Sunday, April 03, 2005

It all happened so quickly!

Pack your bags, kids, we're moving!
a subdivision of the new

It all happened so quickly, I haven't even blogged about it. I registered a domain with LivingDot, and before I knew it, there it was, my entire knitting webpage (formerly on Harvard's turf) and my new blog (formerly with Blogger). LivingDot has been just fantastic as far as tech support goes. I'm decent at html, but I wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between css and cgi, although I'm pretty sure that's like comparing apples and oranges. Well, the lovely folks at LivingDot held my hand throughout the entire MovableType experience. Their response times are incredible, and what I thought would be a painful procedure lasting several months turned out to be a rather painless one lasting a few days. I'm sure I've mentioned that I have a busy period coming up at work, so taking that into account I thought the new site would take forever. I wasn't even going to buy the domain until much later, but decided to get it now to at least move my html files. Then, boom, there was my blog!

In practical terms, here's what going to happen: my Blogger archives have been moved (by the wonderful Pavel at LivingDot, at midnight on a Saturday night), but the formatting is a little off. You'll see unexpected font changes and weird picture placement, that's all. The comments, unfortunately, weren't moved, but that's the least of my worries. I do not expect the same kind of Blogger nonsense we're all used to - inability to add comments, error pages when comments actually went through, inability to access Dashboard, etc. However, considering I'm a MovableType super-novice, please let me know if you run into any problems. A new thing is that I will ask you to leave your e-mail address when you comment; I hope that's not a problem. I'm doing it because so many times I just want to write you back, but have to try to find your blog, and then hope you have your e-mail posted on there.

Please update your bookmarks, subscriptions, etc. I am now going to do the same for all the KALs and rings I'm in :).

I'm so excited!

P.S. In case you're wondering, I will also move my other Blogger blogs to too, just not this very minute (or month). Although it took a lot less time than I expected, it still took several days. Since my other blogs (based on number of subscribers) are more for my own venting than other people reading, I'll let them suffer with Blogger for just a bit more.

P.P.S. A special thanks to Diana for leaving a comment once upon a time, which led me to explore and admire her blog, and then for recommending LivingDot.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

News from grandma’s house

Internet business: As I’ve mentioned to some of you, the great thing about Blogger is that there’s practically no thinking; the bad thing about Blogger is that thousands of blogs all reside on the same server, so if things go screwy (as they often do), everyone suffers. I am pretty paralyzed right with respect to internet stuff because I’m incredibly busy at work, but come July, I hope to get my act together and move to my own domain. I’ve admired Diana’s site in the past, and her webhost sounds like the kind of folks I want to deal with, even though I’d have to once have to deal with MT. I definitely need to be able to shove regular .html pages on there, and I’d like at least two separate blogs (not just two categories), and I’m just so picky! I hate myself for that. For now, even though many of you send me regular e-mails about how much Blogger sucks, I can’t do much about it, sorry, because school really does come first.

Strickfingerhut: Some angel named Sue (thank you, Sue!) left me a comment about using an INOX Strickfingerhut for stranded knitting, and I’ve been pretty much obsessed with finding one since then. Anyone know where I can buy one online? I have had zero luck finding an online retailer. The only LYS in the Boston area that I know carries INOX accessories is Newbury yarns, but my instincts tell me that a shop that small won’t have an obscure little whatchamacallit… Strickfingerhut.

Warning: very self-centered talk follows:

From today, a picture of me and my grandma; she’s wearing the socks I knit for her in October, my very first pair ever

As I mentioned, I dug through my baby albums and found some classic grumpy pictures to share with you:

Grumpiness can be acquired later on in life, but some of us are just born that way

Grandma is trying to reason with me, but it’s just not happening

Eh, eh, get me out of here! I want mommy!

I could have used this one for my banner, I think

Not happy, even though I was just given some candies by this better-than-average-looking Mrs. Claus. I think it’s all the tinsel everywhere.

I guess celebrating Soviet holidays didn’t alleviate my grumpy mood

This is what I look like in school pictures (too bad the photo is b/w and bad quality because I’m wearing a gorgeous dress that my mom sewed and embroidered herself)

Grumpy toddlers grow into grumpy school children (I’m on the left in both), grow into grumpy teenagers, grow into grumpy adults…

VPC progress: this is pretty much solely for Tara’s sake.

I finished knitting all three pieces to the armhole. I very roughly basted them together, and used safety pins instead of buttons. I put the whole thing on, and here’s what I’ve got:

I think everything is going according to plan. The sweater seems to have the amount of ease I like (very little), it seems to be long enough (I added an inch to what the pattern specifies), and there is some hope that it will close over my bust without… busting open. I started the armhole shaping tonight, and if I get a significant amount of knitting done in the next few days, I might post an update; currently, I do more blogging than knitting :).

The story of the wall-hanging

Remember this monster?

It’s the square I knit for a patch wall hanging my Sunday Stitch ‘n Bitch decided to put together and give to the owners of the coffee shop where we meet. On Saturday we met to sew everyone’s squares into a wall hanging (also complete with a potluck and yarn swap). Betsy and Omar took some pictures and allowed me to steal them from their fab (and recently-updated) website. Here’s our beauty!

Can you find my square?

And here are some of the contributors holding up the (nearly finished, still needs a crocheted border) wall hanging:

Erin, Julie, me (sometimes I grin like a stupid idiot), Betsy and Omar

And I couldn’t resist posting this picture of me, your favorite Grumperina, weaving in ends:

More pictures are on Betsy and Omar’s website; make sure to click “Continue reading “Wall hanging”.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

You guys are way too sweet!

I got four separate e-mails letting me know that my blog is down - thank you so much, and I know! I noticed this last night, and it was bothering me so much that I woke up at 4 a.m. (not on purpose or anything), and half-asleep booted my computer to see if it was back up! Blogger has been terrible in the past two weeks. I also kept getting that blank page when I'd load the url, and I wasn't able to load "dashboard", the interface where I can add posts, change the look of the blog, etc. But now it seems back on track. For how long, I don't know.

Which brings me to point #2: it's time for me to get my own domain. I've been keeping all my pictures, videos, and knitting webpages on Harvard's domain, and really I would rather have it elsewhere. And Blogger is a serious pain in the butt. Can anyone recommend user-friendly blogger (using the term generically) software? Movable Type, in its raw form, is a bit too much for me. I can (and have) figure it out, but I want something a bit more simple, with a user-friendly interface. Any suggestions?

Edit: Thank you for all your suggestions. I'm not looking for a Blogger-type website (Blogger, Typepad, Blogcity, etc.). I will buy my own domain for two purposes - I'll have a blog on there, and also regular html-coded pages for life and knitting stuff. So, I just need some software to help me with the blog part. Movable Type in its raw form worked fine for that (I had my blog on Harvard's domain for a while), but it was very awkward for me to code. So, something like Movable Type, or a software that is based on Movable Type, but is easier to use would be the winning ticket :).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Elizabeth Zimmermann buttons

I have very strong feelings about Elizabeth Zimmermann. Unfortunately, my brain is that of a scientist: my entire life I have been trained to boil down my thoughts to the bare essentials, to speak in a clear, concise, organized manner, without any wordiness whatsoever. Just try writing a 1000-word grant proposal and you’ll understand! And here I am, trying to explain why EZ is my idol, and my scientifically inclined writing skills are totally failing me. I apologize.

What do I know about EZ? The interesting thing is that everything I know about her I’ve gathered from a variety of sources, not from any one cohesive source. If you Google ‘Elizabeth Zimmermann biography’, you get nothing of the sort!

What I know is that she is often referred to as the grandmother of modern knitting. As I understand it, the use of hand knitting for making clothes decreased as the machine-knitting industry advanced from 16th century onward. Although many people knit during early- and mid-1900s, knitting knowledge was passed mother-to-daughter, and in decreasingly fewer instances; no widespread information or patterns were available. Elizabeth Zimmermann entered the knitting scene in the 1950s with the publication of Wool Gathering, a hand-knitting newsletter, and steadily, albeit slowly, knitting started to increase in popularity. Surely it wasn’t the sole doing of EZ, but her contributions to knitting are of great importance. Knitting then, as now, often had an air of self-importance and complexity: only the special, the select few, the well trained can complete a hand-knitted garment. To which Elizabeth said, phooey! I quote, “Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence.” (Knitting Without Tears).

I think if you put Elizabeth Zimmermann in a roomful of people who were skeptical about whether they could learn to knit, or whether they could knit a complicated garment, she would run around like a little crazy lady saying “nonsense!” left and right. She saw knitting for its simplicity, not for its complexity. She noticed that human bodies of all shapes and sizes followed certain proportions, and incorporated a percentage system in her designs. For sleeves, cast on 20% of the number of stitches you had for the body. How much more simple does it get?!? She introduced the seamless yoke sweater, and told knitters how to knit Scandinavian and Aran sweaters on circular needles: knitters no longer had to deal with the wrong side and saw the pattern develop in front of their eyes, a great technical advantage. There were other sweater patterns, bind-off techniques, buttonholes, the i-cord, socks, selvedge stitches, etc., etc., etc.

Although I myself like/need to do things the complicated way, there is something very empowering about knowing that there is a simple way to which I can resort at any time, and that I can do anything using it! I also love (love!) Elizabeth Zimmermann’s self-claimed title of the Opinionated Knitter, and her lack of shyness to state her opinions. As I understand it, a lot of stuffy knitters had a real problem with knitting being as easy as EZ claimed, and she answered their concerns in the most clever ways – phony seams come to mind. And when they tried to make her patterns more complicated by publishing them as knitted flat rather than circularly, she just started her own publishing company. It’s like the ultimate “Ha!” She knew she had a better way, and she made sure everyone else knew it, and in the process she introduced knitting to a great number of new knitters, and simplified knitting for many experienced ones.

When I got The Opinionated Knitter, I was very moved. There are pictures of sweaters knit by EZ herself in that book; there are pictures of her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren in that book, wearing her original designs. There are her hand-written notes, signatures, drawings, and corrections. There’s a picture of EZ sitting next to Barbara G. Walker (of the Treasury of Knitting fame), taken in 1980, the year I was born. There are the most touching pictures of Elizabeth Zimmermann herself. I had to do something.

I’ve been mulling over making Elizabeth Zimmermann buttons for a while now. I’m worried about copyrights, to be honest, but I decided to take a chance. If Schoolhouse Press tells me I’m trespassing copyright laws, you’ll be the first to know. For now, I’m starting with some simple “knit on” buttons in EZ’s own handwriting. If you idolize EZ as much as I do, take a button, and knit on!


P.S. There may be slowing down in knitting and blogging activity for a few months. I have my annual Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting coming up, and a lot of experiments to complete before then. I’ll be here, just not as much right here in blogland :/

P.P.S. A big thanks to June for pointing out I had Zimmermann misspelled.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

We interrupt this otherwise orderly blog to bring you a bucketful of randomness

My knitting has been all over the place. This is very unusual for me: I’m typically a one-project-at-a-time type of gal. And this even extends to thinking about projects. Here are some of the things going on:

  • I am slowly, but surely, working on the VPC. I’m being supremely obsessive compulsive about it. I check my gauge every 3 inches. I count my stitches every 5 rows. I measure and re-measure. I double-check everything and don’t trust my math skills. I only work on it at home, with the TV’s volume lowered. If I have to rip this rendition, my brain will spontaneously combust.

  • I have started Pretty Comfy Socks using elann’s Sock It to Me Collection Esprit. Per my own rules, this is my “going out” project, and I do not touch it at all when I’m at home. As a result, I have completed a whopping five rows.

  • I got some yarn for the Russian hooded pullover. This is a bit of a story… A while back I noticed that elann was having some very interesting yarn on sale called ONline Linie 76 – Cup in a lovely burgundy. I thought about it, and thought about it, for like a month, and then I read on Alison’s blog that the yarn was soft, and I also saw how interesting the yarn looked knit up. Well… racing back to elann I went and lucky me, 28 skeins of the burgundy remained, and I snatched up 14 of ‘em. I got the yarn a few a days ago, and it’s everything I thought it would be:

    For those of you keeping track, I’m working on the VPC, I have already bought KnitPicks Merino Style in hollyberry for the Adrienne Vittadini sweater, now I have bought ONline Linie 76 for the Russian hooded pullover, I bought some raspberry Louet with no project in mind (but there’s enough for almost two sweaters, I think)… and that’s not the end of it!

  • I bought some new Noro Daria, which is a cord-like yarn great for purses and other items which need structure, and also some Katia Sevilla, which looks and feels like the ribbon used to wrap gifts.

    I will use these two yarns to make a little pouch… it will be in seed stitch or linen stitch, it will have a zipper (which I also already bought), and it will be lined with some cool fabric. The pattern will be all mine and I have some very clever ideas already :). I do not exclude a submission possibility, so most likely this is the first and last time you’ll hear about this… for a long while. This is a project I actually need to start asap, since the recipient’s birthday is April 8th. Yikes!

  • There has been book purchasing. Most recently, I got my own copy of Shadow Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro and At Knit’s End by none other than Yarn Harlot. These two are on their way. Also, a few weeks ago I bought Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Opinionated Knitter, which I’m enjoying immensely.

  • There has been pattern purchasing. I surfed onto a photo of this gorgeous pillow on the knitsmiths website. And I knew I had to make it.

    At the LYS I found the pattern for this Dale pillow, and I couldn’t resist buying another one, Dalegarn Interiorkolleksjon NR 119. The only thing… and it’s sort of big… is that I have no idea how to knit two-handed. Someone recommended that I drape one color over my left index finger, and the other over my left middle finger. I tried this, and it’s something I can get used to. I know, it’s an odd project for a first-time two-color stranded knitter, but I’m willing to give it a try.

And now I need to get back to knitting my VPC, thank you very much. Later, alligator!

P.S. Notice any difference in my photography? I got an Ott-Lite!

I just couldn't resist...

Interviewing KLV, Betsy, Judy, Diana, and Alexandria was a wonderful experience. I love to knit, and I love to listen about knitting.

Michelle made this adorable gif animation out of one of my grumpy pictures (by the way, you know my baby photo albums are completely filled with pictures like that, and when I visit my grandma next week, I hope to bring some back with me).

Also, she jokingly asked to be interviewed, and even though I said that I won’t be conducting any more interviews, I want to make this one exception. You see, Michelle is someone I know in real life, and I know she’ll have witty stuff to say :).

Michelle, these questions are for you:

1. From your blog we can see that you have a lot of UFOs. What is your most complete UFO? Something that’s just missing a bind-off, or just needs to be seamed, etc.
2. You’ve been knitting for a while. What was knitting like before Fun Fur, K1, Martha poncho crazes, knitting celebrities, Debbie Stoller, etc.?
3. What is the one project or type of project you will never ever want to make, other than those funky overalls?
4. People for Ethical Treatment of Wool has hit every yarn shop in the world. They will seize all wool yarn, and put it to graze on pastures. They will leave only one kind of wool… one brand, one type, one weight... to satisfy angry knitters. If you had to knit with one wool yarn for the rest of your life (unlimited colors, unlimited supply), what would it be?
5. Non-knitting question: Have you ever made a wish when blowing out birthday candles, or when someone picked an eyelash off your cheek, or when breaking a wishbone, and have it come true?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

This post is about you!

Enough self-centered blabber. Me, me, me, me, and my pictures and my VPC and my early onset of middle-age grumpiness… now let’s talk about you! I am glad you guys want me to interview you! And it’s cool that I know some of you quite well and can ask pretty specific questions, and I look forward to learning more about everyone else! I decided to follow Tara’s lead and ask 4 knitting questions, and 1 non-knitting question. Also, I loved putting these interviews together, but there are only so many one girl can do (and only so long she can put off her experiments to write blog entries). Five is plenty for me, so I will not be interviewing anyone else :).

KLV, of course I want to interview you! Here are your questions:

1. I know you knit and crochet. Is there any type of project that you would only crochet or only knit?
2. Do you plan to teach your children how to knit and/or crochet, especially your cutie Z? (R is currently into video games and LEGOs, as far as I can tell). Will you suggest, highly recommend, or require that your children learn?
3. What is the one yarn that you’ve always wanted, but don’t have? And why don’t you have it yet?!?
4. What is the most unusual or embarrassing thing that’s happened to you at a local yarn shop?
5. What do you do to relax when you’re really tense? And if it’s knitting/crochet, then pick another answer :).

Betsy, here are your questions:

1. I know there’s some roving and a drop-spindle hiding between your rabbits’ hay, but how come we don’t read much about it on your blog?
2. Talk to me about color. We agree, and we disagree. There is orange, there’s green, there’s rhubarb. Have you always liked orange? Is green one of your favorites, too? What colors make your knitting happy?
3. What is the one knitting pattern you absolutely love, but know you will never, ever make? Why? Have you bookmarked or purchased this pattern to admire it lovingly?
4. Is there anything unusual about the way you knit? Do you cable without a cable needle, or knit backwards, or hold your yarn differently, etc.?
5. Other than yarn, do you have any particular shopping obsession? Shoes, coats, jewelry, etc.?

Judy, here are your questions:

1. How did you come up with the name for your blog? Does is have any knitting significance?
2. You seem to be a very well-stocked knitter, with extra balls of every yarn. Give us an idea of the size of your stash? (in whatever measurement is convenient: pounds, number of balls, number of bathtubs, houses, etc)
3. Did you teach your daughter, Katie, to knit? Has it been a rewarding experience? Do you always want to jump in there and help her with her mistakes?
4. You seem to knit a lot of socks, you even have a poll on your website! How did your sock-knitting start, and what’s the appeal? Why do you keep on knitting socks?
5. You live in South Carolina. What do you like better, the mild winters, or the steamy summers, and why?

Diana, here are your questions: (I tried really hard to keep the “me” part to a minimum)

1. You and I have many similar knitting habits. I also have a hard time working on more than two projects at the same time. Why does it stress you out? Do you not have any UFOs as a result? What do you do if you start a project and it just doesn’t work for you?
2. Despite the popularity of the Rebecca Wrap Cardigan in blogland, you went against your “style” (and mine) and jumped on the bandwagon. Your wrap came out gorgeous, by the way; I’m glad to have found your blog, I dig your knits. Anyway, there’s supposed to be a question. What do you think about massive numbers of knitters working on the same project? Is it helpful, frustrating, distracting? Related: what do you think about knit-alongs?
3. You mention some totally enviable yarn brands on your blog: Dale, Harrisville, Jo Sharp, GGH. If all the yarn companies, except one, were to disappear off the face of the planet, which company would you want to supply all your yarns?
4. Do you dabble in other fiber arts: crochet, spinning, weaving, etc.?
5. Do you take advantage of New York’s theater scene? Do you like to go to plays, musicals, comedy shows?

And finally, Alexandria, these questions are for you. Alexandria is a new knitter and is hoping to use this interview to inaugurate knitting content into her currently knit-less blog. We like that!

1. Basic knitting history – why, how, and when did you learn to knit?
2. What kinds of yarns do you like? Have you chosen an absolute-favorite yarn yet?
3. You live in the People’s Republic just like me, and probably use public transportation with some frequency. Have you knit on the subway or bus yet? What do you think about people who knit in public?
4. As they say, keep an eye on the prize. What is the ultimate knitting project for you? What kinds of things do you hope to make or design?
5. You have some interesting stories on your blog. Have they been published anywhere, or do you plan to do so?

This post is about me

As though the rest of this blog isn’t! Hehehehe, hahahaha… Oy, my side is hurting.

I asked Tara of the DirtyPurls fame (which in my head I always rhyme, dirty purls, dirty girls :)) to interview me, and she has asked me these thoughtful and awesome questions:

1. I am dying to know the story behind the picture in your profile and on your button. Is that you?

Yes, that’s me in the picture. I was a grumpy child, and despite my parents’ best intentions, I’ve grown into a grumpy adult. Not all the time, but you know, most of all the time :). Here is that picture in higher-res:

And here is another picture of me as a child:

Convinced that Grumperina is the perfect name for me? :)

2. Since you're a pretty new knit blogger like me, tell us about your knitting history. How did you learn? How long have you been knitting? What's your favorite thing you've made so far? (I know I'm cheating b/c there are 3 questions, but they're all related, dammit!)

Someone showed me how to knit when I was little, maybe 8 or 9. I think it was my mom’s cousin. I learned to cast-on and knit. I knit maybe twenty stitches and that was the end of it. However, when I learned to knit this past July, I remembered how to hold the yarn (Continentally) and needles, so I learned quickly. I taught myself from the Knitting for Dummies book. So, I’ve been knitting 9 months. My favorite thing that I’ve knit so far is this pair of socks for my grandma, which I knit from Louet (what else?):

3. I dig that you are rebelling against the current Clapotis craze even though you love it. So is there anything in particular that will draw you to a pattern so that you absolutely have to knit it?

I love a challenge! If the pattern has at least two charts, I’ll almost definitely want to make it. If I need to make major pattern alterations, I’m up for it. If it involves learning a major technique, like knitting backwards or stranding using both hands, you know I’ve got the pattern already (yes, I did get the pattern this Saturday, but I’m saving that for another post). And you know if anyone ever tells me I won’t be able to make something, I’ll make it… and I have.

Otherwise, I prefer to work with yarn no heavier than worsted weight, and with needles no larger than US 7. If it’s pink or red, it helps.

The Clapotis thing… I just had to take a stand. I think you’ll all agree that it’s way too much at this point. I love it, I even bought yarn for it, but it.will.not.happen for me. I understand that BMKT (before my knitting time) there was something called Charlotte’s Shawl? Yeah, not for me.

4. Non knitting question... What's one place in the world you'd love to go and why? Or, if you've traveled alot, what is your favorite place you've been to?

I really, really want to go to Alaska. I’ve been collecting Alaska articles and Alaska books for several years now, and I’ve been planning the trip. I’m not sure when or how it will happen since my close friends can hardly be described as “outdoorsy.” I am not opposed to traveling on my own, as I have done on many occasions in the past, but a trip to Alaska will require driving, which I do very poorly.

5. So, like, when did your obsession with Louet start and how? (sorry, I couldn't resist!)

I guess grandma’s socks up above were my first Louet experience. And you know, once you go Louet, you never go back! Look, I Loueted today:

Thank you for interviewing me, Tara! And now I can interview you! Here are the rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me."

2. I will respond by asking you five questions here. They will be different questions than the ones above.

3. You will update YOUR blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Monday, March 21, 2005


I, Grumperina the grumpy, hereby make the following resolutions, in front of everyone so that if I stray from the aforementioned resolutions, dozens of people will point it out:

  • Learn how to code bulletpoints in html to make nice-looking lists. (Apparently, this is done. If everything else was as easy... sigh)

  • Accept the fact that even though both of the Vintage Pink Cardigan's fronts and half the back are done, everything will have to be frogged.

  • I will not frog anything until I mattress stitch the ribbing at the bottom to make sure I like the way it looks. That way when I restart my VPC knitting, I will have full confidence that the ribbing will be perfect when seamed.

  • By the way, when dealing with 2 X 2 ribbing, where do you guys put the seam? The pattern calls for putting it between the two knit stitches, which I think is a bit wonky. Since I'll be frogging anyway, I think I will move the seam to be between a knit and a purl stitch - good? Edit: I have selvedge stitches, one on each side... but so then it doesn't matter where the seam goes? There must be some places better than others, right? June suggests that between two knit stitches is least visible.

  • I will knit the three body pieces of the VPC only up to the armhole. Then I will baste the parts together to make sure they close over my bust. Only then I will proceed with the armhole- and neck-shaping and the sleeves.

  • I will not restart the knitting until I've thoroughly wet and dried the pink Louet. It has a great memory and stitches come out wobbly if the yarn has seen the needles before.

  • I will stop being so obsessive-compulsive and such a perfectionist. I will stop paying attention to all the knitters who point out my OC and perfectionist tendencies.

  • For the sake of my own health, I will start a small project. I am no longer capable of dragging around all the VPC pieces and my full-sized notebook of VPC notes.

  • For the sake of my own sanity, I will no longer knit VPC at Stitch 'n Bitch or at my Tuesday lunch group. These two places make mistakes happen.

So, I'm definitely starting a pair of socks.