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.