Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring Out the Old Shit, Bring in More New Shit

Best Quote I Heard All Day
New Year's Day - Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. -- Mark Twain

The old boy had it right, as he usually did. Fuck resolutions. However, having some general goals isn't a bad thing. Focus, people. If you do, you don't need to waste your time on resolutions.

KnitterGuy and the KC Eat Pancakes and Talk Fiber
Well, I missed seeing Kristin--she had to leave to go back to MA and my back was fucked up for the first two days of this week. We'll play catch-up the next time she's down to see her mom in Dover. But I did see my dear Ted, who was staying at friend Jack's in Nutley. (For those of you who know nothing of Jersey, Nutley is the birthplace of Annie Oakley and hometown of Martha Stewart, who started life in Jersey City, something I'm sure she'd rather forget.)

So on this snowy morning, I skipped and skidded the four miles up to Jack's, grabbed Ted, and off we went to IHOP for pancakes and a happy reunion. Ted is one of my all-time favorite friends. We made up for time missed at Rhinebeck this morning. And lookee at what he gave me for Christmas!
It's 80% mohair, 20% wool laceweight. Ted knows me all too well. I was delighted! And I gave him a copy of IK's Accessory issue, one that's hard for him to get in Canada. After the food, we took a short 10-minute drive to my hometown, Montclair. For those of you who have no clue as to where in the world New Jersey is, see map below for reference.

Yes, Google is your friend. The "A" marks where I live--for some reason, Montclair didn't show up on this view but it's slightly west of Nutley.

Anyway, we took a trip to my favorite yarn shop, Stix 'n' Stitches. If you live in NJ or visit, this is a must-see shop. Sheila, the owner, is a woman after my own heart. Knows her shit but no bullshit.

A good last day of 2009.

What I Like
OK, Duffy, here you are. Heh. I did promise to note what I found to be useful, what I think is the best of WTF, some new things, some old. Of course, as with all the other crap you read here, the opinion is mine alone. Ain't it always?

Best New Spinning Books: Bumper crop this year! First, there's Abby Franquemont's outstanding Respect the Spindle. Along with Priscilla Gibson-Roberts's Spinning in the Old Way, you can teach yourself how to spindle without much ado.

And then there's Spin Control: Techniques for Spinning the Yarns You Want by Amy King. If you are confused about the difference between a draft and a draw, you need this book. I use a short draw, primarily because I prefer knitting with worsted as opposed to woolen yarn but if I want to teach myself to spin using a long draw, this is the book that will help me achieve that goal. Novice spinners should invest in this book, absolutely. I wish I had had it when I first taught myself to spin. Lots of heartbreak and cursing would have been avoided.

Best New Knitting Books: Honestly, I wish there were more to rave about. Perhaps I'm jaded. And God knows the market is awash with a lot of garbage. I did like French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, Color by Kristin (yeah, I'm a bit biased but I calls 'em like I sees 'em and this is a damned fine book), and Personal Footprints for Insouciant Knitters by Cat Bordhi (if nothing else, ya gotta love the use of "insouciant").

Books that I want to check out include Crazy Lace by Myra Wood. And Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea. I would love to see a Lucy Neatby book. Come on, Lucy. Give it up.

Best New Yarn: I have to say, it was Mini Mochi by Crystal Palace for me. I used this for my book and other than its soft twist, I liked it very much. Fun for little doopy things like socks 'n' scarves.

Best Knitting Tool Buy: No question, it's KnitPicks' brass markers, 100 for $1.99. I bought a bag of these and they will fit needles up to #10s. I've found that markers with dingleberries hanging off of them tend to get caught in my work, as much as I love millefiori glass markers.

Best New Spinning Wheel: The Schacht Ladybug, hands down. I had the pleasure of spinning on it when it came out and I'm still jonesin' for one.

Best Spindle
This is a tough one. It's a toss-up between the Starlite Comet, made by Tracy Eichheim, and the Golding RingSpindles. I own both and each spins sublimely. If you can't afford a Golding, get in touch with Tracy. His are reasonably priced and superlatively balanced.

Best Knitting Magazine: Rowan. With runner-up, The Knitter Magazine from the UK. Frankly, the American magazines just don't measure up. I saw the Winter VK today and wanted to retch. Awful.

Best Fiberart Magazine: Spin-Off, HandWoven, and PieceWork--all three are unique and special. Sadly, I can't add IK to any list. Interweave, please take note that this magazine is a mess. However, the aforementioned magazines are beautifully written, photographed, and damned user friendly.

So that about does it. Whether you agree with me or not, I'm glad that you take the time to read. The year that starts tomorrow, 2010, will mark my 8th year of blogging. I'll be writing more this year, I promise.

Happy New Year, tontant weaders. YOU are rare and handy, and I treasure each one of you. OK, enough of the sop. Get the fuck to work on your New Year's project! NOW!

Friday, December 25, 2009

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit. --Kin Hubbard

I should be finishing the last 10 rows of a cashmere scarf for daughter Jenn, the replacement for the felted disaster. But no, I'm doing this, with Santa Jerry already tucked in bed.

Just wanted to wish all of my readers a most Merry Christmas. No, I'm never politically correct. If you don't celebrate Christmas, have a swell Friday. Any way you look at it, it's a day off, no?

I'm an unrepentant Christmas celebrant, although my religious beliefs veer more to those of a Wiccan or Buddhist. However, I use this time of year to remember those loved ones who are with me in spirit only.

My dear Tante Helga died the day after Christmas in 1995, after having been hit by a cab in New York City ten days earlier. Jimmy's birthday was Christmas Day. My four grandparents, long gone but never forgotten, made Christmas a magical time. My German father, who died very young, at age 43, established the wonderful holiday traditions that I follow to this day. Yes, the memories are certainly tinged with sadness but with happiness too.

My joy this year is that my mother is coming along, despite a harrowing autumn. She never loses her sense of humor, no matter what. Tomorrow, she and I will sit and knit, with our children and grandchildren with us, opening presents, laughing, eating way too much, and being together.

May you all have a rare and handy holiday. And thanks for reading my nonsense for all these years. Next week, I'll be spending time with Ted Myatt and Kristin Nicholas, two good friends. Can't ask for much more. (Well, I could and I do, but WTF.) Love you all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Quote I Heard All Day

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.—Oscar Wilde

‘Tis the season for piles of unnecessary shit, is it not?

Every year, I buy myself something that no one else will—often, it's yarn, a knitting book, a bathrobe, crap like that.

This year, I have reached for the stars and achieved the pinnacle of un-necessity. I bought a Kindle, something that is somewhat against my Luddite grain. You see, I love the feel of a paper book in my hand. Howsome ever, having moved ± 15 boxes of books, I can at least download those books that are tossaways. I doubt I will buy knitting/spinning/weaving books for the Kindle, although there are some available.

I’m glad I waited, since v2 of the Kindle is apparently much improved. As a geek, I know never to buy the first version of anything. That maxim of course applies to all things Microsoft but also to Apple and other companies. Give all new things tech at least 3-6 months before you buy, so that bug fixes are complete. Remember the dopes who stood in line for the first iPhone, paid a premium, only to have Apple drop the price? And then whined about it?

Jerry just called to tell me the Kindle arrived. Hot damn. A new toy.

KC’s 2009 Top 10 List of Unnecessary Knitting Shit

Yes, Virginia, there’s a lot of redundant knitting stuff and techniques floating around the Knit-o-sphere. Here’s what I find to be passé, stoopid, or just plain annoying.

  1. Knitter’s—for reasons that I’ve expounded upon for quite a few years. I’m awaiting its demise but as Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Yea, it lingereth.

  2. Light-up knitting needles and crochet hooks—if you’re knitting at the movies, you’re a certified moron and need to get a life. Worse is knitting while driving. I've heard some do that. Have a few drinks and pick up yer needles. Don't forget to send a text message.

  3. Reversible cabling—this is getting to be the Tiny Diva’s one-trick pony. Enough already.

  4. How to Knit directions in every fucking book. For the love of God, let’s leave this out of intermediate/advanced books.

  5. Another book on knitting socks with two circs. The best was the original by Cat Bordhi.

  6. Knitting / spinning jewelry. If Jerry ever buys me little knitting needle earrings, he’s history.

  7. Sheep motifs everywhere, no doubt also on underwear. Who needs a tape measure in sheep’s clothing? Not me. And the use of “ewe” as “you.” NOT CUTE.

  8. Rick Mondragon, aka DragonBoy. NOT CUTE either.

  9. Stitch ‘n’ Bitch—it’s so over. Find another term for your knitting group. Like “knitting group.”

  10. Knitting “celebrities” need to puncture their egos with a handy knitting needle and remember what they don’t know. A true knitting educator knows what she or he don’t know. Let’s not forget that knitting is making shit with some string and two sharpened sticks and has a small niche in the big world.

In my next post, I’ll give you my thoughts and recommendations on some of the best knitting stuff. After all, there are some nifty things out there that will help you with your work.

Move Your Groove Thang

I’ve about had it with moving. Five times in eight years is more than I can bear to think about. I’m tired. However, at least I’m closer to Mammy and the rest of the family. By the way, Ma just had her last radiation treatment and the news is…the lymphoma is gone! Of course, she’s had a hell of a week—a fire in her apartment building, which fortunately didn’t affect her other than sending her off to the library across the street for hours. And a cataract lens that became dislodged.

Otherwise, she’s doing well. And I’m busy getting my new fiber room pulled together, as well as working with Jerry to turn the bachelor’s house into a comfortable home for both of us.

Sick of Sox and Knitting Fuck-Ups

After five pairs of the Raggi socks, I’m done with sock making for the time being.

Now, tell me—how humbled have you been when your knitting goes bad? No matter how good you think you are, I’m sure you’ve made major screw-ups that you don’t want to tell your knitting crew.

I’m shameless. I make mistakes in every project, other than socks, that I work on. Yes, I fix them. No, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m too poor to pay attention. I have always believed that novice knitters are far more careful than those of us who pretend to be “master knitters.”

I don’t mind flagellating myself in public at all. Primarily because I don’t give a shit about my public “persona.” So here’s a big-time mess that almost brought me to tears of madness. The cashmere lace scarf Christmas present that I made for daughter Jenn somehow ended up in the washer and dryer. I had the scarf hanging over the back of my rocker and put a sweat jacket over it.

Felted on the right, fresh start on the right. Get the picture? Yeah, picked up the jacket, tossed it into the laundry bag, and didn’t notice the scarf. Talk about an idiotic fuck-up.

Actually, to justify my total stupidity, I rather like the way it came out. The felting isn’t so, so bad. However, I bought some more cashmere laceweight (Jojoland, nice for the price) and started another for Jenn. I’ll get it done by Christmas. And then it’s back to book projects.

Harrison, Kearny, Nutley, North Arlington, Bloomfield, Montclair, North Caldwell--Sopranoland

I have almost two weeks off, starting with Christmas Eve, and besides seeing Ted da Knitterguy when he comes to NJ (he’s staying with friend Jack, who lives in Nutley, a hop, skip, and jump from me), I’ll be knitting, writing, spinning, and warping my Mighty Wolf. And snuggling with my honey too.

So, it’s a shortish post today. Work is slow right now and layoffs are coming. We found about this news this morning, where it was the lead story in the Pocono Record. Nobody at the company said anything.

I’ve still got a few things to get out of the apartment but this coming Saturday is it. I’m glad to be out of the Poconos and E’burg. Great for a visit, piss poor for living. Bank robbery down the street, having to call the cops on a guy sitting in my garage one night drinking beer, and someone hit by a speeding car in front of my apartment is incentive enough. Not at all rare and handy.

Jerry always called my place the “Deliverance” apartment. It was. Now I’m back in Jersey, around the corner from Pizzaland. If you’re a fan of the Sopranos, you’ll know.

“You woke up this morning, Got yourself a gun, Mama always said you’d be The Chosen One.”

Yeah, with a “blue moon in your eye.” I always thought the lyrics were “with a boom-boom in your eye.” I like my line better. I feel safer back home in the Garden State. Which it is, more than non-natives know.

As requested, here's my favorite picture of Jeremiah.

Next Post: A special Christmas edition. No, not a Happy Holidays version. I hate that term. I calls 'em like I sees 'em. But Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Turkey Mantra: Bite Me, Eat Me.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.—Calvin Trillin

Not to denigrate my mother’s cooking skills but my brother and I often played games with “Leftovers Delight”, a gruesome dish that my mother created using leftover mystery meat, canned LeSeur peas, and canned potatoes. The gravy was a watery mishmash of bouillon and whatever juice the meat retained after a day’s refrigeration.

I remember Rich and I flinging peas at each other. Assassination via overcooked vegetables.

Aren’t you glad I wrote the above after the holiday? Jerry and I went to Scrappy’s for a fabulous dinner and then to his sister Pat’s for dessert, entertainment provided by his wonderful nieces Michelle aka Sheldon and Kelly. Michelle and I share the same birthday. She's studying at the Berkeley School of Music in Boston. The Sisty Uglers went their own ways, with Corinne, Liz, and Mike to his parents in Williamsburg, VA., and Jenn, Ian, and Norm staying home and cooking their own bird. Ma and Brüder Richard we at Scrappy’s too. Mammy’s doing quite well., although a bit washed out from her cancer treatments.

I’m spending this holiday weekend moving crap from PA to NJ, shoving in some knitting time, and getting the draft book outline pulled together. I found a reputable literary agent, one who will also serve well for non-knitting writing. Once I’ve finished “Knitting in Public”, I will move on to other writing. There’s only so far you can take writing about knitting, in my opinion. I’d rather reach a larger audience at some point. It would make for a good retirement job.

I’ve been toying about publishing a chapter here, to get feedback and hopefully constructive criticism. Authors should never evaluate their work. Depending upon how it goes with the book proposal submittal, I may do this.

Loopy’s Socks
One of my shove-it-down-my-throat projects is making these socks for Jerry’s nieces. I can complete one sock in about 6 hours or so. The glory of working with heavier yarn. These make terrific boot socks and I’ve been doing the sizing, so I expect to have a freebie pattern uploaded very soon for your knitting entertainment. The sizes will include children’s as well as women’s and men’s. Plain vanilla, nothing to them. So hardly a "design." One of the things I have in my head is to use the Raggi self-patterning for a hat design. I saw one done at Stix ‘n’ Stitches when I was there recently and have my own ideas for a funky but chic hat.

Where I’m going to find the fucking time to do all this shit is beyond me. I manage to shove 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag quite well but there are days when I’d like to lie in the bathtub and read for an hour, thinking about nothing. Oh yeah, I forgot. I've done some spindling too, when I get bored knitting these socks.

I bought this Corriedale at the Garden State Sheep & Wool show, from a local producer. It spins like buttah. Of course, my wonderful Golding spindle helps a lot. This is one of my Russian hand-painted spindles.

More on Da Mags
Interesting discussion in the comments for the last post. I truly don’t have a problem with magazines recycling old material as long as it’s clear that there’s nothing new in the issue, which IK did in their editor's note. For one thing, the designers get a small fee for reprint if they sold their designs as First North American Serial Rights or First Rights. If they sold all rights, the magazine owns their design. The other advantage to these recycled issues is that many people like to have popular patterns gathered into one issue, particularly if they didn’t buy the original issue or book where the design appeared.

On the other hand, new is always the best, although in IK’s case, I would say that they may be better off recycling old stuff.

Step mentioned the Brit magazine The Knitter, which I had bought and forgot to mention. As close as I’ve been able to tell, it’s been around for more than a year. The magazine features top designers like Martin Storey, Louisa Harding, Erica Knight. I bought mine at Barnes & Noble, if I recall correctly.

That’s the word I use for my world. I don’t live in reality, I live in fiberality. Despite the hectic work schedule, I’ve managed to get some spinning done. One of the projects I set forth for myself was to spin a heavier single. It may seem to novice spinners that spinning thin is difficult. It’s not. What’s difficult is to be able to flip between thin and thick. Brain retraining is required. Or perhaps brain regression.

I’ve always followed Mabel Ross’s advice: Measure and count. This is key. The rotation of the wheel matched with the draft makes for consistent spinning. So when spinning thicker, I had to readjust my rotation count and align it with drafting more fibers into the twist. It took me several minutes but here’s the result.

Here's some laceweight silk I've been spinning, the Chasing Rainbows I bought at Rhinebeck.

I am now confident that I can spin whatever I want. I spin what I like to knit, as a rule. But with weaving as another option, I’d like to spin some heavier, more interesting weft yarns.

I’m hoping to talk Sheila into moving towards selling spinning fibers and spindles in her shop. I’ve offered to teach a beginner’s class to get her going. Haven’t taught in a while but I do love to teach. Even working as a software trainer was fun. I make sure I leave ‘em laughin’. And knowing WTF they’re doing.

So, mes petite choux (that’s French for “my little cabbages”), time to get back to Jerry, who’s watching TV. Five days off, albeit moving crap most of the time. And then this coming Friday, Jerry’s having same-day surgery on his shoulder. Old war injury, so to speak. Well, actually an old touch football injury. So I will be playing Nancy Nurse. Now I ask you, is that not the most rare and handy role I could possibly play? Or perhaps it will be more like Nurse Ratchet.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

She's back...mostly.

Best Quote I Heard All Day

As I get older, I just prefer to knit—Tracey Ullman

Right, Tracey. A true celebrity knitter…maybe. Somehow, I think she really can knit well. (Certainly Goldie Hawn is an experienced knitter. The rest—who gives a fuck.)

Except as I get older, it seems as if I keep adding other crap to my repertoire. Besides spinning and weaving, I can embroider and quilt. And sew, if I ever get my Bernina back from daughter Jenn, who designs her own medieval costumes for her SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) events.

There’s not enough fucking time. Literally.

I’m finally back up and running, as long as I'm in NJ. I'll be moved in by the 30th. Until then, I won't be uploading any pictures. It’s been tough to function without internet at home. At work, they have it so locked down, as they should, that the best I can do is write a blog entry and save it until I can get it up on Blogger. Those of you familiar with WebSense, which allows network administrators to control where and what you can see on the web, know that blogs, social networks, and of course, nasty pictures, are banned. So I’ve relied on my BlackBerry to read e-mail and do FaceBook. Feh.

Mammy Update

She’s doing very well. Off to get her lymphoma zapped and her prognosis is excellent—she’s feeling quite chipper. Let’s put it this way, she’s busy knitting. told her that my readers sent her get well wishes. She doesn’t quite get what I do, either here or at work, but she did appreciate your kind thoughts.

Rhinebeck Feh

I have to say, I was not exceptionally thrilled about Rhinebeck this year. I barely saw anyone, other than Mel and David at their booth, Joe for a split second, Lorraine for a little while longer, Sean for another split second, Ted, Carol, Laura, and a few other guys from Easton Mountain whose names I’ve sadly forgotten.

Who I missed seeing:

  • My dearest Lee Ann Balazuc, who couldn’t make it again this year. Dude, if you don’t fucking show up next year, I swear I’ll drive up and kidnap you, Spiff, and Twinkle.
  • Veronik Avery, with whom I always enjoy chatting. Carol did give me some wonderful samples of her new St. Denis yarn. But still…I wish I’d seen her.
  • Mindy Soucek—I really, really felt bad that we didn’t run into each other. Mindy is very special to me.
  • Fredda Peritz—missed you, woman!
  • Lars Raines—I know, it’s tough for him with his insane schedule.
  • BJ Restropo—Beej, where WERE you???
  • Cheryl Anderson, who I wanted to meet very much.

Oh well. I did have Jerry with me but I told him that next year he stays home. Let’s face it, when you drag your significant other to these yarn/fiber extravaganzas, it’s a drag on you and on your love. Better he should stay home and watch some movies. I took Jimmy to Stitches once, years ago, and swore I would never take him again. You’d think I would have learned? Nope. So next year, I’ll do my one-day run on my own.

What I bought:

I was on the lookout for fiber other than merino, which seemed to be the overwhelming choice at MD S&W. I was rewarded at Rhinebeck, buying some various fibers. Silk, of course. I can’t resist Chasing Rainbows. Skanska had no cormo, sadly. But I did find some nifty dyed targee at Carolina Homespun, along with a little bit of pygora to sample. And then, there were the bags of mohair/merino.

My bad. I bought two more Golding spindles. I love the ones I already have and have been spinning this nice Corriedale on my little Golding spindle. The Russian hand-painted inset spindles are my favorites—I’m starting to collect them. Look at it this way—these days, I’m making plenty of bucks and I can afford to buy them. Besides all the “I’m going to be 60 and I’d better smell the roses” nonsense, having a lovely spindle in my hands makes me spin more.

So much for Rhinebeck this year. I will not go to MD again.

Joy of Sox

That’s actually a title I may use if I ever do a sock book. God knows people suck up sock books like shop vacs.

Generally, I take time in October to replenish the sock drawer. Two lightweight pair for me, two Raggi pairs, one for Jerry and one for me.

I enjoy designing socks but when it comes to making my own, I could care less about patterning. I use the same plain vanilla 60-stitch pattern with self-patterning yarn that I’ve worked for the past 15 years. It fits. I wear them with my Mary Janes to work. I don’t need anything else.

As far as the Raggi socks go, I call them the “Loopy” socks because Loop turned me on to Raggi. She has made her husband Jerry socks from Raggi for a long time. Again, these are plain vanilla. I made my Jerry a pair last winter and he loved them so much, I’m at it again.

I may size the Raggi socks and then put the pattern up here as a freebie.

Da Mags

I’m sorry to say that IK is a mess. Vague seems to be getting back on track, thank God. But IK is foundering. It was bad enough watching Knitter’s go down the crapper but now, IK is racing down the poop chute. Reviewing the fall issue, it struck me that the designs’ colors were drab. No matter how well designed the garments may have been, the issue as a whole was downright grim.

WTF are they thinking? I realize that it’s been quite some time since I did a magazine but there are some design concepts that don’t change.

Concept #1: Don’t fuck up the page layout by cluttering it with little photos that cause “eye confusion.”

Concept #2: Work with a photographer who understands the vagaries of shooting knitted garments and is willing to teach you how to style. IK’s photos are often badly lit, frequently staged in an uninteresting location, and most of the models lack character. I rather miss the red-haired IK model of the past. One of the best photographers I ever had the honor to work with was Ian O’Leary, who did the photography for Sasha Kagan’s first few books. Ian taught me how to style sweaters, how to capture the design’s personality, and how to choose and work with live models.

Concept #3: Make sure that the editorial pages stand out and don’t look like advertisements. Otherwise, you’ll have confused readers.

I have found a good magazine, new to me, and one that I think is a serious threat to IK—Creative Knitting. It reminds me very much of the old IK, with directions on the left-hand page, photo on the right. No little bits and pieces scattered across the spread. The issue I picked up had some very nice designs. Check this one out. I have a feeling that it’s an up-and-comer.

My other favorite magazine is online—Twist Collective, by Kate Gilbert and her crew. This is undoubtedly the classiest netzine I’ve read in a long time. Yes, I know. Knitty and Knitter’s Review are beloved. Honestly, I find them less interesting than TC.

All that said, the IK Accessories special issue is arguably the best publication they've done in a long time. Well worth the fifteen bucks.

Spin-Off, Handwoven, and PieceWork continue to be exemplary magazines.

Other Obligatory Knitting Shit

I’ve been pretty busy, in the little spare time that I have. Besides the pile of socks, I've finished several designs for the book, spun a fair amount, and written another book chapter. I think I've scared the shit out of Jerry with the boxes of yarn that I've packed up, not to mention my library. I'll have pictures next week of some works-in-progress but until then, you'll have to make do with plain ole flat text.

Once I've moved in with Jer, I'll have my own room for a little studio. After two years, I'll be able to open up the big loom. Somehow, I'll pack in some weaving time. Time management--rare and more than handy.

By the way, if you really want to know what the fuck I'm doing, you can friend me on FaceBook if you let me know that you read the blog. I will most likely set up a separate page for my design work in the next few weeks. I don't bother with Twitter these days.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Yikes! No Internet

Yes, it's true. I'm in the process of moving back to NJ and in with my love Jerry. So the internet is gone until I get my ass situated in a couple of weeks. Daughter Jenn has been kind enough to let me use her connection while I'm visiting.

Lots going on. Book is well on its way, I've done a huge amount of spinning, knitted four pairs of socks, and finished another design. Plus work has been busy. My days are chock full. Of nuts, sometimes.

I promise, as soon as I get my internet back, I'll be posting a lot. God, I miss blogging. Btw, Mom is doing superly. Heh. She's going for treatment but the doctors expect her to recover fully. Listen, she's back to knitting and rooting for the Yankees. Can't ask for more.

Talk to you all soon!


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Quickie

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times--Charles Dickens

There's trouble in Mar-town these days. I have not been well, and now Mammy has been hospitalized, most likely with a flare-up of diverticulitis. She's been bleeding internally, there's apparently some kidney issues, and as of today, she's going through testing.

Those of you who are longtime readers know what a wonderful mom she is. My first knitting teacher and my best knitting buddy. The fact that she hasn't been strong enough to knit this past week is very telling. Yes, I know. She's 86. And I'm almost 60. But when push comes to shove, as it often has in my life, my mother has been my greatest support and cheerleader.

Ellie's a tough bird. We Krauts don't take shit lying down. So I'm hopeful that she'll beat this one. After all, she has to finish that damned jacket she's been knitting, the yarn a birthday present from me. And besides, she has a half dozen projects planned out for winter.

I'll post again as soon as this crisis is over. I've been working hard on the book, hard at work, and even getting some spinning done. I will absolutely be at Rhinebeck the whole weekend, along with Jerry, who wants to see the sheep-to-shawl competition. How rare and handy is that man? Very. Talk to you all soon. XXOO, Mar

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kill the Lemmings

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?—James Thurber

I gotta laugh when I hear the word “edgy” used to describe a knitting design.

Another term that I can do without is “cutting edge.” It’s all the “edge” crap that I find irritating, I guess. Edge = sharp?

Knitting is what it is. People who use the word "hip" in conjunction with knitting are quite self-deluded. And when it’s “edgy,” generally the design is something even the Punk Princess wouldn’t wear.

Just make a fucking garment as opposed to a clown suit. But wait—has someone knitted a clown suit? No doubt. I imagine it can be found on Ravelry, the new KnitDweeb heaven. Yeah, yeah, I know. There are worthwhile groups there.

But I haven’t bothered signing onto Ravelry in more than a year. FaceBook keeps me connected with family and friends. I don't need another social network. I'm even considering dumping Twitter. I don't have the time to do all these things. Better to knit and write than to spend hours online. In fact, I'm doing less on FaceBook lately, other than playing Bejeweled Blitz.

[Note to self: I could knit a Bozo nose. Perhaps I shall do, and wear it to Rhinebeck.]

Crayon Madness
I’m having a love-hate relationship with Crystal Palace’s Mini Mochi. At this point, I’ve used four of the colorways, with Intense Rainbow the shade used in the Crayon Madness set for the book. All beautiful. Mochi Plus, the Aran weight, has 16 colorways, with the original Mini Mochi colors and eight new ones.

MM, due to its soft twist, can be troublesome at times, along with the sporadic lump of roving that appears when you least expect it. This isn’t an instance of thick ‘n’ thin yarn, it’s an instance of yarn blobbery. However, the results are well worth the occasional annoyance.

I've just finished the scarf to the set. First came the mitts, then the scarf, now the hat. Finally, the socks, if I'm not sick of it all.

It's damned tough to take a picture of yourself wearing a mitt, lemme tell ya.
I'm going to ask dear bro Richard, who has a degree in photography and knows what he's doing, to take some shots. This picture is the best of the lot--it's the scarf draped over my porch railing. At least you can see the lace rib pattern.

Ex Libris, Extrapolate
I just bought Marianne Isager’s Japanese Inspired Knits. A beautiful book, with excellent photography, worth every penny. Although I wasn’t that big on her African design book, I appreciate her artistry.

These days, I buy books that inspire me to do better with my own design work, rather than entice me to knit their patterns. I find that looking at designs pushes me to view my own work from different perspectives, rather than take the expected way out. When it came time to think about the hat construction for Crayon Madness, I began thinking about a basic cap. Well, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. There was no thrill there. Plus, decreasing the lace pattern didn’t make esthetic sense, so I cranked up the brain cells and came up with a possibility. A bonnet shape. I’ll be working out the details and troubleshooting this one—it should work.

Rowan magazines always inspire. The simplest garment often has surprising élan gained through unexpected detail—a frill here, an atypical hem there. Of course, the spectacular photography helps too, a message that hasn’t penetrated the American knitting magazines.

I picked up the latest issue of IK and once again, the photos did little justice to the designs. Same with Vague, although I’ll give it credit for the better photography. I grant you, photographing knitted garments can be a bitch. I’ve done it, as an editor, and it’s not the easiest task. Egregious namedropping: The first photographer I ever worked with was Ian O’Leary, who did Sasha Kagan’s first book and had done a lot of work for Dorling Kindersley. Great guy, and I learned a lot from about shooting garments and styling a shot. Photo shoots are not at all glamorous, trust me. They’re excruciatingly tedious.

Mac Attack on Knitting Apps
Working in IT means that I despise all things Microsoft. It’s ironic, since most of us in IT are forced to use their crap. I do hear that Windows 7 is very good, though. I’ve transferred most of my work to my MacBook, using Scrivener for the book, and the other iWork apps in place of Office junk. Once Windows 7 is available, I’ll partition the Mac to run my Windows knitting applications.

Fortunately, Knit Visualizer is available for the Mac. I’m looking into buying Garment Styler, although I don’t mind doing my own calculations. It’s a time factor, really. I own the Sweater Wizard but it’s limited.

Onceupona, when these applications didn’t exist, I used Excel as a charting tool. Once you set it up, it’s OK—and readily available. In my “spare” time, I’ve been doing a video on using Excel for charting. Watch this space. I’ll have it done in a week or so. You’ll need Flash 9 to view it. Yeah, I do this stuff for a living, so WTF. I’ve got Captivate 4 and RoboHelp 8 on my work laptop. Might as well use Captivate for my own purposes.

Special Beanie
In the spirit of nonconformity, I must say that I love kids who are born nonconformists, like both my grandchildren. And recently, I had the pleasure of meeting the son of one of Jerry’s friends, who is what Jerry calls “a lost soul”. In fact, J, as I shall call him here to protect his privacy, is not as lost as it would appear. He’s had his problems, overcame them, and is now looking to go to college to study forestry, getting his shit together finally at 23. His older brother, the “star” of the family, has seemingly overshadowed him. Not in my book. J is a smart, sweet, gentle soul, not a lost one. But he dances to his own beat.

We met up in Maine, when Jerry and I were staying at his parents’ house. I was sitting on the deck knitting when J sat down next to me and asked me to explain what I was doing. My usual explanation is: “You make interconnected loops using these sticks called needles.”

J then said, “I gotta show you something.” He bounced into the house and returned in a shot with a handful of commercially knit caps. “I wear these all the time and I love them.” I looked them over, told him they were very nice (they were), and then said the words I sensed he was waiting to hear. “Would you like me to knit you one?”

His face lit up. “Yes! Oh please, would you?”

So on the way home, I stopped at WEBS and bought some Louet GEMS merino, in steel gray and burgundy. Last week, I designed the Fair Isle motif for the hat. Now, I’m swatching. J will have his hat shortly. And he asked me to teach him to knit. I will, when we meet again.

Cutting edge? No. Edgy? No. Rare and handy? I hope so. Happy Labor Day. Jerry and I are off for a ride, meandering aimlessly. He drives, I knit. The way I like it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's a Barbie World.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you carry your childhood with you, you will never grow older--Tom Stoppard

I admit to jonesing for a Barbie when I was nine. I, who hated dolls, wanted Barbie and her clothes. I've just finished writing a bit about this for the book. I made clothes for her from scraps of cloth gleaned from my grandfather's closest friend, who worked in Manhattan's Garment District, and knitted weird tubular ropes using my knitting jenny. I didn't know about I-cord back then.

If I had that 1959 Barbie MIB (mint in the box), I could retire. Anyone remember her wedding dress? Exquisite. And cost $5 back then. I saved for that for weeks. 

OP Knitting
I find it interesting that many designers use other people to do the knitting for their books. I'm knitting every piece for my book. Why, given that I work a full-time job and have limited time? Because Knitting in Public is my story and it deserves pieces made by me, not some friend with too much time on their hands (I don't mind the plural possessive, despite my love of Strunk and White).

I suspect that most writers/designers of knitting books don't work full time outside the home and have plenty of minions willing to knit for them, which is why there is a continuing stream of useless knitting books. I'm sure I could round up a few volunteers to knit for me. I won't. Ever. 

That means that I may only write one or two books. Big fucking deal. I'm sure that the market doesn't need a book a year from me. God knows it's enough to work on the book every evening. Write a little, knit a little. Jerry's probably sick of looking at the current book project. I know I am.

Other Fiber Shit
Despite the book, I have found a little time to do some experimental weaving on my Flip loom. What you see in the picture is me fucking around with the warp and weft. I like the colors but the warp, a 10/8 cotton, is too thin. 
The first picks were done in leftover Raggi sock yarn, just to see what kind of fabric I'd get. A mess. Then I used the same warp cotton for weft. Another mess, too thin for the reed. Finally, I tried some Harrisville Shetland that I bought at WEBS two weeks ago. I bought two cones of magenta and dark green. Now I know that I need to use the Harrisville for warp and weft. Off comes the cotton, which I'll save for the Mighty Wolf loom when I can set it up. 

And I do have some embroidery waiting to be started. Sometimes I need to cleanse my palate.

Mammy's Birthday
Ellie's still going strong. She'll be 86 this Friday. You'd never know it. She still drives, does her own shopping, knits better than many people half her age, and doesn't miss a trick mentally. My brother is convinced that as long as she keeps planning knitting projects, she won't have time to die. I agree. She asked for yarn for her birthday. "What else do I need at my age?" 

My mother just got her Stitches flier yesterday in the mail and noticed that there was no mention of any instructors--she found that quite odd, along with the new Hartford venue. So I said to her, "Maybe I'll go this year, what the fuck. Wanna go?" I figured she'd say no. 

She said, "Sure, why not?" I almost fell over. We both got sick of Stitches a few years ago and she wasn't really interested in going to Rhinebeck. 

So look for me and Ellie at Stitches this year. For those of you who have met my mother, you know she's a trip.

Happy birthday, Ma. I don't know what I'd do without my bestest knitting buddy. May you live for another 20 years, like your doctor thinks you will.

Da Mags
I just picked up IK tonight at the supermarket, of all places. Haven't looked at it yet but these days, I flip through the knitting rags and immediately forget what was in them. Jaded, I suppose. I don't think I've bothered to look at a copy of Knitter's in more than a year. And the rest, I leave alone too. The new VK is out and I'm shaking with ennui. I'll get it because I like reading Lee Ann's column, dude.

The Rowan Magazine, which I will always buy sight-unseen, is the exception. And the exceptional. It puts the rest to shame.

Books are another story. I do want the new Marianne Isager book, Japanese Inspired Knits, and Spin Control, by Amy King. Besides, I love receiving packages in the mail when I get home from work. 

I'm such a child, as Jerry says. He's right. And rare and handy. It won't be long now...I'll see him tomorrow night. We didn't kill each other on our vacation. Always a good sign.

P.S. I've made my reservations for Rhinebeck. Have you?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Maine Lining

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Babies don't need a vacation but I still see them at the beach.  I'll go over to them and say, 'What are you doing here, you've never worked a day in your life.'--Steven Wright

I always ran into the surf when I was a toddler and drove my mother nuts. She ended up putting a harness on me. 

Back in the High Life Again
Yo. I'm back from vacation in New England. A short but wonderful week. We stayed with Jerry's friends John and Mary Jean at their beautiful house on a small lake in Lovell, ME.

Ya can't be crabby on vacation. Every morning I sat on the deck and worked on a book project. Here's the view. It was hard to keep my eyes on the work.

Jerry and I had a fabulous time. I needed the rest. But I worked on the book project constantly. Here's a teaser picture. This is the scarf in progress, with one of the mitts that goes with the set. There will be a hat, too. I chose the Mini Mochi rainbow shade because it is reminiscent of my very first knitting project, the one that Ma started me on. I will include the original pattern too--dare I say that it was Red Heart? Yes, I have the original Red Heart color, so I'll be making that scarf too, illustrative of what I did when I was eight years old. 

The book will be littered with my designs that reflect different times in my life. At this point, the book has 15 projects that will be interwoven with the text. Some of the designs: the Winnepesaukee summer jacket done in a cotton/linen blend, a sweater tribute to Mary Quant, one of my first fashion influences, a few sock patterns, and Fair Isle Mania. You'll see. I'll give you some more teasers as I go along. 

One thing I've learned--doing your own designs beats the piss out of fucking around with someone else's stuff. I realized the other day that I have done nothing but my own shit for the past year and a half. And been quite happy with what I've accomplished. In a few weeks, I'll put up a short excerpt from the book. I appreciate the publishing suggestions but I know who the publishers are. Whether I go with any of them shall be seen. Interweave is a possibility, although I will insist that I see the final edited copy. The last time I wrote for them, I was not accorded that courtesy. As a former magazine editor myself, I know how to deal with writers. You keep their voice. That should not be edited out. The editor is not the writer. 

Song of the South
Well, I've been hearing nothing but Asheville from readers and from friends. Jerry and I don't mind the mild cold--it's the subzero crap that we hate. I can tolerate 40 degrees or so. Plus, New Jersey is ridiculously expensive and we both want out. Funny, because he was born in Brooklyn and I in Manhattan. Yet we're both country people. I guess we'll never lose our accents, and I'll always love being a snotty Jersey skank. This move won't happen for a bit--logistics, ya know.

New England Fiber Haunts
I did go to Patternworks. Feh. The shop in Center Harbor, NH, is just a regular place, not even half as good as my LYS, Stix 'n' Stitches in Montclair, NJ. Frankly, if you take a trip to New England, you can pass it by for Halcyon, in Bath, ME, Harrisville in NH, or the Fiber Studio in Henniker, NH. And of course, WEBS is a must. I made it to WEBS and bought some Harrisville Shetland for a weaving project that I've got on the Flip loom. We really didn't have the time to go to Halcyon or Harrisville. Jerry was a good sport--he went into WEBS and sat in one of their comfy chairs. When I dipped into Patternworks, he took a short nap in the car.

One of these days, I'm going to do another tour of these places--anyone want to come? There are other smaller places in New England that I'd like to visit. I did go to Keepsake Quilting, which owns Patternworks. I'd consider quilting if I had the time and the room. I learned how to quilt years ago and would do it again. I would love to do a reproduction Civil War-era quilt or perhaps a Depression-era quilt. I prefer the antique reproductions to more modern fabrics. It's my love of history, I suppose. I know everyone loves Kaffe's fabrics, and they are lovely. But not what I would use if I were to quilt. Actually, I had often thought of doing a whitework quilt, where the quilting stitch is the star. Fuck machine quilting. Give me a needle for my hand. Machine piecing is OK--machine quilting is a bore, to me. 

So it's time to put this entry to bed, as well as me. Going back to work today was not at all rare and handy. But they do give me money, so what the fuck.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Well, not really hot fun. It's fucking raining again, here in North Arlington, NJ. I'm down at Jerry's, he's napping, and I'm taking a break from working on a design with an August 1 deadline. Raining, thunder, with dabs of sunlight. Christ, what a suck-awful summer it's been so far here.

Achtung. Die Strickmadchen Spreche. (No can do umlauts.)

So, I've decided that after years of avoiding self-promotion, I'm going to start splatting my knitting design crap around. Hey, all my friends do it. Why not me?

Why haven't I before? Two reasons. One, I have always despised the "mememe" deal. Two, didn't have the time, so I thought. But now I've come to the realization that I'm going to be 60 next April. For someone who thinks she's really around 40, the senior citizen concept has been a tough one to swallow. On the other hand, I have an amazing example in my mother, who will be 86 on August 21 and knits better than many, many younger people I know. I still can't bullshit Ma. Nobody can. She's good for another 15 years, I think. If not more. Still drives, still shops, still lives on her own, still sounds like she's a much younger woman.

With that in mind, I decided a few weeks ago that designing and writing about knitting, spinning, and maybe weaving, will be my retirement career. Jerry and I have plans to relocate to North Carolina when he's able to sell the house. We both hate the winter. At the beginning of October, we're taking a trip down there to case out Asheville, Raleigh-Durham, and Charlotte. I've been to Charlotte a number of times--nice city. But we want to live in the mountains, preferably on a lake, not too far away from a city.

So when I can, I'll give up tech writing and focus on what I care most about--doing the fiber thang and making some bucks at it.

The Book
Now that I've been chugging along with the book, I've decided to change the title. It's now Knitting in Public: My Stringy, Salient Life. Many stories about my life as an editor at McCall's Needlework & Crafts, MacKnit, All American Crafts, plus some of my early designs that no one probably remembers. The book will have numerous patterns scattered throughout that apply to the stages of my knitting "career," starting with my very first scarf that I made when eight years old.

And of course, my life story, from beginning to the present, including all the nasty bits. This is my legacy to my children and grandchildren.

Liz is getting ready to start the cover and she'll be doing the chapter header illustrations. You won't be seeing much of it here until it's ripened and then I'll put out some teasers. In the meanwhile, I'm going to start looking for a decent publisher who I can trust. Any suggestions?

Considering that throughout the years I've written thousands of pages, you'd think that writing this book would have been easy. It's not been so but I'm glad I'm up to the challenge. I put "Rock Sox" on hold because this is far more important to me now.

Anyway, Blogger seems to be having issues with uploading photos, so I'll do them them the next time I write, probably Tuesday. While I'm on vacation, I'll be working to wean my blog from Blogger and get it going on the Mac. The URL will remain the same, since I only use Blogger as a publishing tool to my domain. Shit, technology isn't always rare and handy. Sacrilege, I know.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Yesterday was my 7th blog anniversary. Go back and read the first entry. Sheesh.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Damned Cobwebs

Yes, I'm here. And well.

Almost two months have gone by. Why? Because I've been totally disinterested in blogging, to be honest. It's taken me this long to get the urge to write in the evening, other than on my book. FaceBook and occasionally Twitter both give me the opportunity to drop a sentence here and there in a nanosecond. Blogging is another story.

I was on the brink of ditching the blog entirely, closer than I've ever been. And then, I thought, why the fuck should I trash something that's consumed a better part of seven years. Dumb.

So what have I been doing, besides working on my book? A lot of knitting, some spinning, and weaving too. Lots of designing going on here. No more knitting OP's stuff. I'm thoroughly enjoying my own creations. I will be publishing these patterns--some lace scarves, mitts done in Mini Mochi, a nice new yarn from Crystal Palace, a lace jacket made from CotLin, and a few other items.

I knocked out this Baby Surprise Jacket for a coworker whose daughter just had another baby.
The buttons are little stegosauruses. The yarn is Limbo Mexiko sock yarn. I haven't made one of these in 17 years, when the Punk Princess was born. It's mind numbing but makes for a good present and perfect TV knitting.

Jerry and I have had a wonderful summer so far. Been down the shore. See picture below, taken at Seaside Heights, one of the Jersey shore's finer trashy places.
So this post is short. But from now on, I will be posting regularly, in bits and pieces. The blog redesign, which I had hoped to do on the Mac, may be put off for a month or two. But in the meanwhile, my 7th blog anniversary is the 25th (note that I eschewed "blogiversary", it being an idiotic word), so maybe we can celebrate my resurrection, eh?

After all, even though I maybe MIA, I'm still learning to be rare and handy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All the Young Dudes

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Color is music to your eyes—Kaffe Fassett

As ever, Kaffe has nailed it. Little wonder that so many knitters I know are or have been musicians, including me. Or at the very least, music aficionados. Ted knows more about classical music than almost anyone I know, except for my friend Chris Gately. I’d love to see the two of them compete on a Music Jeopardy.

Yes, all the young dudes were at Easton Mountain in upstate NY this weekend for the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat. I think it’s wonderful that the guys get together, without the chicks, to enjoy each other’s company, learn from each other, and run around naked. Yeah, they do. I have that on good authority. I am sorry I didn’t Joe, Ted, Lars, Stephen, Sean, and whoever else is going. But I’m going to meet Peter Jobson on Thursday! Nanna and I have been “cyber friends” for years and I’m excited that he’ll be passing through my neck of the woods on his way to Philly. I missed out on meeting Mary Helen two years ago so at least I’ll get to meet one of my Aussie friends.

Death Cab for Cutie

Great name for a band. Some of my favorite band names are Talking Heads, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and the Dead Kennedys. I was thinking that the perfect name for a knitting list would be Death Cable for Cutie.

Except that the lists are all traveling in their own death cabs. Little wonder, given the social networking that has become the trademark of Web 2.0. Folksonomy. That’s a word you may not yet know but is a portmanteau of folk and taxomony. Social tagging.

I’m guilty of being a Twit and a FaceBook addict, although I rarely IM anyone and I never text-message, leaving that to Liz, who seems to have spastically magic fingers as only the young do these days.

Ravelry has certainly become the gigunda list of all time, encompassing the KnitDweebs and the rest of us with functioning brains and modicums of taste. In fact, I have not been on Ravelry in almost a year, for many reasons. One is time. I can shit Twits out from my BlackBerry but I can’t access Ravelry from work, since my work laptop is tightly controlled by the company for which I consult.

In some respects, the impending death of the lists isn’t a big surprise. For many people, writing an e-mail these days lacks the immediacy and the exposure that the social networking sites give to users. I’m talking about instant gratification, the disease that affects many of us, me included. I’m not predicting the death of blogs yet; however, FB entries are known to tech peeps as mini-blogs. There is a lot of truth to that. I can nail an FB or Twitter “What are you doing” in a nanosecond at virtually any time.

Where I used to get several Socknitters digests a day, now I might get one every couple of days. Frankly, I rarely had time to read them. If the lists want to survive, they will have to move from Yahoo Groups to FaceBook Groups. Otherwise, the old-time lists as we knew them will take a death cab trip into cyber history. Where they belong, I think.

Sit ‘n’ Spin

For some reason, I’ve been more interested in spinning recently than in knitting, although I’ve picked up my knitting here and there. I suppose spring and MS&W purchases have something to do with that.

I’d like to spin some silk to knit another scarf like the one I made for my friend Susan last year.

The pattern stitch came from Heirloom Knitting. It worked well with the handpainted silk and it was enough of a challenge to keep my interest piqued (not “peaked,” which is how I’ve seen too many people spell it). This is some of the silk I bought in MD. I'm hoping to get it all spun by the end of next month so I can get cracking on the scarf.

Granddoggie Bailey

Yes, I'm a Grammy again. To a petite canine who charmed this cat lover to the nth degree.

That's Bailey with his momma Jenn. Bailey's a Pomeranian. Fluffy, foxy, and teeny. We loves Bailey, preciousss. He's quite rare and handy. Must off to bed go. It's after midnight, I've been fucking around with FaceBook, playing Bejeweled and doing badly, and now my allergies are screaming "Zyrtec."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

MD Sheep Shit and Mud

Best Quote I Heard All Day
To create man was a quaint and original idea, but to add the sheep was tautology--Mark Twain

God knows there were throngs of both at MD. I won't be going to MD again. Frankly, the thrill of insane women throwing themselves into already crowded booths, with or without strollers, has lost its charm for me. MD is far worse a venue than Rhinebeck. Why I thought it had perhaps gotten better in the ten years since last I attended is a mystery. 

I fully understand why newbies want to go. You'll never see such wares in one place. If you have not, then do so once. 

I'll stick with Rhinebeck, which is a far better festival.

None-da-less, I was happy to see BJ and Carol, albeit briefly. I bought what I wanted and got out of Dodge at noon. Here's what I bought. Not much.

Two Golding spindles. Bottom is the Celtic Knot, the top is Bali Sweetheart #8, which has a Russian insert. This is a one-of-a-kind. Below is the picture that the Goldings have on their website.

It's .87 ounces. Perfect for what I spin.

No, I didn't buy the Ladybug. Decided against it. Instead, today I ordered something else online from Halcyon that will be far more useful to me. When it shows up, hopefully by Friday, you'll see it.

The fiber at the festival seemed to be merino-heavy. I did find some lovely silk, though. The little bags below are about a half-ounce each. They'll be spun for a scarf similar to the one I made last year.

And here's some more silk. This is tussah. 

Of course, Jerry was with me. And he thoroughly enjoyed himself, asked lots of questions, and was blown away by the Golding Shepherdess wheel. Jerry gets the whole fiber deal. And finds it interesting. 

He wandered away frequently to look at something. Thank God he's tall. Otherwise, I would have lost him in the crowds.

Finally, on the way out, I spotted this stuff--70% wool, 30% seacell. I bought enough to make a short jacket or vest.

Of course, when I'm going to find the time to do all of this is a major question. But I'll find the time.

The good news is, I will be doing some writing for Spin-Off. Amy Clarke Moore has asked me to write for her, and I will. An interview with a secret celebrity will be forthcoming. And I have other articles to pitch to her, as well. I'll keep you posted as to who, what, when, and where.

I didn't take too many pictures of the event itself. What was more important to me than going to MD S&W was the event of the next day.

Will You Still Love Me, When I'm 64?
Or when I'm 59? On Sunday, the weather was so foul, Jerry and I headed down to Virginia to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Peggy Carroll Fallon. We've been friends since 1965, when she was a freshman and I a sophomore at Montclair High School in NJ. 

We were the writing wunderkind back then. We wrote poetry together, played in the orchestra together ('cello for her, violin for me), and shared life beyond that, when we had our children Danny and Jenn, Melissa and Corinne, literally at the same time. Then Peg married Bill, her second husband, had two more kids, and they moved to Virginia, to an 1865 farmhouse. 

Sometimes, even though you haven't seen someone in three years, it's just a nanosecond. Prior to that, we had lost each other for 25 years. Now, we're together again. The only thing missing was the third piece--our Dottie. 

The love of a friend is inestimably rare and handy. Leaving her on Sunday was like ripping my arm out of its socket. But we'll be together again, shortly. Because I'm going back to old Virginny soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let the Birthday Games Begin

Best Quote I Heard All Day
What a drag it is getting old--Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Mother' s Little Helper"

So the Glimmer Twins wrote that song when they were 25? And now the two are going to be 66 this year. 

It's early, it's my birthday, Jerry's still sleeping, and I'm out on the porch writing. A bit chilly but the weather is going to heat up to the high 80s today. Yeah, thank ya Jeeeeezus. 

The celebration started yesterday when I walked into work and found that my coworkers had decorated my desk.

Yes, that's a Nerf gun on my laptop. We do occasionally have shootouts at the Okey-Dokey corral. They sprinkled my desk with little birthday cutouts. Our team has five birthdays this week alone, so we're having a group party next week.

And then Jerry came up last night, with these in hand:

Plus a card that I can't display. Suffice it to say that I laughed my ass off when I read it after midnight. He was jonesin' for me to read it but I wouldn't, until it was officially my birthday. I know he has a present for me, but he's still cuttin' ZZZZZZZZZs.

My beloved gay brother, Joe, sent me this:

I love the colors! Damn him! Now I want to wind the skeins and start designing a pair of men's socks. One of my colleagues, Bobby, who's a sweetheart and young enough to be my son, loves what he calls "Funky Man Socks" so I think that's a perfect name.

And finally, here's what I'm doing right now, out on the porch, with coffee and Cleo at my side.

I had to laugh yesterday. My cell phone goes off and it's Liz. "Happy Birthday, Gram!" Um, Liz, it's tomorrow. She got so upset that she got it wrong, I had to calm her down over the phone. And then we laughed. Liz just got her first job, so she's up to her earballs.  But getting an "I love ya, Gram" was a fine pre-birthday present, for sure.

Tomorrow is grandson Ian's 12th birthday. Ian, aka Birthday Present, because he came damned close to being born on his Gram's birthday. So it's a big fambly get-together down at Corinne's house, with ganze Familia attending. Cake, coffee, and schmoozing. I'm so lucky to have such a fabulous family. We all love each other. And everyone is rare and handy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's All Relative. Mommy, Daddy, Baby, President

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.-- Albert Einstein

When my youngest daughter Corinne was tiny, she would identify her family as "Mommy. Daddy. Baby. President." I was never quite sure whether she was the Baby or the President. Perhaps her sister can clarify. But I doubt it. There's nothing better than a child's imagination. God knows both my children had imaginations that ran rampant, particularly Jenn.

Which is why I've decided that I will become even more childish than I am now. It's the only way to survive.

Happy belated birthday to my Sissyboo, Ms. Scrappy. She was my 12th birthday present. The gift that keeps on giving, as they say. 

Here's why Kar and Mar are glad that Mammy had them in April.

This picture was taken at Branch Brook Park this past Sunday, a county park in Newark/Belleville, NJ, that rivals DC with its cherry blossoms. Jerry and I were out and about, wanting to enjoy the sunshine, so he drove over and we cruised through the park. 

And then the weekend before, we drove along the Delaware River.

It's fucking 41 degrees and raining out, as I write this. Feh.

Obligatory Knitting (and Spinning) Shit
Well, almost one sleeve done on Jerry's sweater. As you can see, Cleo does not understand the concept of being nonplussed. She decided to step into the photo, something she never does. Little attention whore. 

If that isn't a look of disdain, I don't know what it is. Cleo is such a non-feline, I'm ashamed to call her a cat. I sat with my spindle last night, twirling it in front of her. She turned her back and walked away. No interest in yarn, no interest in cat toys, eats catnip and immediately falls asleep. Jesus. 

I've been fucking around with my Comet spindle again, this time using some Romney that I found in the fiber storage bin.
 It's actually spinning up nicely and I'm now satisfied that I can spindle. I still prefer a wheel, howsome ever. 

Panera Posse
I managed to make it to the Mt. Olive Panera last Wednesday for the knitting get-together. Only five of us showed up: Me, BJ, Linda, Jeanne, and later, Crystal. But I did take a picture of their gruesomenesses.

From left, it's Linda, Beej, and Jeanne. Crystal showed up after the photo shoot. I did admire Jeanne's bag that she made herself, of fabric called "Knitmare on Main Street." My favorite motif is the skeleton slumped in the armchair with the knitting. That's how I feel, most nights.

It's funny. I've never been much for groups, never joined much of anything other than orchestra in high school, dropped out of Girl Scouts because I was bored and the girls in the troop, other than Dottie, were annoying. But I enjoy going to this group when I can muster up the energy on Wednesday nights to make the 70-mile roundtrip after work. 

MD Not Cheap and Wool
Well, I'm ready. Got my pennies together, although I still haven't decided if I want to get the Ladybug. I am not usually so pussified when making a decision but the little schizo voice in my head keeps saying, "Do you REALLY need another wheel?" The schizo voice obviously mimicks my mother quite well. 

I'm bringing Jerry with me and my gut thoughts run to "do you really want him to know what you spend on this shit?" Of course, given fiber shoved into my eyeballs, Jerry will vanish for a brief time. You know he won't be any kind of shopping deterrent.

I finally started using Twitter more often and stuck it into the sidebar the other night. As I was reading in e-Week, Twitter and FaceBook are now known as "mini-blogs." With Twitter limited to 140 characters, I'd say that was past "mini" but probably just enough for anyone's blather, including mine. 

I remember learning about stream-of-consciousness writing when I was a freshman in high school and thinking that it was a very cool way to write. I seem to recall that I tried my hand at it, possibly for a homework assignment. In fact, this blog is plenty stream of consciousness, when you come right down to it. I rarely think much of it through until I'm typing. I may take pictures, may use 'em, may not. 

So consider this true WYSIWYG kind of crap.

Hippo Bird-day
Friday will be my last day of being in my 50s because, as my mother so kindly reminded me yesterday, Saturday will be the first day of my 60s. I think she's enjoying the fact. Considering that she will be 86 in August but looks and acts like she's in her 60s, I figure I'm about 35 or so, really. What my mother knits would put a lot of knitters half her age to shame. She just finished the Mari Dembrow cardigan that I've been working on. And started another lace shawl. 

While I spent some time last week feeling a bit sorry for myself because damn it, I'm getting to be an old lady, I rallied and decided, fuck it. I'll never lose my attitude. Mammy hasn't, my grandmother didn't, I won't either. And I've passed this along to Jenn and Corinne, with Liz being the rarest and handiest budding curmudgeon of them all. It's all relative.