Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Striking Fear

The White House cattle prod for the last 8 years to get the American public to do what they wanted to was to instill fear. It has become less and less effective.

Now It's Back
The Democratic convention has brought fear back to inspire this country.

Fear of four more years of Bush/McCain policy.

Don't get me wrong...I'm terrified that McCain might actually get elected and continue the downward spiral this country has been on for the last 8 years. So fear is a strong motivating force for me. But I guess I just hoped I'd get to hear a more hopeful message rather than a less fearful one.

I truly think that Obama and Biden can make some urgently necessary changes in this country...I only hope they will.

Current Knitting
I mentioned the new project which is the Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf, done using Noro Kureyon Sock yarn.

I had forgotten how fun this pattern is to make (once you understand the instructions). It moves along so quickly and I love how it mixes colors. Here's a close up to show that pattern stitch a little better.

I'm not sure if I like how this is mixing the Noro colors, but like most Noro projects, I want to see it completed before I make a decision to rip it all out and make socks.

Wednesday is Flea Market Day!
On a recent trip to the local flea market, I found these two completely bi-polar knitting magazines from the same estate.

On the left is a funky sixties knitting magazine with ghastly color combinations and tightly fitting garments. On the right is an elegant example of Vogue Knitting magazine from 1956. Just to make folks long for the old days a bit more, the Vogue Knitting magazine has something like 80 projects in it...the cover price in case you can't see it was $.50.

Readers' Comments/Questions
superik(uh)nits writes, "Well it seems as if Nico has good taste at least. You should do an expirement and see if he'll lay on something made of acryllic or the such."

I like this idea. See if I raised my cat to be a fiber snob. I tend to believe he could probably care less what the fiber was. He'd probably roll on a Woolease garter-knit blanket if I was spending time with it like I was the lace. My guess is that he's more needy than tasteful.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Give A Cheer

It's always been curious to me that despite how much I enjoy knitting, I'm always thrilled when I complete a project.

Almost Anyway
I finished all the knitting for the Promenade dans le Foret lace knitting piece, and it came out quite beautifully (if I do say so myself).

I usually begin by pinning out my lace dry onto towels and block it out as evenly as possible by adding pins and moving them outward until it's stretched pretty tight. I then spray it with water to get it completely wet and do the final stretching and blocking.

Two things prevented me from finishing the blocking this past weekend. First of all, Nico insisted on rubbing as much of his cat hair as possible on this fine piece of alpaca lace. When he started digging his claws into it, I had to remove him physically.

He always knows when he's being a devil cat.

The second issue was that I didn't have a spray bottle that I could use to wet the piece. I ended up just covering the whole thing with a bed sheet and I'll finish it next weekend when I get home.

Next Knitting Project
Inspired by the color of the Noro sock yarn and a project I saw on Ravelry, I decided to use one of the balls of Kureyon Sock to make the Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf (should it be called the Noro Cross Stitch Scarf now?)

I don't have a picture yet, but I'll have one in my next posting.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks for all your comments on the man who is uncomfortable hearing about my gay things. It put the whole issue a much larger perspective for me, and I was glad to find it allowed me a lot more tolerance for the man.

I just hope he doesn't start flaunting his heterosexuality...don't you hate when they get all in-your-face about their sexual preference?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ignorance or Bigotry...

...or are they the same thing?

Latest Quandry
A self-described older Southern man wrote an entry to one of my knitting forums which basically said he was uncomfortable about being around gay men because he considered what some of them said to be inappropriate in a public forum. In writing about the forum, he wrote:

"I’m hoping to find the same thing here. For some time, I’ve looked for a man’s knitting group, one which wasn’t overtly gay. Not because I don’t like gays; but because I don’t care much for the talk that comes naturally out of a gay community. Things like “partner” or wife followed by the pronoun, “he”."
My immediate reaction was one of anger and annoyance that in this day and age, someone could still hold such ingrained hateful ideas. Then I thought perhaps he was just uncomfortable with guys that talk about their partners in public and this was the best way he could say it.

I responded to his comments, as did a number of other guys, in a supportive, educational way, but he responded with clueless defenses for what he said. He's still clueless, and I'm left feeling angry again that a product of his upbringing can't understand how hateful and intolerant he seems to a large part of the population he wrote to.

Some guys ignored this man, some guys attacked him with requests that he leave the group and others tried to explain patiently (and ineffectively) how his words affected them.

I'd be interested to hear how readers think this could be best handled.

Current Knitting
I've made some progress as the stitch count is now over 800 stitches per round.

I'm on round 132 of 142 and I'm realizing I will have to start making some decisions on how I will either extend the size of this piece or how I will finish it when I get to the end of the instructions as written.

Since I have no knitting pictures, I'll leave you with a picture of Nico.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kubbo asks, "Is the Ichida book hard to use?"

There are two Ichida books with re-works of Nieblings designs and I was very concerned about learning to knit using a chart instead of written instructions. Now I can't imagine going back to written instructions. If you're accustomed to using charts, I find these books to be as easy as any others. Since they're in Japanese, some of the non-chart, non-graphic instructions will need to be intuited, but there aren't very many of those. I have only had to ask the on-line community for a Japanese translation once so far.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Ichida Curse

I'm starting to think that the gods don't want me to finish Ichida's/Niebling's design, Promenade dans le FĂ´ret.

No I Didn't Leave It On a Plane
Despite the fact that I've been flying more than usual, I have been diligent about making sure I have my knitting with me when I get off a plane.

However, I looked down at my knitting today, and realized there were three loose stitches just hanging there ready to run. There may have been a little shriek, but I can't be sure...I've tried to block it out.

I don't know what happened, so I just put a safety pin in the three loose stitches and also the stitch or two above it and I am now in complete denial that there is anything wrong.

I'm sure I'll be able to finagle something, but I'd prefer to pretend to be oblivious at the moment.

Current Knitting
I've finished up through round 126 on the Ichida lace (hoping that I won't have to rip back over half of the lace to try and correct it the aberration). Do you realize that means I only have 16 rounds to go?!?!

Sorry for the crappy picture. It's grown into that awkward stage where I risk pulling stitches off the needles if I try and stretch it out for a proper picture.

Traveling SEX
This weekend found me away from home in lovely Flint Michigan (don't believe all that you might have seen in a Michael Moore movie).

I considered going to the Michigan Sheep & Wool festival, but circumstances and a 2 and a half hour drive made me decide otherwise. Instead, I made a trip to a little yarn store close by called Beyond The Rain Forest (I couldn't find a web page to link you to). The shop was both a new age gift shop, yoga studio and yarn store all combined in one. How Zen (or something).

I ended up buying a few things. I picked up four balls of sock yarn, two Trekking in a somber colorway and two Noro sock yarns in a much more interesting colorway (both are the same colorway despite what your eyes or computer screen might tell you).

I also bought a book that I have completely fallen in love with.

Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today is an incredibly beautiful book. It made me wish that Alexis Xenakis had stuck with photography rather than publishing a knitting magazine.

The pictures are gorgeous, the lace is quite interesting and fine and the little I've read of the book has been extremely interesting reading. For $20, I don't think you could go wrong with owning this one.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my BBF Corriedale roving that I most recently received from Carol, PuffTheMagicRabbit asks, "- have you started yours yet? Sweet-Tarts, wasn't it?"

No and yes. No, I haven't started it yet and yes, it was named Sweet-Tarts. I saw on her blog that PTMR has spun and plied some of hers, and it looks wonderful. I can't wait to start.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I feel like the guy on the FedEx commercial but I really am busy. So today will be a very short entry.

No time to rant...I don't follow the Olympics but even I can't help falling in love with Michael Phelps. What a sweetheart.

Current Knitting
I completed a total of one quarter of one round since I last blogged. See...very busy.

Current Spinning
I was able to finish up the first bobbin of laceweight singles on the BBF roving and start on the second.

Readers' Comments/Questions
TAJBloom writes, "Well, I'm NOT a "cat" person, but for Nico, I would definitely make an exception! Purrrrr!!!!!"

One of the thing I love about this breed of cat, and it is true for both Nico and Gage, is that they're very dog-like. Both of our cats fetched, barked (kind of), licked and begged at the table for food. Nico is particularly boyish looking as well. You have good taste Tom.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Unexpected Talents

I was just speaking with WonderMike - linked here if you have access to Ravelry - trying to help organize the West Coast version of the Men's Knitting Retreat.

Did you ever recognize that you had a set of skills that was perfectly suited to doing something, but never realized you had those skills until the opportunity presented itself.

Organizing A Knitting Retreat
Michael is going through much of what Ted and I did when we first realized the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat might actually become an event that guys would want to go to.

We needed to set up accommodations with the retreat center, establish some sort of agenda for the weekend, maintain attendee rosters, organize classes and workshop leaders, enroll folks in classes, establish retreat ground rules, publicize the event, create graphics, set up web sites, request swag donations, assist with travel plans...and on and on.

It seemed whenever I needed to accomplish something, the necessary skill came into play, or I begged Ted to take on the duties for which I didn't feel sufficiently competent.

After all was said and done, I realized I had a rather wide and varied set of skills that assisted me throughout the process.

It's nice to see someone else realizing their potential in the same way.

If anyone is interested in attending the West Coast Men's Fall Knitting Retreat, either contact WonderMike on Ravelry, or let me know and I'd be glad to send you the information as it exists today. Eventually, I'll help Michael set up a web site to which we can refer folks...thank goodness for minimal HTML skills.

Current Knitting
Lace knitting has turned out to be yet another skill I'm cultivating. The weekend was filled with lots of exciting twists and turns in my current lace project.

I'm currently up to round 112 of 142. I stumbled a little on two rows with the same mistake. On one round, the pattern called for me to make 4 stitches into one and I misread it to mean knit 4 stitches together. You can imagine how that might have affected my stitch count. I repeated this mistake on 3 sides of the project before realizing my mistake (I kept fudging that section of the lace to get my stitch count correct) and going back to fix it.

About four rounds later, I found myself making the exact same mistake...fortunately, I only did it on one side before realizing.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol writes, "Also, I am tardy in defending Nico's honor. He is a handsome cat and might I suggest that the less-than-satisfactory photographs are the fault of the photographer rather than the gorgeous model?"

I'm not sure if it is a bad photographer or the fact that a camera can't quite capture just how delightful this cat is. You know folks that have a certain inner beauty that just doesn't get captured in a photograph. Nico may be like that. He's got a lot of outer beauty too, but something just doesn't come across in his pictures. Then could be the photographer.

By the way, does everyone know that Carol's latest knitting book, Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarns is already available for pre-order on Amazon?

Regarding the smells-like-ass-girl and her cheese, M-H writes, "You can't take food into either Aus or NZ - both countries have strict quarantine regs to protect agriculture. My first reaction was - 'Wow, she'll lose that at customs!'"

Believe it or not, she had already gotten through customs in the states and she actually TOLD them she had French cheese in her bag. We have pretty strict customs rules about this as well (I think), just not very bright folks administering those rules.

Fredda asks, "You know I have lace envy. When you make a (rare) mistake, do you ever feel like quitting?"

Not usually...I don't always feel like going back and correcting my error immediately...sometimes if just feels daunting...but that feeling goes away pretty quickly these days.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Accidental Sedative

I never realized until last night how effective a full stomach is at putting me into a deep, restful sleep.

New Vietnamese Restaurant
A man I work with in Wilmington Delaware is married to a Vietnamese woman who just opened a new restaurant in Bear, Delaware.

About 10 of us went there last night for dinner, and my co-worker ordered massive amounts of excellent food and I couldn't be rude, so I ate everything. I really don't think I've ever been so full in my life.

I ended up getting back to my hotel room around 10:00 and eventually fell off to sleep about 10:30. Next thing I knew, I was waking up at 7:00.

Who needs Ambien CR when I can eat Pho?

Caution: Reactions could include sleepwalking, increased desire to gamble and a burning sensation in various parts of your anatomy as some of the hot sauce makes its way through your system.

Current Knitting
Since I last posted, I have added less than three rounds to the current Ichida lace project. So I won't be posting a new picture.

But I did get a little work done on...

Current Spinning
Yes, I got back on the wheel for an hour or so, and worked my way through a bit more of the 90% merino/10% kid mohair blend from Carol at Black Bunny Fibers.

I decided to see how far I had to go to be finished with half of the roving and so I weighed the currently spun bobbin and then weighed the unspun roving with an empty bobbin and the picture above shows I have all the roving on the right to finish to be halfway through this laceweight spinning project.

I'm very glad this fiber is a dream to spin with and that I like the colorway so much.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my last post about the unwanted seat parnter on a flight, Dr. Mel notes, "Cheese is supposed to smell like ass. Or at least spoiled milk. That's what makes it taste so good."

Another kind of funny part of that story...there was a couple sitting across the aisle from the "smells-like-ass girl." They had a young baby on the plane. At one point, the flight attendant came back to them, and said something I couldn't hear, but it started a flurry of checking the baby's diaper to see if s/he needed to be changed, and then they opened all the bottles of milk and smelled each one.

Turns out the "smells-like-ass girl" had brought some of this cheese home with her on the plan, and stowed it above their seat and the smell brought complaints from nearby passengers thinking it was the baby or spoiled milk. They finally figured it out when she unloaded the overhead at the end of the flight.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Have you ever had the experiencing of awakening to a brand new day, knowing that your life was changing, even though there was no specific evidence to support it?

I'm Awake
These last few months, perhaps longer, have seemed like I was sleepwalking through them. I continued to perform all my daily tasks, but there was no focus or vitality associated with any of it.

This morning I have come into a day that is clear and blue and I have a similar level of clarity associated with all aspects of my life. I feel as though I know where I'm headed today. I feel bright and energetic, as if during my sleep, someone sharpened me like a knife on a whetting stone.

Perhaps the Claritin has just kicked in.

Current Knitting
Last week I was very busy with work, and as a result, got very little knitting done. Even during the times when I would normally have gotten a lot of knitting done, such as in the airport or on the plane, I didn't feel like knitting.

My outbound flight last Monday had me sitting next to a young woman who just wouldn't shut the fuck up. And based on her account of her time in Nantes France, everything "smelled like ass." Yes...her words, not mine...cheese smelled like ass...she ran for a train and got on it smelling like ass...she ate at a restaurant where the water smelled like ass.

I almost suggested that she check more carefully when wiping herself, but thought it would only encourage another spate of inane words.

I tell you all this because I tried knitting while simultaneously trying to ignore what she was saying. After a short 90 minute flight, I found that the four sides to my lace garment now all had different numbers of stitches, 158, 161, 165, 163. I ended up un-knitting back two rows, which seemed to take forever, and then got myself back on track.

This shows me up to round 90 of 142 on the Promenade dans le Foret lace project. I put it on four cable needles for the picture, since I figured the least I could do would be to try and get a decent picture for the blog. Here's another shot of just the center of the lace.

I sniffed the project just to make sure it didn't smell like ass.

Most Non-Photogenic Cat
Nico has turned out to be great cat thanks to Thaddeus' constant attention and love. But despite how great he is, he takes some of the worst pictures of any cat ever. Here's the best one I could get.

Suffice it to say, he is MUCH cuter than this in real life.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Twinsetellen wrote, "I spotted some of your work on the Men who Knit site and just had to find out more. I'll browse your prior posts, but if you were so kind as to send me some info, or a ravelry name if you have projects posted there, I would be so grateful."

I have posted all my recent projects on Ravelry under the clever Rav-Name of QueerJoe. To find out more about this incredible lace, I would highly recommend joining the Niebling Lace Knitters group on Ravelry. There is an excellent Yahoo Group as well, but I'm not sure they're taking new members now.