Take That Photoshop! I’ll Get You Yet!

I’m not really a very handy person.  Change a lightbulb – okey doke, check, I can do that.  Hang a picture?  Perhaps pushing it.  Plumbing?  No.  Just no.

So, it’s somewhat surprising that I’ve always been a bit tech savy.  I had a Commodore computer back in the day, and was off and running on the Internet early on with Q-link.  I used WordPerfect in DOS long before Windows, and had no problem adjusting to MSWord, Excel, Powerpoint or any other host of programs.

That is, until Photoshop.

Photoshop, seriously, kicks my ass.  I bought books, I took a 2 night class at Temple University, I played with it, and all I really got was aggravation.  My MS Digital Image Pro software was so much easier, so much more intuitive, and of course, so much less effective.  After the Temple class I bought another book, and thought about committing myself to really learning how to use the program.  Thought about it, but that’s about it.  First, the book sat on the desk next to the computer.  Then, I moved the book to my nightstand.  Then, I moved it under the t.v. stand, and there it became a forgotten, dustbunny catcher.  And, our very expensive software sat unloved and unused. 

Until this weekend, when I discovered Kim Klassen’s online Photoshop class, The Skinny, a hands on collection of video tutorials which allow you to jump right in with Photoshop on a need to know basis – there’s no overload of information, no professional processing jargon, just a straightforward, do this, then to this, and then, ta da!  I found Kim’s blog through Somerset Studio’s Artful Blogging – a really lovely magazine, highlighting art blogs on the web, and showcasing really creative photographers, painters, textile artists, and others who have taken personal, introspective blog journeys.  I’ve gotten the last four or five issues, and I really love paging through it before I go to bed.  On one hand, it’s like my writing – I know I’m a perfectly fine writer, but when I read really truly brilliant writing, I never want to write again — if I can’t write like that, why write at all?  On the other hand, it’s really, I hate to sound all schmaltzy, inspirational – ordinary women (I don’t think I’ve seen a featured male blog yet) creating extraordinary posts with a few words and a few images. 

So, here are a few of the my projects from Week 1’s Lessons –

So, as you can see, in the second, Photoshopped a la Kim, photo, the color pops, and I’ve added a ttv frame, something I had never heard of, and it certainly would never have occurred to me to add one to anything before.  And, the text is also Kim’s from the classwork.  How much more attractive and appealing would my Sheepy Cardigan post have been if it had the second picture as opposed to the first?

In the next lesson, we learned to dream it up – turning a very bright, vibrant photo into something very dreamy.  What’s more dreamy than a wedding, right?

These are my wedding shoes and my bouquet.  I had no idea why my photographer was so obsessed with taking pictures of my shoes, but now I’m glad she did — I think the dreamed up photo is a lovely memento of my getting ready morning.  And, it kind of reflects the weather we had as well, a kind of misty day.

And, here’s one of Joe and I –

How sweet are we????

So, that’s my work for today.  Hopefully, as I practice, practice will make artful.

The State of the Starmore (s)

Stardate May 7, 2010, Knitter’s Log 2 – In honor of Mother’s Day, or just in the course of normal knitting insanity, I cast on another Starmore – a Jade Starmore – and now have mother and daughter on needles. 

First, Mama Starmore – no pictures – it’s too sad.  On Sunday night, just as I planned, I dumped Thoroughbreds on our bed, much to the chagrin of my husband, and began the sorting process.  I picked up each ball, and yelled at it ‘Tell me your name, dammit – are you Turf?  Mooskit?  Tell me, or die!!!!”  Anyway, not shockingly, the ballbandless blobs did not speak up, and I abandoned that line of attack.  I would just figure it out as I went – one color at a time.

So, I started to knit – ok, easy peasy – the first colors were already on the needles, and from looking back, and looking at the tails, I could move on to the next color.  But after the first row, something just felt off – and then I remembered the stitch count problem.  So, I counted.

And, I counted again.

And, one final time.

Drat.  I had only done the armhole decreases on one side of the vest – for 2.5 inches.  No wonder I put it down. 

Let the ripping begin.

And that is why there is no picture of my ripped back Starmore.  But, at least it’s fixed, and hopefully, I’ll start knitting it again before Starmortis once again sinks in.

Now to the daughter, Jade, and Persian Tiles.  Persian Tiles Wrap is from Jade’s book, A Collector’s Item, a collection of knitting designs inspired by the Glasgow Museum’s Burrell Collection, a collection of 9000 works of art, including tapestries, paintings, stained glass, and scupltures, among other things.   Unlike other Starmore’s, this design, a two colored Fair Isle, is meant to be personalized, in fact on the Virtual Yarns website, she says,

 “Here is a very quick and very easy way to add combinations of our Hebridean colours to a home. The example shown here, in Spindrift and Solan Goose, is a subtle take on my original version. I made it to go with the blonde sanded floorboards in my living room. However, you can choose our colours to give many different effects. I know of a deep green leather couch that is beautifully graced by a pair of Persian Tiles cushions in Red Deer and Calluna. Just choose your mood. An amendment is provided to be used in conjunction with the book.”

 

Choose your own colors?!? Sweet!  Of course, she does recommend choosing Virtual Yarns colors, but eh, at least I know longer have to worry is a Starmore still a Starmore when it’s no longer a Starmore, not that I had been planning on worrying about that, really truly deeply.

Choosing two colors was hard for me – I’m not a colorist.   I even bought a color wheel to help me out, but then I couldn’t figure out which arrow went with which star that went with which triangle.  I spent at least 45 minutes at the Davidson‘s booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool, putting every color on the shelf together with a pair.  First, I settled on a rich, dark ocean blue, and a lighter blue, but I was afraid that they wouldn’t read.  So, I asked the woman who was manning the booth what she thought, and she thought I needed something that popped – like yellow.  I immediately said, uch, I don’t want it to look like I went to Michigan – and oops, then noticed she was wearing a Michigan t-shirt.  Oh well.  No yellow.  A slinked away, and eventually picked these two colors:

Burgundy, and

And Bayberry.

Anyway, so here’s almost the first repeat of the fifty row, fifty stitch pattern repeat –

It’s a surpringsly easy knit – it’s a long repeat, but the pattern is symmetrical, so once you go up the row, down the row is just backwards.  I’m not catching my floats in the back, first because I’m lazy, and second, because I knit fair isle with one hand, and pick and throw my yarn, so I don’t naturally carry the yarn behind the work.  Because there are some 15 stitch floats, I’m probably going to have to line the thing if I ever finish it – oh, I’m sorry WHEN I finish it, righto.

Yarn for Persian Tiles was my goal at Sheep and Wool, but of course, I had to go off plan, and buy a few things here and there.  Usually a few things means 10 things, but this year I was pretty good – this is the rest of my haul –

I’m not sure what the skein on the left is, but the center skein is Creatively Dyed, and the 2 on the right, are Miss Babs.  And, from this little gathering of fingering and laceweight will spring Haruni, Juneberry Triangle (if I can ever get my hands on the pattern – it’s backordered everywhere!), and something else.

So, are you a bit tired of my muddy pictures?  I am – and I’m going to take another crack at Photoshop.  I found this online course, so we’ll see how it goes. 

And how goes Lemon – my husband sent this picture from his new camera phone –

It’s nice to be Lemon, and hang on the deck all day!

Have a good weekend everyone, and have a Happy Mother’s Day – and go on, do it – cast on a mother daughter team!

Baby Sheepie Cardigan – So Stinkin’ Cute!!!

How stinkin’ cute is this baby set?

I don’t get to knit many baby things.  When I met Joe, his youngest niece was almost a year old, but it seemed weird to knit her anything – I just didn’t think knitting my way into the family was the way to go – the Ramos’s are much more into chocolate – and I baked my way in.  Now, however, there’s a brand new Ramos, and with Baby Girl Ramos came my opportunity to knit one of the teeny tiny little things in my make believe baby queue.

This is the Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan from Looking Glass Knits.  For washable, yummy soft, baby friendly yarn, you can’t go wrong with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby – and the little teeny tiny itsy bitsy pink buttons are the perfect finishing touch.

And what’s a baby cardigan without matching booties!

These are Saartje’s Booties.  I can’t pronounce ’em, but they sure are cute!

And baby thought so too – good to develop impeccable taste at such an early age!  Manolo’s — here she comes!

Climbing Mount Starmore

My grandfather liked to go to the track. He also liked to wear a hat.  You always knew if he was losing if he came home, and tossed the hat on the floor, never to touch it again.  The hat was bad luck, bad news.  It was a weight on his head, and it had to be lifted.  And it therefore, was cast out.  Sometimes, it sat there for days, a grim reminder, before my grandmother picked it up and tossed it.

I tossed aside my Starmore on May 19, 2008 – and I know that, because today, when I dug my unfinished vest out of its hiding place in my basement, and uncrumpled the very crumpled chart, I had written, “May 19 – Row 2 – wrong color.”  Wrong color – and the wrong stitch count, if I remember correctly.  And at that time, at that moment, I put the Starmore down.   Oh, it sat around in plain sight for days, weeks, before I bagged it up and put it in the basement, where it wasn’t laughing at me, taunting me.  Was it bad luck, bad news, like my grandfather’s hat?  I think, after all of the work that went into just getting it on the needles – securing the pattern, substituting the colorscasting on, ripping, casting on again – and then the maniacal, obsessive knitting that followed, I think it had the potential to be crippling, and ultimately, just may have broken me.  Maybe I saw the end of my knitting days on the horizon if I had continued on at that point, maybe I was just lazy (and maybe this is complete bullshit, and I just got bored with it and wanted to knit something else – the thing I most vividly remember, is just being exhausted by it, and the thought of taking out a row was unbearable), but whatever the reason, I am now convinced that putting down the Starmore was a necessity, and the insanity free knitting that followed was just the therapy I needed to maybe, one day, pick it back up again. 

So, here is that state of my Mount Starmore – all of those balls of yarn with no ball bands.  Oh, I wrote down my color substitutions – its on my well marked up chart – but that doesn’t mean that I remember what color name is what actual skein of yarn.  Some of these colors are really not that intuitive.  For instance, while I haven’t begun to decipher my notes, I know for certain that the cherry bing Rowan that’s in the pile will not have a name that has anything to do with cherries, or reds, or anything remotely resembling it’s color.  But, with a little patience, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. 

So, how do you avoid Starmortis – when your Starmore turns to rigor?  Prevention is the best medicine.  So, if you are inclined to climb your on Mount Starmore, these are my suggestions:

1.  If you are really really concerned about knitting, completing and wearing an authentic Starmore – order one of her kits from Virtual Yarns.  Do not poo poo the price – by the time you’ve tracked down a vintage pattern on ebay, purchased yarn, needles, etc., it’s going to be the same thing, if not less.  And the kits are fantastic – here is the one I ordered:

  This is Roscalie – a vest, which to my sensibilities, seems modern, and extremely wearable.  Of course, you may wonder why I would buy a kit when I have  perfectly acceptable Starmore on needles – and the reason, really, is that I was so obsessed with what I was knitting at the time, I felt like all I ever wanted to knit was Starmores, and for my next trick, I was going to knit a real Starmore with her yarn.  And then, pfft – Starmortis sank in. 

Which is a shame – because the pattern that accompanied the yarn is clearly written and charted, and eminently knittable.  The yarn is fabulous.  I’ve never held Scottish Campion in my hands, and I can’t compare the two, but I can compare her current Hebridean 2 ply with Jamieson, the go to yarn of substitution, and I can tell you, there’s really no comparison.  The Hebridean rocks.

I think you can see the Starmore magic in this picture – the colors are not copyable. 

Are there limits to what you can knit on the website – of course, most of the Tudor Roses are not kitted up, with the exception of Henry VIII.  But, really, that’s ok – there is so much to choose from. 

And another thing about the website – from reading about people’s finished projects on Ravelry, it is clear to me that along with ordering the patterns, comes support.  Virtual Yarns is completely customer friendly – and having that support when you’re knitting one of these things is really important.  I noticed on several people’s projects they said things like, “I liked this sweater, but I liked the color in such and such better – and I called them, and they made me my own kit.”  You can’t beat that. 

You get what you pay for.  I think the prices on Virtual Yarns are reasonable, all things considered.  A Starmore is an investment.  Invest wisely, and buy the real deal.

2.  Pick something you are going to wear.  Not everyone can wear a drop shoulder.  If you are going to knit a small, and the sweater is not going to resemble a tent, you may be able to get away with the drop, but otherwise – its a matter of taste – and if it is not to your taste to wear a drop shoulder, then do not knit a pullover or a cardigan; knit a vest, or one of her wraps, or perhaps a scarf.  They are beautiful, and difficult, and if you may actually wear them, satisfying. 

And while we’re on the topic of wearability, really do some soul searching – do you want to knit a Starmore or do you want to just knit a crazy Fair Isle sweater?  If you’re just intrigued by Fair Isle, and not by a color story, a theme, her attempt to evoke an image (for instance – my Thoroughbreds – when I changed the colors, I no longer see a chestnut mare.  Any feel of a champion horse is gone – the mahagony undertones are gone, replaced by pinks and purples – and this difference is huge), then maybe you should knit someone else – like a Eunny Jang or any number of modern Fair Isles, with really beautiful patterns, but with waist shaping and either a set in or raglan sleeve.  These are just things to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether to really really make the commitment.

3.  If you are going to ignore the above, and fill the void in your knitting life with an out-of-print pattern, just accept the reality that it is not going to look like the picture when you are done.  You can pull any numbe
r of color substitution charts off the web, but the bottom line is that it’s going to be off.  My vest, Thoroughbreds, was originally knit in J & S – which you can still get.  But, my lys carries Jamieson Spindrift, and I decided that I was ok with that.  My Starmore looks nothing like Thoroughbreds, the pattern I found in an old Vogue Knitting.  And, truthfully, I like mine, but I like the original better.  But, I did the best that I could with what I had.  And, you can be happy with that – it’ll be a fine, beautiful sweater that if it fits, you will love.  It will be your sweater.  And, also accept the fact that it’s probably going to be more expensive than going the easy route of buying one of her kits.  Buying the out-of-print Tudor Roses will cost you more than $200 easy.  You could do what I did – that is to find out what issues of what magazines published what patterns, and look for those on ebay.  I got lucky – whoever was selling my issue didn’t know it’s true value, and I think I paid $12 or something like that.  I kind of felt like I had stolen it.  But, a Vogue Magazine with a Starmore pattern in it will run you potentially over $40 – there are 2 listings now on ebay for the Vogue Knitting containing Thoroughbreds, and they both start at $49.95.  So before you even buy the yarn, you may have spent what it would cost to simply buy one of the above kits. 

But, who knows – don’t write off your normal resources – someone in your knitting circle might own a copy of what you are looking for, your local library or one of it’s affiliate branches might as well.  Putting together a Starmore from scratch can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a pain in the ass – and you may be sick of it before you even cast on your first stitch.  And, the pickier you are, the more obsessed with replicating the original can signal the future onset of Starmortis.

The bottomline – do whatever is going to make you happy.  If happiness is a warm snuggly Hebridean 2 ply sweater, go with Virtual Yarns, and climb Pocono Mountain.  If happiness is the struggle, go for the uphill battle, and climb Mount Hood.  Just keep in mind what a time commitment knitting this thing is going to be – and decide where you want to put your time – in the gathering, or in the knitting?  And, considering the commitment, and the exclusivity of this project (because if you put it down – Starmortis!), make sure you make something you potentially could wear.  Or else you will wrap it in plastic, put it in your bottom drawer, and every time you open that drawer, you will look at it wistfully, and you will have had a process, but that’s about it.

Book Review – Sweater Quest

I meant to write about Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously, last week, when it was fresh in my mind, but my issues with this book, and the subsequent reigniting of my Starmore obsession took a detour when I found myself on trial (not unexpectedly, but when an overpowering, all consuming obsession like Starmore is sideswiped, that’s quite a shock).   But, when yesterday’s mail brought with it A Collector’s Item by Jade Starmore, another fire was lit, and once again, I am obsessed with all things Starmore.

Starmore – how many times did I say it in the above paragraph?  In the past, uttering she who will not be named could at most, bring on an intellectual property lawsuit, or at the least, a request to please stop talking about her and her designs.  Those days seem to be over, and while I wouldn’t say Starmore is now fair game, I do think talking about Starmore and her designs in an appropriate way is now a doable thing.

And in Sweater Quest, Adrienne Martini talks about Starmore – the litigation, the designs, the insatiable desire to have a Starmore.  And, in deciding to knit a Starmore, Mary Tudor, and to spend a Year of Knitting Dangerously, Martini decides that her theme will be “movement” –  the idea that by knitting this sweater, she would be in control – of her knitting, her plentiful knitting metaphors, and ultimately this fantastic Fair Isle creation she would produce, and ultimately, the result would be that this power in this one aspect of her life would presumably fortify the rest.   

Ok, I’m with her so far – I have been there too.  I have seen the blinding light known as Starmore, and have fought the uphill battle just to be able to cast on – finding the out of print, hard to find, crazily expensive patterns, substituting yarn when there is no good substitute, and then the actual knitting.  And, at first I fretted with the same question she frets with for most of the book – is a Starmore still a Starmore when it’s no longer a Starmore?

I answered the question very early – who cares?  I felt the same angst when I knit my first (and probably only) Kaffe Fasset production.  And when I asked the properietress of our shop, Lisa, what she thought, as I had more colors than the original called for, different colors, different gauge, etc, I asked, “Is it still a Kaffe?,” and she said, “it’s Kaffier than Kaffe.”  Ok, good enough.  Onward.  Movement.

Martini on the other hand, not so satisifed.  She travels the blogosphere in search of answers – visiting with the Yarn Harlot (who ironically, blogs today about lying to herself about how long her garment is, see below), the Mason Dixon Women, Clara Parkes, and others – the book is so jam packed with bloggers that I have been reading for years, I almost felt like I knew the people she was talking about (indeed, I did know one of them, Purlewe, who helped her when it came time to making that first oh-so-painful cut into the steek), and knew that they were going to give her the same answer – who cares?  It’s your sweater.

And, I guess that was my ultimate problem with her book – if your goal is really movement, and empowering yourself through your knitting, why are you spending pages and pages worrying about whether your Starmore is still a Starmore if you changed umber to amber (that’s not the color change, just an example)? 

And after fretting and fretting, and whining to her knitting compadres about this Hamletesque to be or not to be a Starmore, she finishes the sweater, puts it on, and, gasp, it doesn’t fit.

And, she doesn’t care.

And, at the point, I cry foul – bullshit.

She explains that she is a process knitter – that her joy was in the process, and in creating this unwearable thing of beauty.

It’s not beautiful if it doesn’t fit.

Unless you intend to turn it into a pillow.

And, at that point, Martini reminded me of this guy who used to work in our office.  He would come to me with these crazy defense strategies, and when I would poo poo them, he would scowl and walk out.  Then, an hour later, I would hear him down the hall, asking another attorney the same exact question he had already asked me – looking not for the right answer,  but the answer that he wanted to hear – yeah, dude, great idea!  And, frankly, I was pissed that he had wasted my time – and I think she wasted a lot of people’s time.  Instead of spending so much time quizzing other knitters about the authenticity of her Starmore, maybe she should have been asking them, hey – do you think this is going to fit? 

I’ll tell you one thing of which I’m pretty certain – I think Starmore intended all of her sweaters to fit — an authentic Starmore fits.  And process isn’t just about color design, actually tackling the fair isle and the steeking — process is also about producing a garment that fits.

Some people like to say there are process knitters and product knitters, but to me — they are the same thing.  I can’t say that I haven’t knit something that I had no intention of wearing – but I intended someone to wear them.  Sometimes there is a crazy technique I want to try, and that I don’t want to wear – and I decided right away it’s going to be a gift.  But, I would never ever decide to knit something useless.

At the end of her year of knitting dangerously – Martini has a sweater that’s sleeves are SIX INCHES too short, and bust is too small – and I have to wonder how much deadline played into that.    Six inches, really?  A normal sleeve is approximately 17-18 inches long – that means she only had a 12 inch sleeve – and she knew she was not making a sweater for her garden gnome.  If your sleeves are too short  – and there is no way, no way she couldn’t see that her sleeves were too short – that’s a no brainer mistake, knit them longer. 

Unless, of course, you’re rushing through the “process” and you just want to get it done.  And, is that really a process knitter?

And if your sweater is going to be too small – you’ve knit the wrong size.  This is a painful thing to fix, unquestionably.  She talks about well, if I were really obsessed with this sweater, I would rip out, redo it – but see, this is proof that it was all about the process.  Again, bullshit.  Blocking does work miracles, true – but  it doesn’t work miracles like adding the four or five inches she’s talking about.  Within several inches of knitting, based on just looking at the sweaters she already owned in her closet, it should have been obvious that blocking was not going to make it fit.  And, if you’re going to right a book about knitting, movement, progress — how is it progress to spend a year knitting a sweater that you knew all along wasn’t going to fit?

And, at the end of the day – I just found myself disappointed in her – really, you spent all of this time bugging people — help with getting Scottish campion colors, with your angst about authenticity, with your desire to have everyone ooo and ahhh every time you took your sweater out of it’s knitting bag, and now you can’t even wear it?  No one can wear it because it has 12 inch sleeves?

Pe
rhaps also fueling my disappointment in her, is my small pang of jealousy – I could have written this book, but I didn’t think of it.  Or maybe I couldn’t have written this book – she’s a very entertaining writer – as disappointed as I was in her, it was a good read.  After the Yarn Harlot’s success, I think publisher’s got it into their heads that if you throw in some language like “tinking” “frogging” and whatnot, you were going to end up with sellable “knitlit” – and as most of you know, there’s a lot of garbage out there.  Just because it has knitting in the title, doesn’t mean I’m going to buy it.  Just because you can impale someone with a knitting needle, doesn’t mean that its going to make for a good murder mystery.  My point is, this is a well written book.  While I do believe that the “process” of knitting this sweater was more of a “process” of meeting a deadline and finishing this book, this is an authentic book about knitting – which is more important to me than knitting the ultimate, totally authentic Starmore sweater.  And I’m glad I read it – because it did get me thinking about my Starmore again – because unlike Martini – I haven’t finished mine.  So, I may point the finger and call bullshit on her – but really, the bullshit call is on me – at least she finished.

An Orange Sea

I never really liked orange.  Growing up, we had an orange kitchen.  Then, as if being assaulted by a pumpkin everyone morning before you’ve even got the sleep out of your eyes wasn’t bad enough, my parents painted the house orange.  And, it didn’t have a cornocopia feel – there’s no sense of bringing in the harvest in suburban PA – it was more like tacky candy corn, in a perpetual state of Halloween (probably why all of the Goldsteins suffer from weight issues – living in a candy coated  house doesn’t bode well).  I’d like to blame it on the 70’s, but my parent’s painted at least the outside of the house in the 80’s.  The only thing I can blame it on is not so good taste.

I moved out of the house, and since then, both the kitchen and the outside of the house have been repainted.  And, I’ve come around about orange.  In my early 30’s, I wore alot of pink – I gravitated towards pink – something very girly and carefree about pink.  Pink, to me, was a call to femininity.  I wore pink shoes, pink skirts, made pink shawls.  And, I guess as I got older, there was more to being a girl than being frilly, rosy, and pink.  As I approached 40, I moved into fall colors – vibrant reds, rusts, oranges, brown — strong colors.   Or maybe it was just that my husband had an orange winter coat that  I had to learn to love. 

In any event, when I got married, I really wanted vibrant colors for my wedding bouquet, and when I sat down with the florist, I tried to explain the exact orange I wanted – not too orangey, not too red, not too rust – so many kinds of orange – but I think my florist got it right –

And now, orange just really makes me happy.  It reminds me of my flowers, and our wedding, and our beautiful fall setting, and my dress, which I can never wear again.  Sigh.

So, when this crazy orange skein of Ella Rae merino came into the store, I snatched it up, and whenever I needed a little pick me up, I took it out of my stash bag, walked around the store with it, and put it away – saving it for a rainy day, like all good stash.  And then, it came time to knit with it – and luckily, I socked away two skeins, because wouldn’t you know it – 3 rows away from the bind off I ran out of yarn.  Uch.  But, anyway, this is Windsbraut “Steife Brise” from Monika Eckert .  Ms. Eckert knit Steife Brise in blue because it reminded her of  “a fresh day at sea.”  Mine reminds me of a sea of orange roses.

I’m not sure why the edges are curling – the easy answer is that I bound of too tightly, but when you feel it, it doesn’t feel tight, and I did use a needle 3 sizes bigger to bind off.  I think it’s because when I blocked it, I pulled the points out too far, and it kind of sprung back.  In any event, when I put it on, the curling fabric kind of looks neat, so I’m ok with it, and I don’t really feel like re-blocking it.

Here’s a nice close up of the yarn.  Ella Rae is a generous skein – 420 yards, and you can easily do this project with one skein – I’m just a loose knitter, didn’t swatch, and ended up with something bigger than it was supposed to be.  So my laziness cost my an extra $16 bucks, but I’m ok with that –  I like it this size, and not swatching lace, to me, is priceless.  And lazy, of course. 

As you can see, the Ella Rae has good stitch definition.  The color is vibrant, and the dye doesn’t bleed.  Koigu, my former favorite merino, and I are coming to a parting of the ways – everything I’ve knit and blocked, has unblocked itself, and reverted to its springy, scrunchy unblocked former self  -it refuses to be tamed for any length of time.  The Ella Rae, on the other hand, has submitted to blocking, and its showing no signs of rebelling, and reverting to its nascent, scrunched up beginnings.

So my orangey creation certainly doesn’t match the designers vision – I’ve never seen the ocean with an orange foam even at the polluted Joisey shore.  So, is it still Windesbraut?

Of course it is – but I’ve been reading Andrienne Martini’s Sweater Quest : My Year of Knitting Dangerously, in which she ruminates about whether a Starmore is a Starmore if it isn’t a Starmore anymore.  I’m not at the end of the book yet, so I don’t know what she decided, but it has motivated me to pull out my Starmore, and perhaps get moving on it.  Or not.  But, in any event, I’ll be posting my thoughts on it soon.

Not a Date Night Movie

Is Date Night a date night movie?

To me, a “date night” movie is a movie that stimulates conversation, because if it doesn’t, the post-movie part of the date will suffer terribly. 

So, a date night movie doesn’t have to be a great movie, or even a good movie – it just needs to give you something to talk about – something more than what you would have talked about if you had stayed home and watched t.v. – i.e., wtf was Buzz Aldrin doing on Dancing with the Stars except copping a cheap feel of a young girl’s ass before he dies, wtf is Tiger Woods thinking with those horrifically uncomfortable new Nike commercials with his dead father’s hypocritical diatribe on wtf was he thinking, because he’s certainly not thinking about selling sneakers, or applauding wildly as Donovan holds up a Redskins uniform – see ya!

Talking points, that’s a good date night movie, that are worth around $10 a topic.

So, for instance, if on date night, you see Shutter Island, which wasn’t such a great movie, or even a good movie but had a lot of talking points, the conversation after the movie will go like this:

“Wtf.”

“I know.”

“So was he or wasn’t he?”

“He was.” (Then you get to talk about the plot, which was pretty convoluted, and I don’t want to spoil anything – you can fill in the conversation)

Later – “What was Scorsese thinking?”

“Well, the movie looked fantastic – it definitely had the 1950’s film noir feel.”

“All it needed was Jon Hamm.”  (Then you can talk about the costumes, the cinematography, and the incredible amount of smoking that went on in the movie.)

You get the idea – all of the above is springboard to further conversation – what was the plot about, Scorsese, Mad Men, etc, and, importantly, this is conversation that doesn’t make you feel bad about your life, your body, your attitude, your reading habits — fine, I’m happy I got off the couch, spent my $10 bucks, and cheated on my diet eating popcorn and milk duds.

But Date Night, the movie?  Here’s the conversation:

“Huh.”

“Yeah, huh.”

“I still hate Steve Carrell.”

“Yeah. Huh.”

Silence.

“Ok – just say it!”

“His abs . . .”

“Ok, ok – he’s got abs . . .”

That’s all there is to talk about – Mark Wahlberg’s abs – and then you feel bad  you got off the couch, bad you ate the popcorn, bad you ate the milk duds, and stupid for plunking down $10 bucks to see Tina Fey and Steve Carrell do something unthinkable with a stripper pole, complain about their ordinary lives that resemble your own ordinary life, and come to the conclusion, gosh there’s no place like home, and we’ve got to stop wasting our time trying to be the intellectuals that we’re not reading books about young girls in the Sudan getting their periods in the desert.

I hate to be negative about Tina, but this movie just wasn’t good.  There’s just so much you can say about Mark Wahlberg’s abs, and then that’s it – go home, watch the dvr’d 30 Rock from last week.  I guess it’s a renter, but then, you’d watch it at home, where you were probably going back and forth to the fridge during the entire movie instead of being confined to what you bought at the concession stand, and then you’re really going to feel bad about Mark Wahlberg’s abs.

In other news – my brother has joined the bloggedy — if you hate Chris Wheeler, are leading the band leading Donovan out of town, or need a wedding band any time in your future, give him a look see at Howard of Mainline Affair.

Damson by the Pond

Ah, there’s nothing like knitting a heavy wool blanket just in time for spring . . . not.

So, I put down my latest gigantic blanket project, and had a quick fix of Ysolda – Damson – a shawlette/scarf/thingy you throw around your neck.

Because of it’s poncho like shaping, I’m sure this isn’t the way you’re supposed to wear it – all smooshed up so that you can’t see the lovely lines of yarnovers, but whatever.  I’m a smooshed up kind of girl, I guess.

It’s knit in a skein and a quarter (how much does that suck!!!!) of Blue Moon Fiber Art’s Socks that Rock in Pond Scum.  This was a color that didn’t hit me right away – well, it did, the wrong way.  I first saw it around Christmas time at Stitches East two years ago, and when one of my friends bought it, I smirked – eh, she just bought some crappy looking sock yarn called Pond Scum, and when she knits socks out of it, it’s going to look like someone vomitted on her feet.

But, this color caught on – it’s everywhere. 

 And, it caught on with me – I love it.

And, now that my little fix is over, do I really have to go back to knitting a ridiculously large blanket?

Nah, next on deck I have this orange triangle thingy – awesome color, right?  Eh, I don’t know, but it’s so springy, and so not snowy, that I’m really enjoying knitting with it.  And, it’s a nice change up – Damson was a really really easy knit – a glance at the chart every once in awhile is just about all you need.  This chart, on the other hand, is not hard, but definitely not the mindless (but lovely!) garter of Damson. 

Garter rules, but everyone needs a little yarn over now and then. 

Have a Happy Holiday Weekend Everyone!