Friday, September 29, 2006

A Moral Dilemma

You find yourself living in a new area, and by chance, you find a new hairdresser that does an incredible job and charges virtually nothing for her appointments. Do you tell your friends?

Sometimes making a recommendation is easy. "Go to this yarn store", or "buy this yarn", or "purchase this book", or "check out this new web site". None of these resources are likely to run out because of a recommendation, even if made to thousands of people.

However, recommend your favorite restaurant or give a tip on how to find the best parking in a popular area, or tell friends about your inexpensive beautician, and you risk making them less exclusive, and possibly less available, and sometimes even more expensive. Especially when you have a blog that gets read by about 500 people a day.

One example of this, was a local orchard that sold incredible cider and fruit that they grew on their property. When we first started going there, you'd pull up a rutted driveway and park on the grass right in front of the shack that they used to sell their stuff. It was dark and dingy and had a swinging bare lightbulb above a rustic wooden shelf. They used a calculator and a cigar box as their cash register.

Fast forward five years, and all the New York tourists that come to this area on the weekends have heard about Solebury Orchards, and it's impossible to park and get checked out at this place anymore, and often the best fruit or cider is sold out quickly. I keep thinking the next time I go there, they'll have bar code scanning to speed up the process of checking out.

Current Knitting
I finished one whole 28-row repeat of the edge stitch pattern on the Celestine Shawl.

The combination of limited knitting time and a new stitch pattern to get used to has slowed down my progress a little on this design.

Current Spinning
I've made slow and steady progress on the multi-colored Merino from Ashland Bay that I purchased at Twist a while ago.

I'm almost finished with the first bobbin of three, so I can triple-ply the singles. I still have a long way to go.

New Magazine
I've always been a fan of Spin-Off Magazine. It never tries to be a glossy national magazine, which I appreciated. Oftentimes, I wish the Xmen and Interweave would be a little bit more, well...homespun, since usually their designs are often at best, folksy.

This issue has an intriguing article on a simple weaving technique for which the sample project is an interesting looking woven bag. There is also a very well-written article on using machine knitting fabric for dyeing yarn. Excellent idea.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the flea market find of crochet hooks, Katrina writes, "And the hooks look so shiny! Did you have to clean them up or were they like that when you got them?

They looked great when I got them. The prior owner used a cylindrical glass jar, like something spices might have come in, to store the needles.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Tao of QueerJoe

It never ceases to amaze me how I always end up being exactly where I need to be in life.

Living With Beauty
Whenever I assess my life, I am always very grateful for all that I have and my life circumstances. I live in a very bohemian, artsy town that is filled with tons of intelligent and creative folks. I have many friends who are involved in the arts and even more friends who are associated with knitting and fiber crafts.

I didn't plan it consciously, but I seem to have ended up exactly where I want to be in life.

Current Knitting
I've made very little progress on the Celestine Shawl. I'm working on a new lace stitch pattern, and it's a lot slower than the stitch patterns I used on the main body. Hopefully, I'll have finished at least one repeat of the edge pattern by the time I post next.

Flea Market Find
I can't tell you how excited I am about what I found at the flea market today.

Among a bunch of cheap junk, was a small jar containing some of the smallest crochet needles I've ever seen. The smallest is a number 13. I also never knew that some of the Bates crochet hooks came with metal covers for the tips. That's what's at the top of the picture. All of these metal hooks for $1. I couldn't believe my luck.

QueerJoe Reading
I just finished my favorite book so far this year. This is not a book I'd recommend for everyone, but I think Franklin would absolutely love this book (so I think I'll send him my copy...if he's at all interested). The book is The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst.

The style of writing combined with the storyline is just brilliant. I thought there was some flaws in the plot, but I still want to read
other books by Alan Hollinghurst.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Reader Knit r up asks, "Do you actually finish what you start?"

I probably finish about 90% of what I start. If I decide I don't want to finish something, I'll typically pull it apart and put the yarn back in my stash. Like I always say, knitting doesn't take patience (like most folks think), it takes persistence and perseverance.

Quilt Guru, Liza says about the new Kaffe Kaleidoscope, "Thanks for mentioning our new book. I think it is the best one yet."

If you knew Liza, you'd be surprised that she wrote this. She is usually very self-critical, but I have to agree, the artistry in this new book is extraordinary, and like all Kaffe's publications, very inspirational.

Leticia writes, "I am a Thaddeus fan. Would it be possible to put a picture of him once in a while. He is adorable for letting you knit with passion, so is my hubby."

There are a lot of huge Thaddeus fans out there, and you're right, he is incredibly supportive of my fiber obsession. I will try to get more pictures of him posted.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's About Fucking Time...

Nice to see there's someone on the Democratic side that still has a backbone.

Thanks Again Mr. Clinton
As the idiots at ABC tried to blame President Clinton for letting Bin Laden go free, and at the same time, our whimpy congress gave away all authority for interpreting the Geneva Convention to the President, It was great to see the former President Clinton was still able to give Fox News a little shit this past weekend, and set the record straight.

While Mr. Clinton was blamed for being "too obsessed" by Bin Laden and his terrorist activities, and Bush did NOTHING for the first eight months of his presidency, now they try to spin it that Clinton was the reason Bin Laden is still free. Ridiculous.

And now, even politicians in congress that I thought had a backbone, have forfeited any right to enforce the rules of the Geneva Convention by writing legislation that basically says, "not my job." While I didn't agree with many of his opinions, at least McCain used to have a spine. Now he's just another lap dog to this moron we have in the White House.

When the next American soldier comes home (or doesn't come home) after being tortured and brutalized because each country's president now has the right to interpret "Common Article Three" of the Geneva Convention, how will they try to blame Clinton for that? This article includes provisions that prohibit "outrages upon personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment." This new law makes the term "Putting our young men and women in harm's way..." much more serious.

Current Knitting
In addition to getting to see the spark was still in Bill Clinton, I also reached my goal of finishing the main part of the knitting on the Celestine Shawl.

This section is about four feet long, and now all I have is about six inches on each end of the shawl in a third pattern stitch. Is five feet long a good length for a woman's shawl? I could make it longer if I wanted to extend the end sections.

Curmudgeonly Visit
Marilyn and Kathy came over this past Saturday and we all went to lunch (Thaddeus included). Then we made our way over to Twist (Thaddeus excluded) for some fiber shopping.

Here's Kathy and Marilyn shopping frantically.

I bought some Cascade 220 in a slightly heathered, very dark charcoal color.

That's 2200 yards, and I'm not sure what I want to do with it, I just wanted it. Then I bought some more of the multi-colored roving from Ashland Bay that is similar to what I'm currently spinning, except in a brighter colorway.

I was thinking that I'd like to spin the next Ashland Bay Merino somewhat thicker and use Navajo Plying to try and get some decent color variations in the yarn. The current spinning is fine enough where the colors all blend (which is good too).

New Kaffe Quilting Book
I don't know how Kaffe and Liza do it, but they put out book after book completely filled with amazing quilts. The new book is no exception.

Go to Liza's site to order a copy and check out the fabric packs link to see some of the quilts in the book. If you even think you might want one of the fiber packs, you might want to consider ordering it. After only a few days, the book is generating a huge demand for the kits (and honestly, when you see the book, you won't wonder why).

The new book has got me thinking I need to start a new quilting project.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Gays Out Of The Military

It wasn't bad enough that "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" was enacted, but even worse, they don't even live up to their side of the bargain.

We Ask/Don't Tell
How would you like to work at a job where you could never discuss a recent date, or your husband or your children, or a vacation with family or buying a new car, for fear your employer might find out that you were heterosexual? That's what "Dont' Ask/Don't Tell" initially set up as an untenable law.

In the years since its enactment, a number of gays and lesbians have been kicked out after specifically being asked about their sexuality and either refused to answer or answered honestly.

Did anyone catch the Jon Stewart interview on this issue recently? Check it out on Andrew Sullivan's blog.

Current Knitting
I'm up to row 340 on the Celestine Shawl. I'm hoping the next picture I post will be the completed body of the shawl, and I'll have started working on the end section. It's ambitious, but I can be hopeful.

I had to stop at the grocery store yesterday, and found these two magazines on the racks.

Interweave Crochet has my friend Kathy's hat design in it, so I needed to buy it. I don't know what compelled me to buy another Vogue Knitting ("Hobo chic?...give me a fucking break.).

I found three things in each magazine that I liked well enough to mention on my blog.

Interweave Crochet
Believe it or not, I found a very nice design by Mari Lynn Patrick called Cinnabar Coat. I don't usually like bulkier crochet, but I thought the design and shaping on this was quite well done.

Again, another crochet technique I'm not overly fond of is granny squares. But Valentina Devine uses them very well by selecting great colors for her top call Boho Blocks Cardigan.

Finally, there was friend Kathy's hat design. Looking at it, I was amazed it wasn't done in knitting, and then I read the text and realized that was her exact goal. This hat is a classic, and any kid the age of the model would love to have this hat. Very current.

Vogue Knitting
Sasha Kagan has a very interesting (although hard to tell from my picture of a picture) shawl that I think is very fine. Mix up a bunch of Rowan yarns, and I guess it's hard to go wrong, but no one does it better than Sasha Kagan.

Except maybe Brandon Mably. This vest is subtly beautiful. Again, Brandon's sense of color is offbeat and yet very appealing. He is becoming one of my favorite designers lately.

Finally, I thought this design by Wilma Peers was very nicely done. She selected perfect yarns and did the center panel shaping extremely well.

Thaddeus' Mushrooms
Thaddeus went in search of a mushroom from his childhood that he calls "popinki." His sister makes a soup with it, so he was looking to find some for her. I'm not a big fan of that mushroom, but I am a huge fan of this:

I know this mushroom as "Hen of the Woods", but it also goes by the Japanese name of Maitake, and the Latin, grifola frondosa. We just had some for lunch today, sauteed in olive oil and butter with just a little salt and pepper. They were heavenly.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Where Do You Draw The Line...

...when it comes to separation of Church and State?

Tax Exemption For Churches
I have never been overly comfortable with special priveleges for churches. I might even say that I think churches ought to pay taxes just like any other organization. But, since I don't really have a say in that issue, when are churches participating in activities that would legally make them no longer tax exempt?

Locally, we had a church that was charging visitors of the town to park in their parking lot during the week. Given that I live in a very touristy town, it was quite a lucrative business. When they were told they couldn't use their property for such non-charitable revenue, there was a major debate in our community over discrimination and the like.

Now, a progressive church in Los Angeles is being threatened with losing their tax-exempt status because of a sermon given two days before the 2004 election. The offending section of the speech is:

"I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: 'War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq.'"

While I love the sentiment of what this pastor had to say (even though it's a moot point now), I don't know if this crosses the boundary of "endorsing a candidate" or not. Since only one church has ever had its tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS (the church ran two full page ads against Clinton in 1992) was clearly engaging in endorsing a candidate, it will be interesting to see where the IRS decides to draw the line.

Current Knitting
Slow but steady progress on the Celestine Shawl. And no, I won't be putting up a sheet in front of the window to photograph the shawl. Perhaps when I take the final picture.

Current Spinning
I did some additional work on the multi-color merino over the last week, and while the progress is slow, there is definitely a lot of wool on this bobbin.

I'm thinking that I might try to teach myself how to Navajo ply between now and when I finish the singles for this roving, and ply it that way when I'm done. We'll see.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the picture of the bug, Aarlene writes, "I thought it might be a stink bug. After a couple of incidents I usually avoid getting close enough for a good id."

Actually, I think you're exactly right. The picture didn't make it easy to identify, but when I look at pictures of stink bugs, that's exactly what this bugger looked like.

Joanie R. asks, "Why a circular knitting machine? I never had one or even see one work. What can you do on it that you can't do on needles?"

A circular knitting machine allows you to basically make a tube of knitted fabric, very similar to the leg portion of a sock. It just allows you to do it more easily. The picture of the one linked to in yesterday's post looks like it has 20 needles, so it would be like having a machine that could knit a 20 stitch tube of stockinette stitch fabric. Most of these machines allow you to make narrow lengths of flat fabric as well (non-tubular). Not really overly useful, but a fun novelty.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mystery Solved

I always wondered why my statistics often showed folks access my blog via Google, using "" in the search field. Why wouldn't they just type it in the URL Address?

Google Search Bar
Then I realized, I do the same thing quite often. A while ago, I found a link like this one. It allowed me to load a toolbar into Internet Explorer that lets me search on Google, block pop-ups and a few other things.

It also opens up the Google search or URL in a new IE window, so I often find myself typing a URL in the search box, and Google will automatically open the URL in a new window. Maybe that's how others are doing it as well.

Current Knitting
I took Karla's advice and taped the in-progress shawl up to the sliding glass door and took no-flash pictures.

I like the way Karla's photographic method shows off the lace patterning, but not the color. I guess there's always a trade-off.

I'm up to 320 rows on this baby...only about 160 to go from the looks of it...we'll see.

Garden Visitor
I got to see this lovely creature (and be startled by it) on the last of our dahlias today.

Anyone care to hazzard a guess as to what kind of bug this is?

Barbie Knitting Machine
I love circular knitting machines, so I bought an old Barbie Knitting Machine off eBay a while ago. JoAnn's has a similar toy on sale right now in case anyone is interested.

Circular Knitting Machine

Readers' Comments/Questions
I thought Kathy's comments about naturalists and nudist was in earnest, and I was going to say the same thing Mel did. I guess I better find a humor store myself. Thanks Mel for the professional identifications. I now want to raise Jacobs. Can I come live on your farm in Maine?

And what does all this have to do with a good pea soup?

I'm confused.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If Only To Dream...

A friend of mine sent this to me, so I asked if it was alright if I published it. I love his writing and find this piece to be representative of how I see him.
Just for You ;)
We are all fools. The human animal is so stupid, "he" (insert generic he/she/whatever here) can't see the danger in front of his eyes. The danger is there, jumping up and down waving its arms, kicking up its heels and man just plows on. He hops in his SUV, coupe, bicycle, moped (god knows why someone would have a moped), unicycle, and off they go, following the carrot. They march up and down the streets, up capitol stairs, through urban blight. Sometimes they go to the extremes of locking themselves to heavy machinery or trees or fences. What kind of moronic behavior is this? I'll tell is the behavior of a populace divided and conquered. That is right..the human species is so completely divided and conquered,
that they could not reasonably make any relevant change in the world even if their lives depended on it. Oh...wait...their lives do!! What do I mean? Well take a look around. Who are these divided demonstrating individuals? Are they the CEO's of major corporations; the aging political fogeys running the country; the elite playboys and playgirls of the world? No, they are the middle, lower and disenfranchised classes of the world. And all the CEO's, fogeys and playpeople are laughing their asses off. (Can I say asses in print?) While the rich and powerful are getting more rich and powerful, the little people are running around, wigging out about global warming, gay marriage, abortion, genocide, pesticides, recycling yogurt containers, freedom of whatever, and a billion other issues. The little peoples' energies are so diluted with their own pet projects that they can't get anything accomplished or achieved. And the whole time the CEO's, fogeys, and playpeople are laughing their "you know whats" off. They have nothing to fear. They just keep tossing little issues out into the wind and watching some group here or their adopt it as their own cause and taking to the streets with signs and rallies and protests to save one little corner of humanity. Divided and conquered. Do you know what would really be effective? What would really piss off the C.F.P.'s? What would really scare them? How about if all these billions and trillions of issue groups got together and focused on one issue at a time? It would topple the structure of the world overnight. All those resources focused together to solve one issue at a time, before moving on to the next. The CFP's would be running for cover in a month, and the world would start to shift towards a more humane and earth friendly planet. Just one do we decide which issue comes first.......

Stephen R. Sims 09/06

Current Knitting
Still making progress toward finishing the Celestine Shawl, and I will attempt Karla's idea for photographing it in my next blog entry.

I'm writing up the pattern, and graphing out the pattern stitches. I'm actually going to have to graph out the center stitch pattern while I'm knitting it. I just won't be able to get it work unless I do it that way.

Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival - Revisited
Before I send you off to the page of cute animal pictures, I thought I'd bore you with the two purchases I made at the festival. Thaddeus met some friends from his past who were there as part of the Humboldt Society club. So, while he was occupied, I shopped for fiber.

I loved working with the brown Jacob roving a while ago, so when I found this, I had to have me some.

This is two pounds of Jacob roving in three colors. After I took the picture, I realized some might mistake this for my pet skunk, but it's actually browner and tanner in real life.

Then, I saw a woman spinning angora. I'm not usually a fan of angora, but she had knit a lovely, loose scarf with her handspun angora, so I thought I'd buy some and test it out.

This is just a couple of ounces (2.6 to be exact) of natural colored bunny hair. I can't wait to try it out.

Finally, I took some pictures of the livestock. I was glad Dr. Mel was able to identify the Moorit Shetland, maybe he can consider this a little refresher quiz, since I have no idea what each breed is.

But here's the QueerJoe petting zoo for your pleasure.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Anne from the Jersey Shore, writes, "I was at the Garden State Sheepbreeders show on Saturday, right after it quit pouring down rain. Did you go on Sunday, and was it better attended? Customers and vendors were pretty thin on the ground on Saturday."

Yes, Thaddeus and I went around lunchtime on Sunday, and I'm sure it was a little more populated than swamp-Saturday. But honestly, vendors and attendees are usually somewhat "thin." That's what makes this festival so much sweeter than MDS&W or Rhinebeck.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Busy Blogger

This weekend was chock full of events which kept this blogger very busy.

Sister-Out-Of-Law Visit
Thaddeus' sister came to visit us on Thursday night, and left Saturday morning. She is the one who found a five pound bag of carded wool at a yard sale for $10. She also came bearing another yard sale find.

For one of the non-obsessed, she sure finds great deals on yarn and wool. Plus, whenever she's here, we do the thing we all most like to We got to go to my favorite Thai restaurant (the same place I ran into Anne from the Jersey Shore and her husband) and my favorite Indian restaurant.

Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival
Also this weekend, the annual NJ version of Rhinebeck takes place about 10 minutes from my house. Don't get me wrong, it's about one twentieth the size of Rhinebeck, but it's a lovely little festival that I enjoy going to every year.

I have a few more shots of fiber animals and fiber purchases that I haven't been able to organize yet, so I'll post them in my next blog entry.

Current Knitting
I'm still chugging along on the Celestine Shawl, and everyone who sees it in person, thinks it's lovely (or at least they say they do).

This is about 33 inches in length at this point, and while I was trying to get a good shot of the border section, it wasn't light enough outside to take a picture without a flash, so I'll have to try and get a better picture some other time. I'm at 290 rows, with about 210 rows to go.

Question For Readers
Has anyone read the book Enemy Combatant yet?

I've heard the author, Moazzam Begg, interviewed, and it sounds like a fascinating read. I still have trouble believing we let our government do this sort of thing.

Friday, September 15, 2006

May The Fiber Be With You

Yes, there is someone selling lighted knitting needles in their eBay store.

For The Knitter Who Knits in the Dark?
I don't know that I'd find a lot of use for these needles, but I thought the idea was fun and interesting.

Current Knitting
I've made very little progress on the shawl, so I won't even discuss.

I'm in the middle of un-knitting another three rows.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Celestine Shawl, Marily asks, "I really, really like that color--almost a celery, isn't it?"

Yes, in most lights, celery is almost the perfect description. But in brighter, natural lights, it's a much more vibrant than that.

Kim Salazar writes, "Quick question if you've got the time - in the troop knitting booklets, if they include socks - Where/by whom are they published, what kind of toe is used and is a name for that technique specified?"

In the two books, there are a total of five patterns for socks. Three are in the black and white booklet by Bear Brand and Bucilla Yarns, dated 1940. "Heavy Weight Socks", "Medium Weight Socks", and "Sea Boot Stockings". The other two are in the Red and White booklet, published by Chadwick's Red Heart Wool, called "Plain Sock" and "Spiral Sock" All five patterns have you reduce at the toe down to 24 or 28 stitches and then "weave" the remaining stitches.

Only in the Bear Brand and Bucilla Yarn booklet do they detail how to weave the toe stitches, and they describe the standard Kitchener stitch (but they never use that term in either book). Here's a scan of the description.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Keith Olbermann Is My Hero

It is unfathomable that the other media faces haven't done the same. Finally, someone who points out the emperor's lack of clothing.

I Was Starting To Think...
...that perhaps my thoughts on this corrupt, hateful, manipulative government were in the minority. A few blog entries ago, I linked to a video where Mr. Olbermann defended Iraq protesters from the insults of the president, but in his latest commentary, he has outdone himself.

I'm surprised they haven't airlifted this man to one of the 14 overseas CIA detention camps.

Current Knitting
I'm halfway through the knitting of the main section of the Celestine Shawl.

I love this shawl for a number of reasons. First, the knitting of it has been enjoyable. Even the fixing of mistakes have been an interesting lesson in un-knitting for me (thanks in part to some of the commenters on this blog). Second, the stole is long enough now that I can drape it over my legs whilst I'm knitting it, and it is soft, lightweight and warm. Finally, while my pictures don't do it very much justice, the shawl is quite beautiful, and will be even moreso after it's been blocked.

Flea Market Finds - AGAIN
There must be a lot of old houses being cleaned out of former knitters from the 1930's and 1940's. I found these six booklets at the flea market yesterday.

The Minerva booklets from back then are spectacular, but I was also quite glad to find the two Knitting for Servicemen books from 1940 and 1941. The designs are dreadful, but I love the history they represent.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy states, "I want to know about the teeth marks on the needle..."

Eagle-eye Kathy is asking about the bite marks on the wooden needles I used to show the e-wrap cast-on. They're from Gage. Whenever he wants attentions, he will find something to scratch, chew or swallow that will quickly gain either mine or Thaddeus' attention. He seems to know exactly what works, especially when he tries to swallow yarn or bite my good wooden needles.

Kathleen asks, "How did you get your orchid to re-bloom??"

Thaddeus is the one with the green thumb in this household, but honestly, he did nothing special. He just watered it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I Knew Them When...

Longtime readers of QueerJoe have read blog entries about them before, but it appears that one of my favorite, relatively unknown, musical groups is going to play the theme song for a new HBO show, called "Juvies".

The Churchills
They have CD's published ("You Are Here" is my favorite), and they've had their music played on television shows before. But, they've never had a theme song that will be played each time a show airs.

Juvies is a new show that was supposed to debut already, but has been pushed back a month. It takes a little while to load, but you can hear the Churchills' song on the HBO preview site here.

I don't know why I get so excited when a band I've been listening to for over a decade looks like they might actually get discovered. They definitely deserve it.

Current Knitting
After practically boasting that the knitting has gotten easy, I had to un-knit three rows last night (only one of them was a purl row). My eyes were tired, and I just kept making a mistake, so I put it down for an hour, and then picked it up with renewed vigor, knit back 3 rows, and now I'm back on track.

Even the un-knitting has gotten easier.

I'll post a progress picture in the next entry.

Other Fiber-Related Activity
I'm making some progress on the multi-colored merino roving, but it's definitely not going as quickly as the Romney-like roving I was working on previously, so I'll give comparative pictures so you can actually see the progress.

So, despite Ted's exaggerated description of the speed with which I spin, it only goes that quickly when I'm spinning thicker singles and paying less attention to the uniformity of thickness.

Recent Movies
Thaddeus and I get to see a lot of movies. With Thaddeus working in a video rental place, and having no children, we can get to watch pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want to.

Two recent movies we've seen, one on DVD, the other in the theater, both have something about them worth seeing.

The first one is The Great New Wonderful. This isn't a movie for everyone. You have to be able to enjoy a less-structured movie that doesn't have a typical feel-good ending. There are many extraordinary performances from folks like Tony Shaloub and Maggie Gyllenhaal, but Steven Colbert has never been better than in this little gem of a movie.

The second movie is The Illusionist with Edward Norton, Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti. There is also a wonderful performance by Rufus Sewell in the movie. Other than one flaw at the end, that both Thaddeus and I noted, the movie is quite well done and provides an entertaining time.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Catsmum writes, "Hey Joe...Please ... just for us fibre hungry bods on the other side of the world who don't know... what and where is Rhinebeck? Oh, photos of or links to the e-wrap would be good.

I'll let you read all about Rhinebeck on the link above. Below are pictures of an e-wrap cast-on. The first one shows it very loosely so you can see how the wrap is done and the second one a little more like it would look if you actually used it (note that mine is very uneven).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years...

...and I'm disgusted with the media and the government at how this anniversary is being used for ratings and political manipulation.

Personal Rememberances
I will remember this day, since it had a significant impact on my life, with reverence and sadness.

I won't be watching any memorials, or presidential visits to crash sites.

Like charity, I think memorializing the past should be kept to one's self, and not paraded around for show.

Current Knitting
The two lace patterns I'm using for the Celestine Shawl are both surprisingly easy. Since they both have different number of rows in the repeat, it requires that I do a little calculation to figure out which row I'm on in both patterns, but overall, the knitting of this shawl is fun and easy.

I don't know why I had such difficulty at one point in the shawl.

This is a little over 200 rows of knitting, and it's moving on a little more quickly now.

Other Knitting
I got a little impatient for something a little more quick in my knitting than the lace shawl, so I also decided to whip out a quick little novelty scarf.

I keep a bunch of these around, just in case my friend asks me to do another craft show and sell these things.

Orchid Re-Blooming
I'm happy to say that our little orchid that Thaddeus picked up at the flea market from a friend who had "rescued" them from an abandonned hot-house, has bloomed again.

The last blooming was at the end of July last year.

In my opinion, it's worth the wait.

A Brandon Event
Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia is hosting Brandon Mably on Thursday, October 5th. He will teach a workshop on knitting with color. I know these workshops fill up quickly so, e-mail the shop if you want details.

Anyone who's ever hung out with Brandon, knows what a creative and funny guy he is.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Yes, the preparations are well underway for the annual fiber orgy.

Rhinebeck Blogger BINGO
Check out this clever little enterprise by Stitchy McYarnPants.

I will be participating as a "square," in case anyone gets me on their card.

Current Knitting
I have knit and un-knit the same five rows about 10 times now.

I guess the more you un-knit, the better you get at it. I am getting much better at it. With about 7 steps forward and 5 steps back, I have made a little bit of progress on the Celestine Shawl.

This is 160 rows of knitting, and you can see a safety line woven through at my nemesis, row 122.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my spinning, Ted offers, "Nice top. I'll be interested in seeing your resulting 3-ply yarn. You'll have it done...when? End of the week?"

Not highly likely. It will take about three weeks of spinning for each bobbin-full of singles. The plying and washing and hanging doesn't take very long, perhaps another week. So all-in-all, it will be done a couple of weeks after Rhinebeck.

Regarding my opening graphic from my last post, Diane asks, "I like your YinYang. Is it copyrighted? Can I steal it?"

Are you supposed to ask before lifting and editing someone else's graphic? I'll have to ask Carol S.

Katrina asks, "Do you ever use lifelines when knitting lace?"

I started using what I call a safety line about 15 years ago when I was working with some delicate silk and wool yarn and an extremely complex stitch pattern that couldn't be un-knitted. I recommended it to the KnitList way back when. I doubt I was the first person to ever come up with such an idea, but my original suggestion has come back to me a number of times over the years.

Sean ask, "...have you heard Bette's version of "In These Shoes"?"

Yes, and while I love Bette, I don't find it anywhere near as good as Kirsty McColl's version.

Franklin lays claim with, "I'm sorry, but I've already claimed "In These Shoes" for MY hypothecial drag debut as Mademoiselle Folie de Grandeur."

I did mention I know all the backup Spanish lip-synching as well, and I could help you with your choreography. That last crescendo in the song could be a tricky "bend and snap" maneuver. And gawd knows, someone will need to help you with your depilatory work.

Finally, Reader Sally asks via e-mail, "I'm curious - have you ever read anywhere a comparison between doing the e-wrap cast on and the provisional cast on? I've been using the e-wrap for any project where I have to pick up the stitches again, and can't tell the difference between that and unravelling provisional waste yarn. Given the time it can save on large projects (and the fact that knitting something I'm going to rip out drives me nuts), why don't more people use it?"

It never occurred to me that the two methods for casting on and then picking up stitches result in the same thing. I learned provisional casting on when I was doing some machine knitting, and just translated that to projects like the stole I'm making.

There are two reasons I would continue doing a provisional cast-on,

1. Because my e-wrap cast-on isn't very even
2. I like to have a little bit of fabric already started when I start using my "good" yarn.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Harmonious Queer Knitting Balance

For Every Good There is a Bad
When I learn a new skill and get good at it quickly, folks sometimes ask, "Is there anything you're not good at?"

The answer is obviously "yes."

I hate to admit it, but I'm awful at un-knitting rows. Especially when it comes to un-knitting lace. Not only am I bad at it, but I deplore having to do it.

I don't know how Marilyn and Ted do it, particularly when it comes to unknitting a row where there are K1TBL's (Knit One To Back of Loop) involved and undoing SSK's I also find troublesome. Often, un-knitting requires envisioning how the stitch was made, so the needle can be inserted in such a way as to un-make it. I'm usually good with visualizations, but not when it comes to this.

There, you have it, my long-kept, shameful secret.

Current Knitting
As you may have guessed, I made some mistake somewhere, and lost not one, but two stitches in my Celestine Shawl. I had to unknit three rows (two of them were lace rows, one was just a purl row), and it took me for-freakin'-ever to get it back to correct.

I've finished 142 rows on the stole. I'll post a progress picture in my next entry (assuming actual progress is made).

Something I AM good At
To keep harmony and balance at QueerJoe, I had to include something I'm good at.

I started spinning up some multi-color merino roving I bought at Rhinebeck last year, and it's coming out extremely well.

I'm spinning it as fine as I can, hoping to get a triple-ply DK or Sport weight yarn out of it when I'm done.

Overall, the yarn is coming out like a very dark, smokey tweed, even though the picture doesn't show the color overly well.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Ted asks, "Joe: do you and The T. Man (as Mar calls him) ever make duxelles with any of the mushrooms you hunt up?"

Sometimes, especially when he has small amounts of a few different kinds. Mostly Thaddeus makes things like risotto (my favorite with morels), or omelettes, or soups. He's quite a good cook, and knows how best to use a mushroom.

Regarding my Kirsty McColl reference, Kathy asks, "Do you know her song "In These Shoes"?"

That is the song I've decided I will do when I do my first drag-lip-synching number. I've practiced the song enough where I can lip-synch it perfectly, including the Spanish in case I ever have to lip-synch backup on this song for someone else.