Sunday, July 27, 2008

Creepy Bug

I was about to brush a dead leaf off my screen yesterday, and realized it wasn't a leaf at all.

Amazing Moths
My investigation into what this creature was allowed me to look at an incredible variety of moths. Here's another picture showing the scale of this moth to be about 1 inch long.

I'm pretty sure this is a male blind sphinx moth, although there are enough moths close looking to my example that it's hard to know for sure (at least for me).

Current Knitting
I cruised along on the latest Ichida lace project, and now I've gotten up to the point where I can't stretch out the entire item again until it's off the needles (I HATE moving 500 or more stitches to a thread and then back to my needles just so I can take a picture of it).

I'm already up to round 80 of 142 rounds.

I'm also going to be flying this coming week, so I'll have to try and rig up some safety line that attaches my project to my belt or something so that I can't possibly forget it on the airplane.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my comment about PuffTheMagicRabbit's drum carder, she writes, "The drumcarder is still in it's box- I'm thinking I may not get to play until school starts- but there is some baby mohair and bunny just waiting for it. Sounds like we need to get you some more fleece..."

Next time I head out to a fiber festival, I will definitely be picking up more fleece to process. I just won't make the mistake of buying a huge garbage bag full of Cormo fleece which doesn't work well with a drum card (or hand cards either for that matter). But knowing that Puff has such a lovely piece of fiber equipment still in the box makes me feel much less guilty.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Unread Updates

It seems that the entire blog-reading world goes away on Fridays, and doesn't return until Monday to catch up on missed blog entries.

Despite It All
Yes, brave heart that I am, I will still provide an update today.

Besides which, I couldn't justify having left you with that awful picture of the Promenade dans le Fôret lace that I posted earlier this week.

Current Knitting
And yet, I find this color of yarn to be particularly difficult to photograph so that I can give the yarn a bit more contrast from its background. I'm blaming the camera and I won't listen to anyone who blames the photographer.

I've only added 9 more rounds since the last posting, but it seemed like more than that while I was doing it.

The nice part about knitting this design for the second time is that I haven't made any errors yet, which I definitely couldn't have said about my first attempt at this project.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my whining about laceweight yarns in manly colors, I was glad to get all your comments and suggestions. I love that Carol wrote, "Hey -- BBF laceweight comes in any color YOU want."

All I can say is that it's good to have friends in the knitting world!

PuffTheMagicRabbit wrote, "Love your roving color. Mine was named Good n Plenty- though I think she meant Good n Fruity"

You're probably right, but I would imagine Carol would have saved the name Good 'n Fruity for me, dontcha think? BTW, how do you like your Strauch drum carder? I love having mine, but I feel like it's somewhat wasted based on the amount of fleece I actually get to card.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lace For Men

A couple of the male lace knitters on Ravelry have been experimenting with lace garments for men.

QueerJoe's Quandry
I think wearing fine-gauge lace that I made for myself would be great, however, I'm not the kind of guy that can get away with wearing something funky and bold without looking like an incredible geek.

That leaves me with trying to create some intricate lace project in dark, muted colors that would still show off the lace, but also wouldn't be so bright that folks would gape in astonishment. I also don't look that great in blacks and browns and beiges.

Anyone know of any laceweight yarns that come in deep, somber shades of blues or reds or purples? I think a nice wide scarf would be perfect.

Current Knitting
Speaking of lace that I couldn't wear, I have made a lurch in progress on the Promenade dans le Fôret lace project that I started this past weekend.

The picture sucks because I forgot to bring blocking pins with me to pose the lace appropriately, but I've completed 12 more rounds and I'm up to round 58. Each round is already up to 400 stitches and growing.

Also speaking of laces, I decided to subscribe a German knitting magazine called Anna and got my first issue.

Unfortunately no interesting lace projects, but it has quite a few interesting knit designs.

Current Spinning
I got back behind the Robin wheel again after a small, unplanned hiatus.

I'm almost halfway through this lovely blue spinning project. The singles are quite fine, and I'm looking forward to working with the resulting yarn. If I ever finish.

And I better, because now I have another Black Bunny Fiber product waiting in the wings.

This is a beautiful batch of corriedale roving dyed in a colorway that Carol calls Sweet Tart...I'm only hoping she didn't name it after me, but the candy.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding vacation, Carol asks, "How did Nico survive?"

I think this is the third time we've left him with our highly qualified pet sitter (actually, she comes to our house once a day to feed and love Nico). I think Nico is getting used to it, and perhaps even enjoying our absence. He was a little more affectionate when we got home, but not totally needy like that last couple of times.

c meir writes, "I can't tell whether the lace project is green or yellow or in the colorway, but it will go lovely with your new tan!"

Funny you should mention this. On the hank, this yarn looks like an antique gold to me, but when I wound it and starting knitting, it is mostly green with a lot of yellow. Quite vibrant and still rich looking, but even with a tan, I wouldn't be able to wear this without looking completely jaundiced.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick Update

Hear QueerJoe and KnitterGuy Ted on YKnit!!!

God I sound like such a fag!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back From Vacation

Had the week off last week, but now I'm back to work.

Blog and Knitting Vacation
First of all, I don't like announcing upcoming vacations anymore because the spammers search for that word and try to spam my comments while I'm gone. Second, this latest vacation has been the first time that I've checked to see if anyone would notice that I hadn't posted for a week.

Here's the traditional picture of me, tanned and relaxed upon our return from a week at the beach in Martha's Vineyard.

Current Knitting
I took the entire week off from any kind of fiber pursuit. It actually turned out to be a nice break.

I did start a new lace project after I got home.

This is the Promenade dans le Fôret pattern by Ichida that I attempted a while remember...the one I left on the plane when it was almost complete. This time I'm doing it in Angel Face by Briar Rose Fiber. It's a laceweight alpaca and I'm doing it on US3 needles.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my question about the pronunciation of the main character's name in the P.D. James mysteries, M-H asks, "Do you not have these series on TV?"

Not that I'm aware of, and even if we did, they would be drowned out by Project Runway, Shear Genius and American Idol.

Mel expressed the following about the boxer shorts I sewed for Thaddeus, "I hope Thaddeus at least gave you a private viewing of those boxers."

He certainly fact he wears them around the house quite often as pajamas.

Leslie asks, "So... when are you going to mention the "Retirement Counter" -- or did I miss it in my old age?"

I put a counter on the blog to track my time until retirement (for those who hadn't noticed). I didn't really think it required any special was more for me to keep my goal in mind.

Finally, Marilyn writes, "But how do you like the Felted Tweed? I've never met a Rowan yarn I didn't like, at least so far."

I loved working with's a little light for a sport weight yarn, but the color and texture are quite rich and the drape of the resulting fabric is delightful.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

No More Red

With all my red colored projects almost behind me, I think it will be a little while before I pick up any red yarn or fabric.

Reading, Sewing and Knitting
Today's blog entry is jam-packed with lots of activity and still nothing short of boring.

Current Reading
Just finished my latest leisure reading and I was again underwhelmed.

I know P.D. James is a very well-loved and much-read author, but I'm not so crazy about her books. The only reason I read this last one was that it was shrink-wrapped on my bookshelf, so I knew I hadn't read it already.

Original Sin by P.D. James is another one in her Adam Dalgliesh series (how DO you pronounce that character's last name?). Like the others I have read in the past, this one was an enjoyable read and was competently written, but just had no excitement or extra anything that made it worth recommending.

Not-So-Current Sewing
I couldn't get Thaddeus to model these for the camera, but I figured I should at least show a picture of the red boxers I made for him.

Overall, this garment was a good first garment to test my sewing pattern reading capabilities.

Current Knitting
I almost finished the pullover vest in Rowan Felted Tweed. Actually, I should say I DID finish it, but then didn't like the armhole edging, so I'm re-doing that part and re-sewing the side seams.

I was hoping to show a picture or two of me wearing this sweater, but it looked silly with open side seams.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Old Topic - New Spin - Books On Tape

I've read for years on the KnitList and other forums about knitters who multi-task by knitting and listening to books on tape.

Never Been a Big Fan
I enjoy reading almost as much as I enjoy knitting, and I could never understand why someone would want to listen to a book rather than read it.

But one of the oddities about my life is that I rarely read knitting books.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of books, and I look at the pictures and learn new techniques and evaluate and sometimes use the patterns, but I rarely read the text parts. I have never cared much about what folks write in books about knitting...the writing alway seemed to be the chaff in my wheat...I only wanted the wheat.

It All Comes Full Circle
Now I've found the perfect way for me to incorporate the written text of important knitting books (is that an oxymoron?) into my life without taking time away from my knitting.

Knitting Out Loud
is a company that sells CD's of knitting books on tape.

I've just finished listening to Ann Feitelson's, The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, and I enjoyed the experiment very much. I am now looking forward to listening to my second set of CD's, America Knits by Melanie Falick.

When I was first asked to review these CD's, I was skeptical. They obviously cannot include patterns (which they don't), and I was concerned that I would miss the pictures and graphics that accompany the text in a full book. Since I own Feitelson's book, I was able to recall the pictures from the times I have wandered through her book, so it was quite a pleasant use of driving time to listen to her book and finally get a bit of the history I should have read about already.

Current Knitting
I wasn't able to quite meet my goal of finishing the Rowan Felted Tweed pullover vest by the end of the weekend.

However the pushing toward my goal got me quite far along toward finishing. I was able to almost complete the front (just have the left neck shaping left). Designing the neck shaping while concurrently doing the short-row shoulder shaping and keeping the stitch pattern correct took a little bit more time and concentration than I initially expected.

I anticipate I will finish the sweater during my work week this week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Emma in France asks about my sewing, "Perhaps you could make your own kilt next and show off those infamous legs?" and then Cara follows up with "Will you try sewing some manly tote / knitting project bags next?"

I'm honestly not sure how much of my spare time I will devote to sewing. I would enjoy making either of those two projects. One of the other difficulties of sewing is the availability of a decent sewing/fabric shop near me. There's one in a nearby town who have some of the rudest bitches on the planet working there and other than that, I'm usually stuck with JoAnn's or purchasing supplies on-line. Just buying fusible interfacing or elastic for the boxer shorts was time-consuming.

Again I say, I may go back to quilting as my outlet for sewing.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Greedy Consumerism

Usually when a blog starts with this kind of title, it's about someone else. Unfortunately, this one is about me.

When is Enough Enough?
I own a rather large collection of knit-related things. The collection includes, yarns, needles, knitting machines, books, patterns, magazines, software, CD's, notions and project bags. And yet, whenever someone recommends a new book, or a blog reader asks me to preview a new product for free, or I find a yarn that I must have, I will never hesitate in adding it to my collection.

For me, it's more about when will the joy of having and using these things run out.

Thaddeus, in one of his tri-weekly visits to the local flea market found this for me and paid a mere $5.

It's an unused ball winder that would typically sell for about $25.

Even though I already own two perfectly good ball winders, I was thrilled that he found this great deal. I figure I could just donate it as a gift to the next Men's Knitting Retreat or some other good cause.

Current Knitting
I have continued on with the front of the pullover vest, and made decent progress for mid-week knitting...especially given how busy I've been with work.

I've finished about 5 inches so far. Depending on how much I get done over the next couple of days will determine whether I can actually finish this garment by the weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks all for the nice words about my sewing experiment. In addition to your comments and recommendations for good sewing tip web sites, I got a few e-mails with supportive advice.

Admiring Friend Kathy writes, "Is there anything (besides the purported flower arranging) that you haven't just picked up and become reasonably good at?"

There are a lot of things I'm not naturally good at. I suck at sports, I can't play music on any instrument known to mankind, and even when I put my mind to learning to fly, it took me a lot longer than many folks that had a natural aptitude for it. I also took a course in American Sign Language and was so bad I gave it up after one course. But honestly, I think that if you put your mind and some effort to almost anything, you can get reasonably good at it.