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.

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.

xx - content deleted - xx

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


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


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.