Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's dead, Jim.

The half-round shawl is no more. Or rather, it still exists, but it's in a trash bag full of diapers, waiting for a trip down the chute to a dumpster in the parking garage. Last night I was half-assedly knitting on it (while watching Mythbuththerth, of courthe) and discovered a huge mistake in the lace pattern. That, on top of the chewed-up yarn and an error that had been there from the start (due to my reading the chart wrong), was the death knell.

Off the needles, into the trash.

For those of you who'd mentioned you wanted a review of the pattern, it's a good one. I'd put it at intermediate level on skill; it's an every-row lace pattern, meaning there's no purl row to 'reset' the stitches on the needle. But the stitches used are just knit, yarnover, knit two together, and knit three together. And it produces a lace that doesn't quite look knitted, which is cool. I may try to knit this again, some day when I can give it my full attention (you know, like when the Goober goes to college). The failure in this case was with me, not the pattern. The pattern is fine.

Oh. And, um, I kind of bought a spinning wheel last night (an Ashford Kiwi). It should arrive at my house sometime next week. Probably. Brace yourselves.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Conversation at the clothing outlet store.

In the dressing rooms.

ME: Aaaaaaaah!

MOTHER-IN-LAW: Are you okay?

ME: Yes, just having self-image issues.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What a bloody stuff up.

At some point in the last year, while this shawl (the half-round from Victorian Lace Today) was rattling around in my knitting bag, something took a big bite out of the ball of yarn. If I didn't know better, I'd say it looks like someone took a knife to it, but there are no knives in my knitting bag and I haven't done anything like that since the Knitting Needle Incident of '06. So for some unknown reason the ball of yarn has at least four breaks in it, probably six. This has, obviously, diminished my enthusiasm significantly. (In fact, I'm bloody pissed off.)

My first thought is to pull it off the needles, chuck it in the trash, and say "Look! Another project finished!" but it's the only thing I have to knit down here, and I'll be here until at least Friday, and I really like the yarn, and... I'll probably finish the damned thing, with fifty thousand yarn ends to darn in.

-... -

My mother-in-law is treating me to a manicure today (since she had only sons, she quite enjoys the idea of doing girly things with her daughters-in-law). We're also taking the Goober to the beach. Tomorrow, the zoo.

As I sit here and type, I'm watching a guy down on the beach dig for what I assume are oysters or clams - he's got the rake, and is in the surf, slogging around. Pelicans just flew past. It's all very picturesque.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Arrived safely. And stuff.

Got into Florida in time for lunch on Thursday. Since then it's been a whirl of good food and playing with the Goober. (First thing - almost - that my mother-in-law did was give the Goober a manicure, complete with nail polish.)

The husbeast packed the Jeep for me, and when I got here and unloaded, I found a #3 knitting needle in my bag, bent neatly into a ninety-degree angle. It bent back straight all right, once I got done laughing. The half-round shawl has been put back on the needles and I'm trying to get motivated for some knitting.

Lately I've been sleeping a lot.

Anyway, we're doing well and I'm almost knitting, and there's talk of a trip to the zoo. Hope you're all having a good weekend.

PS. I'm on dialup, and it occurs to me that I've been spoiled rotten with broadband, these last few years. Dialup is slower than snail snot. So, no more color articles until I get home. I can't get the pages to load, to do any research.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Off like a dress on prom night.

Headed back to Florida for another visit with the grandparents. I'll do a bit of blogging from there, but I'll be gone for about a week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Yellow, like red, is easily reproduced and so has a long history. Which means this will be a long post. As with red, I will put the names of specific colorants in bold, so that people can skim down and read the parts that are interesting to them.

The WORD yellow, in the English language, goes back to Old English versions of 'gold', which I assume referred to the metal as well as the color. The first known use of the specific word yellow is in Beowulf, written down sometime around 1000 CE.

The oldest yellow colorant was probably ochre, again, as with red and orange (and brown, but we haven't gotten there yet). It was probably natural to move on from there and grind up other yellow rocks and paint or dye with them. One of the most common, dating back as far as the Roman Empire, was orpiment (that's a picture of it in rock form, at the beginning of this paragraph). It's a mix of arsenic and sulfur, making it quite toxic. In Asia it was used to dye fabric (no info on deaths from wearing said fabric), and in EurAsia it was used as a paint, until the 1800s when other, safer ways to create yellow were discovered. It is still used to make fireworks look yellow.

Other yellow paints were made from cadmium, antimony, and lead, but have largely been phased out, also due to toxicity issues. Cadmium yellow is still used to color plastics, though. Titanium yellow is a newer colorant, and used as artists' paint, plastic colorant, and in ceramic glazes.

Indian Yellow is the big mystery, certainly of yellow in general and possibly one of the biggest mysteries in the history of painting. Starting in the 1400s CE, little nuggets of yellow... stuff... were shipped from India to Europe, where it was ground, mixed with binders and carriers, and used as a paint. It was also used as a paint in India (often to color the robes Krishna wore). Yet no one's really sure where it came from. In the 1880s, a letter appeared in England, describing the method used to make Indian Yellow; cows were fed mango leaves, then their urine collected and evaporated. Everyone was (supposedly) horrified by the animal cruelty, laws were (supposedly) passed, and the color was made (supposedly) illegal. Yet when Victoria Finlay investigated this tale for her book ("Color"), she couldn't find a trace of it. Other than the original letter, there's no paper trail. No laws on the books in England or India, no mention of any of it in newspapers, nothing (she looked in large archives in both countries, it was a respectable search). When she visited the village named in the original letter, where the color was made, no one knew what she was talking about. On the other hand, several people have tried to replicate Indian Yellow (by feeding cows on mango leaves, etc), and have a hard time believing it could be mass produced. So. Nobody knows. (I like knowing that in this modern world, we still don't know everything.)

Weld was THE yellow dye in Europe until it was replaced by synthetic yellows in the late 1800s. Native to the Middle East, it was used there from 1000 BCE and possibly earlier, and was naturalized in Europe. Weld, with madder and indigo/woad, made up the three primary colors, from which most other colors could be created, giving dyers a near-rainbow. (Because of the yellowish shade of madder, it did not create an attractive purple when mixed with indigo, but that's another article.)

Safflower is the other major yellow dye of the ancient world. It was used at least as far back as Twelfth Dynasty Egypt (1800s BCE), and was found in Tutankhamon's tomb. The flower heads are used, and can produce yellow and pink dye, depending on how it is processed. Basically, the yellow dye has to be removed from the flowers, then they yield pink. It's non-toxic (this plant is also where safflower oil comes from), doesn't need a mordant, and is reasonably colorfast. If you wanna play with natural dyes, this is a good one to start with.

And this brings us to tartrazine, or FD&C Yellow 5, as it is known here in the States. It is a coal tar derivative and is considered safe as a food coloring (think about that for a minute). The chemical makeup is similar to aspirin, and has been known to trigger allergic reactions in many people, to the point that some European nations have made it illegal. It is also implicated in 'hyperactivity' in children, one of the few chemicals to have legit clinical evidence to back up the claim (sugar, on the other hand, has never been shown to cause anything but tooth decay). Here in the US, it is required that foods containing Yellow 5 be labeled as such, so people can avoid it. Of course that's easier said than done.

On a personal level, my experiences with yellow have also been odd. Navy SEALs tell me that sharks are most attracted to the color yellow and I should never, ever buy a yellow bathing suit. They actually call it 'yummy yellow' because that's apparently what the sharks say when they see it - yum. And when I used to work at the local newspaper as a kid, yellow paper was known to trigger all kinds of allergic-type reactions with the ladies in the mail room; skin rach, itchiness, and sneezing were most common. No idea what colorant was used on the yellow paper, but it's darn interesting.

The compliment of yellow (the color wheel 'opposite') is purple. Yellow is often associated in the West with bad health and/or aging. But in China, only the emperor was allowed to wear yellow. Cultural symbolism for yellow is probably the most erratic and widely varied, of all the colors. Oh. And people of European heritage, with white skin, almost never look good in yellow. People with darker skin, though, with a brown tone, look magnificent when wearing yellow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A weekend of sloth and gluttony.

My two favorite sins.

It was a long weekend here, with a federal holiday on Monday. The husbeast kind of got the hint and stepped in and did the bulk of childcare over the weekend. So I spent my time laying around eating chocolate and taking naps. It was lovely.

I am running out of steam on Innsvinget. I'm still working on it, but I'm less than thrilled at what is essentially big piles of sewing up. So I figured, dig out another unfinished project.

Remember this?

If not, it's the half-round shawl from Victorian Lace Today (half finished, and unblocked). I started it last March. Something else to finish. This is going to break the monotony of all the sewing up on Innsvinget. And I'm still finishing stuff, so no guilt. Yay!

I've updated Ravelry to show what I'm working on now, blah blah.

The Goober is having a growth spurt and spends all her time eating and sleeping. When she's not asleep, she can be found laying on the floor:

That's her toy basket she's got her feet up on. Last night we put her in a pair of capri pants she wore last during the holidays: now they're shorts. She's grown at least an inch, maybe two. Doctors and specialists say that children don't grow much, from age two to three, and don't eat nearly so much, either. Ha. Haha. Hahahaha.

Still gearing up for a post about the color yellow. There are a lotta toxic paints that are yellow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Odds and ends.

I am deep into researching yellow and will be producing a post about that soon, probably tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who is chiming in with extra information and questions - I will most likely be writing secondary color articles after I work through the spectrum, to include all this new, good stuff. Plus the stuff I keep forgetting (cadmium red, Red 3 food dye, turmeric as an orange dye in Asia...) This has turned into a bigger quest for information than I'd expected - my thought was that I'd just sort of paraphrase "Color" (the book) and all the stuff I know about dye. But the more I research, the more interesting stuff I find. Like yesterday's explanation on how neon colors work. Even the husbeast thought that was intereseting.

Most of my information, if not from "Color" or assorted dye books, is coming off the internet. I generally use Wikipedia as a starting place for each color, and work outward from there. Searching the 'net for each color will likely turn up all my sources, or if anyone wants them, I can send links. Just e-mail and ask. (This information comes to you courtesy of the current romanceland scandal - Cassie Edwards, racist pulp writer, has been caught plagerizing. The entire situation is summarized, hilariously, here. If you're at all interested, read that summary; you will laugh and laugh. Read the comments, too; several famous romance writers check in, including Nora Roberts, who threatens to boil puppies. Or you can get real information, from where it broke, over here. Start clicking on the links to the articles, upper right corner.)

I still think plagarism should be a shooting offense. But we've had this conversation.

-... -

Otherwise, we're all rubbing along all right here at House O' Samurai. The latest nerve damage medication (Neurontin) is disagreeing with me, so I'm off it and we'll switch to another. But all the other meds are working great, and things are looking up.

The Goober and I will be heading back to Florida for more time with Grandma and Grandpa, at the end of next week. If I do not have Innsvinget finished by then (I'd like to, but I've no idea what will happen), I'll take it. If it's done, I'll take Russian Prime. I'm looking at other things to finish, also. I've got a lot. At first I planned to do a deal where I finished a project, then started a new one. But after inventorying all the one-armed sweaters around here, I'm thinking finish two, start one, might be more intelligent. At least until I finish everything around here. Ha.

Christmas knitting will begin in March, if not sooner. No mess like last year, ever again.

And here's a Goober photo, for those going through withdrawal:

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Now with photos!

And so we go from the oldest color term in our language, to the youngest. A quick word of explanation: All the colors of the spectrum have of course always existed, and the human eye has always (near as we can tell) been able to see them. What I'm talking about are the WORDS we use to describe those colors, and how we separate the spectrum into different colors. After all, the spectrum is a constant shift from red to blue; we could just as easily call it red, yellow, and blue, or the current system in color wheels, red, red-orange, orange, orange-yellow, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, purple, and violet-red. Or we could break it down into a thousand different color names (magenta, turquoise, cerise, cyan...) or we could just call it 'rainbow'. How we divvy up the spectrum is a cultural thing that varies widely around the world. I'm dealing with western civ and the English language because, duh, that's the only system I know. If anyone else wants to weigh in on how THEIR cultures do this, please feel free. I'd love to know.

So. Orange. The word, in English, has only been around since 1300-1500 CE, depending on what source you look at. The name of the color - and apparently the concept of orange as it's own color needing it's own name came from oranges - the fruit, which were brought back to Europe during the Crusades. Before that, the orange part of the spectrum was described with various terms for yellow and red together, one of them being 'geoluhread', or gold-red in Old English.

Orange dyes, of course, existed all along. They were probably referred to as shades of red, yellow or brown, though.

As with red, the earliest orange colorant was most likely ochre and other iron oxides. (For more on that, go back to Red, if you haven't read it already.)

One of the most common orange vegetable dyes in Eurasia, for most of it's history, was saffron. (Yes, the same as the spice.) Originally native to SW Asia, it was cultivated widely around the Mediterranean. Saffron is a flower that grows from a bulb, similar to and related to the iris. The part that's used as a spice and a dye is the stigma, the thready reproductive organs inside the flower. Each flower has three stigmas. It takes up to seventy-five thousand flowers to produce one pound of saffron 'threads'. In Italy and Spain, in areas that traditionally grew saffron, there are harvest festivals that include saffron-picking races. Because of the work involved to produce a useful amount of saffron, it has always been expensive; even now with modern production methods it is the most expensive spice in the world. Saffron has been used as a dye back into antiquity, all over Asia and Europe. In India and Asia, it was often used as an offering to the gods, either as a dye for religious textiles, offerings, or even in buckets of dye, sloshed over the outside of the temple. In Europe it was used as a medicine, spice, and fabric dye for the rich. I was told (many years ago, while studying literature), that the Greeks used saffron as a medicine for PMS, and because of that, the saffron orange color was considered feminine, and was the Greek version of pink (I would not swear to the truth of that; I can't find any info to support it - but I WAS told that).

Onion skins can also be used to dye fabric (and easter eggs) orange. Most of the vegetable dyes discussed in the red section, especially madder and brazilwood, can also be used to make orange.

Henna, native to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, was occasionally used as a dye as well as it's more common use as a cosmetic. It only dyes protein fibers, and must be used with an acid, even when dyeing hair or skin with it (traditionally lemon juice was used as the acid). Use goes back to the Bronze age, at least. It's said that when Cleopatra sailed on the Nile, the ship's sails were dipped in henna first; it's unclear whether it was for the scent (henna is also used as a perfume) or the color.

And this brings us to fluorescent colors, of which orange is one of the earliest and most used. They 'work' in a very interesting way. All fluorescent or 'neon' colors contain small amounts of sodium fluorescine or rhodamine. Those two chemicals absorb light in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum (which we do not normally see with the naked eye) and re-emit it in various portions of the visible spectrum. The added 'light' registers in the eye and brain as something extra, and our brain reads it as fluorescent.

In Western culture, orange hasn't been terribly popular until recently. The current popularity is considered nothing more than a result of color overload; we've gotten so used to all the other colors, we're turning to orange as something new. Or so the theory goes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


[Yes, I intend to work my way through the spectrum, and possibly out to white, black, and brown, depending on how much fun I'm having. This first 'article' is a lot longer than I'd intended, because red has the most history. The bulk of the info is about historic dyes used to produce it - if that stuff bores you, try reading the intro and the exciting conclusion. I've put the names of specific colorants in bold, so you can skim through and read the bits you're interested in. As you know, I find all this stuff fascinating, and it's my blog, neener neener.]

Red is the oldest color, in terms of human use and how long people have been purposely coloring things red. It was easy to do, because iron oxide that occurs naturally in soil will 'stick' to nearly anything (often whether you want it to or not). This is reflected in the history of the actual WORD red. In English it can be traced, linguistically, all the way back to proto Indo-European, which is as far back as linguistics can go. None of the other color names can be traced back this far. (For instance, orange, the youngest color name I know of, can only be traced back to the 1500s. Before that it was yellow-red, and didn't have a specific name.) In Russian, 'krasnaya' means both red and beautiful. Which gives another insight into just how old the word is in that language, and how far back the color was available.

As mentioned above, the oldest of the red pigments was red soil, caused by iron oxide (a.k.a. rust). Ochre is the most common name for this, though the term Indian Red refers to a specific brownish-red soil originally mined in India. The use of this colorant goes all the way back to the stone age; archeologists have discovered a forty-thousand year old ochre mine in Africa, and it's probably the most common colorant in cave paintings, after charcoal (black) and white (chalk). It was used back then to color leather clothing, also. As a paint, it is still used; depending on the exact chemical content and the binders used with it, the exact color can vary widely. As a dye, ochre isn't used commercially any more (at least not beyond novelty levels), but I'm sure there are native peoples out there still using it. In Hawaii, the high iron content of the soil makes it red; any hiking turns your shoes red. A company called "Red Dirt" dyes shirts and other clothing with the soil as a novelty tourist gimmick. The color is not completely colorfast, and the shirts fade much like indigo-dyed denim.

Plant dyes were most likely up next. The most common ones still in use are brazilwood (South America), madder (EurAsia), and amaranth (assorted species worldwide). Brazilwood produces a red-orange dye that's colorfast, though alum must be used to 'fix' the dye. Brazilin is the modern name of the dye that's extracted from the bark. Madder, and it's modern chemical relative, alizarin, are also still in use. Madder's been found in Egyptian tombs, Pompeii, and all over Asia. Madder is the reason so many of the flags of older countries contain red; it was an easy colorfast color (fairly colorfast) to produce. Amaranth was used by Native Americans as a dye, but these days is a food dye - red 2 in the US and E123 in Europe.

The next dye discovered, probably, was crimson. It comes from insects. More specifically, squished insect 'blood'. In South America, the Aztec and Maya grew cochineal insects on cacti; in Europe, the kermes insect was grown on oak trees. Once cochineal was introduced to Europe, kermes production fell out of favor; much easier to get the colonies to provide it. It has been used to dye fabrics for probably a thousand years in South America (at least), and longer in Europe, to dye fibers of all kinds, both protein and cellulose. The exact shade of red varies by how the bugs are 'processed' (killed). It's one of the more colorfast and chemically stable of the natural dyes, and is considered safe for food products. In the US, it is food additive E120, found in everything from eye makeup to Cherry Coke. Yum yum. Scientists are still arguing about whether it causes potentially fatal allergic reactions, but the evidence looks pretty condemning to me. Oh, and as a food additive, it's not even remotely kosher.

I'm sure the discoveries of these dyes were not as neatly lined up as I have them, but hey, I've gotta organize this somehow.

Another 'family' of red colorants hark back to ochre, namely, different minerals and elements. None were used as dyes that I know of, but were common painting pigments at one time. Red lead is still in use in some places. It's an oxide of lead that's made by heating it (all those lead fumes - wonderfully healthy). Just over the last ten or twenty years, industries have been phasing it out in favor of less toxic alternatives (for instance, Waterford - the lead crystal company - used to use red lead paint as guidelines for cutting the crystal, and long-time employees occasionally wound up with cancer or other problems). Cinnabar, China red, and vermillion are all historic names for variants of mercury sulfide, and as such, are toxic as hell and react to many other chemicals, like the stuff in the paint beside it on the canvas. This, along with ochre, goes back to prehistory; exactly how far, we aren't sure. You can still buy this stuff, the real deal and not a synthetic imitation, but you will pay through the nose for it (a hundred bucks, plus, for a small tube of paint). I can't find any instances of fabric being dyed with cinnabar. I'm not sure it's possible, and suspect that if it is, wearing the fabric next to your skin would kill you (red lead as a dye might do that too, now that I think of it).

In 1856, William Henry Perkin synthesized a variation of red - namely magenta, though he called it mauve - from coal tar. After that the history of dyes gets really boring and reads like a chemistry manual.

Red clothing (which is what we're interested in, as knitters, I presume) is flattering to nearly all skin types. At different times worldwide, red clothing has been confined to the elite. Because the color has been relatively easy to reproduce (if you don't believe me, wait until we get to purple and black), at least for dyers, it's been popular since the stone age. From an official, color-theory point of view, red's complimentary color is green. It blends best with orange and purple, and contrasts most with yellow, blue, and green.

There you go. More than you could possibly want to know about red.

And now it's Tuesday.

How's that for a clever title?

We are all still here today because I didn't finish the sleeve last night. So I guess the apocalypse was postponed.

I'm going to have to get one of my medications switched because it's screwing with the language center of my brain and I'm using wrong words and NOTHING looks like it's spelled right. Ah, the joys of neurologic medication.

Ran into the grocery store today for bananas and a block of cheese and spent $70. It was the first time in at least a month that food looked good. Not all of my purchase was chocolate, either; I got cheesecake too. Ha. Okay, and some steaks for dinner. And pretzels.

Still researching the color thing, look for a post on that, probably tonight.

And another photo, for the heck of it:

For Christmas, my nephew sent the Goober a DVD player for car trips, because he has one and really likes it. (Or so the story goes; seeing as my nephew is two, I suspect his parents were involved.) We cracked it out during the drive down to Florida, and, well, you see the results.

I love technology.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Uh. It's Monday.

Not a whole lot going on around here, which is just the way I like it.

Sekhmet's sleeping on my feet.

The Goober is spinning around until she falls over, and laying on the floor giggling.

The Husbeast is at work, making the world safe for democracy, or at least pipe fitters.

I feel like knitting for the first time in days, and want to finish the cuff of That Second Sleeve. I'm afraid at this stage when I finish it, the world will end, or there will be plagues of locusts or something. So if there's a sudden solar eclipse later today, you know what happened.

-... -

I'm known around here for coming up with interesting non-knitting topics, and I've been racking my brain for one. Lately I've been re-reading "Color" by Victoria Finlay. It's a history of dyes and paints. As usual it's slanted toward paint and painters, but it's got enough overlap into fabric dyes (often the same colorants are used in both paints and dyes) to keep me reading. She leaves out all kinds of stuff, and chases down odd paths toward her chosen colors, but she's a traveling maniac, and that keeps it interesting. (Traveling to Afghanistan to see the lapis mines? As a female? In this era??) Anyway, brace for a series of maunderings on the subject of color.


-... -

For those who go through Goober withdrawl, here's a photo of her coloring, with Grandma:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Just a quick note.

To let all of you know I've been tinkering with the sidebar. The "What I'm Reading" section is gone (because I couldn't update it fast enough, or didn't feel like it). And I added a section of Vogue Knitting reviews, so you guys can go back and read any you missed.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Remember that crazy guy I married?

Well. The Goober's been kinda sick the last couple days. Nothing major, just some minor bug I think she picked up running around Florida. She'd had a slight fever for the last couple days; I'd been dosing her with Motrin and watching the whole situation, and I thought the fever had broken yesterday afternoon. So, last night, when the husbeast came to bed, I asked if he'd checked the Goober's fever. He said "How am I supposed to do that??" I offered the obvious "Lay a hand on her head and see if she feels hot."

Is that good enough for Son of Gadget? The man who spends his days measuring things by thousandths of an inch? Hell no.

Out he goes to the garage. (I'm laying in bed, thinking "WTF?") I hear him come in and go to the Goober's room. Then he comes back to ours, and next thing I know a red laser is being shot into my eyes. (In the dark. OW.) That's when I realized what he was doing.

He'd gone out and gotten his infra-red themp gauge (with a laser to see exactly where you're 'shooting' it), went in, and 'shot' the Goob on the forehead. When he got a temperature, he realized he didn't have anything else for refrence, so he 'shot' himself, and then me. We were all within two degrees temperature, so he decided the Goober's fever was still down.

I laid in bed and wondered, again, just what in hell I'd gotten into when I married this guy. And tried not to laugh.

Oh, he also 'shot' Sekhmet. She's twenty degrees colder. We assume it's her fur insulating her.

-... -

So, I've been catching up on blog reading (those of you who got comments today, I hope you didn't keel over at the shock of it), and I encountered this article:

The five best foods that will kill you.

Those foods, for the curious, are Eggs Bennedict, Buffalo Wings, Cuban Burgers, Poutine, and the Cheeseburger Double-crust Pizza. Fine, that makes sense, but head over there and actually READ it. It's a hoot. To give you a taste, this is what he says about the pizza: "Letting your child order this pizza will probably lead to him being air-lifted out of bed on a future episode of Jerry Springer."

Great writing. Lots of laughs. Get on over there.

-... -

Oh, and my new meds are kicking in, and I'm feeling better. (It's odd. I feel WAY better, but still feel like shit - it's just now hitting me, how bad things were.) I bet you guys hadn't noticed.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Vogue Knitting Winter 2008

It's that time, kiddies. Time to look at another issue of VK. As always, I refer to the patterns by number, not page. Photos copyright VK (unless otherwise obviously not theirs), their text is in quotes if I use it.

Articles are kind of thin on the ground in this issue, but there's a Pi Shawl article from Meg Swansen that should have counted as another pattern (and is, of course, good). There's another Lily Chin article on fit - this one about sleeves. These last four or five articles of Chin's are so good, VK should compile them and offer them in a book. A short blurb announces that a new, revised "Principles of Knitting" will be published in fall '09. Trends (judging from adds) seem to be toward smaller gauges and texture patterns and interesting fit.


First section, Ocean View, "Cloaks against the briny breeze, lace shawls awash with romance dance in the spray." Fashion writing, or haiku? You be the judge. This section hurts my brain.

1. Shawlette/wrap thingie made of circular bits from Nicky Epstien. Kinda cute.

2. Dark blue lace shawl with beads. Nice enough, but not terribly earth-shattering in originality. Much of the section is like this; it's like they're trying to catch up with a two year old fashion style they just noticed (oh, wait! it is!) But the pattern's nice enough.

3. Circular shawl made of joined hexagonal medallions. On the left in the above photo. Again, nice enough, but our ancestors have been making bedspreads like this for centuries.

4. Asymmetric, shoulder-covering... thing... on the right in the above photo. By Teva Durham. Made of joined hexagonal medallions, like the last one, but the way they're joined together asymmetrically so it looks a little... strange. But judging from the pattern, you could make a more traditional wrap with the existing directions easily enough. Just move hexagons around. Ah, the joy of modular knitting.

5. Why yes, this IS your grandma's knitting! Good gods. What in hell are they thinking?

6. Yet another wrap made of joined hexagon medallions. I wonder if they requested all these hexagons, or it just happened that way. This one's symmetric at least. I bet knit with a bigger yarn it'd make a nice cape sort of thing.

7. Blue-purple square lace wrap, from Annie Modisett. More interesting than usual, because two different yarns are used to knit it. Kinda cool, really. Of course they don't post a photo of it.

8. Yet another square of lace.

Next section, Oh Cables. Har.

9. Purple cableknit with raglan seaming. At least people are starting to knit raglans in the round... I never understood why in hell you'd sew one up. Nice enough, but those types of sweaters that hang real low to add padding to your hips are not what I'd call flattering.

10. Beige cable-knit almost identical to the one above. Slightly different choice of cables, what looks like a smaller gauge, and drop shoulders and bell cuffs. The same ass-expanding length.

11. Quite possibly the most unflattering, weirdest, knit dress I've ever seen. This one sings of Seventh Grade Home Ec class. There's an odd sideways bit across the shoulders that's cabled ('cause we all need extra bulk on our shoulders, so we can look like Joan Crawford), and most of the rest is done in Trinity Stitch ('cause we all want fluffy fabric covering our butts), and horizontal striping from variegated yarn. Oh. And no sleeves. ??!!??

12. Grandma! You knit me a hat and scarf! Thanks!

13. Jacket in the apparently popular bell shape, with horizontal stripes. If you like that shape/cut, I suppose it would be flattering enough if you eliminated the horizontal stripes... what woman, other than a fashion model, would willingly put BIG. HORIZONTAL. STRIPES. on her torso? ...still think the cut will make your butt look huge, though.

14. Cable-knit hoodie. Which sounds like a fine idea (Rogue, anyone?) But there's a giant lace panel in the front, back, and sleeves, that's full of holes. Oy. So warm, for winter. When you want to wear a hoodie.

15. One of those shrugs where you knit two sleeves cuff-up toward the center of the body and keep going 'til they meet in the center of your back. At least the stripes are vertical. This cut always reminds me of welding leathers, though:

16. Fitted, shawl-collar cabled cardigan. Nice. The waist doesn't hit the model in the right place, but models are built weirdly anyway. Still, I'd consider altering the pattern a tad unless you're short through the waist. You better like seed stitch.

Next section, "Built for Tweed" ??? "Flecked jackets flex fibery muscles, revealing a robust yet ladylike strength." Robust yet ladylike. Excuse me while I go take a migraine pill, I'll be right back. Oh, and someone get me a gun.

17. Fitted biege tweed jacket. The front edging fits a bit like these circular jackets do, but the sleeves are fitted (sleeve cap, etc). It actually has a waist! Whoa! I may swoon!

18. Coco Chanel, eat your heart out. I assume 3/4 length sleeves are 'in' this winter, but I'd make them full length partly for warmth and partly to keep the jacket from looking dated so I could wear it forever. AND IT COMES IN PLUS SIZES!! Holy fuck. I think this is a sign of the apocalypse.

19. I really like this, but it's that damned ass-expanding length again. And is it just me, or do jackets with short sleeves look dorky? (Like sweaters with hoods and no sleeves?) The photo is kind of a ripoff too, because you can't see anything of the neck. Checking the pattern, I see it's collarless.

20. Fitted coat. With short sleeves. Did we discuss short sleeves on jackets and coats? Yes. Yes we did. All right then. Oh. And the yarn is one of those over-the-top tweeds that makes the coat look like it was knit with stuff found in the lint trap of my clothes dryer.

21. Fitted riding coat sorta thing. Nice. What's with the belt??

22. Sort of Peter-pan type button-up shirt. Kinda cute. Short puff sleeves, hits just at the waist, little collar. I'd knit this in cotton and wear it in summer, though. Doesn't look, you know, WARM. For, like, THE WINTER ISSUE.

Next section: Designer Touches. This is where they pay well-known designers exorbitant fees to design stupid sweaters that no one knits. They do this every issue. Search Ravelry if you don't believe me; no one knits these.

Our next sweater is the inevitable trainwreck you find in each issue.

23. Super-bulky knit long sweater/dress thingie with cables and deliberately run stitches over the torso. (Think Clapotis for the run stitches. But like a disaster instead of interesting.) This technique is really hard to do and make look good, because it's so much more often a mistake. In this case, it's all a mistake. Good grief. (Okay, I took a photo of the magazine page, and it sucks. But you get the idea.) Did I mention the yarn color reminds me of vomit?

24. Grandma! You re-knit your coat! In purple!

Actually, my grandma had more style than to wear that.

25. Coat crocheted out of a bunch of different stitches in patchwork. As far as I can see, the only thing going for it is, it's fitted. Probably okay in a single color. Oh, and THIS ISN'T VOGUE FUCKING CROCHET, MOTHERFUCKERS!


26. Striped jacket with sewn-on black fur collar. The cover sweater, on the left. (You know, the Zoolander one.) Horizontal stripes are SO flattering. And they could have color-corrected the proofs so the colors are the same on each photo. Okay, okay, and one more thing.

"Oh, snap."

27. Green textured jacket, also on cover. Weird cowl neck, but otherwise nice.

28. I can't review this sweater. Can't. Because I look at it, and all I can think is, well, this:

I think I'm mentally scarred for life.

Oh. And I hate horizontal stripes.

29. Run of the mill purple coat jacket thingie, and... and... ARGH! MUST... STOP...

Sorry. It's a compulsion. I'll get treatment for it.

30. Brandon Mably's attempt at a sweater dress. Because, as we all know, if we're gonna knit a whole fucking dress in intarsia, WE WANT IT TO BE SQUARES SO WE WILL BE BORED OUT OF OUR MINDS. There's no shaping in this. None. Even the model looks like she's wearing a sack, that's why she's posed so stupidly; trying to find her waist. (Yet another photo from the magazine, sorry it sucks.)

31. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane... no... Really, it's nice. Other than the pose of the model. You could wear this under a jacket if you wanted to, or do it in cotton and wear it for summer. Not sure about the gloves, though.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ooooh, I'm all giddy.

I got my copy of Vogue Knitting Winter 2008 this afternoon. I'll review it in the next day or two. I'll warn you ahead of time, there's going to be a lot more "Is this supposed to be cutting edge??" bitching going on. Oh. And I want to find the writers, and kill them. See this?

This is the cover. On the lower right hand corner is the comment "winter's must-haves in textural technicolor". The two sweaters shown? The colored one (on the left) is stockinette and has no texture. The textured one (on the right) is textured but all one color.

These things make me sigh heavily.

Oh, and that model on the left? She reminds me of the "Walk Off" in Zoolander far, far more than a professional model should.

There's a bunch of decent stuff in this issue. Sorry to ruin it for you guys. Haha.

-... -

Yesterday the Goober ran up to Sekhmet, whopped her on the head pretty hard, and yelled "Tag, you're it!" and ran away. Sekhmet just sat there with her ears crooked, like "What the FUCK??!!"

-... -

I saw my new doctor today. She's so cool, I'm keeping her instead of insisting on a chronic pain specialist. (She called the pharmacy "a bunch of drug Nazis" before I said anything about it.) At this stage, we have to tinker with specific meds and dosages, and I don't see how a pain specialist would do it any better than this woman, and I know SHE cares. So I'm keeping her. Hopefully things are going to improve markedly in the next week or two. (I've got an official diagnosis now, finally. Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy. Fun times.)

Remember the Thyroid problem? Long story short, turns out there IS a problem and the doc thinks my current state of disaster is due to a combination of pain and thyroid wonkiness.

When we were discussing my history, I said "I got a shot of Toradol at the urgent care facility... that was lovely." and she said "We can get you another shot of that today if you like." and I fear I reacted like a heroin addict. So right now I feel pretty damn good.

Maybe I'll knit something.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cuff, and mutterings of discontent.

I am working on it. I spent about an hour last night picking out the cast-on (the yarn kind of sticks after it's been that way for THREE YEARS) and put the stitches on the needles. Then I started a half-assed shaker rib: a knit one, purl one rib, and then every other row I knit into the stitch on the row below, on the knit columns. (This is extremely half-assed. But it'll add some thickness and stretch.) The sleeves are gonna poof out, and I hate that. Whatever. It's time to get this stupid thing done.

-... -

Here is another photo, this time of me and the Goober. We went to Marineland while we were in Florida. They were closed for repairs, but were letting people in for free, to just watch the dolphins swimming around in their tanks. The Goob was very excited by the giant 'fish'.

The day before, it had snowed, and I was freezing my butt off (I think the phrase 'colder than a polar bear fuck' was used). The Goober was in three layers of sweat suits and could barely bend her arms. It was funny.

At the moment, the Goob is in one of those "Ignore it when Mom says no and see what happens" phases. Good times.

Whenever I go through an out of control pain flareup, my hair seems to turn more white. Instantly. I know that's not how hair works, but look at that photo; if there's not more white in my bangs, I'll eat them. Weird.

-... -

Tomorrow is yet another doctor's appointment. Look forward to much cursing and swearing. Oh, and while I'm in a bad mood, I need to get out and buy a copy of Vogue Knitting to review for you.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Knitting content! With photos!

So. I took along the sleeve of Innsvinget with me, to Florida. The thinking was, if it was the only thing I had to knit, and I felt like knitting, bingo, I'd knit on the sleeve. And that's what happened.

When I started knitting, I tied in that little white thread you see, at the arm pit seam. You can see I knit about a foot; pretty good, although it's knit on size fives so it's not like that Blue Shimmer size one nonsense.

Anyway, here is the front:

There's no cuff, because at the time I started the second sleeve, I'd already knit the first one and knew it was too long. I hadn't decided if I was going to shorten the first sleeve at the cuff or shoulder (each situation having it's own problems). Eventually, I decided to put a black ribbed cuff on the sleeves, and shorten at the shoulder. So I'm gonna put the cuff on before I sew it into the body; it'll be easier that way.

I really want to work on something else, but I'm going to dig deep for my self-discipline (what there is of it), and force myself to finish this. Kick off the Year of Finishing Stuff with style.

-... -

My father-in-law enjoys the novelty of having a grand-daughter; he never had daughters, just the husbeast and his brother. So my father-in-law will occasionally wander into a children's clothing store and buy froufrou dresses for the Goober. The latest is a spring dress, he bought to match her eyes.

This thing is taffeta. Since I have practicality and frugality hard-wired into my soul (I blame my mother), it's good to have someone on hand to buy this kind of stuff.

Then he takes us all out to dinner, to show off his grand-daughter, and gloat that he has the best grandkid in the room. I don't know who is more cute, the Goober or her Grandpa.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Two and a half rows left on the second sleeve of Innsvinget.

Then starts the unending cycle of finishing it. Urgh. Why didn't I knit this thing seamless??

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oooo! Internet!

I happen to have an internet connection, so a quick post.

My father-in-law has told me an amusing tale: A few weeks ago he went to the local mall (in Ohio, land of the Mennonite, Amish, and many other folks who've knit all their lives) to do some Christmas shopping. People kept staring at him. Particularly women. At first he thought he was going crazy, and then he realized -- they weren't staring at HIM, they were staring at HIS SWEATER. Namely, the Dale of Norway I knit him two years ago.

I warned him when I gave it to him, that total strangers would run up and ask him about it. Now he believes me. Haha.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Still alive.

And in Florida. I'll be here until Saturday, and getting an internet connection is tricky, so I doubt you'll hear from me again before then.

2008 is going to be the Year of Finishing Stuff, and I've decided to kick the year off by finishing Innsvinget, the blue and black sweater from "Norsk Strikkedesign". I've got two or three inches to go on the second sleeve and after that it's a nightmare of finishing (among other things I have to pull out the first sleeve, unravel the top, and put it back in, to fix the length).

Before we left town, I went back to the Air Force base and took up residence in the waiting room, demanding help. A nurse came out and told me "We don't take walk-ins." and I said "I wouldn't be walking in if the last person I saw did their damn job." (At this comment, heads turned. I realized I was talking a little too loud, wavered for a moment about feeling bad, then figured fuck it.) Long story short, they sent me off base to an urgent care facility that was so outraged at the way I had been treated, they hooked me up with some decent medications and I feel like an actual human being now. (They gave me a shot of Toradol. It is now my favorite drug. Unfortunately, if I take too much of it, my liver will rot out. Isn't that always the way?)

The Goober is having a great time with her grandparents, and there will be many cute photos to show off, as soon as I get home and unload the camera.

Friday we go to Marine Land to see the dolphins. Yay.