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

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??)'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 some of your comments didn't show up right away. Sorry about that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And....We're Back!

Back from a training course in Orlando and back to blogging (it's a little easier to do when you have internet access).

Hotel Pickiness
I know I've been whining a lot about travel annoyances...and I really appreciated some of the comments from readers telling me to just let that shit go. I found I had built up my repertoire of pet-peeves to such a degree, that I was finding myself constantly aggravated.

I've decided to stop that.

One part of the travel industry that makes it easy to accumulate annoyances is the constant focus on trying to provide a "perfect stay" with them. Every time they fall short of their goal, it provides me another opportunity to add some other minor annoyance to my growing list.

As a recent example, I was staying at a very large hotel across the street from the Orlando Conference Center this week and their wireless internet access was overloaded by our group of about 1,200 guests trying to connect. Well, they clearly must have had larger groups of tech-savvy users in their hotel before, so this clearly can't be a new issue. Other than that, it was a beautiful hotel, fantastic fitness center and an extremely nice (and relatively competent) staff.

If I hadn't started my new attitude about letting go of irritations, the whole stay could have easily been ruined for me.

Thanks again for the feedback from readers...especially how much of the advice was "suggested" as opposed to critiquing how I do it.

Current Crocheting/Knitting
As I noted yesterday, I did finish the crochet scarf, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

I would make a few changes to the design on future scarfs, such as reducing the solid block sections a bit...I think a 1:1 ratio of open lattice to blocks is a bit boring. I also wouldn't use alpaca the next's a bit heavier in crochet than I would have expected.

I think I will probably do another one of these scarfs and publish the pattern.

If anyone can suggest a good lofty DK/Sport weight yarn that comes in an interesting selections of colors and is also soft enough to wear against the skin, I'd be open to suggestions.

I also started a new project.

This is the start of a zippered cardigan (I think).

The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, and in a gorgeous gray/green that is very rich looking...not sure how it shows on your monitor. I'm doing a simple 5x1 broken rib (K5, P1 on right side and Purl all stitches on wrong side).

Another question for readers...especially the ones that sew a lot....what's the easiest way of finding a complimentary colored, lightweight, open-bottom zipper for a garment like this? I'm thinking that I'll need to knit the length of the front so that it matches a standard zipper lenghth...yes?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding letting go of petty annoyances, Kiki writes, "May I suggest (she ducks) yoga?"

I started to dabble a bit in Yoga, and I have to say it's a lot harder than it looks. While aerobically, I'm in decent shape, a 20 minute beginner's Yoga class just about kicked my ass. I will try it a few more times to see if I adjust and start getting the calm of it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm Still Here

Sorry for the delay in posting, but I am still around and still knitting.

Quick Post Until I'm Home
I was in a training class this week and I was planning on doing a blog post Sunday night, but the hotel's internet access wasn't working.

The class had about 1,200 relatively tech-savvy people in the can imagine the frustration of the folks that didn't have aircards.

I was able to finish up the crochet scarf and start a new project...I'll let you know more about it when I get home either later today or tomorrow morning.

Till then, my doodling might give you a sense of where my mind was during the last session.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Do I Have Too Many Pet Peeves?

It seems that some days I walk around like an annoyance waiting to happen.

Out of My Way Asshole!
I can't walk through airports anymore without becoming completely annoyed.

If it's not the idiot who has to chat with 10 of his best friends right at the end of the jetway or right in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, it's the moron who slows down to a lithium-shuffle as soon as the BlackBerry or IPhone comes out. Or maybe it's the clueless parents and their three little darlings that insist on walking through the airport side-by-side. Or the British-wannabe nimrods who insist on walking on the left side of the walkway with three pieces of bulky roller-luggage. Perhaps as annoying is the crowd of people waiting to board their plane that insists on blocking the entire walkway because they're terrified someone will get on the plane before them. Or the person that stands in the middle of the corridor trying to make sense of the arrival/departure board.

There seems to be no end to the number of irksome people in airports these days, and these are just examples of people getting in my way.

Never mind the loud cellphone talkers, or the people the feel justified sitting in the seats for people with a handicap, or the jerks who think it's not littering if they drop their refuse on the floor next their seat...oh shit...I'm exhausted and annoyed again.

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I finished up the first ball of acrylic yarn on the scarf for a project team member.

She's brought in a few more balls of the yarn, so I will finish the scarf, and I'll also probably have enough yarn left over to make a matching hat. We'll see.

I also did some small amount of work on the crochet scarf, and I swatched for a new sweater design. I'm thinking about doing another zippered jacket using yarn I bought from Green Mountain Spinnery last year at Rhinebeck, but I'm not sure I like the swatch enough.

I'll put of photos if I decide to continue.

Flea Market Finds
One of my favorite flea market vendors had a big box of finished and unfinished crocheted afghans this past weekend, and while the afghans held no appeal at all, I knew there was going to be some crochet hooks somewhere in the mess.

Sorry for the lousy photograph, but this is a "Doily Stretcher" board from Sears & Roebuck, a set of plastic crochet hooks and 4 very fine steel crochet hooks. For five dollars, I had to have them all.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Janeyknitting writes, "Ooohh, that is sooo pretty! The acrylic mohair scarf on the bright red plastic knitting needles.
Care to divulge the pattern?"

On 7.5MM needles, I cast on 19 sts. and work the following 2 rows:

Row 1: Sl1 as if to purl, K2, P1, *K3, P1* rep between * 2 more times, K3
Row 2: Sl1 as if to purl, purl to end

In essence, it's a 3x1 broken rib with a slipped stitch selvage.