Monday, April 24, 2017

Oh So Busy

Many have asked me how retirement is going and it's going very well. In addition to knitting, spinning, crocheting, blogging, and coordinating the men's knitting retreat, I have also started doing quite a bit of leisurely bicycling in the beautiful area of the World where I live.

What Occupies My Time?

This seems to be an important question for many who want to know how I'm doing...although their question reveals more about what's important to them, I think.

I've realized I don't need to "occupy" all of my time. 

Don't get me wrong, I have always enjoyed keeping busy, but I'm also loving not having to do anything if I don't want to.

I honestly worried a bit about all those alleged people who felt completely lost without the structure of a job to fill their time, but that hasn't been an issue for me.  Early on, I wrote a list of things that I can do if I feel bored or jonesing to do SOMETHING.  I used the list a couple of times early on, but find that my day goes just fine without it.

After having written this, I have to admit, I'm incredibly busy at the moment.

The upcoming Men's Spring Knitting Retreat coordination is in full swing.  Arranging ride-shares for local transportation to the retreat, printing name-tags and agendas, providing final lists to the retreat center manager, getting last-minute thank-you gifts for the workshop leaders, updating final financials...and on and on.

And then add to that, finishing the blanket (see below) and all my other knitting/crocheting/spinning efforts (see below).

In summary...I feel perfectly buys.

Current Knitting, Sewing, Crocheting, Spinning

First of all, I have finished the Easton Logo blanket!


It's not as perfect as I had envisioned it, but it's amazingly warm and soft and cozy.


The flannel was an excellent option for lining the back of the blanket.  Given my sewing skill level, I'm overall pleased with how it came out.  I may do a few tweaks on the quilting aspects of the blanket, but even if I made no other changes, I'd be pleased with the effort.

I also started a new lacy mohair wrap design with my handspun with Mindy's mohair/Shetland blend.


I'm considering adding a horizontal stripe of dark charcoal before the last two wide rows of blue so that this will be a proper wrap as opposed to just a wide scarf.  I'll let you know how it looks.

I also started another Interlocking Crochet Scarf using an almost black alpaca sock yarn.


The drape of this stitch pattern, combined with the silky/heavy drape of alpaca is a perfectly rich combination.

Finally, Dan's (Gnomespun's) combed Dorset is being turned into a luscious and spongy single.


I can never say for sure what the final yarn will be like, but if it's anything close to the lush singles I'm making, it will be an incredible yarn.

And finally...less than a week to take advantage of having any sales from my patterns on Ravelry donated directly to Lambda Legal.

...gotta get back to leisure!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Underestimating the Effort



As someone who doesn't sew much, I was wondering if experienced sewers underestimate the time, effort and expertise involved in a sewing project as much as I do.

As Complex as Healthcare in the U.S.

When I decided to line the back of my knitted blanket (to hide the not-so-presentable "back" of my work), I had this idea it would be a relatively easy thing to do.  I mean, how difficult could it be to sew a rectangular piece of fabric onto the back of a rectangular piece of knitted fabric?

Sorry to all of you who sew, but to paraphrase, "Nobody knew how complicated this could be!"

Just working with a piece of fabric this big is a pain...never mind all the cutting, pinning, ironing, basting, finding a spot big enough to lay it all out, sewing, ripping, re-sewing, tangling knit stitches in the foot of the sewing machine, running out of bobbin thread 3 inches into a 90 inch seam and not realizing it until "finishing", and on and on.

I don't mean to complain...especially to those of you who understand all the complexities of sewing and have dealt with them for years, but...

Okay, whine mode off...thank for listening and understanding.

Current Knitting/Sewing/Crochet

I have been able to finish the mountaintop outline embroidery on the Easton Logo blanket and some of the lining.

I did the outline in different colors on each side of the blanket and overall, I'm pleased.  I've also sewn up all four sides of the lining (badly).  I still need to baste the two layers of the blanket together and "quilt" the two layers together.  I think I'll just follow the graphic lines of the blanket, but that will require that I switch to my other sewing machine, which has a quilting foot that won't snag on the knitted fabric.  Still a lot of work to do on this project.

I also finished the latest Interlocking Crochet Scarf.


You'll note I still have a few ends to sew in on this beauty, but I am thrilled with how it came out.  The stretch and drape of this scarf light and bouncy and the colors came out beautifully and bright.

However...


Finn was not overly impressed.  This look was followed by a big, unhinged jaw yawn.  Oh well.

Readers' Comments/Questions

A huge thank you to those of you who have purchased patterns (or donated directly to Lambda Legal).  I should have noted, I don't sell a ton of patterns normally, so I wasn't expecting to fund Lambda Legal for the next decade or anything, but so far, I'll be donating at least $45 more because of your support...THANK YOU!  Donation of all of my pattern sales revenue for this month will be donated.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Now More Than Ever


With the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and many state governments all in the hands of Republicans or crazy people (or both), it seems like the courts are the only option we have for protecting civil rights.


The Most Impact

In looking at the organizations that seem to have the most impact on civil rights these days, it's clear that Lambda Legal is the organization that is best prepared to represent me and the legal issues I care about.  Check out their web page and the substantial listing of all those court cases that they're taking on.  The American's Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also doing amazing things to support our civil rights in the courts.

Both of these organizations are ramping up with staffing and resources to be able to push back on the unconstitutional efforts put forth by the Congress and the White House.

Both of them could use as much financial support as I can muster.

I have decided that in addition to my recent contribution to Lambda Legal (which was really a birthday gift from a good friend that gave me the choice of where to donate), I will also donate any sales from Ravelry patterns from now until the end of April.

You can look at a list of my published patterns, so if there's any you were hoping to buy, you can turn your purchase into a charitable contribution.


Even if you decide not to purchase a pattern, I'm hopeful you'll help support Lambda Legal if you can.

Current Knitting/Crochet

I had a bit of a setback in my project work, as I seemed to have finally passed the avalanche of kidney stones from my last lithotripsy.  Six hours of intense pain followed by passing about 18 kidney stones of varying sizes.  I think it's over now...at least until my kidneys decide to grow more stones, but it did put a bit of a halt on most project work.

I did start to add the flannel lining to the Easton Logo blanket...but not enough to get a decent photo (I feel like Trump when I say that "I never knew how complex this sewing stuff was.").

I also got a bit more finished on the Interlocking Crochet Scarf.


It is going to be a lovely scarf when it's finished!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Crochet World Stranger

Despite how long I've been crocheting, I have never really participated much in on-line forums or groups about crochet and I've never understood why many of the on-line crochet people can be so bitter and insulting.

Needing Translation

I have a few YouTube tutorials...mostly I did them to try and help folks out with various stitches I found difficult to describe in a pattern.  One of those tutorials is for my Interlocking Crochet Scarf pattern:


This video has had LOTS of views (over 66,000 at last count), and received comments and "Likes" and "Dislikes."  I'm not sure I understand the comments in Spanish, but from what I gather, they're not positive.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind critical feedback, especially if it's useful commentary on a video.  But my general experience is that crocheters seem to have no problem being critical in a very mean way.  I'm not one who can really complain about this...when I first started this blog, I had no issue myself with harsh criticisms of designers, magazines and vendors at Stitches and fiber festivals.  And truth be told, I suck at video'ing my knitting and crocheting.  But three negative comments I got yesterday just seemed to be insulting, rather than wanting to provide any kind of useful feedback, so I decided to reply and the commenter finally revealed her real reason for critiquing.


There were a couple of other replies she made:


I particularly like that her YouTube profile seems to indicate that she will be a hateful person for all of eternity.

Suffice it to say, I have reported her to YouTube and I am requiring all of her future comments to be approved before publishing to the video comments.

I am glad to see that it's not crocheters in general that are so rude, but just the hateful homophobes like Anna.

Current Knitting
I am happy to say that I have finished the knitting of the Easton Logo Blanket!


Sorry for the splash of light, but there were very few areas of open floor space in my house to display this for a photograph.

I pushed myself and focused on just finishing what seemed like miles of stockinette to get this finished.  I still have to duplicate stitch in the outline at the top of the mountains, weave in some ends, and the sew in the lining, but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  Here's the log it's based on.


And finally, a gratuitous photo of our handsome boy, Finn...for no reason whatsoever.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

Flea Markets are for Knitters


Getting to know some of the regular vendors at our local flea market has paid off again.

Cheap and Bountiful

I saw a large zip-loc bag with what looked like a lot of double-pointed needles in it.  The vendor had wandered off, but Thaddeus knew who it was and knew that his stuff was usually priced pretty cheaply.  So I asked Thaddeus to get me the bag of needles if it was $5 or under.

The guy's first offer was $5, so I bought it.


In addition to containing multiple sets of double-pointed needles, and some fine-gauge straight needles, the bag also contained a lot of knitting notions...stitch holders, needle gauges, yarn bobbins, cable needles, stitch protectors and stitch holders.


And if all that wasn't enough...I also got myself one of these!


 Yes, you can envy me and my new Daisy-Loom!

I immediately made two different types of daisies on my new loom!


Perfect little embellishments for gifts, hats, coffee cup cozies, etc...no?

Current Knitting/Crochet

I'm keeping up with my quota of knitted stripes on the border of the Easton Logo blanket.



I've also done a bit more work on the latest Interlocking Crochet scarf I mentioned in the last blog entry.



It's started out looking great...let's hope it continues to look so good as I progress.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Priorities!

Now more than ever, taking stock of what's important to me and making that a priority becomes more and more critical.

Fast Pace Requires More Focus

The politicians seem to only want us to focus on self-serving issues and what the lobbyists pay them to promote.

The television and news seem to only want us to focus on what gets them ratings.

The religious seem to only want us to focus on their "way" to spirituality.

Social media can be a deluge of bright, shiny things that garner our attention in a very confused way.

So...what IS important to you?  What is MOST important to you?

Is it fostering a stronger, more loving relationship?

Is it protecting civil rights?

Is it making billions of dollars?

Is it taking care of your health and well-being?

Is it making sure your core spirit is taken care of?

Is it finishing your latest knitting/spinning/weaving/crocheting project?

Recently, it became obvious just how distracted I had become and how I had let my ideas of what is important fall to the wayside.  Karl Marx once said that "religion is the opiate of the masses" but I'm starting to believe it's only one of the many opiates that keeps us stunned and confused.

I started a list of personal priorities, and even that got confusing given all of the different levels of importance...is climate change more important than my mental well-being?  Is the urgency of finishing my taxes more important than fostering a stronger relationship with Thaddeus?

I'm not a person lacking in organizational skills and processes, so I'm sure I'll figure this all out, but one thing is certain...it is important to me to understand just what is important to me and make sure my activities are aligned with those priorities.

Current Knitting

Scarves seem to be flying off my needles lately.  I finished the latest Cross Stitch Scarf.


I'm extremely pleased with the colors in this this one...rich and interesting.  I started another Crochet Interlocking Scarf as well.  I'll post a photo when I've added a few more rows of color to it.

I also started the fourth and final border for the Easton Logo blanket.


The border starts with the light gray color, with the finished border on the right and the current border on the left (just started the purple stripe).

Perhaps it's misguided given all that's going on, but I've made it a priority of knitting at least 7 rows of border each day to get this project finished.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Feuding Fun

But You Are Blanche!

Recently, we've been watching the FX series Feud: Bette and Joan.

 

I've always been a huge fan of Jessica Lange and both she and Susan Sarandon do a great job of portraying these two iconic actresses during the filming of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

So, of course, we had to re-watch that wonderful film.  It was particularly interesting to get to watch Bette Davis' daughter as the next door neighbor daughter...I never knew that was Bette's daughter.

Since much of the Feud series and the movie it's about try and leverage controversy as publicity, it reminded me of when I first started my blog and how Marilyn (the curmudgeon) and I always thought it would be great if she and I started a fake on-line blog-feud.  We never did it, but I bet it would have garnered a lot of clicks to our respective blogs.

Current Knitting/Spinning

I couldn't bring myself to pick up the 362 stitches on the edge of the Easton Logo blanket, so I started a new Cross Stitch Scarf.



This one uses Zauberball and some other sock yarn.  It knit up incredibly fast, so I started another one using the rest of the Zauberball with some other fingering weight yarn.


Very different, but I'm liking it just as well as the last one.  I also increase the number of stitches to get a slightly longer scarf.

I also meant to note that the wool/mohair yarn I spun and showed photos of in last blog turned out to be 482 yard/ 6.3 ounces of yarn...with that grist (1,224 per pound), most would call it a sport weight yarn.  I decided to do a small swatch on US8 needles.






I love how lofty and fuzzy the fabric is and I like the color better as a fabric than on the ball.  One of my favorite yarns that I've ever spun.

Monday, March 27, 2017

For Me Groupon is NEVER a Good Idea!


There may be some who are Groupon masters and get fantastic deals from Groupon, but for me, it's almost always either more expensive, or way too difficult to get what I want based on the savings.

Bitchy Whining

Skip this part if you don't want to hear whining.

My latest adventure with Groupon and why it sucks for me.

First of all, it's not all Groupon's fault...I suck at Groupon.  I hate reading fine print (and there is LOTS of it).  I'm terrible at avoiding expiration dates.  I get sucked in easily by shiny advertisements.

Recently, I decided to order some personalized M&M's for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat this coming May and I was overjoyed when Groupon sent me a notice that I could get $100 toward their purchase, with a $50 expense.  So overjoyed that I bought two of them.

With visions of M&M's dancing in my head, I eagerly designed my candy on the MyMMS web site.

For $100 in Groupon cost, I planned on buying two 5lb bags of custom M&M's and some other products that would bring my total to $200 worth of candy.

I first come to find out that I can only use one coupon per order.  Five pounds of custom M&M's are $139, so I decide to place two separate orders and apply both coupons.

But then I do my second stupid thing...I decide to think on it for a while.

The coupons expire because I forget about them...but at least I can get the face value for the coupons, so I proceed to order 10 pounds of M&M's.

My coupon code doesn't work, so I contact Groupon.  I am told that M&M doesn't accept expired coupons and that I'll have to get a refund instead.  She goes ahead and credits my Groupon account with $100 Groupon bucks.  Really?!?!

After an hour in Customer Support chat, I finally convinced the representative that Groupon Bucks is not a refund, but an exchange, and I got fully refunded for my Groupon purchase.

This is just one example of how I suck with Groupons...there are probably at least a dozen other pitfalls I've fallen into with them.

The stupid part is that I ended up purchasing 5lbs of custom M&M's using a coupon code of GRAD17 (that I got using google) and got 25% off my purchase. 

Current Spinning

I spent the weekend finishing up my latest spinning project.  I thought I had a lot of the teal fiber I was spinning, but realized I only had the one ball of roving.


So I decide to ply it together with the mohair from Mindy.







It had a slight barber-poling effect (which I don't mind at all), but when I washed the yarn, a lot of blue dye bled off, and overdyed the lighter parts of the yarn, so there's a much more uniform color.








Overall, I am very pleased with how the yarn turned out.  The color is a bit less yellow than some of the photos (the last closeup is the best color on my monitor) and there is a beautiful haze/halo around the yarn that will make a very nice knitted fabric.  Stay tuned!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Beautiful Things


Have you ever walked through a large museum and found yourself so overwhelmed with masterpieces that your mind just becomes inured with seeing beauty?

Sensory Overload

I remember thinking a number of times as I went through the Louvre in Paris, "Oh look...another fucking masterpiece."

I learned that for me, it was easier to go to museums that were more manageable or focused.  I found two other museums on that same Paris trip were much more enjoyable (Musée d'Orsay and Musée Picasso).  I also found that the Frick in New York City was a much more enjoyable experience than MOMA.

All that being said, I'm hopeful my two latest acquisitions of beauty in one photo aren't overwhelming.


Dan from Gnomespun had some beautifully combed Dorset in a rich, rusty-ish red color that I loved and he also had a shocking green hank of sock yarn.  Here are closeups of each so you don't get too overwhelmed.


I can't wait to spin up the Dorset and I am also really looking forward to making something stunning with the sock yarn.

Current Crochet

I finished up a second scarf using the Crochet Broomstick Ripple stitch.



This one is done in a vibrant Christmas red (with sparkles...in fact it's Koigu's Sparkle yarn).  It will make a nice Christmas-y scarf...almost looks like a poinsettia, no??



After I block this scarf, it will be soft and beautifully drapey.