Monday, October 29, 2012

Advice Please

Up to this this point in my life, I've never had a manicure or pedicure.  For those of you who have, I have some questions before I go for one.

I plan on going for a mani/pedi after work some day in the Albany, NY area.

  1. How long would it take for both?
  2. Would you go to a place that took reservations or just a place that does walk-ins?
  3. Any particular type of place to completely avoid (I'm not looking to have air-brushed acrylics with an embedded CZ after all is said and done)?
  4. Standard tipping?
  5. Anything else I should know...things that surprised you when you first went?
Thanks for any and all information.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I finished spinning up the Moonlight and Laughter roving made of milk solids.

I looked through my stash of roving and came up with what I think will be a perfect plying single for it.

This is a blend of Bison, Cashmere and Silk in a soft fawn color that I think will blend perfectly with the bright color lengths of the Moonlight and Laughter singles.  The fiber comes from the Fiber Garden, and it is an absolute joy to spin.  It's soft and cushy and soft and so freakin' soft.

I've even come up with an idea of how I'll use the resulting yarn...but that'll be a surprise (actually, I just want to make sure it works out before starting to get too excited about it).

I also did some additional work on the Milano Stitch Blanket.

One of these days, I'll measure how far I've knit on this blanket, and how much more I've got to do.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Self Determination

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

 - Abraham Lincoln
Reframing Perspective
Recently, I found myself listening to people whine about their situation, and started buying into all that was wrong with the situation.  Being the creative type, I could easily take their whining, and add my own spin to it and find other things that were wrong and bad.  Eventually, I was bemoaning my own situation and thinking how awful it was.  It got to the point where I knew I wouldn't be able to continue in this way.  Something had to change.

Fortunately, the only change necessary was in me.

When I started to take a more balanced view of the situation, I realized it was significantly better than other similar situations in my life.  In fact, it had actually taken quite a bit of work to come up with all the negative factors to begin with, but once I had, it was easy to focus on only that.  Retraining my focus on all that was good about the situation really turned everything around for me.  So much so, that I started telling people my views when they starting complaining to me about their (our) situation.  Most of them didn't buy it, but some did, and the ones that didn't realized I wasn't fun to bitch and whine to anymore.  A win-win.

Mental note:  Joe - next time you find yourself mired in negative sentiment, look at it more objectively to see whether it really is that bad, or get someone to help you look at it more objectively.

Sorry, I'm very forgetful, so I have to leave myself notes.

Carol's Book Contest Winner!!
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest.  There were 74 people that entered for a chance to win Carol's book, Sock Yarn Studio.  And the winner is...

Marsha Boudrie

She writes, "I am addicted to Kiogu yarn! My stash is huge. I have knit several dozen pairs of socks, my next challenge is mittens and then on to gloves."

Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to Marsha...I will be reaching out to her to find out where she would like her book mailed.

Current Knitting/Spinning
First of all, I'm pleased to say that I'm almost finished spinning the singles for the Moonlight and Laughter milk solids roving.

I plan on spinning up singles in some other fiber in a solid/neutral color, and then ply it with the milk solids singles so that I can keep the nice color variations in the Moonlight and Laughter singles, and hopefully mixing in something a bit more somber will darken up the final yarn.

I also finished up the pair of gloves in the handspun from the roving from Tidal Yarns.

And yes, I wove in 50 ends last night while I caught up on the current season of Supernatural.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Deborah Furchtgott writes, "I'm curious to hear that you don't prep your fibre. Would you mind explaining what you find to be the difference, and why you choose not to follow it? I'm a new spinner (only working on a drop spindle right now) so I'm very curious about people's different choices and the whys and wherefores."

Most of the wool or other fiber I buy is already carded or combed, many spinners say it's mandatory to do some additional prep work to the batt or roving before spinning it.  This video explains it well. - - I find that I can work around any inconsistencies in the fiber while I'm spinning, so I find it's not as mandatory as this woman's video might indicate.  All that being said, I would still recommend following her instructions for pre-spinning fiber preparation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Antiques Roadshow

Often, when I watch this PBS show, I think, "Wouldn't it be great to have an expertise in something like toys, or furniture?"

And Then I Realize...
...oh yeah, I do have an all things yarn, knitting, spinning, crocheting, etc.

And it often pays off when I go to my local flea market or yard sales.

I found this beauty at the flea market this past weekend, and didn't even feel the necessity to bargain for it.

It's a beautiful maple rigid heddle table loom, and I bought it for US$10.

There was no brand name on it, but even though I own a rigid heddle table loom, this one is a bit wider and will allow me to make a Christmas gift I was planning on making on the other loom.

Current Knitting
I've almost completed the second glove in the pair.

In this photo, the glove on the left is inside-out, in preparation for all the weaving in I have to do.  Just one more finger and a thumb on the other one, and a day or two of weaving in ends and I've got myself a nice pair of hand-knit gloves made with hand-spun yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions
First of all there are currently  65 contestants currently eligible for winning Carol's book, Sock Yarn Studio.  Get your entries in by Thursday at midnight and I'll announce the winner on Friday.

Tom Bloom asks, "Did you celebrate National Punctuation Day on September 24?"

No but I did find out who sent me the t-shirt it would have been one of the last people I would have guessed it was younger funniest brother Jack does it show that I didnt celebrate a day of punctuation

FiberNinja writes, "How do you like spinning the milk fibre? I have spun a blend of it, and found that I really needed to have the fibre well prepared in order not to fight with it. I'm curious as to your experience with it.

It's very similar to tencel.  The smoothness makes it a bit challenging to spin, but I have to admit, I NEVER pre-prepare fiber prior to spinning it.  I know I included it as a tip, but it's one I never follow.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tips And Tricks for Learning to Spin Yarn on a Wheel

Mark, a relatively new reader sent me an e-mail asking if I had ever put together a list of common mistakes beginners make when learning to spin.

So, I Came Up With One
Actually, I came up with a list of 10 ideas about my own spinning that allowed me to learn how to spin and spin relatively consistently.

Here's the list I came up with:

  1. Prepare your fiber in advance - a lot of spinners unbunch their roving and fluff it up a bit before spinning. It makes it easier to draft while spinning.
  2. Try spinning the thinnest possible single for a particular fiber without over-twisting it...this allows me to find the "sweet spot" for each fiber (even if I decide to spin a much thicker single after I've tested it.
  3. Stay aware of how loosely you hold the roving in your non-spinning hand...I find I tighten up on my grip when I stop thinking about it, and it re-bunches the roving.
  4. Don't be afraid to stop spinning mid-stream to unspin a big blob.
  5. Drafting (regulating how much and how fast the roving passes through your fingers) is a constant process of adapting to changing factors ( the tension or pull from your spinning wheel changes as the bobbin gets full, the roving often has inconsistencys in staple length or smother patches of fiber, barnyard debris can significantly affect your drafting, etc., etc., etc.) Don't ever think once your drafting seems consistent that it will stay that way.
  6. Dream about drafting, constantly imagine the technique of drafting, come up with analogies of what it's like (just like a chimney flue draws smoke upwards, so the tension of your spinning wheel draws fiber)...the more you can envision doing this, the easier it will be when you actually do it (at least that's how I got really good at it).
  7. Draft off the edges of your roving or get a thinner, more even single, I usually draft off the right-hand side of the band of roving, and constantly turn the roving so the wheel is always pulling just from that side of the roving.
  8. Most people draft only with one hand and let the other hand just support the fiber. Once you get a little practiced at spinning, you'll find you can, every once in a while, slow down the flow of fiber by pinching the roving with your non-spinning hand....I use this to great effect when I'm power-spinning a lot of fiber.
  9. Try different drafting techniques for different fibers...drafting from the fold, wet drafting, long-draw, inch-worm.
  10. Observe as many other experienced spinners (at least the ones you think spin well) and try to replicate their techniques.
I'd be interested what other experienced spinners might add to the list.

Other Blog Reader Question
Okay...who's the wise guy/gal who sent this to me anonymously?

I'm perfectly okay with what's printed on the t-shirt...I mean it's true, right?  But whoever sent this to me, sent me an EXTRA LARGE.  How insulting!

See, I practically swim in it.  Well, okay, so it's not so bad and once it shrinks it will be fine...but you didn't know that, did you?  So anyway, thanks to whoever sent such a thoughtful gift.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I got a little bit more done on the Marshall Gloves from Rohn Strong's book Heritage Collection.  Really, I only got up to the section where you increase for the thumb.

But I also did a bit more spinning of the Moonlight and Laughter milk solids roving.  It's spinning up nicely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Making Use of Mad Skills

Did you ever inventory your list of skills and then try and find a way you could leverage them for either personal or economic gain?

Skills Inventory
I recently starting hanging out with someone who has incredible internet and graphic design skills, plus he's savvy from a business and marketing perspetive as well as from an organizational efficiency perspective.  He just re-started a business where he's designing, building and maintaining web sites for small to medium size businesses.

I was fascinated speaking with him about his ideas for logo design and creating web pages that execute a specific purpose.  When someone can put together a useful set of skills in this way, they exude brilliance in my mind.

If I ever decide to start a job-creating business (don't worry, I still won't be a Republican), I would be thrilled to find someone like my new friend to help guide me on how best to present myself on the interwebs.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I continued working on the gloves from Rohn Strong's book, Heritage Collection.

Finished the first glove, and got the first five or six rounds completed on the second wrist cuff.  Do you think it matters that the color changes are practically impossible to notice?

I also started a new spinning project using the roving I purchased at the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival from Moonlight and Laughter.

I was surprised at how much more pastel the singles are coming out than I expected.  This vibrant roving...

...spins up looking like this.

Maybe it looks the just seemed more pastel to me on the bobbin

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks everyone for entering the contest to win Carol's book, Sock Yarn Studio.  So far, I've received about 50 entries.  I'll pick the winner and announce it at the end of next week (26-October-2012).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Simply Inspirational!

As someone who has knit a LOT in the last few decades, I have to admit, when I look for a new knitting book, I'm not really looking for new patterns or new techniques.

I'm looking for inspiration.

Carol's Latest Brilliance
Carol Sulcoski and her friends have provide a book with exactly that...inspiration.  Inspiration to create, basic patterns to build on and subtle and beautiful colors that make me want to go out and make a garment with needles and yarn.

Sock Yarn Studio: Hats, Garments, and Other Projects Designed for Sock Yarn (which is the full and completely verbose title of Carol's new book) actually prompted me to pull out all of my sock yarn and look at what I had to work with.

Actually, this is about half of my sock yarn stash...I know, I have a problem.

The book has the two most important things in a book that I want...okay, three:
  1. Inspirational garments - garments that might be basic, but are shown in a new way...a way that makes me want to take up the needles and create immediately
  2. Great colorways - Anyone that can put a beige baby sweater in a knitting book and make it look fabulous, knows how to play with color in a way that works.
  3. Excellent photographs - the book is better than porn in terms of how it makes me feel.

Mostly, I'm amazed at the diversity of offerings this book has and in very interesting colorways and shapings.  If I had to pick one favorite out of all of them, I think it would be Veronik's design of an amazing stole/shawl...brilliant design.

Book Give-Away Contest
Okay, it's not really a contest, but I do have one book to give away to one lucky winner.  All you have to do to enter is post a comment or if you'd prefer, send me an e-mail and mention what your favorite sock yarn is, and why.  I will randomly choose a winner at the end of the month, and that winner will receive a pristine copy of Carol's new book... Good luck to all.

Current Knitting
Since yesterday, I've gotten a combined total of two fingers done on the first glove...including the middle finger, so don't give me any crap.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blog Tour of Duty

Two recent knitting books have come out, and I have been asked to participate in each of their "blog tours."  Since the first one is related to war-time knitting, I thought I'd call this my "Blog Tour of Duty."  Clever, huh?  Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog (yes, two days in a row!).

Rohn Strong - The Heritage Collection:  WW1 and WW2

Author, knitter, history-buff, Rohn Strong has put together a self-published book commemorating the knitting efforts that took place for U.S. troops in the two World Wars.  This 121 page book is currently available as an electronic PDF download on either Rohn's web site, or via the Ravelry Store for a price of $12.99, or for printed copy on Amazon for $19.99.

In addition to many stories from war time archives of knitters doing their part, Rohn includes stories of family ancestors and even includes a pattern from his grandmother's repertoire.  I was also very grateful to read the introduction by Donna Druchunas. She frames Rohn's work in a way that made me feel very much a part of a long tradition.

A couple of overall assessments.  I love the concept of the book and enjoyed reading how knitters have quietly taken their place in history.  I was glad to see Rohn had researched his topic quite thoroughly, and included a number of references and photos I had never seen before.  For that alone, the book was worth the price.

As for his designs, I was somewhat less enthralled.  There are some good strong designs in the book.  I really like the toe treatment on his Horatio sock patterns:

I also thought some of his hat patterns and his glove patterns (see below) were very good. 

Most of his sweater designs I found a bit too hand made, and I would adapt them for myself.  For instance, while I love the collar treatment and the color of his Josephus pullover vest (and the name), I thought the winged look of the arm holes was sloppy looking.

Perhaps the shoulder wings were correct for the times he documents, but I couldn't get away with wearing a sweater that way.

I also thought his color choices for some of the multi-colored sweaters were tricky to pull off, even for the models in his photos.  Again, easy to fix for anyone with vision, or fantastic for someone with a more eclectic style who can get away with that kind of look.

Overall, I am glad to own this book, but if you're a knitter that wants a pattern book to tell you exactly what color and yarn to use, you may want to check out the colors and pattern designs before purchasing this book.  But most of the readers of QueerJoe aren't your typical "I will only knit it with the yarn and in the color in the photo" type of knitters

Current Knitting
Having just finished spinning the wool from Tidal Yarns, I thought it would be a perfect choice for trying out one of Rohn's patterns.  First, it was very satisfying to hand-wind two perfectly beautiful center-pull balls of yarn.

Then, I made a bit of headway on the first glove.

The gloves has a very subtle color striping as I switch from the green/gold to the blue/gray yarn, just about as visible in this photo as in real life.  I am happy to say, the directions in Rohn's pattern are quite good...succinct and easy to follow.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How Is It...

...that early on when MAC's were much better than PC's, the PC's took over the market, and now that Androids are better than iPhone's, the iPhones are flying off shelves at insane speed?

What Makes People Buy?
If you speak with any sane individual who knows the differences between an iPhone and an Samsung Galaxy S III (for instance), they will tell you how much better the Galaxy is.  Bigger screen, voice command that's better than Siri (although, I don't think their voice has a great name like Siri), longer battery life, better button/screen navigation, less expensive...the list goes on and on.  Here's a comparison of the two phones on Verizon's web site.

And yet, the world clamors to get the iPhone 5.

Owning an iPhone myself, I have to say I like it, but I've also never owned anything better.  And there are certain things about it I just hate.  For instance...did you know that if you reply to an e-mail and want to attach a document to the response, you can't.  No can't.  That kind of thing just seems negligent in the design of a smart-phone.

The one thing I will say is better with the iPhone, is that if you need help, there are more people that can answer  your questions.  Apple should be glad I'm not scheduled for an upgrade for a good long time.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I was able to finish the spinning of the Tiday Yarns roving and all the plying that goes along with it.

After I finished spinning the singles of the blue/gray, I decided I wanted a bit more twist, so I re-spun the full bobbin.  The next two photos show the original and the re-spun...not a lot of difference, but I was glad I did it.

Original Singles - Blue Gray

Re-Spun Singles - Blue Gay
Then I plied the tight blue/gray singles with the green/gold looser singles, using a rather tight ply.
Singles - Green/Gold
Since I still had quite a bit of blue/gray single left, I plied it to itself.
Plied Yarn - Blue and Green/Gold

Two final hanks of hands-on
The result is a yarn I will use to make gloves in a very subtle two-color design.

I also did more on Milano blanket this weekend.

At this pace, I will be arthritic, but I'll have a blanket to use prior to the end of the Winter.
Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks everyone for the advice on adding more twist to my singles.  It was as easy as I'd imagined, but you confirmed that before I actually did it.

Also, Deborah writes, "Looking lovely-- do you think that you'll add a border, or leave those lovely stripes as they are?"

It will definitely have a border.  I have a great tweedy green color yarn (that's already in the blanket) that I will use for the border.  I will probably crochet an edging on it...mostly to give it a bit more stability and to try and match the gauge of the Milano stitch a little better than knitting would do.  I may opt for a tubular edge instead, as I have a lot of ends to secure in.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


Throughout my life, I've had a number of experiences with bullying...or at least attempted bullying.

Standing Up
I'm not sure where I got such a righteous sense about when to stand up for myself, but I've had it for as long as I can remember.

I've written this before, but up until the age of about 25, I was a skinny little faggy guy.  I'm still that same guy...just not so skinny.

I had two extremely valuable skillsets as a child.  I was quick with a witty comeback, and I could run faster than most of my peers.  As a result, I never felt I had to take someone else's shit.  It's interesting...when would-be bullies realize I could make them look idiotic by mocking them, and then escaping physical punishment by staying away from them, they realized I was more dangerous to them than they were to me.

But still, as late as in high school, I recall one of the most successful wrestlers in my high school class mocking me for something, and I had no fear about berating him in front of a full class of his peers.  He backed off quickly.

I'm not so sure how my antics would match up to today's world of Jerry Springer-like incidents, but I do know that not having the fagginess beaten out of me, made me quite proud of who I was to become.

I will say, it's hopeful that there seems to be significantly less tolerance for bullying, so perhaps the bullied will be more willing to stand up and not take it...even if they can't run fast.

Current Knitting
Knitting, knitting, knitting, knitting and more knitting on the Milano blanket.

As the weather starts to cool, it's nice having this growing blanket on my lap.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Impact of Social Media on Real Life

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in Facebook, I forget how to react normally out in the real world.

Havc You Ever...
...been in a public place where you could hear others' conversations, and felt compelled to jump in with a comment?

...felt like taking a photo of someone else's personal event to let them post it as their status?

...wanted to tag the people in the table next to you in a restaurant when you "checked in" to make the restaurant seem busier and more happening?

Granted, I doubt you'd ever really "Poke" someone in real life, but in the same way I am sometimes unable to stay out of a Facebook status conversation, I have had to stop myself a number of times from jumping into someone else's real conversation.

Usually, the compelling conversation is someone with an idiotic opinion about something he knows nothing about, and I feel the need to school the idiot on how it really is.

Fortunately, up until this point, I have been able to restrain myself from adding my two cents.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I have been doing some more work on the Milano blanket, but I felt I couldn't resist seeing how the roving from Tidal Yarns would spin up.  I started with the smallest bump of roving and finished spinning it in no time.

Since I'll be plying this delightfully broody gold with the blue/gray, I thought I should get that started as well.

After I was well into spinning this wool into singles, I realized what I wanted to use the resulting yarn for...a pair of gloves.  Since I think I'll need a more tightly plied yarn than the current singles would allow, I think I may re-spin these singles, adding some additional twist.

Has anyone out there ever tried this?  Any dire warnings or hearty encouragements?