Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's Good To Be Known as "The Knitter"

Especially around Christmas when you know a lot of friends and family that go to tag sales, flea markets and garage sales.

It Was A Very Knitty Christmas
I'm not sure where they found all this good stuff, but my sister-out-of-law and her next-door neighbor both came up with some great knitting loot as gifts for me for Christmas.

Then neighbor came up with this amazing set of knitting needles in a hand-made/quilted case.

This set of needles clearly came from someone who was serious about their knitting.

Then from the sister-out-of-law, I got this stack of knitting books (none of which I have in my collection...until now!).

I'm particularly happy to have a copy of "Fancy Feet" by Anna Zilboorg.

She also gave me a complete set of the Boye Knitmaster needles.

The set has ten different pairs of needles from size US5 to US15 and multiple cable sizes with connectors to make them even longer when needed.

Yes, it's good to be known as "the knitter"...especially around Christmas.

Christmas Knitting
I was able to finish a couple of knitted gifts in time for Christmas.

You've already seen the crochet lace spats for my niece Jacqui, but I also finished a pair of socks for another niece, Lily Bee.

Like most six year old children, she's not overly thrilled with the socks, but I hope she enjoys then anyway. I loved how they turned out, and this little girl is one the most delightful kids...personally, I blame the parents.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish the last Christmas gift in time to give them (also to Jacqui)...but they're finished now.

Jacqui is a dancer and has been begging me for leg-warmers. I finally came up with what I call "Surprise Leg Warmers."

They look rather plain and like simple ribbed sock cuffs, until you put them on and realize they have a pattern of lacy holes that makes them look kind of cool when worn. Those will go in the mail tomorrow.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Friend Leslie (Bagatelle) writes about the Lily Bee socks, "What is that sock yarn? I love the color combo and have a great shirt to wear them with. Please tell!"

They yarn is from Knit One Crochet Too and it's called Ty-Dy Socks. The colorway is Magenta Moss #1574.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So Unlike Me!

I've decided to do a couple of last-minute knitted Xmas gifts this year...I don't know what got into me.

Putting On The Xmas Pressure
A couple of my nieces had asked for the crochet lace spats, so I made those (although I still need to mail one pair out to a niece!).

A couple of them also asked for leg warmers, so I though I'd try to get a few pairs of them done...I don't know if I'll even get them started never mind getting three pair done by Saturday!

And I've visiting another niece this year for the first time in a long while, and I thought I'd make her a "quick" pair of socks that are taking me a bit longer than I'd expected.

Suffice it to say, I put a bit more pressure into my knitting than I usually do.

That's why I always love when non-knitter folks say, "You must be so patient," or better yet..."That looks so relaxing!"...yeah right!

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable holiday season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coordination Has Its Benefits

As one of the coordinators of the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, I am fortunate to get to see the prizes donated for give-aways and door-prizes first.

The Down-Side
Unfortunately, I also exclude myself from receiving any of the door-prizes...BUT...I get to patronize the donors before the men from the retreat order the best stuff!

One of my favorite things that has come in so far is a Priscilla Gibson-Roberts book, Simple Socks, Plain And Fancy

Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy

I'm shocked to admit that I didn't know that this book existed, and it's a perfect book for learning how to do basic short-row socks. I at least get to browse this stuff. The Men's Knitting Retreats have been extremely fortunate to have Nomad Press be a friend and sponsor.

Other Types of Retreats
As the web-contact for the Men's Knitting Retreat web site, I get to hear from a lot of related organizations.

I'm not quite sure I could have not known there was business with a refurbished schooner sailing around the coast of Maine, conducting knitting retreats each year. I just heard from the owner, and I knew there would be folks that would love to hear about it. This one is Maine Windjammer, and it looks great (with good food!)

Current Knitting
Still hacking away at trying to finish the sleeves for the zippered cardigan. This picture shows how the patterning looks when I do increases from the center of the sleeve as opposed to at the ends of the rows.

It never ceases to surprise me how long sleeves take to knit (especially when I'm knitting both at the same time). The cuff and lower part of the sleeve move along so quickly, I ALWAYS get lured into thinking that the sleeve will be finished in no time, but I'm ALWAYS disappointed.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Todd writes about the typo in my last blog entry, "224 spools of yarn? A little Freudian slip perhaps? Too funny, at least in my eyes!"

Yes...funny for me too. Thanks for pointing it out and giving me a chuckle.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Early Prezzies!

Is there anyone on the planet that doesn't like getting presents?...even if you pick it out for yourself?

One From The "Men" and One From Thaddeus
This past retreat, the guys at the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat did an incredibly nice thing for Ted and I...they gave us gift certificates to one of my very favorite yarn vendors, Briar Rose Fibers. I've shown off a lot of Chris Roosien's hand-dyed yarns on my blog before, but with a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, I asked if she'd custom dye two of her nicest base yarns for me.

And here's what I got!

The first one is "Legend"...approximately 2,800 yards of glorious, dark smokey DK/Sport weight Merino yarn. The second one is "Isabel"...approximately 2,200 yards of unbelievably soft and beautiful lace-weight silk and merino yarn.

I couldn't have been more pleased with what Chris came up with for me. She's a genius at this stuff!

The second present was an incredible find Thaddeus made at the local flea market (I'm so proud of him!).

This happens to e 224 spools of yarn (in neat little plastic boxes with covers) of various brands and multitudinous colors of thread. Suffice it to say I can never use the excuse for not sewing something that I can't find the right color thread!

Current Knitting
I was able to make quite a bit of headway on the sleeves for the zippered cardigan (although the photo doesn't show it very well).

I wasn't planning on doing both sleeves at once, but the increase and pattern stitch made it easier to do this way.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Art of Extrapolation

Decades ago, I was telling a co-worker how I had no creativity...and this was specific to my knitting.

Opening Up A Whole New World
She said absolutely enlightening to me in response.

She said, "Of course you do, you can do unbelievably creative things with computer programming and software...you could easily extrapolate your skills in that area to artistic endeavors like your knitting."

First of all, she was exactly right about how creative I was with getting the most out of software or programming languages I worked with at the time. I could make our Human Resources/Payroll systems or Lotus 1-2-3 sing...much to the amazement of my bosses.

Second, by explaining that I could extrapolate those skills into other areas of my life created such a space of possibility...it was unfathomable where this new skill would take me. I have been able to use the tools of yarn and knitting and garment design and color to exhibit a lot of creativity over the last 20 years or so...her one comment was incredibly supportive and freeing more me.

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I've finished the full body of the zippered cardigan, sewn in the zipper and sewn in the center panel sections.

You'll notice a couple of little knitted rags in the left part of the photo...those are the beginning remnants of the sleeves...so I'm moving right along.

I've also completed the crochet part of a pair of the lace spats for my nieces. I've started the second pair and hope to finish both pairs (with bows and snaps) by this coming weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Joe (Knitguyla) commented about his recommended facial care regimen, "...just remember, what's taken years to create will not be corrected in days!"

Oh sure...NOW you tell me. Actually I love the Epicuren product line so far. The cleanser and the enzyme toner are my favorites of the four items...they already have made a difference...I'm hoping the two moisturizing products will start showing somewhat soon.

KyleWilliam writes, "I wish Joe would recommend a facial regimen for me!"

Would this be an appropriate Men's Knitting Retreat workshop?!?!

Finally, Jean Miles asks, "Have you seen the article in the current Interweave Knits about KNITTING in a zipper?"

No...I can't imagine it would be easier or more stable than machine sewing...so even if I knew the technique, I doubt I'd use it.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Much Excitement in QueerJoe-Land

In addition to loving his current yarn projects, he's also started a new facial-care regimen and is hoping for quick results to make him look 25 again!

A Daily Regimen Only a Gay Man Would Be Excited About
Up until recently, I have been trying to ward off wrinkles and aging spots on my face with as little effort and expense as possible.

Boy, when I say I tend toward extremes...this is a perfect example!

My friend Joe (aka Knitguyla) happens to manage a spa, and I asked him to recommend a facial-care regimen for me. It felt like I was asking a doctor to diagnose a spot on my body, but Joe was quite helpful.

He recommended a line of skin care products by Epicuren.

First he recommended Epicuren Herbal Cleanser as a good basic cleanser for semi-dry skin. Then he recommended Protein Mist Enzyme Toner. For a moisturizer we went with Facial Emulsion and finally Eye Alive
to help with the real problem area.

Epicuren Herbal Cleanser 4.oz (4 oz) Epicuren Protein Mist Enzyme Activated Toner (4 oz) Epicuren Facial Emulsion (4 oz) Epicuren Eye Alive Serum (0.5 oz)

I just started the regimen today, and overall, I'm quite pleased. I love the toner...it feels great on my skin. But before I started, I took a number of close-up pictures of my face, so I can do before/after comparisons. I may even share the photos with readers.

Current Knitting
I decided that I would re-do the crochet lace spats for my nieces. I thought they needed to be a bit wider and a bit longer. When I have two pairs re-completed with bows and snaps, I'll post photos.

I also am almost completely finished with the body of the zippered cardigan.

You can see I only have the neck shaping left on the right side of the sweater (left side of the photo).  I'm not going to sew in the center panels until I've sewn in the zipper.

I'm truly loving this project, mostly because of the yarn. I have also ordered a custom-sized zipper for it already.

Friday, November 26, 2010

QueerJoe's Koan for Today...

Why is "everything in moderation" the goal, when I gravitate so much to the extremes?

Achievements and Setbacks
It seems that I strive to learn something important in my life, but then when I learn that particular lesson, I usually take it too far?

While knitting is an obviously example (and an example of where moderation ISN'T my goal either), I recently decided I needed to learn how to set boundaries with people...both for work and in my social life. I started out testing out ways of saying no, or not letting someone walk all over me and learned the ways that worked for me. Life was good.

Then I somehow got it in my head that if some boundaries were good, then more must be better!

I found myself this past week running kind of roughshod over some of my co-workers with my newly found "assertiveness."

Fortunately, I didn't do much damage, but I do have some apologies to make.

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I've finished the to front sections of the zippered cardigan I'm working on. I even attached the fronts to the shoulder section of the back.

So far so good. I'm pretty certain that I'll end up with a sweater that I'll actually like, but I'm not yet sure if I'll end up with a sweater I love more than any other. I only wish I knew what that certain "je ne sais quoi" was about the sweaters that turn out just perfectly.

Yes, you noticed the word "crocheting" reappearing in my section title above.

My 20 year old niece found an Etsy seller selling a pair of crochet lace spats, and asked me if I could make her a pair.

Here's a photograph of the one's she saw:

And here's what I've come up with:

I have to decide on what kind of fasteners to use (I'll probably end up doing small snaps) and find some decent ribbon or pre-made bows to apply, but overall, I'm quite happy with what I've created.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning Begins

Well, honestly, planning begins a full year before each retreat...but now it starts to get exciting.

Men's Spring Knitting Retreat - 2011!
Yes, can you believe we're slated to put on the fourth annual retreat in Upstate New York?

The enthusiasm for these events continues to amaze me.

There are currently four Men's Knitting Retreats scheduled:
1. New Zealand Men's Knitting Retreat
2. UK Men's Knitting Retreat
3. Men's Spring Knitting Retreat (mine in Upstate NY)
4. Rocky Mountain Knitting Retreat

Plus, there are plans underway to schedule the first ever Southeastern Men's Knitting Retreat.

Suffice it to say, that bringing together guys who knit has filled a need that not many even knew existed until a few years ago.

A Call To Vendors!
As in previous years, we're hoping that fiber vendors will be able to donate door-prizes, handout-bag-stuff or give-aways to support the event, and, at the same time put their company's name in front of a group of 50 rabid fiber enthusiasts!

In prior years, yarn and fiber and craft book companies have been very generous, so if you sell knitting, crochet or spinning-related products (or know someone who does and might be interested) and would like to make a donation to the upcoming May retreat, please send me an e-mail at contact@mensknittingretreat.com.

A huge thanks to those who have supported us in the past...we're hoping you can contiue to help again.

Current Knitting
I'm very happy to say that I've finished the back section of the Rowan Felted Tweed zippered cardigan and will soon be finishing the abbreviated front sections as well.

I'm thinking that I'll just do a 10" center panel (5 inches on each side) in a different pattern stitch. This will give me the chest size I was hoping for and also provide what I hope will be an interesting design element.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding being around knitting celebrities, Ted writes, "And add Kenny to your list of 'Famous Knitters I Know'"

There are LOTS of Famous Knitters I Know personally, and Kenny's an excellent choice...I only listed two since they were the most recent I got to run into...if I tried to list all that I know, I would be certain to leave some out by accident and I definitely didn't want to do that.

NC Knitter (aka Tom) writes, "How about a center panel with TWO zippers?!"

OMFG...I think it will be challenging enough to sew in one zipper and I look awful in a the "double-breasted" kind of look anyway!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Knitting Celebrities

As I've continued to participate in the knitting community (communities??)...it's amazing how many of the people with whom I've become acquainted have made names for themselves.

The Latest Success
My friend Brian (who I met through the West Coast Men's Fall Knitting Retreat, and who works at Skacel and who I got to hang out with while I was in Seattle) has recently had one of his designs published in the latest Vogue publication:

Entrelac - the Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting

Entrelac: The Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting

And as I type, both Carol Sulcoski and Franklin are attracting crowds at Loop in Philadelphia with classes and beautiful yarns.

It's thrilling to see these friends get their due recognition...they're all incredibly talented and brilliantly creative.

I keep hoping some of their talent will rub off on me.

Current Knitting
I've been able to make extensive progress on the Felted Tweed zippered cardigan in the last couple of days.

I went from about 3 inches to about 12 inches.

A quick confession...while I did a gauge swatch for this design and I'm currently knitting about the same gauge, the sweater is currently way too small for me or Thaddeus (about 10 inches too small in circumference). After knitting the swatch, I did some VERY quick math in my head...incorrect math as it turns out.

But, no worries...I can adjust the chest size by doing something clever and creative with a wide front panel.

Flea Market Find
I found this little gem at the local flea market this morning.

When the vendor told me it was $20, I figured I didn't really need a fourth swift (even though this one would be perfect for my more delicate yarns). He asked me if I knew what it was, so I told him (he had a vague idea already) and when he realized I knew it's value, he dropped the price to $15. I told him I'd think about it, since I already owned 3 similar items. He dropped the price to $12 and I told him that was a good price for this item and that I would consider it while I walked around shopping. He finally lowered the price to $10, and I couldn't resist it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks all for the resources on sewing zippers into a sweater, but that's not the issue I have. I've sewn a zipper into a sweater before and I don't find it that challenging. My bigger issue is a source for lightweight, separating zippers in lots of different lengths and colors. Duffy's link gave me exactly what I was looking for...excellent source...thanks.

I also realized that when folks embed hypertext links in their comments, Disqus is requiring me to approve the comments...so some of your comments didn't show up right away. Sorry about that.