Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes, Shrub's Gone! And Yes, We Did!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.--Barack Obama

The Bush regime is gone. I'm working from home today but I stopped at 11:30 and gave the inauguration my full attention. The night Obama was elected, I know we all cried tears of relief. It's been 8 miserable years and the country overcame their stagnancy and regained their hope. What a magnificent speech Obama gave. I'm not listening to the talking heads dissect it. Just want to savor the moment.
Can-do. We can don that national persona once again. It's never really been lost, just masked in despair. The time has come for us all to raise up our faces to the sun and get to work. We can get out of this mess we're in. Hard work, patience, and perseverance will prevail now. And Dallas can keep that son of a bitch. I hope that Obama and the Congress have the balls to go after him, Cheney, and Rove for their crimes. They need to pay, not to get a free ride.

Jerry's Aran
I've been doodling around with this. There is a method to my madness. I'll be chronicling this sweater design, from the beginning to the end, as I go along because I think it may be of value to you, if not to me.

Long before Janet Szabo published her book, I had designed several Aran sweaters, two of which were commissions for friends. I had a process then that was very similar to Janet's, simply because there is really no other sane way to design an Aran.
I've picked the stitch patterns and I've begun fitting them into the front. As the tech writer I am, I'll be systematic about describing my process.
  1. Pick the central panel first, then fill in the others. Use Fibonacci numbers, as suggested by Janet. My design will have three main design elements: the central panel, a tight plait next to it, dividers, and then a braid.

  2. Scan the stitch patterns from their respective books and insert into a Word document.

  3. Set up an Excel file for layout and preliminary stitch number calculations.
The latter step is very helpful. Rather than make a line sketch of the pattern placement, I use a spreadsheet for a layout and then insert the number of stitches for each pattern below. I then do a sum of the stitches that will constitute roughly 90% of the entire front/back, with the side filler stitches left blank until the actual swatch is finished.

This is just half of the row, since I couldn't get the entire thing captured as a readable graphic. I do the entire row, with the right side stitch patterns mirrored. But you get the idea.
I guesstimate my gauge so that I have a rough idea of what I need to cast on when I swatch. I'll be using Dale Falk, so 5.5 sts/in. is not unrealistic, although it may vary slightly. Using this figure, I can remove stitch patterns that may add too many stitches, since I need to have a decent number of filler stitches on each side to accommodate the armhole shaping. I removed the twisted divider stitch and accompanying purls to acheive this but left it in the spreadsheet if the swatch's measurements will allow me to include it.

I now have a road map for swatching. The spreadsheet will help me do the final calculations for the cast-on, given a 10% reduction for the ribbing.

The central panel and the large braid still have to be charted--I've done the tight plait. I'm going to try to get those done tonight on Knit Visualizer.

If this design turns out the way I'm hoping, I'll sell it. Might as well make some money from my efforts.

Winter IK
I have to say, I was underwhelmed. However, I loved Sean Riley's Harvard Square hat and Laura Grutzeck's Ropes and Picots cardigan. I'll make Sean's hat, definitely, since I need one and I love the graphic approach of his design. Laura's cardigan will have to go on hold for awhile, since I just ordered and received three more Mari Debrow patterns. I've got enough to keep me busy for the next ten years, at least.

IK wasn't terrible, it was just lackluster to me. I liked the socks OK, the mittens were a bit late in the season. Why they weren't in the gift issue is beyond me. Otherwise, it was kinda boring. If I see another "Why We Knit" article, I'm gonna spew. Do we really need to analyze it yet again? For what reason? Who gives a flying fuck why we knit?
Interweave has some good books out, though. Books I will get asap. Carol's sock book, of course. Knitted Lace of Estonia. And maybe French Girl Knits. I need more books like a hole in the head. Every time I've moved, it's been the books that were a royal pain in the ass.

One Thing Finished
I got the mitts done and I've been wearing them constantly in this hellish weather. They're quite funky against my black winter jacket.

I think when I do Sean's hat, I'll match two of the colors. Yikes! I'll probably make it this weekend, since I need a hat badly. My black felt hat is alright but it shows every little stray hair and piece of lint.
In the meanwhile, inbetween major projects, I've been replenishing my sock drawer as well as using up some of my sock yarn stash.

Anyway, thanks for all the good wishes. Jerry appreciated them, as did I. He read them and was going to comment but was at a loss for words. Pretty damned unusual for him.

With the weather so gawd awful, I'm getting a serious case of cabin fever. One good thing is that I'm feeling quite balanced and focused, despite the urge to go hibernate. I'd say that's normal. Subzero wind chill has never been rare nor handy. I want warm.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snot Rockets

Best Quote I Heard All Day
The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.--Dorothy Parker

It's been awhile since I've used a quote from another unrepentant Jersey girl knitter. Yes, Dot was a knitter.

And if you read the somewhat uninteresting article in this issue of Piecework, so was Eleanor Roosevelt.

I had the great good fortune to meet her in 1961, when she gave a lecture at an Episcopalian church in Upper Montclair, where I grew up. My friend Dottie, whose family belonged to St. James's, was with me, since it was her mother's idea for us to go. Mrs. Roosevelt was Episcopalian and lived in Hyde Park in her Val Kill home at the time, so it's not surprising that she made an appearance in an Upper Montclair church.

I was 11 and being the fearless little girl that I was, stood up during the question and answer period and posed a question to Mrs. Roosevelt about the Russian missile threat. She was incredibly gracious and after the lecture, she thanked me for asking such a good question. I was, and still am, thrilled to have had the honor of meeting her.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Finished the mitts, complete with embroidery. Of course, they're out in the car and I'll be damned if I go down to the garage at night in 10 degree weather. I'll take some pictures of them over the weekend.

The next thing will be Jerry's Aran. I've got it all charted, now I'm waiting for the yarn to come in, since I had to order the right color, which is a medium blue-gray. I did buy one skein just for swatching, though, so I may mess with that next week. I'm really looking forward to this one. In the meanwhile, I'll shoot out a pair of socks or two.

Snot rockets? Jerry has dared me to write about them and our romance and ship it to eHarmony. I might but this is as good a testing ground as any. As he says, "I KNOW you're going to write about it." Well, I demurred a bit. "It's a bit personal, dontcha think, Jer?" He laughed.

I've mentioned Jerry before but I guess it's time to own up to the whole thing. It is a funny but sweet story of how we met last September.

After some absolutely boring dates over the summer from Match.com, I dumped that service and I sign up for eHarmony, which is the dating service that runs TV ads constantly. Supposedly they match you with the right person. I go through these profiles and I'm going "Feh. Blech. Yuck." If you ever want a good laugh, read some of these profiles, on whatever dating service you choose. I was always tempted to write my profile as a parody:

I love to go walking on the beach, have a candlelit dinner with a bottle of wine. I adore NASCAR and golf and I love to cuddle on the couch while we watch NFL games on Sundays. I'm honest, not a game player, clean, thrifty, and reverent. I love to dress up in heels and go out to dinner.

Yeah, that's me, alright. Sure. If I go to the beach, I'm in the water. I don't drink. I hate NASCAR, don't give a rat's ass about golf. I'll cuddle on the couch but it might lead to more and you'll have to turn off the game. However, I am honest to a fault but incredibly irreverent. So fuck you if you can't take a joke.

And then I get Jeremiah's profile. Oh, cool name, I thought. I start reading it. It's short but at the end, he writes "And my nieces think I'm a pisser."

Yes. This one I'd like to know. So Jerry and I start writing to each other. And then comes the inevitable phone call. We're on the phone for two hours. I'm laughing my ass off. He seems wonderful but...he lives almost 80 miles away, in North Arlington, NJ. Hmmm. A bit far.

We talk again. Again, a great conversation. And I'm thinking, maybe. But then, the shit came down at work and I backed off and told Jerry I was seeing another person. I was scared, to be honest. I realized that my attraction to Jerry, even over the phone, was more than I could handle then. Yeah, another person--Mr. Formula 1, for one hideous lunch date. So I blew a good guy off.

I never stopped thinking about Jerry and then, after dumping eHarmony, I tried SeniorFriendFinder in early November. I'm on it two days and all of a sudden, there's Jerry. He's favorited me. That did it. I e-mailed him and told him I was an idiot to trash him. We met a week later. And we were both done.

Snot rockets...well, just let me say that I can't really write this explicitly but suffice it to say, he threatened to blow some on my back when I smart-assed him in bed. If he wants to write more about it, he can in the Comments.

I'm still laughing about snot rockets. And yes, we love each other very much. I've been waiting for Jerry for a very long time. We're so alike, it's scary, as he says. He's as snarky as I am but a loving, kind sweetheart. We take very good care of each other. He gets me. I get him. He gets the fiber crap. And loves movies, history, current events, hates Bush. What more could a girl want? And I think he's hot.

I never thought that I would find anyone to love again. Jerry, if you're reading this (yes, he does read the blog), I love you so much. There, I said it publicly. Are ya happy? I sure am, ya old fuck. Like George Carlin said, we're old fucks. And rare and handy ones too. He'll be coming to Rhinebeck next October. Forewarned is forearmed. The two of us together are formidable.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

German Eyes are Smiling.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.--Brendan Behan
One of my favorite Irish writers, along with Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Author of Borstal Boy, which I highly recommend.

Irish poets? Yeats in particular. "Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." Another great quote, along with my favorite, "A terrible beauty was born." Reference to the Easter Rebellion of 1916. I do know my Irish history well.

Yes, Jerry is Irish...well, Irish-American. And he really did kiss the Blarney Stone. No shit.

I should have been Irish, given my general high spirits. But I do enjoy being the Anti-German. Sense of humor, sometimes disorganized, occasionally late.

Holiday Madness
We spent most of the holidays together, so I'm just getting back on track now. I met his wonderful sister Pat, and the altogether too smart and sweet nieces, Kelly, Kate, and Michele, on Christmas eve.
(No, Jerry, you do NOT look like a child molester in this picture.)

And then he met my family on Christmas Day. Ye Gods, what a crew.

Ian, mesmerized by his new Wii, Joe (Liz's boyfriend) playing her pink bass, her birthday present from Gram, and the Punk Princess herself.

And my favorite Christmas picture.
Jesus, Jerry, for crissakes, smile the next time someone takes our picture. The necklace I'm wearing in the picture was my Christmas present from him: a blue opal. Gorgeous. And the earrings do light up and flash obnoxiously but I restrained myself. A bit.

Then, the Sunday after Christmas, we did a wonderful road trip to DC. We walked our asses off, doing almost all of the Smithsonian museums.

I loved this sculpture. It turned slowly with the wind.
Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the White House. I did forget my old stinky sneakers anyway. However, the Capitol building was already swathed with scaffolding in preparation for the inauguration.

And finally, the holidays were over and it was back to work.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Well, idiot child left the directions to the Debrow cardigan at Jerry's house, so I had to fish around for a quick project until I can retrieve them tomorrow night. I found a bag of Julia yarn that Kristin Nicholas gave me when I was up at the farm taking pictures for last year's article. (I do have to write K...it's been much too long.)
She gave me the yarn for socks but I decided to make the fingerless mitts from her book, Kristin Knits. This is a great quick project and I desperately despise gloves and mittens. I need to feel my fingers grip the steering wheel, as it were.

I haven't added the embroidery yet--there are two flowers with stems--but I shall, after the other mitt is finished. Julia is distributed by Nashua Handknits of Westminster Fibers and I love this yarn, have used it twice now. Check out the colors. They're all Kristin.
One of these days, I'm going to make those Fair Isle embroidered socks of hers that were in VK back in 2006. I have the issue.
Aran Go Bragh
Yeah, working on Jerry's Aran sweater design, which was part of his Christmas present, an IOU. Right now, I'm charting out the stitch patterns on Knit Visualizer. I've decided to use Dale Falk in a medium blue, to make a lighter weight sweater. This will allow me to use more complex patterns, too. I've got a very nice Celtic braided central panel in mind, which I'm about to chart.
My first sweater was an Aran. Don't ask. I was fearless at 18. Still am, I guess.
So the question of the day is: What's the difference between a braid and a plait in Aran knitting? There is a difference, albeit slight. Those of you who are Aran aficionados will know the answer to this question.
OK, it's almost time to shower my bod and watch CSI. I'm so bummed out that William Petersen is leaving the series. I've loved him since "Manhunter." He's a rare and handy actor, that one.