Thursday, July 29, 2004

Guess What QueerJoe's Been Doing?

Spinning like a mad Dervish!

New Spinning Wheel
I guess it's no surprise that I would buy a spinning wheel. I guess the only question was which wheel I would buy, and maybe, how quickly.

I ended up getting the Louet S75 wheel. It's a double treadle wheel with Irish tensioning.

It was a decision between the Schacht double treadle, the Louet S10 and the one I bought.

I mainly purchased the S75 because of the stability of the wheel, the maintenance-free, oil-free wheel assembly, and the ease with which I could treadle. I also like that the yarn opening at the front is wide, and I can thread it without a hook. Finally, I also got a good price on the wheel at The Spinnery, which is the closest spinning store to where I live.

The Schacht was my second choice. It is an excellent wheel. The only two factors that I didn't like as well on the Schacht is that it doesn't treadle quite as easily, and it's quite a bit more expensive. I would also have had to buy a Schacht at Aunt Jean's Handiwork in Clinton, NJ, and that's a little further than The Spinnery. Cindy at Aunt Jean's is amazingly enthusiastic, and I hope to get to take some classes with her, despite the fact that I didn't buy my wheel from her.

Some of the features that the Schacht has that my wheel doesn't have is a lot more flexibility in wheel ratios and in tensioning. The Schacht allows you to do double-band tensioning, Scotch braking and Irish tensioning.

The Louet S10 is an excellent wheel also. I actually like the simplistic design. The S75 is a little more stable, and the price difference wasn't that great.

Now I just need to figure out if I should finish my spinning wheel. Is there any other reason than aesthetics for finishing a wheel?

I'm glad that I picked up the New Zealand Silver/Grey roving at Aunt Jean's the other day. I've already spun over 5 ounces.

The bobbin on the Louet holds about twice as much yarn as the Ashford. But I can also spin almost twice as fast on the Louet.

This yarn is turning out quite beautifully. I can't wait to see how it looks all plied and bloomed. This is going to make an awesome sweater.

Thank you all for your encouragement with my new obsession.

I'm continuing to work on a few new novelty yarn scarves. I'll have a picture in the next post.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Dirty Tricks

I know it's childish to be vengeful, but sometimes I just can't control myself.

Leaving My Last Job
When I left my last job (over 7 years ago, now), I left with less than positive feelings about my bosses.

I don't remember who gave me this idea, but I loved it, and thought I'd share it. It's small and petty,

but it gave me some small level of satisfaction thinking about it being discovered after I left.

Before I left my last job, I made a small change to the wallpaper on my PC.

I took a screen print of my desktop (you can do this by simply going to your desktop, pressing Print Screen, and then pasting the result into a new document in MS Paint). I then selected this new file as my wallpaper (again, MS Paint allows you to save a graphic as your wallpaper...File/Save as Wallpaper (centered)).

Then I just deleted the icons on my desktop, leaving the picture of my icons as wallpaper.

After doing this, it appeared as though the desktop had all of the standard shortcuts and icons, but none of them worked when clicked on.

Fiber Purchases
As part of my attempt to catch up with my friends at Simply Knit, and in my search for a spinning wheel, I came across a few items that needed a good home.

With a 50% off sale at Simply Knit, I picked up a sweater's worth of Royal Tweed in a black, speckled color.

I've been designing a Marianne Isager inspired, zippered cardigan in Jamieson DK. These will be the colors I use for this to-be design.

The color in the back will be the main color, and will be accented with the various colors in front.

Since there were a few good scarf yarns left, I picked up some Lido and Incanto that will be used to make craft show scarves. With the price of the materials for a good sized scarf at only $8, I can sell these for a very good price.

Finally, I picked up some roving from New Zealand while I was at Aunt Jean's Handicrafts yesterday.

The yarn is actually a little darker tan than shows in the picture. It will be a great, natural color yarn when it's spun up.

Spinning Wheel
While at Aunt Jean's I was able to check out the Ashford Joy, the Louet S10 and the Schacht double treadle spinning wheels. By far, the Schact was the nicest wheel.

But I have to say, the Louet S75 I got to try out at the Spinnery was my favorite so far. I anticipate that I will own the Louet by the end of the week.

I've finished all the mitered squares on the Legerro Baby Blanket. Now I have to work on the border.

I'm not quite sure what I'll do for the border, but I plan on going very simple. I'm going to try crocheting the edging to see if I like that.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jennifer asks what I've made with the Weavette, and if it's one of those 5 minutes of fun type of gadgets (Marilyn snorts her derisive, repetetive question after Jennifer's).

I've made a few squares in differing weaving patterns, one of which I came up with on my own. While I don't see myself making a handwoven bedspread, I'm still glad I own a couple of these gadgets. They are fun to play with.

Just as a side comment, when I was chatting with Cindy, the owner of Aunt Jean's, she asked if I had ever done weaving. I said, "only with a Weavette", and she said, "oh, that doesn't count"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Spinning Out of Control

How is it that so many people actually like Stephanie. She's always right.

Wheel Shopping
As much as I hate to admit it, Stephanie is exactly right when she says I should just buy a wheel. It really is a foregone conclusion.

Even Thaddeus agrees that I should have bough the Louet S75 when I was at The Spinnery.

Thanks to recommendations from both Marilyn and Carol (at Simply Knit), I'm planning on making a trip to Aunt Jean's Handiworks in Clinton, NJ this coming Tuesday, and I'll check out her wheels. Depending on the availability of different wheels, I will end up purchasing one either there, or go back to The Spinnery to pick up a Louet.

New Interweave Knits
Overall, this one looks like it has promise, and there are some good things in it. It goes downhill as you go further, but still worth the price of US$7.

There are a total of 16 sweaters (although one requires you to send in for complete instructions...huh?), one skirt, a couple of hats, a chair cover, a shawl, gloves, pillows and a scarf.

Good Sweaters
North Island Vest by Katy Ryan has good colors.
Dancin' Daisies Pullover by Kristin Nicholas. A child's sweater with good colors as well.
Rhapsody in Tweed by Kathy Zimmerman. A classically simple and good men's sweater.
Sideways Spencer by Annie Modesitt. Poorly modelled, but very cool sweater (requires some work on the reader's part).
Huntington Casle Pullover by Robin Melanson. This is the cover design. It's hooded and very nice looking and interesting looking to make.

Bad Sweaters
Touch Me Cardigan by Véronik Avery. It's made with Touch Me Chenille...ugh.
Silkroad Cardigan by Joe Sharp. Has two extra sleeves in front that are used as ties to keep it closed.
Heathery Duo by Mary Lynn Patrick. Bad top and worse skirt. Just because you can knit it, doesn't mean you should.

Accessories - Good and Bad
Floral Felted Bag by Nicki Epstein is quite good. Great color selection, although a lot of work for a bag.
Shadow Tam by Vivian HØxbro is very nice, even for a tam.
Sweet and Downlow Chair by Véronik Avery. Excellent idea for an Ikea chair.
Cashmere Gauntlet Gloves by Deborah Newton are just plain awful. What was she thinking?
Funky Chicken Pillows by Meg Kandis are quite nice. Excellent color and graphic, despite the silly name.
Pooling Colors Scarf by Lori Gayle give a new and interesting technique that sounds like fun.

Mostly boring, except for a decent technical article with instructions on grafting, and an interesting human interest piece by Annie Modesitt.

Of note are two advertisements for the two new Unicorn books, Simply Shetland and Simply Knit 3. Neither one are in stores yet, but it was nice to see the adds, because that means their arrival must be iminent.

I keep laying on more rows of squares to the mitered square baby blanket.

Thanks to straightforward, stern advice from both Marilyn and Kathy, I won't be lining this one (I wasn't really planning on lining it was one of those "blog controversies" that I was trying to start). My favorite comment was Kathy's when she states that even Nadine wouldn't line it.

Nadine is just about to open her new yarn store in New Jersey, and she is one of the most perfect knitters I've ever known. She wouldn't consider completing a design unless it was perfect in every way, and the results show it's worth it.

I'll be giving you all the details on her new store as soon as it opens.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Terri assumes I know the "burn test" for determining fiber content.

I have read about this, but my difficulty is not determining whether the yarn is all wool, or all synthetic, but what combination of the two. At one point this week, I'm going to pull out all of the wool I have and put it in lots that will be manageable to mail out, and just sell it all "as-is".

Overall, folks will get more than they bargain for, but that's a good thing in some ways.

Friday, July 23, 2004


You'd think I'd be lost without a spinning wheel. You'd be right.

Returned Wheel
I returned the spinning wheel to my next door neighbor, and I'm in severe withdrawal. I'm considering making a trip to my local spinning shop (the Spinnery in Neshanic Station, NJ) and checking out less-expensive wheels (not to mention other assorted fiber).

And while I'm at it, I might as well stop at Simply Knit, since their discount is up to 50% now. In essence, they're selling for wholesale cost, and not even recouping the shipping costs.

What makes the withdrawal from spinning even worse, is that I'm on vacation for the next two weeks (sorely needed).

We have no specific plans, other than day-trips in and around the area, so I've got a lot of leisure time that I could be spending on a spinning wheel.

I may just have to continue knitting instead.

I've gotten quite a few more mitered squares added to the current baby blanket, and it's looking better and better..

My one debate on this one is whether I should consider lining the back of the blanket to cover up the woven-in ends of the yarn.

I think it looks fine, so I probably won't, but I needed something to obsess over a little.

eBay Yarn Sales
The eBay sales went well, but this time, almost everyone waited until the last minute to bid.

I had expected that to happen on the first lot of yarn I had up for sale, but everyone bid throughout the five day auction. This last time, I got almost 80% of the bids in the last few minutes of each auction.

Overall, the bidders on this last auction got some very good deals. Both my friend Alan and the winning bidders should be happy with the result.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Terri asks if I'll be putting up more yarn for bid.

I probably will, but I don't expect the same level of excitement for the next group of sales. Not that the yarn isn't very nice, but I don't know the fiber content, and it's impossible to convey how soft and nice a yarn is in an eBay listing.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Everything Viewed Through Spinning

I know this is a common experience. Getting so wrapped up in some obsession, that you start to relate every aspect of life through some analogy, related to the obsession.

Spinning = Life
I remember my oldest brother telling me years ago that he was so obsessed with chess, that he started thinking of everthing in terms of chess. Road intersections, the order in which he ate his dinner, taking out the garbage, etc., etc.

That has started to happen with my spinning.

As mundane as this analogy is my first thought was how as the fiber drafted through my fingers, spinning into a single thread, it made me realize how I am able to take multiple activities in my own life, and guide them into the thread of my ongoing existence.

I've also been thinking a lot about what Stephanie said when I was having problems spinning the ramie.

Something about spinning with a less wooly feel, and she was exactly right...each fiber needs to be spun in a way consistent with its makeup.

Anyway, now back to the real world.

I've been able to make some slow progress on the new baby blanket.

I'm enjoying it a lot. I had forgotten how fulfilling finishing a square at a time could be when working with mitered sqares.

eBay Yarn Sales
I will never be able to anticipate how eBay sales work.

Last time, all the bidders bid early. This time, they're either waiting for the last minute, or there will be some very good deals on the cones of yarn I have out there.

Check them out here.

Readers' Comments/Questions
For all you shameless flirts, whether you're begging for chocolate, or just love the thrill of flirting, it's been fun watching you "dance" in the comments. I had some of the chocolate, and while I'm not usually a huge fan of dark chocolate, this stuff is downright sinful. It's probably the best chocolate I've ever had.

Keep up the flirting (Lisa hasn't displayed her enormous talent for flirting yet, but she is a pretty shameless flirt as well, and she enjoys all sorts of wobbly bits).

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Expressing Myself

This blog is primarily a place for me to express myself, document my knitting and let folks know about happenings in the fiber arena.  It also sometimes serves as entertainment to the readers.

This weekend has been a good respite from work and I'm feeling some relief, although Monday will have me going right back into the center of the storm.

But for now, I'm relaxed and serene.

Thank you all for your words of support (and more).

I'm really starting to love this James guy from New Zealand.

Despite the fact that it was HIS birthday this past week (he's 34...hard to believe), I was the one who got a gift in the mail from him.

What a guy.  He sent me handmade chocolate with lavender.  The combination smells heavenly, and with the calming effects of good chocolate, and the relaxing effects of lavender, I will be totally zoned out for a while with this nice gift.

Inside his Monty Python card was also a very nice note.  Gotta love this man.

My knitting world has me jumping all over the map.

The red Cashmereno baby blanket was boring me to tears and the Marriott Mildew project was a bust.  So I started this.

It's a baby blanket being made out of Lana Grossa Legerro.

I'm doing mitered squares on US8 needles, and the resulting fabric is kind of like terry cloth.  Here's a closeup.

As the blanket is very soft, and machine washable/dryable, I figured it would make a perfect baby blanket.

With all of the comments on spinning ramie, I realized that my one and only spinning technique worked well for well-prepared wool, but with ramie, not so much.

Not one to be beaten, I went back to the wheel and pulled out Antonio's generous gift (he's still the spinning spawn of satan), and tried a few different methods of spinning this smooth fiber.
After a few attempts, the spinning got easier, and I've been able to produce another hank of yarn from this big ball 'o fiber.

And a closeup

I'm still very new to spinning, and like with knitting, wool is very forgiving, while plant fibers like cotton, hemp and ramie take a little more discipline and diligence.

So I take back what I said about Antonio (not the satan part, just the offensive Jeri Curl part), and re-thank him for his gift.

More eBay Yarn
I got another load of yarn from my friend Alan, and have posted 8 lots to eBay.

Check them out here. 

Of all of these yarns, the black silk/wool blend is my favorite.  I'm hoping it doesn't get any bids so I can take it for my own, but I doubt that's likely.  The Sage cotton tape yarn already has a bid.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn mentions that consulting sucks.

Despite my harried week, I actually disagree with this comment.  I love consulting.  I love the work that I do, I love travelling for work and I love not having to stay at one company for years and years...not to mention that travelling consultants typically get paid 20% higher than similar corporate jobs.

This past week was just very stressful, but it has definitely been balanced out by other easy weeks, where I got to spend a lot more time with Thaddeus on the weekend.

Hope your weekend in Saratoga was lovely, despite the weather. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

My Life Is Shit Today

This week has been tough in almost every area of my life.

Work has me jumping around like a crazy person. Last night I worked until around 9:30, and tonight my drive home won't get me there until around 10:00 or later...ugh!

If that wasn't bad enough, I have to meet with my boss in my local office (local meaning over 1 hour drive) at 8:00 in the morning...double ugh!

So that means, I won't get to see much of Thaddeus on Friday.

If that wasn't bad enough, he has to work on Sunday, so I won't get to see him much that day.

I hardly got any time this week to knit on the red baby blanket (even though I probably did enough to merit a picture, I didn't get a chance to take one).

If that wasn't bad enough, I realized after quite a bit of work on the Marriott Mildew sweater that the pattern design just doesn't work, so I scrapped the whole thing.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I got a letter from Susan asking for the link to the Lion Brand baby blanket with spiralling squares.

If that wasn't bad enough, I didn't have time to research where the pattern can be purchased, so I mentioned I posted it towards the end of April...she couldn't find it. Check April 22nd post.

And thank you Kathy for the reminder to watch my language. It was a timely reminder, but given the contents of FCEK, it was appropriate. It didn't require the use of the word "penis" or "flaccid" wasn't quite that bad.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Updated Sidebar

Have you checked out my list of works-in-progress? Have you checked out the new blog by James (Fibre Alive)?

New Blog
James is the great guy from New Zealand that sent me the Aussie knitting book wrapped in knitted gift wrap.

His knitting is excellent, and I like the types of projects he takes on (such as his current bed blanket. Plus he's cute, and he does the same kind of work that I do.

Current Project
I've also updated my current projects list, and put up the first picture of the new design.

It really shows very little of the sweater, but as it progresses, I'll try to get a good shot of the very subtle pattern stitch.

New Magazine
If a magazine has one pattern that I will make, I consider it worth the purchase price. Then new FCEK just squeaks by, because it has a crochet hat that I like, and will use my homespun ramie to make.

The rest of the magazine is downright shit.

I usually go through and point out articles and designs, and then critique them. It's not worth it this time.

If you like ponchos, buy this issue. If you like quick-knit projects that make the models look like they're wearing toilet paper cozies...this issue is for you. If you like excessive use of Mo'fur yarns, this issue will get you moist.

Readers' Comments/Questions
RJ asks about my experience with Blue Heron yarns.

I've never used them, nor do I own any (that I'm aware of). My only experience with rayon was awful. I bought a couple of huge hanks of rayon, and they were slippery and tangled irreparably (strange combination, huh?). Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Mary begs me not to ban her for not following the Newcomer Rules.

I'm not sure what she did, but I've never banned anyone from my site, even the feisty little gal who said my head was so far up Marilyn's ass that I couldn't see.

John asks if I have any leftover Dancing Feet yarn after finishing the socks, and what size needles I used.

I had quite a bit of yarn left over. About a half a sock worth. I used US2 bamboo doublepoints, and 68 stitches around the foot and leg. The fabric came out light and drapey.

And as for spinning ramie, I think it was simply my lack of spinning talents (and NOTHING to do with Antonio's hair-care regime). I only know one way to spin, and it worked with wool, but not very well with ramie (despite the amazing results).

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Shitty Memory

Anyone that knows me, knows it's memory sucks.

Forgotten Items
In addition to forgetting to include the link to the "apology" site, I also forgot to mention that I ran into the "Fiber Goddess" last weekend.

May, one of the woman who lives relatively close by, has been extremely generous with her knowledge on spinning. She spins, weaves and knits (and probably a lot more I'm not aware of).

It couldn't have been more than a day after she posted some helpful hints about spinning with ramie, that I ran into her in our local Menonite market. I looked over, and saw this kind looking woman looking at me, and when she asked, "Joe?", I was somewhat surprised. Then it became pleasantly surprised when she introduced herself.

May has long been a wonderful contributor on knitting lists, and she has offered numerous times to help me navigate through the new spinner's world. It was a pleasure to meet her.

Speaking of Spinning
If May is the "Fiber Goddess", Antonio is the "Spinning Spawn of Satan".

I mentioned a week or so ago, that he had very generously sent me a tool to measure wraps per inch. Along with the package came the key to hell, about a pound of ramie.

What the fuck is ramie?

Here are some formal definitions:

A bast fiber, similar to flax, taken from the stalk of a plant grown in China.

A bast fibre similar to flax, the fibre used for making linen textiles.

A strong lustrous woody plant fiber from an Asiatic nettle

Strong staple fiber of cellulose yielded by the inner bark of the ramie plant. Often used as a less expensive substitute for linen or cotton.

All I can say is that I wouldn't necessarily recommend that a beginning spinner (even a taltented one), try spinning with ramie.

The staple seems somewhat short. It requires quite a bit of twist to give it some tensile strength, but it can't be twisted too tightly, or it breaks like a piece of Antonio's hair after his third Jeri curl perm of the month.

But the evil bitch that he is, Antonio knew that I wouldn't be beaten by a "bast fiber" (whatever the hell THAT is). He knew I'd keep working until I perservered.

I used about half of what Antonio sent me, so I think I'll pass the rest onto a "friend".

Finished "Project"
I finally decided to finish working on the Dancing Feet socks.

As expected, they came out great, and I love wearing them. It's nice to be able to cross this one off my list of works-in-progress.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mary asks what is "jumper weight" yarn.

Jumper weight, fingering and baby weight are about the same thickness of yarn. Based on Kim Salazar's amazing database at, it's usually knit on US3 needles at about 7 st/inch.

Marilyn asks how much I usually charge for the frou-frou scarves.

Since I only sell them at a friend's craft show, I usually sell them for cheap, at between US$28 and US$52 (of which, the craft show organizer gets 25%), and the prices vary based on the cost of the yarn, and how much time it takes me to make them. Most yarn costs me about US$10 for one scarf, and about an hour and a half of my time to make. I usually charge US$34, pay the host $8.50, which ends up netting me about $10 an hour.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Forgotten Topic

My knitting/spinning buddy, Charles in Wayne, sent out this link, which I meant to include in yesterday's post.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Wow...Busy, Short Week

Work has me running around like a crazy person.

Racist Humor
I'm not usually a fan of racist or any hateful humor, but before I decide on whether a joke is racist, I look at the nature of the joke.

The basic crux of this joke, is that the Bush administration treats Colin Powell as a token minority.

Colin Powell is probably one of the most intelligent man in the administration, and yet his opinions are dismissed, or worse, he's forced to renounce what he really thinks.

As such, I feel the winning caption shows an exaggerated view of the racism that exists, but not in a promoting sort of way.

Plus, gay men hold nothing sacred, and Cheryl's entry was funny as hell.

Weekend Knitting
I promised pictures of this past weekend's knitting/spinning adventures.

I also made a mistake. I finished THREE hanks of the Blue-Faced Leicester, not just two.

Here are pictures of the three scarves I completed, with closeups of the fabric.

New Design Idea
I worked some on the Marriott Mildew sweater during this week in Albany, but it was a short week, the pattern is hard to photograph, and it's done with jumper weight yarn, so I don't make huge progress except on weekends.

I'll update with a picture at a later date.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Blog Contest Winner

Will all the gracious losers please join me in congratulating Cheryl on winning the Bush Caption Blog Contest with the following entry:

For all the rest of you, please feel free to fume over losing that awesome yarn.

Blog Contest Entries
I got a grand total of 79 entries to the blog caption contest. Most of them were funny, some were raunchy (a picture of two bushes, holes and balls opened it up for that), and some were downright odd and unintelligible.

I only read one where I said to myself, "Has this person every SEEN a cartoon before?"

But overall, the contest was a lot of fun. Thank you all for playing. You can see a few more of the entries by clicking on the link below.

Other Entries

Busy Holiday Weekend
In addition to getting some sun, eating like a pig, and going to see Spiderman 2, I also had a very busy fiber weekend.

1. I went to Simply Knit and picked up some yarn for various projects (see #3).
2. I spun ALL of the remaining Blue-Face Leicester and plied it up into two additional hanks of yarn.
3. I made a few novelty scarves, in case I have another craft show.

I'll put up pictures during the week.

New Design Idea
I didn't get a chance to work on the Marriott Mildew sweater this weekend, but it doesn't mean that I've decided to give up on it yet.

I will work on that during the week, and maybe the baby blanket too.

Yarn Store Closing
Simply Knit is up to 30% off all merchandise, and the yarn is just starting to look picked over. I tell you this in case you want to get there before their stock looks downright pathetic.

I may go back, other than to just chat and bemoan their closing, bot buy some additional yarn when it gets to 40% off. I can't imagine there will be a lot that I'll want to buy.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Terri asks:

"The question I have is related to the wraps per inch. I know you have a tool for determining it (which at first glance seemed to be something much more personal than a knitting tool on first view!) If someone doesn't have a tool and uses a ruler, isn't the width of the ruler going to impact the final number? Is there a standard of any sort for exactly how wide your ruler should be?"

A lot of folks ask this question, and the answer is no, the width of the ruler is irrlevant. You're measuring the width of the yarn, not the length. Since the WPI only cares about how many strands can fit within an inch space, it doesn't matter how long the wraps are. Does that make sense?