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.


Bev said...

oh Gawd.... you brought back my teenhood. Maybe even my pre-teenhood. I'm so old I don't remember when I started watching Ernie Kovaks, but I always loved the Nairobi Trio.

Thanks a bunch, MAR....

Bev said...

Will you be able to post any of these episodes on-line? Us Southreners won't be able to see 'em.

Marion said...

Your show might want to make me abandon FIOS and go back to Cablevision. On the second thought, NO, no, never. Thanks for the Ernie fix. Loved him.

Sharon said...

Awesome post! I thoroughly enjoyed that clip from Ernie Kovacs - the Nairobi Trio was always my dad's favorite. I'm old enough to remember seeing the show.

The Knitting Curmudgeon on the tube?! Hell yeah! I have been waiting all these years to actually hear you say "fuck".

anne marie in philly said...

I second bev - we are enslaved by comcast here too!

through the magic of DVD, I have been able to experience the nairobi trio - too damn funny and so much genius from a fellow philly boy!

and I have an idea of whom you are speaking (wink wink nudge nudge)...

Anonymous said...

OMG, I would KILL to see you on TV talking about Knitdweebs!

Helen said...

You would rule on tv, Curmudgeon. Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for the tv execs to make the right decision.

Norah said...

OMG, I'd completely forgotten about the Nairobi Trio!

Anonymous said...

Teachers: when I was a LOT younger than I am now, loving parents decided that I should have piano lessons. Found a lovely young lady, highly qualified, handily local, very patient and encouraging.

BUT, every now and again, I would turn up at her home for a lesson, only to find that she had been delayed.

Which meant her mother took the lesson. Mother kept a heavy, round ebony ruler on the music rack. Which was deployed, HARD, for every wrong note. Effective teaching methods?

Best of luck with the cable show, even though we are unlikely to ever see it.

Gae, in Callala Bay

blue? purple? blurple? said...

Ernie Kovacs! Yay! I worked at one time in a big drafting room and we had two dimwit draftsmen who talked a LOT. One morning A. came in and gushed about an interview she saw on tv the evening before with a PYRAMID BUILDER. B, was enthralled with the story, at one point commenting wow would she like to be a pyramid builder too if they got paid in gold, to which A. replied-yes but it was so heavy they had to leave it in the pyramids and then everybody, like, died, man.
Little did ol Ernie know there were SOME people out there who thought his interviews were real.
Thanks for the memories...