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.

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