Monday, November 30, 2015

Perhaps I Share Too Much

There was an old advertisement for Cracker Jacks that declared, it's nice to "share."  I guess I took that message to heart.

New Ways of Sharing

If you follow me on Facebook, you'll have been subject to 30 days of what I'm grateful for.  Some items were very personal.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll note I've started using Periscope, which is a feature that allows me to "live broadcast" portions of my life via video.  My first few attempts at broadcasting have been boring at best, but I'm hopeful since Twitter owns this app, that it will catch on and folks will start to follow me and watch my live broadcasts.

And if you're a faithful reader of QueerJoe, you'll note that I've started peppering my posts with embedded YouTube videos.  Today's section on Current Knitting has one of the most boring ones you'll ever see on my sight, but to be fair, I have been working on one of the most boring knitting tasks ever, so I thought I'd share the pain.

Feel free to comment with any feedback if you love or hate any of the sharing methods...or any feeling in between.

Current Knitting

I finally decided to put my nose to the grindstone and finish the sewing up of the second strap for the crochet cotton bag.  Please feel free to share in the joy of completion:

At least I hoped you enjoyed the music during the time lapse piece.


Now all I have to do is do a bit of machine sewing to add more structure to the second strap, sew in the straps and sew in a zipper at the top.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Placing Value

Knitter friend, Ronnie posted a photo of a slave around 1865 spinning on a walking wheel.

Photograph of former slave Lucindy Lawrence Jurdon, ca after 1865

Value of Work

The further caption on this photograph stated:
"Check out the spinning wheel, you had to spin yarn before you could weave it into cloth to sew a garment. That's why most people had only 1 or 2 outfits. Everything was so labor intensive."
 Given all the fine gauge work, and the sewing I've been doing on my fine cotton bag, it started me thinking about how I place value on my possessions.

When I can go into an outlet store and walk out with a bag of clothes for under a $100, I have to admit I don't value those items of clothing as much as I might a hand knit pair of socks, even if the $3 pair of socks is more comfortable to wear.  If one of my hand knit socks gets a hole, it goes in the to-be-darned pile...the same hole in a $3 pair goes in the trash

My first job out of college was doing finances for a large chiropractic clinic and one of the doctors there was incredibly successful (monetarily)...and honestly,  he wasn't the best doctor a the clinic.  But one of his theories was that every one of his patients had to pay something for their chiropractic visit...even if it was just $1.  The most destitute and the most well-insured patient for this doctor ALWAYS had to pay something.  His comment when I asked him about it was, "People value what that pay for, and get better health results as well."  I have to admit, he was right on both counts.

I might modify his theory a bit, so say, that people value that which requires them to invest more.

Current Knitting

Knitting on fine-gauge cotton, on US1 (2.25 mm) needles has reminded me of why I enjoy such fine, detailed work and why I usually value the end result a bit more than other projects.

The bag itself is finished, including having the lining sewn in and so is the first of two straps I'll sew on to it.

For the straps, basically, I'm knitting the strap lengthwise (370 stitches), both front and back with purl fold rows on each side and lining it with cotton batting (used for quilting.

And to make sure it doesn't stretch, I'm also sewing three rows of contrasting orange thread lengthwise along the strap.

Once the second strap is finished, I'll sew both straps to the bag and add a zipper opening at top.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Like Caffeine a Latte

Years ago, a friend gifted us with our first espresso machine, and for a number of years we've upgraded our equipment until we found one that fits my needs perfectly.

Latte Art?

In the two and a half years I've owned this beauty, I have tried to work on getting some form of pretty foam art on the top of my daily latte.  Here are this months most successful attempts.

There is really no consistency in my ability to create something that looks like latte art each morning, but I will continue to work on it and perfect it as well as I can.

Current Knitting

I finished sewing up the Santa Cap for Thaddeus...despite my superpower of making hats look stupid, I actually looked better in this hat than Thaddeus did.

I also got the lining sewing into the crochet cotton bag, and finished knitting one of the two straps.

I have to say I'm impressed with how will this bag is turning out.  My sewing skills still suck, but not badly enough to ruin this cool bag.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Imagine a world where everyone was as concerned with the World as they are with their own petty

Where Is John Lennon When We Need Him?

For those of you who have worked on complex, multi-faceted projects at work or in your private life, it can be difficult, but you learn to quickly priority what's important, what are you dependencies, what are the risks and how do you mitigate them?

When I look at the current state of our World, I think we're at a time when it's most critical for it's residents to come together and look for workable solutions to our problems and ways that we should plan going forward to understand our greatest priorities and how to work toward them.

I have trouble understanding why the reaction is almost the complete opposite.

We have seemingly been drawn to selfish, fear-based interests, instead of looking for selfless ways to bring our World forward.

And there's no one that hasn't been complicit in this move toward worsening the state of the World...religion, politicians, activists, corporations, you, and yes, me.

From today on, I will personally look for ways of moving forward toward a world in which we can all be proud.  I will measure my day on how my efforts reflected this goal...did my actions indicate I moved in the direction of this goal or away from it and adjust my behavior the next day as necessary.

Imagine a day when a critical mass of the population of this planet is working cohesively toward the betterment of all of us.

Current Knitting

I put other projects on hold because Thaddeus actually had a knitting request of me (which is shocking, if you knew Thaddeus).  His boss asked him if he had a Santa hat he could wear at work for the upcoming season, and he asked me to knit him one.

Okay, so it's not a monumental task, but it did take priority since a knitting request from Thaddeus is so rare.  I used my handspun longwool and it gave the hat a rustic/vintage sort of Santa look, which Thaddeus likes and so do I.  Just a few more weaving in of ends, and Thaddeus will be decked out for the season where he works.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lucky 13

Last week was my 13th blogiversary...amazing to me that I've been blogging for that 13 years.

Even More Amazing

As I looked back at the earlier blog entries, I realized I had completely forgotten quite what it took to publish a blog back then.

With tools like Blogger, it's easy to post a blog with tons of photos and formatting of text and hypertext links and all sorts of on-line magic.  There are also a ton of easily found graphics (like the one above) that I can import easily to illustrate a blog post.

Early on, just a photo required that I connect my old digital camera to my computer and copy photos to a specified folder.  Then I had to edit the photos and FTP them to the web server that hosted my blog.   Then, and only then, could I write the HTML that would display a photo on a blog entry...having to specify, size, file name and not having any typos in my HTML was a constant test of my patience.

Now it's a few clicks to share a vivid photo, but it takes only a few minutes at most.

Of course, I still have to try and come up with fresh, interesting topics to blog about.

Current Knitting

Actually, it should be "Current Sewing" as I finished the lining for the crochet cotton bag.

For the people that sew, you can clearly see the lining is inside-out, and obviously not yet lining the bag.  But I wanted to show that the bag will have an inner pocket.  I also have to say that my sewing skills suck, and this simple sewing task took me to the limits of my sewing abilities...this satin-like fabric I used does not tolerate mistakes very well and it's so damn slimy to work with!

Overall, I'm still quite happy with the result.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Knitter's BFF

The most valuable resource for a new knitter...and sometimes even a longtime a best friend that knows more about knitting than you.

Debbie Bliss - My New BFF

There is a new knitting guide out, by a very successful and talented knitwear designer and yarn manufacturer, Debbie Bliss.  And it's very good.

The Knitters Book of Knowledge by Debbie Bliss, I predict, will become the new standout guide for knitters and should be a required resource in every knitters' library.

The Pros

  • Extensive tips and techniques many knitters want
  • Authored by one of the foremost experts on knitting
  • Tons of graphics, visuals and diagrams to help describe techniques
  • Clear and appealing layout is consistent throughout the book
  • Well-organized sections in a sequence that is logical and well thought out
  • Extensive Table of Contents and Index, making finding specific techniques very easy
  • Inexpensive - Hardback copy on Amazon (here in the U.S.) is only $18.35

The Cons

  • As with any comprehensive knitting guide, it's geared toward many audiences, so complex techniques are intermingled with beginner's instructions.
  • Missing some important techniques (or difficult to find in index), especially finishing techniques like sewing up, weaving in ends, joining a new ball of yarn, etc.

I've only been browsing through the book for a little over a day, so my critique is limited, but overall, I'm highly impressed with Ms. Bliss' latest masterpiece and highly recommend getting it...either for yourself, or for your best friend that knits.

Current Knitting
I finished the crochet cotton least the bag part of it, but it photographs badly, so I'll wait to present it on the blog after it's lined, sewn up a bit and has some structure. 

However, I have also done some additional work on the niece blanket.

It's turning out to be a beautifully soft and warm blanket, but it's also starting to get more and more unwieldy as I have to keep flopping it over and over to knit back and forth.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Conference Calls

There are a number of benefits of working from home.

QueerJoe's Rules

Yes, I can attend meetings in my slippers and pajamas with bed hair, I can put my phone on mute while I make a latte...but it can also be exceedingly difficult to participate in meetings via telephone conference calls.

As such, I suggest the following rules for anyone hosting a business conference call with remote participants dialing in:

Review Materials
  • Send out materials in advance of the meeting or display them in a screen share
  • Announce when changing pages or direct dial-in participants to the page or section of a document being discussed
  • Any edits or updates to a document during a working session need to be displayed in a screen share

Include Dial-In Participants
  • Make sure you consistently speak directly to the remote participants
  • Ask the remote folks for feedback first before eliciting feedback from the participants in the room
  • Ask specific remote folks questions to include them...more than you might if they were in the room
  • Specifically announce when a call is may be obvious to the folks in the room, but not always to those dialed in

In-Room Behaviors
  • In general, treat the conference phone or microphone as if it's a real person
  • Don't drag papers over the microphone or conference phone
  • Don't open crinkly candies or office supplies near the microphone
  • Don't have a keyboard typing right near the phone or microphone
  • Move close enough to a microphone or phone before speaking
  • Avoid multiple conversations...more than one is virtually impossible to hear and/or follow
  • Resist the urge to make funny comments...folks laughing (cackling loudly) in the room and encouraging others to make offhand clever comments is incredibly distracting and hard to listen to
  • Realize that following the phone conversation requires our headset is set to the highest volume to hear, but when another caller speaks, it blows out our eadrums

I have spent many a conference call being so annoyed that I just want to hang up.  Even the slightest consideration that I'm on the phone and important to the call can go a long way toward helping me participate actively.  If you'd rather I wasn't on the call, just don't invite me to the call to begin with.

Current Knitting

It may not seem like I've made much progress, but I only have another couple of inches left of length on the cotton bag I'm working on.

I'm planning on lining this bag to give it some structure, adding handles and making it so that it could a book or two and possibly an i-pad.  We'll see how well that goes.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Gratitudinally Yours

Trying to communicate in a way that is accurate and makes sense to people...for me...often times requires wordventing...or making up words that clearly get across my meaning and work within the context of a sentence.

Justifiablizing Wordventing

English vocabulary can be very limiting, and so I will sometimes actionalize a word so that it fits the context and everyone hearing/reading the made-up word will know exactly what I mean.

In my mind, if corporate sheeple can all rally around ridiculous terms and expressions like "out of pocket" when "unavailable" would do just as well (especially since "out of pocket" really means unreimbursed for reimbursable expenses...or at least it did until it was completely co-opted by the corporate morons), then I can extemporaneate words whenever I want to as well.

At least my made-up words make sense and don't require explanation (usually).

With all that being said, the month of November is all about Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Facebook has created a month of daily gratitudes as a kind of chain letter.  I am participating by posting something for which I'm grateful each day.

Current Knitting

There seems to be a phase in every project when I feel like I'm knitting like a crazy person with very little results to show in photographs.  But I have indeed been knitting like crazy on my two latest projects and I'll let you be the decider on how much progress I've been making.

The niece blanket seems to be REFUSING to grow.  I may need to wrestle this one ahead.

The crochet cotton bag has moved along, but not the remainder is just one color.