Saturday, March 31, 2007

My hand hurts. Darn.

I hope everyone caught the sarcasam in that post title.

It seems that if I spend my entire day beavering away (love that expression) on my steeked jacket, the weight of the yarn does a number on my poor hand and I'm stuck knitting lace all day today to give myself a break. Aw. Shucks. That's too bad. Poo. (I was up 'til three last night, listening to my wrist throb.)

Three pattern repeats to go. I hope to get done with the sleeve by next weekend and join the whole thing up on one needle - it'll go fast after that. (But not fast enough to be done in time for cold weather this year, because I AM AN IDIOT. But I digress.)

Otherwise, I'm finishing up some undocumented knitting that I whipped through really fast as a baby gift for a friend who is having a little girl:

One of EZ's baby jackets from "Knitter's Almanac". I'd REALLY like to know what the hell that spot is on the lower left hem, but I'll blast it with the bleach pen and give it a wash, and all should be well. (All better be well.) The underarms need sewn and there are some pink ribbon roses to sew on, and it'll be ready to rock. Awww. Ain't it cute? (To add ribbon to the pattern, work a row of yo, k2tog across, the last row or so of the yoke before shifting to the lace pattern. Then just thread a ribbon through it and sew down the ends.)


I caught a show on History International the other night as I was up late knitting (love that time of day; everyone's in bed and the house is quiet and the cat's on my lap and I can watch a documentary in peace and get some knitting done), and the show was a list of the top ten greatest

archeological finds ever pulled out of the ground in England (the island, as opposed to the nation). The second-best thing ever found was the treasure/tomb/hoard at Sutton Hoo, which was the grave of an Anglo-Saxon king/chieftan person of great wealth and (I would assume) power. In the grave was a whole 'suite' of matching Anglo-Saxon Man Jewelry: Belt ends and buckle, shoulder clasps for his cape, a purse 'lid', etc. (That's what
these photos are of.) It even included a sword with a matching hilt. This is a very famous bunch of artifacts (in archeology circles) and so I'd been aware of them for years and years and had always assumed that these pieces were enameled. (And now that I think of it, did the Anglo-Saxons DO enamel? Anyone?) Guess what. They're not. The red you see is GARNET. All those little bits were custom cut, they think by children, and then set into the gold. The gold was so pure and soft that it was then smoothed out to overlap the edges and hold the garnet bits in. I do believe my first words when hearing how the workmanship was done were "Holy fuck." Amazing. Just amazing.

Oh, and for you other history buffs? The number one find was the written tablets from Vindolanda. Gotta say, I agree. I wish I'd caught the first half of the show.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Anyone else do this?

"If I do a pattern repeat (or whatever the goal is) on this, then I can work on whatever else I want, the rest of the day." For me the goal is a pattern repeat a day. I actually met the goal yesterday - yay. And I'm six rows into the fourteen row repeat already today, so it's looking good. (Plus I'm out of yarn to dye, which helps the focus.)

The other project I want to work on is, of course, this:

The half-round shawl. Yup. Still working on it. In fact, I'm within a couple inches of doing a whole lot of garter stitch and then starting the knit-on edge. And after that - Happy Spider's Lace yarn! Eeeee! I don't think I realized how much I enjoy knitting lace until I got this huge pile of new lace books and suddenly have all kinds of new things to knit. Very exciting.

And speaking of books, I lost my head at yesterday and bought a huge pile of books. They're knitting, patternmaking, and design books, so you should all be subjected to them soon.

I'm also considering an epic design project that would take about ten years' solid knitting to accomplish, but would produce a bunch of patterns for me to sell... I'm rather afraid of how seriously I'm considering it. I think I'd do it in blog form, with an entry per new pattern. Hmmm. Maybe I should work up a pattern first and then decide where to post it.

Otherwise, The Baby has figured out the See and Say and is sitting in the living room trying to imitate barnyard animal sounds. It's very cute.

Well, she was. Now she's flung herself on the floor, face down, wailing, in true drama queen style. Oh yeah. Loving motherhood today.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Um. For those who care.

There's purple trainwreck up in the shop. If you don't bag some tonight, I'm going to start doing quadruple batches once the new yarn gets here, so don't pout.

Books on the History of Knitting

Catie asked, and I figured it deserved it's own post.

Unfortunately, I have nothing to recommend. "A History of Hand Knitting" by Richard Rutt is the only big-picture overview of the history of knitting available in the English language, and, well, it sucks. He gives a biased, Christianized view of things that is pretty horribly inaccurate when faced with the archeological record.

Same goes for anything by James Norbury. He's worse than Rutt.

You can get bit-and-piece history lessons from other types of knitting books, though, and they're often really good.

"Folk Socks" by Nancy Bush has a good history of socks in it.
"Victorian Lace Today" by Jane Sowerby has an excellent history of lace-knitting-as-parlor art and the 'patternization' era of knitting.
"The Art of Fair Isle Knitting" by Ann Feitelson has a good history of Fair Isle knitting in it.
"Knitting in the Nordic Tradition" by Vibke Lind is like a history book with patterns in it.
"Poems of Color" by Wendy Keele has an excellent but very specialized history of Bohus Knitting in Sweden in it.
"Knitting in the Old Way" by Gibson-Roberts and Robson is another history book with patterns in it.

Not much help, I guess, but I don't think Rutt's worth the money it would cost to buy.

Not to toot my own horn, but my own article on the history of knitting is here.
And a rant about what's wrong with most knitting history is here.

Let's talk books, hmmm?

I'm wide the fuck awake at an unholy hour of the morning (okay, nine-thirty isn't that unholy, but it feels like it since The Baby had me up every three hours last night) with a migraine, and for some reason I'm thinking about books. So you're getting subjected to it, too. First a question, then I'm going to hit a couple book memes that are going around. At the bottom will be that list of a hundred books, with the stuff I've read in bold, etc, that's going around. For those who aren't interested, of course, skip it. But read the question part, please.

THE QUESTION: There's a book I can't remember the title or author for. I read it when I was a kid, and it would now be classified as "Young Adult", no idea what it was called back then. 'Back then' would have been around 1975, 1980, so it's a book that has been published for a while. Anyway. It's the adventures of a group of boys living somewhere in the US countryside, on summer break. They're too smart for their own good - to use a phrase from my own childhood - and get up to a lot of hilarious mischief. Among their adventures, they create a sea monster in the local lake and don't know what to do when the press shows up. The adventure I remember most clearly is, the town legend says there's something hidden in the breech of the Civil-War cannon in the town park and the town decides to drill out the cement to see. So the kids go out the night before, use blow torches to expand the metal of the cannon, pull the plug out with a pully, and check it out for themselves. As I recall they don't find anything, so they put in a bunch of campaign buttons for the current mayor's election, and PUT THE PLUG BACK IN. Then they go to the town square the next day with everyone else and laugh their asses off when the plug is drilled out and the campaign buttons are found.

Anybody know who wrote that, or what the title is, or anything? It's been driving me crazy. I'd like to get a copy for The Baby for when she's older (using science and smarts for fun - oh yeah, do that, kid), and I wouldn't mind reading it again myself. If you know, or even think you know, please leave a comment.

Okay, the memes. First, people have been snapping a photo of one of their book shelves and then talking about it. No idea where this originated, but it's been around the 'net lately, so here you go, a shot of one of my knitting book shelves:

That is, indeed, a copy of "The Principles of Knitting" on the far right. It's a bit battered, but in fairly good shape for a well-used book that's fifteen years old. There's also a copy of "Knitting Lace" in there - it's beat-up too, and I didn't know when I bought it that the resale value would come close to $300 later, so I underlined it and wrote in the margins, thereby destroying it. If you're thinking of sneaking in my office window some dark and stormy night, be aware I have an attack cat who has already foiled one break-in attempt (when we lived in Hawaii). This shelf is the easiest to reach of my knitting book shelves, so I've got the quick refrence stuff over on the right. Otherwise it's mostly ethnic stuff, patterns, and dye books. The history section, such as it is, is there too. I started calculating the value of this shelf of books and got nauseated. Suffice it to say, it's taken me twenty years to accumulate all these books.

And last, the book list meme thingie. I've done something different - the books I've read I made larger (since bold and regular are kind of hard to discern in this font), the books in italics I READ IN COLLEGE. For a while I was an English major reading three or four novels a week for various classes, and so I sound very well-read when I start listing titles, but in reality I sit here going "Did I read that? I'm pretty sure I read that..." so don't ask me any detailed questions about Crime and Punishment or any other 'classics' in italics. Don't be impressed, either. Haha.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)

14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)

64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
portions of it, not the whole thing
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)

94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)

100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Good grief, no wonder I hated College Part One so much.

The rant on literature vs. entertainment reading, we can save for another day, I suppose. Suffice it to say I hate secret messages hid in lame symbolism in novels.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oh, yeah...

I got my forty-thousandth hit some time at the beginning of the week.


You guys are great. Thanks for reading. And commenting. And being a community.


First off, since everyone had to listen to the bitching, here is the new swift in all it's glorious, uh, glory:

I draped a skein of yarn over it so you could see how it works. Obviously it can accomodate a bunch of different sizes of skeins without any monkeying around making adjustments. It also doesn't have to be bolted to the table. You just plop that baby wherever you want it and pull, and the lovely bearings in the base of the swift let it spin so smoothly that it unwinds with no drama. Eee! (I am a firm believer that technology should make things easier to use, not more complicated. I can rant for hours about it.) This was called a Becka Swift, for anyone wanting one for their very own. I'm not sure if it's the name of the style (as opposed to, say, an umbrella swift) or the name of the manufacturer. But a web search for them will turn up several people selling them, including Paradise Fibers, where I got mine.

Anyway, giggling gleefully, the first thing I did was wound up Happy Spider's laceweight that Helen had sent me:
It's very blurry, but the colors are accurate.

The husbeast stood by, watching the swift/ball winder rig and admitted that it was pretty damn cool. (The seal of perfection - approval from Son of Gadget.) The Baby also wanted to take the whole thing apart and see how it worked. Because she's the Grandchild of Gadget.

Anyway. Having wound the laceweight up, I am triple-impressed at the skill that went into spinning it. It's smooth and even and perfect and I desperately want to knit it up into something, Right. This. Instant.

Unfortunately I've got other stuff going on. Most importantly, the sleeve of the Steeked Jacket. (Please, I beg of you, ignore the background in the photo.)

It's going slowly, because I keep getting distracted by other stuff. What other stuff, you ask? Well, for starters, a double batch of Purple Trainwreck! I also did a double batch of the egg dye rainbow:

The Purple Trainwreck is still drying, but everything else, including experiments, have been posted over on the shop. (I also ordered a whole lotta new yarn, for those who were concerned, including a silk/merino blend to experiment with.)

So, hardware. There seems to be some confusion over terminology. Yes, in the US, a Crock Pot is a hot pot or a slow cooker: an electric pot that holds about two or three liters. A heavy pot that you would use in the oven, we would call a Dutch Oven (referring to a cast-iron deal used in fireplace ashes). In fact, I have dyed yarn in my Dutch Oven on the stove top, but it's tricky. I used a thermometer to keep track of the heat, and dyed the skein all one color. If you tried to do a dip dye, you'd probably catch the house on fire.

What I'm referring to when I talk about my new roaster is one of these:

You plug it in, like a Crock Pot, but it holds more (two gallons, or about eight liters, in this case), and it has a temperature setting instead of the usual low/high setting on a Crock Pot.

Yes, the roaster works better than the Crock Pot did. Mostly because of the temperature control. I can tell much more easily if the yarn is hot enough to fix the color, and can be sure it's been at that temperature. If you're going to buy something specifically to dye yarn, I suggest something with a temp control AND a removeable liner (for easy cleanup), but if you also want to use it for cooking, buy whatever would be most useful to you; the temp control isn't THAT big a deal unless you're dyeing yarn every other day, all the time. If you're doing two or three batches of yarn a year, the temp control may not be worth paying for. (But the removable liner? Always worth the money, whether you're cleaning up a dye job or a pot roast. Don't bother buying one without, no matter how cheap it is.)

And one last photo. My sister-in-law made everyone in the family blankets for Christmas last year, and we TRY to keep it nice, but this morning I laid under it on the couch and then the Baby threw it on the floor, and before you know it...

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good news, bad news...

The swift finally got here and I love it more than the cat. Okay. Okay. As much as the cat. When she's not laying on my chest. Maybe. Photos tomorrow when I'm not having a cat-hair induced asthma attack.

The bad news, Etsy is not happy tonight and as of now, I can't get my yarns posted for sale. I'll try again tomorrow and hopefully get it posted during lower-traffic time.

Oh, more good news -- I just did a double batch of easter egg circle rainbow sock yarn. It's a little more pastel than the first batch, but the colors are more even.

...where'd I put the damn inhaler? (Oh, and bad news, when I use the damn inhaler my hands shake too bad to knit. Grrr.)

The new Crock Pot.

It's actually a roaster. It's got a temperature gauge on the front you can set, like an oven. Very handy for knowing the dye is setting. (Uh, Coffeelady, that bleeding yarn you got? The cause has been identified and thrown out. Oy.) So to get the feel of it, I started off yesterday morning to dye a skein of yarn experimentally. Then I did another. Then I dyed most of the yarn left in the house, giggling with glee as yarns would come out of the pot leaving crystal-clear (well, almost) water behind and washing clear in the sink in no time.

From the left, the original experiment done with egg dye (I threw the yarn and the little pellets in and waited to see what would happen - looks like confetti), an experiment to see how dark I could get the dye to take with a teal (the answer, not that dark), and the other two are a custom order.

Then I thought, hey, this is the ideal time to fool around with the purple, and see if I can get something even with it.

On the left is some lace weight, used to see how dark the purple would get (pretty damn dark). On the right, I finally - almost - got the dye to take up evenly AND THE YARN IS ACTUALLY AN EVEN PURPLE. There are still some blue flecks and it wavers between blue-purple and red-purple, but I'm almost there.

I'll post this batch to Etsy sometime soon, probably tonight. Then I've got a double batch of Purple Trainwreck and a double batch of Easter Egg Rainbow left to do.

Then I'm out of yarn. Hm. I should do something about that.

Anyway. Over the weekend, The Baby decided maybe she's walk, after all.

Of course now she wants me to stand up with her and walk next to her all the time so that if she wobbles, I'm there to hang on to. I suppose I should think that's cute, that she wants me for security, but really it's damned annoying. I wish the little shit would just walk.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Vogue Knitting, Spring 2007

Welcome back to another round of "What were they thinking?" though my reviews aren't so scathing as usual (sorry if that disappoints anyone). It remains an eternal mystery, why VK can come up with really nice stuff for summer, yet turns out weird, freaky, or inappropriate for the season crap for winter. (Matter of fact, some of this is nice-but-not-seasonal, too.) I confess there are things in this issue I want to knit. So brace yourselves.

But first, before I get into VK, some exerpts from the advertising for you to puzzle over.

From Alchemy yarns:

From Berroco:

And from Decadent Fibers:

Okay. So. The magazine. Articles include one on the Baby Surprise Jacket and variations by Meg Swansen; an article about Koigu and how they do things and their business; an article about necklines from Nicky Epstein; and an article on closures (buttonholes, frogs, toggles, etc). The neckline and closure articles are worth the cost of the magazine, in my opinion. Lots of excellent information on alternatives to the usual stuff. Particularly useful for fixing up this season's crop of patterns with asymmetrical necklines, hems, and openings.

There's a 'season's forecast' photo montage showing what was on the runways for spring. Horrifying, but not Vogue's fault. In that case they're just repeating the news. The new yarn page actually displays the yarns in a way that makes it possible to tell what their structure is for once. Bonus points.

ON TO THE PATTERNS! As usual, words are mine unless in quotes, then they're Vogue's. Patterns referred to by number, not page. Photos are from the Vogue Knitting website. Though one of these days I'm going to scan in ALL the designs for one of these issues... Pretty sure that's legal for 'review purposes'. Haha.

The first section is "Land Ahoy" with nautical themes. (So original.) Lots of navy and white.

1. Short-sleeved cotton tee with stripes and some stranded color. Other than the obvious horizontal stripe problem, it's quite nice, if stupidly modeled. (Shoot the stylist. Please.) The model is wearing high heels with straps up to her knees, bikini bottoms, the sweater, and holding a bag. Oh yes. We go out like that all the time.

2. Mesh beach coverup in "Svale" from Dale of Norway. Useful, seasonal, nice, appropriate fiber... is this a sign of the apocalypse? I'm not wild about the hood, but that's just personal.

3. Red cotton tank. Back shaping so it doesn't just hang. Again, nice. I'm starting to worry.

4. Cabled cardigan. Nice enough, if oversized and boxy. It makes the model look rather large, and you know she's a twig. So I'm not sure it'd be flattering to anyone.

5. Cabled cotton tee with funky shoulder strapping. Lameass styling again - who hangs around in a short-sleeved sweater, bikini bottoms, high heels, jewelry, and sunglasses? I desperately want to knit this for myself and IT DOES NOT COME IN MY SIZE. Either I tweak the pattern, or I knit it and use it to inspire my diet. Thank you Vogue, for thinking size large means a 38 inch/98 cm bust. Assholes.

6. Navy and white cotton V-neck pullover. Nice except for the BIG HONKING NAVY STRIPE AROUND THE WAIST. Because we all need to make our waists look bigger. Though if you knit this and skipped the waist accents, it'd be a nice summer sweater.

7. More navy and white - this one is a double-breasted cardigan with a hood. (I'm not making it up.) What is the deal with hoods in summer?? Am I the only one who thinks it's stupid? At least the sweater has a waist.

Next section: "The Case for Lace" - because we all need convinced to knit lace these days. It's not like it's a sudden new craze or anything. Urgh. My big complaint about this entire section is, ALL THE LACE IS WHITE. Nothing says 'grandma' quite like a big expanse of knitted white lace. Plus it all looks the same.

8. V-Neck lace pullover in, get this, ALPACA SILK BLEND. In summer? Are they INSANE? I don't care if it has holes in it, you'll die of heat stroke.

9. Lace dress that's openwork so that you'd have to wear it over a slip, thereby making you wear two layers in summer and totally defeating the purpose of wearing lace (coolness) to begin with. At least it's knit in cotton, and would be kind of flattering to most figures.

10. Jacket knit in several directions (diagonal fronts, straight back). Also done in cotton. This is probably the pick of the litter if you want to knit some lace for summer, but I just flat-out don't like the lace patterns. For what that's worth.

11. Linen tank. Another one that's so openwork it'd have to be worn over something else, but it would look nice over another tank. And it's linen so it would be cool. Very boxy with no shaping, though.

Next section, "Baby Couture - Crib notes for chic heirlooms from four real grownups." Uh huh. As opposed to fake grownups?

12. Blanket and pillow cover out of alpaca/silk/cashmere blend. Cleaning that should be a treat when the baby pukes on it.

13. Simple baby cardigans in baby cashmerino. Nice. By Debbie Bliss. Go figure.

14. Jumpsuit. It's really beyond description, but the closest I can get is, it looks like a garden threw up on a simple white cableknit. Maybe it would be okay if you left off all the frills. Maybe.

15. Another simple baby cardigan, this one with floral embroidery. Done in, amazingly, SUPERWASH WOOL. Amazing. Pretty and useful. Wow.

Next section, "The Paper Chase". Officewear for summer. "Professional panache at its most newsworthy". The photo shoot is in a small room wallpapered with newspapers. One of the lamer themes from VK. (Though it still doesn't beat the packing crates from last year.) The model is anorexic and the photographer took every photo with her head at the exact same angle, so the photos drive you batshit even when the styles aren't too bad.

16. Sideways-knit cardigan thingie. I like it, and it's nice, but it's very slouchy and casual. They tried to dress it up with a funky (humongous) belt, but it still isn't something I'd wear as formal officewear. It's more along the lines of the sweater you keep in your cubicle.

17. A wearable suit. If you're anorexic. The style's fine. It's knitted skirts that make me wonder.

18. Seed stitch vest thingie. Nice, but I'd knit it in silk or alpaca and wear it in winter over a turtleneck. No one needs an extra layer in summer, for crying out loud. And if they DO, it needs sleeves. No idea what it's doing in the warm weather issue.

19. Short-sleeved cardigan thingie with waist shaping. Ditto above on if you need another layer, it needs sleeves. But nice enough.

20. Knitted dress. Anorexic model who still looks pregnant in it. Lameass pose. I need not go on.

21. Sideways-knit tank with a cable across the shoulders. This'd make a nice summer knit for someone looking for something fast and easy. And it comes in plus sizes - probably all the way up to a forty inch bust! oo!

"The Easy Life." Six 'very easy, very vogue' patterns for summer.

22. Halter. Nice if you have no boobs. I actually like it. I just wish I were 15 with no boobs again because that's about the only time in my life I could have worn it without getting arrested.

23. Knit dress. This is my favorite of the whole magazine. It's in horizontal stripes of bright colors, makes the model's butt look two feet wide, and the model is PISSED. She hates that dress. Look at that smile. That smile says "Snap this picture, motherfucker, so I can get the hell out of this." Ahahahaha. You can't beat entertainment like this.

24. Boat-neck sweater. Horizontal strips again, and not something I'd wear in summer. Even though it's cotton, it's thick and heavy.

25. Poncho-cape-beach coverup-thingie. I love this except it's knit in CASHMERE. Who can afford that much square footage in cashmere, and if you could, would you take it to the BEACH??!!?? It'd be really nice in a wool/cotton blend, though.

26. Bathrobe. It's a fucking bathrobe. Brandon Mably once again rides on the coattails of Kaffe Fassett and designs something totally unflattering. The model has got to be a twig, and she looks like she's huge. And it's knit sideways, which means it will grow until the sleeves drag on the floor.

27. Raglan crop-top. Nice, and if we added some inches to the bottom, most of us would even wear it. Though what's with long sleeves and a cropped belly? Am I the only one who thinks that looks stupid, like wearing a hat with shorts and sandals?

"Designer Allure". This is where they get four designers (only one of whom I've heard of) to do sweaters.

28. Lacey short-sleeved cardigan, knit in bulky yarn with horizontal strips. Bad in too many ways to count. The model doesn't look thrilled with it, either.

29. Crocheted lavender cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves and dorky bows. IT ISN'T VOGUE CROCHET, ASSHOLES!

30. Cardigan that I think was supposed to have an Elizabethan line to it and instead makes the model look pregnant. This would be flattering to plus sizes - but oh, yeah, IT DOESN'T COME IN PLUS SIZES. Assholes.

31. Cardigan - in cashmere/silk blend, haha - with short sleeves that have no finishing. It looks like someone took a nice cardigan and chopped the sleeves off it. And the cashmere/silk for summer sounds like heat stroke to me.

And that's it. We got short-changed another couple articles this time around.

Much though I hate to admit it, I think this issue is worth buying. The articles are worth it, and there's one or two knittable/wearable things in here for everybody. Even if you do wind up wearing them in winter.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What is your malfunction?

So I'm taking a nap today (lately, when The Baby sleeps, I sleep) and the phone rings. I hear the husbeast answer it, tell them they have a wrong number, and hang up. I'm about half awake, but I continue just laying there.

A while later, the phone rings again. The husbeast gets it (we have caller ID), snarles "It's still a wrong number" into the phone, and hangs up. (He gets cranky about people disturbing his womenfolk.) I wake up and eventually roll out of bed and start pulling myself together.

While I'm dressing, I hear the phone ring, AGAIN. The husbeast snatches it up and says "What is your malfunction?" into the phone. There's a pause. Then he nearly shouts "I am not calling you, YOU ARE CALLING ME." and hangs up. He turns to see me standing there snickering and says "I'd cuss them out, but it's a little old lady." I snickered some more.

He's taken off to run some errands (The Baby is still asleep). I'm wondering just what I should do if the wrong number calls back again. I'm thinking, order a pizza.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Great Moments in Parenting.

1. Last night as I was cuddling my little goober before bed time, I realized she had dried peanutbutter on her eyelid. No idea how long it was there. Scraping it off without permantly blinding her OR duct-taping her up like a hobbit run afoul of a giant spider was quite a trick.

2. We forced the baby to walk into the grocery store. It took ten minutes.

3. I made sure she ate before we went to the grocery store because she tends to see all that food and howl for it. So she ate first. She howled anyway. Carried on like we were tearing her fingers off. Open-mouthed, take-a-deep-breath HOWLS. AAAAAAAAH! People stared. I hate that.

4. We forced the baby to walk out of the grocery store. It took another ten minutes. Cars had to stop and wait for minutes before they could park.

5. She spotted the Teddy Grahams on the way home and howled the whole way.

6. She is now eating Teddy Grahams for dinner. I suck. I'm tired. I almost don't care.

Next we go back out for more shopping. The Crock-Pot, showing it's obnoxious contrariness to the last, has finally up and died at the most inconvenient moment. Of course.

Spring, sleeves, and evil cats.

The promise of spring that erupted with the pollen count has finally paid off. It's lovely outside; low humidity, 78 degrees, light breeze, low humidity. (In the 'Low Country' - swamp - where I am, this lasts for approximately five minutes, then we are hit with crippling humidity, high temperatures, and mosquitos until October.) I've got all the windows open, the ceiling fans on, and am admiring the flowers. I should get a photo of those flowers...

In between sighing happily out the window, wrestling The Baby, and trying to keep the cat from falling through the screens, I've gone back to this:

Yup. Second sleeve. I hadn't touched it in literally a month, but fortunately I'd left it in a place where I could figure out what was going on. Not only do I need to get this done for the steek-along so that I can use photos of knitting it to tell YOU how to knit it, I try to work on only one sweater at a time, and this is the one sweater. I desperately want to finish it so I can start on something else. (Like a new design to sell, or the Snug pattern for winter Knitty.)

Anyway, after about a half hour of trying to figure out what I was doing, and a half hour of knitting (and a half hour of chatting on the phone), I've got this:

The husbeast, amused at SekhmetYouFucker the other night, snapped another photo for your enjoyment - me trying to use my laptop.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go make up a grocery list, and keep on knitting. (Though I'll probably wind up playing Civ4.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Speaking of books...

Would you guys be interested in me making a couple lists of books, like books suggested for beginners, books suggested for people thinking about design, people interested in XYZ, and then linking to them in the sidebar?

Another book.

I forgot one yesterday, and I'm in a pollen-induced coma (as opposed to a drug-induced coma), so we'll go with that today.

"Andean Inspired Knits" by Helen Hamann.

This is a potentially fantastic book that I feel was knocked back to the simply okay level by some bad design and finishing choices.

It's got a whole lotta cultural information (for a knitting book), history of the Andean region, the Inca, etc. It's got pictures of textiles that inspired the knits, and the link between design and inspiration is very cool - she definitely uses the ideas, but doesn't slavishly copy the originals.

Unfortunately she seems to have this fixation for asymetric and downright goofy necklines and cardigan openings. My reaction to half the designs in the book seems to be "That's cool, but I'd have to change _____." (Fill in the blank, usually with 'neck' or 'weird front opening'.) There are a lot of really nice techniques and unusual-but-good construction methods, and it's sad that some of these designs will probably never get knit due to the funky fronts. The colors also leave something to be desired in a few cases -- she sticks with colors inspired by the original vegetable dyes, but if we're doing 'inspired by', can't we branch out a bit?? It's not like the Inca ever knit anyway and historical accuracy is out the door, so couldn't we at least see some swatches of other color suggestions?

Still, there are a few designs that are great as-is. I think I found my mother-in-law's Christmas sweater for this year - though I'd do it in different colors. (And it's on size sevens, not size ones like last year's insanity.) I think there's a jacket in there that would be fine, too, if the collar is simply left off entirely. I suspect I will also be using the schematics as a starting place for some of my own designs - she's good at hitting a balance between capturing knitting's great potential for drape, without it looking like you're wearing a sack.

Bottom line, if you don't mind changing around patterns (and don't feel you've been ripped off by the designer when you do it), you might like this book. If you're interested in South American textils, there are other books that are better on the subject, but the information that is here, is good. Otherwise, don't bother.

Oh. And I updated the shop. Someone already made off with the Mermaid Tail and the Easter Egg Rainbow, so don't swear at me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Book Blog!

It has VERY belatedly occurred to me that I should have named my blog "Books and Yarn" or "Books and Knitting" or somesuch (although someone else has probably named their blog that already) instead of naming it after a Saturday Night Live skit and my own bad attitude. I've gotten so many questions about the title that I changed the header caption from something about the Baby, the Husbeast, Sekhmet, and knitting, to what we have now about the Samurai Deli. I'm about to change it again to "FROM THE JOHN BELUSHI SKIT!" I think the real problem is that too few of the Younger Generation have watched vintage SNL to get the joke. (One of my major complaints, all my life, is that too few people get my jokes.)

Oh. And I'm on drugs again and babbling. Bet you'd never have guessed.

After a rather extensive YouTube search, I've only found one bit on Belushi's Samurai character, here. It starts at about 5:25 into the piece.

Anyway. Books. I was gonna talk about books today. Why don't I do that?

Our first contestant, "Creating Original Hand-Knitted Lace" by Margaret Stove. This is the book I got Monday, and I'm STILL deciding if I like it or not. From a technical viewpoint it's very useful. Lots of exercises on learning to knit lace and how it 'works' and all that. I think my problem with it is, it's more basic than what I was looking for. I wanted math and discussion on how to fit dozens of vastly different gauges into one piece. What this is, is how to pick up dropped stitches and repair tears. That doesn't make it a bad book; it's an excellent book on the topic of basic lace knitting. It just wasn't what I was looking for. I've got to say, though, the "Sea Spray and Scallop Shells" shawl has got to be one of the most outragous lace pieces I've ever seen, up there with any wedding ring shawl. There's also a nice bit on the history of lace knitting in the front. And to be totally honest and nitpick at details, I didn't much like the actual writing. The grammar was pretty rough and the writer in me was bothered.

Still can't decide if I like it or not.

Okay, on to the next.

"No Sheep for You" by Amy Singer.

The information portion of this book is great. Lots of stuff on non-wool fibers, including the most useful and comprehensive listing I've ever seen of the new 'processed organics' as I think of them - Soy silk, Sea Silk, corn, bamboo, lyocell, and the original rayon. There's also an unbiased and honest discussion of synthetics. There are charts telling you what these fibers will and won't do - stretch, shrink, block, etc. Also good general info on how to do 'wool effects' with non-wools - cable knitting, color, warmth. All excellent information, particularly if you're into designing or substituting yarns. (Do ANY of us knit patterns with the suggested yarns, any more? Did we ever?)

The patterns are kind of eh. (I submitted two patterns for this book and both were turned down. It is entirely possible this next section is just sour grapes, but I've thought about it and I really don't think so. But I'll be honest and include this information up front.) The patterns seem to have been chosen as much because Amy liked them as because they illustrated the broad versitility of all these available fibers. That's kind of a bummer, 'cause some of these fibers really are awesome.

There are the obligatory cotton cableknit, color cardigan, and cotton blend jackets and sweaters. There's a linen (aka flax) tank. There's a silk hat, a shawl, and a sweater. A hemp pullover. A silk bathrobe (! I'd kill to be able to afford to knit this). Information and two patterns on knitting cotton socks (very useful to all of us who wear socks in summer.) But other than the shawl, there's no LACE. Where's the openwork cotton or linen pullover for summer? Am I the only one who wears those all the time? To me that's THE plant fiber summer knitwear, and there's nothing in there. What about a long, loose tunic? Another summer classic, and it could be knit in just about any of these fibers.

Ah well. Tastes differ, and the actual INFORMATION in the book makes it worth buying. And I think I'm gonna adapt the cotton cable-knit to wool, and make it for my father-in-law for Christmas. There's definitely knitable, wearable stuff in there. It's just not what I'd have chosen. (Gee. It's not my book. Go figure.)

I think the best thing of both these books is the web site I found while researching them: WWW.LACIS.COM I am probably the last lace knitter on the planet to have found this site, but I am swooning with joy. They do mail-order books. They're more geared to costuming than lace knitting per se, but they ARE the publisher of the first book reviews, the knitted lace design book, so they DO knitted lace. It's just not their only thing. Their books are diverse, interesting, and AFFORDABLE. They do mail-order. I'm going to go broke.


There have been several questions about colorfastness with food coloring. With normal wear and reasonable washing (I make no promises if you throw in bleach), it's colorfast. I did some test-felting and lost a bit of color in the red/pink range, but that was when I ran it through my washing machine on super-hot, heavy-duty for fifteen minutes with extra soap. Something a little less extreme will probably felt without the color loss. Some of the reds will probably fade in light, if left laying out in the sun for days at a time.

So the answer, in non-babble, is yes: they're colorfast.

Maybe I'll go babble at the cat now until the baby wakes up from her nap.