Monday, June 30, 2008

The Other Red Project

Last week I mentioned I had another project that was red (in addition to the Ichida lace that I finished and the pullover vest that I started).

A New Skill?
I'm not sure if I will pursue this any further, but I decided to teach myself to sew.

I figured the characteristic of perseverance would extrapolate well to sewing, but I didn't realize that the whole new lexicon and the lack of complete directions in sewing patterns would be quite so daunting.

Maybe it's just because I've been knitting for so long that I take certain things for granted, but it seems that knitting patterns assume only that you know how to cast on, knit and purl and give directions for all other stitches. Knitting patterns also give all the directions necessary to make a garment (even if the pattern only directs you to "reverse pattern on second side" instead of including instructions for it).

Sewing patterns on the other hand seem to assume that you know the order in which to put together a garment and other skills such as hemming and easing in and how to sew in elastic, etc.

Initially, I decided to use a relatively simple pattern to learn some of the basics, and I made a pair of boxer shorts (men's underwear was one of my first knitting projects, so I figured I'd stick with it). Other than sewing together the two fronts of the legs and the two backs of the legs to make boxer skorts instead of shorts (yes, I fixed this error), and having to re-sew the elastic band a few times, this pattern was relatively easy (sorry no pictures).

Then I decided to make a shirt.

Just unpacking all the pattern pieces, reading all the instructions and ironing out the fabric took quite a bit of time. But I followed the instructions and I watched a few YouTube videos on making mens' shirt collars and I was able to come up with a pretty good facsimile of a men's shirt.

I was even able to figure out how to use the buttonhole feature on my sewing machine and create decent button holes. Overall, I was quite pleased, and Thaddeus actually wore the shirt last night out in public. I guess it couldn't have been that bad.

Though, I may decide to limit my sewing to just quilting. Not sure all the work is worth it.

Current Knitting
I also made quite a bit of progress on the Rowan Felted Tweed Pullover Vest I've been working on.

I've finished the back, and almost completed the ribbing for the front, so it's moving along quite well. The sweater is looking like it will be a great basic man's sweater vest, and I may just decide to publish the pattern.

We'll see how it turns out and then decide.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol writes, "Hey, you didn't answer MY question. Hmph." (referring to her question about whether the other red project was the millinery hat work I was doing to get into the Red Hat Society).

Sorry Miss Carol for ignoring your question. Hopefully the sewing section of this blog entry answers your question. Also hope your WEBS book signing went well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogging and Training... the same time.

Yes, I am delivering a training (of sorts) and have time in between questions to write a little to keep my blog readers amused.

Or maybe, I wrote this at midnight last night on my own time and I just changed the date of publication...I'll leave speculation up to you.

I also get to check Ravelry through the day. Did everyone know there's a big brouhaha on the Herbert Niebling Ravelry forum?'s all VERY has to do with copywrite, and an octopus named Fleegle and moderators of the Yahoo Group for Nieblings. I will never understand how folks can get so riled up about something as beautiful as lace knitting. Especially when it competes for attention with my latest finished object.

Despite the fact that I don't know all the particulars (and don't really care) I have definitely chosen a side in this my mind, it's clear that a couple of folks are crazy and the rest aren't.

Current Knitting
I've done about five more inches of the Rowan Felted Tweed pullover vest and I am loving the yarn, loving the pattern stitch and loving the resulting fabric.

I had to include the tape measure in the picture to prove that I made some progress. And to make it easier for my metric-oriented readers, here's another picture.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the the Ichida lace project, Marilyn writes, "What are the finished measurements? And how many T-pins do you now own? I have a box with more than 200 of them."

The length of the piece is about 68 inches and the width is about 38 inches at its widest. I now own a total of 110 T-pins and a boatload more round-headed pins.

Maureen asks, "Do you miss working on it, now that it's done? I think it would feel like parting with a good friend!"

I enjoyed working on it a lot, but I don't miss it at all. It's actually quite refreshing to be working on US4 needles for the moment, but I will definitely be starting a new lace project soon.

Monday, June 23, 2008

QueerJoe's Red Phase

I didn't notice it until this weekend, but everything I'm making these days seems to be red.

Scarlet Knight
I guess I am a graduate of Rutgers College and the school colors are red and black and white (I know...garish), but after my current knitting project, I plan on working with any other color than red for a while.

Current Knitting
Thanks to Jane (AKA Lacefreak), I decided to use wires and pins to block my Ichida lace project. Here are some pictures of it while it blocked.

This last picture is the piece completed and lying over the end of the guest bed.

Suffice it to say, I'm very happy with how it turned out.

New Project
I decided to do a pullover vest with the red Rowan Felted Tweed (color Rage...not technically red?), and I opted to use the stitch pattern from the sock pattern in Kristen Spurkland's book, The Knitting Man(ual). I've finished about nine inches on the back and I'm loving the drape and hand of the fabric. The yarn is very nice.

Here's a more detailed photo that will hopefully show the pattern a little (god, I wish I could take photos like Jared)

For those that knit lace, I'm sure you'll agree that progress on a sweater seems to go MUCH more quickly.

I'll discuss the other red projects I'm working on in my next post.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


In many ways I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent, but there are some days where I question whether I'm just too stupid to realize how stupid I am.

Running Errands
Recently, I've decided that I wanted to learn how to sew. I've purchased a few sewing patterns and my first attempt at sewing a garment is also for one of the first things I tried's underwear. I've finished most of the sewing of a large pair of boxer shorts and needed to purchase some elastic for the waistband. I also wanted a few other things at the sewing shop, including t-pins to block the Ichida lace.

I purchased everything I needed and then got back to the hotel, only to realize I hadn't purchased anywhere near enough pins to block the lace. Oh well...the official blocking will have to wait for this weekend.

Current Knitting
With the forty pins I did purchase, I pinned out one half of the lace project, but not all the outer loops.

Through the magic of photo massaging software, I can kind of show you the full garment...even with only 40 pins.

New Project
I've decided to make myself a pullover vest, using some Rowan Felted Tweed in a beautiful red color. I started to swatch.

I wasn't overly thrilled with the gauge, so I have to wait to get home and re-start my swatch in a smaller needle.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fiberqat asks, "So will you do the Ichida dance for Mel and David next weekend?"

I would be glad to, but I won't be able to do it in person. Unfortunately, we couldn't make the wedding...but that won't stop me from doing a dance in their honor...right?

Kathy writes, "Any Great Big Sea (and the lovely whiskey-voiced Alan Doyle) or Rick Mercer fan knows it's pronounced NewfoundLAND."

Actually, it's pronounced noofinLAND by most of the Newfies I know. That's why it's even worse the I misspelled it.

Regarding the Ichida lace, Andrea writes, "But that picture of you holding the piece gives me a whole new appreciation for the scale of the project. I mean, my god it's huge! And that's what it looks like *before* blocking. Now I am frankly amazed you got it done before Labor Day!"

Thanks for writing felt wonderful to feel understood.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two Masterpieces in One Weekend least one is a masterpiece for Thaddeus and I, and the other will hopefully turn out to be a masterpiece once blocked.

Local Auction
For fans of The Antiques Roadshow, there are a few neighbors of mine that do the valuations of antiques for the show. David Rago and Suzanne Perrault are often seen on the show, usually evaluating pottery...they are both experts.

Anyway, Rago owns a local auction house across the river from me in Lambertville, NJ and their latest "discovery auction" included a painting that Thaddeus saw and loved, and when we went for the preview, I had to agree that it was beautiful.

The painting is an untitled, undated portrait by Elof Wedin. The frame is handcarved, and quite beautiful, and we're thinking it might be done by his brother who did that kind of work.

There was nothing else in the auction that we wanted, so we scheduled to arrive around 7:00 on Saturday evening to bid on it. Fortunately, we arrived about 30 minutes early, because the one piece we wanted was minutes away from going on the block. We were paralyzed for a moment when the auctioneer made the first bid for $100 less than we were willing to bid, thinking that she would go quite a bit higher than we wanted to pay, but we recovered quickly upped her bid.

No more bids were placed, and the lovely painting now hangs in our bedroom. We couldn't be more pleased.

Current Knitting
I was honestly concerned I wasn't going to be able to finish the Ichida lace piece again this weekend, but I spent hours and hours (about 14 in total) this weekend, and the lace if finally off the needles.

I haven't blocked it yet...the crocheted-off edging took way longer than I expected, and so I didn't have enough time to pin it out and make it lovely. I'll try to get that done this weekend.

Now...what do I work on next?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Friend Carol asks, "If God hasn't friended me, does that mean I'm going to burn in hell?"

Yes dear...sorry.

Anonymous wrote, "I know you probably hate people correcting grammar. (most people do.) But this will bug me... It's actually Newfoundland, not New Foundland.. We Canadians get touchy about our place names.

I don't hate being corrected at fact, I quite appreciate it. I left my mistake on the blog because I didn't want your comment to seem bizarre, but the correct spelling has been duly noted. I can't believe I didn't know how to spell that, and I would have corrected you too if you had typed Newyork on your blog.

Cynthia writes, "Wooo Whoooo on being a Rutgers Alum--I just became one on May 20!"

Congratulations!...I loved my time at Rutgers, and it's always great to see someone make it through there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What A Friend We Have in Jesus...


Gotta Love Some Parts of Ravelry
Just got this in my RavMail the other day.

I know Marilyn has a recent blog post asking readers their thoughts on Ravelry, and most consider it a time suck but useful in some ways.

Me, I enjoy it quite a bit and use many of the features. I maintain all my current projects and loaded a number of older ones. Like Marilyn, I also use LibraryThing to track all my knitting books, but Ravelry allowed me to import a download file of all my knitting books, so it was easy to keep it in both places.

I also learn an enormous amount from the Niebling Lace group and I am constantly entertained by a few of the guys from the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat this past month.

Suffice it to say, I'm a fan.

Canadian Candy Revisited
I have a co-worker on my current project who lives part-time in New Foundland and when she found out I liked Canadian candy, she brought me these:

Just what I needed to try and stay in shape. I've already eaten half of them, and I think my favorite so far is the Big Turk bar, but it's hard to compare that to the Aero Bar-Caramel. I had had a regular Aero Bar before, but not with caramel...yum.

Current Knitting
Still slogging away at the final dozen or so rounds on the Ichida lace project...I can't imagine having to take this project unfinished into next week, so I will do everything I can to be able to provide you with a finished/blocked lace project on Monday.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Shocking how much interest was generated by the list of places where I've lived.

Barb writes, "...regarding when you lived in Elmira. I hope it was mercifully brief, and had nothing to do with the prison."

Not only was it mercifully brief, but it was before I have any conscious memories, so I was spared. And unless it was about my father (which I doubt), it had nothing to do with the prison there.

Leslie writes, "You mean I may actually KNOW you? I grew up in Rockville, CT. When did you live there?"

I lived there also at a pretty young age...between the ages of 5 and 10 (or 1964-1969 about). We lived in a Vernon mailing address, off Skinner Road (Hany Lane to be specific). My mom's best friend and husband still live right near there in you know Jim and Ann (I call them Auntie Ann and Uncle Jim)...the nicest people on the planet.

Jenni writes, "I think I may be stalking you or vice versa. New Brunswick, Highland Park and Edison, NJ? The three towns I lived in during graduate school. Don't move to Michigan."

Having graduated from Rutgers, I imagine there are a lot of folks that lived in those areas at one point in their life if they also went there. I'm doing some work in Grand Rapid over the next couple of months...does that count as stalking?

Finally, on a different (and much more sensitive subject), sue-who-knits asks, "What ever became of the crocheted tablecloth, the one with the stars?"

It's sitting in a project bag. I had to snip out about 3 or 4 stars and realized there's still more snipping to do...just need to figure out where. We both needed a time out.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I'm not usually a big fan of Meme's...I think they might be useful for bloggers who look for things to say about themselves, but I haven't yet had to struggle for blog material...especially about myself.

As much as I don't like meme's, I love Kenny. He is funny, smart as hell and does/says some very unexpected and delightful things. He was the first guy I saw when I got to the retreat.

So, I'm replying to his tagging me with a meme, but I won't be tagging anyone else (most of my blog friends have either been tagged already or would be totally annoyed by being tagged).

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

Wow...those were high times for the consulting industry...most specifically in the field I am in (and was in 10 years ago). I was working for the investment banking division of a large multi-national bank in Stamford Connecticut. I was staying at a full-service Marriott during the week, playing squash in their guest courts and eating a lot of Indian and Italian food at two of my favorite restaurants up there. I don't remember exactly when, but that client sent me to Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore during my time there. It was a very exciting time of my career.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Publish a blog entry (check!)
Continue testing benefits enrollment for the Michigan offices I'm working with.
Follow up with Easton Mountain on contracting for a weekend next year.
Finish my current lace project.
Decide on my next knitting project.

3. Snacks I enjoy:

Herr's Salt & Pepper Potato Chips
Jelly Beans
Kraft Extra Creamy Peanut Butter or Philly Cream Cheese on a Ritz Cracker
Yogurt and fruit

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Buy a plane and go back to flying.
Own a house in the woods near where I currently live and a house in Tuscany.
Start a foundation that would fix our countries education system.

5. Places I have lived:

Albany, NY
Elmira, NY
Rockville, CT
West Medway, MA
Princeton Junction, NJ
Highland Park, NJ
Edison, NJ
New Brunswick, NJ
New Hope, PA

6. Peeps I want to know more about:
tycho garen

Current Knitting
OMFG...I will NEVER finish this Ichida lace project.

I dedicated myself all weekend to trying to get it finished, and I still only got up to round 58 of 76 on the border. It seemed no matter how much time I sank into knitting, I wasn't making anywhere near the kind of progress I had hoped to. I've cleverly put a black ellipse up to where I've finished in the picture of the lace from the Ichida book so you can see how "little" needs to be done.

To be fair, there are over 1,100 stitches in each round seems I won't be able to finish this until the upcoming weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Cara asks, "Joe, the lace is not going anywhere near an airplane, is it?"

I don't fly again until the last week of this month, and I'm pretty certain it will be complete before then. But I could always leave it in my hotel room, or accidentally snag it on something and pull it to shreds.

Retreat People

There were 32 guys who attended the 2008 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, and I could write blog entry about each and every one of them...each of them were fascinating in their own way.

Danny and Van
One of the couples attending the event were Danny and Van. Danny Ouellette, I've known for a long time through various on-line knitting forums, and I was a big fan of one of his first published patterns, and I love his latest hat design. But despite knowing of him, I had never met him. Van, his partner, I got to know solely through the brief time I had with him at the retreat, and then I've learned more about him by reading his blog.

In my experience, they were both quiet and introspective, but also incredibly down-to-earth and easy to be around. Danny was incredibly sleep-deprived by the time he got to Easton Mountain, and before he got some rest, he was actually quite funny in an almost drunk sort of way.

One of the biggest pleasures of the retreat was seeing how even quiet, reserved guys made a significant contribution to the event.

Current Knitting
I made it up to round 36 on the current Ichida project, and I haven't lost one bit of steam on my forward fact, I think I may have even accelerated my pace a bit.

I am going to push hard to finish this by the weekend and start something new.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Many of the Canadian readers were aghast at the lack of interesting candy in this country...Alan (Raresteek) summed it up with, "I am horrified at this new knowledge concerning the candy drought in the U.S.of A. How about Coffee Crisps? or Crispy Crunch?"

We've just recently started getting Coffee Crisps in the states. I personally blame Cadbury and the White House Administration for this dreadful lack of good candies. Cadbury, because they send all the good stuff to Canada, and The WHA because I don't like them.

Monday, June 02, 2008


As the thousands and thousands of stitches I put into the Ichida lace project get sucked up into the deceptively massive outer borders, I've put out this incentive to keep me knitting.

Recent Acquisitions
Just having it out and visible helps me rush along with Ichida. This latest purchase is a yarn called "Angel Face" from Briar Rose Fibers and the color is a rich antique gold. Chris at Briar Rose had sent beautiful yarns as door prizes for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, and this alpaca laceweight yarn was gorgeous. I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to pick from all the colors she had in this yarn.

I also recently received my last shipment for this season's Black Bunny Fiber - Fiber-of-the-Month-Club (or something like that).

This one, in addition to having gorgeous colors is a blend of merino and alpaca....yummm. Carol is a demon...each fiber she sends is better than the last, and I want to drop everything each time a new installment arrives to work on only that.

But I restrain myself.

Current Knitting
I was able to do a LOT of knitting this past weekend, and I'm still only up to round 30 out of 76 for the outer border areas of the Ichida lace garment.

Each round takes an average of about 35 minutes, so while I'm making great progress, it doesn't really look like it so much.

It seems I will have to post one more progress picture before showing you the final blocked piece.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding availability of candy in the U.S., Barb asks, "If you don't have those 2 mainstays of the junk food diet, do you at least have Caramilk bars?

No, but those are easily accessible through Amazon groceries at the link above. I love how they advertise it, "over a pound of caramel & chocolate from canada" for only $15 (that's U.S. dollars).