Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Latest Pet-Peeve

New York and the Northeast go at a bit more of a brisk pace than the rest of the country, in my experience.

It's E-Z Pass - Let's Make it E-Z, Shall We?
They talk faster, the walk faster and they definitely drive faster.

So why is it that the entire upstate NY population feels they must stop at E-Z Pass tolls?!?! (for those outside of the NY/NJ/PA area, E-Z Pass is the brand name for the little transponder you keep in your car to pass through toll booths paying automatically).

"E-Z" is the clever little way of telling you that passing through tolls should be EASY...not painfully, fucking SLOW!

With New Yorkers in the Albany area, it's always one of three things:

  1. They keep the transponder device in their glove compartment, and wait until they're at the toll booth to get it out...argh!
  2. They think they have to stop to have their toll registered...ARGH!
  3. They've run out of money on their account and it won't let them through, so they wait for a person to come take their cash toll...ARGH!
Please people...take a course...you KNOW I don't have much patience when I'm behind the wheel.

Current Knitting
Since I was working from home last week and off for Thursday and Friday of the Thanksgiving holiday, I got a lot of knitting done on the Milano Blanket, and I'm actually seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

I've completed a total of 56 stripes (the blanket is displayed on a full-size hotel bed) and I have 10 more 8-row stripes to complete before I do the edging.

One obstacle I have with knitting this blanket at home is that Nico has decided it's enough like his mother, that he might be able to knead it long enough so that it expresses kitty-milk (it hasn't yet), so he pushes/kneads/claws into the blanket for about 10 minutes every time he sits in my lap.

Nico, thinking this time he might be able to express some milk from the Milano Blanket

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

It seems odd to add a wish onto the gerund form of the verb to give thanks...but that's the name of the holiday, so I wish you the best one yet.

Happy To Give Thanks
Yeah, it seems just as odd adding it to the infinitive of the verb.

Many of my Facebook friends and I have been noting each day on our Facebook status, something about which we are grateful.  I am fortunate to have family that will gladly tell me when something I'm doing is annoying the hell out of them, and some of my latest gratitude items are doing exactly that (or so I've been told).  They're sick of me using the format of gratitude to write about how amazing I am in different ways each day.

I'll try and make sure the gratitude is more about them from now on...or at least less about me.

Current Knitting/Spinning
Well, I've postponed a photo of the Milano Blanket for two blog posts now, so I guess it's time for a photo (or two).

I've completed either 50 or 51 rows of the total 66 rows that I need to knit to finish this blanket, so I am making steady progress.

I was also able to finish spinning the singles of the Cottswold fiber I got at the last Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

The middle bobbin is just the Cottswold roving spun into a fine single and the bottom bobbin is the thick thin roving with the dyed locks spun into it.

And here's the resulting yarn plied up.

Suffice it to say, I love how this yarn turned out, and I have a use for it in mind already.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Being Creative vs. Buying Creativity

Many people tell me how creative I am when they see my knitting, but honestly, I'm not overly creative.

Relying On The Kindness Of Indies
I've always thought I had a good eye for all that is aesthetically pleasing, and so when I see a gorgeous sweater design, or a stitch pattern that worked out particularly well, I can mimic that, and in so doing, mimic creativity.  And just by virtue of the fact that I've been so prolific in my knitting, some of my work has got to be "creative" even if that was pure happenstance.  I look at some of my most successful knitting projects, and each one has components of it that were stolen from those much more creative than I am.

While the shaping and some of the graphics is mine, much is taken from "Knitting Out of Africa" by Marianne Isager

This sweater uses a stitch pattern I took from Kristin Spurkland's "The Knitting Man(ual)" - which is only $6.94 on Amazon right now...an incredibly good deal.

And there are also a number of projects that clearly indicate not all my work is successful.

Fortunately, in the fiber-arts community, there are lots of incredibly creative and talented individuals who I can rely on to borrow from their abilities.  People that know how to put together colors, or how to dye a specific fiber so it comes out just perfectly.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I have done virtually no additional knitting on the Milano Blanket, so I'm deferring a photo again, but I did start a new spinning project (including a new spinning technique).

Using the roving and the dyed locks I got at the Cottswold farm we visit at the retreat back in May...

...I have started spinning the locks and roving...

...you can see I'm not so good at melding the locks into my spinning quite perfectly yet, but it's getting more and more natural.  And in addition to LOVING the color of this fiber, I am also loving the thick and thin nature of my spinning on this project.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Anniversary To Me and Thaddeus!

Today we celebrate our 29th year anniversary.

If I had any memory whatsoever, I'd be able to do a year-by-year retrospective that would allow blog readers to skim through it, trying to glean anything of interest.  All I'll bore you with is how we met.

It was a Friday night, and my friend Bruce and I had gone down to New Hope to the local disco (you have to remember, this was the early '80's)...it was a decaying club in a putrid pink building called "The New Prelude" (trust me, the old Prelude wasn't anything great either.  I had had at least two cranberry juice and vodka's from Mary, the bartended at the back bar (because she made drinks with way more alcohol than juice) and Thaddeus came up and asked me to dance.  I mauled him a little on the dance floor by undoing his shirt buttons (I wanted to see just how hairy his chest was) and then we chatted for a while and made a date to meet the following Sunday morning back in New Hope to walk around town.

I ended up not going to meet him and I didn't have a phone number to cancel, so I stood him up.

Feeling badly about how rude I had been, I went back to the New Prelude twice a week for four weeks, looking to apologize, not even sure if I'd recognize him (I was a bit drunk and it had been four weeks!).  Finally he showed up on a Wednesday and I got my chance to apologize.  We made a new date (which I kept), and the rest is history.

Happy anniversary to the love of my life.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I added one 8-row stripe to the Milano Blanket and started a new spinning project.  I'll post about it in the next blog entry.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Teresa asks, "What stitch pattern are you using for your Milano blanket? I really like this and would like to give it a try"

It's a stitch I read about on the internet from Brenda Dayne (one of the first knit podcasters).  It's a very simple 4-row repeat where the 1st and 3rd rows are the same except offset by one stitch and the 2nd and 4th row are just purl rows.  Head over to her website here to get the stitch.  It's a good read too.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy QueerJoe Blogiversary!!

It's amazing (at least to me) that I've been blogging consistently now at QueerJoe for 10 years.

 Over The Years
Yes, sometimes if felt as if all I did was knit and blog (and sometimes, I felt as though I had to knit enough to justify a blog entry!).

When I first started blogging, I wanted the blog to attract readers who were engaged and interesting.  Do you remember, I had blog reader rules...those really pissed a lot of people off.  There are still people today who refuse to read my blog because I didn't want inane comments from readers.

Truthfully, I really wanted only those readers and commenters who cared to contribute to the conversation...not the hanger-on-like people who wanted to participate with the least effort possible.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind lurkers.  Lurkers aren't constantly trying to insert themselves into the conversation with lazy commentary.  Or when they do comment, they have something valid to say.

I've posted over 1,300 blog entries at QueerJoe, I've had almost 2 million hits to the web site since I first started, and daily, the blog gets about 500 hits a day.  The blog has provided me with a forum to document my knitting, crocheting, spinning and quilting and has also allowed me to vent on issues I find important.

All of this would have been perfectly sufficient for me, even if no one had read a word that I wrote, but fortunately, the icing on the cake in this situation, is you. 

Current Knitting
Three more 8-row stripes have been completed on the Milano blanket, leaving only 19 more to go.  This blanket may actually be finished before the end of Winter so it will be of use this year!

Of course, Knitting and Blogging go together in today's post, so you get a dual photo.

Thaddeus Gift
Thaddeus likes to surprise me with little gifts every once in a while, and yesterday, I got these.

I love brightly colored socks.  I can't wait to cross my legs at work this week and give them a little peek of brightly colored ankle!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks for the feedback on how the blog appears in RSS feeds and the avatars that Disqus was displaying.  I think I've fixed both issues, but I'm always appreciative of that kind of feedback.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Only Yarn-Related Topics!!

Today's blog post will be only about knitting and spinning (and a bit of crochet perhaps).  Nothing else.

And Blogging
Just one quick thing.  Reader Joe (as opposed to Blogger Joe) wrote me to tell me that my blog posts show up in his RSS reader without titles, and he requested that I start using the "Title" box on blogger when I post.

I've started doing this, so anyone that gets my blog via RSS feed may now see my posts a bit differently, thanks to Joe.  Or if you stopped getting my RSS feed because of lack of titles, you can feel free to start being fed again.

Current Knitting/Spinning
Got a lot done with my spinning and got very different results than I expected.  I finished spinning the singles for the Bison/Silk/Cashmere roving from Fibre Garden...it was a joy to spin.

I plied this with milk solids and got a yarn like none I've ever spun before and completely different than I expected.

I honestly thought the taupe bison yarn would blend more and deepen the colors of the  milk solid singles, but instead, I got this beautifully muted, soft halo'ed yarn that I just love.

I also had no where near enough Bison/Silk/Cashmere singles to ply all the Milk Solid singles, so I finally broke down and learned how to Navajo ply using some very useful YouTube video tutorials.

My three-ply spinning might seem a bit rough, but the yarn turned out really well after washing and hanging to dry.  Here are the two resulting hanks of yarn, that I will start to knit this coming weekend.

Finally, I did get some more incremental knitting done on the Milano Blanket.

I also did a bit of measuring and the blanket is about 2/3rds complete, which means I have about 22 more "stripes" to knit (which are each 8 rows of pattern stitch).  Only about 88,000 more stitches (plus the edging, which will probably be crochet).

It's getting a bit more difficult to carry to Albany each week, but not too difficult to make me stop!

Monday, November 05, 2012

More Gratitude

Gratitude is a recurring topic on this blog, and mostly because I have a lot to be grateful for, so it's fertile ground for blog writing.

Hurricane Sandy
This hurricane wreaked a lot of havoc on my area of the country, but I have to say, at most I suffered a bit of inconvenence, and that's all (I was up in Albany for the brunt of the storm, my house lost power for about 16 hours while I wasn't there, and I had to wait 20 minutes to fill up my gas tank on driving home on Thursday).  I am extremely thankful for the insignificant impact of the storm, but that's not the gratitude I write about today.

The storm allow us to demonstrate and experience community.

From donating to the Red Cross, to valiant rescues for first responders, to helping neighbors out who weren't so fortunate as I was. 

Many of my local neighbors lost power during the storm, and many still don't have it back.  Fortunately, one of my neighbors happens to be one of the driving forces behind Kaffe's quilting books, as co-author and creator of many of the quilts you see in his books. 

Despite living so close by, I don't get to see Liza anywhere near enough, so I was very glad to be able to offer her and her husband a hot cup of coffee, a hot shower and some electricity to charge their i-things this past weekend.  If that wasn't great enough, she was also incredibly generous and brough gifts.

This is an enormous stack of "fat quarters" of Kaffe's, Brandon's and Phillip's latest fabrics.  Having waded through them all already, they are truly spectacular, and will eventually make an equally spectacular quilt.

She also brought me a signed copy of Kaffe's autobiography, Kaffe Fassett: Dreaming in Color.

And yes, it is personally signed by Kaffe!

Now you know why I'm so grateful.  And I haven't even read it yet!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Buffed and Brushed and Beautified

Thanks to all the wonderful advice from readers, I took myself for my first manicure and pedicure this past week.

Armed with all the incredibly detailed information about nail places, I ened up with two options near where I stay in Albany.  I could either go to a "Nail Pro" place in a strip mall or schedule an appointment at a local spa.  Price difference between the two was significant (more than double at the spa).  The spa was rated well on Yelp and the nail place had no reviews on Yelp at all.

Given that my schedule varies, I decided to go to Nail Pro.

Walking into the store, it didn't seem spotless, but it didn't seem dirty either, although I couldn't see the foot baths.  I saw autoclave equipment, so I felt the place met sterilization standards for their tools.  When I got back to the pedicure area, it looked a little run down (worn leather massage chairs) and they didn't use inserts, but I figure if I can take a bath in a hotel bath tub, this wasn't any worse.

The business was owned by an Asian couple (turns out they're Vietnamese) and they do the pedicure and manicure separately.

After soaking my feet in blue water, the pedicurist did all sorts of snipping, scraping, pushing, lotioning, filing and buffing (they used a sponge-like object to do all the pumice-like scruffing which was new in the package).  She finished off with a nice foot/lower leg massage which was very nice.  I found the massage chair rather annoying, so I first switched it to neck/upper back only, and then eventually turned it off completely.  The end result were two feet that felt much smoother and softer and I was relaxed.

This obviously isn't me, but this is what the set-up looked like...I tried taking a photo of my feet, but it was worse than the hand photo above.

The manicure was a bit less involved, including much of the same activity that occurred on my toes/toenails.  I'm not sure exactly what she did to the cuticles...it appeared as if she used the side of the short clippers to scrape away errant pieces of cuticle and skin, but she never seemed to actually clip anything.  Suffice it to say, my fingernails and nail-beds were much smoother and softer after it was all done.

There was no polish involved in either procedure (I would have declined if an offer was made, but none was).  Both pedicure and manicure were done by the same woman, and the cost of the mani-pedi was $35, so I tipped her $7.

The only complaint I had was that the manicure took place next to a woman that was having her acrylic nails touched up and the smell was a bit like huffing glue.

The nicest part of the experience was knowing what to expect in advance, so I could truly sit back and enjoy the experience.  Thank you all for your detailed help and advice.