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.


Anonymous said...

Don't know if she invented it, but Elizabeth Zimmermann surely made it widely known.
I prefer cuff down socks. It is my comfort knitting...don't want to think about it. I like to learn load of new things in the rest of my knitting. mary in cincinnati

Donna said...

Cuff down for me. Knitting is my salvation, I can crawl right inside the sock Iam working on and blot out the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

I stands for idiot, I believe coined my EZ as it is boring to knit, but has such great possiblities.
When Janet and I met up with you, I will teach you an even easier Toe Up cast one. The stitches never need tightening. It is all in the wrist.

Anonymous said...

Cuff down.
Elizabeth Zimmermann.
Idiot Cord.

Ted said...

Cuff down.

I heard of it as "Idiot's Delight" a couple of years before I found the writings of Elizabeth Zimmermann. I should check through the letters she sent me to see if we ever talked about its name.

Of course, it's all just 3 stitch spool knitting, which is also called "French knitting".

And a while back, I ran into someone who referred to it as "knitted reins", because they used it as the reins on their hobby horses.

Um...more than you wanted to know?

anne marie in philly said...

shit, everybody else beat me to it!

question of the week - neither; I don't knit sox cause I don't wear sox! but I admire people that do (knit sox)!

Vanessa said...

Cuff down for me, but I'm a relative newbie, so who knows what the future will bring. I definitely prefer two circs to dpns, and that's unlikely to change.

Sharon said...

Top down on dpns - it's how I'm most comfortable knitting socks, because it's how I first learned to make them.

You are so right about Judy of Magic Cast-on fame! My Wednesday night knitting group is full of talented people, and Judy is one of them.

Gorgeous spun silk Mar!

StephCat said...

Cuff down, magic loop (though I started on DPNs, went to 2 circs, finally decided I had to learn magic loop & now love it best). I really like Judy's Magic CO but I'm not so thrilled with toe up -- for reasons I've not yet figured out, even with the same stitch counts & gauge, I can't get the socks to fit as well.

Also, I've never minded Kitchener stitching, I prefer casting on to binding off, and I really like heel flaps, turning the heel, and picking up and working the gusset stitches. Heel flaps toe up just aren't the same.

But that's just all IMHO.

EZ & idiot.

Gansey sock looks fun.

FiberQat said...

Judy is working on a book which she hopes to have out later this year (self-published). She is delightful, fun, and surprised at how folks go all fangirl over her.

Toe ups for me, though now that I've mastered grafting I may try for a top down.

bonnie r said...

I knit toe up with a toe I learned in the Socks Socks Socks book. It was an intarsia sock that fitted badly but the toe was great. I knit a little 4 stitch square, pick up four stitches on each of the three sides that don't have live stitches already, using 4 needles. Then I increase at the end of each needle until there are 44 stiches, then I increase every other round until I get the # of stitches I want for the sock yarn I am using. I then knit a tube which may or may not have fancy stitches at the leg or top of foot part, do a little 1x1 rib at the top and bind off with Kitchener stitch (a heavenly sock top). Then I go back, decide where the heel goes, clip a thread and pick up stitches and knit the heel as a reverse of the toe. You don't need all that heel reinforcement with good sock yarn, and these heels and toes are easy to replace. Also with toe up, you can use more of your yarn by weighing, or by working two socks at once on circular needles, from each end of the ball.

Anonymous said...

Top down an DPNs.

poodletail said...

Toe-up, simply because Judy's Magic Cast-On is a feat (haw-haw!) of engineering that wows me every time. And I'm generally not easily amused.

Mary W said...

To answer a question at the top of your post, yes, I frequently analyze why I knit because it is often a source of frustration. (I'm a good knitter, but lousy at following directions.) But every winter I stumble across a hat or mittens and I think, "Wow, I made this!" A very happy shockerooni!

Donna said...

I greatly prefer knitting socks toe-up doing both at the same time on two circs. I use the Turkish cast-on as described by Meg Swansen in Vogue Knitting either last year or the year before.
As others have already stated, the i in i-cord is for idiot, and I had no knowledge of it before reading EZ, so I suppose she's the originator?
I'd love to do the gansey socks.

Helen said...

Icelandic double-elbowed cast-on, heel up.

Okay, no. DPNS, top down.

knitty_kat said...

I learned top down, taught myself toe up. Depending on the yarn and who the socks are for I tend to do toe up. It's a great way to use up every bit of yarn.

If you like Judy's cast on, you should really give Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off a go. It's a little fiddly at first but it's pretty damn slick!