Thursday, October 28, 2010

Managing Stress

Over the years, my tolerance for stress has decreased significantly...I used to be able to rally very quickly even when life stayed stressful for months at a time. Those days are gone.

Deny, Defer and Defeat
I honestly think that even when I was young and I thought I had a higher tolerance for stress, it wasn't always true. Stressful times would sometimes build to such a level that I'd have a melt-down.

I've had to learn ways of either avoiding stress, deferring it for a short period of time or letting is dissipate.

Obviously it's not always possible to avoid stress. But I have learned at least a few ways of saying "no" to requests of my time that would add to my stress level. I've also set my life up in ways where big areas of stress like finances, relationship issues and illness don't show up very often. And another way I've found I can avoid stress is to try and make some tasks in my life as routine as possible, so it doesn't require a lot of my attention for the purpose of worrying. An example is my traveling. When I fly (especially to Canada these days), I always keep my passport and boarding pass in the same place, I always park at the same airport parking facility, I try to book the same flights each week, I keep an extra set of toiletries at the hotel in Edmonton, etc., etc., etc.

When I do get stressed, and I don't have the ability to relax and let it dissipate (like when work is crazy and I'm in sleep deficit), I defer it as best I can by doing things that help alleviate stress in the short-run, but aren't long-term solutions. Such as drinking lots of coffee and eating lots of sugar.

Finally, I have found that relaxing, exercising, meditating and getting lots of sleep will help dissipate stress.

Suffice it to say that this week I had to rely WAY too much on caffeine and sugar and ended up being quite irritable with co-workers. I'll relax this weekend.

Current Knitting
I'm honestly not enjoying the crochet scarf project I started. I didn't feel compelled to pick it up even once this week. So I made no progress on it at all. I will finish it, but even my fiber project was irritating this week.

However, a woman at work has asked me to show her how to read knitting patterns. She knows how to cast-on, knit and purl and so I've been giving her lessons in a stitch pattern with yarn-overs, psso's and K2Tog's. She picks it up very quickly.

She also let me borrow some some bright red plastic knitting needles and some crappy acrylic mohair (I call it fauxhair), so I'm making a scarf for her mom with it.

Any Thoughts On This New Book?
Thought some readers might know more about a new knitting book than I do. Anybody heard of Diagonal Knitting: A Different Slant" by Katharine Cobey?

Diagonal Knitting

I can always hope that Carol does one of her great "no-bull book reviews" about it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding theft of political signs, Red853 writes, "It is actually a felony, they are we found out to be the property of the actual political party not the candidate themself. Or so we were told by the state police."

It appears that in most states, it's just a petty crime of trespassing and theft, not a felony, but I still wouldn't do it anyway...Karma and all.

NCKnitter asks about the crochet scarf, "Love the scarf! Your own pattern?"

Yes, although inspired by a Danish scarf with no English translation for the pattern, I thought I might be able to figure it out...mine is very different.

Duffy asks, "Are the socks comfortable? I'm noticing the bunching at the front of the foot where the panel goes up the shin and am wondering if that's comfortable to wear."

I've not worn them with shoes yet, but the fabric is very soft and silky, so I imagine the bunching you noticed won't be too noticeable in the wearing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Political Karma

How many of you have ever seen a public street corner filled with political signs, and thought...

...who would know...
...if I drove up one night and surreptitiously removed the signs of the candidates I don't want to see win?

Lately, I have to admit to thinking about doing this often, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I figure, like with many things, if I conduct myself with integrity, the right thing will eventually work out correctly.

So, I guess that would go for re-arranging the signs so that my favorite candidate's signs were in front of the others too?

Current Knitting and Crocheting
I promised photographs of the finished socks using my BBF handspun, so here they are (I did have to graft the last seam, so I did actually do some work on them as well):

I also started a new scarf project, and I'm not sure how I like it so far.

It's coming out exactly as I expected it, although I would do a few things differently next time. I plan on adding about seven more lengthwise rows, with a brighter color in the center row. We'll see how I like it when it's finished.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

By a Show of Hands... many of you have ever flew Delta Airlines here in the States? And how many of you have ever had their Biscoff cookies as your in-flight snack?

Today's Blog is a Real Mixed Bag
I love these stupid little cookies. They're sweet and a little greasy and do they taste like cinnamon?...or nutmeg?...or brown sugar?

Not sure...but if Thaddeus ever asks you for a gift idea, I wuld always appreciated a small box of the Biscoff cookies.

Had a few hours to spend at Rhinebeck and I am glad to say, I spent most of the few hours there with friends. I got to see Selma, Kathy, Carol, Laura, Marilyn, Mel & David (and met Mel's parents!), and Duffy.  But stupidly, I took no photographs whilst I was there.

In addition, I got to spend time with some of the guys from the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, which is always energizing...god I love those guys.

In further addition, a number of you stopped me to say "hi" which is always a pleasure. In fact a blog reader sat down right next to me at lunch and tentatively asked me if I was QueerJoe. I also got to meet Kim from IndigoDragonfly in was very nice since she's contributed yarn to the Men's Knitting Retreats in the past.

It was fun for just the people aspect alone.

Plus!!! Duffy schlepped gifts all the way across the country from Portland.

I was honestly quite shocked that she gave me some delicious cheddar cheese made in Oregon (Tillamook), and also some spectacular Polwarth roving in a gorgeous, rich colorway (dyed by Dicentra Designs...I need to check them out more carefully). I can't wait to spin this up.

Duffy is a complete delight, so it was great to finally meet her.

I also purchased some roving...I can't remember where I found it, but I loved the's a longwool blend of fiber and it was very inexpensive...I couldn't pass it up.

Current Knitting
I did end up finishing the second sock using my hand-spun from Black Bunny Fiber roving. Unfortunately, I don't have a darning needle with me to graft the top seam together, so I'll completely finish the sock when I get home.

Flea Market Finds
I saw a little kit of knitting needles, crochet hooks and wrist-holder for yarn balls and it looked like some was made of ivory, some of plastic and perhaps some of balene...but none of it was in very good shape, so I didn't get it.

But I did buy two copies of the same book:

It's the Complete Guide to Modern Knitting and Crochet.  I bought the original printing of this book, dated 1942 and a subsequent printing from 1947. Both look pretty much the same, so perhaps I'll have to come up with some clever way of giving the second copy away as a prize.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy National Coming Out Day

And for those Canadian readers, happy Thanksgiving day.

With an on-line moniker of "QueerJoe" it's kind of a moot point, and at my age and the level of comfort I have with being gay, I certainly wouldn't be considered an "at-risk" youth.

I Couldn't Put It Better Myself
Sarah Silverman says it exactly how I want to, so I'll let her.

Maybe, just maybe the Vatican might get this message? Maybe the hateful Christians will see just how unChristian they are being by demeaning gay youth?

Speaking of Which...
Please make sure you vote.

I believe that Obama needs a little more support to get done what we'd truly like to see happen in this country.

He hasn't resorted to nastiness (although I would have a long time ago if I was sitting in his seat)...he just keeps quietly making progress in the right direction, despite being left with massive problems to clean up and empty coffers with which to do it.

Give him a Senate and a House that supports him for just 2 more's important and the country hasn't needed so much help in a long time. Don't weigh him down with naysaying conservatives who are only out for themselves, despite what they say publicly.

Current Knitting
Finally got through the ribbing on the second sock, and turned the heel.

Almost to the the toe, and then the insert. Still quite amazed that I knot only spun this yarn with such a color repeat, but that the repeat is such a close match in each sock.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Barb B. asks, "Do you cut up your food, then eat with your right hand? or cut and eat using the fork in the left?"

I always cut my food and then eat with my right hand...the correct way. Not sure which is the Canadian way.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I'm Turning Canadian

Yes, it's true...while I don't say "eh?" a lot yet, I have started to do other things that are much more representative of Canadians.

New CanadianQueerJoe
First of all, I've been allowed to let out my sincere nice-guy side. I really love how Western Canadians find the people from Toronto to be rude. I find most Canadians to be much less rude than most places in the U.S.

I've also started saying "sorry" a lot. And it's pronounced "saury" or something like that. It's a much easier identifier of someone from Canada than "eh?"

Finally, I've eaten poutine (and like it...although the curds weren't exactly squeaky fresh) and I've begun to pronounce the words "project" and "process" with a long "o" sound, as in "prototype." However, I still constantly expose myself as a Canadian imposter when I say "zee" instead of "zed" for the last letter of the alphabet. When the alphabet is one of the first academic things a child learns, it's hard to change, eh?

Current Knitting
Mostly boring progress (pronounced with a long "o") on my sock project using yarn spun with Carol's Black Bunny Fiber roving.

I'm kind of amazed that the second sock is a pretty close color match so far to the first, and this is completely by accident and unexpected.

As many of you know, I've never been a huge fan of knitting ribbing. Even though I've learned the continental way of knitting and purling, and I can do it faster than my regular way of knitting and purling, it's not as comfortable, so I constantly switch back and forth.

Current Reading
Most of you know how picky I am about my reading materials. While I've been known to read a Judith Krantz novel, it wouldn't be something I'd normally read unless I was completely bored.

I just finished one of the best books I've read in a long time, so if you really love reading John Irving and you've hated many of Oprah's picks (e.g. "House of Sand and Fog," ect.) then you definitely need to read my latest find.

Probation by Tom Mendicino is exceptional.


The main character is exceptionally self-insightful and the author uses this skill to narrate an incredibly appealing and real-life story.

As one who hates knowing much about a book or movie before reading it or seeing it, I won't say much about this book, except it is a must read, especially for any gay men, or friends thereof (and that should cover a large number of the folks that read this blog).

I would love to hear/read what others think of this book.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Why Vote?

When the only choice in candidates are lunatics, hypocrites, Bush-wannabes and ineffective Democrats, it seems that voting is a useless activity.

Okay, I'm Back
If you read here, you most likely know the answer to "Why Vote?"

We have an enormous problem with the ever widening breach between the rich and the middle class, where the rich have grown in riches over the past 10 years, and the middle class has lost ground (with inflation added into the equation). It has been proven over and over that tax cuts to the rich are extremely detrimental to our economy, and most specifically to our country's deficit.

Putting nut-jobs like Christine "Masturbation is adultery" O'Donnell or Meg "Illegal aliens are okay for me" Whitman into office is truly insane. Voting for Republicans who want to continue the Bush Jr. years of corporate thievery is criminal. Leaves you but one choice.

Please make sure you're registered to vote and please make it to the polls.

I just got my absentee ballot in the mail this past weekend. I can't wait to do my part.

Current Knitting
I finished the first Regia/Kaffe sock (with insert) and started the ribbing on the second one.

I have to say, this is one of the most poorly written (or perhaps most poorly translated) pattern I've ever worked with. In addition to detailed instructions (bad ones) on how to do short rows and grafting, it constantly waffles back and forth on a standard size for the sock and a matrix of numbers used for a different size/gauge sock. I'm convinced I did the rounded toe completely wrong.

Readers' Comments/Questions
FalconPharmer writes, "Joe- Have you ever tried the Houdini socks from Cat Bordhi? Or Kniyman's Anderson Heels? I can do top down and toe up, but the short row heel and the increase's from the toe up just get me!"

I've never done Cat Bordhi's socks, but I have done the Andersson heel, which I like very much. It's probably my favorite heel to knit, and one day I plan on re-doing his heel in cuff-down format. I kinda wish I had opted to do that with this sock.