Friday, April 29, 2005

Bad Drivers

Have you ever noticed that certain characteristics of a driver tend to mean they are usually a bad driver.

It used to be that Thaddeus and I would always notice that the bad drivers were the ones that wore hats when they drove. Then we noticed that many Volvo drivers were erratic drivers.

Due to the reputation of safety in Volvo's Thaddeus was often heard saying, "People who drive Volvo's, should."

In that same vein, I've heard that some folks think Volkswagen Jetta drivers are careless and dangerous.

So I figured it was time for an informal poll of readers.

Current Knitting
I'm continuing on with the small needles and the hundreds of stitches with the coworker's baby blanket.

I'm liking the fabric of the blanket and the design very much. It will turn out being a very lightweight blanket.

Birthday Surprise
My sister-out-of-law, Michelle, took a vacation up to Niagra Falls, on the pretty side, in Canada. Guess what I got as a birthday surprise?

Not just this one jar...but NINE!!!

Is she the best or what?

Readers' Comments/Questions
First of all, thanks to Liza for educating us in the ways of evil imposters. My apologies to Sarah for editing her comment, but I wanted to make sure that a company taking away from the good work that Manos del Uruguay does, didn't get any free press on my site.

I was aware that Manos sold yarn spun by Uruguayan women in poverty, but I was also led to believe that the knock-off supported the same or similar group of women.

I feel duped.

Here's a link where the company describes their own purpose.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bitchy Mood

Not sure why, but I feel totally pissed off today.

Not Myself
Have you ever thought to yourself, why does maid service fold the ends of my toilet paper roll into a triangle every morning (now my current hotel is putting a gold circular sticker to keep the fold in place.)? Normally I'd think, "Oh thank god they touched my toilet paper, I feel much cleaner."

When I pulled off the gold sticker this morning, I wanted to punch the maid in the face. It took me until noon to realize that my emotional reaction may have been excessive.

Dirty Little Secrets
I didn't mention it, but when I bought the yarn for the baby blanket, I also made a couple of other purchases.

During my search for baby blanket yarn, I spotted a basket of Trekking sock yarn in 100 gm balls.

I don't find a lot of commercially spun sock yarn in boring men's colors, so I picked up two balls.

Then I saw their offering of Manos, so I picked this up.

Whenever I see interesting colors of Manos yarn, I pick up two skeins for what will become a throw for me and Thaddeus. I made one a while ago for my mother, and it was the hardest of all my knitted gifts that I ever gave up.

Here are the colors I have so far.

Not all of it is the Manos brand. Some of it was a different brand I got at WEBS that they claim is exactly like Manos. I can't wait to start this throw for us.

Current Knitting
I've made some progress on the baby blanket, but not enough to merit a picture.

Who do you think I am, Wendy?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn asks two questions:

1. Looks like you gots you a lot of twist in that spun yarn, J. I tend to overtwist myself, since some of it comes out in the plying anyways.

A. Yes, one of the downfalls of my knitting technique is that it usually has a little more spin than I'd care for. Like Marilyn, I compensate by plying, but I was also hoping that a harder yarn would be better for longer wearing sock yarn.

2. By the way, what's that knitted objet the baby blanket is lying on? Looks knitted, to my eye.

A. It's not, it's an old bath mat. I thought the sage green would show off the color of the yarn.

Finally, she mentions that she likes the baby blanket pattern, but not the color.

I am right with her on this one. The color would definitely not have been my choice, but it will be perfect for the recipients.

Michelene asks if anyone has noticed that KnitU is down.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I'm a Bad Loser

Normally, I'm very good natured when I lose, but I have to admit, I'm still enraged whenever I see a Bush 2004 bumper sticker.

Now I know how some of the hardcore Redumblicans must have felt when Bill Clinton beat George Bush, the senior in 1992.

It must have been inconceivable that the Governor of a less-than-significant Southern state beat out the incumbent president. And then to make matters worse, there was no humility in the conquering president. He was exultant, proud, and some might say brash.

Yes, I know how they must have felt, and I'm still having trouble getting over it.

I told you I did some spinning this past weekend.

I couldn't decide which color to pick up next, so I just grabbed the closest ball of roving and started spinning. This color (which I'm calling "grape") is a much bluer purple than the last one which was very close to plum color and a lot more yellow.

It also spins much more easily, or at least I've gotten a lot more used to spinning this fiber. I've spun about 25% of this color so far, which is excellent progress for a weekend.

Next Knitting Project
I meant to mention that in my yarn shopping for the new baby blanket yarn, that all three stores had a shitload of novelty yarns and seem to sell more of that than anything else. It was disappointing, but if I were in their shoes, I'd be selling as much as I could as well.

Anyway, I started the new blanket and almost finished one pattern repeat.

I know it's all bunched up on the needle and difficult to photograph, but the pattern is interesting to do, except for the nine rows of seed stitch.

I've decided that bobbles are like crochet. They both look a lot better with finer gauge yarns.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Michelene asks: "Will you double the Baby Ull, or just work on really tiny needles for a really long time?"

Well, the pattern called for a US7 using Sport weight yarn. I'm using a US5 with a single strand of the baby weight yarn, and with the loftiness of the Dale Baby Ull, it's giving me a nice soft fabric. I had to increase the stitches to 231 per row.

Monday, April 25, 2005

God Bless America

This sentiment pisses me off more than I can tell you.

Self Centered Pricks
First, let me start off by saying that I love living in this country, but I will never understand putting up signs and sticking on bumper stickers that say "God Bless America".

Why don't they say "God Bless The World"? Or perhaps, "God, Thanks For All America's Blessings"? Or at least "God Bless Other Countries So They Can Know America's Blessings"?

Doesn't it seem a little selfish and perhaps even xenophobic to ask your version of the almighty to just bless this country?

If it's a sign of loving spirituality, it clearly fails miserably.

If it's a sign of patriotism, it makes us seem a lot needier of blessings than we are.

If it's a sign of a group of lemmings who thinks it's a good idea to have the words God and America in one bumper sticker, it does a fine job.

I did a minimal amount of knitting on the current sock project.

I finished the first sock, I'm almost up to the heel on the second sock. I know it's not much, but I also got some spinning in this weekend which I'll discuss in my next post.

The other thing I did was finish the Communion Shawl.

I added the fringe and re-blocked it, and it came out just beautifully.

I also wrote up the pattern and published it out on in case anyone is interested in purchasing the pattern.

Next Knitting Project
Thaddeus and I went yarn shopping this past Saturday. I was looking for yarn for the upcoming baby blanket project.

We first went to "Knitting To Know Ewe" near Wrightstown, PA. Stupid name, but lovely store. I was dismayed to see a lot of novelty yarn, and a class in session of five women knitting glitzy scarves or shawls. They didn't have an appropriate yarn for my project.

Then I went to "Stitch Inn" in Lahaska, PA. I have been to this store before, and I figured they would have a DK weight superwash wool in green or yellow.

No such luck, so I finally went to my closest yarn store, and while they didn't have an DK weight superwash at all, I ended up getting a nice pale yellow baby weight superwash.

I've always enjoyed working with Dale Baby Ull, so I'll just adapt the pattern and hope that I calculated the amount of yarn I need accurately.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Debi asks: "Would you consider blogger mentorship?" after having numerous problems with Blogger help.

In my early days of blogging, I did help some folks with their blogs, but it got to be somewhat overwhelming. There are tons of good tutorials on the web to do what you're trying to do, and when all else fails, you can always find something in a web site you like and click on the "Edit" and then "View Source" menu option in Internet Explorer to see how it was done.

Thanks to Michelene for the preview of IK. I'll be looking for it, since it seems to be the best of the major magazines.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fantasy Yarn Crawl

They have pub crawls, why not yarn crawls?

My Fantasy Yarn Crawl
I need to combine two of my favorite things as I travel the world on a fantasy yarn shopping spree. Yarn and food.

I figured I'd just pick some of my favorite yarn stores in the world and include some of the local food as part of the trip.

Starting out locally, I'd stop at Rosie's Yarn Cellar and then go for Philly Cheese Steaks.Then I'd head down to Maryland and go to Yarns International and eat some Crab Cakes.Heading North, I'd stop in New York at Habu and grab a decent bagel, and then up to Massachusetts for WEBS and find a place for lobster rolls.

Continuing North and out of the country, I'd have to make it to Koigu and nourish myself with some poutine. Sticking with the international theme, I'd head over to Paris, pick up some yarn at La Droguerie and have either a bowl of cafe au lait and croissants, or a seven course meal at one of Paris' finest eateries.

A quick hop over to Lucca in Italy to stop at the lovely yarn store I visited while there (don't know the name) and also have squid-ink ravioli sauteed in butter with shaved truffles on top. Long trip over to New Zealand to yarn shop with James and eat whatever he suggested, and then finally finish off the global trip by coming around to Artfibers and having some good sourdough bread and Rice-a-Roni?

Blog Recognition
Rebecca Blood who wrote The Weblog Handbook has the second chapter published as part of's knowledge repository (or on-line help).

Read here how she sites my blog as an example.

How cool is that?

Next Knitting Project
Here's the blanket I've decided I'm going to make.

I know the picture is repulsively cutesy, but the pattern looks like fun and I love the look of the blanket.

I plan on doing it in a pale yellow, or perhaps even in a color similar to the green in the picture. My co-worker Jon and his wife Gabrielle are due in August, so it gives me plenty of time. They won't be finding out the gender of the child until it pops out in August, so they're doing the nursery in traditional pastels of green and yellow with some gold highlights.

Now I just have to find the yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Penny noted (in the Vogue Review post comments):

"Opinions are good. It's strange, though, that some need to see Joe's review before they make a decision for themself as to whether they like the patterns or not."

This is one of my favorite techniques that evil people like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh use. They attribute something to people that isn't true, and then insult them for it.

Who ever said that the readers rely on my judgement before they make a decision for themselves. Read Lisa's comments about shit on toast for a perfect example of how you're delusional.

Thanks to RJ for the excellent satirical reply.

Finally, I've gotten my first request to copy and send a copyrighted pattern (of an Alice Starmore pattern, no less).


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Arbiter of Good Taste

It is widely known that gay men have superior taste, and as such, can be self-proclaimed critics thereof.

Okay...We Know That's Bullshit
I don't have a problem when readers think my comments or critiques are rude, and they decide that they'd prefer to not read my blog. In fact, to a large degree, I tend to accentuate the rudeness to drive away the more gentle souls that would prefer a more "can't we all get along" type of world. They clearly won't find that kind of world here.

But don't those same people realize that by announcing their opinion of my web site and inferring that I should change, that they are doing the exact thing that they are asking me not to?

Even if the critique is masked as a polite question, their condemnation of what I write is still just as rude as calling a knitting design an abomination.

Or have I reached another zenith of pedantic blog writing again?

Next Knitting Project
I'm planning on starting a new baby blanket for a coworker who's wife is due in August. That will give me plenty of time to complete it.

I plan on using one of the patterns from the Leisure Arts book I mentioned in my last post, but I'm not sure what yarn I'll use. If the local yarn store up here in Schenectady (Ye Olde Yarn & Gift Shoppe), NY has a decent superwash wool in DK weight, and a decent color, I'll get the yarn up here. Otherwise I'll have to look at home or order it on the web.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Deanna notes that the Vogue Knitting Scarf #31 looks similar to my Koigu Cross Stitch scarf.

The pattern stitch is similar, and I like their version...especially for a decorative summer scarf. But the design has a very different effect when done lenghtwise and with Koigu. Thanks Deanna for also plugging The Knitting Vault. The owner of that new site is thrilled with how well it's going.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Simpler Times

Don't you ever feel that it would be great to get back to a more simple time, when we weren't so removed from self reliance?

How Many Levels Removed
Having described my job the other day, I always think that my skillset would be completely useless in a post-nuclear attack world. Here's how I see the hierarchy and how I fit in:

4. I support companies/project teams that implement HR software.
3. The software helps Human Resources departments to hire and track employees.
2. Most of the companies I work for are service companies (e.g. banking or insurance), so the employees tracked by the system support people in administering the logistics of their lives.
1. Some of those people actually create products that help sustain us (e.g. farming, building houses, etc.)

So minimally, I am four levels away from any form of useful productivity on this planet.

I've worked up about halfway on the ribbing for the first sock (maybe a little higher...but not much). It's certainly not worth a picture.

Vogue Knitting
Last week at JoAnn's I picked up the most recent Vogue Knitting.

Overall, there are about 35 designs for a cost of US$5.99. I didn't find any of the articles worth reading, and here are my thoughts on the designs:

Hooded Crop Top - Tahki Design Team - Hideous abomination
Sweet Little Tank - Mary Corcoran - Kinda cute
Short Form Fitting Poncho - Irina Poludnenko - Looks like you're wearing a dust rage
Courtney Thorne-Smith's Cancer Scarf - Great colors if you don't mind garter stitch
Beaded Shell - Cathy Maguire - Just kinda boring
Surplice Tank - Jordan Paige - Not very practicaly use of novelty yarn
Simple Pullover - Barbara Khouri - Interesting and well executed
Cool Coverup - Marcia Cleary - Knitted beachwear? No thank you.
Twisted Traditional Top - Gabrielle Hamill - Simple and nice
Lacy Striped Vest - Marcia Cleary - Not bad
Itsy-Bitsy Bikini - Vladimir Teriokhin - Bad shaping, bad idea
Oversized Cardigan - Kaffe Fassett - Classic Kaffe in both color and design - Nice
Flame Stitched Cropped Cardigan - Shirley Paden - Not bad
Boat-Neck Ribbed Pullover - Norah Gaughan - Heavy and bulky looking
Wrap-Front Hoodie - Norah Gaughan - Not great
Figure Loving Tunic - Mari Lynn Patrick - PLEASE banish this woman from knitwear design!!
Sexy Wrap - Unknown - Not sexy at all
Slim-Fitting Shell - Kathy Zimmerman - Nice use of cotton
Juicy Twinset - Mari Lynn Patrick - This is her best yet and it's just plain boring
Leopard Print Bordered Vest - Teva Durham - Wrong in so many way
Seed Stitch Shell - Charlotte Quiggle - Vogue paid for this "design"?
Tiny Cable Tennis Sweater - Debbie Bliss - Better than Wendy's but still bad
Shawl-Collared Cropped Cardigan - Jaeger Design Team - Interesting but doesn't work
Twinkle - Unknown - Bulky cropped cotton cardigan - Doomed from the start
Elongated Tank - Cynthia Rowley - Nice design and excellent choice of color
Lacy Tube - Pierrot - Not sure what I think
Citron Camisole - Shirley Paden - Very cute and well designed
Berry Nice Cropped Jacket - Gayle Bunn - Ill-conceived bad design
Creamy Dreamy Fringed Shawl - Mari Lynn Patrick - Every time I think she can't get worse...
Shapley Short Jacket - Elena Malo - Interesting fabrics, don't like the shaping
Romantic Eyelet Top - Vladimir Teriokhin - I can't imagine anyone ever wearing this
Flower-Strewn Capelet - Alison Dupernex - What a waste of intarsia
Color-Rich Cropped Top - Sasha Kagan - I've never been so ashamed of Ms. Kagan
Lacy Diamonds and Eyelets - Deborah Newton - Very bad...very bad...very bad
Six Sheer Summer Scarfs - Various Designers - Mostly good

Other JoAnn's Purchase
Also while at JoAnn's I purchased a Leisure Arts booklet on baby blankets:

The booklet was kind of expensive (US$14.95), but it has 33 blanket/afghan patterns, many of which I will be making over the years for my breeder friends/family/coworkers.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol notes that I must have tried to hornswaggle my readers by showing pictures of commercially spun yarn in place of my own alleged handspun merino.

I will say that I probably have an incredibly bad spinning technique from a classic spinning perspective. However, I am able to spin very fine, relatively even singles with an amazing amount of speed. I'd consider teaching my technique to others, but I'm afraid people that I respect, like Nelda Davis would be aghast at my methods.

Ann asks: "So, Joe - ya'll gonna skein those up and enter them in S&W? Although they might not buy the Novice spinner thing any more than the rest of us do....."

I plan on spinning 8 different colors of singles and then double-plying them and changing colors at even intervals during the plying process to make my own version of self-striping sock yarn. I'm not sure if it will work in reality, but I won't have to cross that bridge for a while.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Slick Willy?

"Thanks for the poncho."
President Clinton said this when he was presented with the Romanian tri-color flag during his visit in July 1997. The flag did have a head-sized hole in the middle... But flags with the centers ripped out are the norm in Romania these days. With holes where the hated communist emblem used to be, such flags symbolize the 1989 anti-Communist revolt that led to the establishment of democracy.

My Next Project
Suffice it to say, my next project will NOT be a poncho (and certainly won't be the three colors of the Romanian flag.

Before finishing the Communion Shawl, I did start a small project.

I've always wanted to knit a pair of socks with complimentary colored toes and heel. I also have always wanted to knit a short-row toe. This mini-project combines both.

Have you ever had one of those projects that you thought would never end?

The Plum Merino roving felt like it would go on for EVER, but I finally prevailed and finished spinning it.

I have about 5 more colors of this merino. I only hope it doesn't take me as long as the plum color, to do all the remaining colors.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Franklin asks (I love Franklin and his grandmother):

"Would you recommend the pattern to somebody who's very interested in lace knitting but hasn't tried it yet?"

I would absolutely recommend this pattern. There are three separate lace patterns, and all three use a 6 row repeat. The instructions make it easy to follow the pattern, and the extensive number of repeats allows even a less experienced knitter to understand how the pattern works.

I'll be posting the pattern sometime next week.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Designer Success

I never would have guessed how well my knitting designs would have sold.

The Knitting Vault
In the week or so that the Knitting Vault has been open for business, I can only hope all the other designers are doing as well selling their designs.

I only have four designs for sale on the site (with another one to follow shortly), and my sales have been surprisingling brisk.

Most of the sales have been for the Koigu Cross Stitch scarf pattern. But there has also been a lot of interest in the Passing Lane pullover (remember, that's the DK weight sweater with a bulky fisherman's rib and a small roll-neck collar in a different color inside the crew-neck collar).

I also have to admit, that I changed the name of the Fair Isle vest from Lisa's very fitting title of "Fashion of The Christ" to "Fair Isle Pullover Vest". I know, boring, but I was thinking maybe I shouldn't alienate potential customers.

Anyway, thanks for all the "press" you folks have given this site on the knitting lists, and thanks to any of you who have actually purchased and downloaded patterns.

I finished the knitting on the Communion Shawl and washed and blocked it.

Now I just have to do the fringe, pack it up and send it to my sister.

For anyone interested in the pattern, I'll be putting it up with my other designs on the Knitting Vault.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I am glad I brought up the topic of job descriptions in my last post.

In addition to the comments, I have received e-mail from quite a few folks that are familiar with or use PeopleSoft themselves.

The scary part of it is, Lisa is exactly correct. Try understanding what she does for a living. I've interrogated her personally, and I still have no idea. But she sure can get your good theater seats (Jimmy Smits sweat on me in Princeton because of her)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Now, Tell Me What You Do Again...?

I get this question from friends and family all the time.

My Job
I work for a publicly traded consulting firm and my official title is "Manager".

Specifically, I manage projects for various clients who are implementing one particular brand of software (PeopleSoft) that helps the client manage their Human Resources, Benefits and Payroll functions.

So, for instance, if you were a large corporation, and your current system for tracking employee data and benefits and payroll was costing you millions in upkeep, you might decide to replace the system with an "off-the-shelf" software, like PeopleSoft.

Setting up their system can be very complex, and planning how to convert over all your existing employee information and still be able to provide information to other folks, like your medical plan providers needs to be set up.

Having someone that understands:

- How the PeopleSoft system works and how to set it up
- About various Human Resources/Benefits/Payroll functions
- Project management,

might make your project go much more smoothly and with less cost.

Do I program? No.
Do I enter data? No.
Do I load software onto the server? No.
Do I get paid for my very-specific skillset? You bet.

Now, go ask Marilyn what her profession is, if you're not already confused enough.

I've made some modicum of progress on the Communion Shawl.

I'm actually getting less bored with the pattern repeat, and I'm hoping to finish it this weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mariellen aks how much time I spend knitting each day.

This varies, but it probably averages out to about 2 hours a day these days.

In the past I've knit a lot more, and right now I'm having a little bit more difficulty jamming in more knitting (and spinning) time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

More Catholic Hypocrisy

Why is it that Catholic Priests take a vow to not get married, and nuns take a vow to not have sex?

Celibacy vs. Chastity
Most folks consider the words "celibacy", "chastity", and "abstinence" to mean the same thing.

So, when a Catholic Priest takes a vow of celibacy, he's vowing to not have sex...right?

Well, not quite. It really means he's making a vow that he'll never marry. And since it's a sin to have sex outside of marriage, it would be a sin for a Priest to have sex, but NOT a breaking of his vows.

Catholic nuns, on the other hand, take a vow of chastity, which means they vow not to have sex.

It's not that I'm suprised by the hypocrisy, but I just thought it was another way that the Catholic Church puts women in a lower status than men.

I finished the sweater and it's just about a perfect sweater for me.

I've gotten extremely good at making sweaters that fit both Thaddeus and me, and this on is no exception. The neck is close fitting, but not tight, which is exactly how I wanted it. And the inconsistencies in thickness of my handspun yarn gives the sweater an even, yet interesting texture.

Here are a few pictures of me modeling the sweater.

Fortunately, this little cool spell in Albany is allowing me to make brief use of the sweater.

Communion Shawl Again
I'm back to trying to finish up the Communion Shawl for my niece's first communion.

I've completed about 32 inches out of what will be 48 inches. Now that I'm focusing only on this project, it should move along pretty quickly.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Cait mentions that the left lane is for passing, not speeding.

I am not a big fan of folks that think speeding is morally or ethically wrong for everyone. I don't personally care if they consider it ethically wrong for themselves (perhaps they need to drive slower to maintain safety).

But the deal is this. Drivers have the choice of going the speed limit and not risking a ticket, or exceeding the speed limit and risking a ticket (or worse).

I choose to risk the ticket, and I have no problem if you don't...just stay out of the left lane while doing it so I can pass safely (which we agree is what the lane is for)

The only time where I would agree that left lane driving is appropriate is when there is a left exit. It's the folks that get in that lane five miles before the exit that give me the road rage that inspired yesterday's post.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Consider this a desperate plea for education for drivers in this country.

Fast Lane, Passing Lane
If you have any responsibility in helping someone learn how to drive, I implore you to impart three pieces of critical information:

1. The left-most lane is for passing or going faster than the lanes to the right.
2. Make sure you look in your rear-view mirror often to make sure you're not blocking that left lane.
3. If you're not passing other cars, get the fuck out of the left lane.

If you're one of those people with a spouse who refuses to leave the left lane, please nag him till he does. If you're teaching new drivers, please let them know this is one of the most important rules for driving. If you're in a carpool with someone who rides the left lane, firmly let them know of their egregious misconduct. If you're one of those women who think that they can "multi-task" while driving, stay out of the left lane while doing it.

I say this often, but I'll say it again. It's a good thing I don't carry a gun, because I would assuredly be in jail for manslaughter or murder.

Thanks, I feel better for having vented.

I made quite a bit of progress on the brown handspun sweater.

All I have left is to finish the last sleeve, and weave in a few ends. Then this baby will be ready to store in the armoire until late Fall.

Design Source
There is a new source for knitting patterns that I think is one of the best ideas I've heard of yet.

The Knitting Vault is a place where designers can publish their knitwear designs and sell them.

It has been open to designers for a few weeks, but today, it opens for the public to search and/or buy patterns.

A number of folks have asked if they could buy my pattern for the Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf without purchasing it as a kit. The pattern (along with 3 other of my sweater designs) is now available at the Knitting Vault.

I will tell you however, that the scarf pattern is still available at Threadbear Fiber Studio free, when you buy the two hanks of Koigu, so the kit is still a better buy. But if you just want the pattern, it's available for direct download as a PDF file.

Search for the four designs I have on the site by using the designer name "DoublePointed" in your search criteria.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Support Our Troops

I mean by more than slapping a yellow magnet on the back of your vehicle.

Cool Web Site
In previous wars, when you wanted to send letters or food or toiletries or nice handknit items to a generic soldier, you used to be able to address it to "Any Soldier" and it would be delivered to a random service person.

Unfortunately, with the threat of terrorism, the U.S. Postal service won't let you do that anymore.

As a result, some enterprising individual has established a network of service members who will accept packages and distribute the contents randomly to their unit.

Check it out and send some comfort item to a needy service member (and it's doubtful they need knitwear in Iraq).

Sock Needle Site
Speaking of web sites, I've made a minor update to the DoublePointed Surina Wooden Sock Knitting Needle site.

I've added two new sizes of double-pointed needles, US7 and US8. Unfortunately, they can't currently be purchased as part of the set of 9 needles, but if anyone wants it that way, I can arrange that too.

I've done a number of searches on the Surina needles, and I'm amazed to see what some of the other places are charging for them. Mine are cheaper even before you take into consideration the 17% discount for full sets.

First sleeve complete, second one, just barely started.

Just what I needed...a dark, bulky sweater for the Spring/Summer months.

Birthday Continues
I arrived home to a package from New Zealand from my favorite Kiwi, James.

When opened, it looked like this:

What a great guy. The red ball in a mini-crate is a felted wool ball that I will use as my fiber stress ball. The chocolate is from my favorite Kiwi Chocolatier, Schoc Chocolates. It's Tasty Hot Cross Buns flavored (I'm not sure what that means, but it tastes GREAT).

The card is beautiful with an even more beautiful note. Thank you very much for such a nice package

KnitList Horror
Someone wrote the following to the KnitList the other day, and I just had to cringe:

Subject: Kaffe Fassett's Color Design

I am planning on making a shawl using a Kaffe Fassett geometric color pattern. All of his designs seem to be in st st. I like to make my shawls in garter st. Has anyone done a geometric color desing in garter st?

All I can think is that talented designers like Kaffe must learn to just ignore incredibly bad adaptations of their designs.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Travel Advice

This advice applies to much more than travelling, but I see it most in that area of my life.

Old Buddhist Saying
"It's easier to ride the horse in the direction it's going."

As one who travels frequently, I could recount dozens of horror stories that the airlines have caused in my life, but I won't, because in the grand scheme of things, they are irrelevant.

One brief story I will tell you is about a weekly flight I used to take from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

Each week, this same flight was jam packed...completely filled. Also, each week, about two thirds of the way through boarding, all of the overhead compartments would be completely filled, requiring all baggage that couldn't be jammed under a seat to be "gate checked".

Since I was a frequent flier, I got to be one of the first passengers to board the plane each week, so about two thirds through each boarding process, I got my weekly entertainment of watching passengers try to get their bags on board without having to have them loaded underneath the plane. People would fuss, and connive and persuade and yell, and threaten and there was even one man who gave up his first class seat if he couldn't sit with his bag.

All to no avail. There simply wasn't room on the plane for more baggage (and yes, this happened without fail EVERY week).

So, my advice is this.

When a grounds crew member or a flight attendant or anyone else who works at the airport tells you to do something, be their friend. They are the only ones that can help you at all. Making their lives miserable will almost never get you what you want. If you're nice and cooperative, you might get what you want. The choice seems simple.

Even outside the aviation industry, I find that a three-prong approach works best:

1. Try nice first
2. Be persisten, but nice.
3. When all else fails, if you must, try anger.

Now that I'm 46, I can offer sage advice.

I'm almost down to the ribbing on the first sleeve of the Jacob Select handspun sweater, and I haven't done any more work on the Communion Shawl.

I'm very pleased with how the Jacob sweater is going. The neck is the perfect size, exactly what I was trying to accomplish, and the top-down, set-in sleeves are looking fine.

Pictures at the end of the week.

Birthday Aftermath
Thank you all for you e-cards and kind wishes. I can only hope your friends are equally as enthusiastic on your birthdays.

Monday, April 04, 2005

In light of this delightfully self-centered day, I bring you:

100 More Things AboutMe!!!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Please Pray for the Pope

No, this isn't a late April Fool's joke. I think folks who believe in prayer should, in fact, pray for the ailing pope.

Christian Behavior
Perhaps it's time for those folks who truly care about the same things Christ did, to take back Christianity ?

In a World where "pro-life" President Bush takes office, when the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4 percent decline during the 1990s. This was a steady decrease averaging 1.7 percent per year. (The data come from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies.)

With the onset of the George W. Bush dynasty in 2001, there are four states that have posted three-year statistics: Kentucky's increased by 3.2 percent from 2000 to 2003. Michigan's increased by 11.3 percent from 2000 to 2003. Pennsylvania's increased by 1.9 percent from 1999 to 2002. Colorado's rates skyrocketed 111 percent.

There were 12 additional states that reported statistics for 2001 and 2002. Eight states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6 percent average increase), and four saw a decrease (4.3 percent average).

Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.

And you KNOW the reasons for increases in abortion rates are poverty, unemployment of spouses and inability to afford healthcare for themselves or their unborn children.

I know most of the folks that read this blog (except Kathy) have leftist leanings, but even the conservative right wing will have to admit that good public education is critical to the success of our country and it's citizens.

The ill-named and unfunded, "No Child Left Behind" act has brought about a severe increase in dropouts and illiteracy.

And I won't even go into the decline in civil rights perpetuated by Redumblican actions such as the "Patriot Act".

I can't imagine what Jesus would say about the state of this country.

So, do the charitable thing, and pray that this pope has an easy transition into the afterlife. Hell, who knows, maybe he'll be greated by a bevy of virgins too.

I've finally completed the body of the Jacob Select, brown handspun pullover, and started the first sleeve.

Finally a decent picture that shows the color pretty well and a bit of the soft, heathery texture.

If I didn't hate the cold so much, I'd actually wish for a little more cold weather so I could get away with wearing this sweater when it's done.

I did very little on the Communion Shawl. Hopefully I'll have more to report next week.

All About Me
Shortly I will be publishing a "100 More Things About Me" (I've been working on it for a while).

Blogs can be so self-aggrandizing for the writer. Mine will continue to maintain that reputation.