Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gratitude and Spirituality

Just wondering how much a role spirituality plays in most people's lives.

Estimating Sainthood Chances

Okay, so I don't anticipate being made a saint...ever...or really even believe in saints.

But, if someone had asked me up until recently what percent of my life was focused on spirituality, I probably would have estimated less than 1%.

But recently, I was asked to post a "gratitude" item every day in November for Facebook, and I started being more cognizant of when I consider aspects of "spirit" in my life and realize it's quite a bit more than I had first realized.

Yes, I do some meditation and prayer...that was the less than 1% piece I was considering.

But then I realized, that every time I listen carefully to friends or family telling me about their lives, or enjoy being with my mom, or spend time tending to Finn to make his life as enjoyable as possible or volunteering to set up chairs for a gathering...the list started to get bigger and bigger, and I realized I really needed to expand my definition of spiritual pursuits and give myself a bit more credit toward sainthood.

I'm still a long way off, but at least I'm not like Chris Christy's poll numbers anymore.

Current Knitting

Continuing to work on my two W'sIP, but only one has enough for a progress photograph.

Most of the rest of this sack will be done in the current color of green I'm working with.  If I have enough green to make the bag as long as I want, it will all be green from here to the end.  If not, I will add some additional accent stripes toward the bottom.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Excited About Color Again

Just started a new Craftsy class by Franklin Habit called "A Practical Approach to Color for Knitters" and I'm enthralled after the first lesson.

Singing Praises

First of all, it's been a while since I've hung out with Franklin, and he is perfect for this type of class forum.  He does it EXTREMELY well (I think he also has a lace knitting class on Craftsy too).

Second of all, the first lesson describes my situation exactly.  A knitter with little natural aptitude for color, who is looking for ways of applying color theory to his knitting.  I have said for years that I had an awful sense of color and learning color theory didn't help much...I had to learn how it applied to yarn and knitting and learn the difference between blending colors and combining colors (Fair Isle for me is more like blending colors and intarsia or stripes is more like combining colors).

Finally, Franklin's two first tips on how to start making myself a colorist were brilliant and as soon as I do the homework, I'll go back to glean everything I can in the subsequent lessons.

Don't get me wrong...I've come a LONG way in my ability to work with color, and it's even starting to feel a bit natural, but I know I have an infinite amount of ignorance still yet to explore.

Current Knitting

Working on two concurrent colorful projects.

I've made some good progress on the latest niece blanket.

Made quite a bit less progress on the colored cotton bag.

I'm enjoying both projects equally well...they're like my children.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Joy of Nuts

Trying to avoid white stuff in my diet, like flour and sugar, I have been eating nuts for years.  Two events have made me realize what a difference the quality and freshness can make in nuts.

Quantity and Quality

For years, we bought standard nuts from our local grocery store...I think we kept Planters in business for a while.

Then we got a membership at Costco and realized not only were their huge jugs of nuts less expensive than the grocery store, but they were also a higher quality.  Pistachios and cashews and almonds all tasted better and had a better texture.

Recently, Thaddeus started working at a local retailer of fresh roasted nuts, and again, my nut-eating world has been turned upside down.  They get huge boxes of fresh nuts from all over the World, roast them directly on premises and sell them directly.  Thaddeus brought home some pecans last night and they were like nothing I had ever eaten before.

I'm not sure if it's how they roast their nuts, or the fact that I get to eat them within hours of when they're roasted, but they are incredible.

I never knew.

Current Knitting

I've finally decided that I will continue a project I started last week.  I'm still not sure that I like it, but I like it well enough to finish it at least.

This is a very fine gauge (US 0 - 2mm needles and crochet cotton size 8).  Eventually, it will be a tote will be lined and will be able to hold an iPad and other random items.

We'll see how it turns out, but I have always loved working on small needles.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Back to the Library

When I first moved to New Hope over 25 years ago, I used to love walking through the musty aisles of our free library and look at the book covers and pick out a few books to read over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Then I Stopped

My life got busy I guess, and I stopped visiting the library each week or two.  I didn't stop reading, but I stopped going to the library.  At all.

Before I knew it, I had that old-fashioned sort of library card that used to imprint my name and card number on an actual piece of paper, and I knew, based on how technologically savvy most libraries are, that it was completely useless.  A little over a year ago, I went through the process of updating my library card (as I suspected, it was all now electronic), but I still never made my way back to the library.

Until this past week!

What a joy it was being back in the hushed aisles of authors, titles and plastic covered dust jackets.

I did have to re-re-new my library card, but I was still able to take out 3 books.  I've already begun reading it and couldn't be more pleased.

My, how I've missed the library all these years.

Current Knitting

I've almost doubled the work on the latest knitted niece blanket.

All this (as well as a second project I'm still debating on continuing), despite Finn's insistence on being in my lap every time I take up some form or knitting or reading.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Befuddled By Technology

I've been working with computers for most of my adult life, but I still find so many pockets of technology that completely confound me.

More Languages Than India

I always like asking my Indian friends how many languages they know because it's often a long list since there are so many regional languages in that country. 

Trying to untangle all the languages necessary to understand various technologies is a lot less enjoyable sometimes.

Having worked with mainframes computers, UNIX-basednetwork servers, personal computers with DOS operating systems, Windows-based computers, Apple computers and various cell phones and smart phones, my list of languages should be extensive.  So I would have thought that it wouldn't be too difficult to quickly understand how to use technology that I have never seen before.

Two recent examples have made me change my mind about that assumption.

Graphics Software

These programs have a language all unto themselves and I am not very familiar with them at all.  Layers, vectors, despeckle...and don't even start on 3-D graphics software...the vocabulary expands exponentially when you increase the dimensions.


Yes, I am baffled by this software.  I listen to songs and podcasts on my iPhone and I think I successfully synch my phone to my MacBook, but I really have no understanding of what I'm doing.  I just keep clicking on things and hope I get the result I'm looking for.  I thought it was only me until WonderMike mentioned on Facebook how complex he finds it as well.

Current Knitting

I think I mentioned I have a couple new projects started.  Today I'll only discuss one of them since I'm pretty certain I will continue on to finish it.

I've decided to start another Niece blanket with a very simple design that is working extremely well with the Seasons yarn by Ella Rae.  Some of the nicest acrylic blend yarn I've worked with and I couldn't be more pleased with how the two colorways look in this simple design.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fiber Arts Obstructionist

When it comes to blocking my efforts at spinning or knitting, my cat Finn has become like the U.S. Senate of obstuctionism.

Am I the Obama of Fiber?

It seems like practically every time I sit down to spin or recline to knit, the handsome boy needs some urgent petting.  And who could resist his demands?

The minute this little one hears the spinning wheel start up or sees me head to my knitting couch (yes, I have a couch devoted to knitting), he is insistent on being securely in my lap and being pet until he's ready to take a nap (in my lap).  Once he's ready for his nap, I can continue knitting, but spinning usually comes to a stand-still at as soon as he's up in my lap.

As obsessed as I am with knitting and spinning, I don't mind giving priority to Finn.  And as you'll note below, despite all attempts at obstructing progress, like Obama, I have been successful in getting things done anyway.

Current Knitting and Spinning

There are some moments of the day when I can successfully get some knitting and spinning completed.

I have started a couple of new knitting projects, but I think I may wait until I'm past the first trimester with either of them before I announce anything about them...I'm just thinking that at least one of them may not be completed...we'll see.

Spinning however, I have made some significant progress working on the three different colored balls of Luscious Longwool from Weston Hill Farms.  You'll recall perhaps, that I had finished spinning and plying the red fiber and then moved onto the undyed fiber.  I finished spinning up the singles:

I then wound off half of the singles onto a second bobbin and set up for plying:

Finally, I got it all plied and hanked up.

Given the momentum, I had to start on the final ball.

The color is a rich, saturated teal...just beautiful wool.  I have to admit, I wouldn't recommend this wool for a beginner spinner, as it takes quite a bit of attention to spin uniformly, but I have loved working with it.  I would also recommend spinning the undyed fiber and dying it after it's spun and plied, if you're willing to dye.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

QueerJoe's Moment of Zen

Whenever someone seems to be a voice of sanity in a crazy World, I find serenity in that voice.

I Miss Jon Stewart

Don't get me wrong, I think Trevor Noah is a great choice for taking over for Jon Stewart and I find him incredibly funny.  I also think the show is still written extremely well.

But I grew to love watching Jon Stewart...even his mediocre shows were better than most choices on television.

I also think Mr. Stewart made a smart choice as to when to turn over the reins to someone else.

Can you imagine anyone that could ever have the whole package that was Jon Stewart?  He's smart, insightful, willing to call "bullshit", fearless of backlash and exceptionally funny.

I will continue to watch the Daily Show and I will also continue to miss Jon Stewart for at least a little while longer.

Current Knitting and Spinning

I have added about a foot to my current scarf project (Ric Rac Scarf) and have about one more foot to go.  I have also done a bit more spinning on the Luscious Longwool.

Since spinning is like my Tai Chi, I'll leave you with a video of me just spinning for a couple of minutes with one of my favorite Namoli Brennet songs playing in the background.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Satisfaction of Persistence

I have always said that the most critical character trait for being a successful knitter is persistence.

About 13 Years of Persistence

In October, 2002 (one month before I started writing this blog), on US2 needles, I started to knit the kid alpaca bed spread.  I can't tell you how happy I was to mark this one as complete in my Ravelry projects.

The photos above show the blanket spread out on a queen size bed.  The final measurements of the blanket are 64" x 78".

I finished weaving in the last of many ends yesterday and sometime this week I will gently wash this blanket and lay it out to block and dry.

I honestly never envisioned the day when this blanket would be complete.  It requires me to decide on whether I want to set a new persistence challenge for myself in the area of knitting.

The feeling of accomplishment on this project was certainly very satisfying.

Current Knitting

In addition to finishing up the kid alpaca blanket, I also get some additional inches added on to the Ric Rac scarf.

So far, this project has been a lousy project to blog about.  I can't seem to get a great photo of the scarf, the colors aren't blending quite as well as I had hoped they would and it's impossible to get across how soft and drapey this scarf is.

But if I can stick to knitting a project for 13 years, I can certainly finish this scarf.