Monday, November 23, 2015

Placing Value

Knitter friend, Ronnie posted a photo of a slave around 1865 spinning on a walking wheel.

Photograph of former slave Lucindy Lawrence Jurdon, ca after 1865

Value of Work

The further caption on this photograph stated:
"Check out the spinning wheel, you had to spin yarn before you could weave it into cloth to sew a garment. That's why most people had only 1 or 2 outfits. Everything was so labor intensive."
 Given all the fine gauge work, and the sewing I've been doing on my fine cotton bag, it started me thinking about how I place value on my possessions.

When I can go into an outlet store and walk out with a bag of clothes for under a $100, I have to admit I don't value those items of clothing as much as I might a hand knit pair of socks, even if the $3 pair of socks is more comfortable to wear.  If one of my hand knit socks gets a hole, it goes in the to-be-darned pile...the same hole in a $3 pair goes in the trash

My first job out of college was doing finances for a large chiropractic clinic and one of the doctors there was incredibly successful (monetarily)...and honestly,  he wasn't the best doctor a the clinic.  But one of his theories was that every one of his patients had to pay something for their chiropractic visit...even if it was just $1.  The most destitute and the most well-insured patient for this doctor ALWAYS had to pay something.  His comment when I asked him about it was, "People value what that pay for, and get better health results as well."  I have to admit, he was right on both counts.

I might modify his theory a bit, so say, that people value that which requires them to invest more.

Current Knitting

Knitting on fine-gauge cotton, on US1 (2.25 mm) needles has reminded me of why I enjoy such fine, detailed work and why I usually value the end result a bit more than other projects.

The bag itself is finished, including having the lining sewn in and so is the first of two straps I'll sew on to it.

For the straps, basically, I'm knitting the strap lengthwise (370 stitches), both front and back with purl fold rows on each side and lining it with cotton batting (used for quilting.

And to make sure it doesn't stretch, I'm also sewing three rows of contrasting orange thread lengthwise along the strap.

Once the second strap is finished, I'll sew both straps to the bag and add a zipper opening at top.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Like Caffeine a Latte

Years ago, a friend gifted us with our first espresso machine, and for a number of years we've upgraded our equipment until we found one that fits my needs perfectly.

Latte Art?

In the two and a half years I've owned this beauty, I have tried to work on getting some form of pretty foam art on the top of my daily latte.  Here are this months most successful attempts.

There is really no consistency in my ability to create something that looks like latte art each morning, but I will continue to work on it and perfect it as well as I can.

Current Knitting

I finished sewing up the Santa Cap for Thaddeus...despite my superpower of making hats look stupid, I actually looked better in this hat than Thaddeus did.

I also got the lining sewing into the crochet cotton bag, and finished knitting one of the two straps.

I have to say I'm impressed with how will this bag is turning out.  My sewing skills still suck, but not badly enough to ruin this cool bag.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Imagine a world where everyone was as concerned with the World as they are with their own petty

Where Is John Lennon When We Need Him?

For those of you who have worked on complex, multi-faceted projects at work or in your private life, it can be difficult, but you learn to quickly priority what's important, what are you dependencies, what are the risks and how do you mitigate them?

When I look at the current state of our World, I think we're at a time when it's most critical for it's residents to come together and look for workable solutions to our problems and ways that we should plan going forward to understand our greatest priorities and how to work toward them.

I have trouble understanding why the reaction is almost the complete opposite.

We have seemingly been drawn to selfish, fear-based interests, instead of looking for selfless ways to bring our World forward.

And there's no one that hasn't been complicit in this move toward worsening the state of the World...religion, politicians, activists, corporations, you, and yes, me.

From today on, I will personally look for ways of moving forward toward a world in which we can all be proud.  I will measure my day on how my efforts reflected this goal...did my actions indicate I moved in the direction of this goal or away from it and adjust my behavior the next day as necessary.

Imagine a day when a critical mass of the population of this planet is working cohesively toward the betterment of all of us.

Current Knitting

I put other projects on hold because Thaddeus actually had a knitting request of me (which is shocking, if you knew Thaddeus).  His boss asked him if he had a Santa hat he could wear at work for the upcoming season, and he asked me to knit him one.

Okay, so it's not a monumental task, but it did take priority since a knitting request from Thaddeus is so rare.  I used my handspun longwool and it gave the hat a rustic/vintage sort of Santa look, which Thaddeus likes and so do I.  Just a few more weaving in of ends, and Thaddeus will be decked out for the season where he works.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lucky 13

Last week was my 13th blogiversary...amazing to me that I've been blogging for that 13 years.

Even More Amazing

As I looked back at the earlier blog entries, I realized I had completely forgotten quite what it took to publish a blog back then.

With tools like Blogger, it's easy to post a blog with tons of photos and formatting of text and hypertext links and all sorts of on-line magic.  There are also a ton of easily found graphics (like the one above) that I can import easily to illustrate a blog post.

Early on, just a photo required that I connect my old digital camera to my computer and copy photos to a specified folder.  Then I had to edit the photos and FTP them to the web server that hosted my blog.   Then, and only then, could I write the HTML that would display a photo on a blog entry...having to specify, size, file name and not having any typos in my HTML was a constant test of my patience.

Now it's a few clicks to share a vivid photo, but it takes only a few minutes at most.

Of course, I still have to try and come up with fresh, interesting topics to blog about.

Current Knitting

Actually, it should be "Current Sewing" as I finished the lining for the crochet cotton bag.

For the people that sew, you can clearly see the lining is inside-out, and obviously not yet lining the bag.  But I wanted to show that the bag will have an inner pocket.  I also have to say that my sewing skills suck, and this simple sewing task took me to the limits of my sewing abilities...this satin-like fabric I used does not tolerate mistakes very well and it's so damn slimy to work with!

Overall, I'm still quite happy with the result.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Knitter's BFF

The most valuable resource for a new knitter...and sometimes even a longtime a best friend that knows more about knitting than you.

Debbie Bliss - My New BFF

There is a new knitting guide out, by a very successful and talented knitwear designer and yarn manufacturer, Debbie Bliss.  And it's very good.

The Knitters Book of Knowledge by Debbie Bliss, I predict, will become the new standout guide for knitters and should be a required resource in every knitters' library.

The Pros

  • Extensive tips and techniques many knitters want
  • Authored by one of the foremost experts on knitting
  • Tons of graphics, visuals and diagrams to help describe techniques
  • Clear and appealing layout is consistent throughout the book
  • Well-organized sections in a sequence that is logical and well thought out
  • Extensive Table of Contents and Index, making finding specific techniques very easy
  • Inexpensive - Hardback copy on Amazon (here in the U.S.) is only $18.35

The Cons

  • As with any comprehensive knitting guide, it's geared toward many audiences, so complex techniques are intermingled with beginner's instructions.
  • Missing some important techniques (or difficult to find in index), especially finishing techniques like sewing up, weaving in ends, joining a new ball of yarn, etc.

I've only been browsing through the book for a little over a day, so my critique is limited, but overall, I'm highly impressed with Ms. Bliss' latest masterpiece and highly recommend getting it...either for yourself, or for your best friend that knits.

Current Knitting
I finished the crochet cotton least the bag part of it, but it photographs badly, so I'll wait to present it on the blog after it's lined, sewn up a bit and has some structure. 

However, I have also done some additional work on the niece blanket.

It's turning out to be a beautifully soft and warm blanket, but it's also starting to get more and more unwieldy as I have to keep flopping it over and over to knit back and forth.