Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Infuriating Christmas Gift

Warning to those not leaning left-ward, this post contains anti-Bush comments

Two New Books
Jammed in with my knitting, I also like to try and put aside time to read. As some of you know, I'm reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy right now (and enjoying it a LOT by the way).

So for Christmas, I told my sister I wanted any book by either Michael Moore or Al Franken. I figured I needed a little light and humorous reading to break up the Tolstoy epic.

I'm not finished with the first chapter of Michael Moore's book and I'm totally infuriated. I thought I would find his book funny ("Dude, Where's My Country?"), but it's a very serious indictment of the president and his staff, and if even half of what I'm reading is true, I am going to work extra hard to get this man out of the White House.

If anyone knows of any response to Michael Moore's questions posed at the beginning of his book that would refute the awful things the senior White House officials have done, I would like to hear them.

Until then, I remain shocked and horrified by what I've read.

Knitting
The rant is over, at least for today.

I got some knitting done on the Janis gift, and I'm enjoying both the knitting and the colors. I wish I could share more of that joy with you.

As for the color issue, I didn't mean to say that I thought the colors were too bright and not pastel enough. I love bright colors for babies. I meant that the colorway seemed a little too muted and subtle. It's a very adult colorway, and a little more masculine than I had anticipated.

I ended up making a colorway that I would wear.

Don't get me wrong, I think the baby will look great in it too, I just expected it to look different when it was only designed in my mind.

Bad Crochet
This is the last installment of what I consider to be bad crochet. This is also the one that I think might elicit the most protest from people. People that think this kind of knitting or crochet is perfectly acceptable.



The picture sucks, but what this is, is a crochet bed jacket and matching slippers. Here's a closeup of the slippers.



To me, this seems like someone had a baby bootie pattern that they adapted for an adult.

I say, if you want to make slippers for someone, stick to the FiberTrends felted slipper clogs. They're very warm, relatively easy to make, and make a very presentable gift. Often recipients are amazed that they are actually handmade.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol asks if I'm a David Sedaris fan.

Is that a trick question?...lol...I mean, yes, I've read everything he's written and seen him perform live and listen to him on NPR a lot.

Kathleen asks if I've decided on buttons for Ronas Hill yet.

I haven't had a chance to get to the yarn store, but I will this holiday/weekend sometime, where I hope to find the perfect buttons.

Lisa asked where I went for the holidays in Massachusetts.

My sister lives in North Easton (South of Boston) and my sister-out-of-law lives in Springfield. I also grew up for about 5 years of my life in a small town about 2o miles West of Boston called West Medway (near Framingham).

Monday, December 29, 2003

Knitless Knit Blog

What do knit bloggers do when they aren't knitting?

Holiday Knitting Time Off
This is more of a hypothetical question because I am knitting.

But for a couple of days before Christmas, and during my three day travels to Massachusetts, I had decided to take a little break from knitting.

I felt as if I was slacking off since I had little or nothing to write about in my blog during that time.

It also applies in a less direct way during this week of knitting a garment I can't show pictures of.

Knitting
I've decided that at least I can show blog readers the yarn I'm using for Janis' baby girl's present.



The yarn is GGH Merino Soft in a baby weight. It's superwash for those of you worried about the washability factor.

I'm liking the color combination a lot, although I'm worrying that it's not very baby-like in colors. After all is said and done, I think it will be quite beautiful.

Janis Story
Before we knew of Janis' pregnancy, I was with her in the yarn store and she was discussing what she'd like to make for a recently born niece of hers. She had decided on a pair of colorful booties that looked like jester's shoes. The pattern was in some book she was showing me that I don't remember now.

She had decided that she was going to knit the booties in Jamieson Shetland wool because it offered her the color palette and the yarn weight she needed.

I was aghast. For those of you who have never worked with Shetland wool, it is a little scratchy (it softens up significantly after washing, but it's still a little too scratchy for a baby).

I told her that Shetland was a little bit harsh for a baby's foot, and she replied that the child needed to learn that everything in life wasn't soft and cuddly sometime, and she might as well get that lesson across in her gift.

Now that Janis has her own child, I'm hoping her ideas on life lessons have changed a little.

Another Knit-Related Gift
I went to my friend Nora's house last night for our holiday celebration (the same Nora who organized the craft show). In addition to some VERY nice gifts, she also gave me this cute little knit book.



I've never seen something so cute, and if you look closely, you'll see a little charm at the bottom of the page-marker ribbon. The charm is a little ball of yarn with knitting needles in it.



I have my last "Christmas" exchange on New Year's Eve with our good friend Charles, but I don't anticipate any knit-related items to be exchanged.

Funny Knit Item
For those who don't read Marilyn's blog (Knitting Curmudgeon), first of all, I highly recommend it as a regular read. Second, she held a funny holiday crap-along blog contest, and Carol's entry is very funny. It should overtake the Willy Warmer as the new joke knitting gift.

I only hope she publishes the pattern, because gawd knows it can't be easy to re-create this beauty.

Thanks Carol and Marilyn for my holiday laugh.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Back to Knit Blogging

Normally this is a knit blog. My holiday post was done from the sister-out-of-law's house, and I had no ability to download pictures, so I thought I would regale you with a non-knit story.

Today I go back to normal QueerJoe knit blogging.

Christmas Gifties
I ended up giving away five of the scarves from the craft show to my family and friends. I had other gifts for all of them, but I just supplemented with a last-minute gift which mostly seemed appreciated.

When I gave my sister her scarf, she showed me one of the oddest little pieces of commercial knitwear I had ever seen.

First of all, she brought out what looked like a standard knit hat and scarf:



Seemingly, the only thing interesting about it was there was a hole through the scarf so it could be threaded through itself.

Then she said, the scarf was also a turtleneck sweater. Huh????

She helped me try it on.



And while it was snug, it was definitely a sleeveless sweater, where the hole in the scarf for self-threading turn into the sleeve openings.



Even more odd, she said that it was large enough when stretched to actually be a mini-dress on a smaller person than me. Amazing.

Other Holiday Knit Gifts
My niece and sister-out-of-law were also thoughtful enough to give me the following knitting books.



I was honestly surprised that I didn't have either of these books, and I really like both of them a lot.

Current Knitting
I am knitting two things, but not on anything I can show on the blog right now.

The first one is the gift for Janis' new baby girl. After two thwarted attempts, it is now moving along very well, and I am hoping to finish it next weekend.

As soon as I hear that the gift has been received, I'll post a picture of it.

The other knitting project is a small knitted item that a friend asked me to do as a prototype for something he might consider marketing. While the item could never be handknit for commercial sale, the idea is very cool.

Again, I'll let you know about it if it ever comes to market, or if the idea is given up in frustration at some later point.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

Filled with tradition, this holiday always brings back memories of some of my favorite family times.

One Christmas Memory
I have always been a mama's boy.

Growing up with six other siblings, and a father that enjoyed drinking a little too much, I learned to be the "codependent", and I was damn good at it.

One Christmas day, I vividly remember standing behind my mother as she chided my father for almost setting the house on fire.

We had opened all of the gifts, and my father had started a fire in the fireplace (one of three fireplaces on the first floor of this fine old house were we used to live in Massachusetts). He decided it would be a good idea to burn the wrapping paper in the fireplace instead of putting it in the garbage.

Despite my mother's warnings, he put more and more wrapping paper onto an increasingly roaring fire. Once he realized he had put in a few too many, it was almost too late.

The flames began to grow higher and higher until they started to lick at the underside of the formerly white painted mantel. The paint had just started to darken with soot, when they began to died down, and the fire came back under control.

My mother stood with her arms akimbo, with that "I told you so" look on her face. I stood behind her, arms crossed muttering, "what was he thinking?" to anyone within earshot.

I hope your Christmas was filled with traditions, warmth and fond memories of your childhood.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Craft Show

Overall, the craft show went very well.

Holiday Madness Sale
It started out fast and furious. I set up my display on Friday night before the craft show, and the organizer had invited a few select friends to do pre-sale shopping.



Since the lighting at the show when I first set up wasn't very good, I had to do a LOT of tweaking to this picture to make it look even visible. Here's a picture of most of the craft show items.



Three scarves were sold immediately, the night I set up during pre-sale.

It became obvious that the furry scarfs in Lana Grossa Pep were going to popular, so I started and finished another of those on Friday night, and also did an incredibly soft scarf in GGH Vamos.

During the show, I worked on and finished another Lana Grossa scarf in slate blue..

After all was said and done, I ended up selling eight scarves and one hat. I brought home enough money to pay for the cost of the yarn I used in the scarves and hats. I also traded two scarves for handmade chocolates and jewelry.

The remaining scarves and hat will also make nice little knitted gifts for my family when I see them this week.

Knitting Project
My next project needs to be the baby project for my friend Janis.

Janis had her baby on December 9th, and I don't really have anything done on it.

She arrived on Tuesday, December 9 at 5:59 pm, 7 lbs 11 oz, 20.5 inches. Her name is Marina Karen, and she's totally gorgeous.



I had started a garment a few months back, but I didn't like how it was turning out, so I ripped it all out and started again. I still didn't like the result, so I ripped it again. I'm on my way again, having completed the ribbing.

Holiday Travels
Tomorrow, I head up to my sister's place in Massachusetts for Christmas Eve dinner with her and her family and my brother and sister-in-law. Then we open gifts.

Then tomorrow night, I go from my sister's to my sister-out-of-law's house, also in Massachusetts, but about 2 hours to the West. We'll spend the night there and celebrate Christmas morning with her family and open more gifts.

Sometime Friday morning, we'll head home.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Off for the Holidays

I'm off work until Monday, the 29th.

Holiday Knitting
I still want to supplement the Holiday Madness Arts/Crafts Show inventory that I already have, so all of my knitting between now and the end of the weekend will be focused on that.

I finished the London Beanie in Kureyon



And I also finished another novelty scarf.



I've started another London Beanie exactly like the one I just finished. I should have it finished before the show starts tomorrow.

I figure that anything I don't sell, I'll bring with me to my sister's and sister-out-of-law's house for Christmas, and let my family have their pick of any items they like.

Readers' Questions/Comments
I first wanted to thank June for the interesting link on Google Bombing. What an amazing concept. Check it out if you're interested.

http://www.microcontentnews.com/articles/googlebombs.htm

Rhys asks for help with correcting an eyelash scarf that stretched more than expected.

First of all, most eyelash yarn can be ripped back just as easily as most other yarns. Just be a little patient at the ends of each row. With only 12 rows done, I would suggest ripping it. If it tangles, too much, you may just have to call this yarn a loss.

Unfortunately, I have no suggestions for the fabric that you've created up to this point.

Karen asks if there is a link to a pattern for the London Beanie.

There are lots of links to various renditions of the London Beanie initially designed and named by Mark Thraikill. Here's a link to a pattern with a picture that I posted a while back.

http://www.queerjoe.blogspot.com/London%20Beanie.htm

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Production Knitting

If I had to knit for a living, I'd go out of my mind.

Knitting and more Knitting
I don't mean designing or knitting my own creations. I'd enjoy doing both those things.

I mean production knitting of the same garment over and over.

Such as scarves for a Craft Show.

So far this week, I've completed another scarf (VERY long), and started another Kureyon London Beanie.



I like both of these a lot. The scarf is very long and almost boa-like. The color is bright and sassy. If I sell no other piece at the craft show, I bet this one will sell.

For the hat, I didn't realize I had two balls of Kureyon in this nice manly colorway. I'll finish two hats in this color before the show this weekend. I figure I have plenty of items for women and girls, but wanted more that the women could buy for the men in their lives (men rarely come to these craft shows).

Fair Isle Question
Someone on one of my Knitting Lists asked what to do in Fair Isle knitting when there's a row with only one color? Do you need to worry about the thickness of the fabric being different since you don't have to strand two colors for that particular row?

I asked the Fair Isle Goddess, Wendy what she does, and she confirmed in my comments that she just uses one color and doesn't worry about the thickness. That was what I did on the buttonband for Ronas Hill on a couple of single color rows.

Another list member offered that he knit two strands of the same color over the single color row, alternating which strand he used and weaving or carrying the unused strand behind. I liked that option, so in the future I will use that method.

Funny Link
I'm not sure if this link has made the rounds on the various knitting lists, but I thought it was funny, especially if you're a fan of the king.

http://www.theshed.co.uk/elviswig.html

Marilyn's sister also forwarded around a very funny Google item that I enjoyed a lot. If you go to google.com and type in "miserable failure" (include the double quotes), and then click on the "I feel lucky" button, check to see what comes up.

I hope Marilyn wasn't planning on using that on her blog.

Readers' Comments and Questions
Pubah asked if I had done a facing on Ronas Hill (I'm assuming she meant on the button band).

I did do a facing. It was called for in the pattern, and I liked it, so I did. I also thought it would give some structure to the garment. The only thing I did somewhat differently from the pattern on the buttonband was I did half of the facing rows in Indigo (color called for) and half in the Olive green color. I didn't want to start the last unused hank of Indigo on the facing, and I had plenty of Olive green left. It gives it kind of a nice look.

Alice mentions what her mother would call "stick-to-it-iveness" with regard to my knitting.

I'm not always quite so resolute, but I have always said that knitting doesn't take much talent or patience (as many non-knitters think). It takes "stick-to-it-iveness". At least for me it does.

Jo mentioned the steek on the buttonband, so I thought I'd explain a little more.

The pattern says to pick up and knit stitches up the inside of the right side of the vest, continue around the neck and then down the inner left side front. Then it says to purl back on the next row.

Since there are 400 stitches on the buttonband, and it requires two-color, stranded knitting, I didn't care to purl. So, at the end of picking up 400 stitches, I cast on 10 steek stiches, and then started knitting where I had started picking up stitches.

I knit in the round that way until the two color section was completed, and then switched to flat knitting. for the remainder. That way, the steek was small, and I could tuck it between the facing and the buttonband when I cut it and sewed it up. It made for a very neat buttonband.

Richard asks if I ever eat.

I do eat. Quite a bit, in fact. I also exercise 3 times a week to stay in shape because of all that eating. And contrary to what Richard has surmised, I wouldn't give up sleep if you paid me. I love sleep WAY too much.

I do however knit whenever I can, and devote quite a bit of my "free" time to projects.

Jewel asks if I've considered making my own buttons.

I hadn't until she mentioned it. I will now have to look into how to make small dorset buttons. Or perhaps I could get Kathy to show me when I see her this weekend.

Aubergine asks what's a steek.

A steek is simply extra knitted fabric that connects each side of an opening (such as a sleeve opening or the front opening of a cardigan or a neck opening). The extra knitted fabric is cut after knitting to make the opening.

Steeks allow for easier knitting in the round, so you don't have to account for arm holes and such until after the garment is done.

I'm sure there are many google references to steeking with pictures. Otherwise, you'll just have to come to my house, so I can show you.

Finally, Carol asks if I got the Ronas Hill kit at Stitches.

Yes, this past year, I got to meet Ron Schweitzer (the designer of Ronas Hill) and bought the kit. It was the most extravagant purchase I've ever made there. This yarn is made from the downy undercoat of a Shetland sheep, and then sent to New Mexico for natural dyes (Indigo, Madder, Alium, etc.). As such, they are very expensive.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Ahhh...success

What a sweet experience finishing such a challenging sweater can be.

Ronas Hill is Done
Well, almost. All of the knitting is done. I've tried a couple different types of buttons, but I haven't found any that I like in my own stash. I'm gonna have to go look for some very plain, navy blue buttons.



As you can see, I was able to finish the second arm hole edging, knit the button band/collar and sew the entire button band into place.

I tried these buttons from my stash (which are the ones I had in mind all along).



I decided the buttons detracted too much from the vest, so I'm going to try and replace them with better buttons.

A couple points of interest on this sweater:

1. Ron Schweitzer, the designer didn't use a steek when knitting the multi-color button band. Since I didn't care to purl in Fair Isle, I created a steek for the front of the button band. This allowed me to knit the front-facing portion of the button band in the round.

As soon as the multi-color portion was completed, I switched to flat knitting

2. The design didn't seem to use as much yarn as called for in the pattern. Partly, I'm sure this is due to the fact that I made the arm holes bigger. I was left with three full hanks of yarn for this sweater.

In addition, two of the colors (Lavender and Red) only require a little bit of yarn.

I'll have to see if I can use these yarns in a Fair Isle design of my own.

Craft Show Knitting
With the Holiday Madness Craft show next weekend, I also did some knitting on items for the show.



The scarf is a beautiful bronze color and the hat is a roll-brim London Beanie done in Noro Kureyon.

Upcoming Week
This last week before the holiday week is going to be hectic, so I may only do short blog entries this week.

I will be doing lots of knitting, so I can have as much inventory as possible for the show.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Internet Knitter Tribute

All those who know the name Emily Way, raise their hand.

Knit Internet Pioneer
Finding knitting resources on the internet in my early days on the web was no where near as easy as it is today. One person seemed to have started this whole collection of valuable information gathering and putting it in useful format.

I've never met Emily, but I sure have gained from her initial foray into organzing electronic resources for knitters. I also gave her name out to many a customer at Tomato Factory who were looking for knitting information on the web, or information on how to get to the KnitList.

Group lists were somewhat daunting to join for newbies to the net, and Emily's web page guided the adventurous through the labrynth of information necessary to put them in touch with the on-line knitting community.

While I have thanked Emily in the past, I'd just like to post a public thank you as well.

Blog Contests
An internet knitting pioneer in her own right, Wendy is having her monthly contest going on now. Check out your knowledge of Wendiana by taking here WKSAT quiz and win some great yarn.

Marilyn is also having a contest. My favorite so far. Her crap-along challenges her readers to come up with a holiday knitted item that is garish and uses only non-natural fibers. Check it out.

Knitting Progress
I didn't do a lot of knitting this past week. But I was able to seam the shoulders and finish one of the sleeve edgings on Ronas Hill.



Here's a more detailed picture of the sleeve edging.



Reader Comments/Questions
Ms. Anne Thrope asks: Do all toe up socks look like that when knitted?: Shins disproportionately skinny to the foot? Or, must they be blocked to give them that "commercial" look?

All my socks look disproportionately skinny in the ankle compared to the foot. Regardless of whether I do them toe-up or cuff-down. I figure that as long as they fit well, I don't care much what they look like.

The socks I make on my antique sock knitting machine look much more like commercial socks, so perhaps it's just the difference between hand and machine knitting.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Body Done

Yes...Ronas Hill body is done. And I have the same number of stitches on each shoulder for both the front and the back.

Easy Fair Isles
To some the term "Easy Fair Isle" might seem like an oxymoron. But for anyone looking to do their first Fair Isle using jumper weight yarn and US3 needles, I would HIGHLY recommend this pattern. Here's why.

First of all, there are only six colors to worry about.

Second, the main color (indigo) is used throughout the entire garment, so the only color changes are done on the secondary colors.

Third, it is a vest. No sleeves, and finishing goes much faster.

Forth, short pattern repeats that are easy to remember.

Fifth, it's a cardigan, which allows color changes to occur at the center steek, and makes for a no-jog line where the colors change.



On the negative side to this pattern, there are a couple.

First, the shoulder width is too wide on this design. Adjusting the pattern required a lot of finagling of the numbers.

Second, the shaping of the neck on the back requires a one inch steek. Not hard to do, but kind of hard to visualize unless you've done Fair Isle knitting before.

Sock Knitting
I don't have a picture of it today, but I finished the second sock in the Regia Stretch. I also undid the bind-off on the first sock, and recovered all of the stitches. I have an inch or so of rib knitting to do on the first sock and then the pair will finally be done.

The socks fit perfectly, and look kind of cool.

Bad Crochet...Bad Knitting
I thought I'd show two more examples of what I consider to be really bad designs from the two flea market books. Enjoy.

This is my favorite. I'd love to see the look on the new mother's face when gifted with this lovely pillow case that could suffocate her newborn.



And this one is just a tragedy because of the era in which it was designed. I'm sure the boy looked quite smart at the time. Mostly it's the hair I like.



Funny Web Link
Finally, I leave you today with what I consider to be a somewhat funny web site.

http://www.punchbaby.com/great.htm

Enjoy

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Almost Done

This really is one of the most satisfying projects I've ever worked on.

Knitting Progress
Yes folks, I've completed another round, and I only have one more to go to finish the body of the Ronas Hill vest.



This pattern has some neck shaping on the back of the body, so I'll have to create another steek soon, but that will only make the final knitting go a little bit more quickly.

Upcoming Craft Show
I just saw my friend Nora, the one who is organizing the craft show where I'll be selling my things. I didn't realize quite how big this show was going to be. She's going to have about 2 dozen artists and craftpersons showing their stuff.

I plan on buying things myself. Hopefully my sales will supplement my purchases.

If anyone is local enough to Lambertville, NJ and would like to go, e-mail me here, and I'd be glad to send you the information on the show. It's going to be Saturday and Sunday, December 20th and 21st.

Musical Entry
For those folks that tried to go to The Churchill's site, it was down for quite a while. You definitely ought to check it out if you're into good music. The site is high bandwidth too, so dial up folks might not be able to see most of it.

I am convinced they will make it big, and I'll be able to say that I saw them in a ratty little bar in downtown NYC

Reader Comments/Questions
Debi says that I should set up legal protection as soon as possible, so as not to get "blindsided" by the grim reaper.

She's right. Right now my estate isn't quite big enough to make a difference, but I do need to set it up soon...thanks for the useful prodding.

I'd also like to ask folks not to use the comments section for self promotion. If you'd like me to promote something your doing/selling, ask me and I'd be glad to include it directly in the blog, if I think it's interesting.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Onward Ronas

There are some days I almost feel like Wendy.

Knitting Progress
I've completed another pattern repeat on Ronas Hill, and shaping of the arm hole and neck is going along swimmingly. I will never knit up sweaters as fast as Wendy, but showing regular progress has been very satisfying on this sweater vest.



For those of you who would like to see a pretty decent representation of the colors and the pattern on this garment, I've finally been able to take a decent close-up picture.



Musical Entry
As many of you know, I have little or no aptitude for music. I don't even have a very good ear for hearing music. My palate for sounds is very limited.

However, early on in my consulting career, a coworker brought me to an appearance of a band in New York City called The Churchill's who's lead singer was the son of a friend of his.

I was so impressed with their music, and the lead singer (he's a hot guy and very nice as well), that I've followed their careers as they've tried to make it in the music business.

They just came out with a new CD, and I enjoy listening to it a lot. Mostly, I like the songs that they write and the voice of the lead singer.



Check it out and go to The Churchill's web site if you'd like to have a listen to what they sound like and look like.

Reader Comments/Questions
Marta asks what I think about crochet.

I like most any fiber art, and I've done a lot of very fine lace crochet in my past. My friend Kathy is a master crocheter and she has a rule of thumb that crocheting with any yarn heavier than DK weight makes it look to bulky and ugly. I tend to agree. She's made some incredible garments in crochet which I wouldn't have believed to be possible.

Andrea asks whether unmarried folks can own property jointly.

Thaddeus and I own our house jointly, but even still, he'll owe taxes on the portion deemed to be owned by me when I die (if I die first). We looked for a way to avoid inheritance tax, and the only way we've been told is by setting up a specific kind of trust. We'll look into it as we get closer to dying.

I'm also glad some of you found the lifeline concept helpful.

Years ago, I was having problems with a complex lace pattern on a scarf, and the yarn was starting to look worn from ripping it out so many times, so I unvented the lifeline concept. I sent the tip into the Knitlist, calling it a safety net, and over the years, many people have sent the tip into various lists calling it various things. I always wonder if they got the idea directly or indirectly from me.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Vintage Knitting

Sometimes vintage knits can be cool and interesting. Sometimes they can be absolutely dreadful.

Vintage Knitting Books
Today, I thought I'd show examples from one of the two flea market books. One I thought was kinda cool and the other I thought was an example of why people think crochet is one of the worst forms of crafting. Even worse than popsicle sticks and glue projects.

Both of these designs are from the Crochet book. The first one is a hat that I really like.



The top of the hat is created by banding together strands of yarn and securing it to a standard skull cap. But the picture is so movie-star-like, it makes the hat look good.

The next one is just plain ugly.



There is just no explaining this monstrosity.


Ripping out Fair Isle
I haven't really done enough on Ronas Hill to merit a new picture, but I did want to comment on some of the remarks you folks left in the Comments box.

Barb says ripping lace is worse. I would only agree with that if there was over 400 stitches on the lace project. Ripping lace isn't overly fun, but most of my lace knitting was easier to rip than the Fair Isle ripping I've done.

Alice most closely sounds like me. The ripping part sucks, but it's really the recovery that's a pain in the ass. And I totally agree with her that usually I have to put ripped Fair Isle projects away for a month or so while I get over my resentment at making a mistake. This time I forced myself to keep going.

Debbie asks if I was using a "lifeline" in my knitting.

For the uninitiated, a lifeline is a piece of waste yarn that you thread through the current stitches every 10 rows or so, that serves as a safety net in case you have to rip back...you never have to rip further back than the most recent lifeline.

The only time I use a lifeline in my knitting is when I'm doing a pattern stitch from which I can't recover when I make a mistake. This is usually only with lace projects that have a lot of yarn overs, slip stitches and transfers. So, no, I wasn't using a lifeline.

Finally Sean commiserates, noting that the denial is the worst part. I agree. If I had only listened to my instincts and checked for errors immediately, I could have recovered much more quickly.

Sock Knitting
I have done some additional sock knitting, and I'm close to done on the Regia Stretch socks.



The one I'm working on is slightly longer than the first one, and I'm going to continue knitting for a little while longer before binding off. I've already started undoing the bind-off on the first sock to make sure that I could. I will go back and lengthen that one when I'm done with the second sock.

Readers Comments/Questions
Susan asks what I think of the distinction between marriage and civil unions.

I think I agree with Susan on this issue from what I can tell in her comments.

I think marriage should be a completely religious event and government should not be involved, except to allow religious groups the ability to enact civil unions along with the marriage ceremony. And all folks should be allowed to have civil unions, regardless of whether they get married or not.

That way, everyone would be treated the same with regard to the law, and religious organizations could decide on whether to be hateful and bigoted, or marry anyone who wanted to commit to a life of loving (how biased was THAT commentary?).

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Ripping Back

For those of you who take joy in the mistakes of an experienced knitter, I offer you today's blog entry.

Ronas Hill
For some reason, I don't seem to be able to make it past armhole shaping on Fair Isles without a mistake.

I was knitting along happily on Ronas Hill and was all ready to report another completed pattern repeat. Then I realized I had to rip out about 10 rows and reknit them correctly.

Damn it! I should have known better. Now that I'm shaping for the armholes, the pattern starts at a different place after the first armhole steek. On one of the rows, I figured out where I should start in the pattern, and after knitting the first two repeats, I was curious as to why one of the stitches seemed off by one and then corrected two stitches later.

Stupidly, I just figured I had made a minor mistake, but the remainder of the row was like that.

Then a few rows later, I got even more suspicious when I realized that the end of each round was finishing before the middle of the pattern repeat instead of towards the end. Now I realized I had made a mistake, but I thought I might be able to continue without it being noticeable.

What was I thinking?!?!

Ripping out Fair Isle sucks.

Suffice it to say, I'm back to where I was and I have, in fact, finished another pattern repeat.



Now I'm being much more cognizant of little clues that show me my mistakes instead of going into denial.

Flea Market Finds
The last couple of weekends have been good for flea market finds for both me and Thaddeus.

I found these two books, both of which I like very much:



The one on the left is all about making one piece knitted projects. I like the concept and I'm glad to have a simple, basic design book. The patterns are hideous (from the 70's), but the basic design ideas I can get a lot of use out of.

The one on the right is a crochet book from the 40's. It shows some really bad and some really good ideas. I'll include a few pictures from both books over the course of the next few weeks.

Thaddeus has also been able to supplement his mushroom collection.

These two big ceramic mushrooms we both liked a lot.



He's also found some additional little ones to add to the collection.



Readers Comments/Questions
I knew I was preaching to the choir with my rant on gay marriages, but it's nice to confirm the kind of support I have from my readers on this issue.

Charlotte mentions that straight singles that don't marry have many of the same issues.

That is an excellent point for all unmarried folks (whether by choice or by law). Make sure you have as many of the legal protections as you can get for things like wills, powers of attorney, living wills, etc.

Alice asks if Thaddeus and I have some of those legal documents, and we do.

Meg asks what taxes do homosexuals pay that everyone else doesn't pay.

Homosexuals don't pay additional taxes just because they are homosexual. It's the inability to marry that makes inheritance taxes much higher. If Meg's husband were to die, she'd get everything in "their" estate without having to pay taxes on it, because they are jointly owned. Since Thaddeus and I can't marry legally, the inheritance on all things passed from one of us to the other is completely taxable.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Queer Issue Alert

I digress a little in today's rant on political happenings and the reaction to them. There's also some knitting in here.

Gay Marriage
First of all, most folks that aren't at least somewhat sypathetic to the lesbi-gay cause probably wouldn't be reading a blog called QueerJoe. So I acknowledge up front that I'm preaching to the choir.

With the recent decision by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts to allow gay marriages, there has been a huge backlash from the right wing folks and even the centerist folks on this issue.

I have always felt that the laws in this country are highly discriminatory towards the GLBT community. A couple of examples are:

1. If I were married and died tomorrow, my wife would be the beneficiary of my pension benefit. In reality, if I die tomorrow, my pension is forfeited and Thaddeus wouldn't see a penny of it.

2. If I were married and died tomorrow, my wife would own our house and joint assets without any tax. In reality, if I die tomorrow, the a portion of the value of the house that Thaddeus and I own together would be considered taxable inheritance to him.

I won't even get into the policies such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because the discrimination factor is relatively obvious (I think).

Now the right wing is scrambling to do anything possible to keep discrimination in place.

In truth, even if a constitutional amendment is put in place to declare marriage as a strictly hetero activity, my life won't be horribly affected. Yes, I will get less money and benefits from the government...yes, I'll have to pay more taxes than straight people, but none of the consequences are earth-shattering.

The fact of the matter is, the rules currently in place, are just plain wrong, and should be changed. I know the knee-jerk reaction makes gay marriage sound like a horrible corruption to a sacred event to some people. But for anyone who truly understands how gays and lesbians are treated in the law, they clearly recognized how much discrimination is present.

Back to Knitting
I've completed another pattern repeat on Ronas Hill and I've started the sleeve steeks and shaping. From here, it should move a little more quickly. I am very excited about wearing this sweater.



This is also the part where I have to modify the pattern, so it will require some thought as I shape the armholes. Unfortunately, the stitch counts in the written pattern will not match for the remainder of the sweater.

Readers Comments/Questions
Catherine in Melbourne sent me the following cyber quiz that she (and I) thought was very appropriate for me.

http://www.malevole.com/mv/misc/killerquiz/

It's a quiz to guess if pictures are mass murderers or computer programmers. I got 7 out of 10 correct.

I hope everyone in the states had a nice Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Back in the Ronas Hill Swing

As promised, after finishing up another scarf over the weekend (and starting another), I'm back doing Fair Isle and a little sock knitting.

One and a Quarter More Scarves
I didn't take a picture, but I finished the last Dune scarf and I started a new one in a Lana Grossa yarn that I don't remember the name of, and I've never worked with it before. It's a furry yarn in this strange and lovely brushed copper color.

It won't be a huge hit at the craft fair, but it's one of the more interesting yarns from my perspective.

Fair Isle Knitting
Ronas Hill is back on the needles. I was able to finish another pattern repeat for a total of 4 now (you can track my progress by counting the rows with a red line of color in them That red yarn row is the top line of the pattern repeat.



This four day weekend, I anticipate hitting the armhole shaping and making some headway on finishing the body.

It's starting to get cold and snowy in the Albany area, and my office space is either a blast furnace, or as cold as outside. A nice warm vest will be perfect for office-wear.

Sock Knitting
I've also made a little progress on the Regia Stretch sock that I work on concurrently with the Ronas Hill vest. I've got a little bit more to do on this sock.



For the first sock, I didn't use up the entire first ball of Regia, so I'm thinking I may undo the finishing edge on the first sock and use up the leftover yarn, and use up all of the yarn on the current sock as well. We'll see how inspired I feel as I continue to make progress.

Strange and Interesting Web Site
I wandered onto this site and thought others might find it as interesting as I did. Here's one of the pictures from the site, but there's a whole page of pictures like this.



Click here to see the full site.

Readers Comments/Questions
Just as an overall reply to the "now-too-late" requests for pictures of the hunk-o'-man, Thaddeus, my comments about that were really just a tease anyway.

He doesn't like pictures of himself very much, and he looks much better in person. Pictures of him on this site will be pretty rare, and pictures of Gage will be somewhat infrequent.

Jojo asks what size needle and how much Dune is required for a scarf.

I use US13 needle and 13 stitches for the Dune scarf. I used the free scarf pattern that I posted last week for the Dune scarf and with the added fringe, it comes out a perfect length with only one ball.

Marie asks how much I'll charge for my scarves at the craft sale.

The last sale, I sold the scarves for $28, of which $7 of each scarf went to the organizer of the craft sale. I'm considering upping the price to $32 ($8 per hat will go to the organizer), but I'm not sure yet. I'm thinking that the Dune and Fee scarfs I might sell for $32, and the Pep scarves for $28.

For the most part, I do this craft show for my enjoyment and being around my friend who organizes it. It's definitely not for the money. Even if I sell all the scarves and hats that I make, my overall hourly rate will be around minimum wage if I take into consideration the knitting time and the craft sale time.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Sick of Scarves

I'm sure you're just as sick of me writing about more scarves, so this is the last weekend I'll be working on craft show items for little bit.

Three More Scarves
The red scarf in GGH Gala is finished, plus I finished one of the most popular scarves from the last craft show. It's a black scarf with glittery gold sections done in Fee yarn. I also finished another scarf in the Lana Grossa fur yarn called Pep.



The Lana Grossa scarf I made much thinner and longer than most of the other scarves as an experiment. I wonder if folks will like that one as well or better than the others. It seemed to take a lot longer to knit even though I used the entire ball of yarn, just like all of the other scarves.

I also started another scarf in a different colorway of Trendsetter Dune. Thaddeus likes this one the best so far.



My theory on this craft show is that even if I don't sell any of the scarves, I can always leave them at the yarn store as store models and if non-knitters come in wanting to buy them (which they often do), I'll tell them it's okay to sell them.

Back to Real Knitting
This week, I plan on going back to the Ronas Hill vest and continue on that over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I will be in Albany from Monday through Wednesday, with limited time to knit on Monday and Tuesday night. But at least I'll be working on knitting I enjoy a lot more than the never-ending scarves.

Readers Comments/Questions
Alison asks where Gage has been lately.

Mostly, I don't care to make this a Cat Blog, so I won't be having daily or weekly pictures of my cat. If you think about it, I bet there are more pictures of Gage on my blog archives than there are of Thaddeus. Nobody ever asks, "more pictures of that handsome man of yours please?".

Anyway, here's one for you.



This one shows Gage in Thaddeus' lap trying on the newest Pep scarf. I think the color brings out his eyes.

Jo asks what's this LLH brand yarn I mentioned.

Gwen gladly corrected my misreading of the GGH label. The G's on their label look very much like L's to me (as odd as that sounds). Thanks Gwen.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Scarfing

The endless knitting of scarfs continues.

Same Scarf, Different Yarn
I finished the Trendsetter Dune scarf, using the "free scarf pattern" posted in my last entry. It's a great color combination in sparkly jewel tones. I only need to add the fringe to complete the scarf, and I didn't have scissors or a crochet hook with me, so I started my next scarf.

The new scarf is done in Gala by LLH (I think). It's a furry yarn, very similar to Fee and Pep, except this yarn has clear, sparkly hairs mixed in all over the place. Unfortunately, you can't see the sparkles in the picture, but with the deep red color, and the dew-covered look from the sparkles, this yarn knits up pretty cool for acrylic.



I have to admit that I should probably have come up with a different pattern design for this yarn. The resulting scarf looks kind of like those cheesey faux-fur collars. But fortunately, I think the color makes up for the lack of imagination in pattern stitches.

Non-Curling Stockinette Stitch
Thuy tried the tubular cast-on technique, and reported back that it didn't prevent the curling at all (well, maybe a little).

So the non-curling stockinette stitch is still attributable to Satan (no, not satin...this one concept isn't fiber-related), for lack of a more likely way to make this happen.

Readers Comments/Questions
First of, just an overall comment about your comments.

I read the comments to my blog a few times throughout the day (during work), and I can't tell you how many times I have a little burst of laughing when I read them. You folks are quite entertaining...thank you.

Anyway, Kitty reminds me to kindly quit splitting my infinitives.

I figure if it's good enough for Captains Kirk and Picard, I am also able to assuredly continue doing it too.

Sean (still love that boy's blog), bemoans that fact that his scarf takes him forever.

Sean, honey...bulky yarn, US13's and 16 stitches is the secret. How much time could it take to knit a row of 16 stitches? Also, I'll try to get a close up of some of the London Beanie's in Kureyon for you. I don't have them with me in Albany, but I'll be home tonight.

Clark ponders what next project to consider, and wonders if socks are too ambitious.

With the stick-to-itiveness that boat-building must require, I don't think sock knitting is at all too ambitious. There are tons of free recipes on the web for making socks, and experimenting with double points was very exciting for me as a new knitter. I don't know that I'd recommend doing such a fine gauge sock as the vacation sock. If you want something quick, you could do a nice hiking sock in a DK or worsted weight yarn.

I even have a software called Sock Wizard where I could design you a pattern if you could tell me what gauge you were getting with a particular yarn.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Novelty Yarn Bonanza

I have turned into a scarf knitting machine.

Knitting Satisfaction
One of the most satisfying components to my knitting, is having the knowledge to know what kind stitch is best suited to a specific yarn.

I've learned how to best use alpaca, and cotton and silk and different types of wool, and even blends. Now I'm learning how to best use these crazy novelty yarns, and I must admit, figuring it out and making it work has been just as satisfying as working with the natural fibers.

My current scarf is being done in Dune, by Trendsetter.



With all of my novelty scarves, the mission is to create an acceptably long scarf, that looks good, and doesn't use more than $13 worth of yarn, and doesn't take longer than 3 hours to make. With the Dune, it requires that I use a very open, lacey stitch to meet all of the criteria, and I can make one in about an hour and a half.

The "free scarf pattern" (used to get more hits on my site), for this scarf is as follows:

Cast on 13 stitches on a US13 needle.
Knit four rows.
Next row: K1, Yarn Over to last stitch, K1
Next row: K1, slip yarn over off the needle, to last stitch, K1
Next row: Knit
Next row: Knit

Repeat the last four rows till the yarn is almost gone. Knit four rows and use the remaining yarn for fringe.

For the Lana Grossa Pep and the Fee yarns, I just cast on around 18-22 stitches, and Knit two rows and Purl two rows. It makes the scarf longer than plain garter stitch.

Here's my remaining stash of about a dozen balls of novelty yarns, which include Fee, Pep and Dune.



Non Curliing Stockinette Stitch
Thuy asks me if there is a way to cast on (or off) so that stockinette stitch won't roll.

My favorite answer to this enigma was from Dani who clearly understands that the knitting is created only by selling your soul to Satan. That would explain how well J. Crew does as well.

But other than loose cast-on/cast-off, using loosely spun yarn, and blocking a lot, the tubular cast-on is the only solution that seems to have some general agreement.

Here are two links where you can read how to do tubular cast-on:

www.flor.trix.net/tips2.htm
members.shaw.ca/siviaharding/tubular.html

I'd be interested to hear if anyone tries it, and how well it works.

Thanks everyone for your advice and tips. The experience of the folks who read this blog are amazing.

Readers Comments/Questions
Clark is my newest favorite knitter. In a week, he got someone to teach him to knit, made a large swatch of knitting and purling, found my favorite local yarn store and bought a pattern and yarn for a hat which he's already finished.

And he found my site.

It doesn't hurt that he's one of the most attractive men I've ever seen in a yarn store either (sorry girls and boys, he's married).

Welcome to a new and fearless knitter. He also builds boats and teaches at one of the best prep schools in the country. Quite a Renaissance man.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Blog Wisdom Required

A blog reader asked an intriguing knitting question. Since I don't know the answer, and I'd like to, I'm going to ask the folks who read this blog if they might know.

Non Rolling Stockinette
Thuy asks me if there is a way to cast on (or off) so that stockinette stitch won't roll.

She has a scarf and a sweater from J. Crew with no hem, done in plain stockinette stitch that doesn't roll.

Here's the proof.



Does anyone have any ideas on how one might accomplish this? The sweater is 100% wool in case that affects your answer.

Craft Sale Manic Knitting
This weekend has been non-stop knitting. Mostly for the upcoming craft sale on the 20th of December.



So far this weekend, I've completed four scarves and two London Beanies, and I'm well on my way to finishing a fifth scarf. I'm using Pep, Fee and Dune for the scarves, and Kureyon for the London Beanies. I also have two Pep scarves and two Koigu scarves at the local yarn store and four Headhugger Hats left over from the previous craft show. I'm hopeful to have about three dozen items that I can sell at the show...if not more.

I get to see my friend who's hosting the craft sale this evening for movie and a dinner, and I wanted to show her my extensive progress.

Other Knitting Progress
I did do a little work on the Ronas Hill vest.

Not really enough to merit an updated picture. I also brought Ronas Hill into my localy yarn store when I went in to buy more novelty yarn, and everyone fawned over it.

There was a newly obsessed male knitter in the store when I went in. When he saw me, he said he had been to my web site...and he's only been knitting a week. Hi Clark if you get to read this. Hope your hat is coming out well.

Readers Comments/Questions
Jojo asks who puts out the Pep yarn (she likes the colors).

The Pep yarn is a Lana Grossa yarn. It' similar to Fee and some of the other "hairy" yarns. The reason I buy Pep is that is has about 20 more yards, and cost about $2 less per ball than most of the other hairy scarf yarns.

Pubah asks if I've ever seen anyone wearing these scarves?

I actually have seem some folks wearing them, and like funky clothes, some folks can get away with it, and some can't. And as Kathy mentions, it's the folks that go way overboard with this stuff by wearing it all at once that makes these scarves look way more stupid than they might otherwise.

The best comment I've seen so far from my readers is actually on Wendy's blog. It's the total amount she and Theresa have collected for Heifer International (it was almost $2,500 last I looked).

For any of you who have made contributions, you are amazing...thank you. For those of you who haven't, please consider doing so if you can. Click here to contribute.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Holiday Knitting Charity

Interested in charity? Want to find a way to make yours knitting related? Read on.

Knitbloggers Knitting Basket Project
Theresa and Wendy have organized another amazingly kind thing. By leveraging all of the folks that read their blogs, they are looking to make a charitable donation to Heifer International that helps the needy and is knitting related.

I won't go into detail here, since Wendy and Theresa have described it very well, but if you don't regularly ready either of their blogs, and don't already know about this kind thing they're doing, please stop by their sites and contribute whatever you can.

I wholeheartedly support their efforts and hope you will too.

Knitting Event
When Marilyn and I get together, we both agree that the best part of this blogging thing are some of the people we've met during the process. Blogging takes quite a bit of time and effort, and knit-blogging requires the additional effort of producing knitted products to display on the blog.

The payback for me has been that my blog has introduced me to a number of folks who are incredible

people, as well as interesting and/or talented fiber artists. This past Sunday, I got to meet up with three of them.

Marilyn hosted a Knit Luncheon at her new house (ritzy gated community home) for me, Lisa and Kathy.

It's always energizing to be around such interesting and creative folks. What made this day even more amazing was that Kathy decided it was time to do a major de-stashing of the yarn that she would never get to in three lifetimes.

Now, don't be jealous, but she brought five Hefty bags full of yarn for us to pick from it anything we wanted. To make this story even more amazing, her yarn was amazing stuff. She had full sweaters worth of yarn in beautiful merinos, soft and luxurious silk/wool combinations, and colors that were incredible.

I walked out on Sunday with two full sweaters worth of amazing yarn. I honestly wanted to take all of it, but truth be told, I already have more than I could ever knit with in a lifetime, and I decided I would only take yarn that I would definitely use, and let Lisa and Marilyn enjoy the rest.

It was an awesome time in a yarn orgy, eating, laughing kind of way.

Knitting Progress
Work has been keeping me very busy, and I've done a little bit of work on the Regia sock, and a little bit of work on the Ronas Hill vest. Neither of them have I made enough progress to merit a picture.

I did, however, also finish the Pep scarf (the first of many) for the December craft show/sale that I agreed to participate in.



I'm very happy with how it came out. The length is perfect and it's soft and beautifully colored. I know these scarves will be sold very quickly.

Hopefully, I'll have more to report on the other projects over the next few days.

And please, even if you can only contribute a few dollars to the Knitbloggers Knitting Basket Project, please consider it.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Knit Blog Controversies

People, this is just a reminder. It's only knitting.

Knitting
Knitting for me has always been an easy, fun-to-learn hobby/obsession.

It always cracks me up when someone gets so wrapped up in a comment I make on my blog, or a comment someone leaves in the Comments forum, that they get infuriated enough to write angry comments.

Even funnier, is when it starts a major, nasty flame war.

It must be the time of year, because both Marilyn and I got some interesting comments. Marilyn even had to ban someone on comments.

Back to Knitting
Ronas Hill is moving along swimmingly.



I've gotten about 10 inches done on the body of the vest, which means I've only got 5 more inches before I start the arm hole shaping.

Since I plan on making the shoulders more narrow than called for in the pattern, the arm hole shaping will take a little upfront calculations and changes to the pattern.

Other Projects
I also got a little more done on the Regia sock (the second of the pair). When I work on this damn sock, I seem to knit and knit and knit, and after it's all said and done, I've got an inch done.



I've also agreed to show some of my stuff in a craft show/sale toward the end of December, so I've started to supplement my novelty yarn scarf supply in anticipation.



I'd like to have at least a dozen of these scarves to sell by then, but we'll see how bored I get with doing them.

I love the Pep yarn, it's soft and makes a great fabric. While I wouldn't personally wear anything made from it, a lot of folks love the resulting scarves.