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.



Bells said...

re the samurai thing, it's not real obvious to non-US readers either...I remember you explaining it to me ages ago and I got that it was from SNL because we've heard of it and we all know things like Jim Carey got his start there or something, but it was never aired here consistently.

I like to think of it just referring to you being deft with the needles. :-)

debsnm said...

Oh. My. God! They have purse frames!! Do you freaking KNOW how long I've been looking for purse frames bigger than those teensy-tiny ones????? I'm done for now.

barb outside boston said...

I absolutely LOOOOVE your book/magazine reviews. As I went through your archives, I got the old VKs out of the library just to be able to see ALL the patterns as I read your columns--priceless!

ladylinoleum said...

*Love* Lacis. Hey, I too substitute constantly. I've become the swatching queen due to that very fact. LOL

Thanks for your very insightful comments on my last post. It's definitely an interesting discussion, that's for sure!

Alwen said...

I found Lacis because they sell cool tatting shuttles, and more importantly, the tiny little netting needles I need to do tiny-gauge netting. Aren't they awesome? I could spend day$ . . .

One of the mods of the Historic Knit Yahoo list *lives* near Lacis. That would be dangerous!

One caveat, many of their books are reprints of old leaflets. Nothing wrong with that except the heavy lifting of interpreting the old instructions. I have a dandy tatting reprint (Emmy Liebert) old enough that the German is written in the old fraktur script. squeeeeee, how cool is that!

Oh -- how 'bout Purse Paradise?
For knitting needles down to 8-0, purse frames, & so on. No affiliation and wishing I had a healthier discretionary budget!

NeedleTart said...

Years back (can it really be 20?!?) I attended a fiber workshop in San Francisco (ah, to be young and rich again) and I seem to remember that one of the instructors was from Lacis.
As for no one getting your jokes (mostly because they are obscure or ancient retellings) welcome to the family. I married The Husband because he caught most of my jokes. He married me because I could follow his conversation. Our children are just weird.

AnneMarie in PA said...

Been a lurker long time. Love your blog. I'm addicted to it, really. And for the record, I figured the blog name was a combo reference-- the SNL skit and the addiction/dedication/fanaticism/pageantry of the traditional samurai culture (just with knitting instead of fighting, duh).

Crafty Jester said...

Who's John Belushi? Gimme a sec to look it up on Google... Oh. OH! -- Only kidding. I knew who he was, although it didn't occur to me that Samurai Knitter was a reference to the Deli skits. I thought it had to do with your love of history, your husband in the military, or the fact that samurai supplimented their incomes with knitting sometimes.

Returning to the topic of John, I've never seen Animal House and he was dead before I was born, although I've seen some of the classic Deli skits.

We don't mind it when you babble! Babble at us! Babblebabblebabble!

Bells said...

and isn't there a cultural link between hawaii (where you lived for ages) and Japan? Or am I imagining that? one ever shows that much interest in why I'm BellsKnits. LOL!

Kristen said...

I like the Samurai Optometrist skit the best. "Shadoobie. Shat-tered."

Thanks for the note about the colorfasticity of the food coloring. I'm living with my MIL right now, aka the Laundry Nazi, and need to know how the hand dyed yarn will behave so she can integrate it properly into her routine.

Yes, she is like that.

Louiz said...

Have been intersted in getting the no sheep book, and that sounds like the kind of info I am looking for.

Babbling is good for babies, anyhow (and cats, and blog readers...)

Becka - The Knitting Wounded said...

Hey, I love the Samurai Deli skits from SNL. You're right, people just don't appreciate the classics anymore...

If it's any consolation, I put up something about the "summertime blues" at work and no one got that, either. Cretins.

Bells said...

i get worried when there isn't a new blog post from you in the morning Julie. Are you at war with Sekhmet or something???

Amy Lane said...



Yeah...I totally got that! (I AM older than you after all...I may have watched that skit the year it came out...when my parents didn't know I was up, of course:-)