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.


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.


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 - 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 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 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 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 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.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Time for Grace

Never in my life has their been a more urgent need to spread love, joy and peace to the World.

A Power for Good

The latest turn in U.S. politics seems dire, and the possibility exists that I will lose many of the rights and benefits fought for over the last eight years.  It's become clear that the numbers of people in this country that can be swayed by anger and hate have exceeded those who are motivated by hope and faith.

But for those who have worked diligently on fostering community, and creating the kind of World we all truly hope for...the positive qualities are deeply embedded in your very soul, and can't be touched by any temporary detour on that path.

At least those qualities can't be damaged in me.

Today, I renew my commitment to reaching out and supporting humanity in any way I can.

Current Knitting

Great progress was made during the election results last night on the Biased Wrap.

It's not quite finished, but neither is my plan for spreading love and joy and humanity...and both are still beautiful. 

Just a few more inches of knitting before this one is ready for weaving in ends and blocking.  I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out.

Monday, November 07, 2016

I've Always Been a Featherweight

Or at least a fan of the Featherweight sewing machine by Singer.

Good Solid Piecing Machine

When I decided I wanted to start machine piecing a quilt years ago, I asked the my quilting friend Liza which sewing machine I should buy.  After I ruled out her first recommendation (Bernina) due to cost and how unsure I was of my commitment to quilting, she said I should look for a good-working Singer Featherweight machine.

It happened to be the same machine my mother had used for decades during the years when I was growing up.

I couldn't find a Singer Featherweight right away, so I bought a cheap machine that has worked fine for the last few years, but all the while, I kept hoping I'd find a good deal on a Singer Featherweight.  But anytime I'd see them at a flea market or yard sale, people seemed to know what they had, and were charging upwards of $175 for the machine (even if they couldn't guarantee it was in good working order!).

I was mentioning this to my mom this past weekend when I was at her house to celebrate her birthday and she not only gave me her old sewing machine, but also told me the story about how when she and my dad decided they needed to have a sewing machine in the house, they couldn't afford it, so they bought it on time and paid it off over a number of months.

I'm thrilled to say, a test run of the my new-to-me seeing machine worked like a charm. I may be doing more quilt piecing in the future because of it!

Current Knitting

I've been focused mostly on replacing inventory for my upcoming craft show. 

And specifically focused on West Coast Watchcaps. I'm hoping to quickly bang out six of them to supplement the existing inventory of hats. I'm well on my way. 

Election Day Eve in the U.S.

Since this is both a knitting blog and a queer issues blog, I probably should have been blogging more about the National election here in the U.S. more, but honestly, I think most people are sick of hearing about it.

QueerJoe's Take

I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone, I am a progressive voter.  I support Hillary Clinton for President and every State and local Democratic official running on the ballot.

I also think Trump is an appallingly bad person and by far, the worst candidate running for president on a Democratic or Republican ticket ever in my life time.

Possibly less surprising, I actually like Ms. Clinton and think she is the most qualified candidate running for president in my life time.  I like most of her positions on the issues important to me (some of them influenced for the better by Bernie Sanders).  Conversely, the Senatorial race in my State has a heinous candidate running as the Republican and I don't think the Democratic candidate is very well qualified, but I will be voting for her anyway because I much prefer her positions on the issues.

Ideally I would love to see the Democrats win the White House and the Senate and the House of Representatives so that we can have some progressive initiatives passed in President Clinton's first two years in office.  But I'll settle for just beating the Republican candidate for President.

If you can, please's important.

Current Knitting

I ended up finishing the pair of mittens for my sister's friend in time to give them to my sister on Saturday when I saw her.  She was pleased, but I forgot to take a photo.  I realized the recipient might be interested to know the history of the yarn (Manos del Uruguay) and the story of the  women's cooperative that kettle dyes the yarn, so I attached the yarn tag to the mittens so she could read about it.

I also finished knitting the scarf I'm calling the Cat's Whisker Scarf.

The laciness of the scarf will require that I block it, but I will wait to do that until I finish the Biased Wrap I'm working on, so I can wash them both.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Beauty of Nature

Seeing something to which your eye has become very familiar is a way of recognizing sublime beauty.

Fibonacci - The Comfort Food of Visuals

I was fascinated by seeing this tiny little pine cone the other day, and realized that like most patterned objects in nature, the scales of this pine cone probably comply with the golden ratio rules described by Fibonacci.  This isn't a new concept for most of my knitting readers, but it basically states that nature creates repeating shapes in the ratio of 1:1, 1:2, 2:3, 3:5, 5:8, 8:13, 13:21, 21:34 (and continuing this sequence by adding the prior numbers together to get the next number in the the next in the sequence would be 21 + 34, or 34:55).  Visually it looks like this:

Flower petal designs, spirals on snails and many other natural instances of this rule can be found.  I was just amazed at even shrunken down to a tiny pine cone, the beauty still applies.

I guess there are always exceptions to a rule.

Even with the golden ratio, something can be incredibly unnatural and ugly.

Current Knitting

I'm just about finished with the pair of mittens my sister asked me to make for a friend of hers.

Shocking how much thought, effort and documentation is necessary to design something on the needles...even a simple pair of mittens.  I found myself repeatedly ripping out and re-knitting various sections of the mitten and noting all the increases and stitch counts so I could replicate it on the second mitten.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Group Projects

I've never been a very good manager of teams who weren't already independently responsible.  I suck at delegation and my motto has always been, "It's easier to do it myself."

Going Against My Grain

Given my predilection for doing things without help, I've decided to override those leanings, and I've begun a project with my Men's Knitting Retreat group to do a 10th anniversary team knitting project.

The graphic above is a representation of the logo Easton Mountain uses, and will eventually be transformed into a knitted blanket to be given as a 10th anniversary gift to the retreat center.

I've already received the yarn for the project (an acrylic/superwash wool blend from KnitPicks).

Some of the guys have also already volunteered to knit sections of the blanket.

Now I have to swatch the yarn, put together knitting specifications, assign sections of the blanket to the volunteers, send out the yarn and specifications all over the world, get the sections back, sew them together and possible line the blanket since it will be knit in all stockinette.

Fortunately, I have until May to get it all done.

Current Knitting

More work on the Biased Wrap was completed, but you'll note I got distracted by two other projects as well.

The Biased Wrap is turning out beautifully, and despite all the garter stitch, it's actually been quite an enjoyable knit. My sister told me she needed a pair of mittens for a friend by this Saturday, so I've put all else on hold until those are finished.  And the deep red garment with safety pins attached is a new scarf project that woke me up one night in full design mode...I had to start it immediately in the morning when I woke up.