Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Support Newspapers

With the internet and various other forms of other instant news obtaining services, I am truly afraid that folks will forget what an important role newspapers play in our liberty and democracy.

Worth The Effort
I love reading a newspaper. Whenever I travel, I always try and read local news.

But I know that not everyone enjoys it, and in fact some folks find reading newspapers a challenge.

It's not easy's not like watching television news...but you learn things from newspapers that can only be found there. Things that you need to understand about politics, ethical and civil rights issues and various other local goings-on that you will never hear about, even on local television stations.

If newspapers die out, the investigative journalism that they currently perform goes away too. This is the only kind of journalism that gets to the heart of important issues.

Start buying newspapers. Subscribe to local news journals. Read them every day.

Newspaper folks are always a lot more informed and active in local issues than non-newspaper folks.

Current Knitting
I got a bit more done on my current MiniMochi scarf...I'll have a picture of it next blog entry.

Current Spinning
I finished up one of the bonus balls of Mindy's Mohair/Shetland roving from Puff The Magic Rabbit, and couldn't wait to ply it with the Black Bunny Fiber Corriedale/Cormo blend singles.

The first hank I plied was about 275 yards, and I have about two more of these hanks to make (but I first have to spin the mohair/Shetland singles).

I love the resulting yarn...the colors actually got deeper and smokier because of the color I plied with it, but I'm not sure what I'll be able to make from 800 yards or so of yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Angie asks two questions, "What IS on your recommended reading? I just stumbled across your blog and check it almost daily...any news on the orphan project?"

I love John Irving and I also enjoy reading a lot of classics that I should have read in high school, but didn't. And, no news on the orphan project.

Sean asks, "Can you recommend a simple pattern for someone like me that has some basics but can't handle the intricate stuff?"

Feather and Fan is always a good, easy starter option, but honestly, most stitch patters are pretty's mostly just knits, purls and yarnovers. Keeping track of where I am can sometimes be challenging.

Maureen writes, "And I really like the scarf pattern so far. You're just making it up from stitch dictionaries?"

Yes...I just took two Walker Treasury stitch patterns and kind of combined them (the eyelet ribbing is the first few inches and continues up on each side of some pattern I think is called Dayflower...but I could be wrong).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Runnin' on Caffeine

With a lot of work to get done and way fewer hours of sleep than I really need, I'm relying on a couple of cups of coffee to keep me going today.

Not Sustainable
I know this kind of schedule isn't sustainable and that caffeine will soon lose its ability to keep me running, but I figure it's a good short term solution.

Plus, my schedule will be lightening up a little after today.

I do fly again this week and for the next four additional weeks, but not quite as hecticly (I know it's not a real word) as I did this past week.

Plus, I plan on being in bed by 8:00 tonight...I am getting WAY too old to be going at this pace.

Current Knitting
With no word from NorthWest/Delta on my orphaned knitting, I decided to start two new knitting projects this past weekend.

I have been dying to try the MiniMochi I got a while ago, so I figured the brown/olive/green colorway would make a great guy's scarf.

I basically started with a very nice eyelet rib pattern stitch and then transitioned to a wandering floral design (which doesn't show up so well in the pictures yet). I'm going to knit through one ball of MiniMochi and see if four balls will give me enough scarf length. If it doesn't, I plan on ripping it out and either making it more narrow, or changing yarn colorways every fourth row and adding a couple of other balls of MiniMochi into the mix.

For my first use of this yarn, I have to say I quite love it.

Current Reading
I just finished one of the more stupid-premised books I've ever read, but I still felt compelled to finish the book to find confirm that it was a predictable ending (it was).

A Certain Justice by John Lescroart
starts off with a ridiculous premise (the lynching of a black man in modern-day San Francisco) which I never got past. His protagonists are very appealing, which helped some, but his plot was very obvious and predictable.

Suffice it to say, I do not recommend this book.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Maureen writes, "Here's hoping your sock comes back to you! Was it the first or 2nd?"

It was actually the first of the pair, but the fifth sock in the Woolcott & Co series. But like I kind of wrote, it's not the effort that's gone into them, it's more the loss of the yarn and the needles.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lots of Travel

Over the next six weeks, it looks like I'll be traveling quite bit. This week, I'll have flown six flight legs in less than 5 days.

Hazards of Flying
When I'm not used to flying, I sometimes do stupid things. Readers may remember that I left one of my almost completed projects on a plane. I did that on a flight that occurred after months of not flying, so I forgot how vigilant I had to be to remember to check for personal items in the seat pocket in front of me.

Well, this past Monday was the first time I've flown in months again, and guess what?...I left my sock project on the plane...ugh!

I ended up speaking with someone in the lost & found for the airlines and she was extremely helpful. She assured me that nothing gets thrown out and she has notified her counterparts in the three other airports where my knitting might show up to ask them to keep an eye out for it.

We'll see if Delta/NorthWest does a better job than USAirways in recovering my knitting.

Current Spinning
Since I have no knitting with me during my travels this week, I can only show you the progress I've made on my current spinning project.

This is the Mohair/Shetland blend from Mindy at Puff-The-Magic-Rabbit.

I'm spinning it as finely as I can, and I will ply this with the much thicker singles of Corriedale/Cormo from Carol at Black Bunny Fibers.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fredda writes, "Great socks. Are you ordering more yarn from Sean and will we be seeing more of these beauties?"

I just may have to now, although I may just start playing around with some of the MiniMochi I bought a little while back.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I always thought I'd hate having a Blackberry, but so far, I've found it very convenient.

One of Those People
I have to say, I've always had an amazing amount of disdain for folks that walk through life thumbing through their Blackberry, to the exclusion of much else.

That disdain hasn't gone away.

I now have a cell phone that can also play MP3's and retrieve my work and personal e-mail. I will also use it for various web functions like Facebook and DailyMugshot when I don't feel like lugging my larger camera on a business trip.

So far, it's a great tool, and while initially, I've probably been more obsessed with it than I would have hoped for myself, I'm pretty certain that's only because it's a new toy and like my camera or GPS, it will fade into the background and become useful, but definitely not all-consuming.

Current Knitting
I finished the second pair of Woolcott & Co socks and have already made great headway on the first of the third pair.

The second pair came out as well as the first, and I'm getting very good at whipping these socks out. The picture of the latest sock isn't the greatest even though Ivy is by far my favorite of the three colors. There are rich tones of pine and also bright acidy greens. The last pair will probably be worn out first.

If you haven't checked out Sean's latest sock yarn dyeing (not sure how much you can see if you're not attached to Woolcott & Co in Facebook), you really should. He only makes limited quantities and they sell out fast, and calling the store is the only way to order them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drop Spindling

Up until recently, I've usually had very few good things to write/say about spinning yarn on a drop spindle.

QueerJoe's Spindling History
Mostly, I used a drop spindle as a way to learn how to draft fiber, so that it could be spun into a reasonable idea of a single.

A friend of mine gave me a Christmas gift one year that consisted of a small canvas bag with some natural off-white roving and a wood drop spindle that looked like it was made with a simple wooden disk with a dowel through it. It also included basic instructions on drop-spindling.

From this, I taught myself the basics of spinning yarn. Adding twist, drafting fiber and plying.

But mostly what it taught me was that spinning yarn on a spinning wheel, would be MUCH more efficient and fast, so I went and bought myself two spinning wheels, and I've never looked back.

Until Now
I had been informally follwoing a guy named "Fuzzed" on Ravelry, who's real name is Ed. I find his sense of humor to be irreverent and VERY funny. WonderMike told me that he makes incredibly interesting hand-made drop-spindles and sells them on his blog -

I checked them out and realized I had to have one of his cool creations, but every time I'd see a new creation, it would already be sold.

Finally I caught his blog after a particularly productive time where he had made a bunch of spindles, and I snagged myself these two.

Not only are his spindles amazing to look at, but for the first time, I was able to enjoy drop spindling when I used the smaller of the two to start spinning up some very fine alpaca.

Now I've come to understand why people enjoy drop-spindling, even when they could be spinning faster/more efficiently on a wheel.

Current Knitting
Despite not making much progress on the latest Woolcott & Co sock, I figured I'd at least post a picture.

Current Spinning
I don't have any pictures of my alpaca spinning on the "Tri-Pink" drop-spindle, but I was able to finish spinning the singles of the Cormo/Corriedale blend from BBF.

Now I just have to get the mohair/Shetland blend singles done so I can ply them together.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today's Conundrum

If we didn't have cameras, how would you know what you looked like with your eyes closed?

...if you faced a mirror with your eyes closed and opened them faster than the speed of light, you'd be able to see your image in the mirror while your eyes were still closed?

No, I guess not.

The best you could do without any kind of visual recorder would be to have someone draw or paint you.

Current Knitting
I haven't been moving quite as quickly with the second pair of Woolcott & Co socks.

This shows that I've finished the first sock of the "red pair" and started the second..

I've been dreaming of doing this sock from the toe up, and think it would be pretty simple to do. I'll have to find Duffy's reference to a standard heel or dutch heel that can be done toe up so I can do the heel flap in a contrasting color.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mindy writes, "When you have both wheels going, do you switch back and forth? That was my plan, but the obsessive part of me wants to plow through one project at a time, while the adhd part of me wants to take bobbins off both wheels to start 2 new yarns... then I just short-circuit and start a few knitting projects."

You and I have the exact same routine when it comes to owning two spinning wheels. You described exactly how I think and spin and knit. I'll be posting about two new drop-spindles I purchased later this week, and I'll be interested to see if they make a difference in my spinning routines.

Maureen asks, "Whoa, those singles are GORGEOUS! Any idea what you'll make in the end?"

I've been trying to figure that out myself. I'm not sure how much yardage I'll get out of the Corriedale/Cormo spinning after it's plied with the mohair blend. The resulting yarn will probably be a bit too scratchy for a scarf (the corriedale feels like it would make me itch anyway), and I don't know if I'll have enough for a man's vest (or if the colors would be too over-the-top for a guy's garment). The yarn would make a very nice (and warm) hat or two, but I doubt I'll do that. In short, the answer is I don't know...yet.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Did Someone Put The Sheep In The Drier?

Turns out, sheep are shrinking...due to climate changes getting warmer...maybe we should genetically alter them to make them all superwash?

Evolution is Only a Theory
I always love when folks use this as a way to deny the true age of the planet so that it matches what the bible says. But the article above clearly shows how breeding and environmental conditions very clearly affect how species evolve.

Gravity is only a theory too...why don't you jump out a 10-story window?

Current Knitting
Progress has slowed a bit with my current psychotic sock-knitting craze.

I've finished about 7 inches of ribbing on the third of six socks using the Woolcott & Co. hand-dyed sock yarns. Still loving how it knits up, but just a little tight on time lately.

Current Spinning
With two empty spinning wheels, and a ton of roving around the house, I decided I'd try and come up with an interesting combination yarn that would work well when wrapped with Mindy's (Puff-The-Magic-Rabbit) mohair blends.

I started spinning the Corriedale/Cormo blend of roving that I got as part of the Black Bunny Fiber club.

I'm loving how this is spinning up. I'm spinning a rather loose, thickish single, and I think a fine wrap of dark mohair blended single will make a great finished yarn. We'll see.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Marlowe Sock design, Jacquie asks, "Is that a traditional heel?"

Yes...knitted heel flap using slipped stitches...couple of short rows to round the heel...picked up stitches along the sides of the flap...and decrease gussets. I've been dreaming of converting this design to toe-up and using the Andersson heel, but I can't do it with this set of 3 pairs because you can't really do a contrasting color heel with that method.

Also regarding the sock, John asks, "Will this sock pattern ever be for sale?"

Actually, Marlowe has a very similar design for sale on A Verb For Keeping Warm's web site. I think the version for sale uses less ribbing on the leg and is a smaller size (uses 8 less stitches).

Min DePandi writes, "I never knitted socks before. It looks complicated to make... Is it?"

Personally, I find a standard sock to be one of the easier things to knit. If a person can follow any knitting pattern, sock patterns are hardly different. It requires being able to knit in the round, but other than that, it's usually just following directions.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Web Browsers

As a corporate drone required to comply with company and client computer standards, I work almost exclusively on Internet Explorer...for personal use, I use only Mozilla Firefox.

Love Firefox
I originally taught Thaddeus everything he knew about computers, and now he has far surpassed me in many ways about using his computer. One of the best things he ever told me to do was download Firefox as my internet browser.

Firefox introduced multiple tabs of browser windows, and faster/more efficient browsing, long before Internet Explorer came up with their version 6 which finally introduced tabs. I love that I can close out my browser window in Firefox and save all my tabs so that they come up just like I left them. I also love that Ravelry uses a lot of useful functions that are only available through Firefox. With the latest version of Firefox (Thaddeus told me about this as well), my web browsing is even faster, and it took me a total of 3 minutes to download and install the latest version.

Lately, I've had about 2 or 3 folks tell me that they have difficulty bringing up my web log in Internet Explorer. While I'm no where near savvy enough to know what's causing these issues, I can say that any of the folks that told me about it who tried using Firefox, were able to access my blog with no problem.

Another reason to have disdain for Microsoft. Download Firefox here.

Current Knitting
I finished the second Woolcott sock and started the third (I will have a total of six socks when I'm finished.

As I was taking the pictures of the finished socks on my deck, I realized the flowers were the same color combination as the socks...the purple flowers even had the same kinds of variations in purples and lavenders.

I've never finished a pair of socks in a week before...especially with all that ribbing...if I keep this pace up, I'll have the three pairs finished in less than two weeks!

Readers' Comments/Questions
WonderMike writes, "I LOVE THOSE SOCKS. *runs to call Sean and copycat Joe*"

It seems a lot of folks did this when they saw Sean's colors on Facebook...he sold out his first batch of hand-dyed sock yarn...not sure what he has left in his second batch, but I know that was going fast too (I linked to his website, but you can only order this stuff over the phone).

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Change, Change, Change

Having just seen a penny on the sidewalk, I've decided that the smallest U.S. coin is now an anachronism that should be relegated to the past.

It Adds Up
Don't get me wrong, Thaddeus and I collect our pocket change in an antique copper spittoon, and when it recently got filled to the brim, Thaddeus was able to go to our local TD Bank and get it changed into over $800 in currency.

However, it would seem that the value of the U.S. penny is currently so little, that the reasons to not carry them seem to far outweigh the reasons for keeping them in circulation. For instance, if I had decided to pick up the sidewalk penny from this morning's walk to work, the risk of disease or sickness alone seems to make the poor penny better off left on the sidewalk.

Suffice it to say, that poor little penny was left where it was.

Current Knitting
I finished the first Woolcott/MKR sock (except for the toe-grafting.

I modified the MKR sock pattern slightly to make the cuff a 1x1 ribbing instead of 2x2, and I used contrasting colored yarn on the top of the cuff and on the heel, which isn't called for in the pattern (just the toe).

Since I plan on knitting a total of three pairs of socks with this yarn and pattern, I figured this was a speedy start for the first one. At this pace, I'll have three pairs in three weeks.

Current Spinning
I plied up the Mohair/Merino yarn from the Puff-The-Magic-Rabbit roving, and liked working with it so much, that I ordered over a pound and a half of Mindy's Mohair/Shetland blend and she sent a couple of lovely bonus balls of roving with the order.

Here is the finished Mohair/Merino yarn.

Here's the new roving.

And the bonus balls.

I think I just need to put Mindy's goats on retainer so I can assure a constant supply of this loveliness.

Readers' Comments/Questions
John writes, "Queer Joe knitting a sock from the top down?? Say it ain't so..."

I consider myself to be "bi" when it comes to knitting direction on socks (bi-directional). I have no issue knitting toe-up or cuff-down...I like them both for different reasons.