Wednesday, January 27, 2016

QueerJoe's Top 10 Rules for Successful Knit Blogging

Do you blog about knitting or other fiber arts?  Are you considering starting to blog?

My Hints, Tips and Suggestions for Knit Bloggers

I've been consistently blogging about knitting and queer issues since 2002, and not always well, but I've learned a lot of things about blogging in those years, and thought I might share my top 10 list of "do's and don't's" of knit blogging.
  1. Pick The Right Blog Host Platform - If you're not currently blogging and want to start, make sure you pick the right platform for your blog.  Technologies have changed a lot since I first began blogging...I used to have to FTP photographs to my blog server and then write my own HTML to embed the photographs into a blog entry.  While I have ended up on Blogger as my platform,  I don't know that I would have chosen it if I was starting today.  Here is a great, simple comparative guide of many of the popular blog platforms.  In my mind, it's a matter of deciding between flexibility/functionality and technical abilities.
  2. Pick a Theme and Stick With It - I blog about fiber arts and queer issues.  Every blog entry I've ever done has one or both of those in it.  Don't start a knitting blog and then start writing posts only about your latest, favorite recipe.  Unless that's part of your theme...knit blog with Recipe-Thursday get the idea.
  3. Post Regularly and Persistently - Nothing bugs the shit out of me more than fast finishers...especially in blogging.  Don't start blogging without committing to it for at least a year.  Nothing worse than getting all excited about a new blog, and it peters out faster than a...well, again you get the idea.
  4. Post a LOT of Photos - Even if you write exceptionally well, and you're very witty (like Franklin or Stephanie), people are still usually more visual and want to see bright, vibrant, well-staged photos.  My photos aren't always anywhere close to that and the quality of my photos is probably one of the reasons I'm not a top-tier knit-blogger.
  5. Do You Knit Enough to Supply Blog Content? - Knitting isn't the fastest hobby on the planet, so make sure you'll be able to keep up with the demand.  Yarn store purchases, fiber-related flea-market finds, gifts of pattern books...all of those help fill in the gaps when you can't knit quite fast enough.
  6. Pay For a Domain - Nothing says you're committed to continued blogging as your purchase of a domain name to represent yourself.  It's relatively cheap, although, you do have to know how to forward your blogging platform to the domain name, but it's worth it.  I love that's I've been for all this time.
  7. Let Readers Get to Know You - Blog readers want a relationship with you.  Let them have one.  Include lists of "100 Things About Me".  Post photos of yourself, your partner/spouse, your pets.  Reply to comments and/or e-mails to make sure readers know you're actively participating.  Make sure you keep the important things cautious about posting photos of children, location information in your photos, work-related things you don't want public, etc.
  8. Market Your Blog - There are a number of ways to do actively about lots of things in Social Media...and make some of those posts about your blog entries (with links), participate on others' blogs through comments, but be careful about posting links in comments without permission.  Use the label settings to include search terms about your blog, so that it shows up in search engines more.  Have contests and prizes.  Ask other like-blogs to exchange links.  Link to other more popular like-blogs.  Set up an RSS feed (if you don't know what it is, it might be worth looking up) Don't be discouraged if you don't get hundreds of readers a day right away...just keep at it.
  9. Consider Monetizing Your Blog - You're not likely to make a ton of money even with a very popular blog, but I do make enough to pay for the blog costs.  Here is a good blog post about a bunch of bloggers' ideas on monetization and how to do it.  And know that you have to balance the possibility of alienating readers with flashing ads to what minimal income you get doing it.
  10. Enjoy Yourself - If blogging isn't fun, stop doing it.  For me, it's never been a chore.  I love interacting with readers, I love the excitement of coming up with a new topic I think y'all will like.  I love writing.  I love being a minor celebrity in the online community of knitters.

Current Knitting

See?  There is knitting content!  Kind of.

Here are the three projects I'm currently and actively working on.  The niece blanket, the nephew cardigan and the experimental stitch project.  I've made significant progress on the experimental stitch, mostly because it's like a lace project that looks like a lump of yarn before it's blocked.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding the experimental stitch project, Sue H. writes, "what does the stitch look like when completed? Please show!"

Someone has taken a lot of effort writing up a beautiful pattern for this stitch and I'd prefer to give her credit and I'd prefer not to give away all the secrets of this cool pattern stitch.  So, if my experiment comes out well, I will be pointing you to this designer's pattern in all it's glory.  I'm making a different type of garment, so I may give supplemental information about mine, but it will still require that you purchase her pattern for the stitch, or re-engineer it yourself.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Reading My Knitting

Many long-time knitters say that the most important skill in knitting, is to be able to "read" your knitting...or understand how a stitch looks on the needles, so you know when it looks wrong  (here's a great blog on doing that).

Needing a New Skill Set

I've recently decided to try and re-engineer a stitch I saw on-line, which requires that I do a "tuck stitch", by counting down rows below my needle on the reverse side of stockinette stitch, and I really have no idea what I'm doing.

Don't get me wrong, I can clearly see the difference between a knit and a purl stitch and my fingers even feel when a stitch has been twisted when I go to knit or purl it.  I can easily count rows on the right side of stockinette as well, but counting them on the wrong side has got me stymied.

So I came up with a way of marking the stitches with a coil-less safety pin, so that when I get up to the place where I need to count down rows, they will already be marked.

I honestly thought that after doing a few of these tuck stitches, I'd be able to recognize 9 rows below on the purl side of the stockinette stitch...I still can't, so I'm just sticking with my stitch markers.

Current Knitting

Yes, I did start a new project...I saw a really cool looking stitch and I just HAD to try and re-create it.

I'm going to keep this one un-named for now...until I've successfully re-created the stitch and that one be established until the garment is finished.  More to come.

I did also do some additional snow-bound work on the niece blanket.

It's moving along a bit more quickly than most linen stitch blankets I've made...thank Dog!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


One of my guilty pleasures is enjoying a television show that is clearly produced for the enjoyment of adolescent girls.

The Winchester Boys

The two main characters are delightful in every way, and certainly can be great eye-candy.  I find almost all of the cast on this show to be appealing in some way as well

I love the way this show isn't afraid to make fun of itself.  If you have watched Supernatural since it started, the writing has gotten more and more clever (usually) and while it probably should have been declared as having "jumped the shark" (you should look up that reference if you really don't know what it means) years ago, I still find myself eagerly looking forward to this show or the beginning of a new season.

That being said, I didn't get to see last night's episode, so please, no spoilers.

Current Knitting

I'm traveling this week for work, and didn't feel like schlepping the niece blanket with me, so I brought the new project with me.

This will eventually be a fisherman's rib cardigan for my nephew who asked me to make him one at Christmas.    The yarn is a worsted weight yarn by Cascade called Rustic, which is a wool and linen blend.  It's very soft, lofty and nice to work with so far.

Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos of the garment

Monday, January 18, 2016

Color Preferences

Each year they come up with a new color for the year, and now I've come to find out there's a new "color to avoid for 2016" - some variant of vibrant green.

What Bullshit

Don't get me wrong, I don't think I would enjoy wearing a sweater made in "neon slime green" colored yarn, but I don't think it's valid to limit color choices by elected a color to avoid.

As an accent color, the very color that "designers" are telling us to avoid for 2016, can be a great kicker color, adding tons of interest to a garment.

Or perhaps I'm just annoyed because I really have come to love acidy/neon greens and have a lot of it in my yarn stash.

 But either way, I am not fond of other "experts" telling me what to like or dislike.  Neon slime green or not.

Current Knitting

I put aside the niece blanket for a bit of time to start up a nephew project...a cardigan that was requested over the recent holidays when i saw him.

Not enough progress on either project for a photo, so I'll post one of the cardigan in progress next time.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stealing Others' Work

For years, I've heard designers complain about having their patterns ripped off, and it never seemed like a big concern.

Then It Happened to Me!

Recently, I had a spike in sales on Ravelry for my Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf.

This pattern is one of my favorites, and is by far my biggest selling pattern (Thanks mostly to Theresa, the Keyboard Biologist, who has knitted this a couple of times and blogged about it...every time she does, more people want to make it).

I was looking at others who have made this scarf and came across someone that purchased the pattern with the yarn from their local yarn store...a yarn store that as far as I know has never purchased this pattern.

I finally understood how annoying this is.

Don't get me's petty theft at best when a person or a yarn store does this kind of thing.  And honestly, they did sell Koigu yarns, which was an important reason I designed this scarf.  I  mean, it's not like the time I was at stitches with a designer friend of mine who saw her design hanging in someone else's booth...with the pattern and the yarn for sale and all attribution for the designer removed from the pattern (which she was still selling in her own booth at the very same Stitches).  But it was kind of disappointing to know that someone felt like they could justify doing this with my pattern.

Current Knitting

Continuing on with the niece blanket with no other knitting distractions (shockingly).

I'm liking the fabric more and more as the blanket gets larger.  It's turning out soft and drapey and quite warm.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I Admit it...I'm a Troll

Recently, I had a revelation that allowed me to realize something about myself I wouldn't have admitted until proven evidence showed it to be true.  I can be a hateful troll.

Recent Proof

Larry, someone I know and respect, posted something to social media about his rationale for bad-mouthing Donald Trump in response to one of his friend's assertion that the bad-mouthing was hateful and should stop or result in losing a friend.

Clearly Larry's friend was a big fan of Trump and found Larry's comments offensive, so Larry posted a very thoughtful and well-written description of why he felt it important to warn people about the evils of what Trump represents.

Most of the comments to Larry's post were very positive and supportive of Larry's views, except for one that demanded that Larry stop including Hitler and Nazism in his descriptions of Trump.

Seeing that the commenter was clearly annoyed, I decided poking him with a provocative message might be fun, so I did by basically saying Trump's ideas about eliminating an entire religious group from this country sounded a lot like Nazism.

What I didn't realize is, the commenter wasn't trying to defend Trump, but was trying to say that comparing Trump to Hitler, trivialized the murder of 6 million Jews.  While I don't necessarily agree with this man's point of view, I did realize that I only wanted to poke him when I thought he was a Trump supporter and finding out he wasn't kind of took all the fun out of it.

I guess I really can be a hateful troll sometimes.

Current Knitting

Focusing solely on the niece blanket I'm currently working on, has allowed me to make great progress quickly.

I may need to pick up some of my other projects to let me slow down on this one a bit.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

And The Knitter Boys go WILD!

This past weekend on Saturday, we opened up registration for the 9th annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat and the unthinkable happened.

Retreat FULL

Yes, we sold out the entire retreat in one day.

There is usually a big rush of registrations on the first day it opens, but selling out 41 spots in matter of hours was unbelievable...until this past weekend.
The nice part is that the retreat has become so popular, and we no longer have to worry about making sure we reach minimum registration requirements.

It's also great that there is an alternative option for guys in the Northeast at the first ever Men's Knitting Retreat North in Guelph Ontario in April of this year, which is being coordinated by some pretty amazing guys and is in a beautiful area of Canada (plus the Canadian Dollar is a great deal for Americans at the moment).

Current Knitting

Working exclusively on the current niece blanket project, I have just about doubled the length of it in the last two days.

Here's also a photo of what the back of the fabric looks like.

Even with a US17 (12 mm) needle, the fabric is still a little bit tighter than I'd prefer, but it's still very soft and will be very warm.

I also realized I never showed photos of the completed previous niece blanket (which seemed to please the niece who received it very much).

Monday, January 04, 2016

Unexpected Power of YouTube

A while ago, when I published the Koigu Interlocking Crochet Scarf pattern, I put out a small video tutorial to help guide folks in following the pattern instruction.

Little Did I Realize

I honestly figured I might get a few hundred views of the video, but I'm starting to understand how some videos go viral.

It seems that this video has had almost 39,000 views.

I guess this video really does show you how to make the Crochet Interlocking Scarf without purchasing the pattern, so I guess that might explains some of the interest.  But even more incredibly, it seems that the more popular videos are, the more they're recommended when you watch other videos on YouTube.  So, the more interest a video has, the more exposure it will get.

It's no wonder I guess that cat videos can have millions of views.

If you do go out to view this video (or any video on my YouTube channel), please take a moment and "Like" it (or Dislike if you do) and feel free to leave a comment.  You can also subscribe to my channel if you'd like to make sure you don't miss any of my upcoming riveting videos!

The size and energy of the on-line knitting community never ceases to amaze me.

Current Knitting

I started work on yet another niece blanket.

Yes, I have lots of nieces, and each time I give away one of the blankets, I realize there is usually another niece sitting nearby thinking, "When the hell do I get my QueerJoe niece blanket?"

This blanket is made using Maypole by Euro Baby, and I'm using the linen stitch

Friday, January 01, 2016

Welcome to a Very Queer 2016

I always like to say, I was queer before it was cool...perhaps I still am.

Passing Fancies

It seems that certain concepts can either be seen as new and novel and fresh, or scary and to be abhorred.

Early on, when someone would find out I was gay, they'd either avoid me like the plague, or place me in some special category...almost like they could claim me as their own personal gay.

It was a similar experience as a male knitter...either I was an undesirable oddity that should be shunned, or I was fawned over like I was the new Elizabeth Zimmermann

I have to admit, I found the fawning and/or the special categorization to be very flattering.

But honestly, the people that just liked me for who I was, and ignored the protuberances of differences that stood out, were the people that I valued...their thoughts and opinions I respected.  It was truly satisfying to have someone see past some of the obvious and see through to what I consider to be substantial about myself.

Current Knitting

Each year, we extend out Christmas by a week, and celebrate the holiday on New Year's Eve with our friend Charles.  We go out to dinner, exchange gifts and enjoy each other's company.

The latest sweater I was knitting was for him, but since he stops by here and my Facebook page, I couldn't really post lots of photos.  Here is the final sweater.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out and thought it looked quite smart on the recipient.

I've started a new niece blanket as my next project...actually, I've started it five times now...hopefully I've found a stitch pattern and needle size that will work with the yarn.

More to be revealed in a a very queer 2016.