Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An All PIE Weekend

I'm a fortunate man to be able to say I live near one of the best Trenton "tomato pie" places in New Jersey and live in the same house as one of the best fruit pie makers on the planet.

Tomato Pie with Peach Pie for Dessert!
Yes, it was a good weekend. We started Saturday lunch by heading over to Palermo's (actually Palermo's III), which is a pizza place in Ewing, NJ. They make a thin crust pie with crushed tomatoes and a small amount of cheese that is out of this world good.

We buy two large pies each visit, eat half and bring a full pie home for leftovers. Our regular toppings are fried eggplant on one, and garlic on the other. They are both amazing.

Then, Thaddeus decides to make his famous white peach/white nectarine pie.

He first made one of these pies a few years ago when we were visiting his sister's family in Martha's Vineyard, and it was the best pie he's ever made...and that's saying something. His sister's family almost came to blows over the last piece. It really was that good.

After a weekend like this, all I can say is "Pie is good."

Current Knitting
I finished the front of the Malabrigo Lacy Merino pullover.

I even started the sleeves (yes, I'm doing two sleeves at once for this project!). While I thought this was going to be somewhat of a masculine looking sweater, it's turning out more feminine than I expected. This may turn out to be a gifted item.

I also got back up past where the little doll, Nico, ripped out the cashmere lace knitting I started a couple of weeks ago.

This reflects one full stitch pattern repeat, and will magically look amazing once blocked. It's amazing what a little confidence in past lace knitting will do for my confidence in blocking!

Current Reading
I rushed through reading the second part in Stieg Larsson's trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire.. I wanted to see the movie this past weekend, but wanted to finish the book before I did.

I loved the second book, but it wasn't as compelling as the first book. And having started the third book, I think it really should have been just two books...the second and third are really all part of one story (at least so far) and splitting them was a crappy way of making a trilogy (in my arrogant opinion). I also thought the second movie wasn't as interesting as the first...if felt much more slapped together, while the first one seem so intricately crafted.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my LASIK surgery, Susan asks, "Have you had any trouble with things like halos?"

No, except for the first few months after surgery, I had virtually no problem. But Thaddeus had tons of issues and wished he'd never had the surgery. So it really is quite different for different folks. It's not a decision that I should have taken so lightly, despite the fact that I'm still quite glad I had it done.

Monday, July 19, 2010

QueerJoe's New Look

Yes, I finally broke down and got some "computer glasses" so that I can see the screen and also use them for reading glasses (which I'm needing more and more).

I've Missed Glasses!!
My eyesight used to be quite bad until I had LASIK surgery lots of years ago. I wore glasses and contacts all the time or I couldn't see anything, and I considered it absolutely MIRACULOUS that after a 20 minute procedure, I could see without any corrective lenses.

Now, as I get older and older, and clearly need help in seeing fine print, it has started to spread into my computer viewing. So now I have "progressive" lenses that allow me to see ranges of close and intermediate distances.

But more importantly, I like the way I look in the glasses!

What do you think?

Current Knitting
Update on two projects...first, the lace project.

Unfortunately approximately 10,000 stitches was considered a "swatch" because my little pal Nico jumped out of my lap while I was knitting this project and in that cute little way cats have, he pulled the needle out of about 150 active stitches, making it easier to start over than to try and pick up 3 or 4 rows of slipped/pulled stitches.

I re-started the project, making some changes to the overall design.

I also got some additional work done on the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover.

I'm almost up to the neck shaping on the front section and then on to my favorite part...SLEEVES!

Current Spinning
I had spun up quite a bit of charcoal gray alpaca singles...enough so that I though I could ply up all the Mohair/Border Leicester/Silk singles from Puff the Magic Rabbit, so I attempted to ply it all up.

First of all, the yarn came out significantly different that I expected. Second, I LOVE the resulting yarn. Third, I didn't have quite enough of the charcoal alpaca. Fourth, my camera sometimes mysteriously goes off auto-focus, and I get pictures like the one above...I'll post a better one next time.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the crochet technique for making a nupp, Alan (RareSteek) asks, "I am a bit spacially challenged, but does this method not have the actual nupp one row below where it would be in the traditional method? It may not matter, but it seems so to me, or am I wrong?"

You're not spacially challenged at all...the standard instruction for a nupp is done over two rows, so the crochet technique would kind of "squish" the nupp onto one row. I personally slip the stitch on the wrong-side row (even when there are two nupps together).

Rosemary writes, "I am saddened by your use of the word "Nazi' when refering to the pols on the Hill who also believe strongly in their position."

Norah is correct when she says I meant that it was the Republicans who use the word "nazi" not me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Obstruct Much?

I'm going to make a prediction. Even though many are predicting that the Republicans will pick up a number of seats in Congress come November, I'm predicting they won't.

Regular People Are Tired...
We're tired of the Republicans trying to block every initiative presented that might make the president look good. They don't care if the bill will help the American people...the ones they swore an oath to serve. They only care that Democrats don't get credit for anything they can stand in the way of.

We're tired of having cries of "The deficit is too high...you're leaving a huge debt to your children...there is way too much spending" Except when it means they won't give tax cuts to the rich...then the deficit is just fine. Can you believe these rich greedy jerks are trying to sway people to extend the tax cuts to the rich out of one side of their mouths, but standing in the way of extending unemployment benefits because it will increase the deficit. Especially when even conservative economists will tell you that unemployment benefits bolsters the economy and tax cuts to the rich take away from the economy (see what Bush Jr's cuts did to the U.S.).

We're tired of Republicans using the most extreme language to criticize bills and other politicians that they're against. It's not enough to say that a bill will be detrimental...they have to say it will destroy humanity as we know it and instill socialism in the hearts of our children. It's not enough to say that their fellow congressmen and senators are wrong...they have to be Nazi's. Enough already with the extremist, alarmist language...it's starting to make you look silly.

By the time November comes, the American public will be so tired of the obstructionist, extremist tricks of the Republicans, that they will reject them and their ideas for a candidate that is looking to support this country.

Current Knitting
I started to re-focus on the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover again, but inevitably got bored and had to add a new project into the mix. So I started a Lace project using a stitch pattern from the Haapsalu Sal, the Estonian lace book I bought a while ago.

I did however make it up to the arm hole shaping on the Malabriog Silky Merino pullover before getting distracted.

And teaching myself to do nupps has not been easy, even though I knew there was an easier way, I didn't know how to do it...should have googled sooner...great video on how to do an easy nupp. Here's what I've done so far.

Not a lot, but it will get easier as I get more familiar with the pattern stitch.

Current Spinning
Having finished two bobbins full of singles with Carol's and Mindy's roving, I started spinning the binding singles I'll use to ply both yarns.

This is alpaca that I carded a while ago on my drum carder and it's a nice charcoal gray color. I'm spinning as finely as I can with a bit of overtwist so that I can balance out the other two singles when I ply them with the alpaca. Can't wait to see how it looks.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jenny asks, "How do two people make a cake last an entire week???? That, my friend, takes will power."

First of all it was a huge cake and second of all, it was very sweet and very rich. It would have been sickening to eat it any faster. Otherwise it would have been gone MUCH faster.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blogger Sucks

Or more like, Google sucks, since they can't even maintain a publishing site that works.

Blog Posting
Just to post this blog takes ridiculous amounts of manipulation of their crappy product.

I've been using the latest version of their "New Post" publishing software for months now with no problem, but the last two weeks, the software refuses to load fully...it just goes into a constant state of befuddlement, and never resolves.

I can edit any existing posts using the new editor, but it won't let me create new posts.

Trying to find the solution...or at least the work-around...took me hours on their pathetic "Help-less" site. I finally found that I could set my blog settings back to the old editor to create a basic post. Then revert back to the new editor to edit it.

Soon it's going to be easier just to write the html myself.

Thaddeus had a personal anniversary earlier this month...one that I typically forget all about...but this year I surprised him by baking a cake from scratch.

It's a red velvet cake, and it lasted us a week. It was my first attempt at baking a cake from scratch, and overall, it came out pretty well. The recipe was from Food Network, and I don't recommend it. Personally, I think the recipe should contain more cocoa and a bit less food coloring and the directions for the frosting were not very helpful...steps such as "cook on medium heat until thick"...doesn't tell me HOW thick...thick as the eventual frosting should have been.

So anyway, I improvised a bit and we enjoyed a huge freakin' cake for a week.

Current Knitting
I finished the scarf from Spin-Off using my handspun yarn from some roving I got from Carol at Black Bunny Fiber. I still have no idea what the fiber is, but it must have had some alpaca in it...it's quite a dense yarn and scarf.

Doing a scarf in all 1x1 rib is not my idea of fun, although the shaping on this pattern kept my interest enough to keep me forging on. The ribbing and the fiber content also create a very dense scarf, which required me to make it at least 5 feet long, else it might have been a bit stiff wrapped around a person's neck.

Overall, I think this scarf looks great, but it would never be my favorite. I think I'll end up selling it at my friend's next cold-weather craft fair.

Current Spinning
I also got a lot done on the spinning front.

First I finished the 3 oz. of singles of Mindy's gorgeous mohair/border leicester/silk blend.

This is the best photo I've been able to take of this spinning and it still doesn't convey the richness of the colors. I can't wait to add the binding ply to this and see how it turns out.

Even more so, I can't wait to knit the resulting yarn.

Second, I finished spinning up the singles from Carol's merino(?) roving.

This I think will also look great using the same binding ply of a very fine single of dark gray yarn.

Now I just have to spin up a load of the binding singles.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my latest book, Carlos writes, "I'm almost done with the Girl Who Played with Fire and cannot stop reading it. It's great as well. Just saw the movie last night and it is great! Can't wait to read the third which is staring at me and making me pant."

This is exactly how I feel about the books. I'm already about 1/3rd through the second book and can't wait to see the movie and read the third book. One of my co-workers that enjoys the entertainment magazines mentioned that they're considering doing the third book as a U.S. movie staring Brad Pitt as Blomvqvist (sp?)...that would just ruin it for me!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Holiday Busy-Ness

It's not like I did a whole lot this past 4-day holiday weekend (yes, my company gave us off both Friday and Monday for the July 4th break). But I got a lot of fiber-related things moving.

Knitting, Knitting, Spinning, Spinning, Reading, Movie, Nico
Yes, today's blog entry is jam-packed with content, so I won't go blathering on about politics, queer pride or hot sex descriptions.

First of all, I got some additional work done on the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover.

The picture shows the front piece on the left and the completed back section on the right so that you can see how close I am to doing some arm-hole shaping.

You might have heard we're having a bit of a hot spell (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!), and this fabric is quite dense and warm, so I didn't do a whole lot of knitting on this one.

More Knitting
But I did do quite a bit of knitting on the yellow scarf using the pattern from Spin-Off.

I'm really liking this pattern and while I'm not sure someone would ever use the resulting scarf, I don't really care because I'm enjoying the knitting so much. The scarf is done in all 1x1 ribbing, and my handspun is a bit heavy and dense...the combination is making a rather thick and VERY warm scarf.

It looks fantastic, I just don't think it will be extremely useful.

I'm continuing to spin up my latest purchase from Mindy (aka Puff-The-Magic-Rabbit - http://www.etsy.com/shop/puffthemagicrabbit?section_id=5225048), and I'm loving it more and more.

My photo just doesn't do justice to how rich and gorgeous this yarn is coming out. The blend of yarn is also exceptional (Mohair, Border Leicester, Silk) I just went and checked, and no one has yet purchased the same blend in Mindy's "Maple" colorway. I've decided that if I make it to the end of this roving, and it's still available, I will have to buy it.

More Spinning
My other spinning project (Black Bunny merino (?) from Carol) is a completely different experience, and also very satisfying.

The colorway for this fiber is also beautiful, but it's the vibrancy of colors that makes this one so interesting. I'm thinking that the resulting yarn from this project will make an extraordinary pair of socks...I just have to come up with a funky contrasting color for the toes and heels (see, I do think ahead to future projects sometimes!).

I've actually been reading two books (I'm not sure what all these two-at-a-time projects in my life is about), but I only finished one of them, and it was just brilliant.

If you haven't read any of  Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, you MUST. If you haven't seen the movie of this first book, you MUST. The book is extremely well written, and a very compelling read. I had seen the movie first and even though I knew the ending and much of the story-line, I still loved reading the book. I can't wait to start the second in the trilogy (hopefully before the second movie comes out).

Nico was just hanging out on the Kaffe-fabric quilt, so I thought it was the perfect photo opportunity for this guy.

I'm not sure if I ever wrote about this publicly, but Nico was originally supposed to replace our last cat, Gage, in both our house and our hearts. Losing Gage was terribly sad for both Thaddeus and me and we hoped by finding another rescue cat that looked like Gage, we could lessen the grief.

Turns out that Nico is nothing like Gage, but he has filled a very different part of our hearts. Nico is much more independent than Gage, and he's got an aloof swagger about him that seems much more masculine than Gage. Gage hardly ate anything except for dry food, despite Thaddeus' best efforts to feed him table scraps, while Nico is always around when food is being prepared and will never forget to remind us when he's hungry.

We still miss Gage a lot, but it sure is nice to have Nico in our lives as well.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I Never Know What to Believe

I'm pretty cynical about much of what I read...especially when it's about celebrities. But this article sent to me by reader Jeanette seems to have all the hallmarks of being true:

Within Reasonable Doubt
I remember a while ago on the GLBT knitlist, someone's alleged cousin notified the group that the member had died in a fiery car crash. I remember thinking immediately that it was a lie...I guess it just sounded odd that a cousin would happen on to a deceased member's account so quickly and then go on to describe the car crash as "fiery."

Turns out the member hadn't died, but the excuse for the post was an even bigger lie.

And when it comes to publicists, they'll say practically anything to get their clients in a magazine, so I often view articles about celebs with a cynical eye as well.

However, it appears that David's name has shown up in other fiber-related articles, so I would have to believe that he really is a knitter.

Plus I like him, so I'd like to believe this is true!

Current Knitting
I completed a few inches on the front of the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover, and I think I have the best photo yet of the color and stitch pattern combined.

At least the color shows up pretty true to life on my laptop screen.

Current Spinning
I also did a bit more work on Mindy's (Puff The Magic Rabbit) roving, and I am liking it more and more...both the color and the fiber-feel (btw, Mindy has an Autumn leaf colored roving out there that is just stunning!).

I don't have another photo, but Nico really does fight me for access to this fiber...he either claws into it like he's hoping it will start to spray milk, or he pushes it out into the most comfortable little kitty nest.

I also wound on a few more micrometers of singles from a roving from Carol (Black Bunny Farms...Carol is doing amazing things with her Dipped Infinity Scarf yarn packs that are flying off the shelves...if she has shelves).

It's very different, but I really like these colors as well.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Spin-Off scarf, a different Carol writes, "The scarf looks great - you seem to have figured out the little mistake that crept in on the final edit of the magazine concerning the central increase within 1 stitch."

Thanks...I'm enjoying it...but I didn't notice the error at all...once I get the feel of the stitch pattern and the rhythm, I just kind of refer to the pattern only when I'm not sure what to do next...I'm certain I just completely overlooked the extra increase instructions.

Seanna Lea writes, "The scarf reminds me of a sock pattern in Vogue Knitting a couple of years ago. It's a little hard to see in the pattern, but is it twisted stitches?"

No, it's all 1x1 ribbing with patterned increases and decreases...no twisted stitches at all...only twisted knitters.