Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Near-Perfect Blog

That's how my blog was described by Jean Miles on the KnitList.

Insult or Compliment?
Given that it was Jean that wrote it, I am very flattered, and consider it a great compliment.

Given that it was on the KnitList, I'm afraid what the result will be to the readership of the blog.

With the comments of regular, sharp-tongued readers and reminding folks of the Newcomer Rules, I'm sure the integrity of this blog can be maintained regardless of any onslaught of new readers.

Thanks to Ann in PA (and a couple of other readers) for alerting me to the KnitList entry (else I NEVER would have seen it).

Very Busy Weekend
I had to work this past Friday and Saturday in Albany, which significantly cut into my knitting time.

Another series of events that cut into my knitting time was the result of what I did on my day off on Sunday. Since I was in Albany, I scheduled two special events:

1. I went to an Eastern Orthodox mass at a gorgeous monastery in New Skete, NY. The setting was magnificent, and no one knows how to overdo like the Orthodoxy. Music was extraordinary as well.

2. I spent the rest of the day at Easton Mountain retreat in Easton, NY with a friend who had invited me up for the day. The serenity and peace of walking around the grounds there were magical. The food was simply extraordinary, and I even got to see folks building a cob house on the property.

All-in-all, it was a great weekend (although I missed Thaddeus terribly), but I didn't get a lot of knitting done.

I did get some work done on the sleeve of Thaddeus' sweater, but after the magnificent praise from Jean on the KnitList, my progress is woefully inadequate.

I promise to do a lot more this weekend when I'm home for the first time in two weeks.

New Project
I've decided to start a new secret project that I won't be posting progress on the blog. As it will be a gift, I don't want the recipient seeing it before it's done.

But I figure I can show y'all the yarn I'll be using for it.

I'm hopeful I'll be able to make good progress on Thaddeus' sweater, the crochet jacket and the red baby blanket for my brother and sister-in-law expecting in October, and the new project won't interfere in progress on those projects.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I'm glad I get to relate the story that we heard about Kaffe and Brandon. While it's not as good as Mary-Helen's story of how Kaffe met the Queen of England, it's the best I could do:

The story goes that Kaffe bought a new house in some re-gentrifying shore area of England.

The woman next door is somewhat interesting for the area, in that she keeps livestock on her property (like goats and chickens, or something), and Kaffe found that particularly endearing.

What he didn't find endearing was her massive collection of garden gnomes in her adjoining back yard. He and Brandon visited her to discuss them, and she adamantly refused to remove her prized collection.

Kaffe insisted that he didn't want to remove them at all, but wanted to volunteer his and Brandon's services to "refurbish" them, as they were in dire need of some repainting.

Upon her agreement, Kaffe and Brandon supposedly repainted her army of gnomes in Kaffe colors.

She is quite thrilled with the result, and Kaffe now has his own art exhibit in her back yard. Winners all around.

Jane from Nova Scotia also notes that with same-sex marriages now legal in Nova Scotia, I could participate in some multi-tasking by bringing Thaddeus up to get married, and then checking out their fine list of yarn stores up there. Jane denies it, but I'm convinced she's head of the local business advocacy group up there.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Exploding Balls

Of yarn, that is.

Noro Ganpi
I have to say, I'm loving the crochet project, especially working with the Noro yarn.

The yarn is wood-based with a nylon binding and works up like hemp in a certain way.

What I hate about it, is winding the hanks into balls.

Using a standard swift and ballwinder, I'll be about halfway done with winding, and the ball will explode into a massive tangle of yarn. Very frustrating.

Someone suggested using a toilet paper roll over the winder next time, and I think that's a great idea. I still have about 7 or 8 hanks to wind, and I wasn't looking forward to it.

Speaking of which, I have made some progress on the crochet jacket, although the picture may belie my massive crochet efforts.

I've said it before, but I'm not overly fast at crochet, and while I love the effect of single crochet on the drape of this fabric, they don't build up as quickly as my knitting.

In addition to the crochet, I've reworked the collar and started the first sleeve on Thaddeus red merino sweater.

The short rows to accommodate the set in sleeve were very easy, and I like the overall look of the seam. Now that I'm through the beginning part, the sleeve knitting should move along pretty quickly.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jean M. wanted to know about the Kaffe stories told at the recent get-together of Kathy, Marilyn and I.

Hey Kathy...is it okay to tell the gnome story?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Slacker? Me?

Did yesterday's post make it seem like I had been slacking this past weekend on my knitting?

Fiber Weekend
This past Friday, I had a HUGE box delivered from my favorite on-line fiber source, Paradise Fiber.

First I got a second pound of the Blueface Leicester, so I could spin an entire sweater's worth of yarn. I really liked how nicely this fiber spun up, and while I'll need to dye the resulting yarn, I thought a sweater from this would be very nice.

While I was ordering the Blueface Leicester, I noticed some Brown Select Jacob that just seemed to have my name on it, so I ordered 2 pounds of that too.

I was looking for a fiber that I would enjoy spinning loosely and more thickly than the fiber I had been spinning up until now. This top definitely fit the bill. I spun a hank of thick, worsted weight yarn this past weekend from this fiber, and it's soft and the color is amazing.

I can't wait to get home and spin more of it.

Finally, I had a thought that I'd like to create my own self-striping sock yarn, so I bought a little bit of merino top in different colors.

Okay, so I bought 4 pounds of it in total. I figure I could make a LOT of striped socks with that.

All in all, I have a shitload of fiber to spin, and I can't wait to get to all of it.

I'll make the next post a knitting post...well, a crochet and knit post.

Readers' Comments/Questions
My brother wants to know if I want to be responsible for his baby-to-be's hypothermia.

The baby's not due until late October...do you know realize how quickly I knit?

Marilyn wants to know why she looks so short in the picture of our get-together.

Uhh....let's see, could it be that it's because you're a full six inches shorter than me, or perhaps it's just a weird play of shadows that creates the effect?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Stupid Americans

The presidential election has made me realize (again) that this country is chock full of some of the dumbest and most superficial people on the planet.

Many Demonstrations of Stupidity
I've known of the general stupidity of the majority of Americans for a long time, and the election is clearly demonstrating that more and more. Obviously, the "I'd rather drink a beer with dubya, so he'd make a better president" mentality is a huge symptom.

But, for you non-political folks, I have always known that Americans are easily duped by something as simple as an English accent.

Early on in my career, I worked as an Expatriate Compensation Analyst. Basically what that means is that I paid special benefits to employees of a large bank who worked outside of their home country.

What I quickly found out was that people with English accents could be equally as stupid, or greedy, or obnoxious, or ill-bred, or rude, or any other negative characteristic as anyone else.

But for some reason, Americans think that a British accent automatically bestows some higher level of intelligence, or wit, or charm, or riches, or politesse, or any other positive characteristic. And the majority of Brits understand this fact, and use it to their advantage.

During my work as an Expatriate Compensation Analyst, I administered benefits for some of the cheapest, rudest, most demanding Brits I've ever met, and so an English accent automatically makes me despise the person until they prove worthy. I guess I'm just as superficial as the rest of the country.

How many folks would you bet have some of the following preconceived notions:

- French accent means the person is sexier and more romantic
- Southern accent means the person is dumber
- Irish accent means the person is more fun and adventurous
- Urban expressions make the person less trustworthy

Knitting Get-Together
Kathy, Marilyn and I got together for lunch yesterday, and to go yarn shopping.

Lunch was extremely enjoyable as expected. I've never been with people who were so interesting that we never run out of interesting conversations. Gossip about yarn companies, news about stores, stories about Kaffe, knit magazine editor stories...and on and on.

I took this with a timer so we could all be in the picture.

While lunch was amazing, both the local yarn stores are closed on Sundays, so we didn't get to shop for yarn.

I'm still working on the crochet jacket in Noro Ganpi and I'll be starting the sleeves on Thaddeus' red Morehouse Merino pullover.

I'll be up in Albany for two straight weeks this week, so I should make great progress on both garments.

Picture later this week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks all for advice for Carol G.'s tight edge problem and for your driving pet peeves. You reminded me of a few more of my own and got me steamed all over again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Driving Rant

I have definitely turned the corner. I am officially a road-rage-aholic.

Drivers That Piss Me Off
The other day I had two male co-workers in my car on our way to lunch. I actually used the "C" word about a female driver in front of me at a stop light who waited until it turned green before she put on her left turn signal (there was a right lane I could have been in, had I known).

That qualifies me for road-rage-aholic status, don't you think?

Here's my list of characteristics for asshole drivers:

1. Riding in the left lane without passing or going fast.
2. People that think they're experts at multi-tasking (even when one of the tasks is driving).
3. Drivers that go past the stop line at a traffic light.
4. Drivers that don't use turn signals.
5. People that litter (I saw a full bag of McDonald's garbage thrown out of a car the other day...ugh!).
6. Drivers that remain oblivious to an upcoming exit until the last possible moment.
7. Drivers that think "Yield" means "Merge".
8. Cell phone drivers that can't share focus between driving and chatting (incessantly).
9. People that pull out dangerously into oncoming traffic and then have no sense of urgency.
10. Drivers who don't dim their bright lights until after blinding oncoming drivers.

Just typing this list has me more pissed off than you could imagine.

I decided to not wait for the weekend to work on the collar of Thaddeus Morehouse sweater.

I figure he can try it on when I get home, to make sure the collar is okay before I proceed with the sleeves and sewing it up.

Other Project
So, here's my idea for the crochet project.

I know it still doesn't look like much, but I'm hoping it comes out looking like a large, colorful jacket. Very simple with all single crochet, except for the small triple crochet's for the edging.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol G. asked me a question in an e-mail on a problem she's having with Debbie Bliss' Colour Block Jacket.

I tried replying, but the e-mail address was invalid. Carol said she had a problem that the left-side edges were too tight in her knitting. I've never had this problem, and wasn't sure if anyone else had, or knew of a solution.

Any ideas?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Gay Cards

Lisa asks why she shouldn't have her gay card revoked, and then describes a nightmare lesbian stereotype. I will repeat this only one more time. Lisa is a gay man, in a lesbian, female-liking body. She's who I would be if I were a lesbian. Now stop pretending you're a granola-chewing, tent-striking, womyn-folk-song-singing lesbian.

Keeping Busy
I've always liked keeping busy. In addition to my relationship, I knit, I crochet, I spin, I work, I used to fly planes, I sometimes exercise, and I have a lot of other things that I keep busy with.

Recently, adding the eBay sales (which went very well, thank you for asking) made me realize how much I enjoy marketing stuff. As a result, I've begun a new venture that will help me satisfy my "keep busy" needs.

This is only a teaser for now, but I'm thinking I will enjoy doing this. More to be announce next week sometime.

I finished the front and shoulder seams of the Morehouse merino sweater for Thaddeus, and I even tried it on for sizing, and it looks quite nice.

I think I'll be holding off working on the collar and sleeves until next weekend, so there won't be another progress picture on that until then.

Thaddeus agrees that my camera and the computer don't do the color justice. Kathy has decided that it's Morehouse's cranberry color, and I would tend to agree. Cranberry is a pretty apt description for it, although it's got a flatness in color that makes it rich and beautiful.

Can you picture it?

Other Project
I've also done more work on the crochet project.

You'll see I've added on quite a few rows to this mystery project. Just so you know, the eyelets will not be used for a drawstring of any kind. And another hint is that the yarn is Noro Ganpi Abaka, which is some wood/rayon/nylon blend that reminds me a lot of the hemp I was working with, but nicer.

Any other guesses? I'm surprised Kathy hasn't weighed in on this one (given that she's the crochet Goddess). Nor did she weigh in on the poncho massacre. I was expecting to read some of the bloodiest comments from her.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I have never understood why comments like some of the readers regarding the poncho elicit defensiveness and anger from other blogger-types.

It's not like it's my poncho design (although I would want to hear the same honesty on my designs as well). It's not like I expect readers to have my exact taste.

One of the reasons that Marilyn and I liked each other immediately, was that we both recognized we could be honest with each other, without feeling like we were attacking one another. We definitely don't always have the same taste, and like all diversity, I cherish that.

Ask Marilyn what she has on her front porch, for example.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Short Rant

Enough already with the presidential nominees' pissing contest about who served and lied about their service!

Military Service
Here's the real story, short and simple:

John Kerry - Served in Viet Nam and probably finagled reports to get three purple hearts and released from service. He came back and protested the war, including acting as a veterans' representative in front of Congress, and pissed off a lot of veterans who felt he was disrespecting their service in Viet Name.

George W. Bush - Rich connections allowed him to join the Texas Air National Guard and he got approved to fly. Through major drug and alcohol abuse, he opted not to take a physical that would have cleared him to actually fly. Rich connections then allowed him to "transfer" to first another Guard opportunity in Alabama and then another one when he started his post-graduate work at Yale. He never showed up at either of those assignments.

I just wish both camps would STFU about both men's service. Everyone knows (or at least assumes) what actually happened, regardless of whether records are released or accurate.

Now, how the hell are we going to extract ourselves from the current mess in Iraq without charging another $200 billion dollars against the next generations tax burden?

Free Poncho Pattern
Normally, I hate ponchos.

Like crochet, people can do some of the ugliest things in the "poncho medium". I found a link to one of the few ponchos that I would actually consider making. It even has BOBBLES!

Click here for free poncho pattern.

Colors are sublime, design is simple and elegant, and it actually looks good on the wearer.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Now THAT'S a Surprise!!!

There needs to be a font that shows sarcasm. Check out this link. It confirms that the White House administration is laying track about something many have guessed at for months:

Yahoo! News - Official: U.S. Capture of bin Laden Close

eBay Yarn Sales
Again, the yarn sales on eBay are surprisingly vigorous. If things go as they have in the past, I will get a few last minute bidders tomorrow at midday, but not much additional activity.

Thanks for all who have bid on my auctions.

I've made some incremental progress on the Morehouse Merino sweater.

The picture doesn't show it overly well, but I've got another couple of inches before I get to the neck shaping.

You'll see why I've had less than turbo progress on this one a little bit further below in today's entry.

Flea Market Purchases
I always look for vintage knitting patterns when I traipse through the local flea market. While usually it's pretty slim pickings, I was able to make the following finds this past weekend.

The first book is by a male crocheter named Mark Dittrick. He describes a technique of creating rigid fabric with crochet techniques. I'll have to read through this more, and possibly give it a try.

The other two are also crochet. I love doily and bedspread patterns, even though I rarely get to use them.

Bitten By The Crochet Bug
With the Interweave Crochet magazine, and now these latest flea market purchases, I'm been itching to do a little crochet.

I started to make one of the bedspreads in the Bedspreads pattern booklet, but I messed it up and ripped it out.

Now I've picked up one of my stash yarns, and started a little crochet project.

Anyone care to guess what I'm working on?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol S. mentions the Rebumblican president's latest word mangling.

Does he do this on purpose so folks misunderestimate him?

Talk amonst yourselves.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Labor Day Sales

I normally don't do a lot of marketing on this web log, but today looks like QueerJoe is turning into a capitalist pig.

eBay Yarn Sales
I finally bit the bullet and put up the remaining cones of yarn (well most of the remaining cones) on eBay.

Click here for a full listing of all my auctions.

This lot of yarns has a very varied collection, and many of them will probably go pretty cheaply, since I don't know the exact content of some of the yarns, and they are all very nice.

Local Estate Sale
For those of you who have read my web log for a while, you'll know that I like to collect local art for my home. Much of that was purchased from sales conducted by a local art patron herself. Now that person's estate is putting on a huge estate sale to liquidate all of her holdings.

The Estate Sale will be on Saturday and Sunday, September 18th and 19th in Lambertville, NJ. On sale will be:

- Books of all types (some very fine art books)
- Artwork in many mediums
- Royal Coppenhagen pieces
- Old Tools
- Jewelry
- Sterling Silver flatware
- Coin silver flatware
- Fine China
- Trunks
- Lots more

If you're local to the area, and would like to go to this sale, you can find out particulars by e-mailing me or calling 215-397-2213.

If you plan on going, I'd highly recommend going early. Most of the good things will be gone very quickly.

I'm progressing very well on the Morehouse red pullover for Thaddeus.

You can see that I've finished the back, and I've just started on the front.

I'm planning on knitting the sleeves circularly from the top, even though they're set-in sleeves. I was pretty certain I'd be able to figure out how to do this using short-rows, but I found a web site with instructions. Jamie Wang sent this to the KnitList in June of 2000.


If anyone has any tips or tricks for top, down, set-in sleeves, please feel free to pipe up.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kim Salazar asks if I'd be willing to wear something like the Bowie skin-tight jump-suit I referred to on Justin's site the other day.

I'd have no problem wearing that given the appropriate circumstances. Costume party, gay pride parade, Mardi Gras, etc. I would probably do a bit of dieting before I'd squeeze my fat ass into the tights, but I'm not overly shy about wearing revealing outfits.

Thanks for the nice comments on my web log. The admiration is clearly mutual.

Sharon asks how I got my hands on the Interweave Crochet issue since it's not due to ship until this Tuesday.

I think it was Marilyn that mentioned the issue was out, and that Kathy had a design in the magazine. It was mentioned at least a week or so ago, somewhere. I found my copy at the Wegmans in Bridgewater, NJ. I checked a large grocery store in Albany, and they had Interweave Knits, but not Interweave Crochet.

From what I understand, the magazines often hit the newsstands long before they're shipped to regular subscribers. Seems ridiculous, but true.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The Rebumblican President

While his speech last night was extremely polished and well-presented, it was as vapid and meaningless as most every other public appearance he's made.

Name Calling
Democrats are way too cerebreal (that means they think too much, for the Rebumblicans that read this blog).

While Cheney gets on the podium and lies and calls Kerry names, the Democrats discuss how we can make this country better.

The Rebumblicans also made a couple of grave mistakes at their convention. Firstly, they had the hateful so-called minister equate the support of a gay/lesbian child to that of supporting HITLER for chrissakes. Then, they clearly take advantage of a senile old senator and send him out to act like Cujo, the rabid dog. That poor man needs to be on some serious meds.

Since I truly believe that any sane, thinking voter wouldn't consider voting to re-elect dubya, (unless they serve to gain financially from it) I think the Democrats just need to come up with a nasty schoolyard name for the opposing party, and they'll be able to steal away enough non-thinking voters to win this election.

So from now on, please refer to our commander-in-chief as the Rebumblican president. It makes him sound as goofy as he is, and even the completely oblivious voter will realize they couldn't vote for him with a name like that.

I promised a progress picture (actually, I've promised twice), so here it is.

I told you it didnt' look any different, but a promise is a promise.

Actually, I've just gotten to the point where I'm starting to knit flat, so future pictures will have some differentiation.

Thaddeus is liking the knitted fabric very much, and he's starting to get concerned about the neck treatment I use. He wants to be able to wear the sweater with a collared shirt underneath or with a white t-shirt. He wants the shirt collar to be visible and the t-shirt to be invisible. He also doesn't want the collar coming up to his facial stubble, as he knows it will shred the ultra-soft merino fabric.

I get the feeling I'll be making a few modifications to this collar.

New Magazine
Interweave has come out with a new magazine for crochet called Interweave Crochet.

Marilyn had mentioned it, and noted that the famous designer, Kathy Merrick (of Tomato Factory and Simply Knit) has a hat design in the issue.

Magazine Overview
Cost US$ 7.99
Number of patterns: 24
Number of good patterns: 6
Number of bad patterns: 7

Overall comments: Mari Lynn Patrick and Doris Chan give crochet a very bad name with multiple "designs" in this issue. Fortunately their are some designers that know how to make the best of the crochet stitch.

Good Designs
Interlocking Rings by Berta Karapetyan. Very nice design, although I didn't like her choice in colors. The shaping is excellent, and the rings treatment is interesting and works as a neck edging.

Brave New Bra Top by Margaret Hubert. This won't be to everyone's taste, but I thought it was well done.

Tunisian Vest by Kathleen Power Johnson. This is a pretty standard, ordinary vest. Good choice in colors and a handsome model.

Butterfly Jacket by Setsuko Torri. This Habu design is different and interesting. High fashion in excellent yarns.

Yo Yo Cardigan by Annie Modesitt. The best design in the magazine, this child's top is colorful and interesting and looks like a blast to make.

Squiggle Hat by Kathy Merrick. I've always said that Kathy is one of the few folks that know how to use crochet well. This hat is a good example of that. Plus, it's made with Koigu. Very nice.

Bad Designs
Retro Tweed Jacket by Mari Lynn Patrick. A perfect example of bad crochet and no sense of color and shaping.

Big Collar Cardigan by Norah Gaughan. Thick, bulky crochet in a bad design.

Open Fan Cardigan by Doris Chan. Thick, bulky crochet in a trendy open, lacey bell-sleeve top. Awful.

Vive La Provence Skirt by Doris Chan (cover picture). I can't imagine what Interweave was thinking by putting this on the cover. Very bad.

Salon Capelet by Mari Lynn Patrick. Do you know what a capelet is? Do you know anyone that has ever worn one with aplomb? Mari Lynn should be banned from fiber designing.

Triangular Shawl by Doris Chan. This isn't awful, but it's not good either. Too small and way too ordinary.

Kid-Kini by Trudy Van STralen. A child's bikini done in a gray/brown/taupe, mouse-colored linen, that is just plain stupid looking. Any mother that would make their child wear this should be reported to Division of Youth and Family Services and have their child put in foster care.

I'm glad to own this magazine, and I will probably make the Annie Modesitt design at one point. I will also probably make some of Kathy's hats for my nieces. I think they'd think they were very cool, and they look better in hats than the model they used in the magazine.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Phoenix wonders if I should be dared to make the Bowie leotard on Justin's web blog.

I might have considered it if it was a knitting pattern, or if the sewing pattern was relatively simple. Neither of those is the case, so I won't be making myself one.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Diverging Paths

Knitting blogs all have their own unique identities, and both my blog and my taste in blogs continues to evolve.

How Would You Characterize QueerJoe.com?
I have this idea of the general tone of my blog, and I try to maintain a certain consistency, and adherence to standards whenever I write a blog entry.

As Jennifer pointed out (kind of), my blog was really created using Marilyn's and Wendy's blogs as my idea of what a knitting blog should be (with a much stronger leaning toward the snarkier of the two).

Writing this blog for almost two years, I've established an identity of my own, and it has definitely moved away from a chronology of my knitting, to one of opinionated commentary. Commentary on knitting, knitting lists, knitting magazines, politics, civil rights, and many other topics.

Overall, I'm very happy with how my blog has emerged, and I enjoy writing it very much.

Even more so, I'm extremely happy with the type of folks my blog has attracted.

I remember when I was working at Tomato Factory in the last few years of its existence. At events like Stitches, there were no other yarn stores that were generating the kinds of designs that Tomato Factory was pumping out (thanks to the design efforts of Kathy Merrick, Carol Lapin and Susan Spaeth.

Suffice it to say, their unique designs attracted a very different crowd than the run-of-the-mill knitter that went to Stitches.

I like to think of my blog as the Tomato Factory of knitting blogs.

I knit like mad on the Morehouse merino pullover for Thaddeus, but the picture looks exactly the same as the last picture.

How can that be?

Oh well, I've completed almost up to the arm hole shaping, so I'll be switching over to flat knitting soon.

In other words, I'm postponing pictures of my work in progress again.

New Jersey Knitting Events
For those of you in the area, the new yarn store, Woolplay is having some knitting events in the near future:

Woolplay grand opening (official) September 11
3rd Annual Philadelphia Knit Out September 26
Habu Trunk Show October 2
Bus Trip to Stitches East October 9

There are other events as well, check them out in the Woolplay newsletter here.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn asks if I've been spinning anything lately.

I haven't been. I've decided to focus on using the New Zealand handspun that I've already finished. I figured it would be nice to say that I've been able to take fiber from the roving state to a completed garment. I am planning on purchasing some colored roving so I can try to make my own version of self-striping sock yarn.

Thanks to Justin for his high praise.

High praise indeed, especially from a guy the writes a blog I read almost everyday. I love the Bowie outfit on his recent blog entry. Very retro, very chic.