Monday, September 27, 2010

Hotel Living

I think I've probably mentioned before that I like staying in hotels...but there are somethings for which hotel living is woefully inadequate.

Times Not To Be in a Hotel
Have you ever been stuck due to weather at an airport?

Checking in for one night at a airport-based hotel can really suck...especially when you have to get up at 4:00 am to get back to the airport to take the earliest flight home.

Have you ever been sick in a hotel?...I mean the "I-just-want-my-mother" kind of sick?

I had food poisoning or some stomach virus (the kind where you just KNOW you're going to die) for about 22 hours once while staying in a hotel, and let me tell you, it sucked. I mean it's not like you can order chicken broth, saltine crackers and ginger ale from most hotel restaurants at 2:00 in the morning.

With all the media attention on bed bugs, hotels can get a little itchy...even if only in the imagination.

I check the bed in every hotel room I go into now. I can't even imagine what I'd do if I brought bed bugs home with me some day.

And of course, there's the loud adjoining room neighbors, the less-than-clean places behind some commodes, and the ever-dreaded toilet paper touched by a housekeeping staff just so they could fold it into a triangle for you. Uh...thanks.

Current Knitting
Now that things are calming down a bit and get a little more routine, I've picked up the cashmere lace project again, and I have decided to make the Black Bunny Fiber sock my traveling project.

You'll see I finished another repeat on the lace project. It took me a row or two of nupps to get back into the swing of doing them again.

This sock pattern (from a Regia/Kaffe Fasset bookelt) is a bizarre pattern where you knit everything except the top of the foot, and then go back and do a mitered rectangle insert. You'll see I'm almost up to the toe on the first sock. BTW, the pattern is almost indecipherable. Each time I come to a new section of the sock, I have to read it three or four times to try and figure out what it means.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Luggage Space

It's difficult to throw away good clothes, but based on what I won, was gifted or came in the giveaway bags at the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat, I may just have to throw out work clothes and toiletries so I can pack everything to get home on Thursday.

Knitting Retreat Swag
As always, Mike got some amazing donations from vendors for this years West Coast retreat. Skacel provided awesome project bags, his LYS, A Verb for Keeping Warm provided a number of nice gifts and we each got two books in our give-away bags:

Noro Men by Jane Ellison, looks just beautiful...I can't wait to look through it more.

Entree to Entrelac by Gwen Bortner looks intriguing as well...especially when you read the four reviews on Amazon about her book...widely varying opinions.

Then I won the best prize of all of them (and all 39 of us got a prize). Knitterguy Ted donated 1150 yards of lace-weight, hand-spindled yarn, and I was thrilled to win it.

I checked out Ted's blog entries and found out it's spun from merino top, dyed by Karen Emry at Royale Hare at Santa Rosa, California. Colourway is called "Pacific Amber".  Not only is Ted an amazing spinner, but he's also incredibly generous to donate such an incredibly rare gift.

Finally, if that wasn't enough, I was bowled over when Franklin gave me the most wonderful gift I could have imagined.

Namaste bags asked Franklin for ideas on designing knitting bags for men (well, they asked after he told them he had some thoughts on the matter) and they used his ideas as inspiration to create two incredible bags that don't look like purses and would be perfect of project knitting bags. I think I may have to just break down and buy myself the messenger bag as well. It's only $79 and looks amazing.

For those interested in trying to win one of these two bags, Namaste is having a contest on Ravelry where you need to post a photo of where you knit. Check it out here and add your name to the list of possible winners.

Thank you SO much Franklin <3 - Namaste my friend.  

Current Knitting
Okay, so I've done incredibly little knitting.

Here's a photo of what I've done in a week since finishing the purple sweater.

Pathetic, I know.

Current Dyeing
Yes, I wrote "DYEING."

As one of the workshops/road-trips during the men's knitting retreat, we were treated to an indigo dyeing workshop with Kathy Hatori at Earthues Natural Dyeing studios.

Credit to CraftyAndy and Kent for photos

I got to take two hanks of early spinning done in a natural off-white colored corriedale (I think) and turn it into this.

I can't tell you how magical it was to see how indigo dyeing works...if you've never experienced it, you absolutely must.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fiberqat and Judi both wanted to know where Kurt got his spinning wheel t-shirt.

It's actually the standard t-shirt sold by the Berkley store, A Verb for Keeping Warm. WonderMike was wearing one during the retreat as well...they look great.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Queer is to Joe as Wonder is to Mike

WonderMike did another amazing job with this year's West Coast Men's Retreat. It was a fantastic time and the guys, both repeaters and newbies were inspirational.

Another Awesome Retreat
Ably assisted by Daniel, WonderMike organized a Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning retreat this past weekend in the Seattle area (Dumas Bay retreat center in Federal Way, Washington to be specific).

Great guys, great location, great workshops, great swag, but most of all, great community.

I'm tired as hell (because I'd stay up late and get up early so I didn't miss a thing!), but it was well worth it.

Below are some random pictures from the retreat...I took far few photographs than I usually do...I just kept getting caught up in the excitement of it all.

If anyone's interested in the next soonest retreat, registration is open for a short time only for the upcoming Midwest Men's Knitting Retreat on Thursday, November 4th - Sunday, November 7th.

Current Knitting
For anyone who has attended a men's knitting retreat with me in the past, you know that I hardly do any knitting while I'm there. I mostly just enjoy the camaraderie and joy of being with other like-minded guys.

This year, I knit a sum total of 3 inches of sock cuff in 1x1 ribbing, using the hand-spun yarn from Carol (Black Bunny Fiber) and the charcoal alpaca.

Hopefully, you'll be distracted by the guy-photos and ignore the lack of knitting content.

Men's Fall Knitting Retreat 2010 - Photos
Barth, one of our Canadian attendees

Brady from the Rocky Mountains

Our mighty leader speaking with Daniel
The wind beneath Mike's wings, Daniel!!!

Other Daniel with Mike and Rusty


David (next to his love, Paul...they met at a Men's Knitting Retreat!)
The two Rocky Mountain retreat coordinators, Frank and Brady

If you don't know who this man is, you are clearly not a knitter...close this window now...hi Franklin!

Some of the guys just hanging out knitting

Harry and Nigel

John...delightful man

Keith and his tattoo (with Kevin in this last photo) to see his amazing shawl

Photos of Kurt with Stephen in the middle photo
Michael, Kevin and Morgan

Daniel with Nigel, John and Keith in the background

More guys knitting and a guy's sister!   Who let a woman in the room?
Ron spindling

Rusty, our Southern U.S. contingent

Stephen being his joyful self

Best photo I had of Tom...sorry

Veryl...a wonderful newbie

Can't believe I didn't get photos of some of the guys, like Kiwi James...every time I sat with him, I was too busy gabbing to think about photography. And Joe E. wouldn't let me photograph was great being with him, even though he wasn't feeling well.

Can't wait till next year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The World Needs More Submissives

Have you noticed that you can hardly exist in public anymore without some little gestured escalating to potentially violent situations?

Humanity is Losing It's Ability To Avoid Conflict
I'm reading a fascinating book by Temple Grandin called "Animals Make Us Human", where she discusses how the further away from wolves that domesticated dogs get through breeding, the more they lose "submissive behaviors" that allow wolves to de-escalate potentially explosive situations. So if you put a Jack Russell terrier in with a pack of unrelated dogs, any conflict could easily escalate to a violent and damaging interaction.

Similarly, people in this country have lost all ability to avoid conflict, and often, simple reactions escalate into bitter argument or worse.

The other week there was a woman sitting behind me on the plane who despite two loudspeaker warnings, continued to talk on her cell phone.

Now, I could talk about the safety issues of cell phones potentially interfering with tower communications (which they do...I've experienced it first hand as a pilot), but truthfully, the woman's conversation was just plain annoying, and I wanted her to stop.

I turned and gave her a dirty look.

This initiated a verbal attack from her that was way more forceful than was called for. She berated me directly and she berated me to the person with whom she was speaking on the phone for about five minutes. I was actually a little worried the interaction would get physical.

When did it happen that any feedback to a stranger requires them to go from zero to rage in 3 seconds? God forbid you should point out that someone littered. Don't even think about asking someone to control their child in a restaurant or grocery store. It's scary even to let someone know that their collar is askew.

Folks are way too tense and need to start re-establishing suppression techniques.

Current Knitting
I've re-started the cashmere lace knitting project, but didn't make much headway, and I definitely didn't pack it to bring with me to work and the Men's Knitting Retreat this coming weekend.

I also started a new sock project, basing the design on a pattern in a Regia pamphlet specifically designed using Kaffe Fassett sock yarn.

I'll post a picture in my next blog entry of both projects.

Current Spinning
I ended up plying some of those blue/green/purple singles I made with Black Bunny Fiber roving, and I plied it with dark charcoal gray alpaca singles.

The yarn turned out a bit thinner than I's a light-weight fingering yarn, and I'm not sure I have enough to make a full pair of socks, but I still have some of the colored singles left, and I also have more alpaca roving that I could spin up.

This is the yarn I'm using for my current sock project.

Readers' Comments/Questions
GuessWhosKnitting writes about the latest sweater, "Can Thaddeus wear the same size and would he wear this? With his hair color, I think it would look wonderful on him too!"

Yes, we wear the same size, and I think he will look good in it as well. We'll see if he's willing to wear it.

Lorelei_D notes, "Also, I Love that the cat is watching the photo session over your shoulder!"

Me too...I meant to mention that, but forgot when I wrote the blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Difference Between Conservatives and Progressives

The biggest difference I note between me and them is that progressives are inclusive and want everyone to work together, while conservatives are exclusionary (sometimes to the point of xenophobic) and want to only defend this country against outsiders.

9-1-1 Brings Out The Worst in Conservatives
How many times did you read or hear the words "God Bless America" this past weekend?

I had to struggle to not finish the rest of the sentiment from most of the conservatives that uttered or wrote those words..."and fuck the rest of the World."

And that's the difference between us.

I think that we should work together to have a country and a World that works towards peace, and they want to promote only those considered part of their world and defend themselves against all others.

It's the reason the Pentagon and the defense budget have such huge amounts of our tax dollars going towards their efforts. We've worked so hard to isolate ourselves, that now we are required to reinforce our defenses.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are times when self-defense is necessary, but recent wars make it obvious why diplomacy or non-interference might have been a better route for our country.

Current Knitting
I finished up the sleeves to the Malabrigo Silky Merino pullover.

And then I put it all together and knit up a reasonable facsimile of a collar.

Bright purple and all, even Thaddeus liked how this sweater turned out, and it's incredibly soft and warm.

The guys at this year's West Coast Men's Knitting Retreat will get to see it this coming weekend, as I specifically wanted to finish this garment for the "show & tell" section of the retreat.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Cheryl writes, "There is an airplane mode on the nook. I am not sure how that works."

Yes, that's true, but you still can't have on any electric devices during take-off and landing. That feature only disables the nooks searching function for wi-fi access.

Trevor writes, "Have you spent much time in Calgary? The Custom Woolen Mill near Carstairs is pretty cool, their old mule spinners are functioning antiques. They produce for several companies including Beaverslide."

I'm so bummed I didn't know about this sooner. I would have LOVED to have visited there. It looks like most of my time for the remainder of this part of the project will be in Edmonton, but if I get the opportunity to head back to Calgary, I will definitely check this out.

And finally, I'm not surprised to note that Horizon monitor's it's on-line reputation.