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.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Excuse me, are those real?

In a day and age when you can pretty much buy anything if you have enough money, technology has become extremely adept at synthesizing things that look very much like the real thing.

Merino Optim
When I first got a kilo of merino top from a friend of a friend in Australia, she specifically noted that I should check out more information on the Optimum Merino.  I went to the web site to read up on it, but didn't see much information, so I just figured "Optimum" was just the grade of wool, and given how silky and luster-y this fiber was, I figured it was very high quality.

Then friend Ted (knitterguy Ted), who makes it his business to know a lot about spinning and fiber, told me I should read up more on "Optim" merino.

What I then found out, was that there is a process that makes this merino top so silky and light.

They actually take an already very fine fiber (and I mean fine gauge fiber - about 19 microns) and stretch it even finer (to about 16 microns) to give it the softness and luster of silk (or better).  The gauge of the individual fiber actual makes it comparable to cashmere.

I'm very excited now to see how my plied Optimum Merino will turn out.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I focused more on spinning this weekend than knitting, although I did a bit of both.

The merino top is spinning up pretty finely, so it takes a bit of time to get the singles spun up.

This is probably about 5 ounces of fiber spun up, with about 12 more ounces to go.  I'm glad to say, I'm enjoying every moment I get to work with this fiber.

I also did a bit of work on the Heirloom lace baby blanket, using Ted's hand-spindled yarn.

I don't have a photo, but I have finished three sides of the edging so far, and just minimally started the fourth (and last edge).

I'm looking forward to getting to the center (and final) section.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Back To Work

I hate noting that I'm going on vacation in my blog, because it generates an enormous amount of comment-spam.

Can you imagine someone has actually programmed some application that searches for the word vacation in blogs and posts advertisements in the comments? I guess they figure that you won't be home to delete them or mark them as spam.

Anyway, after the Men's Rocky Mountain Retreat, Thaddeus and I headed up to Martha's Vineyard to spend a week with his sister, brother-in-law and niece. It was a perfect vacation of resting and eating in a perfect location.

This view from their porch never gets old for me.

Suffice it to say, I felt very relaxed.

I also wanted to post some additional photos from the Men's Rocky Mountain Knitting Retreat...specifically the tour we got to go on of the Schacht Spindle factory. It was very nice and cool to watch how these complex machines get made.

Current Knitting
I decided I didn't want to bring something as complex as lace up to the beach, so I opted instead to do the Transatlantic neck scarf by Stephen West.  I ended up finishing it this weekend.

This is a great pattern and can be ordered on Ravelry as a single pattern or part of WestKnits 2.  I love a lot of his patterns in WestKnits 2, so I bought the book.