Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wiped Out

(You think it's easy being that cute?)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Short Attention Span Wednesday

Truth in Advertising?

I'd like Ralph Nader to take a closer look at the deceptively-named tee-vee show "Dancing with the Stars." The next edition's cast includes these has-beens wanna-bes stars of stage and screen: actor Vincent Pastore ("The Biggest Loser" -- and oh, yeah, "The Sopranos"); Beverly Hills 90210's Ian Ziering (who apparently doesn't know how to pronounce his own name, calling himself "Eye-an"); former 'N Sync Member Joey something or other; future ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney, Heather Mills; Miss USA 2004 Shandy Finnessy (IMHO she'll never top her stellar work on "Lingo"); and several others too depressing to even think about.

Topic: "Dancin' with the Stars" is neither dancing nor with stars. Discuss.

No-Bull Book Reviews

I've got some more knitting book reviews coming up, but notwithstanding some reader requests, I'm not going to review any books put out by Interweave Press. They are the publishers of my upcoming book and since I pride myself on honesty and objectivity, it just wouldn't be right for me to opine about their newest releases. We're all about journalist integrity here at GKIYH. (Although, ahem, I do love Lace Style, Favorite Socks and No Sheep 4 U...)

Speaking of Journalistic Integrity

WTF is with the mainstream news media? There's gavel-to-gavel coverage on the Anna Nicole who-gets-to-bury-the-putrefying-corpse hearing, while serious issues, like the Scooter Libby trial (doesn't anyone care that high-level government officials are willing to blow the cover of CIA agents for political purposes?) and the current clusterfuck in Iraq (if we're doing so well over there, why is Britain pulling out its troops? and if Britain is doing it, why the hell aren't we?) get virtually no coverage.

Can We Knit-Bloggers Please

please come together in a display of unity and decency, and stop saying the following: "dudes" (particularly when used to address readers), "alert the media" and "just sayin'"?


Who says Philly is a second-rate city?

Where else would you find Nora, the piano-playing cat?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

"It was a dark and stormy evening."

Here's the seventh weird thing about me: I played Peppermint Patty in my senior class's production of the musical Snoopy!.* (In case you haven't heard of it, Snoopy! was the sequel to You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.) There is a scene where Snoopy and Woodstock act out an entire novel-writing session, beginning with "It was a dark and stormy evening."

At the time, I didn't get the reference, but I later learned that a British novelist named Edward George Bulwer-Lytton penned that sentence (well, actually, he wrote "It was a dark and stormy night"). In honor of his painful prose, a California university has an annual contest for the opening sentence of the worst of all possible imaginary novels. Here is a link to this year's winners, including my favorite:

Sex with Rachel after she turned fifty was like driving the last-place team on the last day of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, the point no longer the ride but the finish, the difficulty not the speed but keeping all the parts moving in the right direction, not to mention all that irritating barking.

Can you believe it was merely runner-up in the romance category?

*And if Franklin gets off his heinie and manages to respond to my million or three emails sometime before noon tomorrow, I will post on this blog a vintage photograph of me in costume.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Here's some of the superwash merino sock yarn that's going up on my Etsy site later this evening.

And for Sherry, here is a photo of my parents' covered wagon sofa

which inspired the batch of wool/nylon sock yarn she snagged yesterday at Rosie's (this is a bad photo but I only took a quick one since it was going into Rosie's):

A quick peek into the tortured way my brain finds inspiration.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Brain fog

Brain fog continues, but I am struggling valiantly against it. If I owe you an email (or a book draft), please be patient with me, and enjoy this view of some lovely flowers sent to me in honor of Valentine's Day by the long-suffering husband:

Other than book stuff, I have only been knitting the Black Bunny sloppy seconds sock:

(I decided I would adopt a devil-may-care attitude toward pooling.)

Let's close with a Kute Kid Story.

Yesterday, G. told me she didn't like a boy in her class. "Why?" I asked. She did not hesitate a beat: "Because he brought a burp to school for Show-And-Tell."

I didn't have the heart to tell her it only gets worse.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Let's start with the stuff that's irking the shit out of me this week.
1. Lyme relapse. Aching joints, fatigue, brain fog -- need I say more?
2. Anna Nicole Smith coverage 24/7: A sad life comes to an even sadder end. Can we please move on?
3. Impending war with Iran. Oh God, isn't ANYONE in America paying attention? They're doing the same thing they did with Iraq: using an unquestioning media to feed us dubious conclusions and shaky intelligence to make war seem inevitable. It's not. Even if you could believe their so-called intelligence. Which you can't.
4. Impending deadline for book. First wave of designs are due. Will all of mine go down in the ignominious flames of my hubris and incompetence?
5. Problems with skein winder. This should make you, my customers, cranky, too, because it makes it harder/slower for me to get an Etsy update.

On the other hand, let's look at the bright side:
1. The people at Fricke -- who made the skeinwinder -- have been unfailingly helpful and gone above and beyond the call of duty to help me fix things.
2. I got the new Rowan Magazine, the new Interweave Knits, and the new Interweave Favorite Socks book to ogle. Yarn porn goes a long, long way toward making me happy.
3. It's snowing. Purty, and good knitting weather, too.
4. My mom is feeling very well.
5. The Dixie Chicks kicked ass at the Grammies.
6. Someone found my blog by googling "pattern for cranky pants to knit."

Torture trifecta

This deserves an entry all its own.

From Crochet Me.
Yes, Kath, that is (gulp) Koigu.
Thankssssss, Anonymousssssssss. I am speechlessssssssssssssssss.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Everything new is old again?

Here's a good one.

(And no, it's NOT the animation with the knitter falling off the cliff. Geez.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

For my crocheting friends...

... I recently discovered these upcoming releases:

1. Teva Durham's Loop-d-Loop Crochet: More than 25 Novel Designs for Crocheters (and Knitters Taking Up the Hook) with a scheduled release date of May 1st.

2. Couture Crochet Workshop: Mastering Fit, Fashion, and Finesse by Lily Chin, which is, I believe, available now, although I haven't seen it.

3. Sasha Kagan has a new crochet book called Crochet Inspiration. The release date is June 1, and the publicity blurb states:
Containing more than 200 swatch designs in her signature style, this is a must-have manual for beginning and experienced stitchers alike. Special chapters on fabric, motifs, grannies, and flowers highlight a myriad of patterns, including beautiful lace, shell, and cluster stitch variations, and gorgeous circular and hexagonal designs. Each chapter also includes stunning garments, such as a classic Chanel cropped jacket in woven mesh, a lacy shawl with leaf embellishments, and a 1920’s cloche cap covered in crocheted blossoms. Every one has a special individuality that transcends “here today, gone tomorrow” trends, so crocheters will enjoy these for a long time.

4. Just to torture Kathy, please turn your attention to Mr. Funky's Super Crochet Wonderful by Narumi Ogawa, coming out in July from North Light Books. I'm not a very good crocheter, but man, for ten or twelve bucks, I think I'd buy this one just for the title.

And last, and probably least,

5. Kooky Crochet: 30 Remarkably Wacky Projects by Linda Kopp, also due in July.

As the promotional blurb asks (rhetorically?)," Who could resist the kitsch of Sunnyside Up Potholders and the fun techno-geek tote bag embellished with emoticons? Or, rather than working with ordinary yarn or thread, try using nylon mason’s twine (for leg warmers), marabou boas, and even plastic bags." Nylon-twine legwarmers? Um, I think I'll take a pass on that one.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Seasonal weather

This week I scraped ice off my windshield with a pancake turner.

I then learned that Target has no ice scrapers for sale, but you can choose from an astonishing selection of wading pools and squirt guns in their "Seasonal" section.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No-Bull Book Review: Silk Knits, by Elaine Eskesen

Elaine Eskesen is a knitting-shop owner, hand-dyer and designer, and author of 2005’s Dyeing to Knit. Her new book is Silk Knits: 20 Designs in Fabulous Fibers (Martingale Press 2007).

Silk Knits is a paperback, 95 pages long, with lots of color photos and twenty patterns.* The retail price -- $27.95 – seems high to me, but at this writing, you could score it on Amazon for less than twenty dollars. (I wonder if the pumping-up of the MSRP, which I've noticed often lately, is a way to compensate for the discounts that retailers like Amazon.com regularly provide.)

I was charmed by the dedication, which features a vintage photograph of the author, her mother and her grandmother (all named Elaine). I liked the first section – though it was brief, less than ten pages of text – which talks about silk: its characteristics, a brief history of silk, how to swatch with silk, explanations of the various types of silk. This section contains some good, practical tips for working with silk yarns.

The remainder of the book consists of twenty patterns, which for the most part, did not appeal to me. The table of contents suggests that the patterns are divided according to seasons, but they are (oddly, I think) not presented in four separate chapters, but rather randomly, with small icons in the bottom corner to tell you that, say, the sleeveless top is for summer. The patterns consist of two shells, three cardigans (one with a rolled neck, one knit side-to-side to form vertical stripes (the cover pattern), the third oversized), four vests (a rib vest knit circularly thus forming a huge bull’s-eye on the back -- oh, the Lyme Disease rash flashbacks;

a ribbon-yarn vest worn like a shell, a slip-stitch vest and a textured vest); four pullovers (one yoked, two textured, one with an asymmetric tab closure), a simple stole (not knitted in lace), a shrug, a poncho, a mobius scarf/neckwarmer, a lace shawl and a scarf/hat combination.

In the introduction, the author writes “I don’t believe in complicated knitting,” and to be quite frank, it shows. Simple isn't necessarily bad, but very little about these patterns was unique or interesting to me (with the exception of the circularly-knit rib vest, which is creative). You’ll see a fair bit of dropped shoulders, not a lot of shaping, and so on; for example, here's the oversized cardigan, which doesn't have anything particularly unique about it and adds visual pounds.

I liked the use of the eyelets in the yoke of this sweater

and this is a lovely lace shawl -- by far the most complex and original pattern in the book.

The sensibility is directed, I think, toward a certain demographic of middle-aged women, and I think younger and more fashion-conscious knitters will find few "must-make" garments.

The yarn selection is odd: I had hoped for more attention devoted to knitting pure or mostly silk yarns and tapes that challenge knitters with their slipperiness and potential for sagging. But many of the designs are done in yarns that merely have silk content: for example, Garnestudio’s Silke Tweed (about half silk, half lambswool) – and some of the yarns used have less than a third silk content. If the book is devoted to the challenges and joys of knitting with silk, I’m not sure it adds anything to include, say, a pattern in Noro’s Silk Garden or Debbie Bliss' Alpaca Silk (only twenty percent silk), blends that have other fibers to compensate for the silk's challenges (and already have great pattern support).

When it comes to sizing, the finished bust measurement for the patterns varies from a minimum of 33 inches to a maximum of 60 inches (for the oversized cardigan), a very generous range, but not all designs include all sizes. There are schematics, a few charts, and some helpful text boxes with tips (like doing an intarsia join). There are lots of color photographs, including some good clear shots of each design. The patterns themselves are remarkably short and (except for the lace shawl) quite simple and direct. You know what I always say: when it comes to patterns, it all comes down to your taste. These patterns weren't mine, but they may be yours.

Silk can be a tough fiber to knit with, although its sheen, softness and drape are superlative. Those who haven't worked much with pure silks may find the introductory sections helpful, but I would not buy this book sight unseen; you'll need to judge for yourself whether you like the patterns enough to invest in it.

*Eskesen did not design all the patterns; the work of several other designers is featured, too.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

January Book Report & Etsy update tomorrow

First Book Report of 2007

Good start, with two books -- starkly different from each other -- but both interesting reading.

1. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn. Gripping story of a New York writer's search to discover what happened to his great-uncle and his family, who perished at the hands of the Nazis in wartime Poland. This book moved and fascinated me. I'm an amateur genealogist, so the allure of tracking down the long-lost family members -- including the details that make relatives more real ("she had great legs," "she was a snob," "he loved his wife so much")-- was irresistible to me, but when placed against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the book takes on tremendous depth and emotion. This one's going to stay with me for a while.

2.Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan. Written by Fresh Aire's book reviewer in a sort of memoir meets lit crit, this one was a pretty quick read. NPR has been introducing me to some interesting reads: as a matter of fact, I heard the author of The Lost on it, and this one, too. (I started to wonder what kind of spell my local public radio station was casting on me when Marty Moss-Coane's interview of a guy who wrote a book on the glory of pigeons -- and no, it's not Sesame Street's Bert -- started to sound really interesting. But so far, I've passed on the pigeon book.) Corrigan's descriptions of how a love of reading helped her and hurt her hit home with me (oh, the agony of realizing that real teens were nothing like the ones in my Whitman novels!) . I also enjoyed her survey of books she particularly enjoyed, complete with analytical spin on them. (It's the first time I ever heard anyone else talk about the Beany Malone series of books, which I read when I was a kid, as part of her Catholic schoolgirl lit discussion.)

Next BBF Update

will be this coming Monday, February 5th, in the morning. I've got some small laceweight hanks and some superwash merino sock yarn, including the following:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blogger Silent Poetry whatever the hell it is


Once there was an elephant
Who tried to use the telephant.
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone–
(Dear me. I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it right.)
How e'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk.
The more he tried to get it free
The louder buzzed the telephee.
I fear I better drop the song
of elephop and telephong!

-- L.E. Richards