Monday, February 21, 2011

Knitting Friends

It's always most gratifying when my my friends have successes in their lives, so I'm thrilled to write today's blog entry.

Barb Brown's New Book is AMAZING!

I don't know how my friend Carol of "Go Knit In Your Hat" does her "No Bull Book Reviews." I used to be able to critique books or magazines or designers with great fervor, especially when I could point out something particularly garish. But having met a number of these designers, and stepped into their shoes by designing a little bit myself, I can't seem to do that anymore...minimally, I see the incredible effort that went into their work.

Fortunately, I don't have to struggle with coming up with accolades on this latest review, especially since the author has been a long-time reader of this blog.

Knitting Knee Highs by Barb Brown is going to quickly become the go-to book for anyone who enjoys knitting socks, or wants to start.

If you never wanted to knit socks ever...don't buy this will be sorely tempted.

For newcomers to the sock knitting world, she provides a very straightforward recipe for knee high socks and then describes in a simple, but clear way how to adapt the basic structure to all types of other socks or leg-warmers.

For the experienced sock-knitter, this book is abundant with inspiration. I will definitely be using color designs such as the sole of the Both Sides Now Knee High.

I will also be definitely making some version of Barb's Birdwalk Legwarmers and Celeigh Socks.

The book is very well written, and Barb shows off her talent for mixing colors in a very appealing way. The photographs in this book are just beautiful as well.

This book will quickly become the classic sock-knitting book.

My sincere thanks to Barb for publishing a book that was so easy to rave about.

Current Knitting
I finished the knitting portion of the buttoned neck-warmer (kind of).

I'm thinking I will do a crochet edging around the entire rectangle to give the neck-warmer a bit more structure.

I also did finish turning the heel on the latest pair or socks, and I'm less than an inch into the ribbing for the cuff. I'll provide photos in the next blog entry.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Airport Blogging

I've Twittered and Facebooked from both an airport and a plane, but I've never blogged from either before. I sit in Minneapolis airport typing this blog entry as a QueerJoe first.

Terrifying Options
With wireless internet access available in so many places, using lace of access as an excuse for not working is getting more and more difficult.

Now the Electronic Leash (aka, BlackBerry, iPhone, etc.) has become more like one of those electric dog fences...invisible, but allowing employers to demand more and more of you.

Add to that the ability to make calls over the internet, and next thing you know, folks will be having phone conversations right next to you on a plane.

Absolutely terrifying.

Current Knitting
Long work days have put a big dent in my knitting time, and the first leg of my flight today that brought me to Minneapolis, I frittered away good knitting time having a fascinating conversation with the equivalent of a District Attorney from Edmonton. The conversation was worth paying close attention to.

However, I am almost finished with the buttoned neck warmer I'm knitting.

The Malabrigo shows off the fisherman's rib stitch pattern very well, and the back of the fabric is incredibly soft, so it will be a comfortable wear as well.

A few more hours, and I'll be home, and hopefully I'll have finished turning the heel on my latest sock project.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

QueerJoe's Valentine Message

Pastor Tim (aka teejtc) wrote by far, one of my favorite comments ever on my blog the other day. Unfortunately, it wasn't on the current blog entry, so I fear some readers may have missed it, and it had one of the most intuitive and positive commentaries about relationships.

What Tim Wrote

I imagine the gaydar "breakdown" might just be a natural result of age and stability of relationship. I'm not gay nor 50, but have found that the longer I'm married and the older I get the less I notice other "potential relationships." It's hard for me to imagine that it isn't the same for gay men....
For anyone who's ever been in a relationship for about 10 years or or longer, they'll probably find Tim's words quite accurate and wise.

Years ago (about 24 years ago now), I was at the three-year mark with Thaddeus, and the white-hot passion of new love was starting to wane. Based on much of what I knew of love and relationships (mostly from friends, family, television and movies) this meant that the relationship wasn't going to be lasting much longer.

I was extremely fortunate to have a friend/co-worker who had been married for over 20 years, and she had hinted that there had been challenges over the years in her relationship.

I asked her how long-term couples got past the part of a relationship where it wasn't as euphoric as at the beginning.

I could only wish that everyone had a friend like Marylou (or Tim) to get advice from on relationships.

She basically told me that if I could make it past the part where love wasn't as intense and passionate, I would eventually come to have a relationship that was stable, comforting and dependable. That getting to the part where you know practically everything there is to know about your partner can be an incredibly intimate and rewarding and loving experience. She was right.

So, what I love about Tim's comment, is that, like Marylou's response to me, he saw my commentary about "broken gaydar" as an opportunity to acknowledge an exceptionally positive aspect of a long-term, loving relationship, and encourage it by his words.

In addition, he was exactly right, in that being able to trust the strength of my current relationship, allows me to stop looking for potential others, and so, in essence, turns off the out-going signal of my gaydar.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

Current Knitting

Readers' Comments/Questions
About the scarf/neckwarmer, Cat 16 wrote, "Not sure I agree with your button choice. Why blue with that yarn? I'd think brown might be better."

I think you may be right...the button is actually teal colored, and I thought it would work well as a high contrast to the orangey red color of the yarn. Personally, I think brown would be dreadful, unless it was some big funky button made from a coconut shell, but if it was just a brown colored button, it would remind me too much of the bad crafting colors of the sixties.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Scholarship Winners

It was incredibly thrilling that you all sent in a total of 15 nominations for the 2011 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat scholarship. And the caliber of guys nominated was quite impressive, so the competition was fierce.

2011 Scholarship Winners
Kinda hard to do a drum-roll on a blog entry, but the judges have voted, and I'm thrilled to be able to announce that the winners are:

Bill Jones (Bill on and BillJones on Ravelry) and Michael Wade (WonderMike to many of us).

Both of these guys have made an amazing contribution to the community of men who knit and will be a great addition to the group of guys already scheduled to attend. The decision was very difficult for all four would have been easy to pick two completely different winners given the great group of guys we had to choose from. I'm honestly sorry I couldn't have offered scholarships to all 15 guys.

Thanks to all who took the time to write nominations...I was glad to find out about a lot of these guys, many of who also have impressive contributions to the community and lurk a bit more under the surface.

Current Knitting
I made some great progress on the buttoned neck-warmer, although I still have work to do on it.

I've established a very efficient way of doing the fisherman's rib stitch. Since it requires a K1, SL1, I just do both in one movement by knitting into the first stitch without taking it off the needle and inserting the needle as if to purl into the second stitch and taking them both off at once. It's not a huge time-saver, but with thousands of stitches to do, it adds up.  I'm also not to sure about the buttons...the look better in person than in the photo, but I'll look around to see if I have anything better.

I also finished the first of the two Skacel-yarn least I finished the knitting part of it...I still need to do the sewn bind-off.

You'll notice I added a couple of accent color stripes toward the top of the cuff, and I'll be binding the sock off using the contrasting orange-y color.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

365 Ways To Make a Liberal Crazy

As someone who is progressive in his thinking, I often like to watch Fox News and read literature from the folks with opinions that differ from mine. It seems that trying to make liberals crazy has become a goal of theirs.

Ratings, Notoriety, Ego...
I've come to believe that much of what Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Coulter and the rest of their ilk are about is saying and/or doing anything that will increase their own personal fame and their associated bank accounts.

Why would you want to have a goal of making your opponent crazy?

Wouldn't it be more pragmatic (albeit less financially rewarding) to promote a country that functions better, helps it's people and looks to make itself better?

I guess if conservatives truly believe that their ways are better, that they can make the country better by making their opponents as undesirable as possible and increase their chances of having conservatives elected.

It just seems that they've gone a bit off-purpose and are now focusing more on hurting their opponents rather than bettering the country.

Current Knitting
A coworker has asked me to try and knit a prototype of a neck-warmer that she purchased at a local craft fair (high-end crafts). She actually bought two of these neck-warmers and both wrap around her neck and are held together in front by a large, interesting button. Similar to this one I found randomly out on the web.

I picked out some nice Malabrigo yarn, and US9 needles and started this prototype right away.

I thought using a fisherman's rib would make it lay flat (mostly) and would look nice. Overall width will probably end up being about 10 inches, and I'm not sure yet how long I'll need to make it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Linda W. writes, "I love knitting toe-up socks. Have you tried Judy's Magic Cast on?"

Yes, I tried it once, and thought it was about the same level of effort as the figure-8 cast-one when all was said and done. And since I had to start this sock on an airplane, and I knew how to do the figure-8 and didn't remember how to do Judy's, I opted for the one I knew.