Sunday, April 05, 2009

We've Moved

Yes, I've finally moved Knit-a-While to my self-hosted WordPress site. Just click to access the new site. If you subscribe to the blog, you'll probably have to resubscribe with the new address.

And to celebrate our move and blogiversary, there's a contest!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Film at 11

But it wasn't just at 11. On Friday, April 3, 2009, Binghamton, New York, was on the major news networks almost all afternoon and most of the evening. It was the site of the lead story for the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening news broadcasts. Binghamton had hit the big time.

Sadly, it was not for a good thing. It wasn't because the Binghamton University men's basketball team had won its way to the NCAA Big Dance for the first time. No, like many cities, Binghamton made the newscast because of a tragedy. And perhaps saddest of all, it was a tragedy that seems to be ever more common: a mass killing.

On the morning of April 3, a man entered the American Civic Association, an organization that helps immigrants to the area get settled, find jobs, learn English, and become citizens. For whatever reason, he came armed. By the time the shooting was over, fourteen people were dead, including the shooter, who committed suicide. Four other individuals were fighting for their lives.

And, of course, when reporters interviewed the shooter's neighbors, they all described him as a nice guy, quiet; none could believe he was capable of such a heinous act. Now where have we heard that before?

Each time we hear of such an incident, residents always say they couldn't believe it could happen there. That's what we're saying tonight, and we'll probably continue to say it for weeks. By now, you'd think that the world would know that they can happen everywhere. No city, regardless of how large or small, how sleepy or metropolitan, is immune. You'd think that experience, being the greatest teacher, would have taught us that. Yet, the next time it happens, and one would be naive to think it will not happen again, the shooter will likely be described as quiet and unlikely to have done such a thing--especially in a place where everyone thought such a thing could never happen.

May peace be with those affected by the shootings.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mean Girls, Mean Girls, Watcha Gonna Do? Mean Girls, Mean Girls

Well, if you're a Mean Girl, or even just aspire to be one, I suggest you check out the Mean Girl Yarn Club.

The Mean Girls' Yarn Club is the brainchild and joint plotting of two of the hottest dyers working today. Laura Wilson-Martos, KnottyLa, is the force behind Dizzy Blonde Studios. Bobbie Bowles is the KnittyKnitterton in KnittyKnitterton's House of Awesome. They know beautiful yarn when they create it.

What exactly does it mean to be a member of the Mean Girls' Yarn Club? Of course, it means you've embraced your inner Mean Girl. But, it also means that you'll be in for a year (6 shipments) of gorgeous sock yarn. It's an exclusive club--only 50 will be allowed in. And you won't get just yarn, though that would certainly be enough. Oh no, the Mean Girls' Mamas will include something special in each shipment.

Be sure to mark APRIL 3, 2009, on your calendar and Toodle-do lists. That's the first day you can sign up for the very special club. The first shipment won't go out until June, but don't be a turtle and wait until then to sign up. The slots will be long gone. After all, Mean Girls are hot.

So embrace your inner Mean Girl. Heck, let your inner Mean Girl bust loose and get her groove on. Check out the Mean Girls' Yarn Club blog to find out how you can sign up.

Cat Hair in My Belly Button

So now, did that get your attention? This isn't going to be an entry about cat hair in the belly button, though I do happen to find some there occasionally. And in my ear. Don't know what's up with that.

It Looks So Easy

This is a sweater. Or at least it will be. The other night I was looking for a summer-type sweater to cast on. I wanted something light and lacy. And, it wanted to be able to make it from yarn already in my stash. In digging through patterns, I came across a couple I ordered some time ago from Just One More Row. They're very similar patterns, but then I find that to be true with many of its patterns. Anyway, these sweaters are very lacy and don't take a lot of yarn--relatively speaking and for my size.

After finding the pattern for the Flyaway Jacket, I determined I had enough yarn and cast on for the swatch. Though measured on the stockinette portion, it suggests you practice the veil stitch, which I did. It includes crossover throw stitch I wasn't familiar with, but it came easily and isn't nearly as complex as one might think from the instructions.

It's an easy pattern, and I'm making some changes, but I do have a word of advice. Don't use Knit Picks nickleplated options for this. Now, you all know how much I love them, and really, nothing has happened to change that. This sweater is supposed to be made with bulky yarn or with two thinner ones held together. I didn't like those options, so I'm using Lion Brand's Cupcake. I heard someone call it Homespun for kids, and that's about right. But, I like it and, more important right now in my knitting life, I had some in my stash. The sweater is worked on an 11 or 13 needle, so the fabric is very loose. Couple that yarn with the nickleplated needles, and it's a fun time in the knitting house tonight! Can I just say "slippage"? The yarn slips all over the place. But, despite that, I'm actually enjoying working on it. Perhaps there's a bit of masochism in my knitting bag.

It Seems to Come So Naturally
I try to remember to post on Plurk and assorted other lists I frequent when I update the blog. I try to remember to post on Plurk and assorted other lists I frequent when I update the blog. Call me strange, but I would like people to read this. Someone on Plurk mentioned my writing style, saying that it seemed to come easily, naturally. I assured her that I didn't always find the entries easy to write, and it isn't always because of subject matter. Sometimes it's just hard to come up with ideas, or at least ideas that I would naturally be drawn to.

The other night, I was just sitting and knitting when, for some reason, I noticed my thought process. (Hey, it's all about me, remember?) I think like I write. There are complete sentences, properly placed modifiers, no split infinitives; it's as though I'm writing in my head. Sheez, I even caught myself going back and editing. All I'd have to do would be put the thoughts on paper, and I'd have a blog entry, story, or even a--shall I say it?--novel. And yes, most of this blog entry was written in my thought patterns long before I sat before the computer. I call this process thoughtwriting(TM).

Since this epiphany, I've caught myself thoughtwriting(TM) many times. Actually, any time I paid attention to what I was thinking. Who knows, perhaps I'm thoughtwriting(TM) my life. And now that I'm conscious that I'm doing it, will my life change? I'd like to think I'd throw in some goodies once in a while.

OK, I have a headache now. . .

As soon as it's thoughtwritten(TM), there will be another blog post from me this week. This one will feature knitting, including info about a new yarn club that I think everyone will enjoy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Musings from Carol Anderson

Well, the blog hasn't moved yet. I had some problems uploading the new Knitting Purls to its blog, so I decided to wait to move Knit-a-while until those are worked out.

I have a book review for you. Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More…, by Carol A. Anderson. Carpenter, Iowa: Cottage Creations, 2008.

Most knitters know the name Carol Anderson or Cottage Creations. After all, the Wonderful Wallaby has been a popular pattern; approximately 66,000 copies of the pattern booklet have been printed! So, it’s easy to understand why so many people anxiously waited for Anderson’s autobiography.
Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More … is more than an autobiography about Carol Anderson the knitter, the designer, the business owner. In fact, those facets of her life comprise a small portion of the book. This book is about Anderson’s life. As she stated in an interview published in the September 2008 issue of Knitting Purls, her family and community involvement are the top priorities in her life. This is evident in the stories she chose to share with readers.
The story Anderson tells in Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More … is not unlike those that many women of her generation experienced: how she met and married her husband, the sometimes-difficult task of setting up a home, starting a family, and having a love-hate relationship with kitchen appliances. Though the stories may be familiar, Anderson tells them in a way that makes them interesting, that makes you want to move on to find out what she’s going to write about in the next chapter.
Throughout the book, it is obvious how much the author’s family means to her. Anderson writes lovingly of her family members. The chapter about her brother Arthur, who had Down syndrome, is especially moving. Unlike what one finds in some autobiographies, one never gets the idea that Anderson has idealized her family members or others in her life. These people are very real. Readers will be able to identify people in their own lives who share characteristics with those in Anderson’s family.
There are technical issues with the book. There are spelling and grammatical errors, as well as stylistic ones (titles should be italicized in print, not underscored). In the table of contents, chapters are numbered but not in the text. Some “problems” with the book are more technical, running into design and publishing issues. Text runs wide across the page and deeper into the gutter than one finds in most books. That could be problematic if someone has a dexterity issue. It invites the reader to open the book wider, which could break the binding. There’s no ISBN, which means the book’s availability will be limited, and there’s no copyright notice—which does not mean it’s not protected by copyright.
Should those things keep people from reading the book? Of course not. Like Cottage Creations’ patterns, Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More … has that homemade, friendly look, and that is part of what has made the company—and Carol Anderson—popular for so long. She’s like an old, trusted friend, and her readers love her for that. And, they’ll love the book.
The book can be ordered from Cottage Creations, At the Farm of Deer Creek, Carpenter, IA 50426. It is also carried by some LYS, including some online.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Just a Quick Heads' Up

I have fallen in love with my self-hosted WordPress. Admittedly, it's taken a while, and I still don't have it even a quarter figured out. But, what I have managed to figure out makes it seem only logical to move Knit-a-While to that platform as well.

So, some time in the next few weeks, I'll do that. I'll let everyone know so those of you who subscribe will be able to switch over.

I have been working with small needles for so long that my hands really hurt. Well, hours on the computer didn't help either. So, yesterday I decided to give myself a break and start a project on larger needles. I grabbed the ones handy, which were a size 10.5. Sadly, they didn't seem to help. In fact, I think by the time I stopped yesterday, my hands hurt even worse. Bummer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Herman and Toilet Paper

This is Shubacoons Herman McMunster, one of my Maine Coons. He's a handsome boy and weighs about 23 pounds, and it's muscle. Everyone loves him--well, except for those who are somewhat intimidated by his size. And, by the way, most of those are men. He's regal.

Well, those at the vet's office like him, but if I'm there. When I have had to leave him, Herman has bitten the vet at least 3 times and destroyed multiple pairs of Kevlar and leather gloves. If I'm there, he's fine. They've often remarked how they've not seen a cat who behaves so differently when his mommy is or is not there.

He's a big, ole mama's boy. One might even call him a wimp, but then I'd have to hurt you. You might ask why he's lying in the hood of a litterbox. I'm glad you asked. Hermie is claustrophobic. He will not use a covered litterbox. And believe me, there's more than enough room in the one we have for the boy.

Hermie is also afraid of the moon. Well, at least the full moon. We were sitting on the bed one night, and when he saw the full moon, he got all agitated and hid his face in my armpit.

And Herman is a licker, not a scratcher or biter. But, he only likes the taste of my right hand/arm. Go figure.

Yes, he may be odd, but he's my oddity, and I love him.

Toilet Paper: There's Got to be a Better Way
I went to the market the other day. On my list, as is frequently the case, was toilet paper. I hate buying toilet paper, but I can't adopt the left hand and a bowl of water method of potty hygiene. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, just as long as there are alternatives, I'll pass.

I want to know when my market decided everyone had to buy the package of double-sized rolls. No one asked me. Oh, I can buy the smaller size, but only in single rolls. Not everyone's TP spindles comfortably hold the double-sized rolls. And besides, perhaps someone can't afford a package of double-sized rolls during a trip to the market. Oh yes, tell me that in the long run, you save money with the larger rolls. That's not helpful if you have $3 in your pocket and the package of double-sized rolls is $4. Sure, you can buy the single roll, but it's almost $2. Sometimes I think the toilet paper people are in cahoots with the tampon and pantyliner folk. We are, in some ways, a captive audience. There has to be a better way.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My How I've Grown

I spent over an hour yesterday looking for a pattern, and no, I didn't find it. Recent pattern discoveries that have been purchased and printed are fairly well organized. Well, at least they're in notebooks, with a special one dedicated to socks. Older patterns, well, they're not nearly so organized. They're in a notebook, but loosely and in no apparent order--not even to me. Then there are the patterns that have not even made it into a notebook. They're stuffed into a manila folder until I can arrange them in a notebook. I've been planning to do that for quite some time now, but I just haven't gotten there yet.

While scrounging through my patterns, I was somewhat amazed at the number of patterns I have for 2-needle socks and mittens. (To be honest, I think some are repeats, understandable due to the lack of organization.) They hearken back to my days of craving to knit such items but my tediously unsuccessful attempts at using DPNs. In looking through those patterns, I seem to recall actually making very few of them. Oh, but I certainly do remember the ones I did. Mittens and socks alike, they would be fine--until I seamed them. Ugh. Puke. Now, a perfectly good knitted item looked amateurish; cripes, it looked awful, so awful, I seldom wore any of these in public (or private, for that matter). And when it came to the socks, well, can we say "uncomfortable"? No matter where I put the seam, it irritated some part of my lower extremities.

I commend the designers who tried to help those of us who are DPN "slow," but I wanted to knit items I could be proud of, that I could show off, that I could actually wear. "Why don't you just improve your seaming skills?" you might be asking. Yes, that would work, and it's something I'm still working on since not every pattern in the world is seamless. But, even if I did so, the number of 2-needle patterns for mittens, socks, and even hats is limited.

For me, the answer came via Magic Loop and 2 circs. Now, I can knit the items I want and not have to worry about a bleeding seam. I have a binder chockablock with sock patterns, and not one of them is for 2 needles. I'm free!

Still, the walk down the pattern memory lane was good for me. I've been somewhat frustrated with a recent knitting project. Many times I found myself whining that I'd never learn. This Sunday afternoon walk through 2-needle sock and mitten patterns has proved that I can learn something new. It just takes time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Whose Opinion? Part II

I just watched Knitting Daily on my local PBS station. I'm not a big fan of the show, but where else can you find a TV show about knitting at 7:00 on Saturday morning? I can overlook a lot to get my knitting fix.

But, I can't overlook everything.

Today's theme was asymmetry, which was interesting. Or rather, it could have been. They showed most of the examples lying on a table. This made it very difficult to see what they meant. But then, I've often complained about how things are presented on that show.

But I digress.

Today's Q&A was about choosing sweater patterns that are flattering to one's particular body type. Now, this is something I'm interested in, and I know many other knitters, crocheters, sewers who are concerned about this as well. So, my complaint is not about discussing the topic on the show. It's language. When discussing what is more flattering on a woman with a larger bust, the hostess said, "Women with too big a bust," or words to that effect. "Too big a bust" is an accurate quote. The model, whose bust was bigger than the previous model's, would not be considered by many to have a big bust, let alone one that is "too big." And anyway, who's to say what is "too big"? "Too big" implies that something needs to be done about it. Was the hostess implying that the model needed breast reduction surgery?

When she wasn't making such blatantly stupid comments, the hostess resorted to using the work "should." I really wish I had counted how many times she said that someone with a particular figure feature "should" do this or "should" do that. For example, if you have large hips, you "should" wear dark colors on the bottom. Those of us with that characteristic has been told that for years. And, there is truth that some may find a dark bottom to be flattering. But, no one has the right to say that I "should" wear a dark color at the bottom. Give me the facts, but don't tell me I should--except that I should wear clothes that make me feel comfortable and make me feel good.

Large people, don't be afraid of color. Wear what makes you feel good physically and mentally. After all, a large person in black looks still looks like a large person, but one who is trying to look smaller. If this works for you, fine. But don't do it because someone else says you should.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Something to Learn

Yesterday, I went to the monthly meeting of my local knitting guild. The education part of the meeting was knitting 2 socks on 2 circs. I already know how to do that, but the meetings are fun anyway.

One of the reasons I like going is because I always feel so young. I am, by far, one of the youngest people there. It's the exact opposite at other knitting groups I attend from time to time. I have a good time at those get-togethers, too, but I really can't relate to many of the women's tales of their children's escapades. At the knitting guild meetings, it's all about the knitting. I feel as though I'm among my "kind."

As usual, I took a trusty sock to work on. Before the meeting, one of the women expressed interest in what I was doing. So, I gave her an impromptu Magic Loop lesson. Most of the knitters in my groups kind of look down on Magic Loop; they are more tolerant of the 2 circs method. Go figure.

The group I was in for the lesson was taught by a woman who, I must admit, intimidates me. She's a Master Knitter, has taught many techniques for a long time, and she's kind of scary. It just so happens that I sat next to her during the lesson. And boy did I learn a lesson--and not just about 2 circs. She admitted she didn't care for Magic Loop (I think she just needed a longer cable), but we were both in strong agreement that people should use whatever method they're comfortable with--they should just do it. We began talking about Aran knitting (my next goal), and she showed me how to do a provisional cast-on. When another knitter came over to check out my sock, which I was, of course, knitting from the toe up, the Master Knitter heard me say I generally use the Turkish cast-on. She told me that she had a student who wanted to learn that, but she didn't know how to cast-on that way. I gave her some pointers and an Internet source. We talked about spinning and lamented on how hard it is to make money in fiber.

When I left the meeting--much later than I had intended--I realized I had learned a lot, but about things more important than knitting 2 socks on 2 circs.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Giving Knitting Fiction Another Chance

As someone who has worked in the publishing field for more than two decades, I must make what might be an astonishing admission: I don't read for fun very often. And when I do, it's usually nonfiction, historical books.

Until lately. Until I bought my Kindle. I'm reading for fun again, and I've expanded my reading selection to include fiction. It seemed logical to go in search of novels that included knitting. There seemed to be plenty, including books by Debbie Macomber, Kate Jacobs, and Maggie Sefton. Many of my knitting buds swore by those others. Sadly, I found most knitting fiction disappointing.

Perhaps it's because I don't read romances (except for the occasional Southern chick-lit offering). Most of the knitting fiction I read seemed to concentrate on romance and subjects that would make a good (or not) chick flick, and I don't mean that in a pejorative way. Light reading is wonderful, and these books fulfilled that type of reading.

The only author whose works I consistently enjoyed was Maggie Sefton. Yes, there was an element of romance, but there was also more: mystery. OK, I generally had the who did what to whom figured out very early in the story, but I'm good that way. Still, there was enough of a storyline that kept me hooked until the book's end. And more important--to a publisher and bookseller--made me check to see when her next book was coming out.

Of course, Maggie's books also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite television shows: Murder She Wrote. I often wondered why Jessica Fletcher wasn't a suspect more often. After all, murders seemed to follow her around. And Cabot Cove, Maine? That little town must have had a murder rate, percentage wise at least, that rivaled the most crime-ridden cities in the world. Still, I loved that show.

So what does that have to do with the Maggie Sefton series? Well, it seems as though the murder rate has soared since Kelly Flynn moved to town. Still, she's managed to escape being considered a suspect, for the most part.

Last night I finished Barbara Bretton's Casting Spells. It was an OK read, but I can't say that I give it rave reviews. Personally, I found it derivative. In short, the action takes place in a small town that was built to model Salem, Massachusetts. It's a place where vampires, shapeshifters, and other such souls can live and not be harassed by humans. The main character is half human and half not. That premise has a lot of possibilities. But, as I said, I found myself thinking about other books and films that did things better. For example, portions of the book reminded me of Practical Magic and even Bewitched. And, since this style seemed so different from her other books (at least from my research; this is the first of her books that I've read), I couldn't help but wonder if she had written it as a way to jump on the bandwagon of other stories about creatures such as vampires.

Despite my lingering doubts, it was an entertaining, mindless read. And sometimes, that's what you need. Personally, I feel there are much better ones out there, but this book isn't awful. And if you're a Barbara Bretton fan, I suspect you'll like it, though it is different from her other work.

As one might expect, the ending left open the probability of a sequel. Will I read it? Probably. But not unless it's available on Kindle. I wouldn't pay $20+ to do so.

Monday, March 02, 2009

When I Rule the World . . .

the first thing I'm going to do (well, one of the first anyway) is to standardize colors. I love color. Though my wardrobe is rather color limited, my socks stand out. One of the reasons I wanted to learn to knit socks was so I could you the colorful sock yarn that is available.

But, as much as I love color, that's how frustrating it can be. Case in point. I'm designing a very special sock. I need to use teal, so I went to the LYS to buy yarn. The teal is nice, but as I looked at it once I got home, I wasn't sure it was what I really wanted. So, off to the Internet I go, stopping at Knit Picks. I was using Palette for a sock in progress, so I looked there. One of the offerings was called Teal. How appropriate. It looked a bit greeny, but then I know that colors can be off on computer monitors. Heaven knows I've ordered tons of yarn from them, and not once was I disappointed.

Until now.

When I opened the box, there it was: forest green Palette. No, wait. The label says it's teal. Well, it's not like any teal I have ever seen. I'm back where I started--no teal. Someone suggested a Knit Picks yarn that is more teal (though it's not called teal), but I'm hesitant to order. I may end up dyeing my own. Worse things have happened.

That brings me back to my first edict as Ruler of the World. Each color would have a basic formula. For example, green would contain a specified amount of blue and a specified amount of yellow. Anything combination that deviated from that could not be called "green." If Knitting Purls came up with the color, it could be called Knitting Purls Green, but it could not be called just green. That way, there would be no question what you would get when you ordered something in a specific color. Of course one must allow for the differences in color depending on the surface to which it is applied, but we would live with that. I just want teal to be teal.

Who would make up the specific recipes for the colors? Frankly, I don't care. Pantone seems a logical choice, but then, I don't care. I just want what I want. And remember, it's all about me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Mother of Invention

I hate being cold. I love being able to wear beautiful handknit sweaters, socks, hats, scarves, and mittens, but I hate that I have to wear them or be cold. I guess I'd like to wear them purely for fashion, though heaven knows I'm certainly not a fashionplate.

The past few winters here in Upstate New York have been relatively mild. We has some cold days, but no long stretches of cold, blustery weather. This winter has been a bit different. Here it is, February almost over, and we've not had a lot of snow. But, it has been cold--and windy. This winter, cold snaps have lasted for days, and with windchills, temps have been below zero.

At the time we need heat the most, the price to heat our homes has been outrageously high. In my area, they even want an increase. Of course, this is an area with incredibly high taxes and an unemployment rate that strikes fear in the minds and hearts of all residents. Many people here and elsewhere are like me; we lower the thermostat, throw an extra blanket on the bed, and bundle ourselves in warm clothing--especially handknits.

Despite wearing my handmade socks, my feet get cold. But it's not all of my foot. The rest of my feet can be fine, but my toes get cold. It's always been that way. The problem has been how to keep the toesies warm while not making the rest of my foot hot. Enter--the Toe Cosy.

Don't laugh; it works.

I can wear it over a sock if I'm most concerned about adding warmth. If I still want the pattern/yarn of my sock to show, I can slip the Toe Cosy underneath the sock. And, if I want to wear my clogs without socks, I can slip on the Toe Cosy instead of a full sock. This also helps if the clog rubs against my foot.

If you're brave and want to make your own Toe Cosy, here's the pattern. It's written for Magic Loop but can easily be adapted for DPNs or 2 circs.

Approximately 250 yards of sock yarn or DK yarn
Size 2.0 needles (or size required to achieve gauge
Gauge: 8 stitches/inch in sock yarn.

Using a Turkish or other invisible cast on*, CO 16 stitches. Divide stitches on needles.
Round 1 Knit
Round 2 K1, M1. K to next to last stitch. M1, K1
Repeat these 2 rounds until there are a total of 52 (56, 60) stitches, 26 (28, 30) on each needle.
Knit even until the sock measures approximately 5.25 inches from cast on. (Try on the sock. It should reach past the "bunion" portion of the big toe and slightly into the arch area.)
Knit a K2P1 rib for approximately 1 inch. Again, try on for comfort.
Bind off loosely, and enjoy warm feet.

*If you're uncomfortable using this type of cast on, feel free to use a long-tail cast on and simple graft the toe closed when finished.

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Whose Opinion?

OK, folks, this is me. Well, at least part of me. After literally years of not putting images of myself on the Internet, I had a change of opinion this year. Why? It's thanks to Oprah--May I call you Oprah, Miss Winfrey?

Yep, Oprah. As many of you know, I have delusions of becoming as successful as Oprah. I don't necessarily want to become a cultural icon; successful will do. But, when she went Tom Cruise-like about her weight gain over the past years, well, I was, shall we say, annoyed. She said she couldn't understand how she let it happen. She felt like a failure. Well, Oprah, welcome to the world of being human. Many--if not all--weight loss experts will tell you that it is common for people to regain lost weight--and more. Why were you surprised? Don't you listen to the experts on your own TV show or radio network?

Maybe it's just me, but her "self-flagellation" about her weight gain sent this message: "I'm fat, so what I say or do shouldn't mean anything."

Balderdash. There, I said it: balderdash. And yes, I'm fat. Oh, I could say (and have said) that I'm fluffy, plus-sized, and many other euphemisms. But what it boils down to is that I weigh more than the "average" individual. I've dealt with it. It doesn't mean that I'm stupid, without valid opinions, lazy, or unambitious. It doesn't even mean that I have serious health issues. My weight is only part of who I am. If someone can't deal with that, then they can't deal with me. Their loss. At least one good thing has come from this, however. Well, at least for me. I'm not hiding my photo anymore.

Now there's at least one knitting pattern designer who is professing to tell me what I should and should not knit if I'm planning to wear it myself. As it is, finding large-sized and smaller-sized patterns can be difficult. Even patterns that are labeled plus-sized can be misleading. Imagine my shock when I found a size 2X pattern in a magazine and found that it went only to a size 42.

The designer of whom I write indicates that some of her patterns do not lend themselves to larger sizes, and it would be a disservice to provide them in those sizes. I'm sure she's write. In fact, I daresay I know she's right. I would look ridiculous in the crop-style tops that have been gracing knitting magazines. But, should it be up to the designer to make that decision for me? Short people might not be flattered by long knitted coats. But again, should it be up to the designer to limit their selections? Designers of all clothing should give individuals credit for knowing what they look best wearing.

Now, this designer is definitely not the only one who feels this way. Take a look at how many patterns are offered only to a large or perhaps extra large size. The difference is subtlety. She has said what many apparently believe.

So what can be done about it? Buy designs by those who realize not all of the world is a size 6 (or even 12) and stands 5'8". Let designers, pattern companies, and even your LYS know that you want a wider range of available pattern sizes. Be active and advocate. Avoid pity parties. Remember the squeaky wheel concept. Become that wheel.

And yarn companies: Hello? Are you out there? Larger sizes, including longer lengths, require more yarn, ergo, more sales. Duh. Encourage those who design for you to include larger sizes.

Thank you, Oprah, for getting me off my butt and make a stand. To stop hiding behind photos of cats. To come out in the open.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Have a New Appreciation for

Stockinette Socks like these.

I recently stealth knitted a new sock pattern. It's very pretty, but did I ever have problems with it. First, let me say that it was not beyond my technical abilities. Quite the contrary, even though it looks much more difficult than it is. But, it was a 24-row repeat, and I didn't happen to find the pattern conducive to memorization. I won't tell you how many times I had to frog the socks. It's simply pathetic. It's also not a sock I would personally wear. My shoes tend to run tight, and there's too much "bulk" to this sock for a comfortable fit. But, as I said before, it is pretty.

I fear the stockinette sock has been much maligned in favor of more complex patterns. How unfortunate. Stockinette socks are great mindless knitting, especially while doing the foot and leg. It's relaxing to sit and watch movies/TV while knitting away on a sock. And perhaps most important--to me anyway--is the fact that the stockinette sock can highlight the yarn.

And, you can still be creative with a stockinette sock. Snazz up the leg a bit. Do something a bit different with the cuff. Use contrasting yarn for the toes and heel.

When you're finished with your socks, show them off. Let everyone know how you feel about stockinette socks. You are not alone. Throw off the shackles of stockinette shame!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

This and That--Including Knitting

Well, it's over. Tommy crossed the Rainbow Bridge early Saturday afternoon. For several days, I had gone to bed thinking that I should make that call to the vet. But, the next morning, he'd seem to be doing better, so I'd decide to put it off. Of course by nighttime, we'd be going through the same cycle. That's what happened Friday. Tommy had a brief rally earlier in the week, when he started the steroid treatments for his cancer, but it quickly ended. Friday night I went to bed thinking it was time to let him go. In the back of my mind, I'm sure I thought he'd be acting more normal by morning. After all, that's what had happened before.

This time, it was not to be. When we got up Saturday morning, it was obvious to me that Tommy was telling me he wanted to go. And I had to respect his wishes. So, I made that call to the vet.

Let me say something about my vet and his staff. The past few weeks have been very emotional, and they stood with me all the way. They've been caring, considerate, and most of all, kind. When the vet came into the exam room, there was no rushing. We talked about the situation, and he agreed that it was probably time. He explained what would happen. He gave Tom a tranquilizer and then took him to a room in the back, where he shaved a small spot on Tom's arm and inserted an IV. He gently carried Tommy back into the room, wrapped in a big fluffy towel. As he injected the final drug, I talked to Tommy and petted him. In seconds, Tommy was back with his mom and dad, across the Rainbow Bridge.

After Tommy had passed, the vet reassured me that there was no way I could have known how sick Tommy had been. He reminded me that I had given Tommy a good extra year and had done a great job treating his diabetes. I did feel good about that. After all, his family wanted to euthanize him in November 2007. Plus, I truly believe that Tommy went to join his mom and dad. I also learned alot during the time Tommy lived with me.

I've had pets euthanized before, but they'd all been due to emergencies. For example, Lily had thrown a clot. There was really no time to adapt to the idea that it was something that had to be done. This time was different. Tommy was 16 and had diabetes, so it was always in the mind that his time with me was probably short. I will always be grateful that I was able to be with Tommy when he passed. After all, before he came to live with me, he had spent most of the previous year alone. He knew I loved him. And thanks to the vet and his staff, Tommy's passing was gentle. We should all be so lucky.

Knitting Content
For as long as I can remember, I've loved lighthouses. I'd like to live in a lighthouse, preferably on my own island. OK, so what does this have to do with knitting? Well, Miss Violet (of Lime & Violet fame) posted the following Isak Dinesen quote on her blog recently: "The cure for anything is saltwater--sweat, tears, or the sea." I love the sea. One of the highlights of my life has been sticking my feet in the Pacific Ocean. Strange as it may seem, as much as I love water, I can't really claim to be able to swim.

OK, you still want to know what this has to do with knitting. I would like to knit only things relating to water, the sea. I'm not sure how I'm going to do this. I'm thinking something Aran, perhaps a lace scarf with a water-related pattern. It'll evolve.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


My knitting mojo seems to have returned. I think much of the reason is that I'm deadline knitting for a designer I respect very much. I already feel as though I've let her down, because life threw in some curveballs that let me get behind schedule.

I've never really lost my knitting mojo before, and I'd prefer not to do so again. I have started thinking about knitting in a different way. It isn't a cure-all, a panacea; there is no such thing. What it has been for me is a constant. No matter what else was going on in my life, there's been a knitting project (OK, many more than one) that I could pull out and work on. It was something I could control. For the last month, I've felt a lack of control in some of the major areas of my life. They seemed to be issues too big for even knitting to provide relief.

Oh, things haven't settled that much, and there are still things that I have no control over. Funny thing, though. I think that's called life. No one has control over every aspect of life. If someone claims to, he or she is either lying to you or to themselves. But, when I picked up my knitting needles again, it just felt right. I had found an old friend.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sometimes Knitting Isn't a Cure-all

There are very few days when I don't knit at least a row or two--or start a new project though I have many WIP. Knitting has always been a way for me to get through things. OK, so is eating, but I've made a conscious decision over the past year or so that I'd first turn to knitting in times of stress.

That policy has worked well--until lately. My knitting mojo seems to have taken a vacation, now when I need it most. Like millions of people in the US and the world, I'm desperately feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. Rent this week will be hard to meet, because I have a client who seems to be on her way to bankruptcy. And this is after she told me that she'd already received payment for the job. As it is, she canceled two book contracts I had with her because of losing her contract. That I can understand, but she should certainly pay me for completed work.

On top of that, I now have to take a test to keep my freelance position with a company I've worked for for several years. It merged with another company, so policies have changed. You'd think I wouldn't have a problem with the test, but I am notoriously bad at such things. I am good at what I do, but tests....

Then there's Tommy. He's the diabetic cat I adopted in 2007, after his surviving family wanted to put him to sleep. He currently has mild pneumonia and cancer--probably lymphoma. He hasn't been eating either. I hope that I will make the right decision when it comes to his care. I must admit that a big part of me wants God to make the decision for me.

And now, for some reason, my knitting mojo has gone AWOL. Maybe it's too much to ask of an activity. I don't know. But right now, I could certainly use the security that knitting has brought me in the past, and that I'm sure it will again someday.