Friday, April 29, 2016

Who's To Blame?

With all the political bickering going on in social media lately, I always try to see as many sides to an argument as I can.  I find it useful, even if I've already decided which side I fall on.





Blaming Corporations and the Rich

A big part of the outsider movement in U.S. politics today is about demonizing how unpatriotic our rich and powerful can be, and how much the deck can be stacked in their favor.

In general, I agree with that sentiment.

I just listened to a shareholder meeting for a very large corporation, and I was shocked to hear shareholders who spoke about injustices at that meeting.  They called for ousting the CEO.  They spoke about the betrayal of having inferred promises of benefits to retirees taken away.  They spoke about the ravages to the Amazon River and it's inhabitants that the companies efforts were causing.  They called the CEO a liar, heartless and a snake.

Most of what they said I think was true, and I was glad they had the opportunity to express their views.

But I also realized that the CEO was legally bound to many other stakeholders in the company who only care about the price of the company's stock, dividends and quarterly earnings.

So, when this company takes away retiree benefits to the devastation of some of it's longtime employees and retirees, he's got a lot of incentive for doing that.  When this company arranges its business so that it pays no taxes to the U.S. government (in fact, it gets subsidies from the government), the CEO is doing the job he's been installed to do.

When companies lose their social conscience, it requires the people and the government to step in and impose regulations that require them to be good citizens.

I think it's time that that happens in this country.

Current Knitting

During the time I was deciding on whether to rip out the Niece Blanket, I cast on a new sock project in Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn.


Believe it or not, I ended up having to pull out most of this work as well...I thought the sock was too big and needed to reduce it by 4 stitches around.  I've almost gotten it back to where I started to rip it out.

I also got some additional work done on the Niece Blanket and I'll have a progress photo next blog entry.

Again, I'll leave you with a photo of my beautiful Finn.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Daunting or No?

Every time I find a mistake in my knitting, I always think that fixing it will be painful and impossible.

To Fix or Not to Fix

Indeed, that is the question.

Recently, I realized I had mad a mistake in the linen stitch blanket I'm making for my niece.


Here's a closer photo.


See those elongated row of pink loops?

My first thought was I'm not ripping out 10 or 12 rows of knitting and keeping two colorways of yarn untangled while I do it, and then picking up 146 stitches in linen stitch.  The task seemed insurmountable...completely daunting.  It took a long time to knit those rows!  It's hardly noticeable...right?  I continued to knit another couple of rows, realizing I was only postponing the inevitable.

I couldn't stand to have that mistaken row left in this blanket...so as you can see from the needle-less blanket, I did end up ripping out the rows.

As usual, it took me very little time to rip out the rows, pick up the stitches and re-coup all the work I had done.

Why do I agonize over this every time it happens?

Current Knitting

So here's where I am now with the niece blanket.


And here's the closer shot, so you can verify I did, in fact, go back and correct the mistaken row.



All is right in my world now.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Outdoor Eating

Anyone that has ever eaten with me at a restaurant with outdoor seating knows that I HATE outdoor dining...the wind blows away the napkins, the salt and pepper shakers have usually been left out in the rain once too many times, there are bugs and some noxious odor is almost sure to be worse than the perfume someone bathed in sitting inside.

Eating The Outdoors

When it comes to eating food that has been foraged in the outdoors, now that's a different story.

Many of you know that Thaddeus is an amateur mycologist and loves foraging for wild mushrooms.  Some of you may also know that this area will soon be Morel season and Thaddeus will be out looking for some of these luscious fungi.

But in the mean time, he's started picking a delicious onion-y delicacy called "ramps."



They're known as wild leeks in this area as well, and the entire plant, including the greens, are delicious.  They have a taste that seems like a cross between onion and garlic, but with a gamier taste, if vegetation can be gamey.

Thaddeus made some morel risotto with ramps for dinner yesterday, and it was a sublime meal.


Thaddeus makes an amazing risotto anyway, and the ramps just added a depth of flavor that was incredible.

Current Knitting

Fully recovered from my mistaken row, and I've actually added a few rows more than where I was when I ripped out ten or 12 rows.


I'll leave you with this lovely photo of Finn enjoying the luxury of Thaddeus' mushroom basket.


I think he slept here all night last night...he might actually have a slight onion/garlic scent this morning.

Double Pointed Storage

My collection of double-pointed needles was starting to get out of hand, and I was constantly forgetting where various sets of the needles were.

Disorganized

More so than that, whenever I'd find my favored brand of needles at a yarn store, I'd have no idea which ones I might need an extra set of...or more extra sets of.

I used to keep some of my six inch sets in a DPN case that I think was created as either a pencil case, or a make-up brush case and some others in a larger knitting neeedle case with other straight needles and then even more in an old Ghiradelli chocolate can.

Then I realized I had a bunch of 8" long, clear plastic containers that would perfectly hold DPN's (at least most of them.


I tried fitting them into the Ghiradelli can, but it didn't hold enough of them, and it made it difficult taking out one size, so I ended up just putting a rubber band around 10 of the containers and sorted almost all of my DPN's.



The remainder will stay in the Ghiradelli can next to it, so I will always have one central spot for my DPNs.

Current Knitting

Added a few more rows on the Niece Blanket in Linen Stitch.  The progress wasn't worthy of a blog photo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pinterest - Analog Style

I love Pinterest...it's a great way of keeping a list of things that inspire me...it means I'm never at a lost for something creative to try next.

https://www.pinterest.com/josephwilcox/knitting-and-crochet/

Old School Style

Years ago, a couple of master colorists (Kaffe being one of them) said that they used to try out various color combinations and just pin the test swatch up on a wall that they looked at often.

First impressions aren't always the most accurate way of assessing creative endeavors, so having it in a place I can look at often and continue to assess how much I like it can be very useful.

Here's my meager swatch board (with the Noro swatch I posted on Monday in the mix).


Most of my decisions on swatching are related to mixing variegated colorways, or seeing how they might pool or work with various stitches.

Just like my Pinterest board on knitting, I use my swatch board to see how well I get used to various textures, colors, ideas and I also use it for posting future project ideas.

Current Knitting

I had to take my mom in for an MRI yesterday and was lead to believe I'd be sitting waiting for a long time.  I brought along DPN's and some Noro Silk Garden Sock and started to cast on when my mom went back for the scan.

Two failed attempts at the figure-eight, toe-up cast-on...I gave up and started chatting with my sister instead.  My mom was out shortly thereafter anyway.

I have done some addition rows on the Niece Blanket.


The colors in this blanket make me happy no matter how much I look at them.  And with the amount of time Linen Stitch takes for me to execute, I look at the colors a LOT.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Get To The Point!

My career has exposed me to a number of mentors over the years.  But the bosses I am most grateful for are the bosses that forced me to write well.

Picky Editing

Both of the two bosses I'm thinking of, were incredibly particular about how I wrote and would send back drafts for revisions multiple time on what should have been simple, one-page memos.  And for larger documents, the editing process was more annoying than hemorrhoids.

But having such demanding bosses, required that my writing got better and better, and I soon learned to write in ways they found acceptable.

The most important concept I learned, was to eliminate unnecessary expressions.  Here is my list of expressions I try always to avoid:

"In order to" can almost always be replaced with "To"
"Due to the fact that" can usually be replaced with "Since"
"Please feel free to" can be replaced with "Please"
"At this point in time"  can be replaced with "Now"
"Despite the fact that" can usually be replace with "Although"

The first one, "in order to" was a particularly offensive phrase to one of my bosses...even when it was appropriate (and sometimes it is), it was still better to rephrase then entire sentence instead of using it, because it would ALWAYS be crossed out in red.

Current Knitting

More work on the Niece Blanket...


I've still got quite a bit of work to do on this one, so, of course I got distracted by the remnants of the Noro Hanabatake yarn (which I couldn't possibly have thrown out!).  So I knitted up a mitered square swatch.


I'm a big fan of how Noro's long color lengths work in mitered knitting...I ran out of the yarn with just a notch of knitting left to do, but I was able to get the sense that this would make an awesome fabric for a blanket or sweater.

Friday, April 15, 2016

There are TONS of Reasons to Vote for Trump

Arguing politics today is relatively useless, because most people have entrenched positions from which they won't budge.  Including me.


Cherry-Picking Facts

We all justify our choices with the facts that best fit why we made the choice.  And usually dismiss the competing facts as either wrong or insufficient to change our minds.

I've heard a lot of reasons for voting for Donald Trump, and I think some of them are even valid.  For instance, I think he's less beholden to big-business donors than some of the other candidates.

But honestly, I've dismissed the rationales for supporting Trump in one way or another. Mostly, I think his inexperience in the ways of governing...especially something as daunting as governing a country as large and complex as ours, trumps any reason for supporting him.  Trying to change my mind would be impossible.

In that way, I'm no different than Trump supporters.

Don't get me wrong...if my candidate doesn't become the Democratic nominee for president, I will definitely be voting for whoever is nominated, but even between the two Democratic options, I have a pretty entrenched position.

When debating politics, I find the best I can usually ever do, is to annoy the shit out of the other person...find some satisfaction in how frustrated they are trying to make their point or argue against mine.

And honestly, that's not very satisfying for me.

Current Knitting

Having reached a milestone by finishing the sleeves on the nephew cardigan, I picked up the niece blanket and got some inches added to that.


While I've never been a fan of knitting the Linen Stitch, I never stop marveling at how well it blends multi-colored yarns.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Misnomer of I-Cord

I-Cord is simply, a knitted tube of a limited number of stitches that creates a tubular cord.  It was named this by Elizabeth Zimmermann as a shortened version of Idiot-Cord.

Brilliant Design - Let's Call it B-Cord

Yes, I've decided that the architecture and method of creating this amazing knitted cord deserves a much less derisive name.

The two traditional ways of making b-cord were either using two double-pointed needles:


or by using a knitting spool:


But now, there is a beautiful, easy and fun way of making this delightful cord of many uses.


The I-Cord EZ Knitter creates a very cool 8-needle b-cord and is handmade here in the U.S.  I think I may just need to own one of these beauties:




Current Knitting

Finally finished the sleeves on the nephew cardigan.


New just the button band, collar, sewing up, sewing on buttons, weaving in ends, washing and blocking.

Is it just me who forgets sometimes all that goes into making a full-blown hand-knit sweater?

Friday, April 08, 2016

Tutorializing

Whenever I work on one project over and over, I start to learn efficiencies that help things go more quickly and easily.

Tips and Tricks of the London Beanie

First of all, I've modified the pattern for the London Beanie and I've published it as a free pattern on Ravelry, renaming it the West Coast Watch Cap.

Second of all, I decided that a couple of the ways I work this pattern in-the-round might be useful tips for other knitters, so I created a video tutorial on how to make this hat in a QueerJoe sort of way:



Finally, I decided that I had a few ideas for tutorials...that all had three parts to them, so I've decided to create a series of tutorial knitting videos called "3-4-Free Knitting Tips and Tricks Tutorials".

Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you'd like to be notified of the next 3-4-Free Knitting Tips and Tricks Tutorial I publish.

Current Knitting

Finally made it to the sleeve-top shaping on the nephew cardigan!


I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on this project.

Monday, April 04, 2016

A Panoply of Hats

It can take a lot to impress me, but I am impressed...impressed at how spectacularly beautiful some Noro yarns are, impressed at my ability to stick with finishing knitting 21 hats, impressed at what a nice donation this grouping of hats will make.

Also Impressed

It's quite amazing that minimal adjustments in knitting and yarn thickness can make such a wide variety of hat sizes.



Some of these hats had 78 stitches around and others had 80, some of them had 22 rows of plain stockinette before decreases, some of them had 25...some of them had a slightly faster way of decreases at the crown, others a bit more gradual...some of them I knit while tense, some of them I knit whilst practically falling asleep.

Overall, I'm quite happy that the guys purchasing them will have a variety of sizes to try on and certainly a variety of colorways to choose from as well.

I have created tags for each of the hats and just need to 

Current Knitting

I'm back working on the never-ending sleeves of the nephew cardigan.


And I still have about 2 inches of knitting before I do the shaping at the top of the sleeves.  I think I had less than that when I put this project down to work on the hats!  Have the sleeves shrunk over the last few weeks?!?!