Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Time is Ten Bloggin' Years

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic"--Calvin & Hobbes

The 10th anniversary is tin. So send me some fucking cans! I'll knit some moronic can covers.

Ten years ago today I started screwing around with Blogger. My first entry was a review of Vogue Knitting Fall 2002. After that, I started squawking. August 16th entry started Best Quote I Heard All Day, "Rare and handy" appeared thereafter.

This blog was a total grief therapy...and still is, to some degree. When Jimmy died in January 2002, I was a lost soul. I will never stop grieving. By July, I needed something that would connect me to people with whom I shared the same interests. Fiber crap.

Besides keeping my brain focused on writing, this blog has given me wonderful friends, who began as Tontant Weaders. No matter how cranky I could get, my love for every reader was the most important. I don't just write for myself, although writing is something that has been part of me since age 7, right when I learned how to knit. Here's me when I started the blog.
Ten years later, here I am at 62.
My hair's a little shorter now...this picture I took with my Macbook last month. So 10 years aging, not too bad. I don't feel like an old bitch. Heh.

Now that I'm back to writing a book plus my two blogs, life is happy. My one regret is that Jimmy never read the blog, although he was with me when I first set up the Knitting Curmudgeon web site on AOL, back in 1998. He laughed his ass off but he himself was the Ship Modeler Curmudgeon, always barking at the New Jersey Ship Model Society meetings, which he founded. He was the one who encouraged me to learn everything about knitting. He was a well-known writer and ship modeler, I was his editor for his book and articles. For 33 years, we leaned on each other.

Therefore, I dedicate this blog to that rare and handy man. I know he's looking down from above and saying, "Keep writing, honey. Don't fucking stop."

Later, skanks. Love you all.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Silly Frilly Yarn, Undercover Lace, and Knitting Careen...Career

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public." Winston Churchill

The truth. Right now, my book is in the Master phase. I shouldn't take time off to write this blog entry but I need a break.

Always loved new knitters. While up in Maine in June with friends John and Mary Jean, I taught her how to knit. She was having a lot of anxiety over a family issue so I went and bought her that Boye Beginner's Knit Kit along with two skeins of junky acrylic, which was all I could find up there. Focusing on knitting seemed to help her feel a little better. That's why I'm happy to write this how-to book. Maybe it will help other people feel better when they pick up the stix.

Yeah, I had to put my sock book away but I plan on publishing it by November at the latest.

Silly Fucking Frilly Yarn
WTF are yarn companies thinking? That these stupid ruffly yarns are nice? NOT. They're a pain in the ass to knit. Frankly, if you want some ruffles, knit them. Buy Nicky Epstein's "Knitting on the Edge" book and do it yourself.

I have never been a fan of silly yarn. Yeah, Fun Fur, the original silly yarn. Now there are shitloads of this crap. Make your own textures. Granted, that takes a certain amount of skill but there are too many lazy knitters encouraged by this garbage.

Undercover Lace
Waiting for the yarn for the book--Universal Yarn is contributing their great Deluxe Worsted with which I'll do samples of knitting plus three designs--I still need something for my hands when I'm not writing. So I grabbed some Universal Yarn Garden 10, a fabulous Egyptian cotton laceweight, and started doing my "Ellie's Scarf" design. Yes, this is one I created for Mom. Gawd, she'll be 89 next month and still knits like the rest of us loonies. Here it is, on the needles.

I'll probably put the pattern up on Ravelry if you want it. Once I finish the book, I'm going to submit a couple of sock designs to one or two of the mags. Most likely Vogue Knitting first.

Knitting Careen...Career?
At 62, I still feel like I'm 32. Go figure. When I was 33, I got the job at McCall's Needlework & Crafts. Now, almost 30 years later, I want to go back to publishing, work as a knitting or directions editor. Not that there are many of those jobs out there but some of my friends have been pushing me to do an online knitting mag. If I do, I would make it a traditional knitting magazine because that's where my head's at. Even though I haven't knitted other people's designs in four years, my favorite designers are those who are classic. Not to mention EZ, there's Alice Starmore, Beth Brown-Reinsel, Sharon Miller, Deborah Newton, my dear Kristin Nicholas, Gwen Bortner, Kathy Zimmerman, Veronik Avery, and a bunch of others.

You know, I'm allowed to put quotes in my book. So the first is one from EZ, the second one from the Yarn Harlot. Maybe I should put my own in--Knit rare and handy, skanks. Waddya think? Nah, I'm sure the publisher won't go for that one. Heh.

Later, skanks. I'm back to writing...and mourning the deaths of those poor souls in Colorado. The next post will be for the blog's 10th anniversary on the 25th. Jeez. Ten years of this. Holy shit.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Keep it Simple, Stupid. Or Keep it Simple Socks

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat”--Dorothy Parker

Ah, my Tontant Weaders. It's time for a Mrs. Parker quote. You know she was a big-time knitter, especially when she hung out at her house in New Hope, PA.

Blogger and Google+
Just hooked them together. When I hit Blogger to start this post, up pops this Hook Up with Google+ deal, so I did it. That's why my blog profile has changed. I'm on Google+ as well as Facebook, although I don't post constantly on either like some people, who seem to have nothing better to do than that. What I don't like about social networks is the lack of in-person contact. I'd rather see ya than read your post. OK, so I'm a fucking old fart.

Keep it Simple, Stupid. Or Keep it Simple Socks
So as I promised, I'm writin' the blog every week now. Even though I'm up to my eyeballs writing the contracted book, the manuscript due on August 8th, I'm still working on the sock book, "Keep it Simple Socks." Here's a picture of one of the designs, "Diamonds are a Girl's BFF."If you're my friend on Facebook, you've already seen this one.
At this point, the book will contain 12 designs, for which I'll charge ten bucks on Ravelry via my design company, Fiberality Designs. These socks are made with Cascade Heritage Silk. The other socks were designed with Koigu KPM Solid, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Crystal Palace Panda Silk and Cotton, Mini Mochi, Knit One Crochet Too Ty Dy Socks, Spud & Chloe Fine, Universal Yarn Poem, Cascade Heritage 150. And you'll be able to memorize the stitch patterns so you don't need to drag the charts with you. That's the Keep it Simple shit.

Is there another sock yarn you'd like? Let me know down in the comments. I want to publish this book by the end of October. All the socks are cuff down, with lace, Fair Isle, cables, textured, mosaic, and possibly intarsia (I'm still working on that). Most knitters I know prefer cuff down, don't like toe up or short-rowed heels. I did do one design with short-rowed heels, simply because it suited the design.

The one thing that pisses me off regarding sock patterns published in books and magazines is the lack of sizing. Shit, I've got big feet and if the pattern is only sized for medium, I feel for those knitters who don't know how to size patterns. So my designs cover three sizes, Small, Medium, and Large, along with a couple designs for guys' feet. I also make sure that the patterns can be worked with dpns or Magic Loop, although there are two patterns that must be made via ML.

Remember when I hated Magic Loop? No more. Yeah, I was wrong about it. I'm hooked. From a designer's viewpoint, it gives you more space for stitch patterns, especially lace. If you have a decrease that occurs between two dpns, you're fucked. With the stitches divided in half between two needles, you don't have to worry about what happens between Needles 3 and 1.

Think I should do some baby socks too? My Jerry says I should design socks for a cat and dog. Yeah, I've got Ranger and Samantha at home to model them. I got Ranger in January. He was rescued by my grandson Ian. Here he is, spinning!
He does prefer spindles.

Writing Right
Yes, we'll get back to this again. I recently bought a sock reference book, The Sock Knitter's Handbook, and when reading it, my brain kept shouting "What the fuck are they talking about?" Some of the directions were badly written, specifically the Short-Row Heel with Wraps. Plus, they named some of the heels oddly. It does have a good table for foot measurements but other than that, I wasn't wild about it. If you want to learn how to design your own socks, stick with Nancy Bush's books and Ann Budd's great Sock Knitting Master Class.

Next week, I'll add the next chapter of Writing Right because I know some of you have been waiting for it. I'm developing a workshop for this. Would love to teach it at Vogue Knitting Live and Stitches.

Da Mags
Haven't bought many of them recently but I must say that IK and Knitter's have vastly improved. And The Knitting Universe web site was finally redone and cleaned up. It's not longer a mess. Looks good.

Buying magazines these days can be done via your iPad or tablet. I have a subscription to VK on my iPad. Yeah, I'm the owner of 200+ knitting books and magazines dated back to the '70s. I'll always love paper but I now use my iPad to carry my design charts, a couple of knitting books, and some knitting apps. My smartphone contains a bunch of knitting apps. I use County, a digital row counter, all the time.

Knitting Celebs
Writing this interactive e-book app for a publishing company is great, although you probably won't buy it because it's for novice knitters. Nonetheless, it's a great opportunity for me. I've often thought that I'd like to return to my original publishing job, a knitting editor. You know that I was an Assistant Knit/Crochet editor at the long-gone McCall's Needlework & Crafts back in the early '80s, then went on to edit MacKnit, a machine knitting magazine. I worked with Susanna Lewis back then, edited Sasha Kagan's designs--she had just published her first book then--and worked with Sasha's photographer, who shot the magazine's pix.

I have supported a number of now well-know knitting designers before their names became big. Will they support me now? Probably not. The ones in my head are totally self-absorbed and more interested in how many famous knitting celebs are their "friends." Fuck knitting celebrity. The true celebs, people like Nancy Bush, Kristin Nicholas, Gwen Bortner, Deborah Newton, are real people, down-to-earth folks, and incredibly knowledgeable and talented. I've met and know plenty of the celebs and frankly, a bunch ain't rare and handy.

Just because you are a notable designer does not mean you know how to teach. I don't take knitting classes. I did try at the first Vogue Knitting Live but sitting with a bunch of people knitting shit I already know how to do was a total bore. However, I suspect that many people take classes simply because they want to meet the designer and when they discover that the designer doesn't have a clue as to how to teach, they get pissed off. Teaching isn't simple. You've got to empty your brain and make sure that you cover all the little shit that you take for granted as an expert. Having spent many years as an IT tech writer and trainer, I've learned a lot about how to support beginners. In fact, I just taught my friend Mary Jean how to knit when Jerry and I stayed at her house in Maine last month. Talked to her last night and will teach her how to purl this weekend, I hope.

Gotta get back to the book. And empty my brain.

Later, skanks.

Monday, July 02, 2012

The USOC Limp Picks Ravelry

Best Quote I Heard All Day
"The Olympics motto is 'Citius, Altius, Fortius,' which, of course, is Greek for, 'Go for the gold, but also try to keep your bones organized." --Will and Guy (British comedians)

Actually, it's Latin: Faster, Higher, Stronger. Evidently, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) didn't keep their brain cells organized. If you haven't read the news, here's the letter they sent that Casey put up on Ravelry June 20th. They also hit Ravelry with a cease and desist.

“We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

I shot a comment to the USOC on a Facebook News page, which has conveniently disappeared.
Your apology is unacceptable. Given that Ravelry donated money to you and you depend on sponsors, offending the knitting community was an idiotic and thoughtless move. Fire your PR team for this one. Yes, legally you had the right to confront Casey and Jesse with a cease and desist; however, to insult people who are serious artisans will do you harm. Denying that it was a personal attack is a total "cover your ass". Using the words "denigrate" and "disrespectful" tells me that whoever wrote that letter was themselves disrespectful and has denigrated the fiber world.

It's over now. If nothing else, it gave us a ton of positive publicity.

Those of you who are friends on Facebook know that I lost my tech writing job at the big financial joint and have gotten a book contract for an interactive How to Knit book. I'm happy. After all, back in 1983, my career began at McCall's Needlework & Crafts and I've always wanted to go back to knitting writing, editing, and designing. Looks like it's happening! 

Yeah, I'm still working on my sock book--Keep It Simple Socks--but won't publish that until I've finished this one. I'm very excited and thrilled that my career may be taking a turn. 

And thank God Obamacare made it through the Supreme Court. For people like me, sans insurance, this is critical. I think we should all make crappy Romney Mitts and send them to him. Nah, second thought...let's not waste beautiful fiber. One of my upcoming designs will be 99% Socks. That will go for free on Ravelry, through my Fiberality Designs company.

Now that I'm not stuck going to work, I can reignite the blog. I probably won't continue writing Steekin' Geek because The Knitting Curmudgeon is my blog birthplace, with the 10th anniversary coming this month. So now I'll be posting at least once a week. And put up pix. My Canon Rebel is gathering dust but out it comes now! Taking pictures of knitting is so rare and handy, especially when you're working on designs. But you'll see some of the book's socks before I publish it.

Later, skanks. Have a good 4th of July and fucking cool down.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Work...Yes, Money.

Best Quote I Heard All Day
“I hate writing, I love having written.”--Dorothy Parker

Well, I do love writing. Gotta disagree with Mrs. Parker, for once. But these days, I'm makin' bucks, with little time to spend on my beloved knitting, spinning, and weaving.

Nonetheless, I sat my ass down at my computer tonight and said to myself, "Write the fucking blog, willya?" After having worked on hideous Capital Market Reports, plus writing about a dismal app that plugs into Office 2010, writing when I get home is not high on the list.

So here's what I have been doing when I have free time--working on the book, heavily. This will be an e-book that I'll sell and advertise on Ravelry, a collection of my sock designs, hopefully about 12 of them. I'm halfway through them now. The book's title? "Keep It Simple Socks." Each design's stitch pattern will keep you interested but will also stick in your brain. When I make socks, I like to have patterns that I can memorize because socks always go with me and I don't want to have to stare at a chart constantly.

I'll put up some pictures of the book's WIPs this weekend. They reside on my phone right now.

By the way, if you're into socks and own a Mac, check out Knitting Software's Sock Wizard for the Mac. Carole Wulster has added some great features to this app. Kneehighs, different heels, different toes. Although I always do my own calculations, using knitting software is OK for most people, although you must be aware of the design's pitfalls and make sure that you adjust the generated directions to work properly.

Well, gotta beat feet. It's getting close to bedtime for this old lady. Shit, I'm gonna be 62 this Wednesday. Chronologically. Not mentally. Of course, Arthuritis, my pal, keeps kicking my joints but I fight him all the time.

Later, skanks.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Back on Track

Best Quote I Heard All Day
It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction--Pablo Picasso

Yeah, gang, it's been months since I've written anything. Talk about being out of work and depressed, along with a huge attack of writer's block. Well, it's done. I'm back. And with another blog too, The Steekin' Geek. Having an iPad makes it much easier to write on the run, as it were.

So as far as the Tech Writing series is concerned, I'm seriously considering pulling it together into a free e-book for those who need help. God knows there are too many designers out there who are talented but lousy direction writers.

Not much to say right now, although I'm headed for Vogue Live tomorrow to catch up with friends, check out the Market. I don't take classes. Took a class last year at Vogue Live and didn't learn shit. It wasn't the teacher's fault. It's because I've been doing this so fucking long that there's little I haven't tried or done.

I'll be back later this week with more. We'll talk about all the silly yarn out there. Jeezus! It's getting out of conrol, ain't it!

Later, skanks! Missed you.