charts too.

In any case, they are making very nice yarns. Great colors, quality fibers, lots of different weights. For all you Pennsyltuckians in the area, it's worth a trip. Stop by and say hi to Eileen. She's a sweetheart and very helpful.

Open Mic Thursday

To recap last week's Open Mic, I'd say that Magic Loop got majorly trashed. I tried it and it's on my list, too. However, having said that, I suppose it could be of some use for circular sleeves if you leave your dps at home. I don't do that. I'm very careful to pack what knitting crap I need when I leave home, including shit I probably don't need. Plus, if you learned how to manipulate dps, chances are you're perfectly happy with them. If it ain't broke.

I also eschew double knitting. Total waste of time in my book. As I always say, try it once and know that it exists as a possibility. Then leave it alone. Your knitting life will not necessarily be enriched by torturing yourself.

Well, this week, I have Joe's latest post to thank because it got me thinking more deeply about something that's always been very apparent to me. As one of his readers, Andy's Crafts, so deftly put it, the sexualization of crafts.

I have a lot of male friends who knit and spin: Joe, Ted, Franklin, Lars, Mel, James, to name a few. (Guys, I'm not linking to your blogs because I'm really tired tonight and don't want to fuck around with URLs.) Yes, they are all gay men. However, we all became friends because we're knitters, first and foremost. How they use their other equipment don't make no never-mind to me.

The sexual typecasting that seems to surround certain crafts always astonishes me. Why is it that weaving is "OK" for straight guys and knitting is not? Is weaving more "manly"? I guess bobbin lace is out for straight guys too. Oh yeah, don't forget that Rosey Grier made needlepoint "OK" too. Sheesh.

So, I'd like you to opine about this, be you straight, gay, or an alien from Plan 9 from Outer Space.

What are your thoughts on the sexualizing of crafts?

This is a broad topic, admittedly. But an important one because it leeches into society in general. Or perhaps it's the other way around. No matter. I'd be interested in hearing thoughts from my lezzie friends too, although I don't believe this affects women, other than in their acceptance of men who knit.

I'm sure that those of you who have read Richard Rutt know that men only were allowed into the medieval knitting guilds. Knitting was a serious business, particularly when Elizabeth I started buying knitted silk stockings and helped fund the rise of the knitting loom. Once knitting became mechanized, hand knitting reverted into a domestic craft done primarily by women.

Read Joe's blog. And the comments. It's very interesting stuff.

Punk Princess Driving Miz Grammy

Update. Didn't happen. She can't drive with me because I'm not a NJ driver anymore. So she was a bit disappointed. However, Gram did buy her a shocking pink bass guitar with amp for her 16th birthday.

And Gram bought herself a guitar. Yes, I did. Because I did once play and I'm amazed at how much I do remember. After all, I did so want to be Chrissie Hynde. Truly. It's perfectly OK to rock on when you're 58. Rare and handy? Perhaps. Adolescent? Certainly. But girls just wanna have fu-un.

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