Sunday, April 30, 2006

He's Back

A nice, relaxing weekend at home with Thaddeus has been extremely therapeutic.

It's amazing how just three weeks away from home can make me feel so lonely and sad...even when I have planned for it for over a month.

During the last week of the three week "go-live" of the project I'm working on, work continued to be extremely stressful and in addition, I was longing more and more to be home and with Thaddeus.

The funny thing is that we didn't do anything special when I finally got home. It turned out to be a relatively routine weekend. But it did more for this guy's soul than you could possibly imagine.

So glad to be back to a more normal work/home life.

Current Knitting
I did get more knitting done on the Faux Ribbed Sweater this weekend.

I'm up to nine and a half inches so far, and it's looking quite fine.

I'm still in a bit of a quandry as to which side of the fabric to use as the public side. Here's a couple of closeup pictures of both sides.

I'd be interested to hear opinions on which fabric they prefer for a simple man's pullover.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the handspun Blueface Leicester I'm using for my current sweater, Jacquie says, "Inconsistencies in spinning? Joe, that's as Republican a comment as I've ever heard. Inconsistency in spinning is the whole point. Handspun is spun by hand and feels like hands do, utterly delicious on the body. Is this sweater not for your lovie?"

Wow, that was harsh Jacquie. Obsessive/compulsive? Perhaps. Anal-retentive? Possibly. Overly concerned with details? Probably. But Republican? Ouch!

And in answer to your question, the sweater will be for both Thaddeus and I. It's the one garment that we can both wear the same size and styles.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Live Music

I have never had a very strong aptitude for playing or listening critically to music, but nothing moves me more than being present for a live music performance.

My Only Respite This Past Weekend
I ended up working most of this past weekend, but I decided to steal away some time on Saturday night to join a friend up in the Albany area for a musical performance at the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Albany, NY.

Two guitarists/singer/songwriters played to a very intimate audience of about 25 people, and they were both spectacular.

Jules Piper played a set of about 12 songs that were mournful, touching and deeply personal, especially in the small setting of the community center performance space. She is by far the hottest lesbian I have ever seen (could be it's because she's so boyish looking that I find her look so appealing).

I didn't see anywhere on her MySpace site where her scheduled appearances are, but if you can get a chance to see her perform, you will not be dissappointed.

The second act was another short set by Mieka Pauley. Mieka's music is just splendid. She uses a guitar to its best advantage and combines it with a voice that is incredibly beautiful. Her songwriting is inspired and I didn't hear one song from her that I didn't completely love. I don't know how we got so lucky to see such an incredible performer in such a small venue. She does have a schedule of upcoming shows on her site, and she's slated to be in Philadelphia tomorrow. I can only highly recommend the experience.

Both artists had CD's for sale at the show and I picked up all three (Jules had one and Mieka had two).

I know that the experience of live music isn't something explained well in writing, but I can only say that you won't be the same after seeing either of these two amazing performers.

Current Knitting
I actually got in some quality knitting time yesterday and added maybe another inch to the Faux Rib sweater.

I've been toying with the idea of using the "wrong side" as the "right side", but I've pretty much eliminated this idea. Here's a small closeup of the reverse side of the fabric.

The only thing I don't like about it, is that it shows inconsistencies in my spinning, and that is just plain unacceptable.

I Got Nothin'...

...nothing left at all.

When Blogging Is Hard
When I have the time to get a lot of knitting done, or I'm working on fast projects, or I have time to buy lots of new yarn, or when I have time to meet up with other knitting friends, or when I have time to review knitting magazines or when I have time to follow the idiotic politics of the current conservative assholes. That's when blogging is easy.

When I find it difficult to fit in time to pee and I haven't see Thaddeus for over two weeks. That's when blogging is hard.

Current Knitting
There are two things I try to always schedule into my day. Knitting and reading. So even though I haven't been able to allocate much time to either, I have made some progress on my knitting since last I blogged.

I know it's not much (and the picture is awful), and I'm hoping that this week will offer a little more free time, but I am still very much in love with this project and the yarn I'm using.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Squeezing In a Fast One

In between crazy hours of work, I'm trying to update the site as often as I can. Political commentary will be excluded until the end of the month.

Current Knitting
You can't imagine how great it is to have a simple, enjoyable and elegant project to be working on. I can fit in a few rows here and there, and progress seems to be constant, despite my unruly schedule.

Believe it or not, this is about three times as long as yesterday's picture, although perspective doesn't seem to show that very well.

Cheap Yarn Purchase
Yesterday, they let us out of work a little early at 6:00 p.m. I tried to make arrangements to meet up with friends at an Indian restaurant that I had been to a couple of Monday's ago, but none of my friends could make it on such short notice.

I decided to go anyway, only to find that the restaurant's schedule had changed, and they're no longer open on Monday's.

Not my day.

They had a Dollar General store next to the restaurant, so I decided to browse around. I love those stores.

I found this pile of crap-yarn.

It's Paton's Voodoo yarn. Black, sheep-like yarn that I thought might be interesting in a novelty scarf. And at a dollar a ball, I had to buy 15.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Patron Of The Local Arts

I've mentioned it before, but Thaddeus and I buy almost all of our art from local artists. We've been fortunate to have a friend, Nora, who has been supporting local artists in the Bucks County area for her whole life.

Belated Birthday Gift
This past weekend, we went out to eat with Nora, and she gave me this incredibly beautiful and thoughtful gift.

These are hand-crafted, rosewood needles that she picked up from a local art store in New Hope. They're US10 needles, and they feel incredible, so I'll have to swatch up Carol's yarn on these needles to see if I can come up with some way to use both knitting related gifts at the same time.

I don't know if I'll be able to handle the hedonism of it all.

Current Knitting
I got started on the new sweater, using the handspun Blueface Leicester.

It's going somewhat slowly based on two factors. My schedule (which had me working even yesterday, on Easter) and the fine gauge of the yarn/fabric. At over 7 stitches to the inch, and doing the equivalent of garter stitch, the progress is slow, but very satisfying.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fredda asks, "Was that a serious "Yay" for the 200 stitches??"

Absolutely. You know how much I like fine gauge knitting. I even considered going down a needle size, but I really like the softness and loft of the fabric on US3's.

Marilyn asks, "Why are we both working in technology? There must be some reason besides the money but I'll be damned if I know why I like it."

This career has been extremely good to me, and actually, so has this project. I usually go through hellish times once or twice a year as I move from project to project. In the last three years, this is really on the second time where life got so stressful. I figure it's worth the money.

Regarding the Bird's Eye Shawl, Karen asks, "What yarn were you using?"

This is one of those questions where a little Google search would have resulted in the answer, as this question has been asked before (see the Google search of my web log at the top left of my web site). It is the merino laceweight yarn from Skaska Designs.

Regarding the Blueface Leicester, Anne asks, "What brand of ball winder are you using? One of those Strauch winders?"

No, just one of those cheap, plastic, Royal winders. This is almost the largest I can make using it, so it does have its limits.

And finally, regarding the new sweater, Mhairi asks, "Looks like it will knit up beautifully - is this a Spring sweater , or a wait until Autumn (Fall)?"

Definitely a "wait until Autumn" sweater. It will be a thinner fabric, but still yet quite warm...I think.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Stress, Stress And More Stress

The "go-live" stage of a system implementation project is always busy, chaotic and filled with major stress.

This go-live, is going extremely well, but trying to keep it on schedule is taking up an enormous amount of my time. When I'm not working, I'm sleeping and vice versa.

So, please excuse both the quantity and quality of blog postings on this site.

Current Knitting
First of all, the Bird's Eye Lace shawl is starting to become fraught with mistakes, and I fear I will have to pull out all the current work on that project, and pick it up again when I can concentrate a little more closely on it.

I know...I feel sad too, but it really has to be done.

I decided to use some of my homespun Blueface Leicester to start on my next project.

Spinning Excitement
I wound the first HUGE hank of Blueface Leicester and measured the length at the same time.

This major ball 'o yarn turned out to be about 930 yards and 9.6 ounces. This equates to about 1550 yards per pound, and would classify the yarn as a light sport weight.

I decided I needed to swatch it up immediately, and used a US3 needle and the faux ribbing stitch pattern to come up with this lovely piece of fabric:

I'll be using the stitch pattern at the top of the swatch.

I can't tell you how soft and silky this swatch feels, and I can't wait to get started on the sweater. At about 7.25 sts to the inch, I will need ot cast on almost 200 stitches just for the back of the sweater. YAY!!!

I also plied the second, not-so-quite-huge hank of Blueface Leicester, and washed and hung it to set the twist.

I won't be able to wind/measure this hank until I get back home at the end of the month after go-live. I'm hopeful that the yards per pound is approximately the same and that my spinning/plying is somewhat consistent with this batch of yarn.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Extended Birthday

One of the benefits of being away on your birthday is that the day gets extended for weeks sometimes.

Birthmonth Celebrations
Thaddeus and I got to have a great dinner at a local restaurant and I got an excellent shirt. Thaddeus has excellent taste, and I love the shirt. It's short-sleeved, so when it gets warmer, I'll model for blog readers.

I also arrived home late Friday to this package in the mail.

God, it's nice to have blog friends that are as talented and creative as Carol S. The yarn is a spectacular combination of golds and yellows. I can't wait to knit something up using it. I'm not quite sure yet what garment merits QueerJoe Gold.

Current Knitting
I did get a LITTLE more done on the Bird's Eye Lace shawl.

With my current work week, I don't expect to get a lot of knitting done this week. Nor blogging. But I'll try to fit in a few quickies.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Hannah asks, "I got your blog address from someone on Knitters Review Forums. He/She said you knew of a place to publish patterns (individually)?? I just finished (almost) my 2nd pattern and would love to make a little money by selling it (it's super cute, I promise!)."

As most of the readers here already know, I publish my patterns on The Knitting Vault. Setting myself up as a designer and uploading my pattern designs was easy, and I get constant sales of my patterns without any further work. I can't imagine why everyone isn't publishing there.

Friday, April 07, 2006

More Bush Bullshit

30-September-2003 - "President Bush's chief spokesman said Monday that the allegation that administration officials leaked the name of a CIA operative is "a very serious matter" and vowed that Bush would fire anybody responsible for such actions."

Now we find out in March 2003 that Bush authorized Cheney to authorize Scooter Libby to release top-secret information.

Not Only Are They All Liars...
...but they're bad liars.

So much for the "moral authority" of a government with integrity.

Current Knitting
I've had limited time to knit, but I have been able to get a couple of rows more done on the Bird's Eye shawl. I'll update with a picture in my next post.

Gorgeous Colors
Blog friend, Carol S. is doing some amazing things with yarn and spinnable fiber. She's doing handpainted yarns and roving and selling them on Etsy under the seller name Black Bunny Fibers.

The bad news is that every time she puts up a new hank of yarn, it gets purchased almost immediately.

Is there anyway to get notified immediately when a seller posts something on Etsy?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Frankin asks, "I've heard the Bird's Eye lace pattern can be a bit tricky to establish - did you find it so?"

Yes, extremely tricky. I cast on 231 stitches three times after failed attempts to get this pattern stitch going. That's when I switched to using waste knitting first, so I could always just bring it back to 231 stitches, and also have something to hold onto during the first few rows of knitting.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Letting It In

As an update, the circumstances of my birthday only got worse. The gale force winds and rain turned to gale force winds and snow, and my client announced that they needed the entire project team to work until midnight yesterday.

Your birthday wishes and personal wishes from family and blog friends were truly appreciated, and for some reason meant a lot more this year than in prior years.

Thank you all.

Best Birthday Present
Actually, the nicest part of my birthday was that Thaddeus had hidden a birthday card in my car, so that I would have something to open. It was nice to feel connected even though we're so far apart.

But second place, was Tom Delay's personal birthday gift to me.

I can't tell you how great it is that that slimey bastard is slithering away in disgrace. Good riddance to one of the nastiest pricks that has ever been elected to national office.

Current Knitting
Despite having to work until midnight last night, I did get some additional work done on the Bird's Eye lace shawl.

If I ever finish this one, it will be pretty spectacular.

Interweave Crochet
I went out to buy the most current issue of Interweave Crochet because friend, Kathy Merrick has a blanket design done in Koigu solids in this issue.

Kathy did a Kaffe/Brandon-inspired crochet blanket that is exquisite in terms of colors. It was worth the purchase price for that design alone.

Which is a good thing, because that is the only design in the entire magazine that's worth anything. The stark contrast between Kathy's design and the other dreck in the magazine is striking. Interweave tries to bastardize even Kathy's design by calling Koigu "superwash," but don't believe them. It holds up in the wash, but it is definitely NOT superwash.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Duffy writes, "Bother with Dunkin'; revel that you have a HONKIN' big hank of handspun!"

This was one of my favorite comments, and I was even able to hear it in my mind's ear with an accent based on how she wrote it.

JoVE writes, "The plus side of your horrible experience might be that smart people are actually getting jobs that require there smarts instead of being forced to work at DD to pay the rent."

The sad part is that directly across the street from this place is a large New York state college where you'd think there would be scads of eager, bright young folks who would want to make a little spending money.

Marilyn asks, "Your yarn is absolutely gorgeous. I forget--what are you planning to do with it? I've got MDS&W on my brain. Are you going?"

I'm going to make a faux-ribbed pullover with the newly spun yarn, as long as the swatch makes a good fabric. As for MDS&W, I don't think I'll be going this year, but that could change as well.

Michelene posits, "Joe, I work in education (though I'm not a teacher),and I'm more inclined to believe the state of parenting in this country has caused a generation of morons."

Excellent point, and I agree wholeheartedly with this, and I should have put the blame where it belongs, thanks.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

God, I'm Getting Old

I know I'm getting old when I start thinking that the state of education in this country has caused a generation of morons.

Birthday Blues
I wake up to gale force winds and rain whipping against my hotel window. My room is cold and dark.

I decide the only cure for a lousy-starting birthday is to stop at the local Dunkin' Donuts and pick up a dozen muffins for my coworkers.

The experience was less than satisfying. The drive-through guy made me repeat my order three times. When I got to the window to pay, the cashier had no idea what I had ordered, so I repeated it a fourth time. When I arrived at work, I taste my "light-no-sugar-repeated-four-fucking-times-coffee" and find it is filled with sugar...blech! I decide to drown my woes in a big blueberry muffin and when I open the top box of muffins, two of them are burnt and dry looking and the one I pick out is dented on the bottom, as if it was dropped on the floor.

Biting into it, I realized I picked a chocolate chip muffin...blech again!

I actually called to give the manager feedback on my experience and was met with defensive, annoyed responses that left me angrier than when I'd called. I can only be left to surmise that the available workforce for a place like Dunkin' Donuts doesn't offer very smart folks.

Thanks for all your happy wishes, let's hope they all make this day better.

Current Knitting
I completed a total of two rows on the Bird's Eye Shawl for a total of two complete repeats (16 rows total).

I am getting a little more confident with the pattern stitch already, so hopefully this will go faster and faster.

I am in love with the yarn. It is the merino laceweight yarn from Skaska Designs.

Other Fiber Activity
This past weekend I focused a lot on spinning. I finished the third and final bobbin of singles and began the triple-plying.

You'll note a couple of things. One, I'm plying on the Louet wheel, since I used up all three bobbins on the Robin wheel. Two, I set up my own lazy kates using boxes and knitting needles. It worked very well, and I finished the first bobbin of three-ply yarn.

I got to use my niddy noddy from Rhinebeck for the first time, and it worked wonderfully.

It seemed like I was winding yarn for hours, and I was thinking that niddy noddy's aren't very efficient. Until...I realized how big this hank of yarn was...9.6 ounces which equates to at least 900 yards, although I haven't measured it yet.

I put my razor in the picture to give you some perspective on how large this hank turned out. I washed and set this hank, and the resulting yarn seems to be between DK and fingering weight, but I'll have to swatch to make sure.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with how this spinning adventure turned out.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Anne asks, "Joe, have you tried a Woolee Winder? You don't have to stop and change hooks at all, just keep on spinning."

They don't make Woolee Winders for the Robin wheel, but I did consider getting one for my Louet. Given how fast I like to spin and how little I like to stop and change hooks, it would be a good idea for me.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hooray For Brooklyn, NY

It's difficult to be happy about a brutal hate-crimes conviction against a gay man in Brooklyn, but at least Brooklyn has a hate-crimes law, and the local community helped to bring the assailaint to justice.

Violence Against Gays
23 year old Steven Pomie was convicted on five counts, including first-degree assault and assault as a hate crime, for attacking Dwan Prince outside Prince's apartment in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn last June. Authorities said Pomie and two others beat Prince unconscious and kicked him in the head while screaming anti-gay slurs.

Prince was in a coma for more than a month but he recovered enough to provide testimony at the trial that helped convict Pomie on all counts. Prosecutors in the case were helped by the fact that several witnesses called police while the attack was going on.

I can only hope that Pomie's prison time (which could be up to 25 years) will allow him to be exposed to man-on-man love in a way that let's him understand how painful it can be to be a gay man. I'm all for teaching empathy.

Current Knitting
I finally made it past the first repeat of the lace pattern I have tried making three times. I'm working the pattern on 231 stitches, and I have ripped it out three times. I've made it up to 14 rows with the help of waste yarn, stitch markers and a row counter.

My real computer is having some issues, so I'm posting this from my work computer. My pictures of the lace knitting are on my other computer, so I've stolen a bad quality picture from elsewhere to show you kind of what my lace will look like.

The picture is awful, but so is the one of my lace, so it's about equal anyway.

This stitch pattern takes a lot of my concentration, and each row takes quite a while for me to complete. Hopefully it will speed up as I get more and more used to it.

Update - My real computer seems to be working again, so I'm updating this entry to include the lousy picture of the actual lace knitting

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol S. asks the snarky question, "What's the opposite of 'guy who updates his blog frequently'?"

The best answer I can give is, "Guy with a real life." With a weekend like the one we just had, I can't be expected to be sitting behind a computer.