Friday, January 31, 2014

Bring Back Patriotism

There have always been cut-throat businesses since the founding of this country, whose only concern was profits and eliminating competition.

Capitalism vs. Treason

When large companies do something that damages us as a country, it is often seen as healthy capitalism.  So, when large companies try to weed out competition by off-shoring the manufacturing of their products, not only does it eliminate jobs and manufacturing facilities in this country, but it also puts significant strain on areas of our economy affected by the trade deficit.

And as leaders of industry, their actions almost dictate that smaller companies follow suit, or get swallowed up by their inability to compete.

I've started making a personal stand in my life, to look for areas where I can spend money domestically, even when it isn't the most inexpensive way to do something.  I started with this Kickstarter program:

The Blue Lace project is project by Brooklyn-based Jake Bronstein to have a local manufacturing company make one of the most amazing shoe laces, and have it be a highly visible symbol of American-made pride by those who wear them. His initial goal of $25,000 has been far exceeded, which in my mind, is a very positive indicator that we want this kind of pride back again.  The project allowed me to take my first small step toward favoring U.S.-based manufacturers.

Bronstein also runs an underwear business called Flint and Tinder which produces underwear and other garments here in the United States.  Suffice it to say, I may be spending more on clothes in the future, but I'll be much happier wearing them.

Current Knitting/Crochet/Spinning

Working on a few things and started something new:

  1. Verve Sock (not much progress)
  2. Nico's Granny Square Blanket (continuing to connect the granny squares)
  3. Kid Alpaca Blanket/Coffin Cover (added at least 3 inches to this project recently)
  4. New Spinning Project - Puff The Magic Rabbit Mohair/Shetland Mix

I ordered this lovely roving from Mindy a while ago, and can't wait to see what lovely yarn it makes.  She's got some more beautiful rovings on her Etsy site right the silk blends.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lesser-Known Literary Channels

It seems a lot of knitters are extremely well-read and I also have a good friend that works in the rare books section of Princeton University's library (Firestone Library), so I'm fortunate to be exposed to a number of literary vehicles I might not otherwise have chanced upon.


The first one of those items is an amazing quarterly literary (kind of) magazine called Lapham's Quarterly.

Each quarter, this publication (for lack of a better term) focuses on a particular subject, Death, The Sea, Medicine, and obviously comedy.  My friend at the library gave me a subscription for this year, and I've just started into the first issue, and it's wonderful.

The second wonderful thing about being around literary folk, is getting interesting and good book recommendations.  My latest book recommendation I've received was for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

I read it while on vacation, and just loved the story and the characters.  The writing I found to be a bit sophmoric, but not in a way that interfered with my enjoyment of the book.

Maybe some of you already knew about these two items, but if you didn't I thought you should.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

I've only added one vertical row of connecting crochet to Nico's Granny Square blanket.

If you can't tell from the photo, it's the bottom row (I guess that's a horizontal row in the photo, but I consider it a vertical row on the blanket).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Back From Vacation

Thaddeus and I took a week off last week spending it in Cancun again...the trip has become routine, but in a good way...very relaxing and easy.

Our Daily Beach View

Each year we go to Cancun, we focus on three things:
  1. Beach time
  2. Rest/relaxation/sleep
  3. Good food
Mission accomplished this year.  The photo above shows the view we had each morning we sat out on the beach.  Not overly crowded, beautiful beach and gorgeous water.  The weather was a bit on the cooler side, but I still went in swimming every day.

The relaxation part is easy...great hotel, beautiful room, a spa so we can do a "couples massage" and very little scheduled.

Finally, the food this year was mostly amazing  We returned to two restaurants we've been to in prior years...Puerto Madero Cancun...and La Dolce Vita.  

Puerto Madero was as good as ever with an amazing grilled octopus that we dream about between visits and some of the most amazing grilled shrimp I've ever eaten.  I also got this great appetizer called "Provoleta" which was basically a large hockey puck-size of provolone-like cheese grilled on a very hot meat grill and served over a chunky tomato sauce.  I want it again!

La Dolce Vita, now called Savio's Bistro by La Dolce Vita was a big disappointment.  Mediocre food and awful service.  It's off our list.

Finally we went to the best restaurant we've ever been to in Cancun - Tempo by Martin Berasategui.F  This place was AMAZING!  We did an eight-course tasting menu (really nine courses if you include the amuse-bouche at the beginning), and it was by far, one of the best meals we've ever had, and definitely the best food we've ever had in Cancun.  Describing the food would be a disservice to the amazing works of the two chefs there, but there was an amazing amount of food, served perfectly and pleasantly and it was only about US$60 per person.  Don't miss the opportunity to go here if you can.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I did some additional knitting whilst on vacation on the sock project I started last week.

Have you ever noticed that hand-knit socks don't necessary look so good until they're on a foot or a sock stretcher.  But despite that, I love how the sock is coming out.

I also finished crocheting all the horizontal connecting rows on Nico's Koigu Granny Square blanket.

Now all I have to do is all the vertical connector rows and the edging.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding my sock construction, Paula asks, " tall do you make the legs of your socks?  My husband wants a "regular" height sock, and I am not sure how high to knit it."

Thaddeus and I both buy men's size "Large" socks when we buy our socks (we're both around a men's size 10 (U.S.) shoe).  What I typically do, is try to make the length of the calf of the sock as tall as I can, using up as much of the yarn as I can.  Hand-knit socks will usually look much longer when not being worn and shrink down a couple of inches in length when they're worn, so taller is always better.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Sweater Workshop - Revised

One of the knitting design books used to have you knit this odd pitcher-like piece of knitting as a way of teaching you multiple techniques in knitting and sweater construction. Wasn't that The Sweater Workshop?

The Extensive Simplicity of Sock Design

I started a new sock project and I'm tweaking my standard design so that it will more exactly fit Thaddeus' foot. He has a slightly longer, more slender foot and a much slimmer ankle and calf.

While he can fit into my standard sock, I figured I could tweak it along the way to make it custom fit him. I obviously used a few less stitches on the foot and made it longer. I also used a slightly narrower toe.

The heel was also done more narrowly, even though the gusset increased the same number of stitches. I rounded the bottom of the heel a bit more than usual and finally made a thinner ankle and increased a little into the calf. 

I realized that if The Sweater Workshop had used a sick instead of some useless hobo bag shape, a knitter could have learned a shit-load of techniques and still had a sock at the end of the lesson

Current Knitting

So here's the sock I've been sculpting so exactingly. 

I know, it looks like most of my other sock projects, but hopefully it will fit Thaddeus perfectly. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

QueerJoe Loves Men

I guess it should come as no surprise that I love men...but I have been falling in love all over again.

My Yearly Man-a-Palooza

Each year at the Men's Knitting Retreat in May, I get the amazing chance to lounge around with about 40 other guys, knitting, chatting and...well, falling in love.

So far this year, we have 28 guys registered for the 2014 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.  I have the great fortune of processing the registrations each year, and every time a new registration comes through, one of two things happens:

  1. I know the guy (usually from a prior year retreat) and I get the wonderful experience of thinking about how great it is to be around this person, or
  2. I don't know the guys and I go researching Facebook and Ravelry to see how great the guy will fit in with the old-timers at the retreat.
I win either way!

So, if you know of any exceptional guys that have been looking to attend one of the Men's Knitting Retreats, this year's event only has 10 spots left open, so encourage him to register right away, or minimally nominate himself for a scholarship to attend.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I've finished the 35 granny square's in Nico's Koigu Granny Square Blanket AND I finished the pair of socks I was working on.  First, Nico's blanket:

So thrilled to have finished all the squares, and now I face the daunting task of putting them all together.  I have decided to crochet them together with a single crochet, as described in this guy's great video.

The socks also came out great.

The only complaint I have is that I must have had two COMPLETELY different dye lots for the two balls of sock yarn, but honestly, I kind of like that they're very different looking with the same general color scheme.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Knitting Gone Wild

Some might consider this a form of child abuse.

Cabbage Patch Wigs?

Really?  Well yes...Amanda Lillie has designed a crochet pattern for baby, child and ADULT size cabbage patch wigs.

I think I need one of these for the slopes this ski season.

Check out a few of her creations here, or if you just want to purchase the pattern, go to her Etsy site here.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I finished the first sock of the pair, and have just started shaping the heel on the second sock.

With the weather we've been having, I'm cherishing my hand-knit socks more than most years.  They are warmer than store-bought.

I also did one more granny square on what Leslie suggested I should call Nico's Granny Square Blanket...I think I'll hold off posting a photo until all the squares are complete.  However, I did get the Koigu KPPPM from Loop I ordered to finish the blanket.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Resolute Again

Yes, while I only accomplished about 50 percent of my goals set for last year, it won't stop me from setting some goals for myself again this year.

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Some of them will be the same, but I'm okay with that too.

  1. Finish the kid alpaca blanket/coffin cover (2013 taught me I really MUST work on this more frequently to get it finished).
  2. Get down below 195 pounds and stay there (or less).  It's where I'm most comfortable and feel the best about myself.
  3. Blog on average at least twice a week.
  4. Publish at least one new design on Ravelry
  5. Finish piecing the current quilt top I'm working on
I'm open to taking on additional goals for the year, so feel free to suggest one for me!

Another Annual Thing
Today, registration opens for the 2014 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.  This will be the seventh annual retreat at Easton Mountain.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

I was able to finish my secret project that I can't tell you about until May and I also continued doing a little work on a sock project that's been languishing in a project bag for a while.

It's Fortissima Colori Socca (not sure what the yarn name or the color name is, so I just put whatever's on the label).

I also got exactly one more square done on the Koigu granny square blanket.

It looks disheveled because I haven't been able to pick these squares up off the floor since the last photo I took of them with Nico "helping."