Thursday, February 18, 2010

Noodling Wid Needles

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.--Pablo Picasso

I don't see myself as an artist. However, I do see myself as childlike. I still love cartoons, still love "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass", rock 'n' roll, and doofy, whimsical anything. (Yes, I'm hot to see Tim Burton's version of "Alice" on March 5.) 

I've been charting, knitting, fiddling with color and texture, and letting the childish shit that circulates in my bipolar brain go into my design notebook. I'm actually very orderly about taking notes and writing/editing directions as I go along. My experience as a tech writer and editor is enormously helpful when writing knitting directions.

Freebie for You Lovely Fools
I decided to test-drive one of my patterns by offering it for free here, by next week most likely. This is not an original design but plain vanilla heavy socks that I've made for family and friends using Jarbo Garn Raggi sock yarn.
I took advantage of our loathsome snow as a backdrop for the photo. I froze my ass off.

The pattern is sized for women and men. I may at some point do some kiddy sizing if the demand is there. In any case, you'll get something for nothing and get a look at Fiberality Design directions formatting. The reason I don't submit to magazines is this: I can add Designer Notes, do larger size charts, and add my sense of humor to an otherwise straitlaced pattern. Not to mention accuracy.

Stash Trash
Talk about being pissed off, though. In my stash, I had enough Jawoll to make the Nudge Nudge socks, the black and pink lace, which I've renamed Jezebel socks (yeah, I watched the movie last week and decided that Bette Davis would have worn the socks to the ball). I finished the prototype sock, wrote the directions, and then went to check the yardage online. SHIT. The shocking pink has been discontinued. FUCK.

So off I went to find some plain sock yarn. Guess what, kids. It's not easy to find. I finally went to KnitPicks and lo! They have plenty of colors, including shocking pink, in their Palette fingering weight yarn. The Stroll sock yarn didn't offer me enough selection, although I generally prefer a 70% wool/30% nylon blend for socks. Fuck it. I may submit these to the KnitPicks Independent Designer Partnership Program, although I'm more inclined to submit it to  Here's a not-so-wonderful picture of the unblocked sock.
Obviously, the photo for the published pattern will be much clearer and will be modeled. It's rather hard to see the diagonal lace pattern and the lace cuff doesn't show too well. Here's a lousy closeup.

It's sitting on its blocking bowl. Anyhoo, once I redo the design, you'll see better pictures.
Blogger Sucks
Well, they sent me an e-mail last week, informing me that they will no longer support FTP bloggers. What this means, to the uninformed, is that the 5% of us who use Blogger to publish to our own domain will have to migrate all our files over to Blogger.  No more by March 26th. So I'm waiting for them to send me migration directions.

In some respects, working directly on Blogger will make it easier for me. I won't need to do as much coding, I'll be able to use widgets, and I suppose there are more features available. I'll keep you posted. If nothing else, will have a redirection page for a long time.

New (and Old) Books Be Bountiful
I increased my library again by buying Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition, by Terri Shea. 
An unbelievable book! Not only is it extremely well written and interesting but the traditional designs are striking and challenging. Plus, Terri self-published this book and did a damned fine job, too. This is the kind of book that's worth adding to your library if you are a serious knitter. If you're not, there are plenty of dopey books out there. This is quality.

Besides the republication of She-Whose-Name-Cannot-Be-Mentioned's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, another must-have if you are into colorwork, I was so please to see Susanna Lewis's Knitting Lace republished too.

This is the original cover, as opposed to Book of Fair Isle Knitting, which has a new cover.
Back in the 80s, I worked with Susanna when I was the knitting editor of MacKnit, a glossy, over-the-top mag for machine knitters. Susanna was then working on the book, which is based on a Victorian lace sampler owned by the Brooklyn Museum. Susanna was and is an amazing technician, although she has been involved with Sasha dolls for a number of years, selling them and knitting for them, and no longer designs for knitting magazines. This is the only book she ever wrote about handknitting, but her handknitting designs were published early on in Knitter's.

Susanna and I did a machine knitting workshop together back in 1985, and she stayed with me for several days. She's a wonderful person, has a decent sense of humor, and inspired me to further my knitting education, although I no longer machine knit. I'm rather sorry we lost touch--I spoke to her about four years ago and she had moved from Brooklyn to a town in upstate New York, not terribly far up but in the country. I've been so fortunate to have met so many great knitting people. My greatest regret is not having met EZ or Meg. In any case, add this one to your library too. 

Maybe I'll make a point of calling her. I'd love to see her again.

Back on Ravelry
Now that I'm unemployed, I've had the time to revisit Ravelry. Working means sacrificing certain activities, and that was one of them. I had not visited the site since August 2008 and it's so improved. It will be good to check out the groups to which I belong and be able to connect with readers who are on my friend list. So glad that some of you have connected with me on FaceBook too.

Did You Know?
The German word for cellphone is Handy. Is that rare or what? Ich habe mein Handy immer dabei.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Hope I Die Before I Get Old

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Age is a very high price to pay for maturity--Tom Stoppard

I'm starting my countdown to 60. Less than three months to go. Gack. Well, that's the age I'll be according to my birth certificate. Given that my mammy is going to be 87 in August and still knits lace, I have no reason to angst about it.

Teaching the Old Bitch New Tricks
For a long time, I felt that using the Magic Loop technique to replace my dps was a waste of time. I tried it a couple of years ago and hated it.

Now, designing a pair of socks that I've named Naughty Nudge Nudge, I found that the lace pattern I'm using for the body is a royal pain in the ass if done on dps. It's a 6-stitch repeat but decreases land on the needle junctions on the instep. Shifting stitches from one needle to another sucks. Feh. I ended up putting it on the instep only. That made me quite unhappy.

So I decided to give ML another try. And still hated it. However, the two circs technique was something I could live with. I tried it out on a pair of plain vanilla socks. The two socks are shown below--I was too lazy to go downstairs and get my Canon, so bite me. I used my cellphone camera.

Needless to say, I'm ripping out NNN and starting over.

My point--Never say "never" when it comes to shit. I'm not ditching dps but using the two circs will allow me to use my lace pattern throughout the sock, rather than simply on the instep. I actually like this method.

I'm working up some workshops for Sheila at Stix-n-Stitches. Finishing, Lace 101, Knitting Clinic, Spindling for Beginners, to start. Sheila figures she'll open the shop on Sundays so I can teach. I love this place. It's more than just a local yarn shop. Sheila, Patty, Monica, and the other women who work there are my kind of wimmens. I've been loitering there every Saturday afternoon. Does the soul good. I enjoy helping the beginners--despite what you may think, I love novice knitters. They're like blank pages open to ideas.

Obligatory Knitting Shit
Other than the NNN socks, I've started recharting Jerry's sweater and blocked out the Crayon Madness set. Haven't gotten to spinning yet this week. However, I did buy some lovely Harrisville Shetland for an upcoming lace shawl. Yes, a bit heavier than usual but honestly, I wear my heavier shawls more often than my laceweights.

I don't see submitting anything to the mainstream magazines. For one, I don't want an editor dictating what yarn and colors I use. And second, I would rather sell my patterns online. If an editor would let me do what I do, then I might rethink it.

Knitting News
I was thrilled to see that Schoolhouse Press is publishing Ron Schweitzer's patterns. For those of you who are not familiar with Ron's wonderful Fair Isle designs, take a look at his Flowers of Life. I've never made one of his designs but they are all truly lovely.

Eight Years and Counting
Yesterday was the 8th anniversary of Jimmy's death. I don't generally dwell on it but I don't forget it, either. It was arguably the worst day of my life but there has been much joy since then. It also means that this blog is approaching its 8th anniversary. Jeez. Back then, there were very few knitting blogs. When I started, there were maybe 100 of them, some of which are long gone.

I wonder how much longer blogs will exist. With the birth of FaceBook, Ravelry, and other social networks, blogs may become obsolete. I know I update my FB status every day, pretty much. I doubt that blogs will go away entirely but instant gratification is truly the bane of our time. To some degree, I enjoy the immediacy. And to another degree, I recall the time before faxes when you had to wait for what you wanted or needed. The instant gratification syndrome has infected our world. As my former boss Pat Conway always said, "If you want it in the worst way, that's probably how you'll get it."

A rare but handy philosophy, indeed.

P.S. Haloscan, the service I have used for comments, is going out of business. They've cut a deal with a service called Echo so I've transferred over to Echo. A few people have told me that they've had problems loading my page recently--the page loads but then aborts. If you've had that problem, drop me a line so I can figure out how many readers have been affected. Danke.