Monday, November 24, 2014

Comcast Sucks

I would personally love to own the most Google hits for "Comcast Sucks" although I'm sure there are other sites with far more hits than I'll ever get for this.


Bad Enough

For those of you who might not know, Comcast is a huge cable service provider, providing internet, cable television and voice-over-IP telephone service, as well as various other internet-related services.  If you'd prefer not to read through my rant about how Comcast Sucks, just scroll down to the bottom section on Current Knitting/Spinning.

They've divided up the United States so that there are rarely any other providers of these services, so in essence, they're a monopoly in almost all of their service areas.

So it's bad enough that their service sucks (see Comcast Sucks), but they've also realized they just don't have to care, because we have very few (some might say none) viable options.

Called the number on my bill to upgrade to HD service.  Went through automated menu options where I was told to call a different number (not, transferred...told to call a different phone number and hung up on).

Called the second number, went through automated menu options to be told my wait time was 25-30 minutes.  Waited about 25 minutes to be told by a real person that my record was on the "new billing system" and they couldn't bring it up.  But she could transfer me back to the first phone number I'd called.  I asked if I'd have to wait in queue again and she confirmed I would.

25 minutes later, got another real person who spent a painful hour explaining why my neighbor could get the service I wanted for $99 a month, but I couldn't...I would have to pay $147 a month, but we finally agreed on how I would upgrade and I was told I could go to a neighboring town to pick up my new HD cable box.  I asked her...even though they're in NJ and I'm in PA? and she confirmed, yes.

Went to my neighboring town and paid to park, only to be told that they couldn't help me.  My bill had been converted to the "new billing system" and she didn't have access to my account.  Was told I had to go to a town about a 25 minute drive away.  When I asked about their office in a closer town, she said that "For the convenience of our customers, Comcast (sucks) had consolidated that office and two others in an office much further away.

Drove 25 minutes to the new "convenient" office to wait in line for 30 minutes before getting my new box.  It was huge, so I asked him if this was really the size of the converter box and he confirmed it was.  When I mentioned the web photos showed it as much smaller, he said they were out of stock on that size box.  I asked when they'd be back in stock and he replied, "We order enough to satisfy our customers, so we should have them in 3 days."  He then handed my my huge box in a bag and wished me a happy holiday.  I asked him if it came with a remote control and he replied, "Yes, I'm getting it."  Stupid me, I thought I had been dismissed.

I can't tell you how much I look forward to calling to activate my new box later this afternoon.

Current Knitting/Spinning


Almost finished with the current pair of socks and almost finished spinning up Lulu the llama fleece.


Just another couple of inches on both socks and just one more batt to spin.  Then I will probably start a new project.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Best Yarn Store Ever

I love my local yarn store (Twist Knitting and Spinning in Lahaska, PA) and up until recently, it was my favorite yarn store.  While I will continue to shop there faithfully, it is no longer the best yarn store I've ever been to.

Espace Tricot Is...

I spent a couple days up in Montreal recently and had the opportunity to go to Espace Tricot, and I was enthralled.

Lisa and Melissa have created the perfect yarn store and whenever I find myself in Montreal, I will definitely be going back.

Some of the things that make them the best store:
  • Staff - Friendly, helpful, nice and knowledgeable.  They knew their inventory, they made excellent recommendations for yarns and projects and they were a delight to deal with in every way.
  • Other Customers - They had a table of "regulars" mostly working on the latest Stephen West Knit-Along (I think) and they were raucous, inviting and fun.  Plus they had excellent taste (in my opinion).  They were thrilled to discuss their projects and create an enthusiastic community.
  • Store Space - Not huge, but jam-packed with beautiful yarns.  Tons of light and displays that made me want to shop, including projects using various yarns and even though there were a LOT of customers in the store when I went, I didn't feel crowded or harried.  Also a big central table where you can sit/chat/knit all day.
  • Inventory - The best part about this store was the yarns they carried.  In addition to carrying local yarns (that were BEAUTIFUL - see below), but they also had a huge selection of Madeline Tosh and Koigu...whoever chooses which yarns they carry in the store has a great sense of yarn and color and what knitters want (or at least this knitter).  Plus they also highlight a self-striping sock yarn dyed by one of their staff members...which are just beautiful (again, see below).
I will always love and support my local yarn store, but I will also dream of the day I get back to Montreal.

Yarn Store Purchases

Here are the yarns I bought when I was in Montreal.
 Couldn't resist picking up these two colors of Madeline Tosh Merino Light.  Colors were stunning (Grasshopper and Coquette) and I love everything Madeline.


 This is their Tanis yarn...a locally produced yarn.  Two 385 meter hanks of Merino, Cashmere and Silk (75%-15%-10% respectively) in colorway Olive and Brick.


Finally, this is the Scrumptiouspurl Sock yarn, hand-dyed by Samantha, one of their staff in my three favorite colors, which she calls Ghouls Night Out.

I have now idea what I will be making with any of this, but I had to own it all.


Current Knitting/Crochet

I promised an updated photo of my main two works in progress, so here's where I am.

Almost finished with the first sock (the second one is at the beginning of the ribbing) and still a long way to go on the Spiked Crochet Afghan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Learn to Knit - Best Tutorial

A friend of mine recently asked me for the best online tutorial for learning to knit, and I honestly had no idea what was out there.

Online Resources - Learning To Knit

The request started me on a quest to wade through the tons of video tutorials on learning the basics of beginner knitting.

Here are my top three resources.  My evaluation is based on the following criteria:

  1. Clear, simple instructions
  2. Easy to follow videos of the techniques of casting on, knitting, purling and casting on
  3. Presentation that wasn't weird, or quirky
  4. Short or innocuous advertising on the video screen

Not all of my three top choices met all the criteria, but they met enough of them to let someone learn the basics of knitting and get to the point where they could say they knew how to knit.

Top Choice:
KnittingHelp.com - http://www.knittinghelp.com/video/play/long-tail-cast-on


In addition to having very clear videos (for the most part) for the major techniques in beginning knitting, they also had an easy to follow menu at the top listing the different topics (Getting Started, Cast On, Knit, Purl, etc.).

Second Choice:
Vantha Sao's YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9hv44QwQ-A&list=UU_yKXUyN5NIN_D1DGwyZw0A


Overall, had all the basics in the various videos on her channel.  Instructions were clear, although it's geared to a young audience (and the camera keeps switching to them).

Third Choice:
Lion Brand Learn to Knit Online - http://www.lionbrand.com/cgi-bin/faq-search.cgi?store=/stores/eyarn&learnToKnit=1


Very short, succinct videos that give you the very basics with no fluff.  They don't teach the long-tail cast-on as the way of casting on (which I find annoying), but they do have great drawn graphics of the technique which would be a great supplement to the videos if I were learning to knit today.

If you have resources that you think are better, leave them in comments so this can be a resource for anyone looking for the best options.

Current Knitting

I've made some modicum of progress on both the Spiked Crochet Afghan and my current sock project.  Photos in the next blog entry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Next?

With finishing the Racing Stripe Pullover, I'm now laser focused on three other projects, working to get them finished before I start anything else.

















 

I love the way this sweater turned out.  It's warm and heavy and the green accent color pops in a way I never would have expected until I knit it up. 

3-D Focus

I know it's difficult to focus on three projects at once, but it's easier than focusing on five projects.

Here are the three things I will actively work on.


In the background is the Spiked Crochet afghan which will take a while to finish.  And the reason I'll be doing intermittent work on the other two...the Tilt Cardigan from Rowan and the socks (which you'll note I'm doing two at a time).  The socks shouldn't take too long to finish, and I may start another pair (using the new MJ Yarns I mentioned in last blog) before I finish the other two projects.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Finishing On a Roll

With two recent projects finished (scarf and racing stripe pullover - see below), I feel like I'm on a roll with completing projects.


Focus, Focus, Focus

A few blog entries ago, I realized I had a bit too many outstanding works in progress...even for me.

I decided I needed to focus on one at a time (at least as much as I could) and work to get some of these projects in the "complete" column of my to-do list.

I haven't been completely successful in single-focused working on projects, but enough so that I could at least complete two of the projects and leave fewer outstanding distractions when I work on completed the other projects.

Current Knitting

The Racing Stripe pullover in Madeline Tosh yarn is now complete!


Well, almost complete.  I still have a few ends to weave in, and I need to block it.  I did try it on, and I love how this garment turned out.  After it's blocked, I'll post a photo or two of what it looks like in use.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Gypsygirl, regarding the scarf I made with the two colors of MJ Yarns, writes, "I am enamored with this scarf and the pattern. Your color choices are just fantastic! I didn't see any mention of a pattern name, did you create the pattern yourself? It's absolutely beautiful."

In this case, the color choices were really Jonathan's (the owner of MJ Yarns), but I agree with you, I love them.  I was hoping to publish this pattern, but I don't think it works that well with melding two contrasting colorways as well as the Cross Stitch Scarf or the Bright Lizard Scarf.  Either of them would be better for this yarn, and I think I have enough yarn to do another scarf in the same two colorways.  If you must do the same pattern stitch, it's an Open Chevron pattern stitch from Barbara Walker's first treasury, done lengthwise.

Connie asks, "How do you wind balls that look like that? Is it machine aided or totally by hand. I want to know how!"

It's totally hand wound...and really quite easy, although like DianeInChico rights, it takes a LOT longer than with a ball winder, and sometimes there is no benefit to it at all.  I did a quick one-minute tutorial on hand winding yarn balls...I still have bed-hair in the video and I look a mess, but I figured blog readers are like family, and the video only lasts a minute!


For hand winding on a nostepinne, I'd recommend this video.