Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Different Rhythm

A reader recently commented that the rhythm of their knitting was disrupted by switching colors in intarsia knitting.

Like Riding a Horse
It made me think of the first time I ever rode a horse. The beginning of the horse ride was a trot through the rainforest areas of St. Croix. As beautiful as the scenery was, trotting was not a rhythm that my ass was appreciating. Until I realized that there was a pattern to the rhythm, at which point I could anticipated the movement of the horse, and ride it much more comfortably.

Similar to riding a horse, the rhythm of knitting in intarsia, is slightly more complex beat, but still can be comfortable once you get used to it. Especially when doing a repeating pattern like the colorblock sweater.

Current Knitting
I'm just about to reach the arm hole shaping on the front of the dark tweed pulover, and I've gone just past the arm hole shaping on the back of the colorblock garment.

As part of knitting this section, I ran out of my pre-made butterfly bobbins, and ended up making about 120 more. So now I should be in good shape to make ongoing progress on this sweater.

Update On Nico
The new little cat had just gotten comfortable with being around us, sleeping in our bed, sitting on our lap (some, not a lot), and playing with mouse toys. Here he is scaling the heights of his scratching post.

One visit from a friend to our house, seemed to have made Nico a little skittish again, but Thaddeus has worked to get him back to being comfortable again.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my review of the new Almodovar movie, Rachel asks, "And talking about movies did you by any chance see the movie: Jesus Camp?"

First of all, I just found out there is a new release of 8 Almodovar movies available in a Almodovar DVD set. I've already pre-ordered my copy for Thaddeus' birthday. In answer to Rachel's question, no, not yet, but I plan on watching it. I've heard and seen some information about it, and I'll be interested to see it.

Cortster writes, "Would it be too presumptious to ask for a close(r)-up picture of that mend job? It is truly amazing and a quick description of how you actually did it sure would be appreciated."

I'll see if I can get a closer picture. Basically, I just unravelled the knitting, starting at the hole, to detach the bottom of the sleeve from the upper portion. I unravelled both edges to elminated any damaged knitting, and then picked up all the active stitches on double pointed needles. Since I was able to match the antique gold yarn, and the darker yarn, my only mismatch was the light blue. I used as much of the unravelled yarn as I could to re-create the missing fabric. I then grafted the two pieces together.

This kind of task always seems daunting until I actually do it, and then it seems to go pretty well.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pure Genius

Does everyone else on the planet love watching movies by Pedro Almodovar?

His Latest Masterpiece
When I'm designing a sweater, I take a lot of care to make sure the yarn I'm using is appropriate for the end garment. I pick out what I hope will be the perfect stitch pattern. I plan colors, so that they will interesting, different, and still yet appealing to the eye. I measure carefully, so fitting will be flattering for the eventual wearer of the sweater. And even after all that care, I still sometimes end up with something that just doesn't work.

That never seems to happen with Almodovar movies. He puts together odd characters, interesting locales, brilliant dialogue, and actors with the strongest screen presence I've ever seen, and every time comes up with a masterpiece of a movie.

Volver is his latest movie. Penolope Cruz (who I don't usually like very much in English-language movies) was brilliant, as was the young actress that played her daughter. I left the movie yesterday evening feeling amazed that I could enjoy a movie as much as I did this one. I get this feeling everytime I leave an Almodovar movie.

Now, if I could just get my sweaters to come out perfectly every time.

Current Knitting
I did get some work done on the Dark Tweed pullover.

The work seems to grow at an evolutionary pace, but I have completed about 13 inches so far on the front. Thaddeus is liking how it's turning out so far, so I'm happy to be working on it. I can already tell that the sleeves will be a painful process.

Sweater Mending
I was very busy this weekend. In addition to putting in a lot of work on the Dark Tweed pullover, I also finished knitting the replacement fabric on the sleeve of the brother-out-of-law's sweater, and then grafted the sleeve-end back onto the sweater.

If you look closely at the work I did, you'll notice a stripe of brighter blue knitting and also that my Fair Isle work is one row less than the same section on the non-damaged sleeve. Overall, I think the mending is hardly noticeable, and the owner will be very happy to get his hole-less sweater back.

Readers' Comments/Questions
With regard to parenting, knit-friend Kathy notes, "Well, maybe Joe would make a great parent--if actually liking children weren't a pretty much expected part of the proposition."

I've always had an enormous respect for parents, and while I'm pretty certain I'd have some decent parenting skills, I'm glad I never had to test that theory. I actually do like some children, and I don't like others (it's very similar to my view of adults). I can't imagine what it must be like for a parent to raise a child he just doesn't like very much. Now THAT would be a test of parenting skills.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Appropriate For Children?

One of the commenters (Cape Cod Mary) asked me if Skeleton Coast was appropriate for a 13 year old boy, and whenever anyone asks me that, I have to admit, I never have any idea.

From QueerJoe's Perspective
I don't have any child-supervisory responsibilities. I don't have any of my own children. My friends, family and neighbors would never be crazy enough to ask me to watch their children.

As a result, I don't have to watch my language when I'm at home. I don't watch movies with a critical eye as to whether something would be too violent, or too sexually graphic for a child to see. And I don't make a mental note of sections in books that might or might not be appropriate for young teens.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me when someone asks me a question like that. I know it comes from a parent whose constantly viewing materials and situations from the perspective of how it would affect their children. And doing something as a matter of routine, it's easy to assume everyone does the same thing. But speaking for the childless masses, I'd like to confirm that many of us have no idea what's appropriate or inappropriate for children.

I don't mean this as a chiding of the person who asked. In fact, I'm glad that the commenter wants to encourage her son to read. I don't think anything is more important for a young person's education than reading. Moreso, I wanted Mary, and other parents to understand that I am by far the worst person to judge what an adolescent would consider enjoyable and what a parent would consider acceptable for their adolescent. It's like asking a president of the United States whether he thinks $3.40 is too much to pay for a gallon of milk.

I also appreciate the other Anonymous commenter who provided her opinions. I'm assuming s/he's someone that would really know.

Current Knitting
I've worked my way up a few more inches on the Dark Tweed pullover.

Barring any recurrence of sickness, I should be able to make some decent progress on this sweater over the weekend. While small gauge knitting takes longer, in general, I usually like the way the resulting sweater looks.

Weekend Fiber Activities
In addition to the Dark Tweed Pullover, I also have to try and finish mending my brother-out-of-law's sweater, finishing plying the multi-color merino, and do some work on the color block sweater. We'll see how much I get done.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Late-Night Listmaking

I usually sleep pretty soundly, but last night, I woke up with way too many work-related worries on my mind.

Go Back To Sleep!
No matter how hard I tried to will myself back to sleep, these little "to-do's" kept wafting through my mind, keeping me awake.

I finally realized I needed to write all my reminders, get them out of my head, and get my tired ass back to sleep.

It worked. I wrote down a list of five items that were on my mind, turned out the light, and fell soundly back to sleep for another few hours before waking to my alarm clark. It's so great when one of these little sleeping hints works so well.

I've only made it through two of the items on the list so far, but I'm doing it on a rested mind, which is a helluva lot easier.

Current Knitting
I got to have dinner with my out-of-laws last night, since I'm working in the city where they live (she's an excellent cook), so I didn't do a lot of knitting in the hotel last night. But I have made some progress on the dark tweed pullover, and even got a little more done on the colorblock sweater.

Honestly, my biggest concern with this sweater is that it will be too ordinary looking. I never would have expected my own reaction to all this color, but I still think I'll like how it turns out.

Current Spinning
I did do some plying this past weekend, but didn't even finish the first bobbin of triple-ply. I hope to get it all plied in the upcoming weekend, and I'll be sure to post some pictures. What I've done so far is very nice looking yarn, and the color is very different and very beautiful. I can't wait to show it off.

Current Reading
Actual, it's not my current reading, but my reading from a week or so ago.

Skeleton Coast by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul is one of those bestsellers intrigue novels that tries to incorporate strong, brutishly handsome desert guides, with Arabian rebels from the past, with "blood-diamond" searchers and freelance, former CIA, security experts, all jammed into one little paperback. If you like a book where the action and the excitement never stop, and all the characters glow from the pages with a certain aura and charisma, this book is for you.

For me, it was adequately written, and I was able to enjoy the ride, but it wouldn't be a book that would inspire me to look for more by these authors.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Men Are Such Babies

I should know, I am one. And when I'm sick, I want nothing more than to whine and sleep and try to get comfortable.

Baby Weekend
That's how this whole weekend was. Starting Friday evening, through until...well now a little, I had some stomach virus that wiped me out. To give you a sense about how bad it was, I actually lost five pounds in less than 24 hours. I'm still trying to build back my robust health, but I think it will take another day or two.

For a full two days, no food seemed in the least bit appealing, and my favorite position was curled up in a warm down comforter, fast asleep.

Current Knitting
Despite being totally drained, I did do a little bit of knitting over the weekend.

Nico had to get in the picture (he's turning into quite the little ham). I was able to finish the ribbing for the front section of the pullover, and even got a few rows of the reverse stockinette stitch completed as well.

Vogue Knitting
I picked up the Winter 2007 Vogue Knitting, and I was glad I did.

First of all, it was the first issue I've seen in a while that had that certain "kiss-my-ass-attitude" a long while, in fact. They chose many interesting, and some very good designs for this issue. Brandon Mably's handprint sweater stands out as one that I'd absolutely make. There was even a Mari Lynn Patrick design that I thought was quite good, but then followed up by a second design of hers that looked like an aborted afghan project. I had a friend who stole a dozen or so Pan Am airplane blankets and his partner made him a patchwork coat from the material. It looked significantly better than the "patchwork" piece in Vogue by MLP.

The feature articles were actually interesting enough to read. Check out the magazine's index, and I think you'll see what I mean.

Overall, it was the first time I felt I got my money's worth in a knitting magazine.

Readers' Comments/Questions
As far as Nico pictures go, I won't be posting a lot of his photos. As much as I love our new kitty, I'd prefer not to let this become a Knitting/Cat blog. I'm sure there are plenty of those out there if that's what interests you.

As for Weavettes, I'll make a deal with our favorite curmudgeon. If she'll make placemats on her loom, I'll make matching coasters (as long was we can both get the same yarns). I think we've both been about equally as productive on our respective "looms." Hit an old woman, indeed.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Would you believe that I'm one of those people that finds something to be passionate about, does it compulsively for a while, and then puts it down to never do it again?

Yes, It's True
Yes, it happens with music, it happens with food, it happens with even happens with Weavettes.

I can't tell you how many times that I would find the most amazing source for dried mangoes, and eat them with joy for weeks on end, only to finish that phase of my life and find a CD by Kitaro, get completely infatuated by his music, and need to own every one. That would be followed by an intense love affair with fountain pens, and then something else, and something else, and so on.

But, for some reason, knitting has had staying power over all the others. I have never lost my passion for it no matter how deeply I delve into it, or how intensely I pursue it.

I don't know what the difference is in this one area of my life, but I'm very grateful for it.

Current Knitting
I did reach my goal of finishing the back of the Dark Tweed Pullover.

I do have to say, I'm not looking forward to doing the ribbing on the front of the garment, because of the coarsness of the oiled yarn (flipping the yarn back and forth is harder on my hands thand straight stockinette stitch).

I've also done a little more on the colorblock sweater, but not enough to merit a picture.

Current Spinning
With a new cat in the house, the remainder of the multi-colored merino seems to have just flown onto the final of three bobbins.

Now all I have is the plying and the washing and the hanging and the skeining of this lovely yarn. The result will be a beautifully rich color of soft yarn, with a depth of texture because of the fine differences in color. I can't imagine it will photograph too well, so you will all have to come to my house to see the result in person. Please make arrangements.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the U.S. mess in Iraq, a couple of readers noted my indiscriminate use of the words "insurgents" and "terrorists." Thank you for pointing that out, I will be more careful. It shows that even when I try to see all points of view, I can still be influenced by the spin that the administration and the media put on stories like this.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What's The Answer To Iraq?

I got to hear our president being interviewed by Jim Lehrer last evening, and he was relatively well-spoken. I was partly impressed.

...I find his inability to "lose face" over a dreadful mistake he's made, is turning out to be worse than the mistake to begin with.

Here's how I see the situation.

First off, we had no business going into Iraq, other than to try and finish a vendetta the Bush administrations seem to have had with Hussein. It think it's pretty clear that no one really believed that there were weapons of mass destruction. It's been made even clearer, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. And if this country was intent on spreading democracy, there were seemingly many other places that could have used the U.S. version of democracy more than Iraq.

But, that's all water under the bridge. What should be done now?

Solution 1 - Stay the course
Hasn't worked so far. Insurgency grows, Iraq government doesn't step up and try to take the reins, many troops get killed and maimed, as do Iraqi citizens. Democracy doesn't seem to get anywhere, and Iraqi's seem to get more and more resentful of our presence there.

Solution 2 - Withdraw all troops
Likely the current civil war in Iraq will erupt. The Iraqi's that have stepped up will be at significant risk of retribution. Most likely, it will take a cold-blooded killer like Hussein to bring any order back to the country, and the Iraqi's will be in a lot worse shape than when we got there, and our relations with them completely ruined.

Solution 3 - Surge and steady withdrawal
Focusing on stabilizing Baghdad with a surge of troops, and make it safe. Set up a city where there is some order, some work and internal resources and logistics. Slowly begin to withdraw our troops, hoping that Iraqi forces will take up the slack. Call it a day and hightail it out of Iraq. Eventually, the same thing as Solution 2 will happen, and Saddam II will be back in power. At best, Iraq is left with strength in Baghdad only, and terrorism taking over the remainder of the country.

Solution 4 - Troops, Diplomacy and Negotiation
I know we don't negotiate with terrorists, but most folks say that the only viable solution, or minimally, the least damaging solution, is some combination of politics and combat. I'm sure it's a more difficult option, that requires skill and finesse, and there's a distinct possibility this solution could end as badly as any of the other three. But, it still seems like it's worth looking at more closely.

Current Knitting
I got some more work done on the Dark Tweed Pullover, and I also made a little bit of progress on the Colorblock sweater in Araucania.

I'm thinking this might make a nice oversized cardigan, but I'm not sure yet which direction I'll head.

Readers' Comments/Questions
First of all, thanks for all the good wishes with the new kitty. After his initial intimidation of being in a new place, Thaddeus tells me he's turning into a "holy terror" with boundless energy. I couldn't be happier.

Kathy (the Al Gore maligning one), writes, "I will gather my concerns about the presentation in an organized way and post here very soon..."

If it's going to be a lot of text, just e-mail it to me, and I'll post it to the blog. I was glad that Meira posted the article. The only other thing I had heard that made it sound like Mr. Gore was overstating the issue, was a conservative pundit, who basically said that all urgent, environmental issues to-date, have been solved much more quickly than originally estimated (he mentioned issues such as the hole in the ozone layer), and that would lead him to believe that global warming would be similar once remedies were put into action.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Introducing Nico

A new member of our family was added yesterday, and his name is Nico (we think).

New Kitty
Yes, after researching it all carefully, we decided to get a new cat.

Nico is a rescue cat that we found through, specifically through an organization called Adopt-A-Friend, Inc. He was born on March 31st of last year, so he's still a pretty active kitty, and he's had all his shots, and has been neutered. His foster mother called him "Mostly White", but when her son added him to PetFinder for her, he thought it was a racist name, so he changed it to simply "NoName." Thaddeus had already picked out a name for the new guy, but it didn't seem as fitting when we met him. Nico seemed more appropriate.

Thaddeus and I knew we wanted to stick with a Siamese breed mix, since we've been told that Gage was very typical in terms of his personality (or would that be "felinality"?), and we wanted a cat as sociable as he was. While we considered other possible breeds, we knew we wanted Nico as soon as we saw his picture on PetFinder.

Nico is still getting acclimated (we've decided to expose him to only one room for the first day and expand it to two today), but the first impression he's left so far is of a very sweet boy.

Current Knitting
Since we picked the cat up yesterday, there was a lot of preparations that needed to be done to the house to make it kitty-safe again.

That's my excuse for the minimal amount of knitting I got done on the dark tweed pullover.

I'm hoping to finish the back this week, but we'll see how it goes.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy wrote, "Some of the information and conclusions passed along by Mr. Gore in his documentary were more than a little sketchy."

I'd be curious to know which parts of his movie were manipulative or not entirely accurate. I was honestly shocked by the information I heard/saw in "An Inconvenient Truth". If there were untruths or misrepresentations, I was completely fooled by them myself.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Resorting To Sneaky Underhanded Tactics

Have you ever noticed that conservative commentators and religious extremists often resort to trickery to try and convince their sheep?

E-Mail Spam
My brother sent me the following e-mail, which for the most part expressed many of my own sentiments:

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930's 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking. As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because . WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down
the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computer s, no Internet or chat rooms.......WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays,

made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang
the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.

They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them . CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as
kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good. And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!

Then comes the catch. Despite the misspellings, and the ridiculous nature of trying to compare the times while I grew up with today's world, I like some of the sentiment of this chain e-mail spam. But then the author ended it with this.
The quote of the month is by Jay Leno:

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks,"Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us....go ahead and delete this. For the rest of us....pass this on.

To me, these two sections of the e-mail relate to each other...not at all. It's as if the author is trying to make you sympathetic to his or her ideas, by recalling memories of your growing up years, commiserating about how things have changed, and then zinging you with how it's all because of God...huh? And using a reference to the pledge of allegiance, which only had the words "under God" added in 1954 by Catholic zealots (the Knights of Columbus), makes it even more absurd.

If spirituality, or reverence of God, or religion is so great, why do conservatives often feel like they have to trick you into it, or manipulate into believing what they do? I would imagine this kind of trickery would only work on the weak of mind, but I'm not even too sure about that.

I choose to surround myself with people who think for themselves. Examples of sales techniques like this seem to indicate Christianity is for those that don't.

Current Knitting
I've made it up to the armhole shaping on the back of the dark tweed pullover for Thaddeus.

Since this cone yarn seems to have some machining oil left in it (that washed out when I swatched and scoured it), the yarn is somewhat hard on my hands. But I think forward to what it will be like when all washed up and blocked, and figure it will all be worth it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my current spinning, Geraldine asks, "May I ask, how are you going to ply the 3ply merino, three singles or Navajo-ply?"

I am finishing my third bobbin of singles, and will ply all three together. I've attempted Navajo plying, but I'm not very good at it. It's the first area of spinning where I think a one-on-one lesson would help me out significantly.

Geraldine also asks, "Does anyone know where one can get Nancy Wiseman's finishing techniques book?"

Amazon's site is always my favorite for ordering books. That's where I recently ordered mine after it was suggested.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

From Analog To Digital

I'm not really sure what "analog" and "digital" really mean, but my household finally converted to digital cable.

A Whole New World
We've always had basic cable service, and of course internet service through our local cable company. Recently, they (Comcast) offered a deal to us that would allow us to upgrade from basic to digital and get HBO for $10 a month extra.

A phone call, a brief visit to my local Comcast office, a little bit of rewiring, and now we have lots more channels (mostly bad), HBO (mostly bad) and on-demand. I honestly had no idea how much free stuff was available through on-demand. I could teach myself how to play guitar, take a video kickboxing class or watch the entire last season of "Extras" from HBO/BBC.

Plus, the new digital cable boxes are now very small...about the size of a VHS video cassette.

Overall, I'm very pleased.

Current Knitting
In addition to the dark tweed pullover, I have continued to put some time in on the latest colorblock sweater.

You'll note I've added a little more to the sweater, and I also positioned the knitting with the butterfly bobbins showing, for those who've never done intarsia before.

I have also finished about 14 inches of the back of the dark tweed sweater, but I don't have a picture.

Back Spinning Again
Up until recently, almost every time I'd sit down to spin, Gage would arrive shortly thereafter to take a prominent place in my lap, and then "help" by trying to bite the spinning single. Despite how difficult he made it to spin, now that he's not here, spinning turned into a sad occasion for me, and I wasn't spending much time doing it.

This past weekend, I resolved to finish the final spool of the to-be, 3-ply, multi-colored, Merino yarn.

You'll notice I didnt' quite meet that goal, but I did make more progress this past weekend than I have in a while. Eventually, I know spinning will be a more joyous activity for me again.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my list of must-have knitting books, Ted asks, "Yes, Joe, but why do you prefer the BW Treasuries to the Harmony Guides? What's the difference that makes the difference?"

It's really a very subjective reason. I like the size and layout of the book, and I think the printing and photography is clearer. I have both sets of books, but I almost always refer to the BW Treasuries.

Gail noted, "I would probably including a finishing book in my list, like Nancie Wiseman's "The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques". I find its really handy, and it improved my finished garments immensely."

Thanks Gail, that looks like an excellent book. I like that it's spiral bound, and I will have to order a copy to add to my library.

Nancyneverswept writes (and Marilyn seconds), "I'm surprised you don't include any of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books, especially Knitting Without Tears!"

This was a purposeful ommission. I consider EZ's books to be more about philosophy of knitting, rather than any other category, and I don't find philosophy books useful. Books like Stephanie's books, and tomes like "The Tao of Knitting" don't resonate much with me, so I didn't include them as must-haves.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Opinions Are Like Assholes...

...almost everyone has one.

So Do I
I get one question most often from newer knitters than most any other question...

"What books should I have in my knitting library?"

Marilyn has answered this question before, and she and I are in pretty close agreement about most of the types of books that are used most often. I put my knitting books in one of four categories:

1. Basic techniques and beginner instructions
2. Stitch dictionaries
3. Basic pattern books and specific knitting techniques
4. Inspirational books

Here's my Amazon list of books that all knitters should have in their library.

For a basic/beginner book, almost any will do. I chose the Vogue Knitting book, but there are lots out there that will tell you everything you need to know. The internet provides all this information as well, and for the most part, I rarely reference my basic technique books.

For stitch dictionaries, I prefer the Barbara Walker Treasuries, although the Harmony Guides are good as well. I have both, and refer to them often when I'm looking for a design idea.

For basic pattern books, I look for any book that will give me basic dimensions for a simple pullover. For children's knitting, I love the MinnowKnits and the Knitting from the Top is great for a lot of basic sweater ideas. As for specific techniques, such as Fair Isle or Sock knitting, I have included a couple of my favorites that I have used over and over. I also love looking through Lace Knitting books and Marianne Kinzel and Sharon Miller are my favorites.

Finally, for inspirational books, I love the Simply Knit series, and the Unicorn Book/Jamieson Shetland books as well. I also refer often to my Kaffe books for inspiration.

Current Knitting
It was a short weekend, with lots of things jammed into it, so I focused mainly on the dark tweed pullover.

I've finished about 11 inches on the back, and I'm hopeful to finish the back this week.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What Is "News?"

When I watch any of the national morning shows, I get more and more disturbed by what they classify as news.

A Seamless Segue
Have you noticed how the Matt Lauer's and Diane Sawyers's can switch from a story about American hostages in Iraq to a story on injecting earlobes with $600-per-syringe glop to reduce the sagging of years of earring wear? I consider it shameful that they can flow thoughtlessly from such a serious, dreadful section of news to a fluff piece on cosmetic surgery. And Matt's standard segue of "And now for something on a much lighter note" just doesn't cut it. Can you imagine what the families of those hostages must feel like that both stories are given equal time?

And can somone please explain why a pissing contest between Rosie and Donald is news (or even how it's interesting at all)? Or how an SUV driven through the wall of a convenience store (by accident) can make national news?

No one needs to tell me that so-called news shows are more about ratings than informing the public...that fact is very clear. Or that "Us Magazine" sells far more units than "Newsweek." I understand that the "great unwashed" in this country are far more interested in reading about Britney's exposed crotch than they are in trying to grasp the importance of the Middle East conflicts.

When someone decideds that they don't want to deal with life's hardships, and takes to drinking or taking drugs in a compulsively avoiding way, we call them alcoholics or addicts. When the entire nation seems to be drowning their sorrows in the intrigue of Brangelina, there ought to be an appropriate word for them as well...and a 12-step program too.

Current Knitting
I've made some progress on the dark tweed pullover and added another few inches to the back of the garment. I also made it to the next layer of colorblocks on the Araucania sweater for me.

I'll post pictures in my next entry.

Sweater Patching
I thought you might want to get a look at my initial attempt at patching the sleeve hole in my brother-out-of-law's sweater.

You'll notice that the blue color is brighter than the original color, and that the edges of the patch are a little ragged. Here's a less closeup view to give it some perspective.

I don't consider this acceptable, so I will first try and see if I can reduce the lengths of both sleeves, and if I don't have enough extra lenght, I will detach the bottom of the sleeve and remove the damaged section and re-knit one band of the sleeve and graft it back together.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the patched sweater, Sherry W asks, "Oh about the sweater- you think Carol can dye match some yarn for you? At least getting it close for the repaired sections?"

I'm not concerned about it being perfect, but I do want it to look acceptable. I don't think an exact match is required for that.

Regarding the dark tweed sweater, Diane in Chico writes, "Did you wind the yarn off the cone to knit the tweed pullover, or are you knitting from the cone? If knitting from the cone, do you worry about twisting the yarn as it comes off the cone? Is the cone on the floor or on some kind of holder that prevents twisted yarn?"

I'm just unwinding the yarn off the top of the cone as I knit. I haven't found any twisting problems yet. I know this is an issue for that others have mentioned on knitting lists for years, but in all my cone yarn knitting, I have never had this issue.

Anne Marie in Philly writes, "I would be interested in learning how you are making the colorblock sweater."

I calculated my gauge and knew I needed a width of about 150 stitches for the section I'm working on. I then decided on 10 st by 14 row squares of color, and knit one up to see how much yarn one took. I then created about a dozen butterfly bobbins in each of the eight colors I'm working using, with enough yarn to make a square. Using standard intarsia techniques, I just keep adding new rows of color blocks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resistance Is Futile

Yes, I have been assimilated into the "borg" community of folks who are "Bluetooth Enabled." You know, those rude people that walk around seemingly talking to themselves, but actually on their concealed cell phone.

Christmas Gift
I requested, and received one of these newfangled (okay, not so newfangled) devices.

This cute little gadget is a wireless headset that is compatible with my most recent cell phone. I can carry my cell phone in my pocket and make or answer calls by simply smacking the side of my head. Technology is amazing.

Most of the technically facile readers of this blog will be snoozing by now, because this technology is not even close to cutting edge. But for me, it's new and exciting (sue me, I'm old).

Also, rest assured, that I will only be using this headset in the comfort of my car. I refuse to be one of those people that walks around all day attached to a wireless, electronic leash.

Current Knitting
I mentioned my latest two knitting projects, and here they are.

Tweed Pullover
Here is the coned yarn tweed pullover, which is being done on US3 needles, and will have a simple reverse stockinette fabric.

I know it doesn't look like much, because my digital photography skills suck at trying to capture dark fabrics. Here's a closeup of the fabric that provides further proof of my photographic inabilities.

The color of the yarn is much darker (think black hole, sucking all light out of any space it encounters), and the pattern stitch you're mostly looking at is a broken rib stitch.

You will all have to come visit me in Pennsylvania to see this in person. It really is lovely.

Colorblock Pullover
This sweater is much more photogenic.

I've already measured out about 100 lengths of yarn in each of the 8 different colors, and wound them into butterfly bobbins...all ready to work into the next row of colorblocks.

Thaddeus doesn't want me working on this takes away from my time on his tweed pullover, and besides which, I've "...already made a dozen sweaters like this." (his words, obviously)

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the patching of my brother-out-of-law's sweater, Michelene writes, "Joe, if it's not to presumptuous of me to make a suggestion, what if you remove the same section from both sleeves and rework the blue-grey bit in a new color?"

That might be a perfect solution. If the first one goes well, I'll consider doing the other sleeve as well. Thanks. I've also noticed that he rolls the cuffs up on the sleeves, and I might be able to get away with just taking out the same length on both sleeves, so no additional knitting will be necessary. Not sure if I have enough leeway to get away with such an easy fix.

Marilyn writes, "Time for brunch at the Stockton Inn as a January bluesbreaker? Huh?"

Yes, I could really use a knit-friend get-together. Hopefully global warming will keep the weather nice all month.

Tres asks, "Anyway, and at the risk of sounding like a shill for Apple, have you thought about switching to a Mac?"

Yes, a lot. The next computer we buy will definitely not be a Windows-reliant computer. Unfortunately, I don't have a say in my work computer.

Teresa says, "I use Money 2002, and had a version of Quicken which I played around with- the only reason I didn't upgrade was it wouldn't import my accounts, I needed 2004 or later. Did you not have this problem?"

Actually, there was a very small window of versions where you could export a file from Money and load that file into Quicken, and I wasn't able to do that. Money allows you to export a "strict QIF" file that some versions of Quicken will let you import (not 2007). I had to get most of my history (3 month's worth) from my on-line account holders and create the rest manually with this last conversion to Quicken 2007. But my last upgrade to Money 2000 (from Money 199?) was a complete disaster as well (MS support told me I had too much history to import).

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

Welcome to the New Year. Let's hope that this one is full of joy.

Microsoft Sucks
I can't tell you how many times I've said, heard or read this statement, but any of you who have had any exposure to their piece-of-shit products, knows it's true.

My latest story isn't shocking or awful, but it sure did put a dent in my ability to get things done, as I had to spend about five hours getting access to my checking account on-line again.

I have been a long-time user of Microsoft Money, my latest version being Money 2000. Converting from a prior version of Money was painful and never really worked, but for years, I was able to successfully use the software for tracking all my accounts and pay my bills on-line. This past Friday, I tried to download my latest account information, but my bank no longer supports Money 2000. With bills to pay, and not wanting to write out manual checks, I decided to pay for, and download the latest version of Money, which is Money 2007. All went well, until I tried to install, and found out you need to have Windows XP to support it. Of course, I have Windows 2000.

Hours later, I finally had my refund from Microsoft (except for a stupid $10 download fee), and I was able to download and install Intuit's Quicken and set up all my accounts back on line.

Quicken is, like it's company's name would suggest, a little more intuitative than Money, but mostly, they both do the same thing. The biggest difference is that I don't hate Intuit, while I do hate Microsoft.

Family That Knows Me
When Christmas rolls around, it's nice to have friends and family that know me well enough to give me things I really like.

While at my sister-out-of-law's this past Christmas, I opened a box to find a Lands-End, Fair-Isle cardigan. The colors weren't exactly good for me, and the size was too large. Something had clearly gone terribly wrong. I know my sister-out-of-law knows better than bringing coals to Newcastle.

I come to find out that this is my brother-out-of-law's favorite work sweater that he has worn through the elbow of, and my gift is the challenge of trying to fix it for him.

I know some readers might think this is a terrible gift, but my unlawful family knows me better. They knew I would love the chance to try and make this sweater wearable again. And don't get me wrong, they also got me some very lovely other gifts (this is the same family that lives near WEBS, and has given me gift certificates there in the past).

I have already attempted my first repair, by grafting in the missing fabric, but I'm not pleased with how it's turned out. I'm thinking that I will try and remove the bottom half of the sleeve, and repair all the damaged rows, and then graft it back on. I have yarn that is close in colors to the damaged section, but not a perfect match. We'll see how it works out.

Current Knitting
I did finally finish the Kaleidescope jacket, using the Araucania yarn, instead of Unicorn's Shetland yarn.

I am extremely happy with how it turned out, and I can't wait to give it to my friend Nora today. While it's a little late, I think she'll be glad to have waited for it nonetheless.

New Project
I've started two new projects.

First one is a man's colorblock sweater, using the same colors as my friend's Araucania jacket. As I was knitting her sweater, I realized these colors would be great for a man's sweater.

I also started a finer gauge, man's pullover, using a very dark tweed that I got at WEBS last year. The color is almost black with flecks of lighter colors.

I'll post pictures of both in my next blog entry.