August 23, 2006

New Blog for Magnolia Group

The Magnolia Group has a new Blog:

We hope that all of you will visit and become a contributor. It’s a great place and way to sound off about anything and everyone.



The thoughts, words, and actions that actually FUNCTION at something to some one at some time, here, now, or never.

This is a where one can blow off steam about any damn thing they choose. If you want to join me, you're welcome.

I'd like you to blow off some steam now and then! Then we all FUNCTION all over the place

Magnolia Group

August 16, 2006

One of our citizens has found a terrific child’s sweater pattern and she graciously decided to share it with us.

Here is the URL:
A special thanks to Citizen Barb for her thoughtfulness.

This brought winter to mind. Think of all the smiles on surprised parents so fortunate as receive it as a gift for their child. A project of this class would be a fantastic statement of love for any toddler

Unfortunately we are Grandparents to boys living in a climate where if they were seen wearing a sweater, they’d be next in line for brain surgery. J

I wouldn’t recommend this as a project for the beginner and maybe not even the intermediately skilled among us. The variety of stitches and their various combinations just might be a bit more than some knitters can handle but it can serve as a source of inspiration by knitting practice squares. Every beginner should make an afghan of practice squares. Design ideas can be found in patterns like this. Before you know it there would be a sizable assortment of knitted squares ready to be constructed into an afghan. Depending on the kind of yarn used, the squares can also be used as elegant guest towels. Then depending on the various patterns gleaned from larger projects such as this, some squares will work nicely as washcloths for special things. My wife has a collection of squares made of fine cotton and linen yarns. She uses them when the better china, silver, and crystal need to be washed or even dried by hand.

One of the stitches used in this sweater is called the seed stitch. It creates a small, close knit bobble type texture that is excellent for absorbing water from articles that require special handling. Again the yarn and size of the square can be the start of a supply of coasters. Doilies are not as fashionable as they were years ago but in some circles they are making a comeback. And once again, the clever combination of yarn choice and stitch and voila, there is a set of doilies. Their services come in handy around the computer especially when the most frequent user is a teenager.

Now you see that a very nice sweater pattern might be a bit beyond your skill level but can be the source of inspiration for the creation of other knitted smaller projects. They in turn become stylish versions of ordinary household articles that can serve as gifts and/or usable helpers in fingertip services.

Some beginners will stumble with the pattern. All knitters should know that the number one fact in the mental “need to know” folder should always be your limitations. Just because "everyone else" is making sweaters or socks, doesn’t mean you should be doing the same.

This is a good time to share a philosophy of mine that has been with me from day one of my knitting history. It’s normal for instructors to think that their approach to teaching is the best. In general they’re correct. During the last couple of years I’ve seen that more knitting instructors have adopted the philosophy that they will accept the students choice of first project regardless of their ability to do what the project requires. Little attention is paid to whether or not a student has the ability to do the required stitches, employ combinations of stitches, read the instructions correctly as to ascertain their interpretation, and finally to construct the individually knitted sections to form the projected finished result. So if a novice knitter chooses a sweater or a pair of sock as a first project, it is OK because they will learn during the process from start to finish. And mistakes are good.

Just because you learn from a mistake doesn’t mean you can make “good” a synonym for mistake. This kind of thinking is what allows instructors to defend novices when they choose a sweater or a pair of socks to be their first project. They want the student to apply what they have learned as soon as possible regardless of the number of mistakes, the amount of un-knitting, and how many times the knitting is completely ripped out and restarted.

I would never allow a novice knitter to tackle a sweater or a pair of socks for a first project. In my opinion, it is not good to place mistakes at the forefront of the learning process. People learn best with success. The fewer mistakes made the better off they are. Mistakes are not good. They are inevitable because perfection is highly improbable, but they’re not a necessary part of the lesson plan. Mistakes are not good but that they can be turned around to result in something good. Students should not look forward to making a mistake because it’s a good thing. They should avoid making any mistakes at all costs, but when they do occur there is no need to have a nervous breakdown. Errors are ugly and no one should be happy when they occur, but knitting mishaps present a lesson in humility, practice with yarn and needle control, and concentration.

If a student cannot knit at least ten rows using only the knit stitch, how on earth can they think that a sweater is a good first project? If they cannot knit an eighteen-inch square of simple K1, P2, ribbing, what makes them think they should hurry up and start a pair of socks?

Just like in the school setting, knitting is progressive learning and it should flow from one step to another. It’s important that one lesson should be mastered before moving on the next. You do not make great strides in learning if you continually have to pause and deal with mistakes that belong to a previous lesson.

Knitting a sweater provides advanced lessons in sectional knitting. This is where one piece is knitted and then must be attached to another separately knitted pieces to form a one-piece item. The primary lesson in piece knitting usually comes from making an afghan where one motif is attached to another resulting in the completion of the overall project. Sweater knitting introduces various sewing construction techniques unique to sweaters. This project also shows how several parts work together as a whole in order to render a function that is desired and acceptable to the wearer. The various sections of a sweater usually do not have any value unless they are constructed in a particular way to render the completed project. With other piece knitting projects, each piece can in essence stand alone as a finished product with a very different use from that it would have after being attached to the other similar pieces or motifs.

Knitting and knitted things used to have a wide area of application in everyday life but now the whole hand-made crafts concept has a limited place in our lives. Even when it’s done to serve a decorative purpose or made to be an article of clothing, the prominence in those areas is greatly reduced from those former eras.

I’m never amazed when reading the following statements. “I’ve only been knitting for a month so can you help me with the heel of the sock”, or “I taught myself how to knit last year and then stopped until most recently when I decided to make a sweater for my son. Can you please tell me what I do when I see SKP?”

August 15, 2006

No Needles in Prison

Doesn’t it make you feel terrible when you realize that the prisoners in a maximum-security prison in Mew Mexico are upset over the fact that they have lost many of the nice things in life? Society should not be so cruel and inhuman to them. They need education, rehabilitation, understanding, love, and above all, forgiveness. How can we ever expect them to be able to re-enter society and be a productive and useful participant if we never give them the chance to gain an education that is necessary for their personal development. Just because some are serving three life sentences with no hope of parole until the year 2990, that means nothing. We should have compassion on them and remember that if we had never had all the advantages that we have, we would be in the same place they are now. It’s horrible when a prisoner fatally stabs another inmate or a guard and then he is locked in a cell so small all he can do it sleep sit on the floor. The meals are reduced to the minimum required by a human to survive. It’s not their fault that they are where they are. Society never gave them a chance. It is our fault that they did not have good parenting when they were children. It’s our fault that they did not do well in school because we picked on them for not being as well dressed as the other students. We set the standards so high so that only the children of the rich people could pass the tests. We don’t allow them to have the same clothes that other human beings have. The uniforms they have to wear are and ugly color and do not fit properly. We do not trust them. We make them go through searches and we don’t tell them when the searches will take place. If we find that they have contraband on their person, we put them in a cell where there is only a twelve-inch square though which sunlight is able to enter. That window is too high and they are not able to see the outside. Society is horrible for allowing them to be treated so badly. We don’t respect them and we don’t remember that they are human.

This is your barrel of crap for the day. You may not find any other group of words that is more bogus than these. In my humble opinion, prisoners need to be on their knees every day in thankfulness than they are in a prison system where I am not in charge. Because if I were in charge, they would be begging to be returned to the conditions they have now.

There is a great deal to be said about people who bring children into the world and are not able to do right by them and teach them what they need to be taught to live a successful and happy life. But how long can anyone hang on to that crutch? How long can anyone continue to blame everyone else for his or her mistakes? I am well over people who are not able to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming every possible element of creation for what and who they are.

I guess I shouldn’t have watched the special on MSNBC last night about a State Prison in New Mexico. It did nothing but rekindle an old grief that had been muted for a while. Maybe the wake up call was necessary. I don’t know the purpose but I’m sure there is one.

Of course we can't allow prisoners to have knitting needles. Do you want them to kill each other?

What is the address of that prison?