Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaving You With Warm Thoughts

I head to warmer climates and thought I'd put one more post out there with pictures of knitting and the cat.

First The Cat
Carol asks who will be taking care of baby Nico?

We are very lucky that there's a veterinary technician that live near us and makes extra dollars by pet-sitting. She took care of Gage when we were away, and now she showers her love on Nico. Not only does she love cats (especially ours), but she also knows when to call in a professional in case anything happened while we were away.

Current Knitting
I did end up pulling out all the blue cotton lace knitting I had done and decide to knit the lace with the Skacel lace merino yarn in a rich taupe color.

The picture makes it look beige or white on my monitor, but is more gray/tan/taupe. It shows off the patterning much better than the cotton.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Anonymous writes, "I would have thought that mercerised cotton would have been the best choice for a lace design of this nature - maybe it's the colour?"

I would have thought so too, but it was more the texture of the yarn, rather than the color (colour) that didn't work. The double-decreases that Ichida uses don't look very good in cotton, whereas they look great in wool.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Finding My Way

I was glad to read such thoughtful comments about folks who take great care to navigate past the easy ways of determining which candidate they want to vote for, and make careful choices...even if they don't agree with my choice.

Even Better
It's even better for me that many of the folks that commented seemed to at least have tried to see how much of their opinions were swayed by the incessant media commentary. I do believe that the media has favored Barack much more than Hillary, and that they have perpetuated the often unquestioned dislike of Hillary and the favored underdog status of Barack.

All that being said, I hope one of them will show the American people what a president should be.

I put the picture of the Garmin Nüvi on my site for two reasons. One, because it was a picture of my awful imagery of "navigating" but also because the prices for this thing has gone down even further than they used to be. This thing is under $370...they clearly must not have sold enough of them at Christmas.

Current Knitting
I started the Ichida lace cloth and I've made quite a bit of progress on my first chart-only lace project.

I ended up going with a mercerized cotton for this project, and I'm not sure I like it. Now that I'm up to round 34, I think I may rip it out and try again with some other yarn. It's not showing the definition as much as I had hoped.

I'll go a little further before deciding.

Next week the blog and I will be on vacation.

Look for the return of a tanned and relaxed blog when I get back on March 9th.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Consider Carefully

For American's, it's good to be a Democrat these days. We have two excellent candidates to choose from in the primaries.

Tested Versus Smooth
Don't get me wrong, I like both Hillary and Barack and I think either of them would far exceed the performance of the current Redumblican candidate.

That being said, I would also like to plead for folks voting in the primary to carefully consider their rationale for voting for any particular candidate.

Having been personally someone who has been able to succeed in business largely because of my ability to speak well and present myself well, I also have a lot of skills to back up the outer shell that clients assess me by.

I don't know that I can say that about Barack, but I do know that I can say it about Hillary.

In my mind, she has shown over and over how talented, dedicated and strong she is in handling difficult situations. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the ability to convey this as well as her husband did when he beat the pants off the last Bush president. I do fear that selecting a young, energetic Democratic candidate because he speaks well and conveys sincerity and inspires excitement might not be the best method of choosing. Mostly, Barack has brought enthusiasm to African Americans, independents and young people. Of those three groups, African Americans are the only historically tested group of voters that show up at the polls.

If folks haven't voted in their primaries yet, I'm not asking you to change your allegiance, but I am asking you to revisit how you decided that allegiance in the first place.

Democrats can't really afford a mistake at this point or Jeb Bush (or God forbid, maybe even Jenna) may be around in 2012 to restart the Bush monarchy.

Current Knitting
I did an initial blocking of the completed red lace tea cloth, and it will look spectacular when it's all blocked out complete (despite the lousy picture).

All of the edging is completed, but I just stretched it out as minimally as I could to show it was finished. I will go back and do a proper blocking before Barb comes down for proper tea.

I couldn't bring myself to start the new lace project, so I worked diligently on US11 needles to make a couple of felted bucket hats.

I haven't felted them yet. Maybe I'll leave one unfelted to give me that hip-hop sort of look.

What do you think, yo yo?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Julie writes that I should have corrected the red eye on Thaddeus' picture, and then decided to do that for me. She went with the tried and true triptych format to make Thaddeus a bit more Boticelli.

Thanks do Thaddeus proud.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Did You Have A Nice Valentine's Day?

Thaddeus' Birthday
Many of you know that February 14th is Thaddeus' birthday, and despite some personal family issues, a stiff neck and a lace knitting deadline, we were able to enjoy a very nice birthday/Valentine's Day weekend.

I was lucky enough to come home on Thursday to this.

And this was (and I used "was" purposefully) what was inside.

Boy were these chocolates good, but I'll look like hell when I head to Cancun at the beginning of next month.

Current Knitting
There's good news, more good news and less good news.

Less good news: I still haven't quite finished the red lace tea cloth.

Good news: I have finished all 190 rounds (despite making a 250 stitch mistake that I had to unknit).

More good news: I have enough of the red cotton yarn to finish the tea cloth.

It still looks rather rag-like while I finish up the crochet edging, but soon it will be blocked and beautiful.

Thaddeus' Movie Pick
With the Tuesday releases about to be available, Thaddeus highly recommends Lust Caution.

We got to see it this weekend, and enjoyed it much more than Michael Clayton.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pound Cake Demand

Who knew quite what level of demand there was for a good pound cake recipe.

Lots of Lurkers
I check my web site statistics every once in a while, and I know the traffic of readers to this site. Despite that, I never realized all it would take would be the offer of a good pound cake recipe to bring out hundreds of readers.

Suffice it to say, I've sent the recipe out far and wide. Even to some non-Americans who have never heard of a pound cake for those that didn't know.

Here's a link to Wikipedia's definitions for pound cake.

The recipe also calls for the use of a standard ring pan, or angel food cake pan.

Current Knitting
I've done another seven rounds on the red lace tea cloth.

Due to weather last night and leaving my backpack at work, I wasn't able to get a picture of the lace-in-process, but I've only got about 18 more rounds to go before it's finished.

Believe it or not, I still can tell if I'll have enough cotton yarn to finish this piece.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks to dragoncrafter for such a great history/description of cotton thread and yarn. One of these days, someone will come up with a standard, like the metric system, that will be used universally.

Mel writes, "My family has always used a recipe for cold oven pound cake (put the pan into a cold oven and then turn it on). It is far and away our favorite - so much so that it's the recipe I plan to use for my wedding cake."

Okay Mr. Tease...are you going to share this recipe? Oh god, now I'm begging for recipes...what is WRONG with me?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I Confess

It usually really bugs me when people send me recipes.

Not Sure Why
I can't imagine why it would bug me, but it does. I'll mention a dish I ate, or something that Thaddeus cooked, and inevitably, someone will e-mail a recipe that is the best of whatever I was referencing...or worse, a recipe for some unrelated food item.

I never cook any of these recipes. I never print them off. I never forward them to Thaddeus so he can cook them. I don't cook that much at all, and Thaddeus has already learned to cook things that I like.

So, I guess that when someone sends me a recipe, it's not very useful to me, but I still can't imagine why I find it quite so annoying.

All that being said, a co-worker brought in two large pound cakes last week, and I have to admit, I begged her for the recipe.

This pound cake was (and yes, we ate both cakes) nothing short of perfect. It was dense and moist and had a crackly/sugary top. It was almond flavored, with a slight cream cheesey flavor that worked perfectly and it wasn't overly sweet.

We all wanted to know if she did anything special when making this cake, and she doesn't. She said it's a basic "follow the recipe and it works" cake.

She was happy to give me the recipe. If anyone is interested, please e-mail me at and I'd be glad to send it to you (it's very easy and short). I just don't want to push this on anyone that might find it annoying.

Current Knitting
Four rounds back, 14 rows forward.

Yes, I had to unknit four rounds (about 2,500 stitches...ugh!) because of some mistake I had made that mis-aligned an entire side of the square. But I knit like a dervish (if a dervish could in fact knit) and made up the back-pedaling.

If you think about it, unknitting takes about twice as long as knitting, so I really knit the equivalent of about 22 rounds this weekend.

Here's a different picture of the same stage of knitting.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Friend Liza sent me an e-mail to say that she couldn't see the link for "Comments" at the bottom of my post except for a short time on Sunday. I'd be interested to hear from folks who have had similar issues. If it's prevalent, I will contact Blogger to see what can be done about it.

Regarding the book Swish: My Quest To Become The Gayest Person Ever, I mentioned in my last post, Carol writes, "Joe, I really want to preorder that book too. Does that mean I'm a self-respecting gay man?"

Logically, if all self-respecting gay men would want to pre-order the book, and you want to pre-order the book, it doesn't necessarily follow that you are a gay man. But in your case, you are.

Kerry writes, "Would you happen to have a recommendation for yarn for Kinzel's patterns? I've looked for size 50 cotton and am basically coming up with sewing thread. Is the yarn you're using that thin?"

Does she really recommend size 50 cotton? I think that's way too thin. I wouldn't go any thinner than size 10 cotton unless you want a real gauzy look to it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Another Book On Pre-Order

I mentioned Carol's book, Knit So Fine, on Wednesday, and then I noticed this book for pre-sale also.

It's Swish: My Quest To Become The Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner.

How could any self-respecting gay man not want this book?

QueerJoe's Political Statement
Knit-blogging friends have posted some references to their preferred candidates for the U.S. Presidential primary, and I will add my two cents.

I am supporting Senator Clinton for president. I find her to be an incredibly diligent, smart and dedicated candidate who has learned to navigate the ugly world of politics. I should probably first note that I have no idea how to pick a president, although I definitely have ways of eliminating choices for myself.

If all of her skills, experience and spirit weren't enough to elect her, check out the video below and compare the backgrounds each of the guys use for their interview with the one used by Clinton (she's toward the end of the video clip).

Just so you know, Senator Clinton's background is a quilt designed by Kaffe and my friend Liza, although I have no idea who actually made the quilt.

Current Knitting
I struggled a little with my knitting these last couple of days. I was only able to get five rounds completed since Wednesday, and I may have to go back a couple of rounds if I screwed something up. I'll know shortly.

Here's the obligatory progress picture.

If I do decide to go back a couple of rounds, it will take quite a bit of work. I'm not averse to doing that, but I hate that it might delay starting my next lace project.

And if I decide to swatch for the next lace project...all may be lost.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fiber Ninja asks, "Speaking of Lars, has anyone been in contact with him?"

Lars seems to drift into and out of my life, and I haven't heard from him in a while...anyone else?

Samina writes, "I've searched through your archives to see if I could find some info on your pattern for the red lace tea cloth, but the google search won't offer me up your first posts discussing it. Please take mercy on me & do tell!"

Thanks for Jane posting the answer, it is Springtime Design from Marianne Kinzel's First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

I Can Pre-Order!!!

Not sure if this is old news or not (sorry Carol) but Carol and Laura and Lisa's book Knit So Fine is available for pre-order through Amazon.

I've Met All The Authors
I feel privileged to have met all three women who put this book together, and I have to say, any one of them could have put out a spectacular book, so I'm looking very much forward to getting my copy when it comes out in June. So I've pre-ordered.

I'm sure Carol will be glad to sign my copy even though I bought it at a discounted price through Amazon.

Last time I mentioned a book available for pre-order for Amazon, I went out to pre-order, and the delivery date had been pushed back two weeks. I guess their original order of the book had sold out more quickly than I had expected. That won't happen this time.

Current Knitting
I've made a lot of progress on the red lace tea cloth, and I'm actually beginning to think I might just finish this soon.

I completed 12 rounds!!!! Yes, that is worthy of assassinating a few exclamation points, especially given the number of stitches per round is around 800 and I'm learning new stitch patterns in this section of the lace.

Just to give you a sense of where I am in the project, since it's impossible to get a decent picture, the black line on the scan of the cloth in the book is where I am.

Upcoming Knitting
There are times when it's very convenient to maintain such a regularly published blog.

I was able to go back in blog history to find out what the mystery yarn was.

It turns out I got it from Lars at Rhinebeck-2006 as a gift. He bought it at School Products and said that it was almost 2 pounds of raw silk.

Based on a lot of reading about Niebling-like patterns that bind in places where they aren't supposed to, I will take the sage advice of Fleegle and use the Merino for my first Niebling-like lace.

Monday, February 04, 2008

As If I Didn't Have Enough To Keep Me Busy

And now one of the knitter guys from MWK sends out this link to an on-line knitting game.

Not Only That...
...but the instructions are in Japanese, so of course, it took me about 30 minutes to figure out this child's game, and of course, I couldn't stop until I had knitted 3 pages without error.

Men can be so evil.

Current Knitting
I raced like a demon to try and finish up my current lace tablecloth and ended up getting to round 139.

Here's a picture with light in the background to try and show a little detail.

Now 9 rounds might not sound like a lot, but first of all, some of the rounds are now over 800 stitches around. Second, I made a mistake at one point which required me to unknit 792 stitches. All-in-all, I made a lot of progress (despite evil Japanese knitting games).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jane (AKA LaceFreak) writes, "Great choice for a first Niebling! Do you know what yarn you will use? Or will you knit it with thread/cord?"

I'm choosing between these two yarns.

The one on the left is a nice soft merino laceweight in a taupe color that is rich and lovely. The one on the left is a ton of some laceweight yarn I picked up somewhere, but I have no idea what it is. It feels/looks like hemp and silk, but I honestly have no idea. I'll have to look back through blog entries to see when I got it, and what it is.

Whatever I decide to use, I hope I get to start it next week sometime.

Friday, February 01, 2008

My Next Lace Project

Having gotten the two Naoko Ichida books from Lacis (thanks Janice for the spelling), I have picked out my next project.

One of the things that struck me about Niebling's lace work was that he could makes some of the most beautifully sculpted fabric, often using florals as his subject. I love how his works is so elegant, curvy and soft.

I've selected a pattern called La Promenade dans la Forêt (I guess that's the French translation of the Japanese name?). Here are a couple of badly scanned pictures of what it looks like in the book.

Current Knitting
Now I can't wait to finish this mundane piece of lace from Kinzel's Lace Knitting books.

In keeping with today's theme, the picture isn't so great. I tried to take a picture of just one corner of the piece to make the pattern more obvious. I have to work on my photography skills.

I'm on round 130 now, so I finished another 8 rounds. They get longer and longer, but now I have incentive to push even faster.

Readers' Comments/Questions
M-H writes, "We recently got rid of Howard, who was of the same mind as Bush about Global Warming - that it was really all about 'protecting jobs'. Idiots! Things feel better here now. Hope the same can happen for the US."

From you lips to Goddess' ears. While I'm hoping Clinton gets elected, I would certainly support an Obama presidency as well.

Meribeth writes, "There are some wonderful Japanese knitting sites on the web. Have you seen these?
and Fleegles Blog?