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.