Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Knit Kit for Knewbie Knitter

Had to have more than three K's so it wasn't an acronym for the KKK.

This Year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat

This year, for the first time, we've invited non-knitters to attend the event who are interested in learning to knit.  Yes, we're recruiting!

I'm putting together a little kit of things for the knewbies, that so far includes:

  • Assorted straight needles
  • Assorted circular needles
  • Assorted basic yarns
  • A beginner's book for knitters (I'm using Kristin Spurkland's Knitting Man(ual)...it has a lot of good new knitter stuff, plus the patterns are geared for men)
  • Needle gauge
  • Stitch markers
  • Folding Scissors
  • Cable needle
  • Basting needle
  • Project Bag
  • Notions box/container
Anything else you can think that must be included?

In case you know of anyone interested, we have only 2 spots left in the retreat this year before we start a waiting list.  We've never come this close to selling out the event this far before May, so it's very exciting, and the group of guys we've assembled so far is quite amazing.  Also, any nominations for scholarships must be submitted by this Friday, March 1st to be considered!

Fortunately, registration for the West Coast Men's Fall Knitting Retreat and the Rocky Mountain Men's Knitting Retreat will both be opening soon as well.  Let me know if you want to be on the notification list for when registrations open for the retreats.

Current Knitting
I was able to make my way up to the neck shaping (just barely!):

See that little scalloped edge at the top?  That's the lowest part of the neck shaping.

But in case you think I'm completely pathetic, I was able to get a lot done on my surprise, secret project, and it looks like it might actually work out.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Most people will say they're not photogenic...in fact I've never heard anyone say, "I always look great in photos."

Quite the Opposite

Moreover, many people will tell you that photos of you look good, even though you know it's not true.  Mindy was one of the few people that ever told me that photos don't do me justice.

I bring this up because of a photo of myself that I recently posted and then used as my Facebook photo since it seemed to be viewed as a good photo of me.

I don't get it...I've got a muffin top, my man-boobs are saggy and I've got a goofy expression on my face.  Granted, the jeans look good and the t-shirt makes it looks like I have some biceps.  And I love the perspective of the photo.

In case you had any doubts, this is what I really look like.

At least when I wake up in the morning.  Puffy eyes and bed-head complete (and the perspective of this photo is brilliant too...no?).

I've also found that with a decent camera, I have been successful in taking good photos of many of the guys at the Men's Knitting Retreats.  I end up taking a lot of photos of them to get one good one, but it usually takes people a little while to get used to the camera and loosen up enough to have a normal (for them) expression on their face.

Current Knitting

When I noted that getting up to the sleeve shaping for my current pullover would mean that I'd be zipping along more quickly...I meant that if I got much time to knit, it would be zipping along.  I have almost gotten up to where I'll start the neck shaping on the front of the pullover.

I have also started a second, secret project that I work on when I'm home.  It's secret, because I'm not sure if it will work, so I don't want to show progress photos yet.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Daisy asks, "Is that Composition Book Grey, Joe?"

It took me forever to figure out what this question meant until I googled "composition book grey" to find that it's one of Madeline Tosh's colorways.  You're close...it's actually called Sketchbook (I had to zoom in on the photo of the yarn to see the tag to find out since the yarns at home and I am not).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thinking About Getting Rolfed

For decades (back since the late seventies), I've been hearing about Rolfing, and I've often considered going through the 10 session series.  Blogging about it puts me one step closer to doing it.

Researching Local Rolfers

There are a couple of people in my area who list themselves as certified in Rolfing SI (Structural Integration), but the ones closest to me, don't seem to have a lot of information on-line about their practice or qualifications.  How do you decide if someone is qualified.  Being certified by the Rolfing Institute...is that sufficient credentials?

If anyone has any thoughts on rolfing, especially recommendations in my area or how to find a good rolfer, please feel free to comment.

Current Knitting

The body of the pullover in Icelandic wool is now officially long enough that I have started shaping the sleeve openings, and I am knitting flat instead of circular (flatly instead of circularly?).

Now that I'm knitting less than half the number of stitches, the body should grow a bit more quickly.

New Yarn
A while ago, I read something on-line about Madeline Tosh doing a sweater club or something, so I signed up.  Every so often, I receive a package of enough yarn to make a large sweater.  The latest installment is the worsted weight yarn in a muted purple/silvery color.

It's difficult to get a photo of the yarn that truly represents the luster and color of the yarn, so I'll have to ask you to enhance the photo in your mind.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Knitting Robots

Don't even consider knitting an iPhone cozy...let robots do it for you!

Miracles of 3-D Printing

If you can create a 3-D graphic (which isn't easy...trust me), there are companies that will "print" your 3-D image using various materials.

The cases shown above were made by a 3-D printing company called Shapeways, and they were "printed" so that each strand of yarn in the fabric is separate and it moves independently of the other strands...just like real knitting.  I would imagine the sculpted fabric would also add a level of protection to an iPhone as well.

I decided to see if I could  make a printable 3-D image and I got pretty far along in the process, but wasn't quite able to get it in a state that was printable.

I started off with the 2-D JPG image of the Men's Knitting Retreat graphic.

Then, I downloaded free software (Inkscape) to convert the graphic to an SVG file (Scalable Vector Graphics is an XML-based file format for describing two-dimensional vector graphics).

Then I downloaded another free software, Blender that does 3-D graphics (mostly for animation) that allowed me to "extrude" the flat graphic into a three dimensional version of the grapic.

That was the difficult part...understanding graphics software (like Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape) is difficult enough...it's a whole new language of understanding vectors and and tracing, but then to add on a whole new dimension (so to speak), and the language gets exponentially more difficult to understand.

I tried uploading a 3-D graphic similar to the one shown above to Shapeways to see if I could get it printed, but it didn't qualify.  I think it was that the walls around the outer edge weren't thick enough.

Even still the exercise was quite fun and I learned a ton.

Current Knitting

I finally finished 15 inches on the body of my current pullover...I'm thinking at least 1/2 an inch more before I start shaping for the arm holes...almost there!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Teresa (aka Katsapw) writes, "So ... I have to say I'm two yrs new to the art of Knitting and I haven't touched my mini mochi yet. I'm dying to. I am curious as to the pattern you are using in this. I'm thinking it's the double dayflower. I hope to hear back soon even tho this is an old post of yours. You should be happy it comes up on image searches for lace mini mochi searches. Thanks so much for posting it. It's a great idea."

Thanks Teresa...Mini Mochi is a wonderful yarn, so I'm glad to be able to promote it a bit.  The scarf you googled is something I ended up calling the Man's Lace Scarf and is a free pattern both on Ravelry  and here:

I'm sure I took the pattern repeat from one of the Barbara Walker books, but I honestly don't remember what it's called.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Thanks everyone for stopping by...now I'm on my way to three million hits!


Not sure why it really matters when you reach a milestone that's divisible by 10, but it always seems to make a difference.  If we were a base 12 society (other than our measurement of time and the measurement of feet and inches), our milestones might be totally different.

But there's nothing like when the odometer in your car turns (or digitally changes) to a number ending in lots of zeroes.  It's quite satisfying.

Thanks to Bob, I have graphic proof of hitting the 2 million hit milestone on QueerJoe.
I'll be sending out his prize...a copy of Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' book,Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy and a lovely hank of hand-dyed sock yarn.  Congratulations Bob!

Current Knitting

I've finished the second skein of Icelandic yarn on my current sweater, and I'm up to a whopping 13 inches of knitting.

Three more inches of knitting and I get to switch to flat knitting and reductions for the set-in sleeve holes.

Can't wait!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Maureen writes, "Longtime reader but don't often comment... I just realized that I am going to be staying at the JW Marriott in Cancun in April! What a coincidence. It's the host hotel for a conference I'm attending. I've never been to Cancun before and I was wondering if you had anything that's a must-do or must-see. I'm only going to be down there for 4 days, though. I am pretty stoked - your photos make it look very inviting. :)"

This is a difficult question for me...vacations are for one thing, and that's to be as relaxed and unhurried as I can possible be.  I don't search out the museums (they just opened a new Mayan museum within walking distance of the JW), I don't go on day trips to see the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza, and I don't go to swim with the dolphins.  I wouldn't ever consider going to one of their golf courses.  I go to get a lot of sleep and relax on a beautiful beach.

Knowing all that, the one must-do I would highly recommend is anything at the JW spa...a massage, a facial, a body wrap...anything...kind of expensive but so worth it.  You also get access to the sauna, steam-room and cold and hot jacuzzi's for the day of your treatment, so schedule to relax (if that's what you're into).

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Getting Some Nookie

When I got home from vacation, this little beauty was waiting for me!

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

I've owned a Nook for years.  With all the traveling I do, it's become incredibly efficient at keeping a whole library of books in an incredibly small piece of equipment.  Plus, after looking at a computer screen all day, the last thing I want to do as part of my relaxation is stare at an iPod or other back-lit tablet screen.

I love the Nook, I love the e-Ink technology and I've grown to love my library of books more and more.

A friend of mine works at Barnes & Noble and he was able to test out some of their more recent devices.  I actually got to play with their Nook Tablet.  I wasn't impressed and it didn't really have what I valued most in my e-reader.  But when he told me they had a full-touch-screen version of the Nook AND one that had lighting so I could read it in darker places (I know what you're thinking...but it's not BACK-LIT!), I knew I had to own one.

 Within 10 minutes of opening the box, I had registered the device and downloaded my entire library.  I had to of course confirm that the "glow" worked.

 Can you see it glowing around the edge of the screen?  Even just a little?  It's hard to photograph that.

Then, of course, I needed a cover for it...mostly to protect it in my luggage and PC case as I tote it all over the World.

This one by Jack Spade was my favorite.

I couldn't be happier!

Current Reading

Right now, I'm reading an amazing book. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.  The writing is stellar and the plot-line is just brilliant (so far...I'm not that far into it).

I also just finished reading The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  I can check that off of my New Year's resolutions, and I enjoyed reading all three books.  I can't say that I highly recommend this series...the writing is rather sophomoric and the author uses a lot of very tired writing techniques to try and add excitement to the story, but I'm still glad I read it.

Current Knitting

I've completed a total of four more rows on my current sweater.  Refer to last photo posted and use your imagination.

Monday, February 04, 2013

2 Million Hits

I'm almost at 2,000,000 hits to QueerJoe.com since it's original inception.  I'm glad I made it back from vacation to see it!

There will be a prize for anyone that can send a screen capture of  the hit counter at exactly 2,000,000:


Thaddeus and I took our standard vacation to Cancun.  We left Philadelphia airport on the earliest non-stop and arrived at our hotel (JW Marriott...beautiful property!) before noon.  Stayed a week, eating ourselves into comas each day, and then got home 8 days later to a VERY frenetic Nico (we have someone come in every day to feed and love him...it wasn't enough!).

Here are some photos of our lovely time there.

View from our living room balcony

View of our bedroom balcony from our living room balcony

Me, prepared to leave...if you look closely, you can see a tear

Me, happy on the beach

Full moon over the ocean from our balcony
Lobby florals and American pansy

Pool view from our hotel room window

Beach view from our balcony

Our daily beach spot

Current Knitting

I probably completed a total of 12 additional rows of knitting while on vacation...so I have about 10 inches completed of  the body of my current pullover.

I am looking forward to getting to the sleeve shaping (need another 6 inches of knitting on the body).