Sunday, August 14, 2011

Write It Right. Knitting Tech Writing for Dummies Part I

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” --Mark Twain

Since I rather doubt any of the magazines would publish an article about knitting technical writing, I figured why the fuck not do it here?

As many of you know, I make my living as an IT tech writer, specializing in Software Development Life Cycle, SharePoint (a Microsoft collaborative platform), end-user guides, and a pile of other tech documentation crap.

Lately, I've been horrified at the poor quality of many knitting directions, some of which are published by well-known yarn companies and some by independent designers. Last Thursday at Stix-n-Stitches's Sit 'n' Knit night, I helped a fellow knitter translate some badly written directions. Get this--the cast-on instructions, which included placing markers between pattern repeats, were totally confusing. It was written sans asterisks, sans stitch counts, and sans much of anything other than the initial cast-on count, so she had no idea how many markers to place. In order to give her the the correct number of pattern repeats, I checked the math. Oy.

Many of you (including me) are either considering or doing your own designs and hoping to sell them. Well, if so, you'd better have your writing shit together first. This series, which I figure will run for a month, will give you some guidance. I have a very specific process that I use when designing so that my directions are comprehensible and correct. Most budding designers have wonderful ideas but no idea as to how they should be presented professionally.

Let's go!

Pre-Design Preparation
First of all, don't tell me that you "design on the needles" and re-create your directions after you've finished the piece. That's fine for swatching but not fine when you are working on a complete item, be it a sweater or a scarf. Ya gotta write and knit from the get-go. Most magazines have style guides; but you cannot go wrong using the Craft Yarn Council's Standards and Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting. This link will take you directly to their PDF. READ IT.

Step 1: Buy a notebook and use it for your sketches, charts, and directions. This will become your hard-copy Bible that you'll keep in your knitting bag while working out your design. (Of course, if you're really geeky, you can do this on your iPad or laptop but I still prefer writing with a pen to start.)

Step 2: Create a directions template for yourself in Microsoft Word, or whatever word processing app you use. Start formatting your e-file with appropriate headers. MATERIALS, GAUGE, and ABBREVIATIONS are permanent headers. And add your logo, if you have one. If you'd like, check out my Yeti Socks formatting. (If you are submitting to a magazine, you'll have to follow their publishing style, so check with your editor.)

For example, if you have designed a cardigan, you will have various section headers: BACK, FRONT (generally, you will tell your user to "reverse the right front shapings" but if one front is different than the other, you will have two Front headers), SLEEVES, FINISHING. And yes, you will have sub-headers, such as Neck Shaping.

Step 3: When you have determined what your design will be--sweater, socks, scarf, warshcloth, whatevah--choose your yarn and write down the yarn info in your Bible. Don't forget the color name(s)--if all you have on the yarn band is the color number, look it up on the web. Add this information to your electronic file.

Step 4: When you have chosen your stitch pattern(s), chart them out. I use Knit Visualizer because right now I can't afford Adobe Illustrator, which is the app that most publishers use for charting. You can also use Microsoft Excel but just for a working chart, not for final publication, EVER!

Step 5: Swatch, block, measure. Note the final gauge in your Bible and then in your e-file.

Step 6: Begin your calculations, writing them in your Bible. And for God's sake, use a calculator!!! Don't do it in your head, unless you're a fucking Einstein.

Step 7: Once you've finished your basic calculations, write your directions in your e-file and add any charts; then print the file out and put it into your Bible so that you can add notes and corrections. Don't forget to transpose written notes and corrections back into your e-file as soon as you can.

And do your sizing now! Stitch patterns, be they Fair Isle, cables, lace, or what-have-you, will dictate the sizes and their calculations, so get over that hump immediately.

So this is the very beginning. If you are working with test knitters, you want to make sure that you give them the most accurate directions possible. We'll talk about appropriate directions wording in the next entry. Here's the series' list of topics:

  • Part II: Listen to the Foghorn: How to Write Clear Directions
  • Part III: App Hazard--How to use computer applications for knitting directions
  • Part IV: Edit, Edit, Edit, Check, Check, Check--how to edit your own directions

So tomorrow I'm off to another tech writing gig in NYC, this time down in the Village! So much better than uptown. I'll be writing the next entry in a week, on Sunday, which is a rare and handy day to so do.

Later, skanks!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Swatch That You Say?

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty"--Nathaniel Hawthorne

Are you ever tempted to cheat on your swatch measurements?
"Oh, wait, this could be 5 stitches to an inch...let me move the tape measure a little bit."

Hopefully, you never use a tape measure to check your swatch. Why? Because tape measures do stretch out and aren't accurate enough for measuring a swatch. They're fine for body measurements and that's it.

If the garment is worked in the round, ya swatch in the round!

You do, right? Don't fucking lie to me.
Here's the swatch I'm doing for the Go Gansey! socks, in Cascade Heritage sock yarn, which is 75% superwash merino/25% nylon. Soft as shit! And yep, these are my fabulous new Signature DPs. At $45 a set, they are truly the Hope Diamonds of the needle world. I do wish that Signature would make them in #0s too.

WEBS Walkabout (not in the Aussie sense of the word)
Jerry and I took a quick trip to the Adirondacks last week but stopped in South Deerfield, MA so that he could go to Yankee Candle's flagship store and buy his aunt a present. Needless to say, I stopped at WEBS, which is just a short 11 miles south in Northampton. For shits 'n' giggles, I took a little video using my Android cellphone. I put it up on Facebook already but for those of you who ain't my FB friends, here's Mar sneaking about the store.
It is a fabulous place! New England has some of my very favorite string joints--Halcyon (Bath, ME), The Fiber Studio (Henniker, NH), Harrisville Designs (Harrisville, NH) are three that I love. I've not yet made it to Bartlettyarns in Harmony, ME, but that's next on the list. Don't waste your time going to Patternworks in Center Harbor, NH. It's really just a glorified LYS and there's nothing terribly special to buy, although the building is lovely. Jimmy and I used to vacation in Center Harbor back in the '90s because it's right on Lake Winnipesaukee, so go there for that.

I did buy a skein of off-white Cascade Heritage to make the Go Gansey! socks in both blue and off-white so that users have a traditional choice. And then I bought this:
Beautiful Madelinetosh Prairie superwash merino laceweight in the Fragrant colorway. This will become a lace scarf that I'll submit somewhere. Or sell in my Ravelry shop. Oddly, this colorway is not listed on her site but is available elsewhere. I guess they need to update the website.

Fiberality Designs
I finally got my shit together on Ravelry and set up Fiberality Designs, where you can download the Leaves of Grass and Yeti sock patterns for free, the ones that used to be available in the sidebar here. Plus, I have a couple of things for sale, too. There will be more added as I get 'em done. Of course, I'm starting a new tech writing job next week but I'll be knitting on the train, during lunch, and after work, as usual, working on the book proposal still.

So that's it for this bit. Thanks to all for your blog anniversary comments. You ARE rare and handy, ya know. Let me know if you're going to Rhinebeck, which is where I usually hook up with readers. Next entry, a couple of book reviews...and other shit, no doubt.

Later, skanks. By the way, for some half-assed Blogger reason, when I published this entry, a couple of the widgets weren't displaying data. Fuck.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9

Best Quote I Heard All Day
Who's to know? Who was to know?--Lennon and McCartney

Yes, today is the blog's 9th anniversary. For those of you who are either too young to remember The White Album or weren't fans, here's a video for you.

It's hard to believe that it's been nine years. Time has passed quickly, as it always does. You'll see in the sidebar that I've added a new feature: A chat widget where, if I'm online and you're here, you can talk to me live.

Last year, on the 8th blog anniversary (note that I never use "blogiversary" because it's almost as idiotic as "knitterly" and other dopey terms), I did write extensively about the Knitting Curmudgeon history. So today I'm giving you a short summary because A) I'm tired and B) I refuse to rewrite the same shit, ergo a brief post today.

I remember the day I found Blogger and went "Holy shit! This was made for me!" The Knitting Curmudgeon started as a website on AOL back in 1998. I learned a little HTML coding, created several pages that included an essay on Aran Knitting, and one called "Anatomy of a Knitting Disaster." At that time, I was on the KnitList, running my mouth as RaveledSlv, but when I bought my husband Jimmy a book called "The Portable Curmudgeon," it hit me that I was in fact a knitting curmudgeon.

In July 2002, there were probably less than 200 knitting blogs. Long before YarnHarlot, Panopticon, and the others, it was me, Bonne Marie of ChicKnits, Dangerous Chunky, Red Lipstick, WendyKnits, Carrieoke's Knitting Blog, and a few more whose names escape me right now. We were the first knitters to step away from the mailing lists and put our crap out on the internet.

When Jimmy died in January 2002, I was a lost soul. Yes, I was knitting at the hospital when he died. After a few months of horrific grief, I began to get my shit together. But I still needed something upon which to focus heavily, a project that would take my mind away from my unmitigated sadness and hideous financial issues. Having been a writer since I was eight years old, the same year I learned to knit, writing a blog seemed to be an ideal solution. So off I went. My first entry was about the Vogue Fall 2002 issue. Here's the very first paragraph I wrote:

The state of knitting magazines being what it is lately, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the decent designs featured in the Fall 2002 issue of Vague. Mind you, there are still enough designs for the HYUKs (Hip Young Urban Knitters, a ghastly acronym invented by the ubiquitous Lily Chin) and some silly ones at that. But I understand Vague's marketing needs...and I can appreciate their bowing to demographics. 

I think Loopy was probably the only person to read that first entry. But suddenly, people who had read my website showed up on the blog! And then there were the wars with the KnitDweebs. Longtime readers will recall the Purling Puppies war. Loved it!

So, have I changed over the years, now that I'm 61 and supposedly an old crone, although even my dear mother says I don't look my age. She may be right but I'm still a smartass. What I do believe has happened over the past nine years is that the knitting world has gone out of control, with too much information, actually. The Knitdweebs are still out there, yarn bombing and acting like maroons. Sadly, the internet has created the instant-gratification disease that affects too many people. Lack of concentration, inability to learn by doing, desire for fast and often bazaar knitting. Sure, there are plenty of people who want to increase their skills and knowledge but I must say that I keep meeting knitters who want to do their work down and dirty.

I do believe that blogs are becoming less and less popular, simply due to social networking. People don't fucking read extensively anymore. Well, that won't stop me and many of my fellow bloggers but I do predict that blogs will vanish within the next five years because they will become incorporated into the social networks. Your Steekin' Geek can see where technology is going and along with Borders, I think blogging will become bankrupt. Fuck it. I'll be with you until I croak.

That said, the greatest gifts I've received from writing this blog are my readers. Many have become personal friends, people who I love and cherish. And now that FaceBook's the place to be, a lot of readers have friended me. If nothing else, that's fucking rare and handy!

So later, skanks. And I do love you all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it."--John Lennon

If it hadn't been for In His Own Write, I probably never would have become a writer. At 14, I had already written many poems, a short story for my junior high school literary magazine, but when my best friend Dottie and I read this book, it pushed us into a creative sphere that has never ceased. Dottie was the artist, I was the writer, and we mucked around trying to do our own Lennonish stuff. She called me Mother Marsh, I called her Dob. And then our friend Peggy, who was also a writer, became Pegret. After 47 years, we are still close friends, still call each other Mother Marsh, Dob, and Pegret, and we all still spill creative juices.

So now that I am again unemployed and wondering how the fuck I'm going to make money, I decided to resuscitate the Rock 'n' Sock book. With one prototype done, and a few more to go, I've contacted Sixth and Spring Books to see if they will accept my book proposal. They will. And if they don't want it, Martingale Press will take my submission.
Thanks to the Punk Princess for modeling Stairway to Heaven socks. This is strictly a prototype, done in Black Bunny Fibers Silksock. I will have to rework it in another commercial yarn so that knitters can re-create it, probably in Crystal Palace Panda Silk or possibly Madelinetosh.

Also reworking the old Gansey sock pattern from back in 2007, for submission to Knitty's Winter 2011bis issue.
I've altered the design considerably, so this ain't what it's gonna be. I can't show ya. Against the rules.

WTF, Socks?
Sock knitting is my favorite design mode. Cuz I'm fucking lazy? Nope. Because it allows me to screw around with different design concepts in a short but sweet manner. Once the book is published, the next potential project will be an online fiber design magazine that will include knitting crocheting, spinning, and simple weaving projects.

Yeah, I was a knitting editor in the '80s and perhaps it's time to go back to my roots. After all, other than Vogue Knitting and Rowan, I can't be bothered with the other mags. However, the online magazines are far more accessible and mine will be free to readers. Because I'm a steekin' geek, I can do all the site dev myself, as well as the marketing crap, the writing, and the acquisition.

I wanna leave this world as a knitting writer and editor, not an "IT Professional."

Child Blogger
This apple fell right from the tree, given that both her parents are and were writers. My daughter Jenn, a long-time member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a wonderful group that does great medieval re-creation, has started her own blog--Kintala. Jenn doesn't knit but sews and embroiders beautifully. Any of you who were on the KnitList with me back in 1996 may remember her Medieval Wedding. She designed and made her wedding gown, along with all her bridesmaids' dresses.

Yep, the Knitting Curmudgeon blog is about to turn nine years old on the 25th, in six days. I will be posting that day, for sure. With Remembrances of Shit Past. That year, 2002, was rare but terribly unhandy.

Later, skanks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bombs Away! Knit a Sewer Drain Cozy

Best Quote I Heard All Day
I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography.--Stephen Wright
Me too, Stephen. Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted to the blog. For some time, I lost interest in communicating, partially because I buried myself in my book and also because I did some consulting work for a major financial services company.

The book has been ongoing for too long. No, I have no publisher yet and frankly, I'm writing this for my children and grandchildren, although it is my life as a knitter. I've designed knitting patterns that reflect the various hallmarks in my knitting life. It's been fun but also rather burdensome because when I turned 61 on April 25th, my mortality hit me between the eyes and I realized that my writing time is finite.

So back to writing the blog, another minor legacy, I suppose.

Word Up!
I gotta say, there are just too many damned knitting books out there. I no longer buy books that contain patterns only because I do my own, a far more challenging activity that spending time working on other people's shit. And because there has been an e-explosion of knitting patterns, you do have to wade through a pile of crap to get to decent stuff. On the other hand, it gives people freedom to publish, although I fear that some truly talented designers could get lost in the shuffle.

The two best books published this year are Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knit One Knit All and Barb Brown's Knitting Knee Highs. I reviewed Barb's book on February 11th. Bless Meg for gathering up all her mother's unpublished garter stitch designs and putting them together into a beautifully designed book. I'm still waiting for my copy, which I'll buy from my sistah-in-spirit Sheila, who owns my LYS Stix-n-Stitches. I did get a chance to peruse her copy and was blown away. After all, EZ was the original knitting origamist. That's what I call her Baby Surprise Jacket. Knitting origami.

The next book on my list will probably be Swirl! by Sandra McIver. This is not just a pattern book but an interesting technique that I'd like to study.

That's what's key--gimme a book that will shove new info into my gob. Just because it has "knitting" in its title doesn't mean it's going to add shit to my wealth of knowledge.

So WTF Are You Doing?
Other than waiting to start my new consulting gig next Monday, writing, and working on the book projects, I decided to pick up one of my spindles and start spinning some of Mindy Soucek's Puff the Magic Rabbit's wonderful mohair (from her own goaties)/Border Leicester/silk. (Check out her Etsy shop--some great fiber and handspun yarn for very reasonable prices.)

The nose? That's Sam's, the Countess von Puppelah, who is fascinated by the fiber smell and mesmerized by the spinning spindle. I suspect she'd like to chew both, so they are kept well hidden. The Countess has been known to chew hand knitted socks to shreds. She is not allowed in my workroom. Ever.

The Topic for Today is Yarn Bombing. Please Refer to the Blog Title.
Sorry, just getting geared up for tech writing. I've written about this stupidity on Facebook but it's time to diss it here. Yarn bombers--have you borrowed public idiocy from Tea Party members? Knitting tree cozies? Bike handle cozies? How about putting some effort into some charitable knitting, such as The Seamen's Church Institute, whose Christmas At Sea knitting project, active since 1898, has provided mariners away from home during the holidays with warm scarves, hats, vests, socks, and other goodies.  I understand this is now sponsored by Universal Yarn. Bravo, Michael! My late husband Jimmy, who was a ship modeler and maritime historian, often went to the SCI in NYC. Long ago, I knit for this project. I will so do again.

Yarn bombing doesn't make you look like a "rebel knitter" but rather, makes you look like you have nothing better to do with your time. If you want to make your community look nice, how about contributing flowers and your gardening skills? Fuck the stupid cozies. Yarn bombing does not improve knitting's image. In fact, it probably annoys the piss out of people. So stop it, already. It is not rare and handy.

What do you think of yarn bombing?

That's it for now. Time to get back to the other writing, or perhaps train Sam to wind yarn. By the way, I have just set up the blog for mobile viewing, a new beta feature on Blogger.

Later, skanks. The next post will probably be in July, hopefully in a week or so. The 25th of July marks the blog's 9th anniversary.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Jersey Shore Knittin' Guidettes

It’s just a big ball of f*ckness. That’s a new word: f*ckness.--Snooki

Do you ever watch "Jersey Shore"? No, this Jersey girl couldn't be bothered since most of the cast supposedly comes from Long Island, Staten Island, and the city. But I do like Snooki's quote--I've knitted with plenty of big balls of fuckness.

If you're going to the beach, how do you say it if you're from Jersey? "Goin' down the shore."

So I think, with apologies to Debbie Macomber, who is not a Jersey girl, that I'd read a book or watch a series called "Jersey Shore Knittin' Guidettes." In fact, I've come up with the characters, a group of Jersey skanks who live the over-the-top life. And steal yarn when possible.

Hoodi--Runs a knitting kiosk on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. Hoodi hides her Jersey big hair under a knitted cotton sweatshirt, teaches her customers how to pick up stitches using their nails, and was recently arrested for stabbing her boyfriend Woodie in the crotch with a #7 straight needle while threatening to garrote him with the matching circ.

StellaBaby--Hoodi's younger sister, who insists on crocheting granny squares, much to Hoodi's annoyance. StellaBaby flogs her crocheted afghans at the bar across the way from Hoodi's kiosk, selling them to teenagers who need coverups for under-the-boardwalk luv sessions.

Nicoretta--Hoodi's best friend, who refuses to knit anything other than Red Heart. Nicoletta worked at the local WalMart until she was fired for stealing boxes of Fun Fur.

Scudetta--StellaBaby's boyfriend, who loves to knit, hates crocheting, but as a straight dude, is terrified that Hoodie will "out" him to his coworkers at the fire department. Scudetta keeps his sock knitting hidden in his NY Yankees sports bag, sneaking a stitch or two alone in the locker room.

Mama Cawfee--Hoodi and StellaBaby's grandmother, a former madame who raised the girls and has retired, whiling away her time knitting and rocking on her porch, shrieking obscenities at passersby.

Fattie Hardbuckle--Grossly overweight, Fattie insists on knitting size 60 bikini bras from cotton, despite Hoodie's warning that the cotton will stretch when Fattie jumps into the water. Fattie is a pattern size vigilante, raiding yarn shops that only sell books with patterns for skinny broads. 

The Guidette Knitters--Hoodie's knitting crew, who frequent the arcades, jamming needles into the pinball machine coin slots to get beer money, throw yarn balls at the seagulls, and sit on the boardwalk benches with their knitting bags and Buds.

So, I think this has reality show potential. The antithesis of the Vogue Knitter. We're real people in Jersey, although not always rare and handy.

Just a quickie today. More next week, with the promised info on Android knitting apps.

Later, skanks.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Best Quote I Heard All Day
The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.--Oscar Wilde

So does that mean I'm creative?

Yes, TMI, too much information. Too many knitting books. Way too many yarn choices. Enough already.

Ten years ago, the frenzy that now permeates the knitting industry was limited to Stitches and a bunch of KnitList Knitdweebs. Now, it's out of control. It seems that every yarn company spends its time trying to create over-the-top lines that in reality make shitty garments. Sure, the stuff looks gorgeous in the skein. P.T. Barnum certainly had it nailed. Knitters are the biggest suckers of any hobby.

The worst messes that the yarn companies promote are the damned loosely twisted "hand-dyed" single or 2-ply products that can severely fuck up the unsuspecting, ignorant knitter. Why? Because they split like hell when you knit them, and then pill within two or three weeks. The worst offenders are the sock yarns. Get real. If you make socks from these yarns, you'd better put them in a frame and hang 'em on the wall because they ain't gonna last. Ya know the term "stitch definition"? Keep that in mind when selecting your yarn.

I just finished a vest in Lang Tosca Lite. Very pretty but one of these yarns. I won't use it again. I was going to submit the design to Knitty but decided against it. I refuse to promote something I dislike, although the vest did come out nicely. I'll submit a sock design I'm doing now in Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks. This is excellent sock yarn. One of my favorites, along with Black Bunny Fibers' Silk Sock (Carol's just put up some wonderful new colors).

My friend Ann calls it the Caribbean Reef Vest, when I asked her for help in naming it. I had the enameled fish button in my hand, putting it up against the fabric, and Ann said, "That's it! Caribbean Reef!"

 Da Mags
OK, a little behind the times here but frankly, all the winter issues were stone bores. Other than Deborah Newton's hat on the cover of VK, it was a tremendously bland issue. Even Brandon Mably's design lacked his usual exquisite colorways. The best section of VK's Winter issue was Style Revival that had great retro patterns and Socks in the City. I'm glad they've finally bowed to publishing sock designs. Of course, lots of knitters love bland. Just way too much cabled shit.

IK is once again a total mish-mosh. When in God's name are they going to organize this magazine? There are some good designs in this issue. I loved Laura Grutzeck's cardigan and Deb Newton's vest. The cover? Well, it's really tacky to overlay print onto the model's face.  Closeups are a point. VK and Knitter's have always been well laid out. Put your feature articles and columns in the front of the mag with the ads, then set up the editorial section. No fuckin' ads there.

Whether you put the directions with the editorial picture or put them in the back of the books makes no-never-mind. But when you can't tell the difference between an ad and an editorial photo, you're in trouble. Plus, the teeny weeny pictures are BAD. I was looking at the sock photos and on page 94, there was a pair of socks omitted in the caption. Turns out it was Judy Alexander's Pinked Socks in a different colorway. Readers shouldn't have to figure this out. Very poor editing here.

If IK continues on this path, they'll be walkin' downhill. Yet, the staff of Piecework just published the second edition of Knitting Traditions, a fabulous special magazine. Hello, IK! Check out what your colleagues are doing. Granted, the patterns in Knitting Traditions aren't hot fashion but they are beautiful, along with excellent articles on knitting history. And you can't beat the layout.

OK, so that's my take on Winter 2011. IK's Spring issue just came out and once again, there's type on the model's face. Oy. I'll buy the issue strictly for Mary Jane Mucklestone's article on Fair Isle knitting. You can preview VK's Spring issue online.  Knitter's apparently no longer offers previews. As shocking as it may sound coming from my mouth, at this point, Knitter's is a better magazine than IK.

Friends Who Write
Gotta love 'em. So many of my friends have published excellent books worth buying. They get it. Don't publish crap, publish a book that adds to the knowledge base. And if you want a fabulous book, buy my dear friend Barb Brown's Knitting Knee-Highs: Sock Styles from Classic to Contemporary. Yeah, I know I'm a bit biased but if Barb had written shit, I'd shut my trap. Wonderful designs plus an outstanding section on knee-highs--making knee-highs, converting regular sock patterns to knee-highs, and sizing knee-highs. Barb, I swear I'll make your lace socks...but I'm involved in my own book and designs. Heh.

Yes, I'm back working on the book. Have been for several months now. I refuse to place myself under a deadline but I'm feeling the need to leave a legacy, probably because I'm going to be 61 in April. Someone once wrote that I was a knitting blogger pioneer. I suppose so. This July will mark 9 years of KC bullshit. I decided against doing the cable show simply because it would have very limited exposure. It's not worth the work if five people watch, one of whom would be Mammy.

Garbage Removal
You may have noticed that I've eliminated the Free Shit section in the sidebar. This is due to some technical stuff I have to do with Dreamhost, my site host. I still have the address, used now only to contain uploadable docs. So Free Shit will be back when I get things squared away.

Tech crap is not rare and handy. As a technical writer, I find that knitting and spinning offer me a good withdrawal from the info world. Yes, TMI and STFU. I'm lessening my presence on Facebook, don't bother with Twitter, and frankly, prefer to knit and listen to music at this point, with Countess von Puppelah at my feet. Damned dog loves to chew wooden dps. And hand-knitted socks. No, she gets no knitted puppy sweater. Ever.

Now that's a rare and handy woofer.
Later, skanks.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Talkin' Bout My Generation

Best Lyrics I Heard All Day
People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

Indeed. Hope I die before I get old. I may be 61 in two months but that's got nothing to do with shit from Shanghai.

My generation has been incredibly fortunate, at the very least living through the great knitting era of Elizabeth Zimmermann, Barbara Walker, Mary Walker Phillips, and many more. That's minor shit. When it comes to music, there's no question that the Woodstock Generation still stands as the rock music giants. Our lives were forever shaped by the Vietnam War and our music.

If you're too young to remember The Who, the brilliant performers of My Generation, then it's time to enhance your knowledge.

Even the Punk Princess loves The Who.

Speaking of whom, to play catchup with ya, I have to show you all what I made Liz for Christmas.

Yep, the Punk Monk. With a matching mohawk hat.

The Ultimate Book? Puhleeze
If I had a nickel for every knitting book that included "ultimate" in their title, I'd be buying some fucking cashmere.

When I went to Vogue Knitting Live, one of the perks was a copy of Vogue Knitting Knitopedia, the Ultimate A to Z for Knitters. Well, if you are a newbie, this is well worth owning.
There is no question that it contains important reference information that should be available in one place. If you have just started knitting or if you are still an intermediate knitter, it's good to have. Being a fervent book owner (check out my books on and you'll see that I own almost 200 fiber-related books), I can appreciate the corralling of knitting information in hardcover.

That said, when it comes to searching for knitting information, Google probably beats out books at this point. Sad but true. I tend to check my books first but if I'm lazy, I've got my laptop at hand always.

The layout is decent, although I'm sure people will bitch about the small type size. Nonetheless, the illustrations are clear.

But I do have a quibble. You knew I would, right? When placing "ultimate" in your title, you open yourself up to problems. And within the Knitopedia, there is one huge gap that I found. If you're going to add the biographies of noted knitters to your encyclopedia, you'd better make sure that you cover everyone. Vogue blew it big time on this. There is no reference to Richard Rutt, James Norbury, Ida Duncan Riley, Marianne Kinzel, Maggie Righetti, Mary Thomas, Gladys Thompson, and a few more important, influential writers. Plus, they misspelled Heinz Edgar Kiewe's middle name. No, it's not "Egar." Their information on Kiewe, found in the Aran Knitting entry, says nothing about Kiewe's crazy book, The Sacred Art of Knitting, in which he promulgated the myth of the Aran pattern usage for dead seamen identification. I wrote a blog entry about Kiewe back on February 22, 2004, if you're interested in this whack-a-zoid.

My voice in the wilderness cries out for accuracy. Don't use superlatives in book titles. You'll fuck yourself over.

Cute Ain't Fucking Adorable
And the title, Knitopedia, makes me nuts. Why, why, why, does the knitting industry feel the need to "cute-ify" every goddamn thing by changing words to attract Knitdweebs? What's wrong with Vogue Knitting Encyclopedia of Knitting? Not cute enough for the current market? If you want to be taken seriously, avoid being cunningly knit-adorable, please.

I loathe words like "knitterly." And of course, any stoopid "ewe" shit. "Ewe" suck.

Yeah, I'm back. Heh. Next entry will cover Da Mags. And coming down the road will be some entries from your Steekin' Geek about Android knitting apps, charting on the fly with your laptop, and a few other rare and handy technical bits. In the past few months, I've realized how much I love helping knitters in person, those who want to learn more, after beating their heads against the proverbial brick wall.

I'll always bail ya out. Just ask. Later, skanks.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vogue Live...and I'm Alive!

Hey gang. Vogue Live has nudged me into writing. Despite the hideously cold weather, it was warm in the New York Hilton and I managed to hobble my butt into the city because I couldn't miss this event. Never mind that my back is now shot to hell.

So, was it good? Yeah, past good. Spectacular. As a born-in-Manhattan kid, I swear Vogue couldn't have picked a better location. And a better faculty. I was impressed with the organization and the wonderful horde of volunteers, who deserve cookin' kudos for standing all day helping people find their way.

As you know,  I'm not a big lover of classes. However, in August I decided to give Vogue Live a shot. After all, it's important to be open to new info, even though I've been knitting for 38+ years and have mastered knitting to the point where I don't need help. That remains true--I didn't learn anything at Vogue Live. That said, I would highly recommend it to knitters who want to try new techniques. You can't beat the discipline of sitting in a class with an experienced instructor and doing something you've never attempted before.

What Vogue Live did for me was give me the opportunity to meet readers, meet new people, and meet designers/writers whom I've always admired. Meeting Deborah Newton, who was one of my early inspirations, along with Kristin Nicholas, was wonderful. (Kristin, sorry I missed you.) Deb's a real person, no knitting diva. Ran into Franklin briefly, met his significant other, and we had a few yucks. Haven't seen him in two years, so it was good to give him a hug and kiss. I heard from people that his classes were outstanding.  And then there were people like Vinnie and Monique, who I hung with at the cocktail party. My kind of people.

The marketplace was expansive--two floors of vendors. The lighting wasn't great but that didn't stop people flooding in. One of my friends, who is a yarn rep, told me that the vendors made tons of bucks. I didn't buy anything, since I'm basically broke and have a houseful of yarn anyway. What I liked about the marketplace was that Vogue allowed yarn companies to display their goods. That was always my bitch about Stitches--no yarn companies. I don't go to TNNA, so I want an opportunity to check out the yarn companies' lines. Universal Yarn and Blue Heron, two of my faves, were there, along with Lion Brand, whose new line is impressive.

Vogue is doing this again in LA next September. If you can afford it, do it. Even if you just go to the market and hang out, it's worth it.

So, next post over the weekend, I'll fill you in about the past three months. Writer's block is gone. Plus, readers have been poking me to write. So going to Vogue Live got me back into writing action.

Later, skanks.