Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Hectic Christmas Season

With last minute gifts to buy and make, and travel to Thaddeus' sister's home, I'm still trying to get a little caught up and organized.

I can juggle a number of things at one time, very successfully. But throw in one more ball than I'm capable of handling, and everything tumbles to the ground, and trying to re-establish a juggling rhythm can be very exhausting.

That's how this Christmas has been, now that I'm home and off for the week. Every direction I turn, I think, "I need to put away the gift wrapping," and then "The gift wrapping closet needs to be completed reorganized," and then "I need to finish my friend's sweater that was supposed to be done last Friday," and then "I need to take a picture of the sweater for the blog," and then "I should finish the first half of the button-band edging before taking a picture," and then "I need to find matching yarns to fix my brother-out-of-law's sweater," and then "I need to clean out and organize my yarn closet," and on, and on and on.

This is where I need to set up a to-do list, priortize the items, and start to work on one at a time. My favorite time management koan, "How do you eat an elephant?" always has the same answer. "One bite at a time."

Current Knitting
No, I wasn't able to finish my friend Nora's sweater in time for the Christmas dinner at her house this past friday. At ten in the morning on Friday, I knew I wouldn't be able to get it all done, so I just kind of put it down for a while.

I have finished all the colored knitting for the body and sleeves, and most of the first half of the button band border. I also pieced together the left front strips and the left shoulder. I only have the other half of the button band border and the putting together the right front and sleeves and sewing on the border.

Fortunately, Nora is in New York City until Friday, so I will be able to get it done before I see her next. She knows she has another gift coming, but doesn't know it's a sweater.

Christmas Gift
I've been remiss in my lack of organization to be able to publicly thank Franklin for a wonderful Christmas gift he sent.

Yes, two perfectly thoughtful gifts, and a personal note (which shall remain personal). I've always wanted the knitting lifeguard t-shirt, and now I have one. The roving in the bottom left of the picture is a beautifully dyed, superwash wool from Lorna's Laces. The colors are spectacular, and perfect for men's socks (which is very difficult to find, in my opinion). I can only hope I do this roving justice in my spinning.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my post on how much I love Canada, Ted asks, "Gosh. Now what prompted this outburst of accolade?"

I was working with a client employee, who I like very much, and then even more when she mentioned she grew up in Canada. It reminded me of how much I enjoy the Canadian sensibility.

Regarding the underwear pattern, Zaz writes, "(I) found no photo for the underpants, it does help me to actualy look at the thing to get guidance, do you happen to have a photo?"

I posted a photo of me modeling the underwear a while ago, and it still continues to get dozens of hits every day from google search. Here is the picture of both the long and the short underwear from the pattern booklet where it originally came from.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The World Needs More Canadians

Is it just me, or are Canadians some of the nicest, smartest, most down-to-earth folks on the planet?

I know, I know...I'm very biased by saying this, and perhaps only genuine Canucks should be able to boast about their own virtues. But I've worked with folks from around the world. I've done some travelling. Overall, I like most groups of people I meet, just fine. But I always enjoy being around Canadians more than most. Perhaps I'm just more comfortable with the, completely generalized, calm, pragmatism that I usually see, or their comparatively lack of pretense, but I have to say, I think I've only met one Canadian (that I was aware was Canadian), who I didn't like very much...and then, of course, there's Celine Dion...but I've never met her.

Now, if the World could just work a little harder on this global warming issue so I could live up there without freezing my ass off, my life might be complete.

Knitting Progress Report
I've been knitting as fast as my hands can knit, whenever I'm not working.

I'm two thirds through the front of this garment, and while I've made a lot of progress, I'm still almost certain I won't make it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Araucania sweater, Carol writes, "You're an amazingly fast knitter; you'll probably finish it."

Actually, I'm not a very fast knitter, although I spend a lot of my time knitting, so I get a lot done.

Mel asks, "Any plans to hang at Webs with mamacate while you're in her neck of the woods?"

I had every intention of heading over to Webs, but time really hasn't permitted me to get over there. I have been to "Mecca" before, and I'm hopeful to get there sometime in February.

Sherry W. wrote, "I just have a hard time seeing how any religion's holiday decor is going to subjugate the unbelievers. I think there are more important things to fight over, like Creationism in schools."

Thank you for writing so succinctly exactly what I was trying to get across.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Keeping Christ Out of Chrissmas

Every year this issue pops up. Every year either the ACLU, or a non-Christian group, or some atheist group tries to have a nativity scene removed, and the Christian Wrong pounce on them for being Christ-haters.

It's Getting A Little Tired...No?
I don't have any problem with any of the groups having their own agenda on this non-issue. I believe that public expenditures for religious promotion are wrong. I also think it's a very slippery slope once you start allowing small displays of Christianity at the exclusion of non-Christians.

But for once, this holiday, I wish both sides would just just the fuck up about it.

I guess it's alread too late with the brouhaha over some group insisting on a Menorah at the Seattle airport.

It all reminds me WAY too much of the idiotic arguments that used to happen on the KnitList every year....

I personally hope everyone has a great Christmas...I'm planning on one.

Current Knitting
The weekend of "no joy" put a big dent in my knitting, and put me way behind on the Araucania jacket.

You'll note that I've been able to finish all the panels for the back, and assemble them all. I've also started the front, and made a little headway.

I still have the rest of the front to knit, the assembly of the front, two sleeves and a buttonband/collar that needs to be knit and sewn on. All by this Friday.

I think it's hopeless, but I'm pushing on as fast as I can anyway.

Current Work Location
These days, I'm working in Springfield, Massachusetts. Here is the view from my hotel room window on the 16th floor, overlooking The Connecticut River.

There are some very beautiful areas of Springfield, and some great restaurants. I'm lucky enough to be a little familiar with the city, since Thaddeus' sister, brother-in-law and niece live there, and we've been up to visit a number of times.

Even though I'm not working next week, I will be up in Springfield to celebrate the holidays with the out-of-laws.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Look

As Marilyn noted, I switched over to the new Blogger Beta, and since many of my pictures and links were stored directly on blogger (I had a premium account for a while that let me FTP files directly to my blogger directory), I realized I had to recreate my template.

New Era, New Template
Since all my blog link buttons disappeared, and the picture of me at the top of the page was also gone, I figured it was the perfect time to clean up the look of my site.

Converting over to the beta was a painfully long process, but I didn't have to do anything while my four-year old blog took almost that long to convert over, despite the fact that the blog was unavailable for an hour or so.

Switching over to a new template wasn't awful, but I'm glad I don't have to do it regularly. One nice part is that I had access to my old template HTML, so it was easier to recreate things like my blog links and such. Google Blogger makes it easy to pick a template that's close to what you want, and then modify it. It's a much more user-friendly process than what it used to be, but that may also mean there will be a lot more inane blogs out there, because it now takes much less technical ability.

Some things about the switchover that I wasn't overly pleased with, was that I had to recreate my hits counter (very important for a "hits whore" like me) and I also had to re-set up my picture. I also don't like how the new Google Blogger requires you to manage comments through their site as opposed to through Haloscan, like I used to.

Overall, I much prefer the look of the new site.

Losing Myself
The one activity that allowed me to forget my woes for a while was reading. I spent some of the weekend finishing my latest book

The Lighthouse by P.D. James was another mystery book in her line of Inspector Dalgleish stories. I'm not a big fan of mysteries, but this book had a wonderful location where it all took place, the character definition was excellent and interesting, and the plot was enjoyable, and provided a great escape for hours at a time.

Current Knitting
I finished strip number four and five and just barely started on number six. I'll post pictures in the next blog entry.

Monday, December 11, 2006

No Joy Today

I never realized how life could so easily be stripped of any enjoyment, despite knowing that these feeling will subside in time.

Sad Memories All Around
It became very noticeable how much Gage had infiltrated much of what I do when I'm home.

Lately, when I'd sit down at my spinning wheel, he'd insist on sitting on my lap, which is why this latest spinning project has been a little slower than they used to be.

Whenever I'd put down my knitting, I'd have to conciously make sure I didn't leave it anywhere where Gage could eat the yarn.

Projects stored in bags with tightly twisted paper handles were used as a teething toy for Gage (yes, he LOVED chewing on that twisted paper cording used for bag handles).

Each time I'd pick up my knitting this past weekend, or sit down to spin, or try to read a book on knitting, there were many unwitting reminders of my little guy. It's a good thing my current knitting and spinning projects don't require much concentration, because I didn't have a lot to spare.

Current Knitting
I did get some knitting done on the Araucania Jacket, but not a lot.

Yes, I finished the third strip and made a little headway on the fourth. I was hoping that I could get this sweater done before the Friday before Christmas to give to a friend of ours, but with six more color strips and two black strips and sleeves and a border, I don't know if I will make the deadline.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Many thanks to all who sent thoughtful words or prayers our way. Thaddeus read all the comments (as did I, but I always do), and the support from readers was soothing in many ways.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Goodbye Little Guy

I am overwhelmingly sad to tell you that Gage died yesterday.

A Big Void
Gage took up a very large space in our house and in our hearts, and his abrupt absence is already very noticeable. I am still going through waves of grief...more than I expected I would have if you had asked me last week. We adopted Gage through our local ASPCA when he was about 2 years old, and he was about 9 years old when he died.

About a year ago, he was diagnosed with a heart condition called feline HCM. Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of this disease is the possibility of blood clots, and yesterday a blood clot went into his femoral artery, blocking off all blood flow to his back legs. Knowing that Gage's life was about to end, Thaddeus said a loving goodbye, and brought him to the vet, and with more strength than I could have mustered, petted Gage's head while the vet anethsitized him and then put him to sleep. I was working in Massachusetts at the time, and in many ways I'm grateful that I didn't have to participate in the decision or the actual procedure.

Gage was well-loved in this house and had a very good life. I can only believe that the universe needed a bit more Gage, and required us to give him up to share his special qualities.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Craft Show Delight

Normally, Thaddeus and I aren't very fond of craft shows. Geese-shaped pieces of wood, badly painted with heart-shaped pieces of wood hanging from their necks, just isn't our cup of tea.

A Pleasant Surprise
A friend of ours sells handmade jewelery at various craft shows throughout the year, and she asked us to come see her this past Saturday at the Prallsville Mills Annual Holiday Craft Show. We felt somewhat obliged to go, so we did.

It turns out that there were some amazingly talented folks there. Jean Walton had some of the most beautiful women's jackets, and if I had any sense about what sizes women wear, I would have bought some of her work. Knitter friend, Sandy had some gorgeous crocheted/beaded necklaces. There was a woman who had spectacular handspun yarns (bulky, loosely spun singles) that she had prepared from fleece, and dyed and spun by hand. They were a little too expensive for me to justify buying more yarn.

Thaddeus found a wonderful wood carver and painter who made some amazing shore bird decoys. We were quite impressed with his painting (he admitted to us that he uses "oops" paints...the paints that home depot mixes for for folks who don't want them), so we ended up buying this little piece of handiwork/art.

He individually carved and painted each fish, and then hung them on a leather fish line with similar hardware to what a real fisherman would use (or so Thaddeus tells me). It was amazingly inexpensive, and even if it wasn't, we were pleased to be able to hang this in our house.

It sure beats a lawn

Current Knitting
I didn't get a whole lot more knitting done last client had an annual holiday outing that they invited me to.

Since I didn't have the first knitted strip, I pasted it in using my photo editing software so you could see them all. Obviously they were taken in different places with very different lighting.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gifts From The Other Side Of The Planet

Yes, James has been up to his yearly gift-giving, and New Zealand mail and U.S. mail have gotten my gift here much earlier than Christmas.

A Bounty Of Gifts
I always love the thoughtful things that James sends me. His gifts are usually either sweet tasting, sheep-related, New Zealand-related, or all three. And what's better is that he wraps the gift in handknitted packaging (this year's is amazing, no?). And what's best of all, is the nice note he writes personally each year.

This montage includes, a tea towel with New Zealand sheep breeds, a New Zealand pictorial calendar, sweets (both chocolate and heart-shaped candies), a sheep tape measure (where the tape measure is the sheeps tail), and of course the card and the wrapping (which is a gift in and of itself).

Is this man amazing, or what?

Current Knitting
I have completed a little less than two and a half of the strips (out of 10). I didn't have my camera with me, so I couldn't take a picture of it today, but I will in my next blog entry.

The colors of this Araucania are so rich and nice looking, I'm thinking about making a men's multi-color sweater with it as well. Reader Joan alerted me that Araucania is on sale at WEBS right now, and I'm only about 20 minutes from there at my current client.

Current Spinning
I'm on the last stretch of singles spinning with this multi-color merino.

I took a chapter from Ted's blog, and slipped a penny (U.S. penny) under some of the singles to give perspective on the size of my singles. Here's a closeup.

I am looking forward to plying this up and seeing the kinds of colors that subtly show through in both the yarn, and whatever I decide to knit with it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Karen writes, "I was just in New Hope this past weekend. Actually, I was in Wrightstown visiting a friend and found a lovely yarn shop: Knitting to Know Ewe."

Yes, I've been to that store a couple of times, and while it's a very nice shop, I have never bought anything there. I think they cater more to the more basic knitters, whereas stores like "Knit Inn" (Lahaska) and Twist (New Hope) are a little more high-end.

Marilyn asks, "I'll have to try Stevia. Available where? Whole Foods, maybe? Certainly not at my local ShopRite."

You'd probably be better off finding it at your local health food store, from what I understand.

Barb B. writes, "I just went on the plane with my knitting, Franklin. No one cared."

Yes, Barb, Franklin knows this. He was just trying to be witty and acerbic (or is that witty and Arabic?)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

Green Day
And I'm not talking about St. Patrick's day.

My hometown (New Hope, PA) has recently added an organic coffee shop, and they don't serve/sell anything that isn't natural and/or organic. They tell me they don't have Equal, only Stevia sweetener.

First there were white packets, then pink, then blue and then yellow. My preference had always been Equal, until I got the chance to taste Stevia. It is by far my favorite. It is very sweet, and it has no calories, fat or carbohydrates, AND it has no discernible aftertaste.

I am a fan for life.

Current Knitting
I finished the first strip, and I'm mostly finished with the second one as well.

I knit in the airport today for the first time in about four years. Fortunately, I can people-watch and work on this project, due to the simplicity.

Short Blog Entry Today
I don't have a lot of time to chat today, but I need to tell you about the craft show I went to this past weekend, and about a Christmas gift from New Zealand.

Both wonderful surprises.

I'll catch up soon.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let's Hear It For New Hampshire!

It's nice to find a state that is doing something to promote women's health.

Cervical Cancer Vaccine
Given the lack of news coverage on the fact that cervical cancer is caused by a virus (human papillomavirus — or HPV), it's wonderful news to read that the state of New Hampshire has decided to offer free vaccines for HPV to girls between the ages of 11 and 18.

For those folks that think that all vaccines have the potential for causing autism, or that vaccinating girls for HPV will make them more apt to have pre-marital sex, I would just say, don't let your daughters get the vaccine. If you're one of those people that says "I don't want to have my state taxes go towards free vaccines." I say, there are a lot of things my taxes pay for that are completely objectionable, so get over your selfish self.

I can only hope that New Hampshire is a trendsetter, and that other states follow their lead on this important issue.

Current Knitting
The Araucania jacket is coming along nicely (it looks like a badly knit scarf so far), as I've almost finished the first strip of 10 colored strips.

I've realized that this jacket will be approximately 3,000 rows of garter stitch in color and an additional bunch of rows in single color. I might have picked a more interesting project, after just having finished a mitered square project.

Current Spinning
I've done a lot of spinning on the third bobbin of multi-color merino singles, despite what pictures might indicate.

Oh look, I've caught Roomba making its rounds near my spinning...that clever little vacuum-bot.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Friend Kathy writes (with way too many question marks, I might add), "I know Carol pretends I don't exist and never did, but you??????"

She is referring to the fact that I didn't include her as one of the owners of Simply Knit in Lambertville. She was in fact one of the founding owners, and great designers of that wonderful yarn store. The reason I didn't include her amongst the owners, was that she had left before the final two owners decided to close down. I also didn't mention a fourth owner, Susan, for the same reason.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Raunchy Girls

If you think the blog title for today is just to get more hits, you are wrong (although, not an unfair assumption).

Girls Gone Wild
I heard a promo on NPR yesterday, for today's Fresh Air show. It was going to be a show about the "age of raunch" for women, and why women today would want to expose themselves in videos, such as "Girls Gone Wild."

I'm not a woman, and I don't presume to speak for them, but the topic of the radio show did pique my curiosity.

Most of the women I've seen in the advertisements for this silly video are attractive enough to entice sexual partners without publicly baring their breasts. I don't think these women get any money for flashing the camera. Other than perhaps shame and infamy, there is little fame or recognition for showing their tatas.

So why would they do it? Are they just drunk and easily convinced? Are they trying to show that they are unfettered by self-conciousness? Are they making a statement, such as my blog name, that tries to reclaim their body with an in-your-face display of their bust? Or perhaps, it's low self-esteem that makes them feel more accepted for doing it?

I didn't get to listen to Fresh Air, so I don't know what their hypothesis is, but I'd be interested to hear what others think.

Current Knitting
I finally decided to start work on a Carol Lapin design that I've had the pattern and yarn to make, for a few years now.

This is the beginning of one of 10 multi-color panels that will be put together as a coat when it's all done. I think this design was published in one of the "Simply Knit" book series, but I don't remember the name, and I don't have my books with me at the moment. The pattern was originally designed using Araucania yarn, and then adapted to Jamieson Shetland, so it could be published by Unicorn.

I'm doing it in the much more interesting and rich colors of Araucania.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the just-finished Aunt Dorothy jacket, Tricky Tricot asks, "What did you do with the collar?"

The neck shaping is done by adding two triangles at the top of the small squares. A simple crochet edging was done around all the outer edges as well, including the collar.

And to answer Ted's question, "You did a row of slip stitch crochet around the edge?"

It was actually two rows of single crochet around the front opening and neck and a few more at the bottom to get as much lenght from the yarn as I could.

Ronni writes, "I have a question. I used to go to Simply Knit in Lambertville and also used to buy fabulous sweater kits at stitches east.
Do you know what happened that they are no longer in business?"

I don't know for sure, and I don't have any juicy gossip about them. I too loved Simply Knit and their predecessor in Lambertville, The Tomato Factory. Carol and CeeCee were the owners of the store, and I think they decided it was time to call it quits, and retire. Nothing more interesting than that.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fiber Bitches

The sewing and knitting worlds include some of the cattiest, bitchiest people on the planet.

Button Search
I had to go into a neighboring town (Doylestown, PA) on Friday of last week. They have a large fabric/sewing store there, so I brought the completed Dorothy jacket, to try and find two large, interesting buttons.

I was met at the door by one of the rude ladies I've seen there before, who told me the store was closed (yes, closed on Black Friday), and she closed the door without further comment. I noticed signs that said the store was moving on December 4th, which I think is why they were closed.

Fortunately, I had a backup plan. I was going to stop at Twist, to see if Deb carried buttons. She does, so I pulled out my sweater, and got a few very nice "oohs and ahhs", and then started trying different buttons on to see how they looked. I mentioned to Deb that the sweater was easy because I had based it on Nadine Shapiro's design, at which point a customer in the store, who I've never seen or met before, claimed loudly that Nadine had stolen her design, and that she was shocked to see her sweater design show up in a Jamieson book.

Knowing Nadine, I'd have to say she's the last person who would steal a design, so I told the woman that Nadine and I had been to a Barbara Kerr seminar on mitered squares, and Barbara was probably what inspired Nadine to come up with her design. The customer claimed that she had worn her sweater to Simply Knit and Nadine had examined it closely, and then came out with her design. She did also admit that there are limited things that can be done with mitered squares, but her accusations of a friend still annoyed the hell out of me.

Fortunately, it didn't sour my feelings about Twist, because, as usual, I found exactly what I wanted there.

Aunt Dorothy's Sweater - Complete
I washed and blocked the sweater jacket, and then put on the buttons I found at Twist.

The buttons are done by a local woman who using felting techniques. I think the buttons add the exact amount of flair and contrast that I was looking for.

These last two pictures are the most accurate representation of the color of the Brooks Farm yarn that I've been able to capture on my digital camera. Pictures of this sweater often come out much more crayon-bright, when in fact, it's more muted and smokey in its colorway.

Current Knitting
I didn't feel like starting a new project over the holiday long weekend, so I worked on test-knitting my the pattern for the Celestine Shawl.

This was my second time through test-knitting, since I find it extremely difficult to proofread my own knitting patterns. I was very satisfied with the result, so I've posted the pattern design on The Knitting Vault, and Fredda has already gotten it put up on her site (if you ever considered getting the pattern for the Koigu Cross Stitch scarf, or any of my other designs, you can search by Designer Name = "DoublePointed"). I have a feeling that this pattern is going to be a big seller, largely because of the color of Carol's laceweight yarn.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

To all those celebrating the holiday today, I hope it's a wonderful day. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm Almost Done

Or as Thaddeus would say, "I'm almost finished...a cake is done, a person is finished."

Either Way, He's Right
I'm off work all this week, so I've been doing things like dental check ups, my annual physical (god, healthcare in the country sucks, getting my car maintained and working on fiber projects.

Current Knitting
I did finally finish the last sleeve of Aunt Dorothy's sweater.

I also seamed the shoulders.

Now I just have to attach the sleeves, sew up the side seam, find a couple of nice large buttons and do a simple crochet edging that incorporates button holes.

The end is clearly in site.

Current Reading
I also got the time to relax and do a little more reading completed.

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs is a frighteningly funny biographical book about the author's upbringing. What is both so frightening and funny at the same time, is the incredible chaos his life was as he was raised by a psychotic single mother, and then later by his mother's therapist, who is by far the craziest of the lot.

I think most folks would find this story to be mostly funny, but I have to admit, I worried for the main character and his friends all throughout the book. I've heard other folks tell a much less humorous version of being brought up by crazy people, and the results aren't always quite so positive as becoming a famous author.

I also found the writing to be simple and not overly sophisticated, so while the story makes the book worth reading, I wished it had been a bit more literary. You'll understand why this is if you ever read the book.

I can't imagine I'll go see the movie, but I'll probably see it when it's out on DVD.

Current Spinning
I've finally made it through the second of three bobbins with the multi-color merino.

I've just barely started on the third and final bobbin, at which point I will begin the much quicker process of plying the yarn.

Erssie writes, "You should see Daniel Craig in the screen version of Ian McKewan's novel Endurance, it is intense! You can also compare the buff with the buffer, before and after....this is getting confusing!"

I did, and Enduring Love, which is the name of the movie, is a wonderful film. Thanks for reminding me that Daniel Craig was in it.

Erssie then goes on to ask, "By the way, do tell me if you are a loose knitter."

No, I'm actually quite a tight knitter, but the London Beanie is a much smaller hat that doesn't have much ease, whereas hats for your friend's daughter are probably much looser than the beanie.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Best Bond Ever

A blond Bond? Can you take any more controversy on QueerJoe?

The Late Show
I just got to see the late show of Casino Royale at my local multiplex last night, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But moreso than being an enjoyable movie, I also thought Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond, did a fine job. I was also quite please with the bad guy in this one, "Le Chiffre."

This movie was a lot less gadgety and required a lot more physical activity from our hero. Other than the premise for the central poker game at the casino, I thought the script writing was very strong as well.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't my idea of an excellent movie, but it was a fun time.

Current Knitting
I didn't quite make my goal of completing the knitting of Aunt Dorothy's jacket.

I'm close, as I only have about 20 more rows to go, and then putting it together. This turned out to be an enjoyable, and relatively quick knit. The result is something I'm quite pleased with.

Readers' Comments/Questions
It was good reading about all your news pet peeves. I too despise "news" stories that center around the latest movie, or asking what the "average Joe" thinks about an issue. As someone I admire once said (and I paraphrase), "Opinions are like assholes, almost everyone has one."

Cara in Exile writes, "Yay, New Hope, we'll be more or less in the area at Xmas, anything happening then?"

The Bucks County Playhouse will be doing a stage presentation of "Miracle on 34th Street", and you might also want to catch the current Harry Leith-Ross exhibit at the New Hope branch of the James A. Michener museum. There's always the shopping and the good restaurants. If you like Mexican, I always recommend "The Blue Tortilla." It has the best guacamole I've ever had, and I don't even usually like guacamole. "Martine's" has re-opened in a new space, right on the river, and it's lovely. "Tastebuds" has changed chefs recently, but it used to be excellent, but I haven't been since the switch. And right across the river in Lambertville, I always enjoy "Andiamo" (make sure you order the butterscotch pot de creme if it's available for won't be disappointed).

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Liberal Media

When folks tell me that the news media is left-leaning, I have to honestly say I don't see it.

Possible Reasons
It could be that I'm so far left-leaning myself, that a left-biased media is still to my right.

It could be that I only look for instances of conservative news reporting, and don't notice the liberal reporting.

It could be that I stall too often on Fox News, which nobody could ever convince me is liberal or moderate.

Or it could be that the media is as rightwing as I suspect it is.

The latest example would be the main story of leadership changes in the House and Senate. The Republicans opted to vote in Trent Lott as the Minority Whip of the Senate, despite the fact that he was dumped as the Senate Republican Leader for making "racially insensitive" remarks.

Those remarks came at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, where Lott said:

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either,"

At the time Thurmond ran for president, he ran as a segregationist, and Lott never clarified publicly what he meant by "all these problems."

Despite this seemingly interesting controversy, I saw no mention of this in any television news broadcast. Instead, it appears they opted to discuss how powerless Nancy Pelosi was because she couldn't get John Murtha voted into the House Majority Leader position over Steny Hoyer.

I guess I don't know what sells advertising on news broadcasts.

Current Knitting
I did end up having to rip out the sleeve. The cuff was too wide, and I was fearing that I was going to run out of yarn unless I started it out a little narrower.

I've made a lot of progress on the first sleeve, and still hope to finish knitting this garment sometime this weekend.

Knitting Workshop - Barbara Kerr
For the folks that live near me, Barbara Kerr will be doing a knitting workshop on "Knitting Mistakes And How To Fix Them" at Twist, in New Hope, PA. The workshop is on Sunday, November 26th (the Sunday after Thanksgiving), from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The charge is $70 for the day, and you can make reservations by calling at 215-862-8075, or via e-mail at

This has been a public service announcement to support my local yarn store.

Interweave Knits - Holiday 2006 Edition
I picked up a copy of the Holiday issue of Interweave Knits. For the most part it's either boring or awful.

For US$7.99, there are a total of about 23 patterns, but most of the designs are for small, not overly complex things:

2 Scarf Patterns
Felted Fruit - Pears
Square Sachets (this requires a pattern?)
Heart Shape Sachets
Hat and gloves
Hat and scarf
Hat only
"Gaiter" (turtleneck-just the neck)
2 Sock patterns
Four Holiday Stockings
2 Mitten Patterns (open top, both)
Felted Purse
Baby Ponchos
Small Lace Wrap
Ribbed Cardigan
Crochet Slippers
Teddy Bears
Lacy Kerchief Scarf

Definitely not worth the price in my opinion. I like the cover design of felted fruit by Nicky Epstein, and I thought the Ribbed Cardigan by Kate Kuckro
was very nicely done. Some might like a couple of the holiday stockings as well, but other than that, nothing worth even looking at.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Both Thaddeus and I were grateful for all the nice wishes for our anniversary. Kathy was quite right, that our faces look very shiny in the picture, but I will have to blame that on the flash of our friend's camera. Neither of us has an oil slick on our faces.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Anniversary To Us

Speaking of same-sex domestic bliss, today, Thaddeus and I celebrate our 23rd anniversary.

For What It's Worth
Most folks will tell you that communication is the key to a successful relationship. I tend to believe it's more a matter of setting expectations.

The media represents love and intimacy as a warm, feel-good type of thing, where two rational people talk out their feelings in a caring way. No wonder folks have such unrealistic expectations for their intimate relationships.

Intimacy and openness can be very awkward, uncharted territory. It can be painful, embarrassing and/or humbling. It often doesn't feel great. It is, in fact, work. Consider how it is for your partner to hear you chatter endlessly on about your latest entrelac sweater, or how to diplomatically tell your partner how much it pisses you off that she lets her toe-nails grow too long. It ain't all pretty.

So if expectations are that a relationship will be all warm caresses, wrapped in a hand-knit Manos afghan in front of a crackling fireplace, there will be significant disillusionment.

When I first starting taking pilot lessons, the plane would sometimes lurch and bump up and down in mild turbulence. Without any frame of reference as to what was normal, I had to find out through experience what kind of movement was normal, and what kind I should worry about.

Similarly, in relationships, we get very little frame of reference for what kind of turbulence is normal, and the time it takes to figure it out is a part of what it takes to build a strong relationship.

To the love of my life, "Happy Anniversary, Thaddeus."

Current Knitting
Moving along on the sleeve of Aunt Dorothy's jacket.

I've done about 120 rows of garter, and it will take about 170 rows for each sleeve. Even as I continue, I'm questioning the width of the cuff (it might be too big) and how quickly I'm increasing.

I may have to take out the sleeve and re-do it.

Other Anniversary
This coming December 8th, I will have been with my current company for 10 years. Since my company has a "Service Recognition" program, I got to choose a gift from an on-line catalog, which has already arrived, and I'm more thrilled than I can tell you.

Yes, I know it's way too practical, but I love my gift. It's a Roomba Discovery robotic vacuum. This particular model will bounce off walls and furniture and avoid cascading down stairs while it picks up amazing amounts of cat hair and spinning/knitting fibers. When it's done, it returns automatically to it's base, and recharges it's battery for it's next assignment.

I am in total love with this new little gadget, even though Thaddeus is the one that used to do all the vacuuming.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Contentious Debate For My Blogiversary

I'm glad that after four years of publishing this blog, the readers still open my eyes to new ideas and better ways of stating long-held beliefs.

I still believe this blog has one of the most interesting, intelligent and creative readership of the knitting blogs. Thank you for participating as much as you do.

Usually, when controversy occurs in the knitting world, I just shake my head and think, "How's knitting for godsakes."

Political/Religious Debate
I wish I could feel the same when it comes to how this country is run, but I just can't.

Evidently, neither can some other readers...I've never seen such verbose comments, but I enjoyed the interaction. It gave me a much clearer sense about why I feel as I do about the bible, religion, queer rights and politics. I also feel as though I understand more where folks like Susan are coming from.

I disagree with much of what Susan believes, and most specifically, her comment that if folks don't believe the bible was written through divine inspiration, then we were talking past each other. If what she means by "talking past each other," is that we wouldn't be able win the debate, then I do agree with her. However, hearing the rationale for her conviction was very eye-opening for me, and while I still hold true to my beliefs and ideas, I was glad to finally have a somewhat better understanding of hers.

I was also grateful to have my ideas and beliefs so eloquently described by folks who think more like I do.

Thank you all.

Current Knitting
I'm happy to say, I finished the front of Aunt Dorothy's sweater, and it looks quite fine if I do say so myself.

I have also started on the first sleeve, and I'm hopeful to finish the sweater/jacket by next weekend.

Weavette On Steroids
I got a newsletter from Hill Creek Fiber Studios, and saw a picture that looked like an overgrown Weavette tool.

For those Weavette lovers, like me (he writes with pride), check out their site.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Liz asks, "Do you think that by not allowing gay marriage in this country, that it is a violation of civil rights?"

I do. I am denied many significant legal and financial rights that are given to all legally married citizens of this country. It would be nice to have the community blessing for my 23 year relationship as well.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It Sucks To Be Hated

This is some asshole cheering the vote count to ban gay marriage in Oregon.

What I Will Never Understand
Why do they care?

Is it because they fear we will take over the country with our bohemian, wanton ways?

I don't want that much responsibility, thank you very much.

Is it because it threatens heterosexual marriage?

I promise I won't marry any straight men. And besides, Britney and K-Fed are a much bigger threat to marriage than Thaddeus and I will ever be.

Is it because they fear for our immortal souls and don't want us going down the path to eternal damnation?

I think it's crazy for people to ride motorcycles without a helmet, but I think it's even crazier that you have to legislate mandatory helmet wearing. In the same way, why would folks want laws that legislate the prevention of self-damnation?

Is it because they hate us, and don't want us to succeed in any way?

Based on the look on that guys face above, I'd have to think it's mostly that.

Current Knitting
I finished the left-front of Aunt Dorothy's mitered square jacket, and just started the right-front. I'm very pleased with the pattern. It's well written and easy to follow. Nadine created a nice design and wrote an impeccable pattern.

A progress picture will be in the next blog entry.

Current Spinning
I often think when I post progress pictures of my spinning, it doesn't look like a lot of progress has been made.

But whether this picture shows any progress or not, I did spend a lot of time spinning this week. I want to try and finish this bobbin in the upcoming week and start on the third and final bobbin of this spinning project.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Karla asks, "Are gays looking to have Christian marriages? I can understand how they (Christians) would be upset about that, because it's stated quite clearly in the bible that a man and a woman are the ones who marry and procreate. Right?"

Actually, there are a number of Christian sects in this country that don't interpret the bible as you do. Some Christian churches here would be glad to marry same-sex couples if they were legally allowed to do so. Except in some of the more archane sections of the Old Testament, I also don't know that the bible says that only men and women should marry, but I'm not a big bible person.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Election Day!

I hope.

The Power of Friends and Family
In my early voting days, I used to be a naive, idealistic zealot, volunteering my time to causes such as political candidates who were anti-abortion (Chris Smith of New Jersey was a newcomer to politics back then), and other pro-Rebublican candidates.

I know...hard to believe.

One day, I went early to one of my regular a twelve-step meetings, and there was a young, vibrant lesbian there and we got to be discussing politics. She made a lot of sense in what she was saying, but one of the things that stuck with me, and changed my personal politics forever was her viewpoint on abortion and civil rights. She basically said that if I cared about civil rights, and the right to choose about one's own body was taken away, it wouldn't be long before other rights were taken away as well.

Mostly, it made me realize that I could be against abortion, but moreso against taking away a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. And that's the way I am today. I don't like abortion. I think it's an invasive, emotionally difficult intervention into the natural cycle of a woman's body. However, taking away abortion as an option, is a much worse thing to do to women and our society.

The reason I talk about this, is, I also realized that day, that opinions could be swayed by talking one-on-one with someone who cares about public issues.

Last week, I took my mom out for her 75th birthday. I asked her if she was planning on voting...she was. I asked her if she was planning on voting for Santorum, and she said she was. I told her what that man thinks about the GLBT community. I told her what he's done to our civil rights and what he would try to do if re-elected. I told her that she was voting for man who truly hated me and everything I stood for. She said she'd reconsider.

I then asked my sister to reinforce these things with my mom, and she did. Last I heard, she's voting for Bob Casey.

Do your part to let friends and family understand the impact of who they vote for.

Current Knitting
The big mitered squares for the left-front of Aunt Dorothy's sweater are finished, and I've started working on the smaller squares.

As Marilyn noted, some of the pooling in the colors have a nice effect on the sweater, hoever, my pictures of this garment are, by far, the most unflattering pictures of a garment I've done so far. Marilyn would like this garment much better in person than from what she's seen in my poor pictures.

Current Reading
Being at the bottom of the barrel in my bookcases allowed me to read a very fun "gay Western" that I've owned for years, but thought I would hate.

Rattlers - Dakota Series #3, by Cap Iverson, is a well-written, enjoyable, light fiction. The story is appealing, and the characters are compelling. Do I think this book should be studied as great literature?...uh, no. Did I enjoy brainless reading?...yes. I'm putting together a book order, and I'm going to see if I can find the first two books in this series.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol asks, "Hey Joe, did you ever hear that old rule of thumb for yarn estimation: 1/3 for the back, 1/3 for the front, 1/3 for the sleeves?"

Yes, that's the rule of thumb I was using to prove out 500 yards for the back, 500 yards for the front and 500 yards for the sleeves. In some of the men's sweaters I've made with fitted sleeves, the sleeves have taken up more than a third.

Also, check out Carol's guest-blogger entry, especially if you're interested in knowing more about how to use Qiviut.