Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rhinebeck Beckoned

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I love to go shopping. I love to freak out salespeople. They ask me if they can help me, and I say, "Have you got anything I'd like?" Then they ask me what size I need, and I say, "Extra medium."--Stephen Wright

I'm back. It's over. I'm fulfilled.

It was over so fast, much like Christmas when I was 8, where the anticipation of the day outranked the actual few hours of presents and family.

Rhinebeck means fiber family, as well as a once-a-year visual reiteration of the true meaning of fiberarts.

So here's Rhinebeck through my twisted eyes.

First, I leave NJ at 6 a.m. because the wise Rhinebeck attendee gets there by 8 a.m. to reserve a decent parking spot.

Then, having read the list of vendors online if you're a newbie, or plan in advance to hit familar vendors, you grab some coffee and hit the pavement at 9 a.m.

Here is Rhinebeck at 9:10 a.m.  It was windy, chilly, but peaceful.

Here is Rhinebeck at noon. YIKES! Too many fucking people but most of them kind, friendly, and happy souls.
Yes, it becomes even more populous.

It's fall in the Catskills. Magnificent maple trees.

And Rhinebeck, the finest fairground I've ever visited, is beautifully landscaped.

This year, I finally ate some fried artichokes, a Rhinebeck delicacy for which you stand in line for almost a half hour or more.

Feh. I don't get it. Talk about bland and boring food. Of course, there's always the fried pickles. Don't ask.  Rhinebeck, like most fairs, provides maximum eating opportunities, including the ubiquitous funnel cake, cotton candy, et al. Eating goes hand-in-hand with shopping.

Despite my horrible arthritic back and hips, I bumbled and stumbled through the exhibition halls, stopping at favorites--Golding Fiber Tools (more on that anon), Carolina Homespun, Susan's Fiber Shop, Red Maple (run by Mel and David, dear friends), Skaska, and others too numerous to mention.

With a tight budget, I managed to get some shopping accomplished. After all, do I truly need more shit? Yeah, I know the answer. Sing it in harmony, skankettes.

Meeting up with friends is another major event. Who did I see? QueerJoe, natch. My friend Gina from the Stix-n-Stitches knitting group. I caught up with some of the guys who went to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat meeting in the afternoon.
Clowns. From left to right, Scott, Jack, Joe, Jack's friend whose name I can't spell, and Dave.

I missed Ted da Knitterguy so much. And never found Lars, if he did show up. Lars is ghostly, as all of his friends know.

The highlight of Rhinebeck is meeting my readers. And I met a bunch, wonderful people who made my day. They want me to write more often. OK, when I have shit to say, I will.

Meeting Duffy Stephens, aka Fiberqat, was like meeting a long-lost sister. Duffy's been a reader for ages and we are certainly kindred soul sistahs.

I miss her already. And I missed seeing Kat, Ann McDonough, Loraine, and all my other readers who I hold dear to my heart.

See, I'm crunchy on the outside and marshmallow on the inside, as Carol once said.

Dinner was wonderful! Here's this year's group.

From left: Duffy Stephens, Jack Burwell and friend, Scott and Dave from Easton Mountain

From left: Carol Sulcoski, Mindy Soucek, Laura Grutzeck

The O'Henry Spindle Story
One of my major purchases was another Golding spindle.
This is not a great photo but it is a beautiful glass millefleur button, one of which Sean Golding told me they buy at Rhinebeck. I should have asked him who the vendor was.

Duffy and I were looking around David and Mel's booth, when I saw a pair of socks that had fallen from their hanger onto the floor. I put my stuff down and put the socks back. Then Duffy and I headed outside so that we could compare our Golding purchases.

The shock. The bag that contained the spindle was gone. I freaked out, rushed back to the booth and asked Mel's dad to keep an eye out for it.

I knew it was gone forever. Due to my own stupid carelessness. So Duffy says, "Maybe someone will find it and you'll get it back." Yeah, right. Like anyone would return a Golding spindle, my cynical brain voice said.

Sitting in the endless outbound traffic around 4:15 p.m., talking to Jerry on my cellphone, a call comes in with a number I knew not. I ignored it.

Then it was on to dinner at the diner, a Ted tradition. No Ravelry party for us. Just a bunch of friends having dinner and talking shop.

As I was sitting, my phone went off again, the same strange number.  This time, I answered it.

Me: Hello
Stranger: Is this Marilyn Roberts?
Me: Yes, who is this, please?
Stranger: My name is Jackie. Did you purchase a Golding spindle? I have it. Are you coming to Rhinebeck tomorrow?
Me: No, but I'd make the drive again to pick up the spindle.
Jackie: I'm staying in Poughkeepsie at a hotel on Rte. 9, so if you want, you can come and pick it up tonight.
Me: Thank you so much!  I'll be there around 9!

Off I go, driving back over the Rhinecliff Bridge, past the fairgrounds, and down to Poughkeepsie, which about 20 miles south of Rhinebeck. It was rather on the way home.

I met Jackie in the hotel lobby and brought her a skein of Black Bunny Fiber sock yarn as a thank-you.

She was a lovely woman from Ohio. She truly restored my faith in people. I will never forget her.

End Game
What I bought and what was gifted:
Duffy gave me the wonderful purple fiber. I love her. Her friend Sharon and long-time reader, sent me the fabulous purple sock yarn along with a wonderful note thanking me for my blog. I almost cried reading it. (Sharon, I will e-mail you with a personal message.) To the right of the sock yarn is the incredible cashmere/silk that I bought at Carolina Homespun, some lovely hand-dyed silk, and a wooden wrist distaff.

All in all, quite a rare and handy day. How can you not love a day that validates your obsession? I hope to see more of you next year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Now gimme money (that's what I want)

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you want it in the worst way, that's probably how you'll get it--Patrick Conway, my former boss at The Chubb Institute and a very good friend

Do you wonder how much money knit/crochet designers make for their published patterns? Shit dollars. A mere tuppence, considering the amount of work that goes into even a simple design. And to add insult to injury, knitting editors often force them to change the design elements and then substitute another yarn (usually due to pressure from advertisers--I know, was in that boat onceuponatime long ago, which is why I left craft publishing). Designers have no control over the quality of the directions either.

Shameful. This is why I don't submit my stuff to magazines, although I do trust Trisha Malcolm, based on what friends have told me about her.

Recently, a good friend who is a well-known designer and a wonderful lady, wrote me and in answer to my question, "How come I haven't seen your stuff in the mags for a while?", she told me that the magazines and yarn companies are hiring newbie designers or using in-house people to keep costs down and walking away from the better-known names. She's now concentrating on other outlets for her talents, such as writing articles for a magazine that has nothing to do with knitting.

It's fine to give new names a chance but to fill your issue with unknowns is downright stupid. Yeah, I know. It's the economy, stupid. But you get what you pay for, no? Along with poor photography, IK being tops in this category, the designs you see, other than those in VK, are blah-blah-drab. Can we blame the designers? I think not..

I'm saddened that my friend may disappear from the knitting design world. How many more will we lose? Yo, magazine editors. Get smart and stop being fucking idiots. Let your designers do their thing and pay them decently. Keep giving the novices a chance but don't forget the tried and true people who have made your magazines popular. I know that your readers would pay more per issue if you gave them quality instead of crap.

OK, I'm done with the rant. For the time being. Now, a beacon of light in the knitting publishing world that I am happy to discuss.

Go Gwen!
The other week, when I was hanging out at Stix-n-Stitches, my favorite knitting haunt and home to my soul sisters, the divine Ms. Sheila Handelsman and the incomparable Patty Way, I saw and grabbed Gwen Bortner's new book, Entree to Entrelac, published by XRX. Holy shit, what a book! I first did entrelac back in my Mon Tricot era, around 1978, just fooling around with it. Later on, I started but never finished the Forest Path Stole, a fabulous entrelac design in IK. I loved working it but somehow got off the beaten path.

Gwen's book truly is the definitive guide to entrelac. The amount of work that went into this book is astounding. Everything in it is outstanding--excellent diagrams, concise text, good photos, fabulous designs.

You know me, I don't blather over a book unless it hits me between the eyes. This one did, the first in a long time. I would say that it is equal to Cat Bordhi's books in technical information imparted perfectly.

I might even learn to knit backwards, something that I've shunned in the past. God knows, if I can't learn from Gwen's book, I'm a fucking moron.

So check it out, skanks. And buy it. I'm looking forward to meeting Gwen when she teaches two workshops at Stix-n-Stitches Sunday October 24th. If you live in North Jersey and are interested in attending, contact Sheila at the shop, 973-744-3535. I'll be there, just to meet Gwen. Being on unemployment precludes my attending the workshops, unfortunately.

Rhinebeck Prep
The clock is ticking. Three more days to go. This is the premier event of my year, possibly anticipated more than Christmas.

I will miss Lee Ann and Ted, neither of whom can make it this year. But there will be lots of friends there, plus readers whom I have never met.

So what knitting will I bring? Probably two things: a pair of Yeti socks that I'm making for a Christmas present. And this:

About a year ago, I spun this silk laceweight and two weeks ago, decided it was time to use it. You can kinda see the pattern--it's one of Sharon Miller's, from her Heirloom Lace book. I've used it before and although it's fairly complex, a 20 st/ 20 row repeat, I've pretty much memorized the pattern, with a quick glace at the chart sometimes.

As for spinning crap, I've been spindling this Corriedale for ages. It's about time I got it done.
So I'll bring this to Rhinebeck too, just to keep my fingers busy. I was going to bring the Punk Princess but she got tickets to a show down at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, so she won't be with me this year. Can you believe my girl is now a freshman in the BFA program at Montclair State University? Yikes. She was 10 when I first started writing the blog. Now she's 18, and besides being my beloved granddaughter, a dear friend too.

So the next blog post will be about Rhinebeck, obviously. There'll be lots of pictures, no doubt. For those of you who can't make it, maybe next year? It's the one fiber festival that's worth attending, better, in my opinion, than MD Sheep & Wool.

Go early, shop heavy, hang with friends. I won't be spending a lot of money--do I really need more shit? But I look forward to meeting any readers who will be there. You'll usually find me at the concession stands, sitting at a picnic table with friends. If I'm not there, I certainly will be anon. Please don't hesitate to tap me on the shoulder and do a "Hey Mar!" in my ear.

My readers are rare and handy. Meeting you is even more so. See ya on Saturday (and Sunday, if I have the energy to make the 2-hour drive again).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Instant gratification takes too long--Carrie Fisher

I've got a list of my favorite bipolars and the former Princess Leia ranks high. Here are a few of my other favorite manics.

  • Stephen Fry
  • Ray Davies 
  • Vivien Leigh
  • Richard Dreyfuss
  • Mark Twain
  • Sting

Not to mention Abe Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mozart, Vincent van Gogh, and a bunch of other writers, poets, musicians, and artists. Whenever I feel like shit, I think of these people and what they accomplished. And then there's Mel Gibson, who's a mess and a piss-poor poster boy for BP.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
As an "IT professional", I'm used to people wanting something immediately. This wretched disposition permeates our entire society, probably due to the rise of PCs and the internet. Sadly, it's invaded knitting to the point where I open a knitting catalog and practically every project is targeted towards beginners and those who HAVE to make something within two days.  Weekend projects are not my cup of arsenic.

My favorite quote comes from a former boss. "If you want it in the worst way, that's probably how you'll get it."

So true.

Books for the Patient
I just purchased "Knitted Lace Designs of Herbert Niebling" from Schoolhouse Press (bless them for publishing this and other wonderful, thoughtful books). If you want to challenge yourself, try one of his incredible lace designs.

This is definitely a lock-yourself-in-a-room knitting situation. I'm planning on doing one of these this fall. After which, I will design and wear a knitted straitjacket.

Garden State Sheep & Wool
For those of you who think the opening scenes of the Sopranos constitute the sum total of New Jersey, you're wrong. Jersey is still the Garden State, despite being the most densely populated of the 50.

GS S&W is a wonderful small show, with lots of local producers and a real rural ambience. I always go, to buy buttons from the button lady and something special. This year, I found some fabulous suri alpaca from WoodsEdge Wools, one of the largest alpaca farms in the country, located in Stockton, NJ.

And then there are the vintage buttons I bought. My favorites are these, circus motifs from the 1940s. They were a bit difficult to photograph.

Teabagger Knitter
Those of you who've been Tonstant Weaders know that I'm a liberal freethinker, and the hatred of these miserable simpletons who call themselves Teabaggers makes me pukified (I think Sarah Palin used that word recently).

I suspect that many KnitDweebs are Teabaggers. Simpletons whose brains are trapped in a vicious cycle of ignorance.

Teabagger knitting projects:
  • Prayer shawl with the words "Obama is a Muslem" worked in Fair Isle
  • Placard knitted in red, white, and blue acrylic, "Repeel Congress" the slogan
  • Felted placard tote bag
 Feel free to add your own Teabagger knitting project to the comments. Let's have some fuckin' fun with this!

Thank God there are no Teabagger or Teaparty groups on Ravelry. At least, none that I could find. Presumably, Teabagger knitters aren't very techo-savvy.

That's it for today. I'm busy knitting two cardigans for Logan and Colin, grandsons of my friends Bob and Jean. I'll probably publish the design--it's a raglan cardigan knit in the round in toddler sizes. I'll be using the circus buttons for them. Actually yanked enough Harrisville Shetland from the stash in burgundy and blue.

Rare and handy to work from the stash. I need to do that more often or I'll be starring on "Hoarders."

Be the skankiest, my skanks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Walk This Way. Out the Door.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It's a rather rude gesture, but at least it's clear what you mean -- Katharine Hepburn

Time and time again, you hear and read about rude yarn shop owners. What you don't hear about often are the rude customers. This past week, an obnoxious customer, a woman who created a scene in my favorite yarn shop, was gently asked by the owner to leave and not come back. I didn't witness this particular incident but I've seen it many times before, a demanding customer who thinks she's the only knitter in the store needing help NOW. Never mind that there are other people ahead of her.

  1. If your kids can't behave, don't bring them into the shop. Leave them home.
  2. Wait your turn patiently.
  3. Don't pull out piles of skeins without putting them back neatly. The same goes for books.
  4. Don't ask for a refund on yarn that A) you bought from the shop three years ago or B) that you bought elsewhere.
  5. Use your gift certificate within the timeframe, which is now two years. Don't demand cash.
  6. Read the shop's return policies--most stores have them posted--and don't bitch about them.
  7. If you're sitting around a table and someone needs help while the store folks are busy, lend a hand.
  8. If you disagree with the shop owner, discuss it like an adult. Don't make a scene in the store. It only makes you look like a fuckface.
  9. Don't discuss politics or religion during the shop's knitting group get-together.
  10. Remember that running a yarn shop is a business, not a free advice service. Buy something from your yarn shop on a regular basis.
 Question of the Week
So, based on the above, what's the worst customer behavior you've ever seen in a yarn shop? Share your stories in the comments.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
I'm still cranking away on the Wonderland cape. Two skeins down, two to go. I'm not yet tired of the colorway, either. It's Water Hyacinth--I guess the sky blue is the water.

I bought more Blue Heron for an original lace shawl--Deep Water Silver. This is a new one from BH and lovely. I'm designing lace star motifs for the shawl. A fun project.

Working a sock design too, and preparing for my fall workshops. And still looking for a real job, although I do have a phone interview on Monday with a large advertising media group in NYC. I'm keeping myself busy with my knitting and spinning projects but making money is rather more important. Money--these days, rare and handy. More next week, skanks. Time to go out to play with Countess von Puppelah.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Live From New Jersey! It's KC Crap Live!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Take me or leave me; or, as is the usual order of things, both.--Dorothy Parker

I figured it was time for a quote from my favorite Jersey Girl, the divine Mrs. Parker.  Did you know Dot was an avid knitter? Reviewing a play, she said, "If you don't knit, bring a good book."

Tonstant Weaders--that's a Dot term, used when she reviewed an AA Milne book, one I'm sure you all know well: " It is that word 'hunny,' my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

I like to think that were she still with us, Dot would appreciate "KnitDweebs," "warshcloths," "X-Men," "Tiny Diva."

For the first time ever, I am going to take some knitting workshops.  Vogue Knitting Live, which makes Stitches look like the KnitDweebs' Carnival, has a phenomenal list of top knitting instructors (and a few duds, but fortunately not the two psycho designers I know and loathe).

As much as I hate living in Sopranoland--yes, I live around the corner from Pizzaland, a half-mile away from Satriale's Pork Store (torn down a few years ago), and close enough to the Jersey Turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel to see all the landmarks in the opening sequence--living six miles from NYC is a big plus. I don't go to the city often these days, having been there/done that for my entire life. I'll be taking classes with Shirley Paden, Nancy Bush, Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, and Kristin Nicholas, lectures by Nicky Epstein and Sally Melville.

I hope I don't fidget in class. If I do, the instructor is welcome to rap my knuckles. No, I didn't go to parochial school. Not a Catholic, but a lapsed Lutheran who was once caught chewing gum during the service.  Pastor Berkobin, that miserable old German, made me stand up in front of the congregation and decided it was time to make an example of me as a naughty girl.

Naughty girl. The story of my fucking life. When he first met my mother, Jerry asked her, "What kind of kid was Marilyn?"  My mother turns, gives me the Look, and says, "Difficult." Uh huh.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Besides fucking around with charting a Shetland lace shawl, I've been working a new design I call the Wonderland Hooded Stole, using one of my favorite yarns, Blue Heron Rayon Metallic. My friend Patty was nice enough to model the scarf I designed with Rayon Metallic, Summer Meadow. I like real people as models. This will be available on my Etsy site once I get it all set up, as well as the Wonderland Hooded Stole.
The Wonderland Hooded Stole is coming along nicely. I love working with this shit!

I've discovered that the hood of my Elantra is the perfect place to shoot lace projects. Silver car, feh. I miss my purple Neon, the first new car I ever owned. Silver is so fucking boring...but I got a good price for the car so I live with the blandness.

The next design project is the Gansey socks redo. I know everyone wants me to offer multiple sizes but that may not happen, based on the stitch pattern repeats. I'll have to work it out.

Doing the Etsy thing seems to be a good idea. I'm not trying to make a living from my designs but I do want a coupla bucks for them. I'll be putting up freebies here, though, like I did with Leaves of Grass.

Farewell, Cleo
Those of you who are on my FaceBook Friends list know that I lost my beloved cat Cleo a few weeks ago.  Cleo became ill very suddenly, I rushed her to the vet's early on a Saturday morning, and it turned out that she had mammary tumors that had metastasized to her brain. The poor baby couldn't stand up. So I made that hard decision, stroked her and loved her up as the vet euthanized her. I was, and still am, heartbroken. I only had Cleo for five years, being her third owner. But she and I had that special, special bond. I'll probably get another cat. My friend Monica has one she'd like to give me. We'll see.

Question of the Week
I stole this from the Spin-Off e-mail newsletter because it made me think. Did you craft as a child? My mother Ellie, who taught me to knit, encouraged me to make things when I was very young, giving me modeling clay and crayons at age 3, a loop loom for potholders at 4, and by 5, I was making my own Christmas presents for my grandparents.

Mom was always challenged to keep me busy because I was an overactive kid, always getting into shit, especially her knitting bag. I loved the bright colors of the markers and would pocket one or two. Her darning egg, which I doubt she ever used, was fascinating. I remember her making a beautiful beaded collar to wear with her hand-knitted Chanel suit when she went to the opera. I wanted those fucking beads! Books, music, and making shit always keep me out of trouble, to this day. Were you a crafty kid? Tell us in the comments.

You Asked For It, Skanks!
The other day, I was sitting out in the yard with my iPod Nano, my knitting, and Sam, aka Countess von Puppelah. (Jerry's been calling her Puppelah from the day we got her, so he gets credit.)  It dawned on me that the Nano has a video camera. So I got an idea. Yeah. Take a video so that readers who haven't ever met me in person will get an idea of who I really am.

My hair is a mess, no makeup. Fuck, I look old. Well, so be it. I'm alive and still kicking butt. The video is totally ad libbed. I debated putting it up but then decided fuck it, up it goes. As Dot says in the quote, take me or leave me.

Rare and handy? Well, as Liz used to say, "maybe yes, maybe no."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy Knitting

Best Quote I Heard All Day
We of the craft are all crazy--Lord Byron
Mad, bad, and dangerous to know--Lady Caroline Lamb about Lord Byron

Once upona time, my pdoc asked me if there were a cure for manic depression, would I take it? Hell, no. Not if it meant I became Ms. Roboto.

For years, I've kept an analytical eye on my creativity. When the mania begins, my brain is flooded with lots of wonderful ideas, some of which become reality, most of which get trashed in the maelstrom of my brain. Lately, I've had some minor brain thrashings but out of the miasma came a few good ideas, which I'll yap about shortly.

So what wid dis? Bipolar disorder--a family affair. Generally, I pop my meds and carry on with my life, with the label "bipolar" far from my mind.  But for the past few weeks, I've been helping a family member through a bad manic depressive episode. This person, who shall remain unnamed, has just discovered that they are manic depressive, late in life.

There are two things I care about: Helping newbie knitters who want to get past the scarf level and people who suffer from debilitating mental illness. I will never desert either group when they ask me for help.

Yeah, I'll be doing a few of these this fall, locally, at Stix-n-Stitches in Montclair, NJ, primarily for beginners. A lace workshop, a knitting clinic where attendees can bring their problems and questions and I'll teach them some small but useful things, a finishing workshop, and spindling for newbies.

I've been a trainer for a number of years and there are certain rules of thumb that a teacher needs to follow. First, have a fucking sense of humor. There's nothing worse than sitting in class with a dour schoolmarm holding a ruler for knuckle-rapping. Next, make sure you provide attendees with useful handouts that will help them recall what they learned. And the most important rule--involve your students. Make 'em do, stimulate questions, and at the end, hand out a survey they can answer anonymously so that you can learn from them.

Teaching is not about you, you, you. It's about your students. End of story. I've heard horror stories about certain knitting teachers that made me cringe, one in particular who spent the class time discussing her personal problems. Boy, did I ever hear bitching about that broad. I know her, and she's one of the neediest individuals I've ever met.

Sample, Stoopid!
When I spin, I sample the fiber first. This is as critical to spinning as knitting a gauge swatch.

Recently, having finished the silk for Tour de Fleece, I rescued another bag of that cormo-mohair I bought last year at Rhinebeck.

This time, I decided it would work better as laceweight than the DK I spun from the other bag. So here's the sampling show.

I rather like the mix of puppy-shit brown, lavender, and blue but this definitely needed a sampling before I would commit to the entire pound.

So far, so good. It drafted nicely and consistently, although it has a bit too much veg matter. Still, I needed to do the plying. I'm not of the school that says let the single twist back on itself to see what the finished product will look like. That's bullshit. You have to ply, you have to wash. What you get will be quite different than the doubled single.

OK. Plying time.

Now I'm liking what I'm seeing. The final determination--the washed miniskein.

I finally remembered to include the fucking penny. The end product tells me two things. First, I want a finer yarn so I'll spin my singles a bit thinner. Second, I like the colorway. And there's enough fiber for me and Mammy.

Every evening, I spin for about a half hour or so. No rush for this project. The Matchless is free, if I feel the need to start another spinning project. And there's always the spindles.

I doubt that I'll ever bother to do the Tour de Fleece again. What's the fucking point? To put yourself on a deadline to spin? Why? If you spin a little every day, you don't need an event to force you to spin. And although I enjoyed seeing some of the other spinners' work, Ravelry has made it too big and too impersonal.

Television: A medium - so called because it is neither rare nor well done.
That's a quote from the late, great Ernie Kovacs.  Those of us who are old enough to remember his brilliance are among the fortunate. 

That said, I've decided to take on a project that might be one of the most interesting I've ever attempted.  My friend Bob, a producer at CableVision/Optimum Online, a large cable company that covers parts of NY, NJ, and CT, has for years pushed me to do my own cable show. I demurred, primarily because I was working and really didn't have the time.

I do now.  So I've begun writing a pilot script for a half-hour show, The Knitting Curmudgeon. No, I'm no Vickie Howell. Thank God.

Each episode will focus on a particular knitting topic. I'll interview someone of interest. Do a 5-minute product and book review. And attack the KnitDweebs, no doubt about it.

When Bob gets back from Maine, lucky bastard, I'll sit down with him and get the final presentation ready for CableVision. If they accept it, I'll do it. If not, no big deal. The funny thing is, we can't get Cablevision here in North Arlington. It's Comcast territory.

Me on TV? Rare and handy? I'm not kidding myself. We'll see what happens and I'll keep you posted.

Thank you all for the blog anniversary wishes! Nobody has a better group of skanky readers than I. Yeah, fucking grammatically correct.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Number 8, Number 8, Number 8

Best Quote I Heard All Day
 I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works--Oscar Wilde

Yet another year passes.

I was trying to come up with some kind of witty surprise for my 8th blog birthday but the ole brain just ain't cranking out smart, snappy shit today.

Honest to God, my first entry on July 25, 2002, was a snorer. However, after that one, I got into the swing of things. I just reread the next entry, The KC's Top 10 List of Overrated Knitting Fads, and I have to say, knitting hasn't changed much. I still consider these ten items overrated. I might add a few more, though. Magic Loop being one. I know, lots of people love it. I find it more trouble than it's worth. Feel free to add to the list.

The History of the Knitting Curmudgeon
Going back to 1997, on the KnitList, I often got myself into flame wars because I refused to kiss knitting asses and frequently put the KnitDweebs on the spot when they acted like they knew all there was about knitting. And knew virtually nothing. That didn't stop them from running their cyber mouths.  I recall one biggie with the then-ubiquitous GM Almalfitano. Old timers will remember that one. She's now an Episcopal nun. God bless her. Heh.

Christmas 1998--Jimmy's birthday. I decided to buy him a copy of The Portable Curmudgeon. He laughed his ass off...but the word "curmudgeon" lodged itself in my head. At that time, we were on AOL, which offered simple websites for members. AHA! I decided it would be fun to make my own website and call it "The Knitting Curmudgeon." I wrote an essay on the origins of Aran knitting, had a section called "The Anatomy of a Knitting Disaster," and other knitting-related items whose topics I have forgotten after 12 years.

I updated The Knitting Curmudgeon occasionally, and people from the KnitList actually read it. By 2000, though, I was busy at work, going through a web development course, so I pretty much abandoned the website.

January 31, 2002. My world as I knew it was destroyed. My beloved Jimmy died suddenly after a short illness, acute myelogenous leukemia, and I was left bereft, bereaved, and lost. I struggled with my grief, shored up my guts, and continued on, not knowing where I was going but wending the wayward road back to life. On July 25th, I found the wayward road's emergency shoulder. Blogger.

WTF is a blog? A "weblog"? Could this be a project that would take my mind off my sorrow? I loved to write and it hit me that this might be a good way to exercise my skills.  I don't remember how I found out about blogs. Probably read about them in the NY Times. I remember the first blog I ever read was Bonne Marie Burns's Chic Knits. Cool! And then there was Chunky Delicious, another wonderful knitting blog. Stacey Joy's RedLipstick, Carrieoke's Knitting Blog. That was about it. This was long before the big blogs--Yarn Harlot and Wendy came a bit later.  I was psyched. So hence, The Knitting Curmudgeon became a blog.

Over time, I wrote about my life as well as knitting and then spinning. My gawd-awful dates and boyfriends. One of my favorite entries is Date-zilla. I don't think I'll EVER forget that one! It's the August 31, 2002 post, if you're interested. And then, there was Achim, the Nasty German, JT who I almost forgot about, and a few more one-hit wonders. With Liz growing up and dyeing her hair a ghastly blue, she became the Punk Princess. My mother, always an inspiration, made cameo blog appearances. And then there's Scrappy, my sister the scrapbooker. A cast of characters, indeed.

My spinning improved while writing the blog, with other bloggers being my inspiration. I was so impressed with ttheir spinning that I finally sat down at my Matchless, which had been gathering dust in the living room, and got up to spinning speed, so to speak. Just to toss in a picture to break up the text, here's my final Tour de Fleece silk laceweight.  Chasing Rainbows is wonderful shit! I shoulda put a penny in the strands for reference. Bite me.

The best thing about writing the blog is the wonderful friends I have made. Readers all of them, some of whom I've met in person, others who I hope to meet at Rhinebeck this year. Of course, there have been a few trolls whom I had to ban from the comments, one person in particular comes to mind, a witch who I suspect is a borderline personality and who has spread her hateful spewings on other blogs as well as mine. I won't name names but she is a "designer." Yeah, so to speak. And then there was the onslaught of the Purling Puppies, members of the webring of the same name, whose delicate egos I offended when I mocked their puppies 'n' knitting fixations--they flooded my comments with shrill shrieks. Shit, I have a puppy but Sam has nothing to do with my fiberwork.

As I always say, I write for myself, not for others. I knit and design for myself, not for others. But the Others mean the world to me. That's YOU, skanks. The Tontant Weaders who've followed me on my knitting and occasionally bipolar journey are rare and handy. OK, enough of this shit. I have knitting and spinning to do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Idiot Cord for a True Maroon

Best Quote I Heard All Day  

  It is better of course to know useless things than to know nothing.--Tom Stoppard

If I spent time foraging in my brain to figure out how many useless things I know, I'd never get useless things done. 

Yes, this blog is filled with useless shit. Like the next bit about I-Cord. Whatta maroon!

Knitting Nancy, French Knitting, Spool Knitting...and then, I-Cord
Well, you all honored EZ with the invention of I-Cord, although she used her term "unvented" when discussing it. Certainly, EZ took I-Cord to the nth degree.

But as Ted mentioned in the comments, French Knitting (my mother always called the tool a Knitting Nancy) uses a spool with four nails hammered around the top edge--it has been around longer than EZ. 

I've found a wonderful book published in 1909 by Mary A. McCormack called "Spool Knitting." Check it out here in .pdf format. Now, if you need a chimney cleaner, you can put your I-Cord to good use following Ms. McCormack's directions.

Project Gutenberg is a free, open library where you can download books whose copyrights have expired. That's where I found "Spool Knitting" but the link I've given you is from American Libraries Internet Archive because the .pdf displays the book in its original, charming format.

Is there such a thing as Imbecile-Cord for seriously stupid knitters? There's a Ravelry group for Mensa members (I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members, as Groucho said). But no KnitDweeb group. What a pity. That means they're running rampant but at least I don't have to read their warshcloth, acrylic prayer shawl adventures.

Spun Out
I've got blisters on my fingers! (OK, skankettes, who said that? On what song? I gotta keep you sharp, dontcha know.)

I could write an article about spinning silk top. But I won't. Here's how ya do it:
  • Rule 1: Don't spin from the top without dividing it into little strips. If you don't break it down, you'll end up with a disgusting mess.
  • Rule 2: Always use Scotch tensioning (no Irish tensioning, no double-drive) and start with light tension. If your tension is too strong, the twist will get away from you. You can adjust the speed of your treadling until you're comfortable with the tension.
  • Rule 3: Don't fucking clutch the fiber! EVER. 
  • Rule 4: Measure and count, measure and count. That's a rule for any fiber, if you want consistency in your single.

Got it? Good. The picture below shows finished Bobbin #1 and a strip of the silk. I'm almost done with the second bobbin, hopefully with plied fiber in time for the end of Tour de Fleece on Saturday.

Can't wait to knit this shit.

Fiberality Fucking Around
Still designing socks and other things, although it looks like I'll be going back to work as of August 2. I'd like to introduce you to my premier sock model, Ms. Elisabeth Wagner, aka Punk Princess, prior to our recent photo shoot.
Such ebullient excitement! ("Yeah, OK, Gram. I'll do it if I can keep the socks. HURRY UP with the camera already!")

I've got directions to finish but here are two that will be available anon:
Miz Mermaid cuff-down socks, made with Black Bunny Fibers SoftSilk sock yarn. This is a simple slip-stitch pattern that works very well with hand-painted yarn. The pattern will be available on I'm going to give it to Carol, too, so she can give it away with the yarn, if she likes.

And here's the Leaves of Grass socks redo:
More SoftSilk. I love this stuff. I'll put up the link to the .pdf here, in the sidebar, and make it available via Ravelry too.

Tick, Tick, Tick
In just a few days, on July 25th, I'll be celebrating this blog's 8th anniversary. 

It's hard to believe that I've been doing this since I was a young'un of 52. I promise I'll do something special on the 25th, although I haven't quite figured out what. The heat's making my brain everso unrare, unhandy, and generally funky.

Later, skanks.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Luddites Unite!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.--Mark Twain.

Even though I am a FaceBook and Ravelry devotee, I'm convinced that there is TMI, as my daughter Corinne says.

Too much fucking information. And too little actual interpersonal connection these days. When was the last time you truly sat down with a good friend and talked about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness? I'm feeling the need to see the two most important friends from my childhood--Dottie and Peggy. The older I get, the more important these women are to me. The three of us share deep experiences--teenage heartbreak, fucked-up marriages (them, not me), and the births of our children.

It's time to get real, and trash the cyber connection.

Too Much Shit!
Have you ever really analyzed why you knit or spin? And why you have a stash? Mine is now out of control. When you start stumbling over stash yarn that you loved at first sight, had to buy, but whose sudden reappearance is a shockerooni--"Holy shit, where did THIS come from?"--what does that say about you?

With me, knitting and my stash has always been the sanity lifeline. I always said, if I stop knitting, get me to the hospital asap. Never mind that knitting allows me to make stuff I can use. That's the least of it. If my focus goes haywire, knitting always brings me back to the real world, fiber provides color and comfort, and a new design project gives me great anticipation and joy. Knitting is the "lover" that never disappoints.

That said, no, I'm not giving away any of my stash. Yet. If I do, it will go to nursing homes, not to friends. Or I'll sell it at the next Stash sale at Stix-n-Stitches.

Wheel On, Baby
So I've been spinning a shitload of silk for the Tour de Fleece. I posted pictures twice on my Ravelry team discussion boards but frankly, there's so many people putting up pictures, I'm thinking it's a waste of time. I'm on schedule with the silk, though.

Here's the first week's effort.

This is the first of the two 2-oz. tops that I have.

Silk can be a bitch to spin. Not recommended for beginners. Top can become very compressed, due to dye processing, and this top has needed a fair amount of pre-drafting in preparation for spinning. I carefully open up the fiber and use only a very thin strip of the top. I don't spin from the fold, usually, because I find annoying.

Silk can also be very tough on the fingers. I hold the fiber in my right hand, control the twist with my left hand thumb and index finger for my worsted draw. The tip of my index finger, through which the fiber slides, is feeling a bit sore. Today is a TdF rest day but I'll probably do some spinning anyway because that's my daily evening routine.

Obligatory and Ubiquitous Knitting Shit
I'm so glad the Punk Princess is going to college 15 minutes from my house because she's my sock model. On Wednesday, she's providing her feet for a couple of sock designs, including the Leaves of Grass redo.

I haven't felt like designing anything other than socks lately, probably because it's too fucking hot.

Longtime readers might remember this Gansey sock I designed.
I recently found the chart for this, so I'm going to redo it, size it for children, women, and men, and then publish it.

The Leaves of Grass sock will be available next week via Ravelry and as a download here. Tontant Weader Kat is doing it toe-up so I may rework the chart and directions for toe-up at some point. (Kat also got the answer to who sang "Hot, Hot, Hot"--Buster Poindexter.

Now, the question of the week is: Which do you prefer? Cuff down or toe up?

Lately I've been getting into toe-up, especially now that I've learned Judy's Magic Cast-on. Talk about rare and handy. This is the kind of contribution to knitting that I've been talking about. Is Judy a knitting "celeb"? No, she's a generous person who's given knitters a solution that is close to i-cord in value. However, should she write a book, I'd buy it, or make a personal appearance, I'd love to meet her.

Do you recall who invented i-cord? And what the "i" stands for? Go for it, skanks.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I'm hot -- You're hot -- He's hot -- She's hot

Best Quote I Heard All Day
If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?--Stephen Wright

Ole, ole! As I write this, it's 96 degrees F here in northeastern New Jersey. Yeah, I'm air-conditioned. Mammy didn't raise no fool. You get an A+ from me if you can name the singer who sang the lyrics in this post's title.

So besides adding to our family--Miz Sam, our new Beagle (with some Pomeranian) who we adopted this past Saturday, it's been slow living. Sam and Cleo have sniffed each other and declared a quasi-friendship.

Me mind on fire -- Me soul on fire -- Feeling hot hot hot
So the question that's been posed by several friends on FaceBook is what do you knit when it's this hot? Or do you just dump the knitting entirely? I never stop, knitting or spinning. Summer is the time for laceweight shawls/scarves, silk/merino socks, and spinning silk.

What are you all working on in the heat? Do tell. My current project is a reworking of my Leaves of Grass sock pattern, my first sock design from 1997. The link will take you to the original pattern. It was my Christmas gift to the list. A number of people have made this sock pattern--here's the Ravelry link, if you're interested.

I hadn't read the pattern in years...and found a mistake. Of course. I've always loved this twin leaf pattern so I decided to redo the whole thing properly. Don't forget, back in 1997, we didn't have digital cameras, so many of the KnitList patterns were knitted on faith. The corrected pattern will be free, as it was back then, here and on Ravelry.

Holey Gusset, Batman!
OK, ready? Here's my modus operandi.

For a long time, I fucked around with common heel gusset holes. I tried spanning the gusset junctions by picking up a thread on either side. This was truly half-assed and still left a small hole.

Then, I decided to spend some time analyzing the gusset architecture and lo! Gusset Epiphany!

I usually work my socks on 4 dps but depending upon the stitch pattern, I may use 2 circs. Magic Loop drives me fucking crazy. For newbie sock knitters, the figure below will give you an idea of how it works.

A common heel flap traditionally begins as follows: You take half the sock stitches, put them on hold for the instep (Needle 2), and then work the stitches on Needles 1 & 3 for the flap, generally using the heel stitch--Slip first stitch purlwise, k1, slip 1: repeat across row, then turn, slip first stitch purlwise, and purl across.

I realized that when you slip the first stitch, you strand from the last stitch on Needle 2 (stranding occurs with circs, too) to the second stitch on Needle 3, as shown below.
Here's where the hole problem starts. You can see it clearly in the photo.

Gotta get rid of this stranding. The solution? Knit 2 rows of stockinette without slipping the first stitches. Then start the heel stitch pattern with the initial slipped stitch. No stranding.

Let's say that we've got 30 stitches for our heel flap, the formula for which dictates that you work 30 rows, slipping the first stitch of every row so that you can use the resulting chained edge for the gusset pickup--15 chains on each side of the flap. Working an extra two rows of stockinette means that each gusset edge will need another stitch--that makes 16 stitches for each edge.

OK, so far, so good. Once you've finished your heel flap and the shortrow heel turn, it's time for the gusset pickup, beginning on Needle 1. Because you knit the two rows of st st, you'll work the first pick-up to accommodate those rows, then hit the chain stitches.

Newbie Note: Always knit into the back of the chain stitch, which will twist the stitch and avoid a hole. See the picture below.
(Yeah, not a great picture but you get the idea.)

Once you've worked your way down the chains, you'll have to deal with the gusset junction--the area between the gusset edge and the instep.

Most sock patterns don't tell you WHERE to do the extra pickup, just to do it. WHERE is key.

Always pick up the junction stitch two rows below the last chain pickup. Don't pick up anything over on the instep.
Work the instep stitches on Needle 2.

Now you'll work backwards on Needle 3--pick up your junction stitch below the first chain stitch, do the chain stitch pickups, and end with your last pickup for the stockinette rows. A total of 17 stitches for each gusset edge.

The original formula called for 15 stitches. Will adding an extra 4 stitches to the gusset be a problem? Not at all. The extended gusset decreases will alter the width of the instep slightly, keeping it wider in circumference a bit more but it's not enough to affect the fit, really.

Here's the finished product:

Works for me. I'm always looking for rare and handy ways to make my work better.

Now, back to spinning for Tour de Fleece.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yarns in the Pipeline?

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Start thinking outside the box"--one of my many corporate bosses

So, apropos to last week post, I have come to an epiphany about the so-called knitting world.

Are You a PC or Apple Knitter?
Therein lies the rub. Knitting, due to the enormous popularity of the craft, has become a corporate nightmare, as I see it. Once a craft that attracted people who were individualistic, since 1997, when the KnitList became the refuge of many KnitDweebs and knitting started to take off, knitting has become "big business" propelled by the yarn companies and magazines.

In other words, the knitting "world" is now the fucking craft paradigm, pardon the jargon.

Anyone who remembers when Knitter's Magazine still made a connection with its readers, when Interweave Knits was edited by people who understood the individualistic nature of the craft, when yarn company ads were less like an insurance company commercial and more like an ad in your local paper, remembers that knitting was and still can be a personal, expressive craft.

Yes, knitting has joined corporate America.  Hence the rise of the knitting celebs, along with ghastly knitting jargon. I never have, never will use the following:
  • Knitterati
  • Knitterly
  • KIP
  • SEX
  • Tink
  • Frog
  • The word "ewe" in any form of idiotic pun

God help us all, there's even a book on knitting jargon--"The Secret Language of Knitters."
This is why I will always be an indie. Knitting does not define me. I define it for myself.

Tour de Fleece
As you know, if you're a Tontant Weader, groups and me don't generally equate, with the exception of my beloved skanks at Stix-n-Stitches, Sheila and I having been separated at birth, and my occasional appearance on Ravelry.

This year, because I have more fucking time on my hands than ever before, I've decided to join Team Peleton on Ravelry. Why not? I spin every day anyhoo. This week, though, I've been rushing to get the Black Bunny Fibers Bluefaced Leicester/silk of the Joy to free it up for TDF.

This was fun to spin, another entry in my project to spin various weights. I used two different colorways, both with that amazing yellow. Carol, I don't know how the fuck you got that yellow but I love it!

Now, I have some Chasing Rainbows bombyx silk top in the Pansies colorway that's been percolating in the fiber stash for several years. Laceweight is calling.

Got four ounces of this stuff that I'll attempt to spin during the three-week TDF period. For those of you who are interested, it starts on Saturday, July 3 and continues until the end of the Tour de France. Check out the group on Ravelry. I'll post my progress here as well as on Ravelry.

Shut Your Sockhole
Recently, I read in some knitting rag that you can't avoid holes in cuff-down heel gussets. Bullshit. I've got my own little tricks that make for a nice gusset join with no holes whatsoever.
This is the Punk Princess's teeny foot doing a preliminary modeling for one of my Fiberality Stoopid TV Knitting sock designs. She gets to keep all the socks, too. Liz is the only one in the family with small feet. The rest of us wimmens have humongous dogs.

I did take a shot of the gusset so that you can see WTF I'm talking about.
If you're interested, I'll write about how I do my gussets next week. Ah, fuck it, even if you aren't interested, I'll write about it. Holeless gussets are rare and handy, dontcha know.

Have a great 4th, skanks!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sycophantastic! Knitting Kiss-asses Rule!

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I don't like ass kissers, flag wavers or team players. I like people who buck the system. Individualists.--George Carlin

The day Carlin died, I wept. Bill Maher has taken his place in many ways but this quote from George says it all.

Haven't been much in the mood to post recently but I'm gonna get back onto a writing schedule. I'm spending way too much time on FaceBook. So, let's continue with my rant, eh? Haven't ranted in a while.

Lackey Love
Lately, I've become more aware of how many toadies the minor world of knitting has created. Including people I thought were above prostrating themselves at the feet of knitting "celebrities." Or who view themselves as such, perhaps because they've had something published and had their asses kissed.

"Oooh, oooh, oooh, I loooovve that incredible mess of yarn that you call a garment." Fuck ya. Everyone's a fucking designer these days. I design...for myself. If you like it, great. If not, it ain't gonna change my life.

Let's take the Wayback Machine and look at the original true stellar knitters. Elizabeth Zimmermann, no argument there. Barbara Walker, Barbara Abbey, Maggie Righetti, Ida Riley Duncan, Gladys Thompson, Mary Thomas, Mary Walker Phillips, James Norbury, Marianne Kinzel--these are the people from whom I learned, and whose books are well loved and well used.

If there were no other knitting books available, you could learn what you needed to know from these august writers. God knows I did. These writers taught me everything.

As for spinning, that's a world less filled with sycophants. And a world with far fewer stars. I learned how to spin from Mabel Ross's "Essentials of Spinning" and Lee Raven's book "Hands On Spinning." Then came Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Abby Franquemont for spindling. Any other spinning books are simply icing on the cake.

These days, too many people are clamoring for star status. So who are the stellar knitters these days? People who actually contribute to the body of knitting knowledge: Shirley Paden, Kaffe Fassett, Nancy Bush, Cat Bordhi, Ann Budd, Marianne Isager, Nicky Epstein, people like these. The rest of the "celebs" need to disappear, put their egos into perspective, and STFU.

And what wid every designer now having their own yarn line? WTF? Frankly, there is too much yarn out there as it is. Do we really need yet another line of yarn? I don't think so. That said, here's my new line of KC Idiot-proof yarn, specially milled for me by the local hardware store.
  • Fuck You Red
  • Kiss My Ass Orange
  • Bite Me Blue
  • WTF White
  • Skanky Silver
  • Gobsmacked Green
  • Asswipe Aqua
 More colors to come, Tontant Weaders welcome to submit their ideas in the comments. Heh.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
So, yeah, I'm still out of work but knitting and spinning away.

One thing I've realized from talking to other knitters at Stix-n-Stitches, my local yarn hangout, is that people really don't want to work complex designs.  What they want is simple shit that looks good. So I've been working on a series of designs I call "Stoopid TV Knitting". The sock below, knit with Carol's wonderful Black Bunny Fibers SoftSilk 50% merino/50% silk sock yarn, is a 6-round, 4-stitch repeat.
All I need to do is finish the second one and jam the pair onto the Punk Princess's teeny feet so I can photograph them properly.

Evening is spinning time.
More Black Bunny Fiber--this fabulous 50% Blue-faced Leicester/50% silk has been incredible to spin. Have you figured out that I'm a big BBF fan? Carol is one of the finest dyers, with great taste in fiber. You can't go wrong with her stuff.

Punk Princess Time
My baby girl isn't much of a baby anymore. She's starting college in September, accepted into Montclair State University's BFA program. She's quite the artist. This is one of my favorite pieces from her senior art show.
Her senior project theme was music. Each senior had to produce 24 pieces for the year, then design their own booth for the show.
The Four Gens: Me, Liz, daughter Corinne, and my everlovin' Mammy, who'll be 87 in August. And still puts knitters half her age to shame. A rare and handy group, no?

I promise, I'll be writing every week now. My 8th blog anniversary is next month and I'll be damned if I let this blog go down the tubes. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tick, Tick, Tick

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. -- Mark Twain

I do mind, kinda. On the other hand, my brain sez "Shut up, kid. You bother me." OK, so this Sunday I'll be 60. Fuck it. I was a baby of 52 when I started this blog. Not much has changed, has it. I'm still a profane, opinionated pottymouth. Thank God.

Forget Me Not...Ya Senile Old Skank
I was rummaging through boxes of stash down in the basement and lo! I find this silk I spun two years ago.  Good scarf material. I evidently had started some crap with it so this afternoon I ripped it out, steamed out the kinks, and put it where I can find it again.

Having almost finished spinning the cormo/mohair I bought at Rhinebeck, I'll probably return to some silk I was spinning, Chasing Rainbows stuff that is beautiful.
The cormo/mohair was an exercise in adapting my drafting.  A good spinner can do that--spin laceweight, then turn around and spin singles for DK. There are a few "drafting issues" here but I accept this as the ubiquitous "learning experience." I have another bag of this fiber and I'll put that on the Joy, with the silk on the Matchless.

I suppose I could use the cormo/mohair as a weft for a scarf. Jerry really likes it a lot. He enjoys being the recipient of scarves, socks, and ultimately, that fucking Aran that's lying fallow in a bag.

Verena (No, Not a Tommy James and the Shondells Oldie)
I've bought this magazine in the past--it was OK but nothing exciting. But the spring issue--incredibly good!

The reason? Burda, the publisher, got smart and hired Margery Winter as editor. For those of you who haven't been knitting a long time, Margery is a former editor of Vogue Knitting.  She was a fine editor for VK and she has done a superlative job with Verena. You get 50 patterns for $7.99 and there isn't a dog among them. Well-photographed, decent directions and charts. What more could you ask for? I liked it enough to consider subscribing.

The Punk Princess Goes to College
Can you believe it? Lizziebug was only 10 when I first started this blog. She was accepted into the BFA program at Montclair State University last month and she'll start next September.
This how Liz looks these days. Dontcha love the piercing? She wants a tattoo, much to her mother's chagrin. In fact, I have this picture of Corinne modeling a sweater for Crochet Fantasy back in 1988, when she was a year younger than Liz is now. Corinne searched the internet for this a few months ago and found it on some European website.
Yeah, I did give birth to her. If I hadn't been there, I wouldn't believe it.

So much for family shit.  Liz will probably go with me to Rhinebeck this year. Because she thinks my friends are "kewl."

She's right. They're pretty rare and handy.