Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Jaunts for Jet-Setters

It used to be such a sign of prestige to be someone who flew to various places as part of their work.  And one of the perks was being able to fly off for long weekends to somewhere fun and exciting.

Vegas Baby!
So, I decided I'd try and take advantage of the flight-savvy among us, and take a long weekend in Las Vegas.

A co-worker pal of mine and I got free rooms at a hotel just a block off the strip, and instead of flying to our respective homes this past weekend, we took a detour to sin-city.

Believe it or not, other than layovers in the Las Vegas airport, I had never been to Las Vegas.

We went to buffets, went to see a Cirque du Soleil show (Zumanity), gambled, got a facial (the respectable kind!), had oxygen at an oxygen bar, and went to an amazing restaurant/nightclub.  Here are some random photos I snapped on the iPhone.

No...I was not hospitalized...I was rejuvenating with 90% oxygen.

This is actually a wine storage "cellar" with elevators...impressive.

First Class Knitting and Facials
On the flight to Vegas, I was upgraded to first class.  Sitting in the front row of the plane, I pulled out my knitting as soon as I boarded and the passenger across the aisle got very excited, because she had recently learned to knit, and had her knitting with her as well.

Her knitting was excellent for someone who learned so recently, and it was a blast getting to chat with another obsessed knitter during the flight.

While in Vegas, I decided to treat myself to a facial.  There were a couple of spas that used the skin care products my Spa-Manager/Friend recommended for me (Epicuren Skin Care products ), and one of the spas was right in my hotel.  I don't know how I've lived without a facial up to this point in my life.  It was INCREDIBLE and truly made me feel every sense of the word.

Plus, as a bonus, I found BY FAR the best lip balm I have ever used (the Skin Care professional at the spa put it on my lips right at the end of the facial).

 This stuff is feels kind of oily, but absorbs into my lips practically instantaneously and doesn't look like I"m wearing lip gloss.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I'll post photos in the next blog entry, but I finished the pair of socks from the yarn I got at the Rocky Mountain Men's Knitting retreat last July from Skeindelous Yarns.  I ended up undoing the bind-off on the first sock and making them both a bit longer to make use of the very generous yardage of the yarn.

Believe it or not, I also finally finished spinning the singles of the Optim Merino top.  I will ply it this coming weekend when I'm back home.

I did a minimal amount of work on the Koigu Linen Stitch scarf as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creativity, Productivity and Material Success

In my mind, there aren't many folks that combine all these factors in one.  I tend to believe that most folks focus on one or two of the three and considered the third somewhat less important.

The Whole Package

I know a lot of people who are productive and materially successful.  The hard-working types who do a lot of work and "get ahead" through determination.  These folks typically don't have a lot of creative outlets in their life.  I also know a lot of people who are incredibly creative and and could come up with 101 ways to re-use a coffee can that would amaze and astound others with the resulting beauty.  Yet often these creative types don't care to exercise that same level of creativity in marketing themselves and leveraging their creativity for material success.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone should feel obliged to meet some standard of success in any of the three areas, but I do think that having some level of balance in all three of these areas has given me a strong sense of accomplishment in my life.

While my aptitude lies more in the area of Productivity and Material Success has come as a result, I honestly wish that I had more innate creativity than I do.  Being creative takes a lot of work for me and comes more by trial and error than by inspiration or some in-bred sense of aesthetic taste.  I guess most people are inclined to want what they don't have, and it's certainly true for me in this regard.

I look at someone like Kaffe Fasset or Trisha Malcolm and see people who have seemingly taken something about which they are passionate, and parlayed that passionate creativity (along with an incredibly strong work ethic) into something materially successful, and I revere that quality in them.

I will always encourage the risk it takes for a creative person to embark on a path of material success because when it's successful, it can be a truly amazing thing.

New Ventures
In that light, there is an amazingly creative and energetic soul who has been busy promoting the fiber arts, and he's got a new concept going that I think is fantastic.  Kyle William has begun a new series entitle Fiberguys (no, it's NOT a new laxative for men!), highlighting and encouraging the creative side of men in the knitting and fiber community.  His first interview is with one of my favorite knitter/spinner guys, Aaron Bush.  Suffice it to say, I will be following this series closely and will hopefully be able to find the up and coming, new and inspiring creative guys who I can try and help promote.

I'd also like to highlight a new independent yarn dyer in the U.K., Jon Dunn-Ballam, who is doing some amazing work.  Franklin has also encouraged this newcomer with good reason, and I would like to try and further expose the creatively beautiful work he's been doing.

Current Knitting
Just so you know, Linen Stitch progresses at a snail's pace...especially when there are more than 500 stitches in each row.

But as you can see, I am progressing on the Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf, and I am loving each and every minute color combination this pattern and yarn are creating.

I also want to note that I have been considering going from the current US4 needle to a US5 or 6 for the second half of the scarf, hoping to get a nice soft ruffle as Barb Brown described in her comments.   But I'm terrified that it won't come out how I envision it, and I'll have to rip it out and re-do it.  I don't know if I could take the rejection.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Work Ethic

Throughout my working life, I have often been surprised when someone else's reason for working is different than mine.

Not My Job
One of my least favorite expressions is "Not my job."  Saying that to a boss is telling the boss that they're mistaken and you won't be doing what they asked.  Saying it to a customer is just downright lazy and bad customer service.  Saying it to a co-worker, usually is a way of expressing disdain or disrespect.

Either do what's requested of you, or find some other way of replying;
"Let me find someone that can help you with that." 
"I'm not sure I can help you with that, do you mind waiting while I find Nick?  He's the expert."
"I'm sorry, the only person that can help you with that is out right now.  Can I have them contact you?"
"That role has been re-assigned to Julie, but I'd be glad to help out if she's not around."
"Jason's the person you need to speak to about that.  Do you have his number?"

A helpful attitude, even if faked, is always better than "Not my job."

Current Knitting
For those of you who couldn't find me on Pinterest, my current project is going to be a Linen Stitch scarf made with multiple colorways of Koigu KPPPPPPM (you can NEVER have too many P's).

The scarf is knit lengthwise on hundreds and hundreds of stitches, changing colorways any time you feel like it.

I love the way the Linen Stitch blends all the colors in each Koigu colorway, and even in areas where the colors pool a little, they never do it too much to create a blotchy colored fabric.  I also love how different sections of the scarf can look so different based on how the colors change in the yarn.

Normally, Koigu takes a US3 (3.25 mm) needle and I've gone up to a US4 (3.5 mm).  I kind of wish I had gone up to a US5 (3.75 mm), but I'm not going to rip it all out now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 Blog Results
There's really on one result last year for my blog.

66 Meager Posts
Yes, in 365 days last year, I was only able to post blog entries on 66 of those days.  All the other results are affected by this.  Readership, number of other sites linking to mine, google hits, number of comments, etc., etc., etc.

Regardless, the blog results last year were pathetic, and I'm trying to make sure that I put a lot more effort goes into QueerJoe this year.

Even if I only post a short entry (like today's).

Current Knitting
With the completion of the nephew cardigan, I started a new project (instead of going back to works in progress, like the Hexapuff blanket).

Can you guess what it is?  If you followed me on Pinterest, you'd know.

Actually, I was knitting in the newly remodeled Courtyard Marriott room, and I just liked all the colors of the little tableau, so I took a photo.

Here's a close up of what I'm making (if it helps).

Stay tuned if you see something promising developing here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Social Networking Overload

Okay...I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ravelry, Blogger (duh!), Instagram, Pinterest and Yammer.

Extrovert Much?
I use Facebook to keep up with my family, friends and acquaintances.  It's useful to get a sense about what's going on in their lives and to let them know what's going on in mine.

I use Twitter to express myself to a much broader audience of some friends, some acquaintances and some complete strangers.  I sometimes feel like I'm just yelling my "tweets" into a large vortex of things that might possible be heard and/or acknowledged, and some that won't.

LinkedIn has proven useful to present myself to the professional world and help me keep networked for work.

Ravelry is a great way of documenting my knitting projects, finding patterns and organizing the annual Men's Knitting Retreat.

Blogger was my first social networking and I've been doing that for seven years and it's still my favorite method of expressing myself.

Instagram has become my iPhone app for updating Facebook, but I guess it's considered a social networking site unto itself.

Pinterest is a pretty/photographic way of storing internet favorites.

And Yammer I was coerced into joining for work and I have no idea what it is, what it does or why the hell I'm on it.

Current Knitting
I finished EVERYTHING on the nephew cardigan. and it will be mailed out Friday when I get home this week.

It came out very well, but I need to get it to him quickly so he can wear it while it's still cold enough and he hasn't outgrown it.  I put in the close-up photo to show that I overlaid the thread I used to sew on the buttons with the green colored contrast yarn.  I loved the buttons, and while the yarn color is subtle at best, I still was proud of it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Male Fiber Bonding

Like many Apple products, I didn't realize how much I needed the company of other male knitters until I found myself in their company.

Fiber Bonding Expedition
Over the New Year's weekend, I was lucky enough to get together with a couple of guys who I got the chance to know through the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

First, I must apologize for the photo.  I stole it from Kirk's Facebook pages and modified it to remove to other people between them...suffice it to say, Kirk (on the right) does not have a gargantuan hand - that is someone else's completely proportional hand on Matt's shoulder.  Second, I must apologize again for not having busted out the camera for a photo opportunity when we got together.

Be that as it may, we had a very nice visit and got the chance to head to my favorite local yarn store, Twist Knitting and Spinning.

I opted to pick up a bit more yarn.

I picked up more than enough Zara to make a striped sweater for me.  I also found out my LYS carries Kauni, so I had to have some of that.  Finally, I picked up the latest copy of Vogue Knitting so I could have patterns for a couple of things designed by friends in it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Christmas Joy

This Christmas and New Year had a lot of fiber-related activity.  I can always find joy in that!

I may have mentioned that my niece taught herself to knit last year, and ended up knitting me a beautiful scarf.  While this might seem like bringing coals to Newcastle, it was a very special surprise.  She was quite funny about's all garter because she doesn't know how to purl, and she wasn't sure how to weave in ends. 

But overall, the scarf is beautiful.  I forgot to snap a photo, so I'll post one later.  She made it using a beautiful burgundy color Cashmerino (I recognized the yarn just by how it felt), and she had amazing persistence in doing a scarf that's probably 5 feet long.

Her mom (my sister-out-of-law) also surprised me with both a box of knitting books and magazines, but she also donated a sheep on my behalf to Heifer International.

A non-fiber-related gift from my sister was this cool set of hand-painted espresso mugs.

Now I don't have to actually grow a cheesy mustache.  They match the Fiestaware dishes we use and I love the idea of a mustache on them!  I can just drink espresso and show off whatever style I feel like sporting for the day.

Current Knitting and Spinning
Well, I didn't make either of my end-of-year deadlines.

I still have a bit of spinning to do to get the singles of Merino top finished (hopefully this coming weekend???).  I also finished all but the button-hole band on the nephew cardigan.

I honestly forgot how long it takes to sew on buttons and tack down pocket linings.  These little things take FOREVER.