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October 2005
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December 2005

NaNo tools

Some people have inquired how I managed my time during the month of November, to keep me on track to complete the National Novel Writing Month goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. One of the things I did was set up a spreadsheet of goals to fill out each day. The spreadsheet recorded my daily goal (the minimum number of words I needed to write each day--1667-- to meet my goal); what my actual total added up to; how many words I wrote each day; what the difference was between my goal and my actual number of words written; and how many words I had left to write. It also figured a running average of how many words I was writing each day.

I found this spreadsheet to be a great incentive to make me do at least a small amount of writing every day, because I really didn't want to have to go fill in a little zero in my "words written today" space. I did that three times, and one day I wrote under 800 words, and those places made a low spot in the spreadsheet. It gave me instant feedback to see what effect writing nothing for a day had on my overall progress. It was a good motivator. You can click here to see my NaNoWriMo spreadsheet.

Seems to me, I could also use a spreadsheet as a motivator to complete knitting progress, as well. Instead of keeping track of words written, it would keep track of how many inches I knit or how many pattern repeats I completed or how many chart rows I have done. I just have to come up with a reasonable completion date, and divide the number of inches or pattern repeats or chart rows by the number of days, and try to meet that number every day. I could see it being useful when knitting long stretches of boring stockinette stitch, or never ending lace borders on a shawl. A stockinette sweater could even be broken into sections, each having a different spreadsheet: one for the back, one for the front, one for each sleeve, one for the neck and finishing. In Excel, each worksheet would make up the sweater workbook. How many of us have that sweater that was so exciting while we knit the back, but the front suddenly became boring and endless? Or that baby blanket that has no end in sight? Funny how those baby blankets suddenly take on the proportions of a football field after the first four inches or so. Hmmm, I think this spreadsheet idea just might work. But for knitting, I'll have to call it a spreadsheep. :)



My friend Steve Ogden has three songs available to listen to on

I think he has a great voice and writes a clever lyric. Plus he is a really good musician! It would be worth your while to give him a listen. Tell your friends!

He is working on his second CD. I believe the speed with which this second CD will be completed correlates directly to how much his fans inquire about it. I would really like to hear this second CD. So listen to his stuff, and hopefully you'll like his music as much as I do, and you'll drop him a line telling him you like it and begging -- erm, I mean, "asking politely" -- for the next CD.

Thanks for listening.

Click here for Og's Music

Need a Good Movie?

It's nearly Thanksgiving, and everyone knows that means family together time, which in turn means ... renting videos and DVDs for the family to watch together! Right? Oh yeah, and there's that big turkey dinner thing, too.

Knitters were running in to Unique One all day to buy a good car project -- many are preparing for a medium to long car trip, driving down or over or up to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving, and it was fun to see what people were getting for a good knitting project for the car. I think socks won out, although hats were pulling a close second.

Then, when I got home, I found this link to a site that lists movies and television shows that have knitting or crocheting in them. Families often use time around Thanksgiving to watch a little TV together, especially after eating a big meal, so I thought you all might like to see the list. (Click here to link to the list.)

Some were familiar to me, like Chicken Run and A Tale of Two Cities and Mr. Lucky. But some I had to think about before I remembered the knitting in them, like The Wizard of Oz and Wild, Wild West. Several were films I had seen, but I don't remember any knitting or crocheting in them; it makes me want to go watch them again. A lot of the films, I have never seen -- guess I ought to.

One of my managers, Kristin, recently left Unique One to open a video store in Union, Maine. So all you knitters out there -- if you live near Union, go to The Video Shop and rent holiday DVDs or videos! You'll be supporting a fellow knitter! She might even have some of these films that offer a glimpse of knitting and crocheting in them.

Virginia Teague, Weaver

Ever since I learned to weave, I've been checking out weaving web sites, and web sites from weavers who sell their work. There are some beautiful things out there.

In addition, some of you may know that I've been participating in NaNoWriMo, so writing has been on my mind a lot lately, too.

So when I ran across the web site for Virginia Teague and her weaving, I was interested. This lady is just perfect fodder for someone to write a novel about her. I'm not kidding: she lives in a 600 year old haunted farmhouse in Wales, which was possibly built on the site of a Druid meeting place; she weaves on a 100 year old loom; she creates wraps and christening shawls from handspun wool and from silk; she also creates reproductions of historical textiles for museums (her museum quality pieces are totally accurate, handspun, vegetable dyed and handwoven) or in a different quality that works better for film companies and re-enactors. Virginia has compiled a portfolio that represents fabrics from the 8th to 14th centuries, and she helped to devise a module entitled Medieval Woven Textiles, which now exists in the Department of History and Welsh History at the University of Wales, Bangor .

The things she offers for sale look beautiful, and she and her products are quite inspirational for this newbie weaver. And wouldn't it be cool to read a novel based on her life? Check it out:

Knitters Can Give Twice

This is the season when so many knitters I know are looking for beautiful, meaningful gifts to knit for the the holidays. They are also looking for things that are relatively quick to knit. In my experience, people who knit gifts for others are, in general, the kind of people who feel holiday gifts should reflect more than just a material belonging; the fact that the gift is hand made, made with love and caring, is important to these knitters. And, I figure, most of the people who read my blog are knitters like these, or people who know knitters like these. (I strongly believe that people who read my blog are, well, saints. Thank you for reading my blog!)

Therefore, I'd like to take a moment to shamelessly plug three companies that make knitting kits that give from the moment you buy them, and which give you the opportunity to knit scarves/hats/blankets/pins and give them as a holiday gift, as well. (Or, celebrate your sainthood and keep the item for yourself! Or just give the gift of a kit to your favorite knitter!) I know WAY too many women -- customers, friends, coworkers, family -- who have suffered from breast cancer or gynecologic cancers. The sale of kits like these listed below help fund research that we all hope will eventually prevent or cure these terrible killers. Think about it; how many women do you know who have cancer? who have died of cancer? who have survived cancer? I sell most of the following products at Unique One, and you can certainly buy them from me, but I urge everyone to please consider buying one of these kits -- or a similar type of kit, as I am sure there are more out there than just these three companies are providing -- from your local yarn store. Most yarn shop owners probably have such kits, and if they don't have them, ask for them; if your local yarn shop doesn't carry these kits (or something similar) it may be that they just don't know about them. Here's the list:

1. Knitwhits Large Beaded Felted Alpaca Flower Pin (For Beginner Knitters)
From the Knitwits web site:

"Our flower knitting kits have been enormously popular and have been given rave reviews, including being named "best of the bunch" according to Family Circle Easy Knitting Magazine.

"We want to give something back.

"The May flower kit was designed to raise funds for the support and education for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Ten percent of the sale of each May Flower Kit (both at wholesale and retail) will be donated to Breast to assist them with their good work and help them continue to make a difference.

"We wanted to make something special for this good cause, so to differentiate this kit, we've added a selection of hand-picked, beautiful high quality glass beads to the kit, which coordinate with the soft pink and green of the yarn."

These gorgeous felted flower kits retail for about $20.

2. Ribbon Knits presents The Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Scarf Kits

From the Ribbon Knits web site:

"Knit these fun, super-easy pink scarves for yourself or a friend. They symbolize the famous pink breast cancer ribbon and can be worn with anything from denim to diamonds. (They make a great gift for a breast cancer survivor!)

"A portion of the proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research. We are currently giving to the Susan Henke Miller Breast Cancer Research Fund at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City."

These beautiful scarf kits, all available only in a variety of shades of pink, include soft novelty yarns from a variety of good yarn companies; they retail for about $35 or $40 dollars, with the exception of the outstanding cashmere scarf with a breast cancer symbol knit in lace [pictured], which retails for about $75.

3. Knit for Her Cure kits. I love their motto: "Great Things Happen When Women Take Matters into Their Own Hands." These kits are available for making hats, scarves and blankets or lap robes. As Knit for Her Cure is sponsored by Muench Yarns, all the kits feature wonderful Muench yarns in them. At Unique One, I have some blanket kits, that run about $150, and some hat kits, which cost $30 to $40. As of today, I am nearly out of all of them. Their website doesn't have much on it, but the "Scrapbook" section was moving. Here is a quote from one of the letters on that page:

""Last Friday, my sister presented me with a scarf she knitted using a Knit For Her Cure set. I had just completed a treatment for ovarian cancer, one of several rounds, and was feeling very low. The gift touched my heart — not only because it was a gift from my sister, but also because it showed that 'someone out there' cared enough to make a difference in the battle against gynecologic cancer. Thank you for sharing your resources and adding a voice of concern for today's women who fight this disease. With enough concern, my daughter and granddaughter will not have to endure the feelings of hopelessness and sadness brought on by this cancer...."

Both Knitwhits kits and Ribbon Knits kits are available to purchase online, but I urge you to support your local yarn shop first! Thanks for listening.

Flipbook Fun!

Remember when you were a kid, and you made little animations using the bottom corner of a new pad of paper? And remember how mad your mother always got when she found that nearly every page of her new pad of lettter paper had a little stick figure drawn on it? No? Well, maybe you didn't do that; I did. But looky here -- now you can make those little animations very simply online, on the Flipbook Fun! website.

(click here for flipbook fun)


*Oh, and I did finish that sleeve last night after supper, no problem. Maybe the Pinot Grigio helped. :)

How To....

How To Become Aggravated and Feel Like a Fool in 5 Easy Steps

1. Feeling quite jolly with yourself, because all you have left to do in order to finish the sweater you are knitting on the knitting machine is to knit one sleeve, you are rolling right along, binding off the first sleeve, listening to a wonderful novel on your iPod (note to the curious: novel: The Historian; author: Elizabeth Kostovo). The first part of the book ends; you discover you haven't downloaded the second half yet. Bummer. You switch to listening to music instead (note to the curious: CD: "Z"; Artist: My Morning Jacket). You are still pretty happy, but not quite as happy.

2. You cast on for the second sleeve, set the cast-on comb, hang some weights, knit 80 rows for the cuff, increase for the body of the sleeve, and change the tension dial up a few notches, because the cuff is done. Your eye wanders to the pattern. Damn. You cast on wrong. For a brief moment, you wonder if the woman who ordered the sweater would notice; you are ashamed of yourself for even considering this. You remove the weights, remove the cast-on comb, rip off the cuff you just knit and cast it aside, cursing yourself for making such a stupid mistake. You are mildly unhappy.

3. You cast on for the second sleeve, set the cast-on comb, hang some weights, and knit about 40 rows for the cuff, when you realize, damn. Damn! You had cast on correctly in the first place! The part of the pattern that caught your eye was for the stupid collar! What an idiot. You remove the weights, remove the cast-on comb, rip off the cuff you just knit and cast it aside, with perhaps a little more force this time. You are fuming.

4. You cast on for the second sleeve again, dammit, realizing you should have had the entire sleeve knit by now, set the cast-on comb, hang some weights, knit about 40 rows for the cuff, increase for the body of the sleeve, and reach out to change the tension dial up a few notches, because the cuff is done. Oh no. You knit the whole cuff on tension 10. It is supposed to be knit on tension 8. You forgot to frigging turn it back to 8 when you cast on for the cuff for the third damn time. Argh. Argggghghhhh! You carefully turn the tension dial to 8! 8! 8! 8! 8! You remove the weights, remove the cast-on comb, viciously rip off the cuff you just knit and fling it aside, with great venom, and laugh a little hysterically as you consider that you are the KNITTING PROFESSIONAL, the person people come to to get help with their knitting, because they think you are a perfect knitting goddess. Oh my God, you think; the horror of it all.....

5. You very carefully, calmly, bemusedly cast on for the second sleeve, wondering with no small amount of intellectual curiosity how many times you will need to knit this cuff to get it right; you set the cast-on comb, and hang some weights. You realize that the room is shaking because your husband is banging on the ceiling of the room below, trying to get your attention to tell you that supper is ready. You sigh. You give up, deciding it would be best to let the knitting win, for the moment. You go have supper and download the second half of the novel, and prepare to do battle with the sleeve later in the evening. You are chastened, humiliated, and defeated -- for now. But you have a feeling that a big glass of Pinot Grigio will change your attitude. And the next time someone comments, within your hearing, that machine knitting is "cheating", you plan to rip their heart out and hope they understand.

The Dark Side of Knitting

I should have posted this on Halloween. My good friend Stacy sent me a link to The AntiCraft, a craft site for Goth knitters. Like, Knitty from the edge. If you know any knitters who sport black lipstick and dress in layers of black lace, this is the site for them!

A quote from the "editrices", Renee Rigdon and Zabet Stewart:

"We began with knitting because the recent revolution has both invigorated and infuriated us. We are the target demographic, but the marketers forgot something when they made the decision from on high to present us with cheery representations of feminine wiles. They forgot to ask who we were. Where are the sweaters to enshroud our dark hearts? Where are the afghans to blanket our angst? Where is the macabre? The dark sensuality? We've brandished our needles in defiance. "

It's not a site for the faint of heart or the seriously depressed, but I found it quite amusing and most of the designs were really great. Each issue will focus on a different craft, and it just happens that their first issue is devoted to knitting. And be sure to read their Antifesto, which is both humorous and yet has a serious message. Here's a quote from it, about the philosophy of the site:

"This is just a place to let your eyes rest, find some inspiration, or scream yourself hoarse. We're all outcasts and refugees from the mainstream here. "


Still Kicking

"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio
A nation [of knitters] turns its lonely eyes to you
(Woo, woo, woo)"

heh heh

Remember that old Simon & Garfunkel song? "Mrs. Robinson." Loved those guys.

So, anyway, I noticed I haven't posted anything here in about a lifetime, and concerned friends were getting worried about me and all. (Thanks Conny! for being a concerned friend!) I thought I'd pop in here for a brief note to say:

1. I'm fine! Healthy! Happy! All is well!

2. I promise I will try to post more frequently. Really.

3. I haven't posted much because I am doing more knitting for the store (love those knitting machines!) I think I may look into having one organically bonded to me, kind of like a knit-borg, if Star Trek Next Generation had had a crafty side. (What did they do all that time on that starship anyway? You never see anyone doing anything like knitting or crocheting. Or metal sculpture or decoupage or scrapbooking, either.) I love doing more knitting for the store, but it does cut into my time.

4. I am also a little busier because one of my managers, Kristin (you remember Kristin? She went to the TNNA show with me in June) has left Unique One to open a store of her own in Union. It's a video store, called The Video Shop (I think), and I wish her excellent luck. I know she will be a resounding success. But meanwhile, back at Unique One, we're kinda in a period of transition until things settle down into a routine.

5. I've been busy working on lots of wonderful hand-knitting projects of my own. The short list: the seafoam Flirty Ruffles shawl; a plain pullover in Nanny Kennedy's Seacolors Yarn; some spinning; still working on the Dale of Norway; a Lucy Neatby pattern for a hat, which I am doing in Diakeito's Diamusee Fine on microscopically small needles, and I caved and started a gorgeous pullover from Inger Fredholm's Knitting with a Smile book, which I'm knitting in Shetland wool: dark red and oatmeal. Pictures of everything will be posted when I make any progress at all. Honest.

6. Being completely insane as I am, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. Yes, I know. Nuts, totally nuts, but sometimes you just have to push yourself to the limit. After November, I'll feel like I have so much free time, because NaNoWriMo will be over.

So, I'm still here. Just being veeewy, veeeeewy quiet. :)