Monday, March 30, 2015

Always The Right Season

When it comes to knitting, and knit-related gifts, it is never NOT the season for them.

Other Interests

I know some folks that switch from fiber-related pursuits in the Winter, to gardening in the Spring and Summer.

While I used to love having a vegetable garden, I never really found flower gardening or landscaping appealing at all.  I also now live in a townhouse with a very small plot of land that has restrictions on how the yard can be used, and I doubt they'd approve a vegetable garden in my back yard.

Not that I'd have much time, since I prefer to knit, even in the Spring and Summer.  I've had big blankets in my lap that I've worked on during the hottest of summer days.

I also don't mind giving warm gifts of knitwear during the warmer seasons.

Current Knitting

I ended up finishing the linen stitch blanket for my niece using two colorways of Lion Brand Unforgettable yarn.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Who Cares If Someone Believes in Evolution or Not?

A few days ago on Facebook, WonderMike recommended Richard Dawkins' book, The Greatest Show on Earth, to help argue that evolution is valid.

Let Them Wallow

I've not read this book, but if Michael says it's good, I'd imagine it's a good book to read.  But honestly, I say let the ignorant wallow in their ignorance.  In their heart of hearts, they know they're wrong about evolution and they're just parroting back the words of their preachers.  But no polished argument from the most brilliant author on the planet is going to change their minds.

Normally, I say educate the ignorant, but when it is willful ignorance, I have to say they deserve all they get and their stupid, poorly educated children are included in that sentiment.

Maybe that sounds bitter, but to me it sounds more like tough love.

Now, when these same ignorant fools try to get public education curricula changed to reflect their ignorant views, I will stand up and fight against those efforts.

I equate teaching children false religious beliefs to encouraging them to eat lead paint chips.  Both will make them idiots.

Current Knitting

Work progresses on the Linen Stitch blanket.

I've completed the extra vertical rows on both sides of the blanket to make it a bit wider and I just have a bit more i-cord bind-off to do.

Just the little bit on the one long side and the bottom needs to have the i-cord border and then it's off to the niece to keep her cozy and warm on cool Spring nights.  I guess it might have been better if she had it over the Winter, but that wasn't in the cards.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Knitting, Spinning AND the Use of "Gay"

Have you seen the "Gay Sweater?"


QueerJoe is So Gay

Some folks would say I'm being too politically correct when I take exception when someone uses the term "gay" as a derogatory way of describing something or someone.  But if you try to personalize it, and imagine someone hijacking a term that describes your people, and using it as a generic insult, it's easier to see how demeaning it is.

I love this video in that it combines at least three of my passions, spinning, knitting and gay social issues all in one project.

Please like this video, share this video and tell all your friends...I personally plan on seeing who advertises on this video and seeing if I can support those businesses too.

Current Knitting

Work has been phenomenally hectic and busy lately, including traveling to Upstate NY both last week and the first two days of this week, so the best I've got is some progress on my current sock project.

I've turned both heels and now I just have the leg portion of both socks to go.  I think this pair of socks will quickly become my favorite...I'm really loving everything about them.

Has anyone had the chance to try the QueerJoe sock recipe yet?  I'll have to check if there are any projects listed on Ravelry.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eight Weeks Until Men

Or, eight weeks until this year's Men's Spring Knitting retreat.

Sundays Can Suck

First, as a kid, it was always having to dress up and go to church.  And then I had to behave like I cared about the reverence of the mass.  I didn't

Then as a teenager and college kid, I knew Sunday was my last day until I headed back to school.

And of course, as an adult, Sunday is the last day of the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat where I say goodbye to 45 of the most amazing men each year, knowing I won't see most of them for at least a year, and sometimes longer, or not at all.

But it's all worth it, and as I continue with all the preparations for this year's event, it's getting more and more exciting.

Currently, we're organizing self-run workshops on various topics, such as slip-stitch color and texture, entrelac and backward knitting, introduction workshops in spinning and weaving and of course, beginner knitting workshops for our newbies (we call them ramekins...kind of like a lambkin, but male).

I also just finished putting together the name tags, which is always a chore.  On the front, they have two logos, the name, the Ravelry name (if they have one) and their photo).

 And on the reverse, we put an abbreviated personalized agenda, so the guys remember which workshops they signed up for.

I think I may offer my services as an retreat coordinator for Easton Mountain when I retire!

Current Knitting

I've finished one side of the Unforgettable yarn blanket for my niece, and the border on that side and the top.

Both the linen stitch and the border treatment look acceptable on the back too.  I basically picked up 348 stitches along the side and did 8 rows of linen stitch before doing an i-cord bind-off.  Then I continued the i-cord bind-off on the top.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the result and should finish up this blanket as soon as I'm not traveling quite so much for business.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Great Canadian Things

Recently, I posted a blog entry reviewing the new Koigu book, Wrapped In Color, which Amazon starts shipping this Tuesday, though you can pre-order. now through Amazon

Pam, of "In Stitches" blog, has written a much better review of the new Koigu book than I might also want to read her review.

Koigu Yarns and Other Canadian Favourites

It's no surprise that I love Koigu, and recently, one of my very favourite yarn stores has started selling their yarns on-line.  Espace Tricot has an amazing store in Montreal, but since I rarely get to Montreal, I was thrilled when they opened their on-line store.

Two items you should take note of (I'm sure there are more that I haven't seen):
  • Scrumptious Purl Self-Striping Sock Yarn
  • Homegrown Tanis Fiber ArtsYarns
The self-striping yarn I did one of my recent pairs of socks with:

Check out her colorways and get the yarn while it's in stock.  They often have difficulty keeping inventory on-hand.

Also check out their Tanis Fiber Arts yarns...They're from a local farm and mill and I felt compelled to buy some of this gorgeous yarn when I was up in Montreal.

They also carry Koigu and have tons of different colorways in their on-line store.  I think they have the Canadian Connection with Taiu.

Current Knitting

I finished the center block of the Unforgettable Yarn blanket for my niece and it turned out to be a lovely, lightweight blanket.

Now I just need to do a couple of narrow side panels and maybe an edging.

Friday, March 13, 2015

New Sock Pattern is Up

Based on my last blog post, one might think I never would have published another pattern.  Alas, enough people have asked me about my standard sock pattern, I thought I'd publish it.

QueerJoe's Standard Toe-Up Sock Pattern

So here's where you can get the pattern, but a couple of things:
  1. I opted to price the pattern at $2.99, since writing the pattern, putting it up on Ravelry and answering questions all takes the same effort as any of my costlier patterns.
  2. The pattern is only for one size sock - About U.S. men's shoe size 9 - 10.5.
  3. All proceeds from the sock pattern will be donated to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat Scholarship Fund.
  4. If you would like the pattern and you don't have the means to pay for it, please contact me privately at and I will be glad to give you a coupon to get the pattern for free. 

Current Knitting

I decided that the Noro Silk Garden Sock was a terrible choice for the pattern photograph of the finished sock, so I opted to start another pair of socks!

I think the neon green will look great against the drab textured browns of the sock yarn.  And as soon as I finish this pair, I'll update the pattern with the new photo.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Jenny writes, "Did you knit and design the green toque with the ear flaps? My hubby would love one of these! I'd love the pattern."

I did design it, and since you asked, I published the pattern for free on Ravelry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Knitterly Advice

During those days, long ago, when I was new to knitting (or anything else for that matter), I found it incredibly easy to criticize designers.  Awful color choices, crappy shaping, messing finishing or mistake-ridden patterns.

With Age

My knitterly advice is this...until you've published a design, hold off on your criticism.

Ten things I've learned about designing and designers over the years:
  1. Designing is hard - You can put hours and hours of work into a garment and it just doesn't come out the way you want it.
  2. Designing is hard - Most garments are required to be sized into at least three different sizes and that is never enough for many knitters.
  3. Designing is hard - Writing up the pattern is a TON of work.  Needles size (in both US and millimeters), gauge, defining all abbreviations, including clear photos, writing out pattern stitches that are so simple to do, but never easy to write out, getting good chart graphics, deciding on charts vs. written instruction, etc., etc., etc.
  4. Designing is hard - When I write/type anything, I can be completely oblivious to my own typos and mistakes.  I defy anyone to write up a perfect pattern the first time.
  5. I don't know everything - Sometimes my ideas of bad design or color combinations can evolve.
  6. Designers are people - Criticizing someone's hard work is easy. Doing the hard work is, well, hard. Hearing hurtful things about that hard work can be devastating.
  7. Designers who put their work out there get communications from many people who shouldn't be making their designs..."Can you convert this fingering-weight garment to worsted?" "Can you explain what you mean by stockinette stitch?" "I have 82 sts after row 179 instead of 41, can you tell me what I did wrong?" "What 72 colorways of Koigu did you use, and in exactly what order?"
  8. Designers rarely make a living by's more of an avocation than a vocation.
  9. It's a lot better to encourage good designers, than criticize bad ones.
  10. If I don't have anything nice to say, I really should shut the fuck up.
 So, I apologize for my youthful arrogance and rude responses, and hope anyone I've offended by my ill-thought-out words about your design can forgive my immature ignorance.

Current Knitting

I'll say it's quite amazing the progress I can make on one single project, when that's all I work on.

The body of the blanket is almost complete...another 3 or 4 inches.   And then I'll do some vertical stripes up each side to widen the blanket and make it more stable.  I'm still loving how these two colorways of yarn are blending.

Like I mentioned in #1 above, you never know how this stuff will turn out.

Readers' Comments/Questions

kayT writes, "What yarn did you use? The yarn specified doesn't seem to exist (Paton's Beehive Vest Wool)."

I'm not exactly sure...I think it might have been Rowan Botany yarn, but I'd suggest any soft, superwash, fingering-weight yarn for this project.

M-H writes, "Joe, I suspect there is a school for deaf children in that area. That would make more sense of the sign. And from your last post, I loathe Nutella too. Too sweet and sickly."

I would like to say there's a school for the deaf in that area, but alas, there definitely is not.  And I knew Mary-Helen had good taste.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Questionable Road Sign

For the 26 years I've lived in my current town, there has been a sign about 3 miles from my home that alerts me I'm driving in an area with a deaf child.

What?  What?

Okay, first of all, I guess this sign warns drivers that their horn might not warn a child running out into a busy street and screams from the child's horrified parents might not be heard either.

But two issues I have with this sign.

First, it's posted on a road where the speed limit is 45 MPH, so I would suggest that a fence preventing the child  from running out into the road might be a better idea than a sign warning drivers of a deaf child.

Second, this sign has been up in the same place for 26 years now.  Is this person still a child?  Does the "child" still live at its parents' house?

Suffice it to say, I don't slow down in that area.

Current Knitting

I was re-organizing my stash a few weeks ago and found a zip-loc bag with some light gray knitted fabric in it.  I realized it was the two main sections of the men's underpants pattern I have posted in my sidebar.

When I opened it up yesterday, I realized I only needed to knit up a small diamond-shaped gusset for the crotch, sew up the garment and sew on some buttons.  But there was no extra yarn in sight anywhere.   I decided to just use a totally contrasting color of leftover sock yarn, and in a few hours, I had a new pair of warm, woolen underwear!

I know the cobalt blue gusset looks a bit like a very cold, shaved vagina, but when I wear them, that part pulls down in between my legs in a way that doesn't make it look so obvious.  But they fit perfectly, and they are very warm...I actually wore them most of the day yesterday and found them incredibly comfortable.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Color Genius of Koigu

The ladies of Koigu have always made an amazing product when it came to their yarns, but their designs are really starting to match the spectacular beauty of their colors.

Latest Koigu Pattern Book

If you're crazy about color (like I am), and you like/love shawls, there is a new design book you must get...even if you just use it for inspiration or to see brilliant ways of mixing stitch patterns with handpainted yarns like Koigu.

I was fortunate to have gotten an advanced copy of  Wrapped in Color: 30 Shawls to Knit in Koigu Handpainted Yarns, which ships in less than 2 weeks (March 17th), but can be ordered now.  The book is filled with 30 shawl patterns in varying weights of yarn.

I can't imagine anyone that wouldn't want to wrap themselves in the rich, vibrant colors (they'd say colours)...especially when they use multiple colorways and interesting stitch patterns that  show off the yarns to their best advantage.  A perfect example is the "Alligator" shawl in the book.

I've designed a number of items using Koigu KPPPM, and found the secret of blending multiple colorways of Koigu into one garment, is to use a stitch pattern that blends the colors by intermixing different rows of knitting (as with slip stitch patterns, or like Alligator above, with elongated stitches).  This book is chock-full of those kinds of patterns and shawl designs.

This is my favorite Koigu pattern book so glad to have it in my library.

Current Knitting

Finished the socks in Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn.

I couldn't have found a better project to complete for this color-filled blog entry today.  One thing I can say about Noro is that their colors are fantastic.

Adding the neon pink yarn as the contrasting toe and heel might have made this pair of socks a bit clownish looking, but I love them anyway and not many people will get to see the foot of the sock when I wear them anyway.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

QueerJoe Is Odd As Well

Am I the Only Person on the Planet That Doesn't Like Nutella?

Just Don't Get It

I've never been crazy about chocolate...I mean, I like chocolate because it's sweet and I like sweet, but I'd just as soon eat jelly beans than chocolate.  And I love peanut butter.  And I find it hard to find any readily available candy that I like better than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

But there is NOTHING I find appetizing or appealing about Nutella.

It's goopy texture is completely unappealing.  It has a drab dirt color.  And the taste is just plain awful.

What is it that I'm missing here?

I've seen Pinterest postings for recipes for everything from Nutella cookies, to protein shakes and even Nutella panna cotta.

I only have one word..."yuck."

Current Knitting

I got a bit distracted on my two current projects.  It seems Thaddeus found an old London Beanie that I made years ago.

Whenever his hair wasn't looking good this Winter, he'd throw on this old rag, and never fail, he'd get at least a couple of compliments on what a great hat it is.  Really!?!?

So his hairdresser went gaga over the hat and asked if he could buy I made a few more of them with Noro Kureyon I had hanging around (they take about 2 hours to make).

He loved the middle one on of the top three, and now Thaddeus won't have to tip him next time he has his hair cut.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Pros and Cons of Linen Stitch

When I first started knitting and I would find variegated yarns in Woolworths (yes, I'm that old), I wish I had known about Linen Stitch back then.

The Versatile Color-Mixing Stitch Pattern - Linen Stitch

I think the Linen Stitch is one of the most under-utilized  stitch patterns in knitting...especially when it comes to variegated yarns and issues with streaks and pooling of colors.

First of all, the pattern stitch (for those who don't know it and don't want to search further on the internet:

Linen Stitch:

 Cast on any even number of stitches.

Row 1:  K1, Slip 1 (with yarn in front), rep to last 2 sts, K2
Row 2:  P1, Slip 1 (with yarn in back), rep to last 2 sts., P2

Simple stitch with only a two row repeat
Creates flat, woven-like fabric that doesn't curl very much
Mixes colors well in variegated yarns, avoiding pooling
Works very well with striping different colors/colorways of yarns
Maximizes use of of yarn
Knit on needles much larger than what the yarn would normally call for

Like 1X1 ribbing, requires the yarn to go back and forth between each stitch
Grows more slowly than most knitted fabric
Has no seam that is invisible when joined at the sides

Current Knitting

As noted, I do have progress photos of what I'm currently working on.  And of course, the first is the linen stitch blanket.

I have a few more feet of knitting on this beauty, and as noted in the description of the linen stitch, it stripes nicely and works well with variegated yarns.

I've also moved right along on my Kureyon socks.

They obviously don't match, but I like that (with all the knots in Noro yarns, it's very difficult to get two matching socks anyway...I've given up trying).  But the colors are stunning.