Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Department of Lessons Learned

  • 3 star Hotels charge a daily rate for internet, 2 star hotels don't
  • 7 times out of 10 folks who are dying to ask a question aren't really interested in the answer*
  • Always buy the extra tank of gas at the car rental place
  • Subtlety is wasted on hyper-crytics
  • Cheap shoes hurt
  • GPS is the best thing since sliced bread
  • 7 pillows can't make up for 1 Gerry

I received two really lovely emails today - one from a woman who is on her way to Shanghai (wow) but wanted to write to ask a question about Combination Knitting. The other from a woman who really likes Confessions and wanted to tell me why.

When I get a nice email from someone, it's like getting a little bit of a treat - so as a bit of a treat back, here's some Combination Knitting info.

Question: How can I translate a pattern from knit-speak to something I, as a Combination (Eastern Uncrossed) Knitter, can comprehend?


A Very Short Knitting Magazine Speak to English Glossary:
What they say: What they mean.

Knit TBL (knit through the back loop):

Twist this stitch as you knit it. If you knit Western, knit into the back of the stitch. If you knit Eastern or Combination, knit into the front of the stitch. Basically, knit so that the stitch is "unhappy" - doesn't open up fully.

K2tog (knit 2 together):

Knit 2 stitches together so they slant to the RIGHT. If they're not already oriented on the needle in the Western manner, you'll want to re-orient them so they're happily seated Western on the needle.

Annie's Hint: The tip of the right hand needle will be pointing to the RIGHT when making this decrease!

K2togTBL or SSK or SKP (knit 2 tog through back loop OR slip, slip knit OR slip knit pass over):

Knit 2 stitches together so they slant to the LEFT.

Annie's Hint: The tip of the right hand needle will be pointing to the LEFT when making this decrease!

Here's what I mean when I mention the following two terms:

Western Orientation: A stitch which is seated on the needle so it wants to be knit through the front loop.

Note: You'll know the stitch "wants" to be knit a certain way because when the needle is inserted that way the stitch opens up big and fat and wide.

Eastern/Combination Orientation: A stitch which is seated on the needle so it wants to be knit through the back loop.

The Road
Today and this evening I have classes at Rumplestiltskin, then tomorrow morning after another class I'm off for San Mateo. The weather is extraordinary - absolutely perfect - although I've heard from EVERYONE that this is unusually gorgeous weather.

I'll take it - thank you, Northern California!

I'm able to think about things when I drive that I don't think about when I'm just sitting and knitting. I'm able to focus in a 'back of the mind' way, with my most important thoughts on the guy ahead who didn't signal, or the exit I just missed. Some of my best ideas come to me when I drive, and I missed not having heavy duty ALONE driving time in August and September.

So California seems like the perfect place for some hard-core driving. Not that a trip to San Mateo is very hard core, but it's longer than slipping out alone to run to Target.

I am in the happy (?!) situation of having NO deadlines on my plate once I finish my current project. This is a beautiful thing - only classes and family healing on the horizon. Will this wide, open period make me nuts? Or will it lead to a better game plan for the next few years? I've put off making plans for 6 months now - and it's a hard habit to get back into.

One thing that Gerry and I really wanted to get done was to start taping a series of knitting DVD's. Or even one - a series? Who am I kidding? Perhaps I'll speak only French in them? Now that he's on the mend this seems like an excellent project to pick up - not physically taxing, but his expertise will shine through and help us do it more efficiently. He's spent his whole career working in all aspects of video production - high time we get some of that knowledge wrapped up in my knitting!

I'm curious if you guys have any strong ideas about knitting DVD's. Do you like ones with a lot of overhead shots? Ones with a knitting group? Do you prefer to just see the instructor? Do you like music, or do you find it a distraction? Do you like a classroom type setting, or something more home-like?

I'm always interested to hear what folks think - not that I'll heed any of the advice, but it's good to hear...

*they're more interested in showing what they know.


OfTroy said...

challenge the internet cost on your bill.. they will often remove it.
especially if you point out how much you travel, and that if this is not included in rate, there chain won't be included in future plans.

(this was a tip from ask ASA on local (NYC) new station. (and from a guest on TODAY show.) they won't always remove, but will frequently..

usually companies pay with out question.. but for people who are paying themselves.. they will remove!

September 25, 2007 2:08 PM  
Nancy said...

On knitting videos -- I Hate seeing a classroom setting. KnittyGritty has those knitters there who seem not to have a purpose. Overhead shots are good -- I like to see how each person knits in both their real time and how I could then do it by showing several sl--oo--www examples. Music often distorts and can be distracting, much as I love music, it does not help when first learning someting in concentration.

September 25, 2007 2:27 PM  
Luise said...

Since the DVD is intended to be instructional, I'd hope for a concentration on the stitches, shaping, and whatever else is useful to the knitter. And general hints and tips while you're making progress on the knitting. Seems to me that groups, etc., would be unnecessary clutter. We want *your* advice and talent. One that impressed me was Meg Swansen's DVD for the Baby Surprise Jacket.
Very glad the home front is stable.

September 25, 2007 2:31 PM  
Anonymous said...

My opinion on knitting DVDs. I would like to see the instructor (you) in a home-like setting with overhead shots to see the actual knitting. I find that having additional people in a video is distracting.

You are 6 to 7 hours south of me. I am glad you are having such pleasant weather during your stay.

September 25, 2007 2:46 PM  
Laura said...

I would love it if you did a knitting dvd... I learned to knit mostly by teaching myself (Western), but I have always wanted to learn combination knitting. The biggest mental hurdle for me is the tension--I understand where the stitches go and where the needles go, I just can't make my hands do it. So, I would love it if, unlike the books, you could show where your hands are, where the yarn is, and how you adjust the tension--all at the same time. Different camera angles? Not sure how you'd do it.

There, that's my free advice--and worth about as much as you paid for it!

Travel safe.

September 25, 2007 3:48 PM  
Carol said...

DVD thoughts---I find music interferes with my ability to hear what is being said. (I am hearing impaired) Point of view---I like to see the stitches form in the same way I would see them. In other words, the camera should be where your head is! At least for the demonstration portions...

September 25, 2007 4:31 PM  
london said...

i would absolutely love a video from knitter's eye view. that's how i learn best. i'm sure gerry could do something really cool with either a split screen or a picture in picture, too. this is a marvelous idea.

September 25, 2007 4:33 PM  
Tiferet said...

I'll just add, Anne, that you cannot go slow enough or repeat the stitch you are demonstrating too many times. Videos are a hard way to learn a new knitting technique unless they are suitably "up close", show what I would see, and repeat slowly several times. Of course, your own personality shining through would make it a big win. I'd like you to pretend that you are looking over my shoulder while I try it; that way you will "talk" the walk as you do it, giving little hints and warning signs that help. So glad that your life is entering this wonderful period where you can contemplate these things.

September 25, 2007 5:39 PM  
Susan said...

I am a visual learner and when I was trying to learn to knit, I bought a DVD that sounded really good. Unfortunately for my learning the music about drove me crazy and the teacher had the unfortunate idea to have the camera facing her rather than over her shoulder quite often. I would have no idea how to do it but if you could make it look like what I would see if I were doing it, it would be awesome. How fun to ponder!

September 25, 2007 6:26 PM  
Joan K said...

I agree that a knitter's eye view is best for the DVD. I think it would be great if there were some way to have an index so you could go directly to a demonstration, e.g. if I wanted to know how to do norwegian purling I could go directly there.

I'd also like to see light colored yarn and stitches large enough to see well.

Being able to repeat a demonstation, like looping it, would be marvelous.

I don't need music. Oh, and for the hearing impared closed captioning would be great.

I would also enjoy another dvd on your design process, with your thoughts on ideas as well as the process of going from swatching to a finished design. With do's and don'ts. I've seen a bit of the process from a well-known designer and I'd like to know more. I don't envision this as a how to publish your designs as much as how to design a good, well designed garment and then maybe go on from there.

September 25, 2007 6:42 PM  
Evie said...

The videos I've found helpful are shot with an over the shoulder sort of view so you can see exactly what the knitter is doing. I think it would be great if you did some knitting dvds. My sister was never a committed knitter until she knit a pair of socks last month and has now become a fanatic. She uses online videos to see how to do things she doesn't understand in written format.

I can't beleive you are so close and I still can't meet you! I had hoped to take a class at one of your California stops, but they don't work with my work schedule. I'm in Berkeley, hopefully you'll get back here sometime soon. Early Fall and late Spring are the best time to hit the Bay Area. Enjoy your visit and I hope the traffic is kind to you. It can be pretty ugly.

September 25, 2007 7:10 PM  
Nicole said...

Funny you should be talking knitting techniques... I was just at a knitting event at a yarn store (in MN of all places, while visiting my family)and people were asking me about my knitting style. Honestly, I have no idea because I taught myself and really haven't worried about how I do it as long as I get the desired results. From what I can tell I am just sort of a bit of everything, but I DO know that I am left handed.

Your written explinations are some the easiest, to the point instructions I have ever read. Usually, I am a visual knitter who likes lots of pictures of how the yarn is on the needle and many different angles of it. I must say that if you have great visuals and the same to the point explinations your DVD would be a winner.

Make it and I will buy it :)

September 25, 2007 7:52 PM  
Knittah said...

Oh. My. G-d. Your tip about the way the needles pointing telling you which way the decrease will slant? Mind-blowingly helpful. Thank you.

Re: DVDs - never watched one on knitting. But from watching tv shows, I say lots of overhead shots, no knitting group, comfy setting (but not fake homelike), no hokey music, lots of finished samples, and if you make one on color knitting I'll buy it instantly!

September 25, 2007 9:53 PM  
Kathy Sue said...

I would like: 1.knitter's eye view
2. slow, or ability to slow it down and re-rerun it.
3. to see the example done at gauge, and then with huge yarn on big needles so that details can be seen.
4. Lots of verbal explanation and discussion.
5. Music not necessary, probably distracting.
Hope you are enjoying our gorgeous California weather.

September 26, 2007 1:01 AM  
Lola said...

Closed captioning, please!!! There are knitters out there who are deaf or hard of hearing (including me). It's really difficult when the person is talking off camera while the camera is focused on the knitter's hands. There are many companies that will do the captioning for you, so you can shop around for a good price and reputation in quality jobs. This is a one-time job - captioning can be encoded into the master tape, and then duplicates made from the master tape will have the captioning.

I can check around for such companies if you decide to go ahead with the knitting dvds.

September 26, 2007 6:52 AM  
Anonymous said...

I will buy it if you make it!
No music,
No huge yarn on big needles,
Light color wool.

September 26, 2007 9:45 AM  
Knitaddicted said...

I haven't really looked at knitting DVDs, but when I am learning or trying to teach someone, I like to look from behind/overhead, so I get the "knitter's perspective." BUT, what would be really great is if someone would do a left-handed knitting video. I'm not left handed, but I have a very crafty left-handed niece, who is having a tough time learning to knit, because all of her family teachers are righties! If all of us righties could find a way to teach her, she would be stellar!

September 26, 2007 10:16 AM  
Having a Knit Fitt said...

For truth in advertising, Q & A sessions should be called Comment Time instead. For some reason, those with genuine questions usually wait to ask one-on-one.

Oh, and no music - always reminds me of porn (oops! I didn't say that).

So glad to hear that Gerry is doing better.


September 26, 2007 10:39 AM  
Elizabeth said...

As to DVDs- Elizabeth Zimmerman could have read the ABCs and I would have enjoyed it...and I have a feeling your DVD's will be the same. Just do "you"--if you make them, we will buy.......

sounds like maybe you've hit the long hill up the roller coaster and are now due for some downhill fun..sure hope so!!
cheers- Elizabeth

September 26, 2007 11:31 AM  
susanc said...

If you make a DVD, I'd buy it! I like to see if from the knitter's prospective; I can really learn that way. It really helps to see exactly what the knitter is doing.

I'm so glad that Gerry is doing so well.

Enjoy your stay here in California. The weather is beautiful right now!

September 26, 2007 11:42 AM  
Marin (AntiM) said...

For what it's worth, I like Knitty Gritty as far as camera angle, lighting, etc. I could live without the couchfull of disassociated knitters.

A lot of craft/diy shows have peculiarly dark feels. It may be lighting, it may be film type, it may be the cameras. But Knitty Gritty gets that part right. The feel is lighter, but warm -- not that Kitty Bartholomew fluorescent feel.

I don't know lighting, but I know what I like.

September 26, 2007 11:44 AM  
Leah M said...

Overhead shots are a MUST. Music is a definite NOT, it is such a personal issue of taste. The one knitting dvd I own has, shall we say, music which would be perfectly appropo for naughty videos. If music is needed, classical music played softly in the background is probably the least likely to make people jab their eyes out with their needles. Setting has never really bothered me but an overly institutional setting or a cluttered home setting could be distracting to some.

September 26, 2007 12:31 PM  
Anonymous said...

Wow, great news. I agree with everyone who said no music; Music is good for interludes not during teaching. A garment from needles and yarn chosen through to end result would be good. Also how to substitute. Some patterns are wonderful but the cost of the yarn is off-putting to us on a budget.

BTW, thanks for your little instruction. I'm self-taught and was never quite sure what I was. Now I know: Western. Yay! I don't think it's gonna change my life knowing I knit Western but I now have a knitting-style identity. Best wishes.

Glad things are shaping up at home.

September 26, 2007 1:15 PM  
Hilary said...

Hi Annie- I just saw that you'll be in Petaluma tomorrow. While I've never been there, I know of an AWESOME pizza place. It's called Bricks (they also have a Chicago location) and they're at 16 Kentucky Street 707-766-8162. They make awesome thin crust pizzas with really unique toppings. P.S. I don't work for them or anything, just a huge fan and thought you'd might enjoy!

September 26, 2007 1:23 PM  
Anonymous said...

Dear Annie: I don't know if you can translate this to your dvd, but the one thing I find frustrating is the pausing of the dvd while you try the technique, stitch, etc. You have to find the remote, press the pause button, drop the remote, pick up your knitting, do the stitch, drop your knitting and find the remote again. Aaaaggh! Maybe repeating and repeating so you can do the stitch without watching the dvd, just listening to the vebal instructions. You are probably the one that can come up with some innovative idea to solve this problem.

A knitter's eyeview of the stitch is the best for me, closed captioning is good as my family is loud and I won't have to keep telling them to shut up, and no music please.

Pattie in beautiful, beautiful San Francisco

September 26, 2007 3:19 PM  
Tania said...

Knitting DVDs: As a combination knitter, I'd LOVE seeing you knit in action.

Camera angle as if I were standing behind you.

Homey vs classroom setting.

Just you.

No music.

September 26, 2007 3:35 PM  
Deborah said...

From DVDs back to internet access in classy hotels: I always get grumpy about paying the extra refuse to do it, and then get grumpy about not being able to check my e-mail. But sheesh, if I can get free net access in the less expensive lodging (including hostels, by jiminy), then I don't want my bill any higher than it is at the ritzy place, which is already intolerably costly. Mutter, mutter, mutter. . . . They think everybody's on an expense account and doesn't care. . . . Mumble. . . . mutter. . . . mutter. . . .

DVDs: Have fun with 'em.

September 26, 2007 3:38 PM  
Anonymous said...

For your videos...I'm a fairly new knitter (I started 3 years ago) and am completely addicted, of course, but there are things I'd love to see in a series of videos. I'd love to try many challenging techniques such as fair isle work that I'm afraid to try on my own without having a good visual resource. So far, I'm sure I don't like background music, I do find it terribly distracting. Just lots of good shots with hands, needles, and yarn is good:-)

I think it will be a fantastic project and look forward to hearing about it when you're ready to undertake it:-)

September 26, 2007 3:47 PM  
sjmercure said...

Oh Annie! I'm so excited at just the thought of you doing a knitting video. Please do! I find that the overhead shots are the best for seeing how to actually do the stitches.

September 26, 2007 4:52 PM  
audible said...

I have never used a DVD to learn how to knit. I have used Japanese books to pick up a few techniques and found the detailed illustrations to be much more helpful than any written descriptions. I like to really be able to see things up close.

Something I've come across on learn how to... DVDs is the use of multiple angles- filming the same thing from several views. You can switch between the views using the "angle" button on your DVD remote. I came across this feature on one of Q-Bert's instructional DJ DVDs, good stuff!

You might also try putting a lot of chapter breaks in the DVD so that it's easy to isolate and re-watch a specific technique over and over.

No to the music and extra knitters, yes to the knitter's eye view and comfy couch.

September 26, 2007 7:25 PM  
Sharon said...

Second the call for closed captioning.

I'm autistic and reading is so very much easier than understanding someone talk. I didn't learn how to understand people speaking well enough to watch tv without the captioning on until grad school and it can still be impossible when I'm stressed out.

September 26, 2007 7:53 PM  
Amanda said...

RE: The weather: those people are lying to you. The weather in the Bay Area is stunning for most of the year (the fog is VASTLY exagerrated unless you live right on the coast). I did no know this until I lived here; I'm pretty sure they keep it under wraps to keep everyone in creation from moving here!!

September 26, 2007 8:19 PM  
brendacknits said...

Hi Annie, I saw you on a Knitty Gritty re-run the other night and it was great. I think the knitter's eye view is the best, so I vote with everyone else. The music comments are making me laugh!

I tried to get to the booksigning this afternoon, but it was too hard to get out of San Francisco with the ballgame going on. I know you will have a great time at Nine Rubies - we love everyone there. Have a nice time in San Mateo, our home town!

Brenda in San Mateo

September 26, 2007 11:13 PM  
Janet MF said...

You are sounding so much more up-beat these days. I hope for you and Gerry, and of course the children, things continue this way.

Have you ever seen Lucy Neatby's knitting videos? www.tradewindknits.com There is a sample from one of her videos on this/her website. Although I have knitted for the past 55 years, I always learn something new from them. They have great photography and Lucy speaks very clearly, concisely and fairly slowly. In fact her voice is so soothing I can nod off at times. Check them out. I have no affiliation to Lucy apart from having the videos.

All the best with your plans.
Janet MF up in Yellowknife

September 27, 2007 9:39 AM  
Holly said...

I've never purchased or watched a knitting DVD, but having had the pleasure of taking one of your classes, I would be very interested in learning from you via DVD. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

September 27, 2007 9:48 AM  
Anonymous said...

HI Annie,

Oh I would love it if you did a DVD. As still wanting to get started on my first knitting project for Abigail (now 3!) I would appreciate alot of hand shots in slow motion to see how to do different stitches. Of course this comes from a basically non-knitter that wants to start up again.

Lots of Love,

September 27, 2007 9:57 AM  
Suzie said...

(not that I have opinions or anything....)

The fingernails should be fairly short and unpainted. I am very distractible and forget to watch the techniques if the nails are too, well, anything, really.

Show front and back, in progress and finished.

I assume Gerry is knowledgeable enough so that those of us without progressive scan DVD players don't have to hunt him down for putting too much in one 'scene'.

Don't like music. See distractible above.

Like animals. See distractible above, but read as a good thing.

You know what I could use? Some sort of idiot-proof (yes, I *do* know what they say) WPI/weight/gauge comparison/contrast thingy. I think once I get it in my brain, I will keep it, but it's never been presented coherently all in one place that I have found.

Use colors wisely. Contrast where it will demonstrate whatever you are demo-ing.

Perhaps a project (like the fake sweater thingy I made that incorporated all the sweater possibilities--don't remember the book....shoot) for each lesson/DVD/something? I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I know. Or something like that.

I have other opinions, but I'm going to stop for now.

(Oooh--wait--what about one with designing tips? How to get test-knitters, where to post (for those of us without book possibilities in our near future), directions in what format, other things I don't know because I haven't done them.....)

Okay, stheriously done.

September 27, 2007 3:01 PM  
Khalila said...

Hi Annie,

I also am a fan of the way Lucy Neatby did her dvd's. The view of just her hands from the back is great. I also think using the light colored yarn really helps me see the stitch work.

September 27, 2007 6:22 PM  
SusanSW said...

Hi Annie,
I second what everyone has pretty much agreed on about the videos--just as we all crowd around you in class to look over your shoulder and ask you to repeat and repeat a motion--well, that's the best way to see it in a video.

And I'd love to hear you tell the cable story about the poor llittle girls who didn't get invited to the ball, etc., --even though I've heard it 3 separate times now, I still can't remember it (definite middle age memory impairment!) so am STILL afraid to try to cable w/o a needle (so don't try cabling at all). Anyway...would definitely want that to be in any video (excuse me, dvd) along with watching the way you form all the stitches in combined knitting that you come across during lace knitting. Because this confuses me so, tho I've been practicing my combination all summer, I switch back to western knitting for anything that isn't just plain stockinette.

SO glad to hear that Gerry came through with flying colors and is home on the mend and you sound so much more relaxed. Enjoy!

September 28, 2007 9:47 AM  
Lisa in Ann Arbor said...

Back from my vacation where I had no internet for 2 weeks!

Knitting video, yes!
Overhead shots, yes!
Music, no.
Careful explanation, from a script. then show us real time (ours and yours!)

Maybe even flip through your flip books, and also show you doing it.

Extra nice if you had a secition on Eastern Continental (since many people knitting Continental find it an easy switch) ... until I saw you knit in person, I thought that's how you knit.

Biggest issues I have with what's out there (especially knittinghelp) is that the lighting is terrible, the knitting motions aren't precise, and the voice is in real time instead of a scripted voice over! The animations on your website are much better and easier to follow.

I'll stop running on. Am so happy to hear how well Gerry's doing.

Lisa in Ann Arbor

October 08, 2007 12:26 PM  

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