Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Bounty - 1 of 2

Being known as "the knitter" has its advantages.

Especially Around Christmas-time!

My sister-in-law finds a lot of amazing things at yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets, and whenever she finds stashes of knitting related books, it always becomes one of my Christmas gifts.

This year, I think I got over 50 pounds of knitting books and booklets.

And most of them were focused on men's knitting patterns.  Here's a little slide show of just the booklets.
video


There were 35 (with one duplicate) booklets...too many to post individually, so that's why I did the slideshow.

Next blog post will show the books and other fiber-related items I got for Christmas.

Current Knitting

While I was away at my sister-in-law's house for a couple of days celebrating Christmas, I decided not to bring any knitting, but she had a knitting project she had started a while ago...a prayer shawl...which she hadn't worked on for a long time.  I didn't get a photo, but I did added about seven inches to her shawl while I watched television.

And here's the current progress on my Easton Mountain logo blanket I'm working on.


It's all in stockinette, so it's curled at the moment, but when I start to put together the panels, it will lay a bit flatter.  I'm also thinking about lining it with a soft fabric backing to both hide the back of the blanket and to stabilize the curling after it's finished.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Back to Bliss

It's been a while since I worked on any spinning project, and I can't imagine why it's taken me this long to get back to it.

My True Serenity

I love knitting, but unlike many other knitters, I don't find it to be a meditative, serene activity.

For that, I turn to spinning!

Back in 2005, when Franklin came East to got to Rhinebeck and posted the following photo in a blog entry about his trip.


I had just taken ownership of my Robin wheel and with Gage close by, I was lovingly putting it to good use.  I still feel this way when I sit down to spin.

Current Spinning and Crocheting

I've had Mindy's mohair/Shetland blend fiber on my Robin wheel for about 2 years now, and I started spinning up some singles a while ago in a complementary blue/green colorway, figuring that I'd ply the two.   So now I'm focusing on finishing the mohair/Shetland singles.


I still have quite a bit of work to do.

I also made a little bit of progress on the new Interlocking Crochet Scarf in black glitter and teals/turquoises.



It's almost finished...I'm on my last row and then just weaving in the remaining ends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Season is Upon Us

Whether it's the alleged annoyance of Christians to "keeping Christ in Christmas" or the frenzied retail pace, there's nothing that signals that it's the holiday season than an airmail package from James.




Wishing All QueerJoe Blog Readers a Festive Holiday


Thanks to everyone for good wishes sent...I accept and appreciate all good will.  Especially when it comes with fruity New Zealand chocolate!

Thankfully, the month of December is less stressful than many.  Yes, we have gifts to buy and trying to be thoughtful and generous each year gets more difficult for some.  But overall the preparations for the Winter holiday are mostly enjoyable.

I do have one more gift I need to buy, but it's already determined what it will be, so it shouldn't be very difficult.  We will also be traveling a little later this month...thankfully it's traveling I enjoy.

My wish is that your season is equally as joyous.

Current Knitting

It's been little while since my last blog entry and I did end up finishing the latest Cross Stitch Scarf.



I love the colors in this scarf, and think it's probably my favorite one yet.  I also started a new Interlocking Crochet Scarf.



It's being done with sparkly black yarn and streaks of vibrant color...this one may quickly become my favorite version of this scarf.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Back to Real Life

Having only vended in two art/craft shows this year, I've gotten a glimpse of what it's like for the casual vendor, the regular vendor and the professional vendor at these events.

Such a Newbie!

I'm still very new to this world of vending and craft shows.

It was shocking to see how quickly someone could unpack a van filled with shelving, display racks, display lighting, signage, as well as all of their products and all the bags, receipt books and extension cords they needed to set up their booth.  And the speed with which it could be broken down and packed back up in their van was equally as jarring.

Some of the people that do the art/craft show circuit regularly have their set up/break down routine down to a science.

For me, even a simple display took me quite a bit of time to pack into the trunk of my car, transfer into the show venue and organize and set up my booth.



And given that I will only be doing shows in October, November and December in any year, I don't think I'll ever be able to match the efficiency of the hardcore regulars who do these shows.

But overall, I found the process quite enjoyable.

Financially, the two shows I did were minimally self-sustaining, in that the time and cost of materials and the cost of the booth were covered by sales with some additional profit to pay for the initial set up costs (cost of the table and display busts, etc.).

Socially, the shows were a lot of fun.  I loved the co-vendors at both the shows I did and enjoyed the interactions with customers and friends who stopped by to look at my knitwear

Since these first two shows were really just testing the waters to see if  I wanted to continue next year, the result was yes, I do want to continue doing this next year and will probably expand to do 4-6 shows in the last quarter of 2017.  Plenty of time to plan and re-stock inventory between now and then.

Current Knitting

While I wasn't able to finish the Clockwork shawlette/scarf in time to display it for sale, I did finish it Sunday night after the show.




I also started a new Cross Stitch Scarf with the leftover yarn from the last one I sold at the show.







I am learning quickly which items and colorways sell best (at least to the limited customers I have worked with so far) and I'm confident this scarf will sell quickly at my next show.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Asking For What You Want






Most people who only know me through my blog might not know this about me, but I am terrible as asking for what I want.

WTF?!?!

I know it's odd, but I turn to mush whenever I need to directly ask for something I want.

Them:  What would you like for your birthday?
Me:  Nothing really...I have everything I want.

Waiter:  What can I get you?
Me:  Which is better, the pork or the chicken?

Thaddeus:  Where would you like to eat?
Me:  Which do you prefer, Mexican, Indian or Barbecue?

Whenever there are situations that require that I make a definitive statement about what I want, I have to practice the words I'll use to express it so that it doesn't come out as a whimpering question instead of a declaration.

I know this doesn't sound like me (or maybe it does, and my anxiety has been clear to readers for over a decade now), but it definitely is true, and it's amazing to me that I've been so successful at maneuvering around this defect.  It's almost as though someone disable one of the keys on my piano, and I've just learned to play any music that doesn't require that specific note, or I've improvised songs to play a different set of notes instead.

I've also looked at the many reasons why it's so difficult to state something as simple as what I want, and while I could name dozens of reasons, knowing the reasons has never resolved the problem for me.

Do you think this handicap in my life would make me eligible for a handicap parking tag for my car?  I'd like to know, but I'm afraid to ask directly.

Current Knitting

It's down to the last few days of knitting for getting any inventory I hope to sell at this weekend's Fine Craft and Arts Fair in Stockton, NJ.  I did end up finishing the last two West Coast Watchcaps (for a total of six to replace those that sold at the last show), and the sparkly Cross Stitch Scarf.




I've also almost finished another Cross Stitch Scarf in multi-colors that will be a fine addition to my inventory.


I'm hopeful to complete at least one more scarf or wrap in time for the show this Saturday.  Wish me luck!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Volkswagen Troubles

Some of you may know already that Volkswagen recently got in legal trouble with some of their diesel-engine cars and are going through a very expensive legal settlement to make good.

Background

When Volkswagen started selling diesel cars in this country, many car enthusiasts were very excited.  The various diesel technologies they sold were far superior environmentally than similar gasoline engines and the mileage was incredible.

It turns out that Volkswagen was cheating on emissions testing in a very devious way.  When the emissions measuring equipment was attached to the car, the car's computer recognized a test was being conducted and reduced the emissions outputs for some chemicals to meet emissions standards, when in fact the actual emissions weren't really meeting the standards.

Volkswagen got caught, and after a lengthy legal battle, they were required to either fix or buy back affected cars and pay a penalty to owners.

Back in 2010, Thaddeus bought this car...

It's a Jetta Sportwagen TDI (TDI means diesel).  Since his car was affected by Volkwagen's scam, he was offered a settlement package.  Since a small part of his offer expires at the end of this month we decided to purchase a new car to replace his 2010.

We ended up going with a Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport in Midnight Blue.




We test-drove the car, negotiated price and picked it up in the last two days.

So far, we're quite pleased.

Current Knitting

I made minimal progress on the fifth of six hats and also a bit more progress on the Cross Stitch Scarf in glittery yarn.


Readers' Comments/Questions

Boolab writes, "I tried to click on the 'email queer joe' button but it didn't work for me, admittedly I am pretty much computer illiterate."

The e-mail button will open up any e-mail software you have set up on your computer, but if you don't have an e-mail software, you have to just send me an e-mail at queerjoe@comcast.net - welcome to QueerJoe and thanks for your nice comment.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The "V" Word

When you travel to take a week or two off, and publish the "v" word in your blog, it seems to attract a lot of spam bots who try to publish comments with advertising.  So this time, I'm posting after the fact.

Had a Fantastic Time

Traveled to Cancun with Thaddeus and his sister and her husband last week.

We had wonderful weather, beautiful beaches, good hotel, great traveling company and quite amazing food.






You'll note, I bought a hat while I was there, but only because my sister-in-law and Thaddeus both said I looked good in it.

Thaddeus also arranged all of our restaurant visits while we were there, so we ate like royalty.  Here are some of the restaurants we enjoyed the most:

Tempo by Martin Berasatagui
du Mexique by Sonya Grimond
el Cejas
La Parrilla
Puerto Madero

Suffice it to say, I'm tanned, relaxed and ready to hit retirement with renewed vigor.

Current Knitting

I spent just a little time on vacation knitting, and only brought the West Coast Watchcap projects with me.


I finished a total of four hats.  I would have completed more, but I can't carry on knitting needles when I go through TSA in Mexico, since they will sometimes take them away.

This one is my favorite one I've knit so far...I just love the colors.


Readers' Comments/Questions

Maureen writes in comments, "Joe, is the Biased Wrap your own design? - I love this version so much that I have tried scrolling back through your blog to see if I can find a reference to it's beginnings, but I have failed to do that. I even checked your patterns for sale on Ravelry to see if I could find it."

Yes, and no...the original pattern is Cascade Scarf #4 by Brian Smith.  I have modified the design in a number of ways to make it my own, but I didn't feel I could publish the results, since the core idea is really Brian's.

Leslie noted in my link to one of the original posts 14 years ago, that I first mentioned the "coffin cover" project, which I just recently finished (relatively recently). 

Monday, November 14, 2016

USA Number One!

I've always hated the competitive nature of people who claim this country is "NUMBER ONE!"

Not Really Close

I've read a lot of articles and I've seen a number of movies that show how the United States isn't anywhere close to number one in a lot of important areas.  I won't rehash those...Michael Moore does a fine job in his movie Where To Invade Next?

I will say that if you ask any nation that enjoys drinking tea, they will tell you that getting a good cup of tea in this country isn't very easy.


I never quite understood the fascination with tea...like a good, red-blooded American, I like coffee, and as a good, red-blooded, gay American, I prefer a good latte.

But it could be that our options for tea in this country just suck and I was forced to enjoy lattes and coffee because the tea was so awful.

But I do like fresh-brewed iced tea, and always have a container of it in my refrigerator (even during the winter).  For years we made our iced tea using a brand called Luzianne tea (not the cold-brewed bags...the hot-brewed bags).  It made an adequate iced tea, in my American opinion.

But then Thaddeus got a chance to taste a tea at our local Middle-Eastern restaurant...it was a cardamom tea.  I'm not a huge fan of cardamom, and not a huge fan of tea, so I refused to even taste it.  But he asked the server what brand of tea they used and Thaddeus went out and bought a box of the same brand.




Ahmad Tea's Cardamom tea...he made a container of iced tea with it and forced me to try it.

He was right...it is the best testing, most refreshing and satisfying iced tea I had ever had.  I have even tried it hot a few times and I LOVE this tea.  You Brits really know what you're doing!

Of course it's made in England, so it doesn't bring the U.S. any closer to being number one.

Current Knitting

I ended up finishing the Biased Wrap, although I still have to weave in some the ends and wash it.  I also started a new project.



The blob of glittery silver, black and tan is a new Cross Stitch Scarf that will help to replace inventory for my next Fine Arts and Crafts Show the first week in December.  For anyone in the Hunterdon County, NJ or Bucks County, PA areas, this is an excellent craft show and a perfect place to pick up very nice gifts for the holidays.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy QueerJoe Blogiversary!!!

Let's not get honoring our veteran's out of perspective when there are other important issues today!

Just kidding...my dad was a veteran and I am extremely grateful for all our service members who served during war.

Fourteen years ago, with meager technical skills and an absence of any on-line blogging tools, I timidly put my toe into the waters of queer-knit-blogging, and I have been at it ever since.

Neolithic Blogging

It was two cats ago when I started blogging...Gage was the love of our lives (followed by Nico and now Finn).  Think back to a time before Ravelry and before Facebook and Twitter.  Remember flame wars on the Knitlist?  Think back to a time when cell phone service was pretty much just for mobile phone calls and they were anything but "smart."


I could text and access the web on one of these clam shell phones, but it wasn't a simple feat.

Did you know that I wrote all my blog entries in HTML code when I first started blogging?  I FTP'ed any photos I wanted to post to my domain server and typed the code to display them.  When you look at the first month's blog posts, remember that each blog post looked like this:


And all photos and HTML code would then be uploaded via an FTP software to my web server so that readers could access it.  Making a mistake was always painful.

I've grown to love writing the blog.  With all the other social media, it's still surprising how many people read my postings.  I'm grateful for a faithful readership and the comments over the years that have kept this space a lively one.

If you have access to cake today, please have a piece to celebrate our blogiversary!

Current Knitting

Just finishing up the Biased Wrap...not quite finished.


You'll note that I've started decreasing at the end of the wrap.


Just a few more decreasingly long rows, a few ends to weave in and I'll have a beautiful wrap.