Friday, February 28, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

A while ago, Thaddeus and I started looking for places similar to where we live, except in a warmer climate.

Where To Retire?

We were specifically looking for an area where we could afford to buy a second house that we would use as a vacation home until we retired.

We never did find a place where we wanted to live, more than where we currently do.  Except maybe Italy, but that wasn't going to work for us.

Our current area has great restaurants, excellent cinema and interesting entertainment options that are perfect for us.  Plus, it's very gay-friendly.

We have excellent fine cuisine restaurants, fantastic ethnic restaurants (Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern, Japanese and Mexican...if we just had a great Chinese restaurant, we'd be all set) and we even have great casual restaurants for burgers, pizza, etc.  We have some excellent art-film movie houses near us, as well as the larger 24-screen theaters.  And we have some amazing cabaret type venues for more obscure, but interesting acts.

We may just have to suffer through the Winter each year.

Current Crochet

I've been doing a lot of work on my current crochet blanket, even though it might not look like it.


I'm using a modified basketweave crochet stitch that is best described here.  I'm wishing I hadn't modified the stitch, but I'm not ripping out everything I've done up until now.  It will still make a great blanket.

Here's a more close-up shot of the blanket.


I'm using two different merino DK weight yarns and I think I'll just keep striping it up through the entire blanket.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Finn Again



Our boy is fully integrated into the family...it was quite amazing at just how quickly he came to be an essential part of us.

Long Road

Finn was in a shelter for about 2 years before we were lucky enough to find him and take him home.

He had some health issues that were challenging for the shelter, and largely, that's probably the reason it took so long for him to be adopted.  But despite being in and out of the shelter and a couple of foster homes and going back and forth to the vet, being poked and prodded and injected, he's still so friendly, loving and wonderful.



You can tell it didn't take him long to find a way up to the highest point he could find.

He fits right in.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I think I had mentioned I started a new pair of socks using Zauberball.


This colorway is one of the least capturable on digital photography I've ever seen...the socks look lovely despite how they show up in digital photographs.

I've also started a new crochet blanket.


This is just a glimpse...I'll give more details in a future blog post.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Obsessive Much?

Which sounds like more, 8 kilos or 17 lbs, 10 ounces?


Better Canadian Export Than Celine Dion

I've blogged about this before, that from the first day I tasted Kraft Extra Creamy Peanut Butter, I didn't want any other brand.

Unfortunately, it's only available in Canada, and it costs at least $20 in shipping to have it sent through one of the few suppliers who will send it to the United States.


But the nice thing, is you can also order some of the Cadbury chocolate you can't get here in the States.  Just remember to misspell favorites when you go to their web site.

Current Crochet

I've finished Nico's Granny Square Blanket, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

 



















Here's another close up of the edging, which finishes the blanket perfectly (in my not so humble opinion).



I still need to re-weave some of my ends and wash and block this, but for all intents and purposes, it's finished!

A completely gratuitous photo of our new boy, Finn.

 Readers' Comments/Questions

Thank you all for you good wishes and kind words about Finn...it's been less than a week and I'm already totally in love.  He's fun, he's funny, he's loving and he's beautiful.

JoBleudeMaine writes, "He's gorgeous! Is he a lynx-point? Or not Siamese--just blue eyed?"

He was listed as Siamese, and he certainly has some of the personality traits of a Siamese, and Thaddeus is pretty convinced he's a lynx-point mix.  

scifiknitter writes, "We're looking forward to going to the shelter to pick out a new cat for our household in 2 weeks, when our daughter the cat whisperer is home for the weekend. We've had to euthanize two beloved elderly cat in the past two weeks, and we're in the same place you were when Nico left your lives. We'll also be looking for a cat who is not finding a home easily, and who has some spunk."

I've heard from a number of people who have recently lost cats and my heart aches for you (and them).  I still miss Nico a lot.  But, I have always taken a lot of comfort, when the time comes to say goodbye, that the cat lived a MUCH better life with Thaddeus and I than they might have without having been rescued.  Good luck in your search.

Finally, via e-mail, Tim writes, "I noticed you where knitting with I noticed you where knitting with Karbonz double-pointed needles....I do a number of socks on bamboo needles and would like to get your opinion on likes or dislikes of the Karbonz."

When it comes to acquiring any more double-pointed needles, I will never buy anything else than the Karbonz double-pointed needles....I am totally hooked.  I have knit with Harmony's, steel, bamboo, birch and ebony.  I love the wood needles, because of the smooth feel with a silky drag on the yarn and I enjoy the KnitPick's Harmony needles.  I've never been a big fan of the steel double-points as they're a bit too slippery and heavy for my tastes.  I'm a very firm knitter and bend/break wooden needles too easily.  The  Karbonz are light, have the perfect amount of drag on the yarn and they're indestructible...even in my death grip.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Introducing...!!!!

 



...Finn...the latest member of our household.

Details

Finn is between 4 and 5 years old and he comes from a rescue shelter in Northern NJ.  He's been with the shelter for about 2 years and in a couple of different foster homes while he waited for Thaddeus and I to find him.

Even after only 2 days in our house, he's incredibly social and follows us around the house a lot.  Last night, he sat in my lap and napped while I watched television and knit, and then followed us up to bed and slept with us the entire night.

We couldn't be more pleased about this lovely boy.

Current Knitting

I started a new sock, so that I could successfully knit and not disturb the new prince in my lap.


It's my standard sock recipe using Zauberball yarn in some colorway or another...but more importantly, Finn doesn't get disturbed when I knit on it while he's on my lap.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cleanliness is Next to Queerness

I just found out it pays to clean up my crafting space.  I found two completed sweaters, a completed pair of hiking socks and an unfelted pair of FiberTrends clog slippers.



SCORE!

I'd show you a "Before" photo of the space, but it really just looked like a trash heap.  I was kinda shocked to find a fully completed zipper cardigan in the middle of it all...I kind of knew the other completed objects were in there.


I did have to weave in a few ends and re-sew the zipper and there are button holes above the zipper with no corresponding buttons, but this is a great lightweight cardigan I'll use around the house all the time now.

Current Knitting

I finished the second sock in time to give them to Thaddeus for his birthday.


I used the recipe I posted a few blog entries ago and they came out great.  I'm very happy to say that blog-reader Danny test-knit the sock pattern and said it worked great.  He noted I left out a wrap & turn in the last two lines of the heel repeat, but that's the way it's supposed to be (in case anyone else is trying this out).

Readers' Questions/Comments

Tim (teejtc) asks, "...when you say 'knit plain until the foot of the sock is approximately 2 inches shorter than I want it to be,' do you make your socks the length of the foot or do you put some negative ease into it (i.e. do you make the length of the sock shorter than the length of the foot)?"

First of all, I'm glad you asked this, because the it allows me to clarify two things.  First, "2 inches shorter than I want it to be" means 2 inches before the ankle, or 2 inches shorter than the TOP of the foot.  Second, to answer your question, I allow for some negative ease in the sock...about 1/2 inch on the length of the foot.

If it helps, I wear a size 9.5 U.S. shoe and I have somewhat wide feet and Thaddeus wears a U.S. size 10 shoe and has narrow feet.  We both wear the same size sock and I start the gusset increases at about 5.5 inches from the tip of the toe.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Can You Believe He's Sixty?!?!


Happy Birthday Thaddeus!

Yes, St. Valentine is my lover-now husband's patron saint since he was born on this day 60 years ago.

We'll go out to celebrate with a nice dinner tonight, but we don't usually exchange gifts for birthdays or Valentine's day.

It is true what they say...he's getting better with age.

Current Crocheting

Now that all the granny squares are attached, I've found what I think is a great way to edge this blanket.



The top section shows the third row of the edging completed where as the bottom-right shows only the first two rows of the edging complete.  Unfortunately, that photo shows about how much I've completed of the border...it feels like I've done thousands of scallops and I still have thousands to go.  But I've also started weaving in about 1,000 ends so it won't seem so daunting at the end.

The edging is from a blogger named Lucy in England called Attic 24 (slightly modified).


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Is Bestiality When You LOVE Animals?

Has anyone purchased any of her books?




Knit Your Own Zoo  just came out this week and I find the concept so cool.

Shaped Knitting

A couple of friends of mine are professional knitters, in that they design garments, stitch patterns and even one-off items as requested by textile companies or fashion designers.  In addition to creating thousands of swatches of knit-stitch patterns, they have also been asked to create things like, fuzzy dice, high-heel shoe, fire hydrant, etc.

For me, just creating the shaping that creates a heel on the tube of fabric called a sock, stretches my talents to their max.  I honestly can't imagine figuring out how to shape a giraffe's nose using knit stitches.

Current Knitting / Crochet

Finished one of the two socks, and the nice part about having started the second one, is that the pair is now almost finished.




I figured since this is the standard sock recipe I posted in the last blog entry, you might want to see photos of what it looks like.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Leslie noted that I had used knit-jargon when I referenced the "E-Z's sewn bind-off".

I guess I considered this to be like an abbreviation in a pattern...an abbreviation which required a translation.  And that is why I linked to a video detailing what it was.  Kind of like putting SSK in the pattern and then having a key to what SSK means.

Monday, February 10, 2014

QueerJoe's Standard Sock

I've gotten to the point where knitting a sock requires no pattern or even much thought.  The heel I use is a modified Andersson heel, which is a short-row heel, so it requires no picking up of stitches along a gusset, but it also fits more closely to a human foot.

Pattern

Assuming I can get a decent sock-like fabric using US3 needles and the chosen sock yarn, here is my "pattern" for making a sock:

Using US3, double-pointed needles and the figure-8 cast-on, I cast on a total of 24 loops.
1st round - knit 24 sts
2nd round - K into front and back of 1st st, K10, K into front and back of 12th st, K into front and back of 13th st, K10 and K into front and back of last stitch
3rd round - K28
4th round - K into front and back of 1st st, K12, K into front and back of 14th st, K into front and back of 15th st, K12 and K into front and back of last stitch

Continue increasing 4 sts every other round until I have 68 sts total.
Knit plain until the foot of my sock is approximately 2 inches shorter than I want it to be.

Gusset Increases:
1st round - Incr1 (using invisible increase by knitting into the loop below the first stitch and then knitting into the loop on the needle), K33, Incr1 (using invisible increase), K33 (70 sts total)
2nd round - Knit plain
3rd round - Incr1 (using invisible increase by knitting into the loop below the first stitch and then knitting into the loop on the needle), K35, Incr1 (using invisible increase), K33 (72 sts total)
4th round - Knit plain

Continue increasing 2 sts every other round until there are 92 sts total, ending with a Knit plain round.

Heel:
Knit 81 sts, wrap next st and turn
Purl 10 sts, wrap next st and turn
Knit 10, SSK, wrap next st and turn
Purl 11 sts, P2Tog, wrap next st and turn
Knit 11 sts, SSK
Purl 11 sts, P2Tog

Repeat last two rows until you are back down to 68 sts total and beg knitting in the round again.
Knit plain for 3-4 inches and then switch to 1x1 rib (K1, P1).

I used EZ's sewn bind-off to finish.

Current Knitting/Spinning

To get a sense about how much yarn I had, and how long I could make my current sock project, I decided to start the second sock without finishing off the first sock.


This is the standard sock with a couple of modifications.  First, it's only 64 sts around, second I've made a slightly narrower back of heel, and I'm also switching to US1 needles for the ribbing.  The socks are for Thaddeus who has a narrower foot than I do.

I also did a bit more spinning since I last blogged with Mindy's wonderful mohair/Shetland blend.


I'm loving the result of this spinning project, but I'm not yet sure what I will use all the resulting yarn for.  I'd love to create a masculine looking vest or pullover, but I fear the yarn might have a bit too much halo to look masculine.  More will be revealed as I progress.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Corporate Knitters

As a left-wing, progressive, liberal gay man, I have some strong ideas about how corporations stack the deck against folks of lesser means...and often when they could easily afford to do otherwise.

Knitting and Political Universes Collide

Have you heard about the issue with the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, where Stitches West 2014 is being held and the strike of the union workers there?

Thanks to Powell, a West-coast knitter, I found out that the local AFL union in Santa Clara has finally said the working conditions and poverty-level pay by the Hyatt have forced them to strike and request people boycott the Hyatt.  Knitting Universe (Stitches West) has opted to ignore the boycott and cross the picket lines.

This will be the best mix of people since the East Coast Stitches used to share the same convention center with a gun show.

Anyone planning on going and can provide me with a first-hand account?

Current Knitting

Since I've been putting so much effort into the painfully slow inches I've added to the kid alpaca blanket, I thought the least I could do was to post a photo (it's a pain in the ass to take photos of this thing).


Putting it on the same couch as the granny square blanket, I figured would give a bit more perspective.

And here's a close up of the fabric.


I do have to say, I enjoy knitting on this blanket...it's completely mindless, and keeps me quite warm in front of the television.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Kerry and Alex offered NAYY and K/CAL as new acronyms...even though you comments will look unnecessary, I think I'll edit the table on the last blog entry to have a complete list.  Thanks for those!

Leslie also noted, "And it's absolutely none of my business but is it time to think about bringing another fur-baby home?"

I'm still missing Nico more than I can say, so I'm hopeful a new boy will be coming soon.  I'll keep you updated.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Knitting Acronymns

I'm not usually a big fan of acronyms, whether they're used for texting or shorthand in on-line forums (although I'm sure I'm guilty of having used them in this blog over the years).

Exclusionary

I find that these acronyms serve to try and exclude others, and make those who don't know the "secret code" somewhat less than.  And usually when those who are not in-the-know about these special terms ask what they mean in a public forum, they're bombarded with other phrases like "Google is your friend."

I guess it's not difficult enough as a new knitter to try and figure out SSK and PSSO, or the differences between four-ply and worsted weight yarns.   If a newbie truly wants to be in the club, they have to understand what "frogging" is.  Fergawdsakes, there's even a book of these ridiculous words -The Secret Language of Knitters by Mary Beth Temple.

For those who need just standard pattern abbreviations decoded, this link is my favorite list from VK (see below if you don't know what that means):
http://www.vogueknitting.com/pattern_help/how-to/techniques_abbreviations/knitting_abbreviations.aspx

For those who want a list of the more ridiculous words used in many on-line knitting forums, here's my list (and NOT so you can use them freely, but so you're not excluded...please just type out the full expression instead of using these lazy-person substitutes):

AKC Actual Knitting Content(used in conjunction with an off-topic post)
BUFO Boring Un-Finished Object
DH (or DW, DS, DD, DMIL, etc) Dear(or Darling) Husband (or Wife, Son, Daughter, Mother-In-Law, etc)
EZ Elizabeth Zimmerman
FO Finished Object
Frog Ripping out knitting, the sound of rip-it and pulling out knitting sounds like a frog
IM(NSH)HO In My Humble (Not So Humble) Opinion
KAT Knitting Against Time
KIP Knitting In Public
KIV Knitting In Vehicle
KO Knitting Opportunity
LYS Local Yarn Store
LYSO Local Yarn Store Owner
NTINAMY Not That I Need Any More Yarn
OKC Obligatory Knitting Content (used in conjunction with an off-topic post)
OTN On The Needles
SABLE Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy
SEX Stash Enrichment eXpedition
SSS Second Sock Syndrome (or Second Sleeve Syndrome)
Stash Supply of yarn and knitting supplies not currently in use
SWIPE Stalled Work In Progress
Tink Undoing knitting one stitch at a time.  From "knit" spelled backwards and the sound it makes when you do it on aluminum needles
TOAD Trashed Object, Abandoned in Disgust
UFO Un-Finished Object
USO Un-Started Object
WIP Work In Progress
VK Vogue Knitting
YAQ Yarn Acquisition Quest
YCZ Yarn Containment Zone


Any others that you think should be added?  I know some of the terms are generic on-line acronyms (like IMHO), but they're used so often in knitting forums, I thought they should be included.

Current Crochet

I'm thrilled to have finished connected what seemed like an endless supply of granny squares.


I've even taken it one step further and started the border by doing a row of single crochet around the outer edge (not quite finished with that first row).

Here's a photo of the blanket on my living room couch to give you some perspective of size.


Just a nice, simple lap blanket.