Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Message from the Corn Refiners Association

Fun fact: all moms in TV commercials are named Marcia.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Letters to the Editor, or Arguing with Assholes

Friends, I can exclusively reveal the identity of the person every anonymous troll post on the Internet, every premature leap to Godwin’s Law, and every "well you’re just mad because you’re a hypersensitive pussy and you’re probably ugly" rebuttal. He’s the guy who ruined your favorite online forums, and he might even be the guy who once put fireworks in your mailbox and spraypainted a penis on your garage door. That guy is Steven Wells, and he’s somehow employed as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Weekly.

Steven Wells is the kind of guy who would steal from a baby, and then loudly berate the baby for crying. Rather, he writes like that kind of guy. I make no claims to his coolness, attractiveness, or ability to win a fight, since I have never met him in person, and I will refrain from making unfounded ad hominem attacks on him and keep my unflattering assumptions to myself.

I found three of his essays, one published today, to the tune of "knitters are ugly and humorless and oh yeah they are also Nazis and let’s kill them." They’re linked below, if you care to explore the stupidity. Sure I knit. Sure I’m mad. I’m mad as a knitter, but I’m also mad as a reader, one who likes her reading material to be well-written, well-researched, and not irrationally spiteful. I want opinion pieces – even the fluffy ones – to make me think something besides "Whoa, who took a dump in this asshole’s socks? Would they benefit from medication?"

Below is my letter to the editors, in its entirety, in case PW decides to put this up in a heavily edited form, or Wells decides to call me a fat cow with PMS and nasal polyps or something equally dumb.

Today I came across a trio of essays written by Steven Wells "Yarn Die," "The Rise of Adolf Knitler," and today's "Knitzkrieg!") and I'm deeply disappointed with the immature tone of his work, the poor quality of his writing, and the idea that someone on your staff thought it worth publishing. Wells' writing is among the shrillest and most spiteful I have ever read, and easily the worst I have read from anyone in a print publication. His hatred of knitters and crocheters is perplexing and hostile enough on its own. His rebuttal to the knitting community's outrage – and the knitting community has every right to be outraged at his ill-informed tripe, though I may disagree with some of their more strongly-worded suggestions – smacks of immature, playground-bully tactics. Implying that people are furious because they're "humorless... smelly hippie whiners" (and apparently ugly, too), rather than Wells' frothing attack on them, is inexcusably disingenuous and offensive.

I knit and crochet, and I learned of Wells' writing through other crafters, though at the end of the day my hobbies are irrelevant. The subject of Wells' hate is, also, ultimately irrelevant. He might as well have been writing about stamp collectors or Trekkies or amateur athletes. Any activity, whether trendy or nerdy, brings out the quirks in us, and most of us are willing to defend the activities we find fulfilling to outsiders who may snicker at us. I don't expect Wells, or any non-crafter for that matter, to understand knitting, and I don't expect him to care about the difference between a needle and a hook. I do expect, however, professional writers to bother to learn about something they don't understand before publishing an inflammatory essay about it. I also expect professionals to refrain from publicly whining about their irrational hatred for a mainstream community of people, and I certainly expect them to avoid using inflammatory cliches such as calling people Nazis and suggesting that they be shot.

I am not just a knitter. I am also a longtime reader of the alternative weekly papers in my area, and a frequent consumer of goods and services advertised in alternative weeklies. If I lived in Philadelphia, I would be squarely in this paper's target audience. If I had been a regular reader of PW, I would no longer be one today.

I am not, as Wells would like to believe, a hypersensitive prig who hates fun and can't take a joke; far from it. I am, however, an intelligent and discriminating consumer with a low tolerance for crap.

One man's "astute parody" is uninformed, poorly reasoned, inappropriate bile in the eyes of thousands of others – and, yes, I would be surprised if anyone other than Wells himself considers his anti-craft vendetta astute, clever, or funny. I'm gobsmacked at the idea that he actually gets a paycheck for writing something that appears to have taken as much mental effort as the average bowel movement.

It's a shame that so many people from across the country have been exposed to these works as their introduction to PW, especially when so many well-written, insightful alternative newspapers are struggling. You owe an apology to a lot of people for publishing this crap. I expect no such apology from Wells, who will probably just make derogatory guesses about my physical appearance and the last time I had sex.

If you are interested, I would gladly submit an article to PW for publication in response to Wells' sound and fury, and would do so gratis. My only concern is that of being associated with a writer of such low quality.

Update: Jim of Notes of Chaos wrote a letter to the PW editors, too, with twice the awesome in a third of the length. I've posted it here with his permission:

I'm not interested in knitting myself, but the first thing I saw on Philadelphia Weekly is Stephen Wells's column about knitters being Nazis.

That seems to be pretty much the whole article: "Knitters are Nazis, and I hate them." No explanation whatsoever about what makes them resemble Nazis. I've seen better writing in angsty teenage blogs, which his column is not far from being.

Seeing that, I figured that your publication was just the result of another bunch of cranks coming together to waste time on the Internet. However, it did have the name "Philadelphia Weekly," not "THE ORC DUNGEON: NO FAT CHIKS." I looked around at the rest of it, and it seems to a pretty normal alternative weekly, with writing standards. So, I just thought that it's probably not in your best interest to pay this guy.

I have to ask, though, is Stephen Wells related to anyone in management? Is some higher-up just giving him something to do?

If you’re a knitter, a crocheter, or if you just hate bad writing, why not drop them a line yourself? I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pattern: Knit Condoms


This is a very simple pattern, and great for beginning knitters who want to get used to working with smaller needles. It's a good way to use up leftover scraps of sock yarn, or to play around with sock yarn before/instead of knitting a pair of socks. I like using solid-colored cotton if I'll be adding a face, but you can play around with variegated or self-striping yarns for your pleasure. If you're feeling even more adventurous, experiment with different gauges and yarn weights and make a condom hat, condom golf club covers, or a gargantuan condom to cover your bird's cage at night.

(No-duh disclaimer: Not to be used as a prophylactic.)


Size: Medium [Magnum], about 2" [2.5"] diameter when flattened (Medium is shown here in pink, Magnum in lavender)

Yarn: Dalegarn Stork (100% cotton) or any fingering-weight yarn of your choice; one skein will make several
Set of 4 or 5 size 0 (2 mm) doublepoint needles, or size needed to produce a solid fabric
Small tapestry needle
Embellishments if desired (e.g. small buttons, beads, sequins, or googly eyes; small amount of embroidery floss; needle for embroidery)

Gauge: 8.5 st/in in stockinette, worked in the round
Exact gauge is unimportant, as long as you work tightly enough to produce a solid fabric.

Cast on 36 [48] st evenly distributed on dpns (9[12] st on each of 4 dpns, or 12[16] st on each of 3). Join, being careful not to twist stitches.
Begin working in stockinette; bottom of work will start to roll upwards as you progress.
Work even until piece measures about 1" [1.5"] less than total desired length. If you want a condom that will stand up on a flat surface, err on the shorter side, since a too-long condom may turn out floppy or have an overly bulky roll at the bottom. If you intend to put it over any long phallic objects, make it longer. I make mine only a couple inches long because I get bored easily.

Next, decrease 6 stitches evenly spaced every other round until you have 6 stitches left. I've broken this out round-by-round as follows:

For Magnum size, work the following decrease rounds. For medium size, skip to the Decrease Rounds (Both Sizes) section.

Decrease Rounds (Magnum Only):
Round 1: [K6, k2tog] six times.
Round 2: Work even.
Round 3: [K5, k2tog] six times.
Round 4: Work even.
Proceed to Decrease Rounds (Both Sizes).

Decrease Rounds (Both Sizes):
Round 1: [K4, k2tog] six times.
Round 2: Work even.
Round 3: [K3, k2tog] six times.
Round 4: Work even.
Round 5: [K2, k2tog] six times.
Round 6: Work even.
Round 7: [K1, k2tog] six times.
Round 8: Work even.
Round 9: [K2tog] six times. 6 stitches on needles.

Work even for 2-3 rounds - this creates the reservoir tip!

Cut yarn, leaving a long enough tail to weave in. Thread yarn end on a tapestry needle. One by one, working in the round, transfer remaining live stitches onto tapestry needle. Pull yarn end taut to close hole and weave in ends.

Embellish with facial features or whatever else you want if desired.


Questions or comments? Email me at diversey.grand at gmail.com. If you send me pictures of your work I'll post them here!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Condom pattern coming soon!

As promised, I will soon have a knitting pattern for this:


Though probably not before you figure it out yourself.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Worsted Weight Companion Cube!

The only point of learning any and every craft is to make your own video game-themed accessories. Anyone who's ever had a NES and a crochet hook knows that.

So what do you do when Christmas is coming, you have no idea what to get for your brother, and you've incinerated your only Weighted Companion Cube? You knit your own, of course.


It took me forever, and it didn't turn out perfectly, but I'm still pretty proud of it. And yes, I will share the pattern! Keep an eye on this blog for the next few weeks and I'll get it up.

In the meantime, Weighted Companion Cube and the amigurumi Fighter I made last year can be seen on Joystiq. I'm sort of famous!

Even Sparky likes it!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Nature's Snacks

While waiting for the train this morning, I saw a ladybug fly straight into a spiderweb. Almost instinctively, I reached down and freed it.

After the little guy flew off, I realized that I just stole some spider's tasty breakfast. Save an insect, starve a spider? A lot of us may be repulsed by the idea of capturing and eating innocent bugs, but the spider has no such scruples. He doesn't have the option of driving to Whole Foods and picking up vegan tofu bug substitute. (Incidentally, this is the very theme of one of my favorite poems.) I didn't mean to punish the spider for its eating habits, though that could be one interpretation of what I did. I just didn't want to see a ladybug get eaten.

It wasn't until I'd actually gotten on the train that I noticed a crushed ladybug exoskeleton stuck to the sole of my shoe.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dammit, People, Stop Trying to Impose Rules on Jeans

Most people who have heard me talk or read my stream-of-consciousness writing for longer than five minutes are aware of the things I love to complain about. Stupid fashion is one of them, with stupid denim being a particular hot point. Another prickly matter is anything I perceive as a potential threat to my prettiness. I wouldn’t consider myself vain – I would probably say that I am on the cute side of average, all things considered – but attractiveness is something I am judged on as a woman, and until and unless society changes, I will defend my meager advantages any way I can.

So I was pretty piffed to see a recent comment on Ask MetaFilter that read, "Jeans should be worn sparingly at best. If you must leave the house in jeans, they should be dark and fitted properly. Chicks, this means boot cut or the long and lean cut from Gap. No mom jeans. No skinny jeans. None at all if you're above a size 10." The person who posted this already got chewed out enough for her opinion, and I don’t mean to single her out, but oh, please.

Dammit, people, jeans were not invented at the turn of the millenium by Seven For All Mankind for the express purpose of making rich skinny white girls look even more flat-assed. Jeans are for everyone, and there is no law that they have to do your appearance any favors. Otherwise, what would we wear to paint the house, to run errands, or to rush to the emergency room when your wife goes into labor at 4 am? They originated as work pants, and for plenty of people they still are.

One of the things I hate about stupid denim is the current, unrelenting obsession with labels. Let me clear something up once and for all:


Labels are often, well, kinda stupid.

Ditto the increasingly ornate back pocket embroidery that can make asses look like medieval tapestries or, in this case, VW Beetles:
Am I the only person who thinks these are the stupidest jeans ever?

Will the owner of the ass please turn her hazard lights off?

A few more things that need to be cleared up about jeans:

-They don’t actually have to cost more than your utility bill. You can buy your jeans secondhand for $5 a pair and still look good.

-Expensive jeans are expensive because they are expensive. The lovingly hand-finished detailing and precision weathering only accounts for so much of the price tag. Rather, those jeans cost $200 because they figured out that there are enough people willing to pay $200 for them.

-They are not an "investment." Stop fooling yourself into thinking that you'll get 5 years of wear out of that pair of jeans (you might, but it's not a guarantee), or justifying the price by calculating how many times you'll have to wear them for them to cost $5 per wear. There will usually be a pair of jeans that look as good and get you more bang for your buck. Mutual funds are an investment. Good running shoes are an investment, if you run in them regularly. Those jeans are not going to give you any health benefits or money or any noticeable returns other than maybe, just maybe, you will save money on another pair of jeans next year because you already have the perfect pair.

-There is no brand that magically makes everyone look better. There are cuts and colors that will make some people look better, but you do not automatically transform into a sex bomb the moment you put on a pair of $150 jeans. You still look like yourself. Your crotch, legs, and butt look like they did before. I have seen butts in all brands of premium denim, and I have seen butts in Old Navy, and there is no actual difference. (Keep in mind, also, that people concerned enough about their appearance to wear $150 jeans are often concerned enough to embark on rigorous diet and exercise regimens to get themselves in premium denim shape.) If you see an article promising that a certain brand of expensive jeans will make you look gorgeous, don't believe it.

-Moms, wear the mom jeans. Skinny people, wear the skinny jeans. Kris Kross, wear them backwards with pride. Many of us fashion people have your appearance's best interest at heart, but you can always tell us to take a running jump at a rolling donut. Trust yourself and your nearest full-length mirror, and you'll be fine.

-Most importantly, there is no universal canon of jeans. Like all clothes, they’re subject to trends changing. The dark-rinse, boot-cut, two-fingers-below-the-navel jeans that look so good on everyone this decade may not be in favor next decade. Anyone older than twenty should know this. (Anyone older than twenty should also know not to bet they'll be wearing the same jeans size by next decade.) Treat any denim "rules" as guidelines, not law.

The point is, jeans are for all of humanity, not just those in Citizens of Humanity. It doesn't matter whether you're four feet tall or eight, whether you're young or old, whether you're so skinny you can stand with your feet together and throw a football between your thighs or whether you have to wash yourself with a rag on a stick. It doesn't matter if you found those jeans at Saks or in a dumpster. If you can find a pair of jeans that fit comfortably, jeans are for you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Dammit, Camel.

Dammit, Camel, I've been happily tobacco-free for eight months. It's gotten to the point where I don't even want a cigarette, ever. But if you keep sending me elaborate, thick promotional packages...

The crappy pink martini of cigarettes.

...at least put something in there I can smoke.

Do people even buy the No. 9s? I figure that if women wanted girly cigarettes, they'd buy Mistys or Virginia Slims.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

L'esprit de Stutter

I was in high school when I first heard of l'esprit d'escalier - literally, "staircase wit." Some French guy named Diderot came up with the notion, though I think I read about it in a Sandman issue or something. (I'm just glad it wasn't invented by Seinfeld, because I'd never want to use it then.) Anyway, l'esprit d'escalier is the phenomenon of coming up with the perfect retort long after the fact, supposedly when you have exited the conversation and are going back down the stairs towards your pathetic, non-witty life.

I get bouts of the ol' staircase wit all the time. Who doesn't? It's sometimes taken me years to come up with the very thing I should have said.

My wit's reflexes are crap.

Most of the time, when something happens to inspire a post hoc retort, it's something that completely catches me off guard. I don't engage in verbal sparring, so I don't expect it. It often takes me a minute or two to even register if I'm annoyed or offended by something said to me.

Like this evening, at the gym. An older woman I've seen a few times came up to me and said, conversationally, "Have you lost any weight yet?"

"Mm. Yeah," I mumbled.
"How much?"
What the hell? "Um. Dunno." (This is a lie.)
"'Cause I haven't lost any weight yet!"
"Well, just keep going," I said in a half-hearted attempt at encouragement.

The appropriate response, of course, would have been "THAT is a PERSONAL question!" You'd think I would have figured that out right away. I was certainly thrown by the question, and on some level I did recognize that it was out of line, since I didn't give her the details of my weight loss. But I wish I could have said "hey, that's not right" while still on the Stairmaster, not outside in the stairway.

I don't think she was trying to be offensive. I attributed her question to a misguided but friendly, Jean Teasdale-esque hybrid of curiosity and small talk: "Gee, I've been lifting these three-pound weights twice a week for two weeks and nothing's happened!" But it did make me feel a little bad about myself. After the fact, I thought, Oh my God, I look like someone who works out just to lose weight! I mean, yes, I work out to lose weight, but also to gain muscle strength and energy, and because I've gotten to the point where I kind of like running a mile after a long, hard day of sitting on my butt. And, now that I think about it, I work out so that I won't look like the kind of person who works out just to lose weight.

In situations like this, though, I think our too-slow wits help us rather than hinder us. There are thousands of things I could have said to her, things along the lines of how maybe she'd lose some weight if her workout routine involved any actual physical challenge, or how she has no idea of what exercise I do or how long I've been doing it or how healthy I am and therefore she has no right to judge me or make assumptions. I could have taken the opposite tack and talked her ear off about all of the things over the past six months to get me where I am now. I could have just huffed about how it was a personal question. I did none of those things. I just grunted a noncommittal answer and we were both on our separate ways, she on the treadmill, I on the elliptical. She's probably forgotten about it by now. If I weren't writing about it right now, I would have too. I don't want to punish her or hurt her or teach her a lesson.

I'm fine with just letting it go.

If you ever do think of a great comeback after the fact, all is not lost - there's a blog devoted to such anecdotes.

Meanwhile, I'll check out Diderot's Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown. That's something I can relate to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Old Stuff: The Truth About The Truth About Diamonds

I have been periodically coming across things I've written in the past and want to keep around. This is one of them.

Last year, during a fit of boredom and "it was there," I read The Truth About Diamonds, the "novel" that "Nicole Richie" "wrote." It was about as good as you'd expect it to be. Although Nicole certainly seemed smarter than Paris during that one season of The Simple Life I watched, I have some doubts about her ability to write complete sentences, much less a novel comprising thousands of them.

Behold the unedited manuscript of the first chapter of The Truth About Diamonds:

The truth abt diamands by Nicole Richie (a novel) (which means its not true i made it up!!!!)
chapter one: chloe parker goes to the club and has a sticky sitaiton

Once upon a time chloe parker was a very rich girl who lived in la. she was only in her early twenties and wore a size zero in gautier but a size 00 when she went to kitson and maybe like a size 22 in hudson jeans but I forgot if those come in sizes like zero or those weird sizes with high numbers like in englad. her mom was a supermoddel from and her daddy was a very welthy rich person who owned a rock band, i mean a rock label. she grew up knowing all the celebreties of the time becuase she her parents were a supermodel and owned a record label so she met all the rock stars and singers and moddels and movie actors. and she always got to go to all the most poplar places and wore the best clothes. chloe parker was 5?2 and 2 inches tall and had blond hair that she got hiligted at the best salons in ny and la evry two weeks and blue eyes that were the same color of blue as the pacfic ocean. (chloe parker spelled her name with two .. dots over the o but I dont no how to type the .. over the o. i thougt about putting om the side but it looks stupid like chlo..e parker.
chloe parker it was a gorgeus summer day in la when she woke up one day. it was a beautiful day and she decided to go shopping. but first she met with her personel traner to workout. sha also and then she go to get a manacure. at the best nails place in los angales. her nails were so pretty. "look my nails are so pretty! she said." she drank three redbulls and vodka and haveing a lot of fun. oh ya she was at the club now. and this hott guy was checking her out.
"hello hott guy my name is chloe parker" she said.
he looked at her. "cohle ive heard so much about you! is it true what they say in the tabliods that ur the it girl and the most hott girl in all of la?"
chloe flip her perfectly hilited hair and took one step in her feet with christain lobouboutian shoes on them that were $600. her dress from missoni which is so in right now and all the other girls were jelous."yes its true I am the it girl," chloe said with a tinkely laugh.
"my name is jarod james" said the hott guy. he had six pac abs and a tight watchboard stomach. he had goerges brown eyes and brown hair and that hair on guys faces when they don't shave for like a day but not for too long so theres only a little, and it looked really hott.
"jared james?????" said chloe. who was surprised but she was too cool to let on. "aren't u in that band that evryone likes. fireburn. that is the number one band in the world and the best record of the year?"
jared james strocked his chin that looked like it wasnt been shaved for the day. "yes i am the lead singer of fireburn. it is hard to be a talented musican. and it is hard to so popular and always on tour."
"i know" chole said "it is so busy i cant find time to ever relax and have fun because i am so busy all the time. i cant even find a boyfriend even though my publiscist say i should one."
"really" jerod james looked deeply at chloe and strocked his fingers though his hair. "thats hard to beleive, becuase ur the most beautiful girl in all of hollwood and new york. would u like to go to st barts this weekend and date?"
chloe was so happy that she felt like she must of been the happyest girl in the whole world and maybe the uneverse. "i love st barts" she said. "maybe" she said then because guys like it when you dont say yes right away plus it makes you look cool and not desprite.
"ur very cool u no?" jarod james said to chloe with a love in his eyes.
all of the sudden just then the door to the ladys bathroom in the club just burst open and a skinny girl with mystic tan and a dior outfit that was black and white and sparkelly burst out from the door of the bathroom! she looked very very scared.
"chloe parker come quick!!" she siad. linsay lohan is unconcous because she just overdossed on cocane!!!!!!"