Questioning Myself

Some folks question themselves because they’re uncertain or have low self-esteem. I question myself and my motives often, because I think it shows an interest in self-improvement.

Accepting Feedback
With the recent comments from Anonymous, I’ve had a few responses that I’d like to share with y’all.

When the first brief comment about my colour sense came through, I thought I had pissed someone off again, and this was their childish way of trying to insult me. The comment provided no actual feedback, it just really stated an opinion, albeit stated as fact. I know my sense of color isn’t for everyone, and I’m glad for that.

Then, when the more detailed description of why my color sense was strange came in, my immediate reaction was one of annoyance, and defensiveness. After getting past my initial emotional response, I thought through what the commenter was saying. I still think the comments are childish, but in a different way now. For someone to have absolute opinions about something as subjective as color sense (rules such as a piece must have harmonious colors, or a color theme to pull colors together), and then try to impose those rules on others, seems sophomoric to me. Kind of like the absolute, black & white opinions of an adolescent.

And with the final sentence of the comment, dictating that I “need to look at colour theory,” seemed to indicate that the commenter was either trying to get back at me for something I’ve written in the past, or is one of those people that thinks there is only one true religion, or one right way to knit, and would tell someone they must accept Jesus or take a proper knitting class.

Just to be clear, I reject the color sense of the commenter completely. I purposefully steer clear of conventional (boring) color combinations that I could purchase in Brooks Brothers. And even if I created a multi-color garment that didn’t end up working out to be what I would consider appealing, I always feel I’ve learned from the exercise. To be even clearer, I don’t think the commenter should change her/his opinions on colour theory if that’s what makes the person comfortable.

Current Knitting
I have finished the fourth pair of felted clogs, and I’ll probably knit one more pair before felting the whole lot at once.

Felted Clogs 03-26-07

I am working on finishing up a very finicky collar on the dark tweed pullover, and as soon as I’m finished with that, I’ll start the fifth pair of clogs.

Yarn Remnants

Yarn Giveaway

Is this my latest purchase from my favorite yarn store, Twist?

No. I have a friend who has a friend who knits cuffs on the ends of plain knitted gloves and sells the result. My friend asked if I had any remnants of wool yarn that she could give to her friend to help build a stash of yarns for her. Since my Hefty Bag of remnants was overflowing, I was only too glad to get rid of this bag full of yarn.

Readers’ Comments/Questions
In addition to hating Hillary, Leslie writes, “Colorblock sweater looks really nice – both sides. Isn’t it a pain keeping all the bobbins straight?”

No, not really. The butterfly bobbins help with that a lot. They keep the yarn ends short and tangle-free, but let out the yarn loosely enough to let me knit smoothly and quickly.

Miss T writes, “Your colorblock cardigan looks wonderful! Are you weaving in the ends as you go?”

Yes, I always weave in ends while I knit if I can. If I had to go back with a darning needle with all these ends, the sweater would never get done. I’ve gotten very accurate at breaking off the yarn at the end of a square to the exact length it takes to weave it into the following block.

Dawn writes my favorite comment in a long time, with, “When I see such vehement opinions like Leslie’s and Carol’s I can’t help thinking that something else is going on. Have their opinions been affected by some smear/propaganda campaign. I juat can’t imagine anyone talking about GWBush like that, and he deserves it. Their language seemed out of proportion for talking about a political candidate. Any ideas?”

That is a fascinating idea. I personally like Hilary, and I would love to see her in the White House as the first female president in this country (it’s about time). Although, I think the rhetoric on this blog about dubbya can be equally as vitriolic, I also think he’s much more deserving than Hillary. So, I guess I do have to believe that some folks’ response to Hillary is due to the constant anti-Hillary bashing she went through during Bill’s presidency and the NY senate elections. I must admit, I get weary of her vascillating sometimes, but I still think she’s a brilliant politician who would be an incredible president.

0 comments on “Questioning Myself

  1. hi Joe, its me again, you haven’t pissed me off, I’m not trying to insult you, I’m surprised that you’re so sensitive. I look at lots of design and knitting blogs without questioning the use of colour, but with your blog it’s a recurring theme. I just thought you might be interested to know this.

  2. Hmm. I was very sympathetic to the Clintons throught Bill’s tenure. I don’t THINK I was affected by the smear campaigns that were mounted against them, and Hilary in particular. Although it’s hard to tell something like that about yourself.

    The bottom line for me is electability. I don’t think America is ready to accept a woman as president, no matter who she is. That ends the inquiry for me. The Democratic party has to stop nominating people who as a practical matter can’t win. Hilary can’t win. If you look at the number of people who were willing to vote for Dubya in both presidential elections, when he was running against two Democratic candidates with far superior credentials and experience, not to mention temperaments, then I don’t see how they will get around stereotypes of whether a woman can/should be president. I don’t think this is right — but I think it’s reality.

    I think apart from the gender issue, Hilary has a polarizing personality. I think she does not have the innate ability to bond with people, everyday people, like her husband has. Whether or not their opinions are based in fact or fiction, there are too many people who hate her. It seems most people either love her or hate her, and isn’t that the definition of polarizing?

    I think she has dropped the ball on several occasions to take some clear positions on important issues. SHe is still waffling about the Iraq war, for ex., and when asked if homosexuality was “immoral,” she waffled by responding “it’s not for me to decide.” Feh.

    Electability. That’s my motto. And that’s why I don’t think Obama should be nominated. Sadly, America is not ready to elect a woman, a Jew or an African-American. So Hilary, Lieberman, and Obama are nonstarters for me.

  3. I always love reading the comments on your blog Joe. You attract a lot of really interesting points of view that are refreshing and diverse.

    I am surprised that Anonymous is so focused on what he or she feels is the self described color strangeness. Where the first thing that draws my attention and what I ultimately find the most appealing in the garment is how the slightly variegated solids create an overall sameness of effect that is really appealing. I’m so intrigued by the behavior of the yarns themselves within their blocks that color is almost moot to me when I look at the photos. The way the light plays on the subtle differences is what really excites me about your sweater. I know you weren’t looking for ego stroking, and that’s not what I am about. I just hadn’t seen anyone mention the truly stunning factor of the sweater that keeps me coming back to see it again and again.

    I also wanted to say that color, texture and pattern are so individual things that are so reliant on taste. You can take all the theory you want, but it all boils down to personal taste in the creation of art no matter the medium.

  4. I’m glad that Anon has expanded on their initial comment. I thought that first comment was somewhat terse and when combined with the lack of identity, it did come across as more of a personal attack than the start of a discussion.

    Personally, the colour combinations you have chosen for a couple of items don’t do anything for me but what does that matter? You’re not knitting for me, after all.

    It’s also a little unwise I feel to comment on another’s choice of colour combination over the internet. So many factors affect what we see on the screen – monitor s, cameras and photographic ability, for example. Also different people may see colours in a different way. Many people have slight colour blindness – I know my husband does.

    I think that Anon’s comments so far have come across as non-constructive critiscm ad that’s why they rankle so much. A slightly different approach might make for a far more interesting discussion.

  5. A couple of comments from this side of the large body of waters that separate us.

    1. The color theory is interesting and all. I think that I gained a lot studying it a bit in high school and if we all worked as machines we could rely on it and only use “approved” color choices. This is what the industry does. Yet, as knitters I think that, especially when we are knitting for ourselves, we are entitled to press into our knitting all of the colors and combinations we like best, regardless of other people’s likes or dislikes, and regadless of theories. Our individual preferences are not just based on theories, they are also based on our physiology, our experiences and our wholes selves. A horrible (to most) color combinatio may strike a particular note in me because to my eyes it’s interesting or because it reminds me of something I loved, while a popular and approved combination may just look horrible or remind me of an unpleasurable experience or person. Or it may look ugly on me due to my skin and hair color! So, if I were o get an handmade garment from a friend whose color preferences are radically different from mine, I may ask him or her to use colors of my own choice (but I may also tell that person “just go along and we’ll see what happens”), but it’s just… Well, unfair to criticize hiss or her color choices for his or her own garments. That person is granted to have reasons to prefer that combination. And an in-depth study of the color theory may enhance (and it probably will) his or her culture on color, but the basic color tastes will remain the same. This boils down to: Joe (sorry, I talk in third person about you) may already have a deep knowledge of the color theory, or he may get one. This will (or has already) give him a bunch of new ideas on how to use color, but this experience and these ideas will still stay within his own tastes, which may not be yours (or mine or anyone else’s). And this is just fair, because they are HIS OWN.

    2. Hillary, as far as I know, could be a quite good US president, although her political choices are not exactly mine (she’s too far right for me ^___^). Certainly she would be a better presnident than Dubya (but that is hardly hard to do.) Yet, putting the whole thing in terms of electability, like Carol does, leaes me some doubts. In Italy has been going down the electabolity row for the past 15 years and it all boiled down to an ever-dropping leve of political competence in both sides, right and left. Politicians of what is now called “first republic” were not probably the world’s best leaders, but at least they had political and adminsitrative culture and competence and skills. new politicians that sprouted up after the early 1990’s (during what is called “second republic”) for the most part lack this kind of culture. They have foggy ideas about adminsitration as well as political theories and this affects their skills. Yet they are palatable for the masses, they get presented for their looks and the way the look straight into the cameras and so on. With unpleasant obvious results. Personally, I am more than ever convinced that at elast here in Italy we need politicians that look less palatable but who “can work” politics and administration properly! They may not get elected, but if more competent politicians enter the field, the whole political scene may get better.

  6. I’m actually QUITE okay with Hillary. What has impressed me about her is the reports on her working with her colleagues from both parties and, though this is now ancient history, her “listening tour” of NY state when she first ran for senate. I don’t doubt she can be a brute / bitch / whatever, and that she’d like the power just as much as most men, but I’m all for getting a different “sensibility” in the White House. What male candidate would ever consider a “listening tour”? I think she has what it takes to build consensus and get some things done. I prefer practical presidents over principled ones.

  7. Ah, see, as a quilter, I can get where anonymous is coming from, since I hear it alot. It is the “too many notes” thing. I make scrap quilts. Very scrappy scrap quilts. If I want to put an orange block next to a lavender one than I will, going for the overall balance of the piece rather than worry about the particular spot.

    And there are those members of the quilting community who just hate that. Thinking that one’s palette should be organized and balanced. Yeah well. The quilts from Gee’s Bend are museum quality and so are the incredibly detailed and colorbalanced ones from Judy Mathieson. There is just a different sensiblilty going on.

    BTW, I took plenty of color theory classes back in the day and have kept up with the computerizing aspects, so I’ll opine. First all of the colors are of the same quality, they are all tinted to grey – or at least are on my monitor. The blue tends to unify the piece and the stronger colors like the red are a nice counterbalance without being overwhelming. Technically, and not seeing these in person, it looks like a Y or X harmonic pattern. You can actually process colors using software and figure this stuff out and rebalance photos to a different harmony, but I don’t happen to have the software on this machine. So, I went to a handy website and did a quick estimation. If you assume that the blue grey is the base color, and give it a Pantone 3399FF (give or take – my color grabber was thinking it was darker at a 009999, so I scaled it down by eye) and assume an X scheme with an average angle, you get pretty much the colors chosen here.

    Now, does it matter that Joe by eye and his feeling for what he wanted picked a scheme that has a name? No.

    Translation – my brother would dearly love this sweater, I however would look like death in it, since the greyer tones tend to make me look ashen. To each his own.

    As for Hilary. Sorry. Can’t stand her. Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t vote for her, but she just grates.

    Going back into my cubby now.

  8. I never have cared for Hillary Clinton. That said, she has been an outstanding senator. My thought is that by aiming for the White House, she may attain her own level of incompetency. I have found her often vague and as Joe says, vacillating, stands well past irritating. If Hillary wants my vote, she needs to get real, start acting a bit less pompous, and make some firmer statements. Rather than Hillary, I would like to see Chuck Schumer run. However, he’s probably too smart to do so.

    I’ll be watching Edwards closely.

    In the meanwhile, a friend of mine suggested this political scenario: Cheney does a Spiro Agnew, gets replaced by McCain, Reps then feel free to go along with the impeachment process. Interesting thought.

  9. Coming out of lurkdom…
    I *love* your sense of color. I’m totally in awe of the colorblock cardigan. I aspire to having the skill to knit something with so many colors some day! Bravo.

  10. I am feeling encouraged by the reception of and reaction to my comments to try again.

    First, I am not American so don’t have any real idea of HC’s worth but I like the idea of a female president.

    Second, I appreciated Carol’s expanded views on HC. I read your blog, Carol and you lead me to “I blame the patriarchy” so I want to tell you that in your original post, you surprised me with your choice of the word “strident”. This sounds to me like a word used to denigrate a strong female. Would you use this word to describe a male politician? This is not to attack, I really was surprised and am interested in whether you use the word differently from me.

    I will definitely leave this here now.

    Thanks for the use of your forum, Joe.

  11. Husband just passed the monitor and commented “That’s lovely” when he saw the colourblock sweater .He hardly ever comments on knitting. I happen to agree with him. If I went out into my summer garden I’d see a whole lot of colours together that some theorist might think don’t go .Let’s hope Anon. lets us see his/her knits . I am sometimes just blown away by colours put together in a multi-dyed yarn that I might not have chosen but that looks fantastic.

  12. I’ve been enjoying both threads, colour and politics.
    It seems to me, theory aside, that colour combos are partly the fashion and eye of the day. When I was a kid I loved blue and green together (still do) Everyone chanted “Blue and green, should never be seen, together”. Now, it is quite common to see them together in a colour scheme. I especially enjoyed (and had my brain prodded) by the comments of typesetter and emma.
    On politicians. It seems now with TV, radio, etc etc we are inundated with the all the piddly little bits about politicians that, in the long run, don’t matter. So much so, that a lot of times you can’t see the forest for the trees. In Canada, we’ve had Prime Ministers that were drunks, talked to ghosts, lied, and cheated on their wives. Yet those same Prime Ministers are known for what they accomplished…back in the day. Probably now, they wouldn’t accomplish half as much, since they’d be busy sticking up parasols to stop the shit storm from hitting them on the head. I’m not saying the media is a bad thing, or the information we get. I haven’t made up my mind one way or the other yet. It’s something that mulls around in my head from time to time.
    Barb B.

  13. FWIW, the colors on the sweater appear unified to me. They didn’t at first, but as the sweater has grown, I appreciate the overall tones and how they relate to each other (at least on my screen).
    Men’s clothes are usually so predictable–brown, gray, tan, navy. Dreary colors are all that are available for guys from an early age onward. This sweater is going to very wearable and versatile. Not to mention you must have a an unending supply of patience because it’s a challenging project.
    How about a Hillary/Barack ticket? Edwards/Obama? I also like Bill Richardson. It’s gonna be a lo-o-o-ng race.

  14. I think your sense of color in the color block sweater is interesting and lovely, colorful and yet not garish. If I were choosing colors I might have chosen differently, but I don’t see any color theory issues to suggest. As Anne says, all the colors have about the same tonality, the same amount of gray, which in my mind unifies the choices made.

    In grad school my painting prof used to say “there are no ugly colors, only ugly relationships,” but I have seen fashion (in design, art, decor, cars, etc as well as clothing) change so many times that even “ugly relationships” are what you make of them.

    I think that quote might be used for politics as well. I like Hillary, but I think she won’t be president, she doesn’t have ‘it.” I don’t think any of the candidates do.

  15. I had a highly complimentary opinion of HRC while she was First Lady. She showed a strong character and contributed some very good ideas. She worked hard on a health care system whose time had not come. I was extremely sympathetic toward both of them with the smears of Vince Foster, travelgate, etc.

    But when she decided to become Senator from NYS I lost the sympathy/empathy. This may be because I’m from MA the land of outsider governors (Weld first and Romney second). It seemed a blatant attempt to parlay her name into something (just like W did). If she had elected to attempt election from Illinois or Arkansas or even Massachusetts I may have maintained a more favorable opinion. But the woman had no other relationship to NYS than desire for an open Senate seat. The listening tour was just another name for a campaign trip. Sure she “listened”, just like most pol’s do; maybe it was played differently, but the only thing new about it (imho) was the name.

    Since then I’ve just seen an opportunistic person playing the political game for her own personal gain, not necessarily for the good of the electorate. Yes, she has done some good things for NYS, especially upstate, but she’s done nothing remarkable. She’s fought for her constituency, which is what she makes a nice living to do. Her refusal to say “I made a mistake” in voting for the Iraq debacle, instead intoning “I take responsibility for my actions” is just the icing on the cake. She’s too much a politician and not a leader for me.

  16. Yo, mon Jos, again with the anonymous. What about, instead of jumping in with zingers, the anonymous among us evil witch regular commenters identify themselves with some fake id–like that-person-who-tries-to-get-Joe-to-defend-his-color-choices?
    That way we’d all know which chicken anon is commenting.

    It’s been my experience, from long years of yarn retail and from lots of time spent with Kaffe and Liza Prior Lucy, that those with an unsophisticated color eye tend to try to make “rainbows” in color choices. Or make sure that all colors are evenly represented.
    This does not make for interesting colorways. Or give the eye the bold shot of periwinkle (or chartreuse or magenta sealing wax red) it wants.

  17. On a Google search I found a sweater you made in 2005 .It wouldn’t open the page or enlarge the image. It is a patchwork of Scandinavian patterns. I really loved it , would you be able to say which month it is featured in the archives ? Thank-you.

  18. My theory on color is ‘use what appeals to you”. I’ve looked at color theory and tried to learn it when I first learned to quilt many seasons ago. I admire anyone who can work with color theory, but to me it felt too limiting and contrite. I seem to take my sense of color from nature more than manicured gardens.

    For the record, I love the colors in the sweater even though they seem a little muted and calm for my taste. I can’t wait until it’s finish. Do we get a shot of you in it?

  19. One reader among thousands doesn’t like your sense of colour and you have a nervous breakdown. I didn’t realise you live in fear of reprisals from people you’ve pissed off. Given that you readily rubbish other people’s work (scathing magazine reviews) I thought you’d be capable of accepting an opinion on your own. The self improvement preamble to your rant is laughable.

    I’ve read the comments. The “ugly relationships” expression is relevant. Computers can analyse colours for you if you want, but for me it’s all about the eye and the brain, and the instinctive reaction. I googled Gee’s Bend quilts and what I saw was very pleasing to the eye – all the images demonstrate a grasp of the dreaded Colour Theory, whether innate or acquired.

    The use of colour in the colorblocks is bland and dowdy – this is my personal opinion, can I say this? It is conventional and boring and worse.

    I’ve been called childish, adolescent and sophomoric for stating an opinion in a public place. Joe, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take you seriously again.

  20. Wow. Take a couple of days off, and…
    I personally can’t stand chocolate brown and pale blue together. I hereby ban that combination forever.
    And for president? It’s pretty darned early to worry about that.

  21. Anon, you haven’t been around long enough I guess to see some of the trashing comments left by your cousins, Other Anons.
    Since you posted your first comment saying you weren’t pissed, and now you are, seems like you are blaming Joe for what his readers’ are posting in the comments. Strange.
    Sure, you can say whatever you like about the colours. And so can everyone else.
    Sheesh! Talk about a nervous breakdown.
    Barb B.

  22. Just to clarify, my first comment above dates from the “oh my God, he’s really pissed off, can’t believe it, better make a conciliatory comment” phase. “You haven’t pissed me off” means “you haven’t pissed me off in the past for whatever reason and I’m not out for revenge.”

    Having digested the contents of the diatribe, my position changed.

    I’m not blaming Joe for what his readers are posting – don’t know how anybody could come to that conclusion.

    I have not commented on politics.

    To avoid confusion, I will adopt a pseudonym, Sofi, for future comments. (Which will only be for clarifications or self defence).

  23. I will have to cogitate upon “strident.” I think Hilary has a bull in the china shop quality that is hard to describe, yet tangible. Tone deaf. That sort of thing.

    I think the most telling part of Anonymous’ comments is the reference to “magazine” reviews.

  24. I blame the patriarchy AND I think Hillary is strident. I do not think all strong women are strident. (and in the interest of fair disclosure, I love Carol, her fiber, and her blog).

    Color is too subjective for me to comment and ‘color theory’ while helpful, is not all that can be done with color (hence the word THEORY).

    Anon is right about one thing only–on a blog this opinionated, I would expect criticism to be better tolerated both by Joe and his readers. However, since I am about as wimpy and thin skinned as they come, I totally understand and respect your response Joe. In fact, the self-assessment and improvement seems completely in line with what I “know” of you. You really seem to want to improve yourself as a person, knitter, worker, friend, etc.

  25. Carol – I think you might have hit it with “tone deaf”. I trusted her a lot when she was First Lady; she seemed like she knew what was going on. But we really only heard her voice on a few issues, so maybe there’s more to her than the little woman we knew back in the days?

  26. hello, this is just to wish you a Happy Birthday>>>>Marilyn mentioned same on her blog

    Enid (in the UK)

  27. You can call yourself Dingbat for all I care .I think when people complain about anonymous they mean there is no link to a blog , e:mail or name. There must be a lot of Sofias in this World. I am sure I have passed knitwear etc in a shop and called it dowdy but I wouldn’t insult someones knitting on a blog. In fact as far as I remember Joe’s knits come in many and varied colours .I can’t think of a better cure for reading your posts than to get out my Kaffe library and look at the amazing and varied combos of “Persian Poppies” …all wonderful .

  28. It has been my experience that when someone doesn’t sign their name to a critical comment, it suggests some personal animus involved that would be revealed by their name, thus calling the objectivity of the comment — and its validity — into question. I don’t think anyone would care much about a comment that said “it’s not my cup of tea” or “I don’t like it” but there’s more than a tinge of personal antipathy that’s coming thru loud and clear.

  29. There’s no personal animus involved, I’ve said as much already. This blog is among my bookmarked design and knitting sites.

    I work in textile design, in an environment where everyone has an opinion – if a client or an agent or a colleague or a friend doesn’t like the design or the colours, they say it and that’s that – it’s not personal. Opinions are more than welcome.

    I was very much taken aback by the response to my initial comments which were never intended as malicious.

    I’m anon. because it is an option below. Maybe there should be a “no anon.” policy.

  30. “Sofi”–I’m just waiting for that old saw of the anonymous crowd–“I seem to have ‘inadvertently’ (it’s always inadvertently) hit a nerve.”
    This implies, natch, that the problem lies with the blogger’s being oversensitive and defensive and not the anonymous jab.

  31. I am annoyed by people hiding behind ‘anonymous’, alias’ (such as ‘Sofi’) and ‘it’s not personal’. Of course it’s personal because it starts with a ‘personal opinion.’ Saying ‘it’s not personal’ means that 1: you don’t have the balls to back up your opinion or B: you don’t like being called on your bullshit (example: “Can’t you take a joke?” when the joke is at someone else’s expense.) Getting all huffy and sanctimonious about it just makes it obvious that there is unacknowledged hostility and ‘working in textile design’ may mean nothing other than answering the phone at the front desk of the design company. No offense. Nothing personal. Can’t you take a joke? Signed: Rhonda (no blog)

  32. I’m trying to say that this situation has been caused by a clash of cultures – jaded professional v. talented amateur ( I hope this word is not offensive).

    What’s the point in inventing things that I might say?

    Rhonda. Was there a joke in your comment?

  33. I personally don’t like the colorblock stuff, but that’s me and my particular point of color/pattern-blindness. I think Joe’s doing a good job on his. But there are 50 million other things I’d knit before I’d try that one.

    Keep up the good work, Joe! I’m glad there’s a variety of things to knit so we can all work on what we like.

  34. Sofi, have you met Susan Maurer? I think the two of you should go off and start your own blog.

    If your initial remark was not meant to be malicious, why is it then that it was taken as such? Rather than write a pile of crap, try the “quality vs. quantity” philosophy.

  35. Sorry, Sofi, what you said, if you care to recall was firstly, you have a weird color sense and then you need color theory lessons.
    That is not anywhere near the “I like pink; you like blue” sort of comment.
    I would think a jaded “professional” could tell the difference.

  36. Well I did hesitate to use the word amateur. It’s meant to signify that Joe hasn’t had to weather the slings and arrows of a competitive, capricious industry.

    Marilyn, thanks for commenting. I enjoy your blog – lots of robust opinions to be found there.

    Why indeed was my comment construed as malicious?

    I didn’t say that there was one way of doing a thing, the point is that there are lots of options to explore and the science of colour offers guidance in various directions. My instinctive and instant reaction to the colourblocks was as follows – it’s beautifully made…..the ribbing sets the tone to cool….. reducing the quantity of red and mustard patches would make them sing out as accents from a contrasting ground.

    Cynthia – thank you for standing up for the right to post an opinion on an opinionated blog.

    Teasing this issue out has become tedious for some – I apologise.

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