Monday, June 30, 2014

From Shame to Pride

Kind of sums up my life as a Catholic gay boy growing up and growing into loving who he is.

We've Come a Long Way Baby

JoeMyGod posted a great blog post on the reporting of the Stonewall Rebellion that clearly shows how far we've come.

Having gotten legally married last year and then having my marriage recognized in the State of Pennsylvania was unthinkable as recently as five years ago, and it couldn't have happened without the fierce and courageous New Yorkers who stood up 45 years ago.

I couldn't be more proud.

Current Knitting

I was sitting watching television, with no handy project sitting around, so I took some of the leftover yarn from the bed runner and starting doing a stranded/twined knitting "swatch" that turned into a hat.

Since I wanted the fabric to be a uniform thickness even in the places where it was only one color, I used two strands of the same color, knitting each alternate stitch with a different strand.  

It made a nice warm fabric, but honestly, it wasn't very soft feeling on my ears, so I picked up stitches around the bottom of the hat with a very soft alpaca yarn, and knit a headband lining.

Almost finished sewing in the lining, just in time for July.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding the three sweaters from Leslie, Maur asks, "...does your friend have a blog as well?"

No, she doesn't but she's an excellent knitter (as you can see).

Alex writes, "That first vest is beautiful. Do you have pattern links that you could share?"

The vest is called Tumbling Blocks Vest and is by Kaffe Fassett.  It was published a couple of places, but mainly in the Rowan Magazine number 6 if you can get your hands on it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

That Guy Who Knits

Sometimes it pays to be known as "the knitter".

Even By Other Knitters

Long-time blog reader and local knit friend, Leslie has been knitting for as long or longer than I have.  And while her husband supports her obsession, he won't wear any of the things she makes him.

So, I luck out and get to be the recipient of some of Leslie's most fantastic work.  Here are three sweaters that she sent me because she didn't want them going to waste in her husband's closet.

The top two sweaters fit both Thaddeus and I perfectly, and I'm going to try and block the Kaffe Tumbling Block waistcoat so that it fits me.  Here's what the gorgeous aubergine pullover looks like on me.

The color is more accurate in the photo above, but I know this sweater will get lots of use.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I was able to finish the crochet Granite Stitch Bed Runner.

I love the way it turned out and how the colors mixed in such a harmonious way.

I also almost finished knitting a scarf using the core-spun yarn I made a few weeks ago.

It's simple garter stitch, and I'm going to crochet a simple border around the edge to give it structure.  The deep, sultry colors of the yarn do not show well in makes it look almost Christmassy in the photos, but it's much more smokey in real life.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Comforts of Hotel

Given how many hotel rooms I've stayed in, I guess it's not surprising when I try to make my bedroom and bathroom at home look more like a hotel room.

Hotel Decor

Many of the people the stay in hotel rooms more than their own home, can often recognize the hotel chain just by the decor of the room.

Being a creature of habit, I've learned to live in hotel rooms in a way where I always know where my toiletries are and where my underwear is stored, and where to keep my iPhone.  The layout of the room might change from week to week, but some things have to remain constant, so that I can be comfortable.

Now that I'm staying at home, and I'm not restricted by the confines of a hotel room, I still find that I'm trying to organize my things in a way that will make it more like my stays in a hotel.  More so than that, I find I'm trying to make my rooms look more hotel like.

When I start to pick out carpeting with colored patterning in it, I'll have to find some 12-step group to help me get past it.

Current Crochet

As I'm almost finished with the bed-foot runner using stripes of Opus 1 and Patons Classic Merino yarns and the Granite Stitch, I've realized most beds outside of hotels don't use bed runners.

But also, hotels don't have such beautiful bed runners either.  Just a few more stripes to go, and this project will be finished and any guests staying in our house will have warm feet and hopefully feel more like they're staying in a very fine hotel.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Setting Up Your Own Business

Last year, I was required to create a business so that I could independently contract with a company (doing consulting work).  I had many friends and co-workers that said I should just set myself up as an S-Corp (a corporation filed under chapter S which allows you to just pay yourself all company profits without having to pay corporate taxes on that revenue).

Don't Do It

I followed the advice of friends that said it was easy.  Went through Legal Zoom to have them file my papers of incorporation and applications for Chapter S status.  I set up a business checking account and got myself an EIN (Employer Identification Number - social security number for businesses).

Seemed rather simple.

But then payroll, and taxes and unemployment insurance and workers compensation and state taxing authorities all started looming large.

For about six months of highly-paid work, I had to work MUCH harder on just administrative bullshit to run an S-Corp than I did for my client.

How do you calculate pay (gross to net) for yourself?  How do you pay withholding taxes to Federal, Social Security and State taxing authorities.  How do you set up an account with those taxing authorities.  How do you generate a W-2 for yourself?  What year-end filing is required.  Should I expect a 1099 from my client?  How do you close out a business?

I know most of these things you can find out via Google...but you have to know what to ask.  I truly wish I had just hired a local accountant and let them figure it all out.

I think I'm almost at the end of this nightmare, but I'm still not sure exactly what it takes to close out the business so that I'm not required to file quarterly taxes to State and Federal authorities.

Current Knitting/Crochet

The Bright Lizard Scarf has been finished, casted off and block, and it's more beautiful than I expected it would be (and I blame Claudia's Hand Painted Yarns for this...not myself).

I ended up writing up the pattern and putting it out on Ravelry for sale.  I've decided to contribute any  proceeds from the scarf to Kyle Kunnecke's AIDS Walk fund, it that provides additional inspiration for folks to purchase the scarf between now and Kyle's fundraising deadline of July 20th.

If you'd prefer to donate $25 or more directly to Kyle (and get the tax deduction yourself and be eligible for his great prizes), just send me a copy of your donation receipt and your Ravelry ID, and I'd be glad to send you a free copy of the pattern via Ravelry.

Monday, June 16, 2014

So Long Old Friend

Thaddeus and I may be one of the last hold-outs when it comes to watching a tube television.

Soon To Be Replaced

This is our 36" Sony WEGA television that has served us faithfully now for many years.  Despite a LOT of television watching over the years, this 2 ton marvel (well, it's very heavy anyway) has been a faithful conveyer of televised entertainment.

Recently, it's been starting to fail on us, forcing us into the 21st century.

Now, we just have to figure out what kind of television to purchase.  Suffice it to say, our new one won't have a tube like this one, and we will soon be able to watch HD broadcasts and stream things from our computers directly to the television.

I can't imagine what the hell we'll need to do to get rid of the old monster.

Current Knitting

New vibrant and colorful scarf design, almost off the needles, that I'm calling Bright Lizard Scarf.

I couldn't wait to finish casting off the last row and blocking this, so I'll post a couple of final photos.  The scarf uses two different yarns from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.  It's even two different weights of yarns.  I used a colorway called "Eat Your Veggies" in the Sport Weight yarn, and "Blue Terra Cotta" in the fingering weight yarn.

Don't you think it kind of looks like this bright lizard?

I will be writing up the pattern for this scarf, but I'm not yet sure how I'll make it available.  Suffice it to say, I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fear of Confrontation

Other than being overly verbose, I also have another character flaw.  Strange as it may seem, I hate confrontations.

On-Line vs. IRL

When I first started writing this blog, it would have appeared that I had no fear of people being angry with me or starting up confrontation.  And that was true...I didn't have any fear of that on the blog.

But I could easily hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and I had a lot of very protective and faithful blog readers that were very good at protecting me from on-line bullying.

In real life, I am much less confrontational.

I particularly hate dealing with people that are vengeful and angry when I call them on their shit.

Given where I am in my career, I'd have thought I'd be beyond that...and truthfully, I'm a lot less fearful of confrontation than I used to be.  But sometimes it seems the meek way is just easier.

Current Crochet

I've made some progress on the Granite Stitch bed-foot runner.

Just a few more days and I'll be finished with this lap blanket/bed runner.  It's getting a bit unwieldy in my lap, so I'll be glad to finish it.

Readers' Comments Questions

C Piper writes, "'m currently working on a 2nd pair of your slipper socks, but I couldn't find a pattern on your Rav page to link to...are you going to post it there at some point?" fact the pattern is now published there too -

Monday, June 09, 2014

A Difficult Read - But Worth It

Have you ever started reading a book that was difficult to get through, but also helped changed your entire mindset?

Forcing Myself

Noam Chomsky's. Power Systems was a book that came recommended by someone whose opinion I value, so I have been forcing myself to continue reading this mind-opening book.

The book is basically a transcription of multiple interviews where Mr. Chomsky speaks out on many different issues about which he is extremely knowledgeable.  Reading this book requires a lot of concentration for me to keep up with the author.  I'm almost finished reading the book and I'm incredibly glad I stuck it out.  His way of speaking has allowed me to see my part in the ongoing middle class struggle.

I'd like to encourage as many people to do the same...I don't think I'll ever see our situation quite the same way ever again.

Current Spinning

I was able to finish the core wrapped spinning I blogged about last week, and now I can't WAIT to start knitting with the resulting yarn.

After washing, the yarn came out soft and beautiful.  It still has a bit of torque to it...not much, but some, so I'll have to make sure that whatever I decide to make with this won't be affected by some excess energy left in the twist of the yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding the granite stitch swatch I did using the Koigu, NC Knitter Bear writes, "Hook size on the Koigu?"

I used a 4mm (size G) hook and I liked the fabric for something a bit more thick than a scarf.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Inspiring Country-wide Riots

Or, How to Get Revenge On Obnoxious Teens

How many times have you had to put up with the annoyance of obnoxious teenagers in a movie theater talking and laughing throughout a movie?  Or worse yet, hear the expressions of disgust during a movie when two people of the same sex kiss.

The Fart In Our Stars

With the release of the new teen tear-jerker, The Fault In Our Stars, I think it's the perfect opportunity for adults to take over the back rows of theaters throughout the country making snide remarks, snorting and laughing at inappropriate times, and yelling comments like, "Take that hose out of your nose before you slip him the tongue!"

I know it's a childish response, and I most definitely will not be doing this, but I think it might be interesting to give these blubbering teens a taste of their own medicine.

I can fantasize, can't I?

Current Crochet

After having swatched the "Granite Stitch" using a fingering weight (Koigu), I though it might be interesting to try a lap blanket using worsted weight yarns.

I'm using Paton's worsted wool and Opus 1 yarns and a size K crochet hook (7mm).

I love the stitch pattern and it's easy to do.  It looks the same on both sides, which I think is always a plus and I like the way it blends the color transitions nicely.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Alert The Planet

If you don't know about Breema, you should and if you do know about Breema, I can't imagine why you haven't told me about it before.

Matthew Tousignant doing a Breema session

Brilliant Opening

Perhaps my first experience with Breema body work was an anomaly, but I have never had quite such a transformational experience...and it was completely unexpected...and wonderful.

Having had a number of experiences with new-age, touchy-feely, bodywork techniques, I was pretty open to having a nurturing and comforting experience during my first Breema session with Matthew Tousignant.   I went because I was having quite a bit of pain from what appeared to be a pinched nerve in my neck after it was recommended to me by both my chiropractor and my Rolfer.
I arrived at his office where he had layered some Persian carpets on the floor. He instructed me to lie down—fully clothed—and then, he proceeded to spend the next 50 minutes moving my body and his in a way that felt like he was opening my heart and body in ways I haven't remembered in a long time...maybe ever.
Breema is a bodywork technique that uses nurturing, tension-relieving stretches and rhythmic movements to create physical, mental, and emotional balance, in an atmosphere of harmony and complete non-judgment (sounds pretty new-age, touchy-feely, right?). Breema is said to increase flexibility, improve immunity, detoxify the internal organs, regulate blood pressure, enhance circulation, release energy blockages in the joints and spine, alleviate tension, and improve emotional balance and mental clarity.
Matthew used an amazing choreography of gentle motions—brushing, tapping, leaning, and stretching that made me feel relaxed, open, supported and accepted.  The pain in my shoulder and arm were sometimes uncomfortable during the session, but afterwards the pain was significantly reduced (for days afterwards).  I was so comfortable with Matthew and the session, that I didn't feel it at all necessary to stifle some crying that came up during the session.  While it's difficult to describe what caused the crying in a blog entry, I will say that it was not because of the shoulder/arm pain and also that it was VERY uncharacteristic of me, especially since I didn't even know if it was an "appropriate" response to a Breema session.
Practiced by the Kurdish villagers of Breemava (which I think is in Syria) where it originated, it was brought to the US by Malicheck Mooshan who was trained in this technique by his grandfather. Chiropractor Jon Schreiber, D.C., learned the comprehensive system of bodywork and over the last 25 years, Dr. Schreiber and others developed Breema into a systematic practice.
Matthew was trained by Jon Schreiber (and others) and has been practicing for ten years.
I can't wait for my second session (today!).

Current Spinning

I didn't take any of the formal workshops given at this year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, but I was able to learn a new (to me) spinning technique from Van.  He was spinning some beautiful core-spun yarn that really spoke to me, so I asked him to do a little personal tutoring.
I'm not as good at the technique as he is, but I'm LOVING how my yarn is coming out (at least on the bobbin).

Core-spinning is a method of wrapping a core yarn or thread with roving to create a single ply yarn.  I'm using a commercial remnant of some "grabby" mohair-like yarn that I had hanging around on a cone and a beautiful, color-saturated Polwarth roving.

I'll look forward to showing you the resulting hank of yarn and whatever I end up knitting with it.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Men's Knitting Retreat Remnants

In addition to memories, I brought home Lulu from the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

Well...Not The Whole Llama

But I did bring back Lulu's fleece.  And this past weekend I diligently washed these beautiful locks.

I can't wait to card this up, but it will have to wait until July when I'm back up in Upstate NY, where I left my drum carder.  Teri, the owner of Wunsapana Farm does an amazing job of taking care of her llamas, and while she rarely sells the fleeces from her beautiful llamas, I was lucky enough to be able to take Lulu home.

Other Items That Came Home With Me

Teri also had a local alpaca farmer display some of his yarns for us.  Staghorn Valley Alpaca farm had some gorgeous yarns available and some of those made their way back to New Hope with me.

Then our visit to Blind Buck Farms beautiful yarn shop enticed me to take these lovely hanks of yarn home too.

Finally, I was also gifted this beautiful braid of purple roving by Aaron.

If I didn't already have two spinning projects occupying my two wheels, I would be making beautiful yarn from this lovely gift.

Readers' Comments/Questions

AKQGUY asked about the simple slippers I posted about in the last blog post, "I see you also added a bit of a gusset to yours. What was the basis for that decision and how did you decide where to begin your increases?"

I basically estimated when to start the toe-up gusset increases similar to how I do toe-up socks.  Then I figured I'd just write up the pattern for it which is free to download here.