Monday, August 31, 2015

A Mandate to Spin

Time to Spin

With the purchase and sale of the Clemes & Clemes spinning wheel, and the quick project spinning up the Luscious Longwool, I kept getting the message that I should be going back to spinning more than I have in the recent past.

And then, Aaron gifted me with some additional Luscious Longwool roving from Weston Hill Farms.

So with all this gentle prodding, I decided I should be spinning more and started working on the white Longwool.

Undyed, this yarn is even nicer to spin than the dyed red wool I spun on the Clemes & Clemes wheel.  And after I'm finished spinning up all of the Longwool, I should have enough yarn to come up with some beautiful project combining all the colors.

Can't wait!


Because of automated spam programs, there are certain words I try to avoid like the plague.

Okay Vacay?

So, I'm away this week relaxing in Martha's Vineyard.

Every time I use the "V" word, and no, I don't mean vagina...I get spam in my comments.

I have spam protection that usually won't publish these comments until I approve them, but still I try not to use the word in comments.

Current Crochet

I decided to take a small, portable project with me, in case I had the urge to do needlework.

A while ago, I made crochet "beads" and I really loved the way they came out.  So I figured I'd work on making a bunch more of these in my time away.  I'm honestly not sure how many I'll get finished. 

They're nice and small, they require very little materials to schlep with me and they're cotton, so they don't get me all hot and sweaty.

See you when I get home.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

More Flea Market Finds

While not anywhere near as valuable as the spinning wheel we bought the other week, today's finds at the flea market were still quite fun (and cheap!).

Vintage-y Needlework

I've always loved the vintage knitting and crochet and spinning items when I come across them.  They remind me of the old Patons book I learned to knit from almost 30 years ago.  They also remind me of the long history of knitting before me.

Today's haul from the flea market almost included a big bag of leftover crochet cotton, but the vendor at that table was ignoring me, so I figured I wasn't meant to own that.  But two other vendors were quite pleasant and eager to sell.

I needed more steel crochet hooks like I need a hole in my head, but at $2, I figured I couldn't go wrong.  I figure if $2 will buy me a photo op for the blog, it's worth it!

The magazines were worth it at 50 cents each...usually the vintage magazines go for a dollar and don't get down to 50 cents a piece until you buy a bunch.  I also figure if I get one good design idea out of any of these four booklets, it will be worth the $2 investment.  Plus, they didn't smell musty or smokey.  Score!

Current Crochet

I did some additional work on the Rowan LDK crochet afghan.

I still have quite a bit more work to do on this project, but I have put aside four balls of the Rowan LDK in a light blue color that I will use for some kind of simple border for this afghan, so at least I'm looking at the end.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Farewell Joyous Wheel

The flea market find of the century for me, the Clemes & Clemes spinning wheel, will find it's new home today in Albany.

But Not Before I Had My Way With Her

I couldn't let this beauty of a wheel go without a full cycle of spinning and plying.

So, I finished spinning up the one bobbin-full of singles using the Luscious Longwool from Weston Hill Farms.  Finn approved.

I then transferred half the singles onto each of two bobbins from my Louet wheel and plied up the entire mess.

I did end up washing the hank of yarn and it bloomed significantly!

I loved working with this was very different than most prepared fibers I've worked with, and I wouldn't recommend that a new spinner start with this fiber.  Ideas have been spinning around in my head as to what I will use this yarn for.

I have also never used a double-band-tensioned spinning wheel before and Aaron is in for a treat.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Political Correctness or Civility

It's so easy for people to say they're being strangled by political correctness, and even I have questioned the latest "rules" so as to try and not offend others.

Slurs or Common Terms

I have to admit, I remember when Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Malaysians, etc. were collectively known as "Orientals" and then it was determined that the term "Oriental" was no longer acceptable and to use the term "Asian".  I honestly didn't understand why "Asian"  was better than "Oriental", but I took their word for it and changed my vocabulary.  Hell, I'm even old enough to remember when "Negro" was the correct term and then it was switched to "Black" and then "African-American."

Remember when the candidate for Senate, George Allen was pilloried for using the term "macaca" to refer to someone who was filming his public meetings?

So, when the conservative right decides to use the pejorative term "anchor baby", it seems they are consciously making a decision to slur non-citizens' children in this country.

It's facile to say "It's a common term." or "I don't have time for political correctness." Even more so, it's rude not to correct one's language when it's pointed out how offensive the term is.  Is it political correctness that someone like Trump or Jeb Bush doesn't use other offensive terms?  Would either of them participate in a conversation about "macacas" taking over our country, as an example?  Or what prevents him from using the term "faggot" for instance?

It's amazing how easily they find these dog-whistle-like terms that speak clearly to  their racist, homophobic, hateful followers, while disavowing any intention of offending.

Current Spinning and Knitting

I've almost finished spinning up the singles from the Luscious Long Wool roving from Weston Hill Farms.

I would ideally like to finish spinning and plying this yarn on the Clemes & Clemes wheel by Sunday, just so I can have a hank of yarn I made on this lovely wheel.

I also had the occasion to give a small coin as a gift to a friend and thought he might want a beautiful handknit pouch to store it in.

This little beauty was knit with two colorways of Koigu, is hemmed over at the top and kitchenered at the bottom.  I created a small opening with a double yarn-over to allow for the cord to come out the front.  I think it turned out just beautifully.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Right To Vote - Or Not

For the American readers, I would like you to consider how valuable your right to vote is.  I would also like you to consider the factors that make more than half of you decide not to vote.

Fight For Your Rights

There's been a lot of publicity around ways that restricting people's ability to vote has been attempted, but I personally think the main way of restricting voting is much more subtle and evil.

All you have to do is convince the majority of people that their vote doesn't mean anything...that whatever choice they make with their's irrelevant.

This tactic has worked successfully for decades.

     "Oh, what does it matter, Al Gore is the same thing as George W. Bush."
     "They're all the same and in the pocket of the corporate elite, my vote won't change anything."
     "All politicians are the same."

If you've ever used one of these statements or one like it as your rationale for not voting, you have have been duped.  I firmly believe that the World would be a very different place if Mitt Romney had been running this country for the past 7 years.  I also think that the decision to have a Conservative Senate and Congress overseeing what the Executive Branch is doing has made a huge difference in how we've moved forward.

Just know that hard-won achievements in the area of LGBT rights, visibility into racial inequality, and a safer World where Iran is willing to compromise to get rid of sanctions are all areas that you helped accomplished if you voted.

Current Spinning

My latest flea market find of the Clemes & Clemes Modern spinning wheel seemed like a direct voice from gods that I needed to get back to spinning (not that I usually listen to imaginary voices, but this time I liked what they were saying).

Once I had the wheel in good working order, I needed to test it...right?  So I pulled out a couple balls of Luscious Longwool roving from Weston Hill Farms in Westerlo, NY.

I had forgotten the rhythmic peace of's been a while, but now that I've spun up over half the singles, I'm glad to be back spinning.  The Clemes & Clemes wheel spins beautifully, and the roving is spinning up a beautiful, lofty and haloed single.

Since I only have one bobbin for the Clemes wheel, I plan on transferring the singles to two bobbins on another wheel and plying back onto the Clemes bobbin.  All this before the wheel gets to Aaron next week.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Multiplying Joy

This weekend presented me with the opportunity to both experience great joy and also the opportunity to pass that joy on to others.  Both felt incredibly good.

New Spinning Wheel

At our local flea market, Thaddeus spotted a spinning wheel on the table of one of the regular vendors.  At first glance, it looked to be a really nice spinning wheel.

It was.

The wheel was heavy and sturdy, and looked to be handmade, but I didn't recognize the manufacturer (Clemes & Clemes).  The vendor came over to explain that the wheel was missing a drive band, so Thaddeus took the opportunity to point out as many flaws as he could find...he's always good at negotiating.  The vendor told us he was looking to get $50 for the, that's not a typo.

Thaddeus was thinking..."Just what we need...another spinning wheel."  And I was thinking..."This deal is just too good to pass up."  Honestly, we were both correct.

A quick google search on my phone showed that a new Clemes & Clemes Modern wheel goes for $775.  Thaddeus offered the vendor $40 and I now own a new spinning wheel.

We got it home, cleaned it up, put on a new drive band, and with very little effort, I was spinning.

While it spins like a dream, the joy doesn't stop there...I realized I could probably figure out a market rate for this wheel and look for a buyer who would be willing to pay for it, but I also realized that I could pass on the joy.  Which would be more satisfying...the profit or the joy?

Aaron, the guy who teaches beginning spinning at the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat is an avid spinner and owns a number of spinning wheels.  At last year's retreat, one of the newbie spinners was lucky enough to be gifted a wheel by Aaron, because Aaron knew how much the wheel would be cherished and enjoyed.  Given Aaron's history, and the fact that I knew he would truly appreciate the deal of the century I got on this wheel, I will be delivering this wheel to him next week.  Turns out that he's always wanted a Clemes @ Clemes wheel and getting to own one for $50 (yes, I decided I needed to make a little profit) gave him as much joy as finding this wheel was for me.

Current Knitting

I finished one of the most satisfying projects I've knitted in long time...the Zanzibar Scarf by Kieran Foley, using Koigu KPPPM in multiple colorways.
Zanzibar Scarf - Font
Zanzibar Scarf - Back

Yes, this project satisfied my technical knitting side by allowing me to learn new techniques and it definitely satisfied my aesthetic knitting side by letting me blend glorious colors in ways I never knew I could.

I finished weaving in all the end, but I still need to block this scarf, but I will definitely be knitting this project again at one point.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Growing Up Less Than

If you wanted to really screw up your children, you'd convey constant messages to them that who they were, wasn't okay.

A Lifetime of Self-Loathing

Kids are pretty resilient.  Even after decades of attending a religion that constantly said I wasn't okay and being told by organizations like Boy Scouts that I was inferior, I was still able to grow into the successful, self-confident man that I am today.  Who knows, maybe it was because of those negative messages that I succeeded.

I was reminded of the impact of this in a great documentary on HBO Sports, called Back On Board:  Greg Louganis.

As a hormonal gay teenager and young adult, I considered this man to be an Adonis...beautiful and graceful and probably the most talented diver of all time.  The latest movie about him really humanized him in my mind and gave me great insight into what made him so great and in some ways, so flawed.

He's still an amazing man in my mind, but the movie did remind me to "not judge others' outsides with my insides." 

It also reminded me of the shameful way we treat our LGBT youth and how we continue to send terrible messages to our young gay children...every time the Catholic church says we're not okay (and they still say it often...every time organizations like the Boy Scouts say it's okay for local groups to exclude gay leaders...every time someone uses the term fag, faggy, gay in a pejorative damages.

Current Knitting

Almost finished with Zanzibar and  I am in LOVE with this design.

So far, it's about 45 inches long and will end up being about 50 or so inches.  This scarf would make an amazing gift for someone...especially someone that loves vibrant, wild color.  Working this pattern has made me fall in love with Koigu KPPPM all over again as well.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sheep & Wool Festival Season

I was just reminded that next month starts off the season for festivals all about sheep, wool, knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning and all things fiber.

List of Sheep and Wool Festivals

Well, I guess the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival really already kicked off the beginning of the East Coast season, and I'm sure there are tons of other festivals in the region that I don't even know about, but here are the three I sometimes find myself attending:

Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival - September 12th and 13th

Southern Adirondack Sheep and Wool - September 26th and 27th

New York State Sheep and Wool - October 17th and 18th

The first two festivals in September are small and accessible, but still attract enough independent vendors.  I rarely go to the Rhinebeck's just gotten way too big for me and not that enjoyable.  Given how close together the first two are, I may have to make a decision as to which I go to.

Current Knitting

Knitting the Zanzibar pattern has still kept me completely enthralled with how well the patterning of the space-dyed Koigu yarns shows up in Kieran's pattern.

The pattern calls for 18 repeats (I think), but I'll probably end up doing about 22...we'll see how long my Koigu lasts, but this scarf will be stunning when it's done.  Like Kieran writes in his pattern, the back looks great too.

And as an added bonus for you Finn lovers, here's a quick snapshot of him frolicking among my knitting library.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I'm Different...Just Like Everybody Else!

Trying to stand out, to be seems like such an adolescent goal in many ways.  I would think most people would have reached that goal by some time in their twenties, and then just proceeded to take pride in the person they continue to evolve into.

Vanity Indeed

A middle-aged driver had this vanity plate on her car and it gave Thaddeus and I a good long chuckle.

The irony indeed.

As a 56 year old gay man, the days of trying to find an identity are far behind me.  I try to present to the World the man I have become, with some level of self-confidence that it's what I intended.  I have grown to like who I am and, hopefully without any hubris, I can say my place in the World is quite fitting for me.

Don't get me wrong, I am still evolving, but the core of who I am is pretty solid and known.

It's a very satisfying place to be, and I don't need to spend extra money on personalized license plates to prove anything.

Current Knitting

Made some fair progress on the Koigu Zanzibar Scarf.

Suffice it to say, this is by far, the best use of Koigu I think I've ever knit or crochet.  Even with all the loose ends sticking out, the colors are vibrant and wonderful...everything I hope for when I look at one of the hanks of Koigu in my stash or in a yarn store.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Men Who Crochet

Honestly, I've always thought the crochet world had a large number of strange people in it (me included).  When you look at the world of male crocheters, it can sometimes be even more odd.

Best In Show

If you've ever seen the movie "Best In Show", it describes the crazy people that breed and show their misses out a bit on the mean, gossipy nature of that group, but it definitely shows how crazy they are.

They need a similar movie for crocheters or crochet designers perhaps.

Anyone that's participated in on-line crochet forums knows what I mean...Reading the article about the man on the cover of this magazine only confirms the quirky nature of people in the crochet world.  He made an afghan for his mother-in-law who taught him to knit when he had a nervous breakdown, and then took it back when she died.  I don't know, it just sounds like stuff I wouldn't want in print if I was the cover story.

Fortunately, I fit right in with this community and I'm proud to say so!

Current Knitting

Despite my crochet-pride, I put down the Rowan LDK Crochet Afghan, to cast on for Kieran Foley's latest amazing design, Zanzibar scarf.

I opted to use multiple colorways of Koigu KPPPM, since I love it so and it works equally as well (if not better) than the Zauberball Crazy the pattern calls for.  In fact, the back looks amazing as well (even though much of this pattern is stranded knitting with two colors).

This last photo reminds me a bit of Van Gogh's Starry Night.  I would caution, that this pattern is complex to figure out (at least it was for me) and it doesn't lend itself well to trying to fudge mistakes.  I still highly love how this design mixes colorways in such a chaotic and lovely way.

I mentioned on Facebook that I wished I had thought of this design first...but after seeing what it would take to write this up and all the questions Kieran will probably get...I'm glad I didn't.