About Me

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Five years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

“What circ kit to buy?” & “It's Barb's Fault”

My friend Tinks has been knitting small, quick projects for quite awhile, and she’s feeling the need for better tools. So she asked me an ostensibly simple question: “What circ kit to buy?”

“KnittingZone (what’s so special about pink?)”

“KnitPicks (wood or nickel plated?)”

What follows is my typical novella in response:

I haven’t tried any of them. And they are all on my list to try. What I have:

Vintage Susan Bates Quicksilver needles in various sizes. Once upon a time [20+ years ago] I had one or two of each size and length, up to about size 11.5. One if it was a body-length needle, and two for sleeve-length. They had an 11.5” needle that was perfect for sleeves, for me. These were extruded needles, so there was no issue with the join between the cable and the needle; it was all one and just changed diameters. Most of these have gotten lost in one move or another, and they are so old that the plastic has become somewhat brittle and will split along the cable, longitudinally, and then I have to throw them out.

Clover bamboo needles in various lengths in size 4 and 6, bought to make that sweater from my handspun for Mr. NBN [ex-BF, knitted for him after I broke up with him, because we were still such good friends]. I thought they were pretty decent needles at the time; they were more expensive than the Quicksilver, which were long since discontinued. But where the plastic cable joins the bamboo, sometimes stitches catch, which slows me down.

I have Addi Turbo nickel-plated circs in a growing number of sizes and lengths [the inventory template on Ravelry is very handy for keeping track of them]. I didn’t like the first one I bought, because I was using it for the Berroco Denim Silk, which is a little slippery. The cable is very flexible, and the join is smooth; that brass ferrule is marvelous! I love them for wool, particularly in the smaller sizes for socks. I do Magic Loop for my socks, most of the time, though I still love how the Crystal Palace resin-infused DP’s feel in my hands. So it depends on the project and the yarn.

I have three or four pairs of Addi Lace, which have sharper tips than the Turbo and a coating that slows the stitches down slightly for greater control. Same smooth join as the Turbo. Love them, love them, love them. Addi created them in response to customer requests. The Turbo tips are a little blunt, fine for working with worsted and bulky yarns but frustrating if you’re knitting lace.

I have bought the majority of my Addi’s online. Quite a few from a guy on eBay, but the shipping is fidgety-slow from Hong Kong. I prefer the woman in England. About the same price for needles and shipping but much faster service, and she speaks English. [Duh.] I think I’ve already sent you those links, but if not, just let me know and I will.

I also have several Addi Natura [bamboo], and I love them for knitting with slicker yarns like silk and mohair. The brass ferrule is again very smooth. You’ve driven performance cars. Maybe the difference between the Natura and the Clover is similar to the one between your old Beemer at 122 mph on the way to Scarborough Faire and my old Ford Pinto at 20 in a school zone?

KnitPicks came up with the Options [metal] needles to give customers sharper tips and a super-flexible cable at less cost than the Denise modular needles [or Addi’s]. I have friends who have both types of modulars and love both and choose between them according to the project.

The KnitPicks Harmony needles are in response to the Addi Natura’s.

Now, for me there is the additional issue of gauge. I knit very loosely, because I cannot bear to wrap yarn around my fingers for tensioning, like they show you in books. I cinch up my little finger on my right hand and let the yarn flow through it and a looser tube formed by bending the two middle fingers. That’s it. What that means in terms of gauge is that I typically have to gear down about three needle sizes to get the recommended gauge.

If a sock is designed for a particular grist of yarn and a particular stitch count on size 0 needles, I will need 00 or 000 to get that gauge. The brown and grey self-patterning yarn I am using for the current pair of socks [which I have not worked on since my toe surgery] is on a 000 needle. It’s hard to find 00’s and 000’s in the stores; I’ve had better luck online, though I got my 000 at Yarns Ewenique and paid about $20 for the privilege.

I don’t think KnitPicks goes below a 0. So I am excited at finding 000000’s at KnittingZone. Middlest, Fourthborn and Fiancé collect Korean ball-jointed dolls and use them as models for their artwork. Fiancé has requested a sweater for one of his boys, and Middlest wants scarves. I figure that with laceweight yarn [and maybe eventually cobweb yarn], I can make knitwear for the dolls with stitches somewhat in scale for their bodies. I am envisioning Fair Isle and cabling and knitted shawls, in miniature, and if I like it there is a thriving market for it. The dolls go for about $400 a pop, and a lot of people treat them like kids. $100 for a well-finished sewn outfit is not unusual. I could probably get $100 for a handknit sweater.

I think the appeal of the circ kits is having a variety of sizes and lengths corralled in one place, and the flexibility [with the KnitPicks at least] of putting a size tag on the cable and an end cap so you can “borrow” the tips for another project and not have to wonder what size you were using when you go back to it. Of course, entering your WIP on Ravelry would do the same thing.

My problem is that I tend to work on the lower end of the range in terms of size: 000 to about a 4, with occasional excursions upward for scarves with multiple strands of yarn worked as one.

So for me, what works best is to buy new needles as I need them. But I can definitely see myself buying those teensy DP’s for doll sweaters, and teensy circs for shawls. For the really small diameters you have to have metal. The Crystal Palace bamboo-infused DP’s are wonderfully flexible, but you don’t want to know how many of the 0’s I have snapped, mid-project.

[I decided to put this response onto the blog; because it might help my local friends who are new knitters.]

And now for the part that is Barb’s fault:

Barb had this on her blog on Friday. I don’t know if I'm one of the people she reads, or one of those she felt too shy to tag, but here’s my response.

1. What were you afraid of as a child? There were a couple of long bridges that we crossed over on our family trips. I was afraid that I would roll down the window and pitch my favorite doll out into the water. Freud would probably have a heyday with that one.

2. When have you been most courageous? Oh man, just thinking about it makes me cry; I’ll tell you about that one when we are all safely gathered Home. Instead, I’ll tell you about the most recent time. Earlier this year, when I told Brother Abacus that his behavior was hurtful and inappropriate, even though he never went out of bounds physically. He doesn’t like me very much, because he knows that I am “on” to his tricks.

3. What sound most disturbs you? It was interesting to read in the comments to Barb’s post that we become more sensitive to sound as we become menopausal. I don’t like screaming and yelling, but the sound that bugs me most on a daily basis is the sound of a telephone ringing. Because that’s how I make my living, answering the phone. I am very, very good at what I do, and it’s the aspect of my job that I like the least. When I was a SAHM [stay at home mom], the phone was my umbilicus to the outside world. Now it’s just a pain.

4. What is the greatest amount of physical pain you’ve been in? Just before my gallbladder came out. I got several great scrapbook pages out of the experience, entitled “The Gallbladder That Ate July”. And I missed about five weeks of work, two and a half of them spent sleeping to avoid any conscious awareness of the pain. I threw up once, shortly before the surgery, and passed out from pain. Like Barb, I’ve broken bones in my foot and never noticed. Earlier this year, I learned that I had been walking on a broken leg for two and a half months. None of that came anywhere close to where those gallstones put me.

5. What’s your biggest fear for your children? (or children in general if you don’t have some of your own.). We are not talking about this one. Not here, not now. See #2 and ask me again in 100 years.

6. What is the hardest physical challenge you’ve achieved? Are we talking about physical as in my body, or physical as in the material world? If the former, not staking out certain people for the fire ants to eat, who very much deserve it, would have to be #1. If the latter, learning to drive a stick shift, milk a goat, and spin wool in a three week period.

7. Which do you prefer: Mountains or oceans/big water? I grew up near the mountains, and I miss them. But for me it is the ocean. I remember my first sighting of the Pacific along the Oregon Coast, when I was eight or ten: cold and grey and majestic! And now I love Galveston, though I haven’t been in six years, even though the water is dirty and the sand is smelly. That soft brown sand is easier on my eyes than the brilliant white sand on Padre Island.

8. What is the one thing you do for yourself that helps you keep everything together? After completing counseling earlier this year, my goal is to have one activity that feeds my spirit every day, something that blesses my physical body or my surroundings, one good interaction with another human being, and awareness of what emotion I’m feeling. I tend to live inside my own head and to intellectualize what I’m feeling.

9. Ever had a close relative or friend with cancer? Both parents. Thankfully, not my sister.

10. What are the things your friends count on you for? Comic relief, plain speaking, confidences kept, and PMS brownies.

11. What is the best part of being in a committed relationship? When our minds and hearts are aligned with the mind and will of God for us. [The naked thing, as Barb puts it, comes in a very close second.]

12. What is the hardest part of being in a committed relationship? The loneliest I have ever been in my life, was during the last five years of my marriage to the children’s father. The memory of that emotional pain keeps me cautious about dating in general and dating-with-intent, in particular.

13. Summer or Winter? Why? Neither, thank you. Fall. It’s the easiest time in the world for me to be happy. I want to putter about and prepare my nest for the winter. I want to bake, I love spending time with my tribe [three hours is about my limit if it’s *all* of them] and making soup in the crockpot, and curling up with good books, and having friends over for small dinner parties or potlucks.

14. Have you ever been in a school-yard fight? Why and what happened? My best friend from high school reads the blog and might remember this. One of our mutual friends was teasing me mercilessly about the boy I liked, writing his full name and mine in ink on the cafeteria table. I was all tangled up about my feelings for him. I knew he was a rotter, and he knew I liked him, and he was just *mean*, and I was still moony over him, so there was some serious hormonal derangement going on. [Shiela, remember when we were walking down the street and his little brother and some other jerk asked us something, and we thought they were asking if we wanted to go bowling?] I got so mad at Sharon that I turned white and couldn’t talk. I was *this far* from standing up and popping her in the nose, and I was one of those Terminally Good Girls. So Shiela walked Sharon to her first class one way, and Stan walked me to mine the other way, and I didn’t talk to Sharon at lunch or much at all for days. And our friends sat between us to prevent bloodshed.

15. Why blog? It’s writing, which I love, and it’s scrapbooking, which I love, and if you were to look into my actual scrapbooks, they are all much more about paper-crafting and writing than they are about photography. I sort out what I’m thinking and feeling by writing it down.

16. Did you learn about sex, and/or sex safety from your parents? Yes and no. I was talking to LittleBit about this the other day. My sister is fifteen and a half years older than I am. And after The Film in 5th grade, Mom gave me the book they had given to Sis a decade and a half before. It was written in the 30’s or early 40’s. There were chapters about puppies and kittens. There were statues of naked Greek gods with fig leaves that left me with far more questions than answers. I really wanted to know what was going on under that fig leaf, and the first time I found out I thought, Oh man, that thing is seriously scary and dangerous-looking.

My parents were late Edwardians. Dad was born in 1905; Mom was born in 1913. There was not a lot of emoting chez nous, except by me of course; they got the good daughter first, and me as a caboose. And they were not outwardly religious people, though they were two of the finest Christians-in-practice I have ever known. So what I remember Mom saying was, “Sex is for grownups, and sex is for marriage.”

No way could I have discussed sex with Dad. I remember when I was ten or so and realized that Dad had the same parts as every other man on the planet, I never sat in his lap again, and I never told him why. I wonder now if that hurt his feelings. He was one of the last of the true gentlemen. I remember asking him just before he died, what he was proudest of, and one of the things was that while there were men who had improper thoughts and improper relations with their daughters, it had never ever crossed his mind.

Mom and I had other discussions when I was much, much older. I remember her saying that if a wife didn’t enjoy sex, it was the husband’s fault, because it was supposed to be enjoyable for both of them.

17. How do you plan to talk to your kids about sex and/or sex safety? My kids are 29 to almost 18. When Firstborn was 5, PBS showed that magnificent documentary about how life begins. We sat down as a family and watched it; she sat on her daddy’s lap, safe and secure. And we’ve answered questions as they’ve come up. I tried to sit LittleBit down when she was nine or so and give her The Talk, and she cocked one eyebrow at me and said, “I know how babies are made, Mommy. You think I don’t know what some of the girls are up to?”

I have tried to teach the girls that sex is a wonderful form of communication between husband and wife, and that in the right context [marriage] it brings peace and happiness as well as babies. And that sex outside of marriage brings certain heartbreak and often disease and occasional death. I have tried to be open and available, but while sex has been intermittently fascinating for me, I cannot say the Latin word for the male member, without blushing. That complicates things a little.

I may have mentioned changing BittyBubba’s diaper shortly after his circumcision and telling him, “No offense, honey, but right there is the source of most of the trouble in my life.”

18. What are you most thankful for this year? 2006 was brutal, so surviving it with the majority of my marbles would have to be at or near the top of the list; I feel peace in my heart much of the time.


Rorek said...

I would like to say, even though I'm sure you know this by logic alone, that it takes awhile regardless of skill for a sweater (even a REALLY nice one, perfectly in scale) to go for more than $20.

You have to break into the market and be known for quality etc. Currently when I sell doll t-shirts they go for $10-$15 apiece depending on sleevelength, and size of doll. :3 Granted, while my sewing is nice, yours would surely go for more, based on experiance alone.

BAD knitting and crocheting also floods the market, so it will be easier to stand out once a few people have things made by you, to show off.

Lynn said...

I sit corrected. Thanks, honey!

Jerry said...

Well you hit a subject with me. I love the which needles are best? the man side of me comes out and the need for the best tools clouds my judgement instead of what works well enough to what has the best function and feels the best for each application. My wife and I have multiples in many needes just because we may need the same size at the same time. She is happy with most any needle and I am the picky one. I prefer the wooden needles but we have a full set of Options with lots of extras. We have some of the Harmony needles too. funny, it seems like we bought from the same importer in China for the addi turbos. I really prefer the Holtz & Stein over all else. The way the wood glides without the slip of the nickle plated needles. cost is an issue but I will save for the good stuff because we are worth it. Dbbie happinly knits with her clover bamboo DPNs but she loves when she can use the ebony or rosewood DPNs. I truly think you need to use the right needle for the project. Just like letting the yarn talk to you when you select a pattern. Try them all and knit with what feels good and works for YOU not what is the flavor of the week. I really enjoy reading your blog. I often feel my coments are not worthy. Just know that I sit and read your post aloud to my lovely wife each night and we laugh along or share your pain, she just knits along and we usually talk afterwards. Nothing better than topics to stimulate thought and conversation.
Thank you!