Friday, April 24, 2015

Astrology - Truth or Nonsense?

It's hard for me to believe that the date and time of a person's birth can really foretell their personality, so while I enjoy reading a good astrology prediction, I usually don't put much faith in it.

Facebook Birthdays

However, if you've friended a bunch of people on Facebook and you get notified about their birthdays, it's sometimes uncanny how four people born on the same day can have very similar personality traits.

It doesn't always happen, but once in a while, I find myself amazed at how similar two or more people with the same birthday can be.  I mean, Lucy Neatby and I share the same birthday and we both are quirky in similar ways, no?

I've also found it fascinating to see how two similar personalities can use their idiosyncrasies in positive ways of less than positive ways.  A recent display of four birthdays on Facebook showed that all four of the people shared strong convictions...I mean REALLY strong convictions...but some of them used their powers of conviction to support and build up people and others used them to tear down and critique people...and both were unflinching in their pursuit of support or tearing down.

All that being said, I still think astrology is bunk.

Current Knitting

I know it's only been two days since my last blog post, but I sewed in all the ends from the socks I displayed on Wednesday, I got a few more rows finished on the latest blanket and I started another edging for the baby alpaca blanket that I've been working on for over 10 years.

 I'm thinking I may need 2 more balls of yarn for the top blanket and I'm actually starting to believe I might finish the second blanket before I die.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day 2015

So...what are you planning on doing for Earth Day this year?\

Do You Celebrate?

Focusing one day a year on trying to repair the devastation we've done to this planet just doesn't seem sufficient.

The fact that we've pretty much ignored climate change and making any efforts to make changes that will affect the lives of our youth saddens me more than I can say.

I read a comment somewhere that the U.S. is looking for some leadership in this area, and I think I actually snorted derisively.  I think about how Al Gore tried to take a leadership role and expended enormous money and energy trying to bring awareness to this critical issue, and more than ignore, he was belittled.

And then you have morons like Ted Cruz calling himself the Galileo of his time...really?!?!

Sad, to say, but I've kind of given no, I don't celebrate Earth Day.

I have replaced all my light bulbs with LED bulbs, and while it's a miniscule way of helping, I will encourage others to do so anyway.  One of the BEST benefits of putting an LED bulb in my outside fixtures is that they don't attract bugs!  Did you know that?  It's quite amazing that I don't have to incessantly clean out spider webs, and dead bug carcasses from my outside lighting fixtures...almost miraculous, in fact.

There, I've done my part.  What have you got?

Current Knitting

Finished my latest pair of QueerJoe's Socks, and I couldn't be more pleased.

First of all, I highly recommend Trekking XXL sock yarn.  It's durable, has decent yardage and works with my gauge better than any other sock yarn.  These socks fit me like they were made for my foot and leg and I will definitely be using this pair as the model for the toe-up sock pattern I put up on Ravelry a couple months ago.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Carol's Latest Masterpiece

Has anyone gotten their copy of Carol's latest book - Lace Yarn Studio: Garments, Hats, and Fresh Ideas for Lace Yarn

For the Finer Gauge Folks

I have always loved working with fine yarns...both in gauge and in fiber content, so I just ordered my copy of Carol's latest book.  Her work is always wonderfully inspiring , so I'm looking forward to seeing what she's done with lace-weight yarns.

I'm honestly amazed that all that goes into a book can be sold  on Amazon for a mere $12...I mean, 25 patterns, photographs and all the amazing work that goes into any book...and this one's from Carol!  Seems like quite a bargain to me.

 Plus, I have a ton of lace-weight in my stash.

Current Knitting

I couldn't be more pleased that I restarted the latest niece blanket.

The fabric is spongy now, so I'm thrilled I switched to the larger needle and the cable down the center is still completely reversible and doesn't bulge out and ruffle out like the old design did.

I may have trouble giving this blanket away when it's finished.

Friday, April 17, 2015

We All Know CPR, Right?

I used to train every year in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR when I was an employee in an office setting.  It's been years, since I had any training, and I noticed things have changed since then.

Selfish Reasons

For two very selfish reasons, I want as many people to know CPR and basic first aid, like the Heimlich maneuver as possible.

The first is obvious...I'm old and have a a large family history of heart disease.  I try to stay fit with diet and exercise and I don't smoke or drink, but I'm still likely to have heart disease.

The second reason is a situation that happened to me a few years ago.  I was in a steak house with 5 other co-workers and started to choke on a piece of steak that I hadn't chewed properly, and I realized pretty quickly that I wasn't going to be able to swallow or expel the meat in my throat.  One of my co-workers noticed I was struggling and asked if I was okay and I shook my head "no" and it soon became clear that not one of the five people at the table knew how to do the Heimlich maneuver.

Fortunately, when I stood up, I was able to dislodge the steak from my throat myself and I was all took less than 30 seconds.  But I was amazed to confirm that not one of the five adults at the table knew what to do.

Be prepared to save a life...especially if you hang out with me a lot.  Thanks!

Current Knitting

Work was progressing just fine on the latest niece's blanket.

But I was being nagged by two issues with the design of the blanket.  First off, I was thinking the fabric was too dense and not drapey enough.  I usually have a rule of thumb that if I consider ripping out a design 3 times because of the same issue, it's time to rip.  But my decision was really make for me when my two-sided cable wasn't matching the row gauge for the rest of the blanket.

See how it blistered out at the bottom and also at various points along the cabling.  With both these issues, I decide to start again.  This time on larger needles and changing my two-sided cable to a double-knitting version of the cable which matches the row gauge perfectly.

It will take a bit longer to finish the blanket now that I've restarted it, but I will sleep better at night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Post-Birthday Festivities

While my birthday was 11 days ago, I had a couple of very nice gifts after that.

Happy Birthday To Me!

First of all, instead of a birthday cake on my birthday (since we had cake for dessert in the restaurant on my birthday), Thaddeus made me birthday PIE the day after.

If you can try and imagine the tart cherry sweetness mixed with the butter, flaky crust, you might just have a sense about the heaven I was in eating this pie for the week.

Thaddeus also went ahead and ordered this baby for me.

It's a new coffee grinder...a Rancillio grinder which has significantly increased my ability to make amazing lattes.

I think I can now consider my birthday celebrations complete for 2015.

Current Knitting

I haven't done a huge amount of knitting since my last blog entry.

I'm almost finished with the first sock and I've made quite a bit of progress on the second one.  I already love this pair of socks and can't wait to wear them.  It always amazes me how long it takes to split the yarn into two close-to-equal balls.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Places of Serenity

Are there places for you, where you just feel at peace whenever you're there?

Aries With Pisces Rising

My birth date would indicate that I'm an Aries, which is a fire sign, but I have always found peace and serenity near water.  I love rivers, streams, oceans, beaches, puddles, baths...even rain storms I find soothing.  My moon sign is Pisces, which is a water sign, so I guess I still fit within the confines of the astrology rules.

Two particular places I always immediately relax are in Cape May, NJ and Easton Mountain Retreat Center.

My first visit to Cape May, was the first time I ever felt like my shoulders immediately detached from my ears and I was able to relax completely.  Cape May is the Southernmost beach in New Jersey and has beautiful, old Victorian houses and hotels.  I haven't been there in years now, but just thinking about it puts me in my happy place.

Easton Mountain has a beautiful pond as the requisite water-feature for me and the people that it attracts are wonderful.  As I head back up there for the 8th Men's Spring Knitting Retreat next month, I look forward to long soaks in the hot tub, sitting peacefully by the pond and absorbing the rich, earthy peacefulness that I find there every time I go.

Where do you go when you need to unwind?

Current Knitting

I finished the linen stitch scarf I'm making as a donation to the 15th anniversary auction for Easton Mountain.

It's nice and long (about 5 feet), and it will be a soft, warm and colorful accent for whomever shouts out the highest bid for it at the auction.

I also did a little bit more work on the next niece's blanket.

I'm loving the color variations and I'm still not too sure about the fabric texture and drape.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Crowd Sourcing - Good? Bad? Ugly?

Crowd sourcing, or the ability to raise money for some specific purpose seems to have turned into the new democratic way of voting on things.

Good, Bad and Ugly

When Indiana tried highlighting their citizen's right to discriminate against the LGBT community by expanding existing Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) to specifically let all for-profit businesses discriminate, it spawned a new gimmick.

A hateful pizza joint decided to publicly state they wouldn't cater a same-sex wedding (they had never been asked to cater ANY wedding) and put up a crowd-sourcing request for money to help them maintain their Christian integrity.  Over $800,000 later (thanks to an appearance on Glen Beck), the hateful business owners have decided they no longer have to work. 

For conservative haters, who seem to hate "takers", this money seems more like welfare to me rather than charity.

Then, of course, someone came out with a crowd sourcing request to combat the hate by supporting a LGBT youth group in Indian ( - in case you want to vote for the correct fund!). 

And then, my favorite crowd sourcing effort.  One of the guys who has wanted to attend the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat for years tried unsuccessfully to get a scholarship this year, so decided to create his own scholarship by asking friends to sponsor him (  He raised enough for the cost of the retreat and even a little to help defray his travel costs.  I love when people get creative in a good way.

Current Knitting

A last-minute idea for this year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat (which is 5 short weeks away) was to help support a 15 year anniversary auction for the retreat center where we hold the retreat by creating 15 scarves that they will auction off.  So I started a scarf.

Using the Lion Brand Unforgettable yarn, this is a simple linen stitch scarf done lengthwise.  I'm hoping it's close to 5 feet long when it's complete.  I may also try getting a second scarf finished using my interlocking crochet design...we'll see if I have time.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Beyond Beginner Knitting

In the past couple of years, we've invited new knitters to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat and offered two workshops specifically for them (as well as individual tutoring).

Beginner and Beyond Beginner Knitting

The "Beginner Knitting" course is relatively straightforward, teaching newbie knitters about tools, casting on, knitting and maybe purling.  And depending on how they progress, maybe start them on their first simple project.

But what would you include in the agenda for a "Beyond Beginner" workshop.

To give some context, usually 2 or 3 guys have spent 3 hours on Friday morning learning how to knit and then Saturday afternoon, I need to expand their skills.

I imagine the workshop will have to adapt to their needs and how far they've progressed in a day of knitting, but I want to make sure I have at least one or two topics I can pass on to them, without overwhelming them.

Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Reviewing the basics (especially for areas where they're struggling)
  • Reading a pattern
  • Ripping out or Tinking
  • Increases and Decreases
Anything else you'd add to the agenda?  Any work aids that you'd include?

Love to hear any feedback.

Current Knitting

I was able to finish all the knitting on the Cabled Gloves pattern from Aaron and I can't say enough about this pattern.

The gloves fit extremely well and the joins of the fingers to the hand are very organic and natural feeling.  Plus they're snug and warm and based on the density of the knitted fabric, Thaddeus tells me they are very water resistant when he was shoveling snow and clearing my car of snow and ice.

I do still have a few ends to weave in (which I cleverly hid in the first photo...but that goes pretty quickly for me.

I also started the latest "niece blanket" using the Seasons yarn I bought last week.

Loving the color striping and think the blanket will turn out very well...I'm making it completely reversible so there will be no wrong side...even with a cable down the center of the blanket.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Setting Things Straight In Indiana

Time for QueerJoe to put some things to speak when it comes to bigotry in Indiana.

Thank You Governor Pence

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has done more to bring light to the issue of LGBT protections than any gay rights organization could have.  Then again, he did get a lot of "support" from the LGBT community and their allies.

First of know it was COMPLETELY legal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in the State of Indiana (except where there are local ordinances like in Indianapolis that protect LGBT rights) even before the moron governor signed this piece of hate speech...right?  Just like it's completely legal to discriminate against me in my own home state of Pennsylvania.

So, for instance, if I held a job in Clay City, Indiana, and got married to Thaddeus, my employer could have fired me for being gay.  And I would have had no legal recourse.  I could have also been sent out of a Christian-owned bakery, being refused service because I was gay.  Again, with no legal recourse.

So, when Pence signed this new law into effect, it didn't change anything about the rights of LGBT people in Indiana, except maybe override local protections in cities like Indianapolis, where they have a law to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination.

What the Pence hate-law did, was pander to the religious bigots who think it's their duty to not stand for their interpretation of an abomination and highlight the fact that it's perfectly alright to discriminate in Indiana...which it always has been.

The uproar over his stupidity, has brought to light the need for a Federal non-discrimination bill, that will add LGBT to the list of protected classes in the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

And the "fix" to the bill seems to have basically put Indiana right back where they were, where the state-wide bill doesn't override any local ordinances (except possibly in situations like the Hobby Lobby Hate ruling - which is where crafters come into it).

Yes...the LGBT community has made great strides with marriage, only to uncover the hatred waiting to rear it's ugly head when we take advantage of our new rights.

I think Indiana is indeed at a crossroads...and so is the nation.  We can thank Mike Pense and the Indiana State government for bringing us there.

Current Knitting

I finished one of the gloves... I was weaving in ends, I realized the thumb wasn't quite long enough, so I'm re-doing the tip of the thumb on the first glove.

That obviously didn't stop me from starting the second glove.

Almost makes me wish for an extension of Winter so I could road-test these babies.  But not really.

I also stopped in at a yarn store in Newtown, PA - Knit In - and purchased a couple of things.

The top yarn is Seasons by Ella Rae.  It's a bulky acrylic/wool/nylon blend that will be used to make another niece blanket (I have lots of nieces).

The bottom yarn is Triologie by Zitron...a Merino/Silk/Linen blend in three different (and gorgeous) colorways.  I'm not sure what I'll do with this, but the colors were fantastic and I had to have me some.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Not a Fan of Being Fooled

I never really understood why April Fool's day was such popular thing.

Just Seems Mean

I rarely see an April 1st joke that isn't at least a little mean...where the "fool" is the butt of some cruel or semi-cruel joke.

Having grown up in a large family, we were always trying to "get one over" on each other, but I know I don't like being made a fool and I honestly don't even find it that funny when someone else is made a fool for the laughter of others.

I guess I can appreciate a clever prank that takes imagination.  Even when it's played on me.  I can think of one time when coworkers went out of their way to make me believe I had to return to an angry client after months of being away from the project.  The relief of knowing it was all a prank was a HUGE relief and I did laugh, even though the joke was on me.

But I'd still prefer to be under the misguided notion that I'm not a fool.

Current Knitting

After finishing the blanket, I did continue a little bit on my current pair of socks.

I also started a new project of a pair of gloves...I'm test-knitting for Aaron, and the pattern is by far, the best glove pattern I've ever used.

A couple years ago, Aaron made me a pair of these as a gift for coordinating the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, and Thaddeus wore them this past Winter...and RAVED about them.  Of course he never raves about my knitting.  They're very tightly knit, very warm and supposedly practically waterproof when shoveling snow.

When the pattern becomes available publicly, I'll let y'all know.