Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Religion and Politics

Never being one to shrink away from controversial subjects, I've discussed politics, sex and religion before. Today I want to combine two of them.

The Religious Left
Most of you know I was brought up Catholic, and to a large degree, I developed a very strong spirituality in practicing that religion. When I reached adulthood, I realized that my relationship with God was a very personal thing, and explored as many different options in spirituality as I could find.

What I found (which is no big discovery), is that being a good person and living within my own concepts of personal integrity is all that is necessary to live a fully satisfying life. For me, this does include prayer, meditation, charity, honesty and integrity and a slew of other values I hold dear.

Despite a majority of citizens who passionately care about important issues, I see this country as a place which includes increased levels of capital punishment, polarized populations of very rich and very poor, healthcare needs that have raised our infant mortality rates to embarrassing levels, a failing penal system with a recidivism rate that is untenable, a government awash in self-serving corruption and a hawkish desire for war. I can't help but ask myself, "Has this country lost all sense about its purpose as spiritual beings?"

I don't have any issues about mixing God and politics, but when the elimination of the separation of church and state bring us to a time where we're more concerned with abortion than feeding our poor, or executing our criminals than helping our children grow up to be educated, productive citizens, my frustration is beyond description.

I urge you as progressives or as democrats, or even as conservative republicans, to be thinking people when it involves our society at large. To take as much action as you are able to make this country be a place of promise, and one that meets your own personal ideals of integrity and love.

Current Knitting
I finished picking up all the stitches for the border of the Accidental Shawl, and until I cast off and block this sucker, a decent picture will be hard to get.

It turns out that I only had to pick up 822 stitches. I used an approximation to determine how many to pick up based on the number of rows. If I end up with a ruffle instead of a flat border, I will be more forethoughtful next time.

Other Fiber-Related Activity
This past weekend, I finished sandwiching and basting the second of the two pillow tops. I also started the machine stitching for the three straight seams I have to sew, but the bobbin ran out in the middle of the first row of sewing.

This weekend I'll try my hand at hand quilting. I will try stitching on a swatch first.

The quilting guru, Liza Prior-Lucy, has offered her services to show me how to do this, but I have decided that the back of the first pillow is so dreadfully messed up, that I'd prefer to hide my shame, and use this whole project as a learning episode. They're only pillows fergodsake, so I'm not concerned that my stitching be perfect.

New Fiber Site
Reader Mama-e, has set up a new site to allow folks to display, sell, give away, or swap their stash. I thought the idea was an interesting one, although why someone would want to de-stash is beyond me.

Check out her site here.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Franklin writes, "Please, enough with the spinning. You are giving me Wheel Lust."

Sarah is right dear, it's a lot easier to just give in. Just borrow a wheel, or see if you can rent one. You know you have thousands of adoring readers who would be glad to send your roving from their stash. Now how could the be bad....When I count to three, you will be wide awake, wide awake and feeling refreshed...1...2...3.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Who Is Alan Smithee?

This past weekend, Thaddeus brought home the newest extended version of Dune on DVD. Being a big David Lynch fan, I was surprised to see the name "Alan Smithee" credited as the Director. Huh?

Alan Smithee is Maligned
I've come to find out that when a director feels that the studio has bastardized his/her movie, they can request that the Director's Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television change the director's name to Alan Smithee as a way of saying they don't like the overall result of what the studio has done. Wikipedia has a brief summary of the origins of the tradition.

Current Knitting
I started picking up stitches for the border, but haven't made a lot of progress.

I'll post a progress report in my next entry.

Other Weekend Fiber Feats
I was just about to say I had finished one bobbin of the Blueface Leicester and start the second of three, but I just couldn't stand to not have it completely full before starting the next one.

I sweater I'm going to weigh an empty bobbin, and the full bobbin to see just how much fiber these bobbins hold. It seems like there has to be a pound of yarn on this one, but I know it only seems that way.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Duffy asks, "Have you been able to keep up on the latest news on GLBT Knit and Charles formerly of Wayne?"

I just went and read all my deleted e-mail from the GLBT KnitList, and found out what you're talking about. For any of you who remember Charles from Wayne, PA, he had recently moved to Paris with his partner, but unfortunately had to return to the states to deal with some form of cancer.

Prayers from those who believe in them, I'm sure would be greatly appreciated.

To Filibuster or Not To Filibuster

Now that our mighty senator Kerry has announced a filibuster, I'm worried that he may have put the Democratic party in some debt.

The Democratic Party Needs Balls
I would LOVE to see a filibuster of Alito's nomination vote keep him from being appointed. He will be awful for this country in ways too numerous to count.

However, if they don't have enough votes, I can only hope that the Democrats who supported this action (thanks, Hillary) stand up and say it was still the right thing to do. It seems progressives have become the eunuchs of the political world.

With all the corruption in the current administration, we should be in a good position to regain one or both of the houses this year, as long as they don't go all milktoast on us.

Current Knitting
I finished the length of the Accidental Shawl this past weekend.

It's about 62 inches long now, and I'm hoping to add about 5 inches on all sides, making it a six foot long shawl after it's blocked.

I'm gearing up to pick up stitches for the border now. I'm not sure how many I'll need to pick up, but my bet is that it comes out to be close to 1,000.

Knitting Questions
I've been using a P2Tog while I work on this garment back and forth. Since I'll be doing the border in the round, does anyone know what is the equivalent of a P2Tog from the right side?

Is it SSK or K2Tog? Or does it matter?

I've asked this before and gotten all sorts of different answers, so I'll be interested to here what the experts say.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Concerning all the excellent feedback on the quilting stitch, Marilyn asks, "Are you getting the idea that the quilting stitch isn't as easy as you might have thought?"

Yes, very much so. I read through two descriptions of how to do it, and I understand it, but I will definitely take Duffy's tip and try this out on a swatch first. Thank you all for the cautions and the advice.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


That's one of the qualities I hope to see in a president.

Unfortunately, we get a president in this country who can't stutter out anything but a moronic response to a simple question about a movie because the movie shows a love affair between two cowboys.

I long for the days when we had a president who could boldly say the words "gay" and "lesbian" and yes, even "transgendered."

If you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, Mr. President was questioned by some guy that sounds like Gay Al from South Park about what he thought of the movie Brokeback Mountain. If Gay Al can intimidate our mighty leader, we're all in trouble.

Current Knitting
I've made some additional progress on the Accidental Shawl.

And again, a closeup of the stitch pattern:

I was very glad that Marilyn pointed me to the mitered corner section of Heirloom Knitting. I had read that section briefly, but now I'll need to study it carefully to put a fine corner on my shawl.

Self-Made Man Update
If you didn't see Norah/Ned Vincent on 20/20 or Good Morning America or The Colbert Report, you should be able to catch her tonight on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

Having known about this book for over 2 years now, I'm continuously amazed at how well-received the book has been (and not because it's not well deserved).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding hand-quilting the pillows, Marilyn asks, "Do you know how to hand-quilt? It's not like making a running stitch. Make sure you have a thimble."

No, I don't know how to hand-quilt yet, but one of my books has instructions with a lot of pictures. I'm glad to know in advance I'll need the thimble. Thanks.

Jay and Gina both ask for me to tell the goat fucking story.

No one asked me to regale you with the tales of the balding spot. I'll agree with Franklin, that I should let you keep whatever shred of innocence you have left, and leave the goat story untold.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Failed Blog Topics

If you've ever written a blog, you'll know what it's like to shuffle through your mind for a topic that will interest the general readership. More specifically, you'll have a slew of blog topics that just didn't make it for one reason or another.

My List of Blog Topic Rejects

Hiny Hiders
Yes, did you know there's a brand name of bathroom stall partitions call "Hiny Hiders". I thought this was particularly funny and might make an interesting blog topic for the scatalogically inclined, until I googled it and realize how many folks have already blogged about this. Someone actually wrote an "Ode To Hiny Hiders." Who would have believed. I didn't think I could add any more to the opus of works on the subject.

The Goat Fucking Story
I have a very funny (and true) story from a friend that is way too graphic to write into a knitting blog. As a mini-personality test for Franklin, I asked him his thoughts on whether I should blog about it when we met back in October. He passed with flying colors saying as nicely as possible that I was out of my mind.

My Balding Spot
For all my life I've had such thick and full hair, as have every man, woman and child for the last five generations in my family. But somehow, I've started to thin on the top of my head. I figured a little of that brown spray paint I saw on television would cover it right up, but also thought it was lacking in interest as a blog story unless there is a knitted solution.

Various Movies I've Seen
Similar to the books I read, I sometimes feel compelled to talk about some of the movies I see. I've found that there aren't many folks that have a similar taste in movies to me, so I've opted to exclude this topic from blog entries. Besides, I was discussing the reasons I didn't want to see "Walk The Line," with a friend of mine, and she actually hit me because I said I didn't want to see it because it looked as boring as the movie "Ray." I guess that was a pretty popular movie, but I thought it was flat and uninteresting.

My Favorite Restaurants In The Albany Area
This topic just screams "HOW MUNDANE!!!" But I will give you this clue. If you ever visit the Albany, NY area, and you want to eat at a good restaurant, stick to Italian. While there are other types of restaurants that are extremely good as well, your chances are better with the Italian eateries in this area (and I don't mean chains like Olive Garden, Buppa di Beppo or Macaroni Grill).

There are a few more choice topics I've censored, but I thought you might like the opportunity to glimpse a little more about how my blogging mind works.

Men Knitting Survey
Reader Heather (Stitch Witch) up here in Albany is doing research for a book and would like the input of male knitters. She's asked me to post her survey (it's in MS Word format) and ask male knitters to fill it out and send it back to her.

Click here for the survey form.

Quilting Progress
After posting about the mini-quilts that I was planning on quilting and then turning into pillows, Thaddeus asked me why I didn't make them big enough to cover our existing throw pillows for the bed (25" x 25"). So I went back and added some fabric to the tops of the mini-quilts.

The outer most red fabric is just the backing that I'm planning on using (that won't show, since it will be inside the pillow.

I've also basted together the top on the left with the batting and the backing, and it's ready for quilting. Since I plan on doing some straight-line quilting on parts of it, I think I'll do that first using the sewing maching, and then hand quilt the remainder. That way I'll get out all my mistakes that can possibly be made in one mini-quilt.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mama-e states, "I watched Norah's feature on 20/20 and was so intrigued. i can't wait to pick up her book. I am in awe of someone who has that much courage to venture into the world of the unknown."

Actually, the fact that she took the time to make sure each subject she writes about could recognize the value she brought to their individual situations through her technique of portraying herself as a man, was the courageous part. Her writing is inspirational as hell.

Kathy asks, "Joe, honey? Sweetie? Personal friend o'mine? That cone of yarn looks awfully large...will there be any left after your shawl to give to your good friend...me?"

I usually don't address Kathy's begging comments, but I have to admit that I will definitely have WAY more yarn than I need from this cone, I will probably be sick to death of working with it and I did get it free. If you really want it, I'd be glad to send you whatever is left afterwards.

Addressing Kathy's begging, Marilyn asks, "And exactly what will you do with it if Joe gives you the leftovers? I think he should demand a battle plan from you before he even considers it."

Yeah, Kathy...what will you be doing with it?

Finally, Enjay comments about the Accidental Shawl, "What about picking up stitches along the side and knitting the same pattern as an edging? I think it would look understated but give it a bit of interest."

This sounds like a great idea. I want whatever I do to be a true border, so I will need to do some mitered increases on the corners, but I think I could manage that.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hoist By My Own Petard

I know, I have amazing disdain for the folks on the KnitList who kvell over an actor that knits, but I live vicariously through the author of an incredibly successful book. What kind of hypocrisy is that?

Update on New Book
Some of you may have seen the 20/20 interview with Norah Vincent. More of you may have seen her book on the COVER of the New York Times Book Review this past Sunday. Her book, Self-Made Man, has become a sensation. Currently around #22 in sales on Amazon, which I find amazing.

Seems worth kvelling about to me. I got a chance to finish the book this weekend, and it is better than the hype.

Norah's partner, Lisa, who is a knit friend and comments frequently on this blog, was shown a few times on the 20/20 segment as well.

Current Knitting
I'm continuing on with the Accidental Shawl in the unknown yarn.

The picture sucks (hopefully next entry will have a more detailed picture of the lace), but it gives you a sense about the size of the shawl so far. I have quite a bit to do just on the length, and I still have to pic an appropriate border to give it the width I want.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Accidental Shawl, Liz asks, "What kind of edging do you think on the shawl? I'm having trouble picturing one that would do it justice."

I'm thinking something almost as simple as the lace pattern that I'm currently working on. Mhairi is right, that the simplicity is what makes it elegant. I really just want to give it more width without any additional complexity.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Grieving Process

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm going to miss Sandra Day O'Connor.

Say Goodbye To Judicial Balance
With the impending appointment of Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, it seems evident that judgements like the Oregon suicide ruling will be a thing of the past.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that states have the authority to regulate medical treatment of the terminally ill, making a case of assisted suicide in Oregon a huge precedent for folks who care about the diginity of this country's terminally ill.

The best part is that the ruling was considered a "fuck-you" to the Bush administration, specifically former Attorney General John Ashcroft. The court said they improperly threatened to use a federal drug law against Oregon doctors who prescribe lethal doses of medicine to dying patients who request it.

Despite Alito's promises to have no personal agendas, I can't help but think he will be a pawn of the assholes like Ashcroft, who feel they can bully anyone.

It was good to see that Justice O'Connor could at least keep the bullies in check.

Current Knitting
The Accidental Shawl is continuing, and I find that the pattern stitch is easy, and yet looks great.

To give you a sense of the scale of this garment, the needle in this picture is five inches long.

I'm thinking that this portion of the shawl will block out to about ten to twelve inches wide, and that the border will have to make up the difference to make it a full-width shawl.

Quilting Update
I've been working with a finisher in Northeast Pennsylvania on how she will finish my quilt top. She's already basted the quilt, and picked out the thread, although she is finishing up another quilt, so the work on my quilt will be delayed a little.

She sent me pictures of her work, and it only made me more excited about getting my quilt finished.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my quilted pillows project, Michelene asks, "(I)f you use these pieces as minis, and quilt them to a backing, why would you then want to attach them to a different backing in order to make a pillow?"

I think Jo answered this question in her comment accurately. I really want pillows, but I want to have the front of the pillows be quilted, so I'll need to have two backings. The quilt backing can be any old boring fabric, since it will be inside the pillow. The pillow backing will need to be more interesting since it will show when I throw it at Thaddeus or Gage.

Also, thanks to everyone who commented on yarn subsitutions. What a great knowledge-base this group has.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Work is crazy, but that's part of the reason I didn't post much last week. I'm trying not to let it stop me this week.

Weekend Fiber Activity
While swatching and accidentally starting a shawl, I got a chance to sit in front of a nice fire.

I also used this blaze to destroy a bunch of documents with personal financial information on them, since I don't have a home shredder. It was fun burning all that stuff.

During the times when I wasn't knitting or spinning (not very much spinning occurred), I decided to use my initial quilt block mistakes, and try to make pillows.

I'm thinking that I will use these two blocks and make miniature quilts, with a backing from fabric that I don't care much about. Then I will use the mini-quilt as the top of a pillow. I figure this will give me a little bit of experience with the quilting part of the process.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Via e-mail, Leslie asks, "I am wondering if you could direct me to some resources to understanding how to substitute yarns, I understand gauge and weight but I am wondering more about durability for instance Weekend Knits calls for classic elite montera to make seat cushions p32. Patterns don't seem to give much information about why (if there is a reason) a certain yarn is chosen...is montera better for this project than say, manos, or lamb's pride or lopi?"

This is an excellent question, and I have to say, I don't know of any good way, other than swatching and comparing possible substitute yarns. Using on-line yarn databases, you would be able to try and most closely match the attributes of a specific yarn, or read how others have used it.

If you look at the database entry on WiseNeedle for Montera, you'll note some of the substitutes others have used. Another example is on Yarndex. If you try to find other yarns that are the same weight, fiber content and ply, you might be able to

Monday, January 16, 2006

Uninspired and Subjectless

Yes, both my knitting and my blogging have been struggles lately, so I forced myself to do some swatching this past weekend.

Awash in Swatches
A friend was wearing a cool sweater last week that I thought I could have some fun with by trying to make it using a drop-stitch technique. I was thinking that the new Jaeger Merino in the celery color would have been perfect.

It wasn't. The swatch was so bad, I didn't even take a picture.

Then I decide that I wanted to try and do something with the Lambs Pride worsted in that deep sky blue.

I didnt' get two inches into the swatch before I realized I am going to have to do something different than I had hoped with this yarn, else it will turn out looking like a badly designed handknit.

Finally, I turned to a large cone of very fine yarn that was sitting next to my t.v. watching chair. I don't even know what the yarn is made of, but it feels likes it's some kind of soft wool. I just started a simple lace pattern with it.

It seemed to be just the right weight of yarn, mixed with a great texture, and I was enjoying knitting the pattern design.

This was a keeper! I decided to just continue working on this "swatch" and make it long enough for a shawl. I will have to put a very wide, lace border on this to make it wide enough for a rectangular shawl, but that should be fun as well.

I'm glad to finally have a project I'm enjoying again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Promotional Philosophy

A number of folks have asked me to promote their products or web sites or stores or books, and historically, there hasn't been much rhyme or reason to whether I mentioned these requested promotions or not.

My General Thinking
First of all, I definitely don't want my blog to be a vehicle for advertising, and would never accept paid advertising or pop-ups or banner ads.

I figure it cost me less than $100 a year to maintain this site, and the benefit I personally get from maintaining a blog is definitely worth more than that to me.

On the other hand, folks let me know about various knitting sites, products or books that I find extremely interesting, and I want to share those with readers. Here are some examples of items I have opted to promote on my site:

The Knitting Vault - I have designs I personally sell there, and I love this idea.
Blogs I read regularly - I keep links more as a convenience for me than to promote.
Maran Illustrated Knitting & Crochet Book - The publishers sent me a free book, and I thought it was an excellent beginners' book.
The new book, Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent - Written by the more and more famous lover of a friend and blog reader.

I have also supported a couple of charitable causes on other blogs that I thought were very worthwhile.

What I typically don't promote are requests from folks who I don't know very well, who are only hoping to profit from being mentioned.

Latest Promotion
Reader Doug, made an incredibly generous offer during the end of the Knit Blog Awards. While I couldn't accept his offer, I wanted to let readers know about his work.

Doug makes some incredibly beautiful handmade wooden knitting needles.

You can check out his work here

At one point, I will take Doug up on his offer to use a set of his needles as an award gift for some contest.

Current Knitting

Currently Interfering With My Knitting
Since I've been integrating reading back into my schedule, I have just finished The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer.

This was a very compelling read, and I loved how the author brought the insight of a young boy into his memoir. His characters are animated very successfully by his writing style and the story is very rich with feelings and an intimate view of his life. While sometimes I felt his story became unfocused or scattered, overall, I would highly recommend this book.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn comments, "So was WEBS fucking incredible or what? Obviously you made it into the warehouse. What's the weight of that tweed coned yarn you bought?"

Yes, WEBS is fucking incredible. I went there last year during their post-Christmas sale which was sheer chaos. The coned tweed is a lightweight DK which is exactly what I used to make the Aran zipped cardigan in dark olive a little while ago. I'll have to check to see whether either or both yarns was plied for weaving or not. Thanks for that tip.

Regarding the Post Office increase in postage, I find it difficult to believe that folks missed the point. The point is that Congress approved what equates to a tax increase, and did it by hiding it in the cost of postage. I've never been one who appreciates "me too" comments, but I also don't appreciate when the point of what I write about is diverted to something entirely different.

Not one person I've spoken with about this or corresponded with has been aware that all those two cent charges will add up to a $3 Billion pool that Congress has appropriated. I'm still amazed that the media lets this spendaholic government get away with such shit.

And that is the point.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Reader Influx

Whenever the number of hits to my site surge like they did yesterday, I try to figure out what made them go ballistic.

Knit Blog Winner Backwash
It turns out that the double winner of two Knibbie awards made a minor reference to my site in her post yesterday, and sent hit numbers through the roof. I can't imagine how many hits Stephanie gets to her site on a daily basis. It must be staggering. No wonder she won two of the awards.

My Visit To Mecca
Thaddeus' sister lives in Springfield, MA. His niece goes to school in Northampton, MA. His family was very generous, and gave me a gift certificate at Webs America. We paid a visit to my version of Mecca.

I ended up bringing home the following:

This is a lovely blue, black, sage and light gray, merino roving. I was most impressed with Marilyn's spinning of her dark blue, tweedy yarn, I wanted some of my own. I can only hope that it comes out as well as hers.

This is over 5 pounds of a deep charcoal tweed yarn that I had to have. Don't ask me what I'll be making with it, because I don't know.

This is a bag of Jaeger Baby Merino in a celery color. I thought this would make a great color blanket for a baby (more for the parents, as I truly believe the baby rarely cares about color).

This novelty yarn was very inexpensive, came in great colors and I thought would make great craft fair scarves or trim on children's garments.

Suffice it to say, I went over my gift certificate amount, but I love everything I got.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the post office rate increase, I think sometimes readers get it in their head that I'm complaining about something I'm not.

I like the U.S. Post Office. Like MOG, I think the USPS has done an incredible job of making their services more streamlined and useful. I don't mind paying 39 cents to send a letter. I think it's a bargain. What I HATE are the assholes in Congress who increase our taxes in every way possible, except for the Federal Income Tax, and then spout off about how they've LOWERED taxes. Such bullshit pisses me off, the Post Office definitely does not.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Postal Rate Increase

For those living in the United States, the rate to send a first class letter just went up two cents to thirty-nine cents.

Postal Increase Reason
Was the increase to allow the Post Office to remain profitable? No.
Was the increase to give postal workers increases for doing so well lately? No.
Was the increase to help fix or re-build old post offices around the country? No.
Was the increase to make up for the increase in cost of gas and shipping costs? No

The U.S. Post Office has been doing extremely well in the last few years. They are managing their expenses and doing a fine job competing with other package delivery companies. In fact, the U.S. Post Office has stated that they didn't really need a postal increase until at least 2007. So why did Congress mandate an increase?

As revenge!

Yes, Congress is pissed off about something that the Post Office did back in 2003. It was determined that the Post Office pension fund was being overfunded by three billion dollars annually, and the government wanted to spend that money, but the Post Office used it to defray costs and remain profitable without increasing postage rates instead.

So, in 2003, Congress passed a law stating that the Post Office would need to put away an annual escrow amount of three billion dollars, that the Congress would determine how to spend later.

In essence, Congress bypassed their inability to spend three billion dollars a year in contributions to the Postal Pension fund by requiring them to put up an escrow account that the Congress can "manage."

Yes, your Congress just increased taxes by about $3 Billion in the form of postal rates.

Snakey bastards.

Current Knitting
I was away this whole weekend, celebrating a delayed Christmas with Thaddeus' sister, brother-in-law and niece. For those of you who remember where Thaddeus' sister's family lives, you'll know that tomorrow's blog entry will include some purchases.

While away, I only took the kid alpaca blanket (in the "faintly fecal" color) as my mindless driving and t.v. watching project.

Even though this was my only project, I didn't get a whole lot done on it.

Overall, I've probably done about 16 inches of this blanket. It will eventually be about 60 inches when done (if ever).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my Christmas gift from Charles or a shearling vest, Gary asks, "Do you know where Charles bought the shearling vest? My partner says he has to have one."

Yes, Charles buys a lot of our gifts from the same place, and this year, he stayed consistent for my gift. He bought it at "Territory Ahead." It's called the "NASEBY SHEARLING VEST."

Congratulations To Knit Blog Award Winners

Voting ended on this past Friday, and I'm pleased to announce the winners.

Congratulations and thanks to all who participated in this event.

The Winners

Best New Knitting Blog - See Eunny Knit - http://www.eunnyjang.com/knit/

Best Technical Knitting Blog - Grumperina - http://www.grumperina.com/knitblog/

Most Entertaining Knitting Blog - Yarn Harlot - http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/

Best Overall Knitting Blog - Yarn Harlot - http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/

Winners will be receiving each of the buttons above to post on their blog, and the HTML to link to the list of official winners.

Special Thanks
For those of you who aren't familiar with Franklin's talents, in addition to knitting, photography, writing and cartoon drawing, he was also the designer of the winners' buttons displayed above.

I can't thank him enough for so graciously offering his talents to this project.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Final Days of Voting

Get in your last minute vote for the Knibbies since tomorrow is the last day for voting!

Knit Blog Awards
The KBA's have been quite a learning experience, both in terms of technical web knowledge and how these things work in real life.

Expanding knowledge for me is always a good thing, so I'm glad for the experience.

Other Fiber-Related Happenings
Throughout the week I had off between Christmas and the New Year, I did quite a bit of spinning on the heretofore unidentified tan roving.

I have to say, that either the bobbins on the Robin Wheels are fucking HUGE, or I'm spinning thinner than I ever have (or a combination of both). I have never taken so much time to fill up a bobbin with singles, and since I'm planning on triple-plying this yarn, it's going to take forever. Forunately, I love this fiber, even though I couldn't remember what kind of wool it was.

I considered calling the business where I bought the roving, and ask them if they could help me identify the fiber, since I had cleverly slipped their business card into the bag of roving. When I pulled it out to get the phone number, I cleverly checked to see if I had written down the fiber content on the back of the card.

Lo and behold, I am spinning with Blueface Leicester!

What a relief.

Even More Fiber-Related News
For you vegans and PETA people reading, I wouldn't recommend going any further.

I got an incredible Christmas gift from my friend Charles. He bought me this incredible shearling vest.

The outer layer is amazingly soft and supple, and the inside is incredibly soft and warm. This is truly an incredible gift.

Readers' Comment/Questions
Gail mentions, "I can't find a general email address so hope this won't be horribly irrelevant here.", and then goes on to post a link to the V&A web site for a database of non-garment knitted items.

First of all, for any of you looking, there's an animated e-mail button underneath my picture at the top of the web site in case you want to e-mail me. Second, I normally don't like when folks promote their own special interests in comments. Third, I love the V&A site, and am glad Gail posted it, since I would have put it in a blog entry anyway.

Regarding local yarn stores in my area, Cynthia asks, "Can you recommend any other stores in the area? I hear there is a shop in Peddler's Village (is that a real place?), but have yet to find it."

Three yarn stores that are very close to me:

Gazebo Knitting - Closest yarn store in Logan Square Shopping Plaza on Route 202
Knit Twist and Spin - Route 202 and Aquetong Rd
Knit Inn - Peddler's Village, Lahaska PA (on Route 202 southbound side, just North of the Fire House in Lahaska)

The last one isn't very far either:

Knitting to Know Ewe (unfortunate name) - 2324 Second St Pike (Route 2322), Penns Park, PA 18943

And for general information, Peddler's Village is just the name of the shopping area, not the name of the town.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Newly Adopted Local Yarn Store

There are now at least four yarn stores within 30 minutes of where I live. Fortunately, one is now my favorite.

Marilyn and Joe's Big Yarn Adventure
Over the holidays, Marilyn escaped her family for a day of lunching in Lambertville and yarn shopping in New Hope. Being around Marilyn is always a fun experience, since she and I share so many similarities in our tastes. The day was a lot of fun.

The highlight of her trip to my area of the World, was our visit to the new yarn shop, Twist Knitting and Spinning (Route 202 and Aquetong Road in New Hope, PA). It was nice to see a yarn store owner who could be both personable and knowledgeable, I think she's going to be very successful (at least if Marilyn and my purchases were any indication).

The shop carries a very carefully selected mix of knitting, spinning and weaving supplies. Yarns include Manos, Noro, Cascade and Dale, among others. She also carries a beautiful selection of Chasing Rainbows fibers for spinning. She has a surprisingly large selection of spinning wheels, and also carries some beautiful wood spinning tools made by local artisans. Overall, the store is a very balanced mix of well-chosen inventory.

While inventory seemed limited, I was most impressed with the caliber of the merchandise. I ended up making the following purchases.

The colors of Manos always tempt me. Now that I've made two of the Vineyard Throws, I want to make more. They make beautiful gifts. So I also bought this.

Finally, since I've never spun silk, and Chasing Rainbows does some amazing colors, and Marilyn wouldn't let me take her two bundles of Bombyx silk, I ended up buying one of my own.

Here's a closeup to give you a little better sense of the deep, saturated colors.

I was also finally able to find an Addi needle gauge. I had the metal Susan Bates gauge, but I had given away my Addi plastic gauge, and had a lot of difficulty finding a new one.

All-in-all, a very positive experience. Now we just need to get them a web site.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to Knit Blogging

While you can continue to vote for your favorite Knitting Blogs, I will go back to my regularly scheduled menu of knitting and trying my best to foil the efforts of the evil neo-cons.

Gifts From The Kiwi
James, the knitblogger extraorinaire of New Zealand sent me a gift, that I dutifully waited until Christmas day to open.

What could be better than sheep soap, a New Zealand picture planner and chocolate all wrapped in handknitted wrapping paper? I must admit that the chocolate is already gone (the chocolate was Belgian and the passion fruit was from Kiwi-land) and it was spectacular. Milk chocolate (my favorite) and smooth as silk. Thank you James, you're the best.

Current Knitting
I had off the week between Christmas and New Year, so I took it as an opportunity to finish up loose ends. In addition to completing the lengthening of the wool/hemp sweater (body and sleeves both done and grafted and all ends woven in), I also finally sent off the quilt to be finished. I'm hoping to hear from the finisher some time this week to see how she wants to quilt it. My idiot-knitting took the form of the kid alpaca bedspread/grave blanket.

I also decided to use up the remainder of the Brooks Farms yarn for two additional scarves.

Using a modification of the Koigu Cross Stitch scarf pattern, I was able to get two 5 or 6 foot long scarves for each skein of Four Play yarn. At $16 per skein ($8 per scarf), I think that's a great deal, especially when you consider most of the novelty yarn scarves I make cost between $8 and $12 per scarf, and they're no where near as soft and nice looking as these.

Speaking of which, Carol has a great moot court argument on the cost factors of acrylic vs. natural fiber argument. As always, her argument is very compelling.

Readers' Comments/Questions
There has been a lot of nattering about the fairness of the Knit Blog Awards. I can only say that this year's awards were a good experiment in pulling together something as big as the awards have already become. I'm glad I had off a bit of time over the holidays to be able to administer it all.

Next year will be a different format. I liked the nomination process this year, so I will probably keep that the same, but the awards will be granted based on a vote by a committee, who will be selected based on their ability to evaluate the nominated blogs on the specific criteria of each category. Now I just have to figure out how to select the committee.

To those of you who recognized the value of the Knit Blog Awards, thank you. I too was glad to get to see some blogs I had never heard of, some of which I will need to consider posting to my outbound links.