Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Ransomware - Beware!

It's bad enough that you can have your computer data hijacked by clicking on an e-mail attachment, but now your iPad and iPhone are at risk by just clicking on a web site!

Java Script Screen Lock

A friend of mine told me about how he contracted some virus that locked up his iPad and required him to pay a tech company $100 to unlock it.

So here's the're cruising various porn sites, and click on something that looks hot and titillating.  The following displays on your Safari web browser:

Or worse yet, some FBI or police notification indicates you've caused a problem and need to call a toll-free number right away.

No matter what you do, you can't unlock Safari.  You reboot.  You clear cache.  You hard-stop Safari...but nothing works.  God forbid you were doing something you shouldn't at work.  Or doing something you don't want your spouse to find out about.

You call the number and they charge you $100 to fix the problem.  They also request your iCloud password to complete the changes for you.

If that's not bad enough, they call you back two weeks later telling you additional updates need to be made for an additional $100.

My friend paid the initial $100 to get his iPad unlocked, and fortunately he didn't know his iCloud password and couldn't find where he had written it down.  And when they called him back two weeks later, he had them call me to explain the issue before he'd authorize any more money.

They actually called me and these scumbags threatened all kinds of dire consequences to my friends iPad if he didn't continue with the updates.  I was just going to tell them not to call my friend back, but "Justin" got mean, so I started to interrogate him.  Asked his full name (wouldn't give it), the company name (said it was Mind Tech, but it wasn't - he had called from an "Unknown Number).  Asked where he was calling from (he said California).  Asked him for a web URL so I could verify his information and was told that was only provided to clients, like my friend.

Just so you know, the company that called my friend is called OnTimeTechSupport . com because they sent him a follow-up e-mail to confirm all they had charged him for was at his request.  A company called Eastside Media LLC charged his credit card.

None of it was necessary, and my friend is contesting the charge with his credit card company.

There are a few different scams but most of them just require you to stop the Java Script that is locking Safari.  I haven't tried it, but a google search indicates that when you see a pop-up like the one above, go to your settings and enable airplane mode. This will cut all connections with Wi-Fi and cellular services. Then remove browsing history on your Safari app by  going to Settings > Safari > Clear history. Turn airplane mode off and reopen Safari - you should be good to go.

Current Knitting

The three Pink PussyHats were completed in time to deliver them my friend who will be wearing one and giving away the other two at the march on January 21st.  I finished the last one minutes before I had to deliver it, so I forgot to get a photo, but they came out great.

I also finished the pattern for the Milano Scarf and published it out on Ravelry.

I priced the pattern at $.99, but honestly it was published to highlight MJ Yarns, so if anyone would like a coupon for a free copy of the pattern, just e-mail me (by clicking on the "E-Mail QueerJoe" link to the right of the blog and I'd be glad to send you a coupon for a free copy.

Finally, I also made additional progress on the Easton Logo blanket.

Now I need to start on the purple side.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Life is Awesome!

Don't ever let anyone tell you the transition to retirement is difficult.  I now get to focus on the things I enjoy and never feel as though I'm jamming everything into a limited day.

Yarn Review

One of my greatest joys is testing out new yarn offerings from some of the independent dyers out there.

Jonathan from MJ Yarns has asked me to test and review two new yarns that are exclusively being sold on his web site.  His other great offerings (which I've reviewed in the past) are available at various retail yarn stores.  Here is my evaluation of both his two new yarns, One Ewe and Tough Ram.

Both of the yarns are fingering weight, superwash merino wool, put up in 100 gram hanks.  One Ewe is a single-ply fingering weight yarn (380 yards) produced in the UK (dyed by MJ Yarns here in the U.S.) and Tough Ram is a heavy 4-ply sock yarn (360 yards) produced and dyed in the U.S.

Both yarns are either dyed as a semi-solid color or kettle-dyed for a more varied tonal look.

Here is my review in the standard categories I evaluate yarns:

Durability - Very High.  The Tough Ram is a tight 4-ply yarn that holds up quite well even with casting on, ripping out, and sewing up, which I expected.  I didn't see any difference with the 1-ply One Ewe, which surprised me.  Even with a bit of abuse, I saw no pilling, unraveling or scuffing of the soft yarn.

Uniformity - Very High.  My test project was a very loosely knit scarf which wouldn't easily show variations in uniformity.  However, both yarns looked and felt extremely uniform...even the slightly crimpy One Ewe single-ply yarn.

Color/Dyeing - Exceptional.  This is MJ Yarns' strong point.  The semi-solids have a small amount of variety, giving the knitted fabric a lot of interest, and the kettle-dyed yarns are a fantastic balance of dyed/partially dyed yarn.  Mostly, I'm thrilled with the color palette of this line.  The colors are deep and saturated and very rich looking both on the hank and knit up.

Put-Up - High.  The One Ewe is a perfect put up, especially if used for a scarf or shawl.  If the Tough Ram is used for socks, a 360 yard put-up wouldn't be sufficient for a pair of men's socks, but it works great for scarves and shawls as well.

Retail Availability - The two new yarns are exclusive to MJ Yarns on-line web site, so there is no retail distribution that I know of yet.  But if you like MJ Yarns' other offerings (only available at retail yarn stores), then you will love these two yarns.
Tactile Pleasure - Very High.  I am a HUGE fan of single-ply, fingering weight yarns.  They are soft, and silky and the slight crimp makes them interesting and fun to knit with, so I could work with One Ewe forever and never get tired of working with it.  The Tough Ram yarn is surprisingly softer than most sturdier sock yarns, like Regia or Trekking XXL.  It's definitely not as soft as the One Ewe, but it has a nice hand and doesn't feel at all rigid or coarse.

The Blog Contest winners will definitely enjoy working with both these yarns, and I will be awarding myself a coupon to purchase more of these yarns myself!  Make sure you put in an entry to win one of two scarf kits with MJ Yarns.  The kits will be enough yarn and the pattern for the Milano Scarf (below)...just in different colorways.

Current Knitting

I've done a lot of knitting since the last blog entry.  First of all, I've finished the Milano Scarf.

I recalled that the pattern stitch doesn't lie perfectly flat when it's knit, but mild steam blocking both evens out a very loose-gauge fabric, but allows it to lie flat.

I also finished the third (of six) panels for the Easton Logo Blanket and joined the first two together.

The blanket is coming out very well so far.  Given that intarsia doesn't look quite so fine from the reverse of the fabric, I'm thinking I will end up lining this blanket before donating it to Easton Mountain.

Finally, a friend who is going to Washington soon asked if I could make her a PussyHat to wear.

If you don't know about this viral idea yet, you can read about it on their web site and/or make a few hats for donation.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Random Thoughts - Blog Contest!

It takes longer and longer to come up with a list of 10 thoughts I find interesting enough to post.  So, I've decided to let readers help fill in the last three in this list with their own random thoughts kicking around in their heads.
  1. If a transgendered woman bares her breasts in public, is it legally considered exposing herself in public?
  2. Right around the age of 50, the term "good workout" becomes an oxymoron.
  3. Do you ever find yourself justifying a vigorous brushing and flossing by thinking you don't want to disappoint your hygienist at the next visit...or is that just me?
  4. The entire universe thinks I exaggerate.
  5. Do you ever click on a link because it infers a hot nude photo will be displayed?
  6. Are you usually dissatisfied by clicking?
  7. How is it that the automation of many workforce tasks hasn't provided us with lives of leisure?
  8. ?
  9. ?
  10. ?

Blog Contest

MJ Yarns has sent me some yarns to test out and review, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  After my current project is completed, I'll be writing up a full review of these wonderful yarns. 

A bit of a spoiler-alert...there are two new yarns MJ Yarns is selling only on their web site, Tough Ram and One Ewe using two different dyeing methods.  You can have the chance to win some of these yarns, or a coupon to get them at discounted prices.

Simply e-mail me at with up to three "Random Thoughts" of your own.  Each of your thoughts will enter you in a drawing for one of two scarf kits which will include enough MJ Yarns to make the scarf, and a free copy of the new pattern design which I'll need to write up fast, since you'll note below, that I haven't even finished making the scarf yet!  There will also be coupons/discounts offered to folks that don't win the two kits

Entries will be accepted until next Friday, the 13th of January, 2017.  Winners will be announce shortly thereafter.

Current Knitting

My new scarf pattern is simple, and easy and mixes the colors of horizontal stripes in a beautiful way.

Some of you may recognize the stitch pattern from a blanket I made a while ago.  I'm calling this design The Milano Scarf.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Christmas Bounty 2 of 2

A veritable network of people looking for knitting and fiber-related items keep my crafting area full to the brim!

Gifts - Part 2

In addition to the 35 knitting booklets, I got from my sister-in-law, Michelle, there were also 23 knitting books.  Again, most of them focused on men's knitting designs or designed/written by men.


I have many of the books already, so a lot of them will go with me to the Men's Knitting Retreat to sell on the tag sale table and make money for the scholarship fund.  One of the books, A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt I have always wanted to own and I've started reading it already.

Shocking to see the price for used copies of this book go for on Amazon...yikes!

In addition, Michelle's friend Holly also sent up a beautiful gift.

These antique weaving items will be perfect for decorating my craft show table, no?

Current Knitting

The third panel of the Easton Mountain logo blanket is almost complete.

It's been a busy time (holidays and Men's Knitting Retreat stuff), so knitting time has been a bit scarce.  But I've also got a new project on the needles and a teaser for next blog entry!

Upcoming Blog Contest with beautiful yarn prizes!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Bounty - 1 of 2

Being known as "the knitter" has its advantages.

Especially Around Christmas-time!

My sister-in-law finds a lot of amazing things at yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets, and whenever she finds stashes of knitting related books, it always becomes one of my Christmas gifts.

This year, I think I got over 50 pounds of knitting books and booklets.

And most of them were focused on men's knitting patterns.  Here's a little slide show of just the booklets.

There were 35 (with one duplicate) booklets...too many to post individually, so that's why I did the slideshow.

Next blog post will show the books and other fiber-related items I got for Christmas.

Current Knitting

While I was away at my sister-in-law's house for a couple of days celebrating Christmas, I decided not to bring any knitting, but she had a knitting project she had started a while ago...a prayer shawl...which she hadn't worked on for a long time.  I didn't get a photo, but I did added about seven inches to her shawl while I watched television.

And here's the current progress on my Easton Mountain logo blanket I'm working on.

It's all in stockinette, so it's curled at the moment, but when I start to put together the panels, it will lay a bit flatter.  I'm also thinking about lining it with a soft fabric backing to both hide the back of the blanket and to stabilize the curling after it's finished.