Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiday Cheer

When I first started this blog, I found it a lot of fun to be snarky and critical.  As I've aged, I find it much more satisfying to be uplifting and supportive.

Amazing People
Over the years, I've participated in a number of on-line knitting forums, including the original KnitList, Yahoo Groups, Ravelry, MenWhoKnit.com, and now forums on Facebook.  I have also been fortunate to have been involved in the creation of the Men's Knitting Retreats, and through it all, I have found some incredible whackos and people with phenomenally bad taste.  I know how much fun it can be to point them out, and rag on them.

But I've also found an amazing community of people with creativity, talent and impeccable taste.

Those are the people I've decided to focus my energy on lately.

While I'm sure there are those readers who miss the harsh critiques of bad magazine designs and making fun of the insipid knitters who write ridiculously stupid things in public forums, the truth of the matter is, I find it much more satisfying to support, recognize and enjoy the company of the amazing among us.

Here is someone who's a master at uplifting people, plus I feel incredibly privileged to be on his list.

Current Knitting/Spinning
Looks like I will definitely finish the cardigan by the end of the year, but I'm not so sure about finishing the Optim Merino Top spinning.

Starting with the cardigan:




You'll see that I've finished the pocket sleeves, the pocket edging, sewing in the pocket linings and seaming up one side of the sweater.  I've also gotten a few inches done on the button-band.  I'm very pleased with how this turns out, and if it just happens to fit my nephew, it will be a huge success.

The spinning:




While this may look close to complete, I still have quite a bit of spinning to do to finish the second bobbin of singles.  Hard to believe, right?

I'll keep you updated on both projects and let you know whether I met my deadlines for each project.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Gift Fail

Okay...so I decided I needed to focus only on the cardigan for my nephew in the days before Christmas, or I would never get it done.  It turned out to be futile.

The Moment of Realization
It occurred to me three days before Christmas, when I still had the rest of the right/front, two sleeves, a small pocket edging and a button-band to finish, that I wouldn't be able to give this cardigan as a Christmas gift while my nephew was here.

But I never stopped trying.




This shows that I've been able to finish the front and I have about 30 more rows on both sleeves before they're finished.  I also did add the contrasting color to the pocket edging, which I think looks quite fine.  I'm pretty certain I'll finish it before the new year.

During that knitting time, I completely ignored the spinning, so I've made no progress on that.

Oh well, I tried.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Accustomed To Customs

Traveling between Canada and the United States on a weekly basis gets you used to the scrutiny of TSA and Customs & Immigration for both countries.

What's A Gel?
Did you realize peanut butter is considered a gel or paste, and you can't carry more than 4 ounces of it through TSA security (unless, of course it's digesting whilst you carry it).

Yes, so I find myself lowered to having to be a mule for Kraft Extra Creamy Peanut Butter.


It's a product of Canada, that isn't produced in the United States, and as I've mentioned before, it's far superior to any commercial peanut butter in the states.  I ended up checking my suitcase this past trip home so that I could get this product safely home.

Five kilos should last me a few months.

Progress Report - Current Knitting/Spinning
My sister is in receipt of all three items I crochet/knit for her and she's pleased.  When  you finally see the non-traditional version of the one I finished for her daughter (my niece), please do not blame me.  They weren't colors/textures/sequins/yarn I would have chosen (although, truth be told, I did choose a number of the yarns, but only under specific restrictions.

Regardless, she's happy, so I'm happy and I'll have photos after Christmas.

I have made some additional progress on the spinning as well.




You'll note, I only have a few valleys of singles to fill in, and I should be able to accomplish this before the end of the year.

Finally, the cardigan I started this week is moving along swimmingly.



I'm almost to the neck/shoulder shaping (about 22 inches of knitting is shown here).  I'm somewhat following a Martin Storey pattern from the book Knitting For Him.  Mostly, I'm stealing the idea of a contrasting color between the ribbing color and the main body color, which looks great in Martin's version, even though he uses black as that separating color.  I'm usually not a big fan of black as a blending color, but it works on his version.


I also can't imagine why he didn't put the black on the pockets and possibly even on the button band.  I'm pretty certain I will modify this on my version.

Think I'll be able to finish this by Christmas?  I hope so!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011 - A Year of Completion

Well, at least it will be a year of fiber completion for me by the time the end of the year rolls around.

Checking Off The List
With Christmas presents all purchased, and the crochet/knitting project my sister asked me to do for her kids all done.  I'm working on finishing up a couple more projects before the end of the year.

It's incredibly satisfying to have mailed off the niece/nephew project (I'll post a photo after the new year), and having finished all the Christmas shopping makes for a much more serene time off from work between now and the New Year.  Just a couple more items to check off on the 2011 to-do list, and I will feel quite accomplished for the year.

Knitting/Crocheting/Spinning
The crochet projects are complete (although all of the items were partially crochet, and partially knit), and they are safely in the mail on their way to my sister.  Overall, they came out well, although they definitely wouldn't have been projects I would have selected.

I'm also working on trying to finish spinning up the singles for the Optim Merino from Australia.



I should be able to get it all done by the end of the year, and hopefully I'll be able to ply it up as well.  While I still have no idea what I'll do with the resulting yarn, I know I will be happy with the result.

The socks project I'm working on with yarn from Skeindelous is moving along well, and I will also try and get that finished before the end of the year, although, there's no urgency on finishing them.

Finally, I started a new project, that I'm hoping to have finished by Christmas, but I'm not sure if it will be.




This is the beginning of a cardigan that will be a kind of surprise gift...I hope.   I quite a bit of work to do on it before Christmas, but it's a man's small, so I'm hopeful it will move along pretty quickly.  I'm not a fast knitter, but I knit a lot.  Wish me luck!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Spicing Up My Work Life

I like practical jokes, especially when they're particularly clever.  And especially when they're played on someone that thinks they're immune to them.



Timing Is Everything
Years ago, I worked with a young woman in New York City, Cindy, and she considered herself quite the sophisticate.  She and I worked a lot with a group of expatriate employees that worked for the U.S. offices of the bank, but were working out of one of our overseas offices.

One day, she was being all snooty, so, out of the blue, I asked her if when she sent out a recent memo to her group of expatriates whether she had cc'ed the expatriates' spice.  The conversation then went like this:

She said, "Spice?!?!...don't you mean spouses?"
With a sarcastic tone, I replied, "You really think the plural of spouse is 'spouses'?"
"It IS." She responded emphatically.
I laughed derisively at her and as luck would have it, Donna, a really straight-laced coworker of ours was walking by, and I said, "Donna, what's the plural of spouse?"

Without batting an eyelash, Donna says with a rather patronizing tone, as if any child knows this answer..."Spice."

I could have kissed her, because for the next hour, or so, Cindy was aghast that she had mistakenly believed that spouses was the plural of spouse.

When she finally called her father to tell him how bizarre it was that she had it wrong all these years, and he corrected her, she was a lot less snooty.  At least for the day.

So, what's your favorite practical joke that either you've played, or someone has played on you?

Current Knitting
I didn't bring any of the current knitting with me to Edmonton, so I only worked a bit on the long-standing sock project.



At least I was able to finally turn the heel.  I have a four hour trip today, so I'll try and get some knitting done.

I also got to wear the new cowl a couple of times this past week in Edmonton (it hasn't been REALLY cold yet), and it kept me nice and toasty.  I really love how it came out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gift Cards/Certificates

Am I the only one that feels uncomfortable using a gift certificate at a restaurant or coffee house or car wash, etc.?

Advice For Gift Card Recipients
I know I'm probably weird in this way, but I always feel strange whipping out a gift card or gift certificate to pay for some services or product I've just consumed or purchased.

I shouldn't.  The person that gave it to me paid good money to the establishment to purchase the gift card, and when businesses sell gift cards, they are well aware that people will cash them in.  And we always tip at restaurants on the full amount of the bill.  Still yet, I feel uncomfortable using them.

Thaddeus has come up with a way of presenting gift cards to businesses in a way that makes me feel much better about using them.  As soon as we walk into the business and are greeted by an employee, he says something like "Thanks...a good friend of ours gave us a $50 gift certificate, so we were excited to try your restaurant/coffee house/car wash, etc."

I don't know why, but presenting it this way, as thought it's been a successful way of promoting their business and at the same time telling them right up front we'll be using a gift card, seems to make it a lot less uncomfortable for me.

Current Knitting/Crocheting/Spinning
Yes, it's been a while, and in that time I've done all three of the above.

Knitting:
I've been able to finish the neck cowl using the three colors of Possum/Merino yarn.



I used two different edgings...the blue edging is a picot hemmed edge, and the green edging is a plain hemmed edging.




I got to use it this morning on my 11 block walk from the hotel to work in 25 degree weather.



All in all, it kept me quite toasty, and it was nice to know I could pull it up over my nose/mouth when it gets even colder up here in Canada.

Crocheting:
xx - content deleted - xx

Spinning:
Finally, there is an end in sight to the Optim Merino top I've been spinning.



A couple more weekends of spinning and I should have a boatload of merino yarn to play with.  I'll keep you updated.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Optical Illusion?



Is it my imagination, or do most opticians suck at their job?

Still Wearing Glasses
Even though I've had laser surgery that has made my vision close enough to perfect that I don't need corrective lenses to drive, I still do need glasses if I want to see well while reading, or doing a lot of computer work.  Thaddeus also wears glasses since his laser surgery, so we find ourselves at the opticians about once or twice a year.

But I've been frequenting opticians long before now, when I used to need glasses and contact lenses to be able to see past my own nose.

My overall experience with opticians, is that they're careless, expensive and not very good at making glasses that actually work for people.  Some person examples of bad opticians are:
  • Wrong Prescriptions - I can't tell you how many times I'd take receipt of a pair of glasses, or a box of contact lenses, and the prescription was wrong.  Sometimes it was obvious an other times I'd only find out a year or two after wearing the wrong prescription, when an optometrist or other optician would measure the lenses.
  • Mis-Alignments - I have a pair of progressive lenses (computer glasses) that have the "sweet spot" in the wrong place, requiring me to tilt my head slightly more than I'd care to.  Thaddeus had a pair of bifocals made that had the reading portion of the lens way too high.
  • Stupid Extras - I've had opticians recommend high-density plastic lenses that were completely inappropriate for the prescription and added nothing but cost.  I've had crappy coatings to prevent scratches that cost a fortune that just didn't work.

And it doesn't seem to matter if the place is one of those cheapo chains, or a very expensive "boutique".  Overall, the one thing I have found, is that most opticians places do get right, is they are helpful in picking out frames that work for me, and they are usually good at adjusting them so they fit my face well.

Is it just me?

Current Knitting/Spinning
I did some additional spinning of singles this weekend to try and finish the Optim Merino top I've been working on and I made some great progress.






But of course, there's still this dangling from the spinning wheel that is still left to do.



After all this spinning, I feel like Rumplestiltskin and the result should be pure gold!

I also started a new project that was borne of necessity.  With so much of my time spent up in Edmonton, I realized I needed more than just a warm coat...I needed something to keep my neck and lower face warm sometimes...and it had to be easy to travel with (not bulky!).

I decided a nice warm possum around my neck would fit the bill perfectly.

Well, actually a neck-warmer made of merino and possum fur (Australian possum which is much softer and warmer than the rat-like American possum).



This is the New Zealand yarn I got from James (J.O.Y - Joy of Yarn) - even with shipping at the time, it was a good deal.  I don't see it on his site any more, but he does have a DK possum yarn available.  The possum gives this yarn a fuzz-halo that is incredibly soft and warm...maybe this cross-cut photo shows it a bit better.


I'm really just going to do a loose tube with a finished edge and wear it as a scarf that won't fall off.  We'll see if the design works.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Karo writes, "I have a question about the hexapuff do you cast on 24 stitches total or 24 stitches on each needle?..."

I cast on a total of 24 stitches to start and end up with a total of 24 stitches (6 sts on each of 4 needles).

Monday, November 07, 2011

Blogiversary!

Believe it or not, this Friday (11/11/11) will be my 9th Blogiversary.

Who Would Have Believed?
I honestly never expected I'd be able to keep a blog going for nine years.  I guess I never realized what a gas-bag I am.  I'm sure Thaddeus could have told you.

Each year, I typically miss the anniversary date when I first starting blogging as QueerJoe, so hopefully this Friday, I can provide a teary walk through the nine years that has been QueerJoe.

We'll see how that goes.

Current Knitting/Spinning
First of all, I got a lot of spinning done this past weekend on the Optim Merino from Australia.

It still seems endless, but I will definitely persevere, as the resulting yarn will be well worth the effort.

I also did some additional work on the hexa-puff blanket and even did a bit of knitting on the latest sock project.

I don't have photos of any of it to prove I've been working, but I did put together a video tutorial for how I'm making the hexa-puff blanket.

I hope it's coherent, and I also realized I misspoke in the video...I mentioned that I'm using US 2 needles, which I thought were 2.5mm, but I'm actually using 2.75mm needles.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Moustaches!


One of the best thing I like about November is a great little event, renaming the month as Movember, encouraging men to grow a moustache for the month to help raise money and spread the word about prostate cancer.  Mostly, I just like guys with moustaches.

Movember Men
I haven't heard much about it this year, but in prior years, many of the men who knit, let their razors sit idly by while their facial hair grew.  Some set up fundraisers for their effort (?...lack of effort?), others just showed off their manly achievement.

Feel free to contact the Movember movement and make a contribution to prostate cancer research if you're so inclined.



Current Knitting
While I would love to be able to grow a moustache that would make me look something like this:

 
In all likelihood, any moustache attempt on my part would be pretty cheesy looking:


So this Movember, I opted for a knitted solution so I could participate in this activity.



I found the pattern on Ravelry and it's called "Dwarven Battle Bonnet" by Sally Pointer/Wicked Woollens.

I do have to say, the hat is incredibly warm, and I might just find a use for it on my cold morning walks to work in Edmonton.


Readers' Questions/Comments
Sandra asks, "Where did you get the pattern for the honeycomb blanket, I love it!"  I also got another question from a reader about whether I somehow restrict the polyfill to each hexapuff, or whether it can move freely throughout each length of hexapuffs.

Actually, I don't have a pattern for this...I saw a video of a woman making something like this, and I just designed it on the fly.  I basically do a standard toe-up, figure-eight cast-on of 24 stitches and increase like I would for a sock toe (four increases every other round) until I have finished the knit-plain round with 56 stitches.  Then I start decreasing four stitches every other row until I'm back down to 24 stitches.

I do restrict the polyfill to only one hexapuff by starting the next hexapuff by putting half the stitches on each of two needles, and holding them parallel and together, I start my new yarn by using two double-pointed needles knitting the first stitch from the front needle onto the new front needle, and purling the first stitch from the back needle onto the new back needle (holding both new needles parallel while I do it.

I would be much easier to show you...I may try doing a video if anyone is interested.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Go Tea Party!

Who would have ever believed I would be routing for the tea party and agreeing with them on so much?

Being Co-opted
The Tea Party started with some great ideas about getting government out of our personal affairs and getting rid of the corruption that is rampant in Washington.

Shortly thereafter, they had nut-cases like Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin tagging on their crazy agendas and soon, I found there was little or nothing in common I had with the whole movement.

Now, with the Occupy Wall Street movement promoting some of their most cherished ideas again, I'm starting to see commonalities again.

My biggest concern is that with the power of the almighty dollar, the movement will be taken over again, and big banks will rule the agenda. I'm hopeful that with a more condensed and powerful message, the Occupy Wall Street people has more likeliehood of success.

We shall see.

Rhinebeck 2011
I spent a few short hours at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend.

Mostly, I wanted to try and see some of my friends there, and I also ended up buying a book and some yarn.

I met up mostly with some of the guys from the Men's Spring Knitting Retreats. Good friend Jeff and I bounced around the fairground checking out fiber and meeting up with some of the other guys.

As part of that, I also got a chance to purchase Alasdair's "Extreme Double-Knitting" book and have him sign it.



That's Jeff on the right and some other Alasdair fanatic between us.  I don't usually do this, but I read Alasdair's book from cover to cover.  He is so adept at this technique and his book is the most comprehensive resource on any specific resource that I've ever read.  I will plan on designing a double-knitting project of my own.

The yarn I bought was irresistible...



This is a wool/mohair blend, so the base yarn is soft and beautiful to begin with, but the irresistible part was the dyeing that this dyer does.  It's Persimmon Tree Farm yarns, and her work is spectacular.  While I'm not sure what I'll do with this fantastic yarn, I am sure that I will be ordering more of this yarn (if I can figure out how to order yarn from her).

Current Knitting
I mostly worked on the honeycomb blanket this past weekend. I've finished over two rows of hexagons so far, but I don't have a photo to post.

In anticipation of a cold Winter in Edmonton, I have also started working on a fun little balaclava-like hat

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy My Mind

With all the problems I see with our society today I often wonder if I was naive or ignorant when I was younger, or whether the current situation with government and finances is just a lot more dire than it used to be.

Occupy Wall Street
I love this movement. I'm thrilled to see that people are pissed off enough to camp out and protest and make clever signs.

The organizers of the movement have done an excellent job of distilling a very complex issue down to it's basic concepts...simply that corporate greed and government corruption are ruining this country and it won't be tolerated any more.

There was a recent GAO audit of the Federal Reserve, which clearly states that there is massive conflict of interest (if not outright corruption) within the ranks of the board members of the Fed.

Read this - GAO Finds Serious Conflicts at the Fed - Newsroom: Bernie Sanders - U.S. Senator for Vermont - and tell me it doesn't make your blood boil.

And with Republicans insisting we need LESS restrictions on banking and corporations, I'm surprised there aren't pitchfork-wielding citizens storming the House of Representatives.

I did send my congressman a terse, but well-phrased e-mail.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I've been working on a couple of things. I've done a bit more spinning of the Ultima Merino, because I can't wait to see how the resulting yarn turns out. The fiber is unlike anything I've ever spun before and I'm hopeful the yarn will be amazing.

I've also knit at least three stitches on my current sock project - I know...but in my defense, lately, when I'm not working, I'm sleeping or eating...even on my flights.

Finally, I have been enjoying some leisurely knitting of the honeycomb blanket when I'm home.

 

 

As you can see, I am doing continuous rows of hexagons instead of creating each one separately. This allows me to not have to keep doing figure-8 cast-ons and Kitchener stitch grafting at the top.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks to everyone who either commented about missing my posts or sent me personal e-mails. Work has been brutal, but it seems to be getting better and I think I'll be able to both knit a bit more and blog more too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rare Finds

Both fibery and fungal.
 
Odd Couple Interests
 Many of you know that Thaddeus likes to forage for wild mushrooms and has a handful of different edible mushrooms he can identify without question as to their non-poisonous qualities.

I, on the other hand, am usually not a big fan of mushrooms.

There are, however a couple of mushrooms he finds that I do like. In the Spring he gets morels and in the late Summer, he finds my favorite mushroom of all.


Known as "Hen of the Woods", or "Rams Head", or maitake by the Japanese, the Latin name for this mushroom is Grifola Frondosa.

The flavor of this delicacy is a subtle woody flavor and it has a firmer texture than most mushrooms, and even when cooked for a while, it still maintains a snap to it. So far, Thaddeus has made a very rich beef stew with them and sauteed them in with some breakfast potatoes. Both of them were incredible dishes.  

The Other Rare Find
There are some very talented independent yarn dyers that I've run into in my years of knitting, but I've absolutely fallen in love with John (Dye Guy) from the Fibre Garden's dye jobs.

I met up with John and his sister and niece in Edmonton a couple of weeks ago to pick up my latest acquisition from him.



The top one is Paca Toes sock yarn in the colourway "Coal and Ash". The middle one is probably my favorite, it's Lace Time in the colourway "Black Pine" and the bottom one is more Lace Time yarn in the colourway "Chameleon. They feel as luscious as they look. So two rare finds in my recent past.  

Current Knitting
 None...not even on my travel sock. Work has been a bit nuts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Am I a Ridiculous Cliche?

Don't you think it's necessary to ask yourself this question every once in a while? Unless of course you're okay with being a ridiculous cliche.  

Am I the Carrie Bradshaw of Knit Bloggers?
I was sitting next to a young woman on the plane yesterday and was watching her type on her iPad what appeared to be a personal journal or a blog entry or dog forbid, an article for publication.

First of all, I know I shouldn't have been reading this private writing, but it really was like a train wreck that I couldn't take my eyes off of.

 She started out ruminating about how she always knew she wanted a family and a house, but in her mind, the dream was to have all the husband and picket fence-like items too. She also wrote how she had destroyed that dream by having to raise her now 3 year old son by herself and she had another one on the way with no apparent husband.

I'm assuming it was some sort of immaculate conception.

She also wrote about how she love her son and he was the greatest thing that ever happened to her, and she couldn't imagine how she would be able to love the in-the-womb-daughter-to-be in anywhere near the same way. She also noted how her son drove her crazy sometimes.

She wrote in an incredibly sophomoric, idealistic way about all this, reminding me very much of the voice-over of Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw as she typed her supposed articles of personal interest for her employer. Just like the Carrie Bradshaw articles, I found this young woman's journal/blog/article to be way too precious and contrived and pretentious and twee and self-centered and...well, you get the idea.

And then I thought perhaps some of my blog entries had many of the same qualities.

To be clear, I am not okay with being a ridiculous cliche, so I worked really hard on writing this blog entry.  

Current Knitting/Spinning
Lots going on in my knitting world, although you'd never know if from my frequency of blogging lately.

First, I've done some additional work on the lace baby blanket from Heirloom Knitting, using Ted's handspun lace yarn.


I've never done a project like this where you knit the outer sections first, and pick up stitches on each side as you knit up the center panel. The subtle color variations in Ted's handspun is looking quite nice...almost like orange sherbet.

I've also started working on a funky fringe-like scarf.


I'm not sure I'll like the result, but it's enjoyable to knit, and if it turns out like I hope, I'll post particulars on how I made it in case others are interested.

I also started another project based on the viral YouTube video of a women obsessed with puffy hexagons that she's putting together in a blanket. I think it's called the beehive blanket...I refuse to post the video, but I actually liked the idea of what she was making, so I've started my own. I don't know how she's making hers, but I've come up with my own way. I'll post photos and an explanation of how I make mine once I've got enough hexagons knit up and put together to make it look like something.

Finally, I also got a bit of spinning done this past weekend.


I still have a long way to go on the second bobbin of singles, but I'm really looking forward to plying and using this yarn. I'm considering whether to try dyeing it myself or perhaps paying one of the amazing independent dyers I know to do it for me.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sky Clubs

With all the flying I do, I never thought I'd ever care to purchase a membership in any of the sky clubs.

Until Irene
Fortunately Irene turned out to be a minor inconvenience for me and most of the people I know. A postponed flight and some road detours (quite a few road detours in addition to the ones that were already in place), but that's about it.

However, Delta Airlines seemed to have taken Irene as an opportunity to take a three day weekend, because even though my Monday morning flight was cancelled and I was rescheduled on a flight the following day and bit later, Delta still couldn't get it together quickly enough to get our flight out in time for me to make my connecting flight in Minneapolis. I ended up arriving around noon, and the only flight I could take to Edmonton was at 10:00 pm. Delta gave me apologies and a $10 food voucher that I could spend at any food vendor in Minneapolis airport. Seemed kind of stingy for a 10 hour delay, so I asked them for a free day-pass to the Delta Sky Lounge.

Denied.

So, as I sat in an uncomfortable plastic molded seat next to a highly-prized electric outlet, using the for-pay wireless internet to try and get some work done, I debated where to spend my $10 food voucher.

I got two e-mails from co-workers. The first one suggested I find a nearby hotel room and work there for the day. The second one suggested I pay $50 for a day-pass in the Delta Sky Club.

I liked both ideas, but when I realized I could buy a whole year's worth of club membership for 70,000 frequent flier miles, I opted to do that. I figured I usually spend 1-2 hours each week in the Minneapolis airport, so now I'd get free internet, a clean bathroom and coffee/snacks if I wanted them. Plus, there were comfortable seats and plenty of electrical outlets.

It turned out to be a good decision, even if I only used it for the 10 hour delay. Then, as luck would have it, I got an e-mail the day I was flying home last week, announcing a brand spanking new Delta Sky Club in the Seattle aiport (where I spend about 3 hours each week). Looks like I'll get a lot of use out of this year's membership.

I'm typing this blog entry in a comfortable chair, drinking a free latte and using free internet.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I finished the final side-panel of the heirloom baby blanket and I've completed two repeats of the center section of the lace blanket. I have about 18 more to go. I'll try to get a decent photo that will show the pattern, but I don't hold out much hope until it's blocked.

I also finished the first bobbin of singles using the Optim Merino from Australia.


Clearly, I've also started the second bobbin. Given how long the first one took, I wanted to at least get something done on the second so I can get to knit something with this fiber in my lifetime.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earthquake, Hurricane, Tornado...

...what's next, pestilence?

Ahead of Schedule
I thought we had until 2012 before the end of the World.

Actually, I always thought that was an odd expression, "end of the world." It will more likely be the end of humanity, or perhaps end of the World as we know it. It's likely that long after we've made ourselves extinct, the World will go on for a good long time.

Humans are more like acne to the Earth, and it won't be long till the global version of Proativ takes us all out.

All in all, I've hardly been personally affected by the latest geological events on the East Coast. I was in Edmonton for the earthquake, and it didn't shake anything loose in my house while I was gone (although Thaddeus did notice it at work). Hurricane Irene had us without internet for a few hours and required us to reset clocks a couple of times when power went out for 5 seconds.
It also caused me to reschedule travel this week.

Other than a few minor inconveniences, the QueerJoe state of affairs is just fine.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I was hoping to be able to display lots of knitting and spinning on the blog today, but nothing is quite in a state where I can proudly display it.

I am just shy of finishing the fourth side-panel of the Heirloom baby blanket using Ted's handspun.


I've got about 10 more rows on the final side-panel and then I work the center panel. It's looking very nice, but like most lace, it isn't overly photogenic. Looks like I left an interesting rag or something on the chair and photographed it.

I am also just a bit shy of finishing the first bobbin of the Optim Merino from Australia.



I've done a lot of spinning the past few days, and I kept looking down, expecting to be at the end of the first bump, and I always seem to have more left to go than should be possible. It's also amazing to me that I'll be able to fit half a pound of singles on one bobbin. I mean, look at the comparison of processed fiber to the size of the bobbin.


And it's not like the fiber isn't pretty dense. Kind of amazing.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Someone asked what yarn/color I used in my Transatlantic Shawl (by Stephen West).

I honestly forget what purple yarn I used...I should look it up...I'm sure I documented it in Ravelry...oops...never added that project. It doesn't matter much anyway, the blue yarn was handspun and hand-dyed at last year's West Coast Men's Knitting Retreat when we go to dip our yarn in an indidgo bath, so it's not like it could be easily replicated...sorry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's a Heel!

Despite having a week to accomplish something in my knitting world since the last time I blogged, I have been able to turn a heel, and just start ribbing.

Andersson Heel
Knitman Colin a while ago designed and described a heel for a toe-up sock that I find to be one of the most elegant ways of forming a heel that combines the best of a short-row heel, with the fit of a Dutch heel.

I've made some modifications, mostly in terms of how I make the increases so that they look very smooth (see the close up photo below). But overall, I love how easy this heel is to make and how good it looks and feels when I wear the sock.

Current Knitting
So here is a week's worth of work.



While the heel might look a little bunchy, it fits very well on most feet.  It also requires no picking up of stitches along the side of the gusset.  Even with this yarn which is a blend of Superwash Merino and Bamboo (which shows a lot of inconsistencies), the increases and the decreases/short rows look very uniform and neat.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Little Sister!

It's unfathomable that Andie (Andrea), the youngest sibling in my family has just turned 45.


She's As Amazing As She Looks
Mother of 3, wife of 1, the woman has got it all. She's also known as the favorite child of my mom's, but my mom denies it. We all know better.

She's a Reiki master, so feel free to send her some if you know how.

My favorite story about Andie from her childhood took place when she was about five.

Andie was the last of seven children, and while the rest of us were all born within a year or two of each other, Andie was born five years after her next older brother. When she was five, some of the older boys were teasing her and telling her she was an accident because she was born so late. We got her in a bit of a frenzy, so she finally went crying to my mom and asked her if she was an accident. My mom turned to all of us and said, "What do you mean...you were all accidents."

Nothing but honesty from a good Irish Catholic woman, and for some reason, the honest answer seemed to appease Andie (and the rest of us).

Current Knitting
I've had very little opportunity to knit since the weekend. Work is beyond hectic and I'm struggling just to get in enough time for sleeping and eating.

I did however begin a new sock project using some of the amazing sock yarn designed and dyed by a Colorado indie dyer, who goes by the pseudonym Skeindalous. This yarn was designed based on a photo I had on my blog of the Colorado Rockies back when I first signed up for the Rocky Mountain Retreat. She actually named it after me using the color name Rocky Mountain Joe (or something like that).



Her colors are truly amazing and the yarn is quite wonderful to work with. I will definitely be ordering more from her.