Monday, November 20, 2017

Afraid of Knitting

Certain activities can seem incredibly daunting when you don't know how they're done...I get that...but being afraid of trying a knit stitch pattern seems odd to me.

Knitting Preferences

Don't get me wrong...I can totally understand not wanting to knit cables, or avoiding doing lace knitting for your entire knitting life.  But I will never understanding fearing a steeking, or stranded knitting or intarsia.  What's the worst possible outcome of trying something new?  You ruin some yarn?  You waste some of your knitting time? You get kicked out of TKGA?

Again, if you hate the look of entrelac, or if you just can't stand bringing the yarn back and forth for a stitch pattern like woven stitch or double-knitting, you have every right to avoid those techniques like the plague.

But avoiding something because you're afraid of how difficult it looks?  No...that does not work for me...and yes, I can deny you your's my blog.

True Confession: I am TERRIBLE at correcting a dropped stitch in a garter stitch fabric, so I hate making mistakes on simple garter stitch fabric and often end up frogging multiple rows instead of fixing a column of stitches.

All that being said, I often hear how daunting one of my pattern designs looks.

The Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf involves at least two different colorways of fine-gauge yarn, casting on hundreds of stitches and has this crazy looking cross-over-laciness to it that confounds some knitters.

But fear not...once you understand how elongated stitches work, and my technique for crossing them...I think you'll find the thought of doing this stitch incredibly useful and fun.  Yes, the two rows that make up the "cross stitch" in the pattern take a bit more time than a standard row of knitting, but they also create almost an inch of fabric the extra time you spend on these two rows is more than made up for in the length of your knitted fabric!

So...for those who have purchased the pattern...but had some trepidation about doing it...pull it out and take a look a this video tutorial on the crossover technique that I videotaped just for you!

Current Knitting

It's incredibly satisfying to keep adding to the pile of completed craft show items.

The latest Ombre Wrap is now complete.

 It's very similar to the first one I did like this and I think it will be one of the first items to sell at the next show.

I also started a new Knitted Cross Stitch project.

I'm again using two colorways of Groovy Hues Fiber yarns, and I think it's going to be as beautiful (or more so) as the last one.  I'm also thinking about making this one larger to be used as a wrap instead of just a scarf.

I'll be interested to see how well these fine-gauge garter stitch rectangles sell.  The yarn is inexpensive and they are incredibly easy to knit...they just take a lot of knitting time.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Paying Cash - QueerJoe's Way

As a follow-up to the blog entry where I asked you which bills you'd use to pay in cash, I've found that most of you are just plain wrong.

Usefulness of Different Bills

I understand that a $20 bill is more valuable than a $5 bill, but when you're paying for something, you will always be dispensing the same value, despite the combination of bills that you use.

I'm guessing that my ideas of how useful specific currency is, comes from my work as a cashier and as a vendor at craft shows, where $20 bills (or bigger) are some of the least useful forms of currency you can have, and everyone seems to be trying to "break a twenty" and there always seems to be a scarcity of fives and ones.

Here's my idea of usefulness of currency:

So, to pay a charge of  $10.53, I would ALWAYS pull out a $20 bill so I could keep and/or get more bills that were extremely or quite useful to me, and get rid of bills that are the least useful.

When Thaddeus opens his wallet to pay for something and asks me if I have a ten or a five or a few singles, I will sometimes even lie and say I don't...why would I want him giving away my useful bills?!?

Current Knitting

There has been a lot of knitting progress since Wednesday.  First of all, I finished the project that I started second.

I couldn't be more pleased with how Suzanne's colors (from Groovy Hues Fibers) blended in this bright Autumny scarf.  So pleased, in fact, that I ordered more of her yarn yesterday!

I also made it up to 100 rows on the Ombre Wrap.

I really love how this fabric turns out and the resulting wrap is truly just seems to take forever to finish one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Secrets of Colorway Blending

Working with variegated or handpainted yarns with random colorways can create some of the ugliest knit fabrics.  A few secrets I learned early on have allowed me to successfully work with LOTS of color.

QueerJoe's Tips for Successful Colorway Blending

First of all, Carol Sulcoski has published two books on the topic of knitting with handpainted yarns and knitting with self-striping yarns, and they are both excellent.


So, if you want to get serious about designing with colorful yarns, her two texts are must-reads.

But if you just want to dabble, here are my three top tips for working with complex color combinations in yarns:
  1. Use two different colorways and alternate the yarns every two rows.
  2. Use a stitch pattern that either slips stitches over at least one row (any mosaic-like stitch pattern), increases or decreases the number of stitches in a row (like Old Shale), or elongates stitches (like the Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf).
  3. Always switch yarns every two rows and cross the new yarn over the old yarn in the same way every time.
These three rules allow you to intermix extremely unusual colorways in a way that makes them blend harmoniously and not pool...or at least pool in a pleasing way.

The Ombre Wrap is NOT an example of blending variegated colorways, but it does demonstrate how I switch yarns every two rows and twist the yarns in a consistent way.

The Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf IS a good example of blending, but since every fourth row is elongated, it's a lousy demonstration of carrying the unused yarn up the right-hand edge.

Current Knitting

Both my current knitting projects are shown above.

The Ombre Garter Wrap is moving along and I'm wanting it to end. It's about 2/3rds finished, but I'm not quite sure because I'm making this one slightly less long than the first one.

The Knitted Cross Stitch Scarf was knit enough so I could demonstrate my three color blending rules above.  I'm loving how this one is turning out and I imagine it will sell quickly.

I'm actually breaking two of my rules and using 3 colorways and changing yarn every row.  I'm doing this because two of the yarn colorways are similar enough that it looks more like two colorways, and I'm also carrying unused yarns up both sides by alternating yarns every row at both the left-hand side and the right-hand side.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Paying Cash

Another striking difference I find between Thaddeus and I, is how we like to pay for things with cash.

Which Are You?

So here's the're paying for something in cash, and the amount of the transaction is $10.53.  In your wallet, purse, or pocket, you currently have five $20 bills, two $10 bills, a $5 bill and 7 singles.  Do you:

1.  Pay with a $10 bill and a single?
2.  Pay with a $20?
3.  Pay with $5 bill and 6 singles?
4.  Some other way
5.  It doesn't matter...any of those ways would work for me depending on the situation.

Did any of these options make you a bit crazy?

Were any of these options "obvious" to you as the only possible way to pay this cash transaction?

Thaddeus and I are, of course, polar opposites on how we would handle this situation.  Can you guess which option I would choose and which one he would?

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding the latest Old Shale Wrap done in Groovy Hues Yarn:

Jenny asks, "Which two colorways have you used? I love this combination!!!"

Twisted & Groovin' Sock Yarn in colorways, "How Do You Like Them Apples" and "Fall of the Wild"

Regarding the Garter Stitch Scarf done in Cascade Rustic yarn:

Maureen writes, "I love that garter stitch scarf. Are you selling the pattern as well?"

I won't be selling a pattern for this, but I can describe it relatively easily.  US 8 (5 mm) needles, worsted weight yarn (Rustic is a bit on the heavy worsted side of worsted), cast on 313 stitches and knit all rows until you have the width you're looking for.

Current Knitting

My current Ombre Garter Wrap is moving along and I'm more than half finished with it.

I was hoping to be a little bit farther along on this today, but a leaking water heater, wet/mushy carpet, water heater replacement and carpet cleaning took away some of my knitting time.  But I did also start a new Cross Stitch Scarf.

Friday, November 10, 2017

15 Years of Blogging!

With almost 2,000 published blog entries since November 11, 2002 and over 2,000,000 blog hits, I've been writing and posting blog entries for 15 years now.

Still A Gas-Bag

It's surprising even to me that I never seem to run out of things to say.

And please note that I didn't write "that I never seem to run out of interesting things to say"...even a gas-bag gets boring after a decade or so.

I went back reading some of the earliest blog entries and I was reminded of so many wonderful things.

Wendy and Marilyn were the only knitting blogs out there when I first started.  I wanted to knit like Wendy and blog like Marilyn.  I ended up doing both quite differently from either of them.

I look back with amazement during the days when I used to have to take photos on my old Sony Mavica digital camera, copy the photos from the "floppy disk" (they stilled called them floppy disks even though the were rigid) to my computer, edit the photos using PaintShopPro software, FTP the photos to the web server, write the HTML including the new FTP'ed photo links, FTP the HTML to the web server and test the blog entry to make sure I hadn't made typos in my links, photos or formatting tags.  What used to take hours now takes as little as 10 minutes (even with photos!).

For those of you who have ventured in the way past of QueerJoe, you'll see that there is a block of time where I don't have some of the photos posted anymore.  That happened when Blogger decided to discontinue the initial methods of blogging and not let me host photos in the same way.  I tried to go back and replace photos in the new way, but there are whole blocks of time where they don't appear.  Many of the photos are forever lost.

Finally, I'd like to repeat something I often write to people who e-mail me to compliment something about my blog...I LOVE writing QueerJoe and I always have.  It's icing on the cake that there are some folks that enjoy reading it.

A huge thanks to all the faithful blog readers!

Current Knitting

Sorry I couldn't have knit something special to celebrate such a momentous occasion.  But the second of three W'sIP has been completed.

Simple lengthwise garter scarf done in a beautiful textured yarn from Cascade appropriately called Rustic (79% wool/21% linen).

The scarf is about 4.5" wide, but very long (over 6 feet), so it can be wrapped multiple times even on a tall person.

The pile of restocking inventory for my next craft show is growing!

I re-started work on the third of three W'sIP, which is another Ombre Wrap.

We'll see just how many knitted items I complete by my next show on December 2nd and 3rd.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Redemption Begins

Those of you who know me, know that last year was a devastating blast of reality.

To recognize that a message of hateful bigotry and narcissism was successful with a sufficient number of voters to elect an incompetent blowhard as president...well, realizing how many haters there were, really shocked me.

On The Road to Recovery

Yesterday's election results indicate that people all across this country either realized what a grave mistake they made in 2016, or recognized that they needed to redouble their efforts to making their voice heard in the voting booth.

Either way, it appears we've started turning this nightmare around.

I commented the following on a friend's Facebook post:
I think any form of democratic government requires a sane, informed constituency. So the enormous responsibility of any government that relies on the the people being governed also requires a patience, and understanding and a long view that is very difficult in times like these. Personally and publicly I’ll continue to work toward education, acceptance, openness and enlightenment. 
So, my friends...please remember that we're in this for the long haul.  Yesterday was just one small step in truly making America great again.

Current Knitting
Hot off the needles is the latest Old Shale Wrap done in two colorways of Groovy Hues Fibers.

It was a bit chilly taking photos of the latest project, so I though I'd see if I could get away with wearing bright oranges.  Despite Suzanne's amazing colorways, I think I'll stick to blues and purples.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Such a Mama's Boy


I've never considered this as an insult, although I'm sure it was flung at me like an insult over my life.

Happy Birthday Mom!

My mom's birthday is today, and I see her often enough where I didn't have to be reminded of what an amazing person she is.

She always did well in school and ended becoming a Registered Nurse back in the day when you still had to iron and starch your own caps.

Neither of those two is my mom, but here's a newspaper photo of her learning how to make formula correctly during her nursing school days.

She would go on to use this skill as she ended up having seven children.  Turns out my mom has the original of this photo somewhere that she got from the newspaper photographer in Elmira, NY.  It was so awesome to hear about each of the people in this photograph and stories about upcoming weddings and how she ended up with the wedding dress in which she got married.  Love that oral history of my family.

What I found most amazing about my mom was that when my dad died at the age of 43, she showed how strong she could be and kept us together as a family, despite grief, financial worries and children that weren't always the most grateful.  We all had the opportunity to go to college without getting ourselves into debt.  I honestly don't know how she did it.

But I could be know how gay boys are about their mothers.  So yes, I am a mama's boy.

And proud of it.

Current Knitting

When I've got three W'sIP on the needles, I thought it was easier working on the one project that requires keeping track of which row I'm on.

The Old Shale Wrap in bright Autumnal colors is turning out  The next two projects I finish already have people interested in buying them, so hopefully I already have two pre-sales before my December 2nd Fine Craft Show.

Friday, November 03, 2017

U.S. Voter Alert!

Photos like the one on this advertisement I received in the mail really inspire and energize me.

Be Inspired!

I put this local mailer up on my refrigerator to remind me (not that I really need reminding) of the importance to vote.  Now more than ever we need to show our commitment to what we believe is right and let our voices be heard, and we can't wait for Bob Mueller and all of his good work to help as quickly as we need it.

For Pennsylvania voters, we are voting on many of our Judges this coming Tuesday and the courts have become our last bastion in the fight against bigotry, ecology, immigration and all areas of civil fairness.

Many of our Judges are appointed and even the courts are starting to be stacked with heinous appointees.

So even if you're only voting for Dog Catcher this year, please show your support by going out and voting for the most progressive Dog Catcher on the ballot.  And encourage all your friends to vote...heck, why not just bring them with you to the voting booth!

Please help send a clear and strongly united message to the ass-hats in Washington that we want change and we want it soon.

Current Knitting

I got bored with US3 garter stitch (even with two different colors every other row), so I started two more projects since Wednesday.

The top one is just another lengthwise garter stitch scarf...a lot of my black, gray and silver items sell quickly at craft shows so I need to replace a crappy black/gray scarf I sold on Sunday.

The bottom one is a new Old Shale Wrap that was requested by someone at this past Sunday's show (she love the Koigu blue one I had, but wanted a different colorway...she was a repeat customer from one of last year's shows and also purchased something at this past weekend's show, so I wanted to try and come up with something she'd like).