Wednesday, September 29, 2010

School has kinda started.


We got a box of curricula in the mail today. After I got done with the anxiety attack and breathed into a paper bag for a while (half kidding on that one), I got on the phone with the academic adviser and we discussed exactly how the Goob was supposed to 'test out' of this stuff.

After that, the kid and I sat down at the kitchen table with the tests and we patiently started working through them. Some of it was a quiz sort of thing - "Find something tall. Find something short." Some of it was coloring, both to show fine motor skills, some of it to show she knows colors and right/left, that kind of thing. Some of the questions I had to answer were pretty weird - does she understand manners? Well, geez, she's FIVE. She doesn't spit on people, but she's sure as heck not Emily Post, either.

Anyway, things are in motion and it seems to be going all right.


Waaaay back, around the time the husbeast and I got married, I was reading an unauthorized history of the early years of the Disney animation studios. Supposedly, when the guys were impressed with someone's abilities, the phrase to use was "He can draw his ass". I mentioned this to the husbeast, and being a Navy dude who enjoyed a rude turn of phrase, it sort of stuck. Over the years I've heard a lot of variations, like "he can weld his ass" or "he can build his ass", or one year after Thanksgiving dinner, "you can cook your ass".

Today, 'testing' the Goober, well, I was struck, and could only think of one phrase.

My kid can color her ass.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The other day, the husbeast gave me some mad money. (He gave it to me by reaching into my shirt and sticking it in my bra. I promise he's the only one I allow to do that. Really. No matter how much I want to go book shopping.) I kept thinking I should do something new with it. You know, something I've never done before.

Instead I ran out to the yarn store and got some yarn, fiber, and books. To hell with it. I may be predictable, but I know what makes me happy.

The orange is some sock yarn because apparently the sock knitting bug has bitten. (Mostly I need something mindless and portable and my feet get really cold in winter.) The aqua is some Cascade 220 I'm going to use to knit some swatches with. I'd really like to knit Heroine from Twist Collective, but knowing my felting curse, I want to be damn sure it'll felt right BEFORE I destroy a hundred bucks' worth of yarn and blow weeks knitting the thing. I love the aqua color, but I've since seen another jacket in that shade that I love, so I may knit Heroine in russet instead. Assuming I knit it. I'll be sure to document the madness for everyone's entertainment.

The fiber is some Gotland wool. I'm still veeeeeeery slowly spinning away on that cardigan idea I have, one knit with all sorts of naturally colored animal fibers. Since I haven't done too many sheep breeds yet (got two types of alpaca, though, in three colors), this'll make a nice addition. Trying to decide if I'm going to add some gold Angelina fiber to it. (Think tinsel.)

The books? Well, I got a Spin*Off magazine, and another book I'll probably review tomorrow. It's awesome.

I hadn't been to the store since May, I don't think, so it was really nice to swing through, poke at new stuff, and stand in front of the Wall O' Cascade and marvel.


Lately I've been thinking of knitting and writing, in comparison to each other. You know, the process of writing an article or blog post (or book), as opposed to knitting a project. And I realized I'm a lot more patient with my writing. I'll write and re-write and edit, but if I knit something, I expect it to go perfectly on the first try. That seems a little crazy.

Once I started thinking about it, I started looking at the last three months' knitting as kind of like rough drafts. Fooling around with an idea, but not ready for publication (or wearing) yet. So, I started editing.

Most annoying part? It took TWO HOURS to unravel the Zauberball shrug-thingie. Oh- I also got out the micrometer the husbeast got for me and measured the needles I knit that sock on. Size zeros. No wonder it was a bit stiff. Sheesh.

So, I'm gonna try some re-writes. I know it was the right choice because seeing those projects reduced to squiggly balls doesn't bother me.

Now, I think I'm gonna go... knit some socks. Again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


(Hello, new folks. If you're looking for the list of instructors from Knit Camp, it can be found here. Welcome!)

Yesterday I realized that I hadn't done any spinning in three months. Considering it is usually my substitute for tranquilizers (I've got this fun constant pain/anxiety thing going on), well, it's a wonder I haven't killed anyone. Or at least wound up in jail for assault. Anyway. I got started on the batt.

Usually I get the single wound on the bobbin a little more evenly, but yesterday I was going "Buh huh huh, I'm spinning, oooh, lookie, color progression." Since it's been three months, my hands are sore. And my calluses had disappeared, so there's a raw spot on my index finger where I run the single over it on the way to the bobbin. But I don't care. It was lovely, and I'm gonna do it again today.

Also, I finished one sock.

I tried fiddling with the heel to fit my foot better. Didn't work. Still, the sock doesn't fit any worse than 'regular' heels, so it's definitely wearable. I'll knit a pair, and then try something else. I've got Cat Bordhi's first book of mind-bending new sock methods (that woman makes my brain hurt, in a good way, whenever I read her stuff). So, now that I know what my gauge is for this specific yarn, I'm gonna keep buying it in different colors and knitting socks 'til I find one that fits right. I need portable, mindless knitting these days, and I've decided socks are it.

Originally I wanted to use the batt I'm spinning for socks. It's a rainbow, and I wanted to do one sock red-orange-yellow and one sock green-blue-purple. Having now divided the batt, it's more like red-orange-yellow-green-blue and green-blue-purple-black (who puts BLACK in a rainbow? seriously?) but I'm not sure I'll have the yardage. I need at least 150 yards per foot, to do ankle socks. As I spin I keep wavering between will I, won't I. I suspect the real truth won't be known until I wash the yarn and find out how bad the shrinkage is. If not socks, maybe a scarf for the Goob. She likes rainbows.

Remember how Sekhmet meows for the front door to be opened? We've discovered that if we leave the living room curtains open, she gets her sunbeam and shuts up about the door.

Now she just meows to get me out of bed. Fucker.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A call to arms. Or wallets.

Okay. For those not in the loop, there was a knit camp at Stirling College (University?) in Scotland in August. Long story shorter, it was a complete, horrific clusterfuck of epic proportions. American instructors were deported for not having work visas (the responsibility for the visas was on the camp organizers, not the instructors); nothing went off as planned. The marketplace was horribly organized. You can read details of the whole thing unraveling as it happened over on the Ravelry board originally organized for the camp. (Warning: it takes a strong stomach.) Lucy Neatby has written a heartbreaking blog post on the subject that makes me want to fly to Canada and give her a hug. One of the volunteers has written honestly about her experiences, and I think she's also due a hug or ten. One of the vendors has been writing honestly about it from the start, on her blog, here, and getting piles of shit heaped on her by (I assume) friends of the organizer. (Who wishes someone bad health? Really?)

So, I've been sitting here feeling bad for these people - the instructors, for the most part, HAVE NOT BEEN PAID and are not only out teaching fees, but air fare and the money they could have made doing something better organized for the ten days they were in Scotland being treated rudely by the organizers. (The students, by all accounts, were awesome. I'm not sending any wrath their way at all.) These instructors, KNOWING they were going to be losing money, still pulled themselves together, acted professionally, taught their students, and otherwise were awesome people.

I'd love to send each of these people a quick twenty bucks, but honestly, I can't afford to. But, laying in bed this morning, I had something of a minor epiphany. Christmas is coming up, now, isn't it? We request all kinds of good knitty stuff for the holidays, and buy it for each other. So why don't we throw our business to these folks, who got ripped off so badly and acted so wonderfully? They've certainly earned our respect and produce a great deal of books, DVDs, yarns, and other products that are worth buying. Whatta ya say? Spread some love around, show these folks they're valued by those of us in the trenches, knitting and enjoying their work. We all buy stuff anyway. Why not buy theirs?

I've done what I can to reconstruct the list of instructors at Scottish Knit Camp; the organizers are currently in hiding and have deleted the official web site, so I've lurked through the Rav board to find the names. I KNOW I've missed people. PLEASE let me know, and I'll add them.

Ann Kingstone
Annie Modesitt
Carol Feller
Deb Robson
Debbie Bamford
Debbie Tomkies
Di Gilpin
Donna Druchnas
Liz Lovick
Ewa Kuniczak
Jane Harrison
Jared Flood
Joan McGowan Michael
Jon Dunn
Kate Tetlow
Kerrie Allman
Lucy Neatby
Mary Anne Mucklestone
Miriam Tegels
Nancy Bush
Nancy Marchant
Norah Gaughan
Rebecca Bonser
Sasha Kagan
Lorilee Beltman
Woolly Wormhead
Pat Ashforth & Steve Plummer (Woolly Thoughts)
Ysolda Teague
Debbie Stoller
Amy Singer

ETA Several more names, including machine knitters, crocheters, and weavers who were slated to teach classes and might not be immediately recognizable to me, a Just Hand Knitter.

ETA AGAIN: I think this is the final, accurate list. Thanks to everyone who has checked in with information and for all the positive feedback. I've got myself some awesome blog buddies.

Not all of these folks actually TAUGHT at knit camp. Some got deported before they had a chance. With, near as we can figure out, no recompense for travel or inconvenience. If anything, I think that makes them more deserving of our business.

Spread the word. I know knitters can accomplish amazing things when we work together. How hard is it to buy some stuff?

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I'm telling myself the stress levels are lower, now that the school situation is sorted. Then I remember I signed a contract with the state of Pennsylvania to provide a minimum of six hundred hours of instruction for my child in the next year, and feel like throwing up. Added to that, the Goober is going through a phase of not listening, which is doing nothing to help the gag reflex when I think about trying to teach her. So, yeah. I know how to teach. I'm good at teaching. What I don't know is how to motivate small children to learn. This'll be interesting. Not necessarily in a good way, either.

In an effort to de-stressify, I've been zombie knitting. In my case, the sock. It looks like this now:

And I'm reasonably sure it'll fit! So long as the yarn relaxes when washed, it'll be fine. Since the swatch did relax, I have hopes for it. Now if only I can replicate it...

Haven't spun a yard since we moved. Before I go back to the Steampunk yarn, I'd like to try getting my hands back to some kind of fitness, so I'm wanting to spin this:

It's a Corridale batt I picked up last Mother's Day. I was thinking I could divide it in half, spin two super-long color repeats, and chain-ply them. Then use the yarn to knit socks. Being me, I'm thinking one sock red-orange-yellow and one sock green-blue-purple. Unfortunately, the view of my living room, from the spinning wheel, looks like this:

Which makes me want to beat my head on a wall. Not terribly motivating.

Not much going on here besides stress and yelling. With luck, I'll motivate and write some history posts I've been meaning to get to. And I still need to do the Vogue Knitting wrap-up, don't I? Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Odds and ends.

Not a lot going on right now, and thank goodness for that. Still trying to decompress from the stupidity and insanity of the last month or so. Instead, general comments and the answers to some questions.


TallGirl asked about Judy's Magic Cast-On. It was developed for toe-up socks and is a relative of the Figure-Eight cast-on and the insanity that is Cat Bordhi's moebius cast-on. You can find the Knitty article about it, HERE. It's not really any more complicated or fiddly than any other cast-on meant to go off in both directions. It's just that I don't do it enough to be any good at it.


Louiz asked what I had my swatch pinned out on. It is a piece of styrofoam/polystyrene, just like you thought. Here in the US blocks of it are sold wrapped in plastic, which is utterly silly, but I left the plastic wrap on it to keep the little disintegrating bits on it a little longer. So far, so good, and I've been using it like that for about two years now. At the least, it doesn't leave a trail of crumbs everywhere it goes.


On the subject of socks, I totally buggered up the Widdershins heel I'm working (directions HERE), and now need to go tear it back to the start of the increasing and start over. That's two projects needing to be torn back (okay, more than that, but two current ones) and here I sit thinking "I could start on a cardigan for the Goober." Ha.


Under the heading of "what in fuck was I thinking", I got a puzzle.

It's "Starry Night" by Vincent VanGogh. Long-time readers know, this painting has gotten me into trouble before. Did I learn? Oh, hell no. Now I'm sifting through a box of a thousand pieces, trying to put together a puzzle by the directions of the brush strokes.


Yesterday, I told the Goob to get dressed, and waited to see what happened.

I got this. Love it.


So, anyway, we're surviving. Cyber school registration seems to be finished and we'll be getting lessons in the mail and all that crap. Plus I need to get the kid signed up for dance and martial arts classes for that whole 'social peer group' bullshit thing. The kid seems to be bearing up under the stress better than I am.

Monday, September 13, 2010

No school for you!

Yup. That's the latest at House O' Samurai. Got a call last Thursday telling me that a school shrink who'd never met my kid (really) had looked at a two-page report and decided she's not smart enough (yeah, really) to go to school this year. Even though she'd scored in the ninety-sixth percentile for language (really), and scored above average on everything else, her scores still weren't high enough to go to school at age five. Really.

Now, I know how the state laws are written. I know how the evaluation guidelines are written. I still think it's total bullshit. I've had people quoting state law at me all weekend. Don't care. In one breath people tell me the kid needs 'classroom experience' with a 'peer group', and in the next breath they tell me she's not ready for kindergarten. Sure, she's not ready for a PhD in particle physics, but I THOUGHT KINDERGARTEN WAS FOR LEARNING CLASSROOM SKILLS. But no, professional teachers tell me. That's what preschool is for. Bullshit. They're pushing the skills back and making it the problem of preschool so they can keep their precious test scores intact. That's what it's about.

As for the family, well, they're giving me all kinds of contradictory crap, too. Everyone seems to have been in a hallucinatory state for the last eighteen months, because they don't seem to remember us moving four times across three states. Next time someone tells me the Goob needs more class time with a peer group, I'm going to say "No shit, Sherlock. You think?" Maybe that will shut them up.

I'm ranting. Obviously still just a bit tweaked about this.

Anyway. Enrolled the kid in Pennsylvania's Cyber School, which is a division of the Department of Education and I can transfer her to 'real' public school next year. If I decide to send her then. After this, I don't know. For the freaking peer group class shit, we're looking into martial arts and/or dance lessons. That ought to do it.

In the mean time, if you hear the sound of teeth grinding from the direction of Pittsburgh, it's just me, wanting to kill someone.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Vogue Knitting, Fall 2010

As always, quotes are from the magazine, photos are from the VK web site, and the numbers on the patterns are their indexing system.

There's been some controversy over on Ravelry about this issue, and I kind of see both sides of it. I'll cover that in another post; this one's already longer than War and Peace. Okay, not really, but GEEZ.

Letter from the editor: Trisha Malcom goes on for a page about her new iPad and how print isn't dead. Including the quote "The Internet and mobile devices will simply support and accentuate print and bring the experience more to life." There's also an iPhone app in the works, they claim "...with the ability to size at will." If you read carefully, she never says they WILL make it available, just that it's possible. Normally I wouldn't care, but this becomes more relevant later on when I'm discussing the aforementioned controversy. There are also three web-only sock patterns becoming available sequentially, but you have to sign up for a newsletter to get them. Fairly good marketing strategy, that.


This issue's ooh-ah yarn is boucle mohair (though I'm not sure there are any actual patterns for it in the magazine... odd). As usual, there are no swatches, just some yarn-winder balls of one kind of yarn and a list of eight others.

Lately it's VERY hard to tell the advertising from the editorial content.

A list of knitting apps for phones. One for Blackberry, one for Android, ten for iPad and iPhone. Cute. Did Apple pay for that?

Rowan ad for some pattern called "Russian Romance" or something, covered in NORWEGIAN STARS. I know I'm meticulous. I know I'm a geek. But that stuff drives me nuts. If we're gonna attach a nationality or culture to a design, could we ATTEMPT to be accurate? Or else name it something else? (No, this has nothing to do with VK, particularly, but it still pisses me off.)

Article about Nancy Marchant and her mad brioche knitting skillz. As a fan of brioche, I'm thinkin' I need her book. If you live in a cold climate, you might consider looking into it, too. She says RIGHT IN THE ARTICLE it can make women look beefy. Finally, a designer NOT claiming bulky fabrics look good on everyone! (In the depth of winter with three feet of snow on the ground, I'd rather be warm than svelte. I'm fine with brioche. But I appreciate honesty and realism.)

Article by Meg Swansen. She's working through in-depth discussions of her mother's seamless styles. Last time it was the raglan. At first I rolled my eyes because EVERYONE knows this stuff, but you know what? Meg still knows more. I learn something every time I read one of these, and I've been knitting EZ's seamless sweaters for twenty years. Lots of them. So, for me, as a lifelong EZ knitter, the magazine was worth it for the article.

Our first pattern, from designer in residence, or something, Nicky Epstein. Spiral gloves:

These are cashmere/wool/silk and mohair/nylon/silk/wool blend. So they'd be plenty warm. $56 USD to knit the pair. At least these gloves have fingers.

Jared Flood writes an article about Elizabeth Zimmermann. This year would have been her hundredth birthday.

Carol J. Sulcoski checks in with an article about reading charts. She's been writing tech articles for VK lately, and they're always good. This one goes over why and how charts are used, going from the very very most basic information onward. According to her, the biggest complaint among knitters she talked to is the lack of a common symbol system. I've got to agree (for what that's worth). There's also a little "Tips" list that would help beginners quite a lot. For me they're obvious, but I bet for a beginner they're like a light bulb going on.

Interview and career overview with/of Kristin Nicholas.

The needle guide is a "Special Advertising Section", but it's still interesting and helpful. Unfortunately they don't say who paid for it. Don't like that. But it seems pretty unbiased to my suspicious and cynical eye.

And... the patterns. Sigh.

Section one, "London Calling". "From Savile Row to Oxford Street and beyond, swank knits speak with an English accent." Bollocks.

1. Cabled cardigan by Yoko Hatta.

Seven (!) sizes from 34 to 56 inches/85 to 143 cm. Knit in good old wool as a cable-knit ought. No waist shaping. Not a thing wrong with it. Very nice, fairly traditional cable-knit cardigan. Not seeing high fashion, here. I'm seeing a good, solid knit you'll wear for years and years. Oh, the raglan shaping? I'd knit the whole thing in one piece, seamlessly, rather than trying to sew the shoulders together. Just sayin'.

2. Union Jack cardigan by Brandon Mably.

One size, 68.75in/172cm. You know, this was original. Forty years ago. When Vivienne Westwood did it. Obviously, it is a box with arms. They'll tell you that's a design element. You be the judge.

3. Argyle Turtleneck by Sandy Prosser.

Three sizes from 34 to 52 inches/87 to 132 cm. No waist shaping, horizontal stripes AND big butt length! A trifecta! (Big-butt length shows better in the magazine.)

4. Intarsia Pullover by Deborah Newton.

Four sizes from 32 to 44 inches/81 to 111 cm. I would dearly love to know who decided on this garish color combination, VK or Newton. Newton's been designing since the eighties and usually goes for more subtle colors, so... yeah. While your first reaction to this might be "AAAAH!" try to reconsider. I think it would look really nice on a lot of body types, done in related tones or a more toned-down color combo. Imagine it all in shades of blue or sage green. Light pinks, corals, and peaches would look nice, too.

5. Fair Isle Tunic by Yoko Hatta.

Four sizes from 33 to 42 inches/84 to 106 cm. This is done with an A line. I know not why. It'd be a cute little jumper sort of thing if it was cropped off shorter. As is, even the size four (?) model - that's a size small she's wearing - has her hand plonked on her hip to try to show she has a waist. Or at least, she did in the magazine photo.

6. Fair Isle Hat.

One size, 20.5in/52cm in circumference. The pattern for this one is entirely in the magazine, which is good, 'cause it's one of the jewels of the issue. It's not super-sophisticated, just a pretty, well-made stocking cap. Which is a fine thing to have in winter.

7. Striped Tunic by Faith Hale.

Five sizes from 44 to 56 inches/113 to 142 cm. Shown in size small. Ha. So, let's see... you want to drape yourself in a whole lotta horizontal stripes with a stretched out neck, oddly fitted sleeves, and a Nice. Big. Band. around your butt. PLUS work for weeks or months knitting it, for the privilege! OO! Sign me up! Oh, and it'll cost $200 USD to do it. Ish.

8. Cardigan by Louisa Harding.

Seven (!) sizes from 32 to 54 inches/81 to 137 cm. Nice. Again, not a thing wrong with it. I'm still not seeing high fashion, but it's a cute little cardigan you could wear for all but the coldest days of winter. It's knit in a wool/silk blend, so it'd be nice and toasty. No waist shaping, but with the cropped cut you really don't need it. Only down side, about $180 USD to knit the size large, and the yarn may be discontinued.

Section two: "Head of the Class". As always, super-clever. "For her debut on our pages, Project Runway champ Irina Shabayeva displays the dramatic flair for knitwear so integral to her season 6 win." So there you go.

9. Welted Scarf.

One size, 15x58 inches/37x147 cm. Husbeast walked past, glanced at this, and said "Her head looks like a clitoris." Which is funny, 'cause that's what they were saying over on LSG, and I swear I didn't prompt him with any hints. Personally, I thought she looked more like a box turtle, but as a hetero female I've probably seen more turtles than I... have...

Right then. Moving on.

(By the way? Can't tell what the scarf looks like, so I don't know if it's a good scarf or not. I assume yes, since scarves are just rectangles of fabric and so is this one. That is some SERIOUSLY bad styling.)

10. Welted coat.

One size, 46 inches/117 cm. No way in hell that's gonna hang straight. $385 USD to knit this. If you can find the pattern on the web site and it stays there long enough.

11. Feather Stole.

One size, 28x62 inches/71x157 cm.

12. Feather Jacket. I sense a thematic motif!

One size, 55 inch/139cm bust. Yup. It's a jacket with feathers knit into it. A stunning tour de force of human creativity. I've never seen anything like it in all my years. Ever. Really. Honest. I swear.

Section three, "Ethereal Girl". (I keep reading that and then humming Madonna's "Material Girl".) "Gossamer lace takes wing, sending fall fashion on transcendent flights of fancy." Barf.

13. Lace Jacket by Brooke Nico.

"VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR CHARTS 2 AND 4" But one and three are there. Yeah, that's easy to keep track of.
IT COMES IN SIZES! This is one of those circularly-knit round doily-type patterns with sleeves put in. Not that you can tell from the photos. Diameter when laid flat in FOUR sizes from 37 to 39 inches/94 to 99 cm. Not so sure a half-inch or centimeter between sizes is gonna make much difference; I assume the sizing has to do with sleeve placement. This is a really pretty, feminine jacket. Kind of old-fashioned rather than cutting edge, but very very nice.

14. Lace Gloves by Shiri Mor.

Two sizes; hand circumference 9 and 6 inches/23 and 15 cm. No idea why the sizes are listed backward. And silly me! I thought gloves came with fingers. Huh. Live and learn. I'm so stupid about this clothing stuff. Next you're gonna tell me pants have legs.

15. Lace Turtleneck by Erica Schlueter.

Five sizes from 32 to 43 inches/81 to 109 cm. Shown in size small. No shaping in the garment, so you've got to make it with very little ease to have it skim your body like it does on the model. Pretty.

Section... what, three? Four? Next. Whatever. Rebecca Taylor deigns to share one of her fantastically wondrously famous designer-to-the-stars designs with us. Don't you feel special? "This conversation piece is imbued with Taylor-made [ha] details: extreme texture and smart seaming." Riiiight. Conversation.

16. Textured Cardi.

Three sizes, from 52 to 64 inches/132 to 162 cm. When the magazine was laid open on the dining room table, the husbeast walked past, glanced at it, and said "That poor model was so scared, that sweater sucked right up her butt! Lookie there!" Now, is THAT the conversation YOU want to have over your clothes? I think the construction method is interesting on this - it's knit as a rectangle and stitched into that jacket formation. But this is a loose and floppy slop-around-the-house thing, not high fashion. About $210 USD to knit the size medium.

Next section: Force of Nature. "The power of cables. The element of surprise. Get ready for an intense knitting experience." Intense knitting experience. Seriously? Are you kidding me?

17. Flounced Pullover by Vladmir Teriokhin.

Three sizes from 32 to 38 inches/81 to 98 cm. It's a shame it doesn't come in more sizes, because people with boobs would look nice in this, too. Don't know about the ruffle around the hips - it's shown in size small there. Meaning a chick with a 32 inch bust looks like she's got pudgy hips while wearing that thing. But with the cabled texture pattern, I think you could simply leave off the ruffle-bit at the bottom edge and it wouldn't curl. I'd also go wild and add some waist shaping, but I'm all and like my clothes to fit. Especially the ones I make myself, by hand.

18. Cap Sleeve Coat by Jaqueline Van Dillen.

Four sizes from 33 to 44 inches/84 to 113 cm. Now, notice the term "coat" in the name of this pattern. Meaning they expect us to wear it over OTHER CLOTHING, and still call a 44 inch bust "X-Large". Right. Sure. Kiss my 44 inch butt. Otherwise, this is a nice pattern. It DOES have waist shaping. I always thought coats had sleeves, but I have it on good word that I'm an unimaginative stick-in-the-mud when it comes to fashion. And why are they calling it "Cap Sleeve" when it has no sleeves? Am I over-thinking this?

19. Off Center Zip Cardi by Pat Olski.
Four sizes from 35 to 42 inches/89 to 108 cm. Not only is the zipper off-center, the front bottom hem is asymmetric. Not that you can tell from these helpful photos off the web site. No waist shaping, which you can tell by the model's crossed arms. (Seriously. I see that pose and immediately go look at the schematic.) In the magazine, the model is also hanging on to the front hem, so I wonder if it lays flat without help.

20. Smocked Cable Coat by Mari Tobita.

...which isn't actually smocked, just cabled. Six (!) sizes from 34 to 54 inches/86 to 137 cm. Shown in size small, meaning there will be large tracts of cabling on some of the larger sizes. Pretty, though, has waist shaping, and that cabling means warmth which one would hope is the point of a coat. This one has sleeves, too! Bonus! $375 USD to knit the size extra large, 41in/104cm bust. But I bet you could find a substitute yarn easily enough.

21. Cabled Vest by Norah Gaughan.

Five sizes from 36 to 52 inches/91 to 132 cm. This one pisses me off. (Gee, like that never happens.) Okay, I'm not claiming that bulky cables are ever going to be slimming, but the designer goes to some trouble to shape this thing so it's as flattering as possible while still being warm. And warmth IS the point of fall and winter knitting, no matter what the fashion houses say. So what does VK's stylist do? PUT IT ON THE MODEL OVER ANOTHER VEST. There's a leather vest on under the knitted one, not that you can tell in these photos. Oh yeah, THAT'S gonna make it look good. You also can't see the front, which has very cool exploded heart cables on it. Cripes. Do they set out to make this stuff look bad??!!? This one I'm seriously considering making for myself. Which probably means it's not fashion, but it is nice.

22. Cabled Turtleneck by Michele Wang.

Three sizes from 34 to 45 inches/86 to 114 cm. Shown on the model in size extra small. Ha. This is a nice layering piece for between seasons, which makes it really nice for fall. Knit on size three/3.25mm needles, though, so be prepared for an epic project. Still, thin yarn means a thin and more flattering fit, almost always.

Our next jolly section, Home on the Prairie. "Motifs of umber, ochre and other burnt autumn shades evoke the glory of the American landscape." I have no words. I am out of snark. I'm just sitting here staring at the copy, thinking "you gotta be kidding me".

23. Patterned Tunic by Jaqueline Van Dillen.

Three sizes from 45 to 49 inches/114 to 124 cm. I have no idea what this is supposed to be. A poncho with restrictive arms? A sleeveless yoke sweater? A thneed?

24. Raglan Turtleneck by Kristen Nicholas.

Five sizes from 38 to 57 inches/96 to 144 cm. Iconic work from Nicholas. Stranded color with additional embroidery is kind of her hallmark and it remains popular because it's always nice. Classic, really. You can knit this and wear it every fall for the next thirty years, or until it falls apart, whichever comes first. One of your better choices, this issue.

25. Color Band Cardi by Jan Hurwitz.

Four sizes from 41 to 55 inches/104 to 162 cm. They're calling 41 inches/104 cm small, which I consider realistic for something that's supposed to go over other clothes. This has got one of the cleverest treatments of horizontal stripes I've seen in a while; the ease of stripes without the "HEY LOOK HOW WIDE I AM!" effect.

26. Cropped Jacket by Deborah Newton.

Three sizes from 43 to 52 inches/109 to 132 cm. Again, realistic sizes for something you'll wear as a jacket or coat. It's not terribly slimming, but as it's meant as outerwear, I can't really criticize TOO much - though throwing in some shaping would help. It's pretty boxy. Otherwise, nice enough.

27. Banded Turtleneck by Kathy Merrick.

Five sizes from 41 to 52 inches/104 to 132 cm. HEY! LOOK HOW WIDE I AM!

28. Shawl Collar Cardi by Heidi Kozar.

Three sizes from 36 to 42 inches/91 to 106 cm. This one comes the closest, I think, to the color and feel of the Plains Indians textile work. Really nice. Too bad it would need to be resized for so many of us.

Last section, Steppin' in Style. "All the glam gams this fall will be sporting kicky yet sophisticated knee-highs that demand to be seen." What in the ever-loving... Well. Anyway. They're socks. Which are not now and have rarely ever been high fashion. But they are popular with knitters, so these are a smart way to sell magazines. All knee-high socks are epic undertakings, but darn warm for winter.

29. Lace Stockings by Barb Brown.

One size, "adult woman", 93 stitches per round. Yup. Socks. Pretty.

30. Cabled Stockings by Star Athena.

One size. Cables and other texture patterns are usually lost in variegated yarns like this one. Though I'm betting VK told the designer what yarn to use. Knit toe-up.

31. Stranded Socks by Barb Brown.

One size. These are my personal favorites, but then I'm a big fan of stranded color and Anatolian patterns, so go figure.

And there you go. Another review staggers to a close. There's been some controversy over this issue, so tomorrow I'm going to do a round-up to discuss it. Until our next installment, knit wisely.

Monday, September 06, 2010


Today we took the Goober to the zoo. I took lots of photos. They're still on the camera. We walked for twenty thousand miles, across Siberia, for months and months.

Well, it SEEMED like it.

On the way home we picked up the psych report on the Goob, so we can drop it and ten thousand forms off at the school admin building tomorrow. I read the report. The kid has 'average to above average' everything, in every category tested. Super high in math and logic and language. But not so high I worry that she'll turn out like Issac Newton, so this works for me. No behavioral problems. Good attention span. All this was stuff I pretty well knew, I mean duh, YOU GUYS knew all this, but as a mom, there's always that seed of doubt in the back of my mind. Because, well, I'm the mom. I'm biased. It's my JOB to think I have the best, brightest, smartest, cleverest kid in the world. So it's nice to have confirmation from a professional that yeah, she is smart and I'm not just being the mom about it.

The one good thing was, the report says she has no learning disabilities. This is great, because I'd been worried about dyslexia - she does tend to confuse letters. But the shrink said that it's not dyslexia - the kid knows right and left BETTER than a lot of kids her age. The letter confusion is more of her visual problem, and we should still be able to correct that with some exercises and specialized glasses, basically to lay in the right neural pathways.

So, not only is my kid officially smart, I'm officially not a hallucinatory mom who sees an unrealistic image of their child. Both these things are very good.

Now if only I can get this stuff dropped off at the school tomorrow without going for someone's throat. That would be good.


Otherwise, um. I'm still knitting a sock. Still working on the VK review - it's gonna wind up being a two-parter, I think. I'm halfway through the patterns and the post is going on FOREVER.

The zoo was cool. Did I mention that? And I'm really tired?

Sunday we're having the Goobie's birthday party, here, with the in-laws. So that's when I'll do my traditional photo montage.

Sekhmet's latest? She's finally, after more than ten years, decided she likes human food. Chicken and steak, specifically. She sits on her haunches and pats me on the leg when I'm eating, to beg. Cute.

I'm tired.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Of what I've been working on. Finally downloaded the camera. (You can tell they're from the camera instead of my phone because they aren't blurry. Whoops.)

This is the shrug-wrap thingie, where I chucked it when I realized that I didn't have enough yarn for the bindoff:

For all one of you who are curious about how I do gauge swatches, here's the one for the sock:

Yes, I washed it first. And I measured the gauge in three different places and averaged them together.

Here's the start of the sock:

Only took four tries to get it started last night. I don't do Judy's Magic Cast-On often enough to be good at it. But it's freaking brilliant.

And, having finally gotten tired of chasing balls of yarn (or chasing Sekhmet chasing balls of yarn), here's my solution:

It's been in the family a while. My luck, it's actually valuable. (I don't think so; pretty sure it's manufactured.)

Otherwise? Um. I got the latest Vogue Knitting.


Friday, September 03, 2010

And then...

We did several appointments with this neuropsychologist person for the Goober's school evaluation this week. One more to go. Then I hand-deliver reports and forms to the school administration office. Tuesday night they decide if she can start school. If not, I enroll her in the State of Pennsylvania cyber school (a branch of the public school system, one not run by ass hats) and sign her up for sports at the YMCA for the social stuff. Or art classes. Or dinosaur lessons. Or whatever. Something sociable. Either way, this kid's doing kindergarten this year. I'd prefer it in a classroom situation but I'll do what it takes. Hell or high water. Momma Bear and my Inner Bitch have held a meeting and decided.

The only news - that isn't really that shocking - from the neuropsych lady is, the Goob's having visual acuity problems. You know, the ability to soak up visual information. We think it's because she went through her early childhood with such bad eyesight. We got it corrected, but she still needs to learn how to use her eyes better. So we'll be putting her through some medical/psych program to help with that, too. Considering I score freakishly high on visual acuity myself, I'd like to do what I can for her to be as good at it as possible. I know first-hand that much of my 'smart' is just that visual acuity working its magic. It would be nice for the Goober to have that, too.


The other day, we got home from the shrink's office, and the husbeast was watching Transformers 2. The Goob stood in the den, in front of the TV, mesmerized by the action. We had the following discussion, paraphrased a bit:

GOOB: OOoooooooOoo!
ME: You're not allowed to watch this. It's too violent.
GOOB: What's 'violent'?
ME: People hitting each other.
GOOB: I'm okay with that.
ME: I'm not. Upstairs.
GOOB, grumbling as she climbs up the stairs: You're no fun.
ME: I'm okay with that.
GOOB: Grrrr.

She also caught a few minutes of the original Star Wars and seemed fascinated. I'm considering letting her watch that one. There's no gore in it. People die, but, hell, people die on her CARTOONS. So I'm finding it hard to draw the line over that sort of thing.

"Saw" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" are out for the time being, though.


I've been KNITTING! Zombie projects, because my brain can't do complicated while dealing with all this other crap. Hopefully the Goober will start school and I can spend mornings knitting like the wind on Christmas presents. For now, though, well. Hm.

Last night I tried to cast off the prototype Shrug-Wrap Thingie. Got about a quarter of the way through before I faced reality; I don't have enough yarn for the cast-off. So I've got to tink back about 200 stitches of the cast-off. Then the 550 stitches of the row before. THEN cast off. This does not fill me with joy. In fact, over on Twitter I mentioned the trouble last night. I think I used 'motherfucker' every other word.

In the mean time? I'm casting on a pair of socks. That's right. I'm finally in an environment cold enough to justify it, and I found some really pretty yarn the other day. Kroy Sock FX, in the gray/slate blue/pink color scheme. If I could actually manage Judy's Magic Cast-On properly (about to start attempt number three), I think it'd make pretty socks. I got enough for real socks that go up my leg, planning to wear them in winter. Usually I use about four hundred yards and knit ankle-socks, but not this time.

So, that's all there is to report. More red tape, some actual knitting. With luck, this weekend I will dye some merino/silk blend in the Purple Trainwreck color scheme. Having never done that before, I'm curious to see how it turns out. I'll be sure to take photos.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Lately, the cat's been going berserk at the crack of dawn. Meowing like mad, waking up everyone in the house, scaring the crap out of the kid. It's the "I want something" meow, so I've started checking food, water, and litter box before bed. Still, every morning around six thirty, MEOW MEOW MEOW STOMP STOMP STOMP MEOW.

This morning I finally figured it out. You know what this obnoxious bag of fur wants?

She wants someone to open the front door.

Everyone together, now.

Sekhmet, you FUCKER.