Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Desiging 3-Dimensional Knitting

Even after decades of knitting, I can't say that I am very good at visualizing and designing knitted objects that are sculptural or three-dimensional.

Willie Warmers, Amiguri and Toys...Oh My!

Other than sock heels and toes, when it comes to items like the FiberTrends felted slippers or knitted dolls or animals, I will most definitely need to rely on a pattern.  That's why I'm grateful the people at Cascade Yarns have come out with their latest book, 60 Quick Knitted Toys.

I have to admit that one of my other failings in the knitting arena, is embroidering, so I was glad to see a small primer section (only half a page) with graphics for a handful of useful stitches.

The book is chock-a-block full of animals, toys and games.  What I particularly like about the patterns is that they're all nicely detailed and designed to please both the recipient and the knitter.  The obligatory Teddy bear is even interesting in that it's an argyle pattern.

If you get the book, check out the pattern for Happy the Clown...beautifully done.

The front is even more adorable...but I wanted to show that no detail was left out in the designs.

All of the patterns are designed using Cascade Superwash yarns, so the colors will be available long after the book is out of print and the knitted items will be washable.

Current Knitting

Working on four different knitting projects at the moment:
  1. Easton Mountain logo blanket (still working on the sixth panel)
  2. More coffee cup cozies
  3. A twisted headband
  4. A Willy Warmer

One of the things I love about John's Willy Warmer pattern is that the sizes come in Large, Extra Large and Humongous...perfect for the fragile male ego.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Production Knitting

Trying to build inventory for future craft shows has found me knitting the same pattern over and over.

Knitting - A Pleasure or a Chore?

If someone offered you the chance to knit the same simple pattern (easily knit while you watched television) that took you a couple of hours to knit and they provided you with the yarn, would you be willing to get paid $4 per completed item?  Would you be willing to do production knitting for any amount of money?  Would knitting for pay take away the joy of knitting for you?

When I price items for my craft shows, I recognize that it's not likely that I will ever make a proper wage for the time it takes me to knit an item.  I have to constantly balance my enjoyment of the time that I knit, and the fact that I can do knit whilst doing other things.  I also have to balance the fact that my knitting time could be going toward knitting gifts, or a sweater for me or Thaddeus.

I'm starting to strike a balance between knitting items for sale, and knitting things I do for myself or others.  Honestly, I enjoy doing both.

Current Knitting

I've knitted a few more Starbucks cup cozies (yes, they could be used on a lot of cups, but I figure if someone is willing to spend $7 or $8 on a latte, they'll be willing to spend money to buys a cup sleeve for themselves or as a gift).

Any thoughts on how much you think I should sell these for?  I'm thinking about doing cardboard cutout inserts as packaging.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Time to Just Get Over It

Face Reality

Someone on Facebook asked her readership,
"There are still trump supporters out there.... how? How is that even possible?"
One of the commenters left the following response,
"There are many of us around who support President Trump, but choose to not discuss politics in a social media setting. I will not discuss my views here, but will say we do not have Stockholm Syndrome, are not delusional, stupid, ignorant or unintelligent. We also do not feel we have made a mistake or are ashamed. We are not sheeple. We have differing opinions. I am silent because it is better to have rational discussions about topics with people who do not hate and do not call me names rather than have an argument or debate with adults who feel name calling and disrespect is socially acceptable. I would rather keep good friends, regardless of what our opinions are, and agree we do not see eye-to-eye than call them horrible things and think that is okay. We are many. My husband and I raise our children to have a mind of their own and to know it is okay to not always agree, but to be respectful and kind. The hatred throughout the political spectrum is not going to do anything but continue to put distance between Americans. It is a sad situation for our country. If you are a "friend" of mine, you are of course more than welcome to unfriend, unfollow, block or ban. Honestly, it makes no difference to me in the grand scheme of life. I am on Facebook as a decent human being and enjoy my social media friends regardless of their political positions, because that is not all that makes us who we are."
 Those of you who know me, know that I hate this president (yes, I know "hate" is a strong word...I hate him).  There is not one aspect of him that I can even say I admire...not one.  When I say we need to "get over it" I don't mean to say that we should in any way stop working against all that he's trying to do to my country and I will fight him at every opportunity.

What I do think we have to "get over" is that there are people who think very differently in this country than we do...enough of them in key States that they elected someone I find utterly detestable.  But the fact that these people exist, is something I need to recognize.  People who were terrified of the thought of Hillary running our country, and found great comfort in the alternative that was presented to them...people that weren't as afraid of radical change to the status quo...or even more so, yearned for it.

I don't agree with these people, but I do recognize they do exist and they have as much right to their opinion as I do mine.  I will work as hard as I can to win over their hearts and minds and find alternatives that they find better suited to their ideals than the man who currently inhabits the White House.

Current Knitting

I have been a bit obsessed lately with a pattern for a coffee cup sleeve I found recently on Pinterest called "I'd Love Some Coffee" by Thaddeus Nelson.

So I've made a few of them in this fantastic yarn I got at the Rocky Mountain Men's Knitting Retreat a while ago...they look fantastic and they knit up rather quickly (once you get past the fiddliness of some of the stitch transfers.  I think I'll be making a lot of these cup cozies.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Workshop Scheduling

Each year, participants of the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat volunteer to lead workshops at the retreat.

Knitting Expertise Shared

We have amazing spinners, weavers, knitters, crocheters and designers who show up to the retreat each year, willing to share what they know with the guys who attend.

Some of the more popular workshops have been Lace Blocking, Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom, Designing Knits that Fit, Sock Heel Architecture, Tunisian Crochet,  Choosing Colors That Work Together, Intro to Double-Knitting, Crochet Edging, etc.

It's amazing what the guys come up with each year...especially since each workshop is 3 hours long and we really don't have the facilities to delve into the messier workshops, like dyeing.

If you could attend, what workshops would you like to see?

Current Knitting and Spinning

I finished the Biased Garter Scarf using my hand-spun, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

I also finished the spinning the Mohair/Shetland singles from Mindy and started spinning some unknown wool that I will ply it with.

The unknown wool is being spun thicker than the mohair/shetland blend..I think it will create an interesting yarn when it's all finished.  I'll certainly have enough of it.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Regarding my afterthought heel, Leslie suggests, "For an afterthought heel, try doing the same thing as a toe, just decreasing to the final number rather than increasing. K2tog and SSK make a very nice heel, one stitch from the edge."

That's exactly what the pattern called for, and I might pull out my heel and re-do it that way.  We'll see how ambitious I am.

Thank you all for the well-wishes on my kidney stone saga...I'm feeling quite well now and will have my final visit with the Urologist (hopefully) next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Garter Stitch - The Perfect Learning Tool

Having said for years that the most important characteristic to be a successful knitter is perseverance, I think garter stitch is the perfect tool to assess if someone will be a lifelong knitter or not.

Knitting Assessment

Garter stitch can also be incredibly boring and seemingly takes FOREVER to grow.  

Seems like it would be the perfect test of perseverance for a potential new knitter.  If I'm teaching someone to knit and they don't have endless persistence with it comes to knitting endless rows of garter stitch (and ripping out and starting again when they make mistakes), I typically think the learner won't ever become an earnest knitter.  I know there are exceptions to this generalization, but it seems to be a good indicator.

On a more positive side, garter stitch is simple enough to help a new knitter understand how to create rows of loops that eventually form a fabric.  Garter stitch doesn't roll or curl up.  Garter stitch fabric makes it easy to count rows.  Garter stitch has approximately the same row and stitch gauge, making it easy to pick up stitches and perform things like mitered or modular knitting.  Garter stitch creates furrows that can easily be used for illusion or shadow knitting.

Finally, when my life is a bit full, garter stitch can be an incredibly soothing and rhythmic way for me to continue knitting.

Current Knitting

A while ago, I was watching television and didn't have my knitting project(s) with me, so I picked up some handspun yarn and some needles and just started knitting a garter/biased scarf.

With all the medical tests and procedures lately, I've found this easy and rich-colored garter stitch project has been a joy to work on.   And even with this much length on the scarf, it seems to be an endless task.  I will, however, persevere.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What Is The Plural of Lithotripsy?

Yes...during my latest encounter with a kidney stone, it turns out that the 6.5mm stone that was causing me issues had a mate in the other kidney that was even larger.

Is There a Two-Fer Discount?

The smaller, problematic stone had moved down my ureter, blocking the flow of fluid on my right side into the bladder.  It also caused quite a bit of pain.

The first lithotripsy completely pulverized the blocking stone (and I only had one stone on my right...unlike the graphic above).

Since I had met my annual deductible, and the doctor thought it was advisable, I scheduled a second lithotripsy on Friday and had the stone embedded in my left kidney pulverized as well.

So far, so good...no pain or other ill effects from the second lithotripsy.

Current Knitting

With the discomfort and anxiety of another medical procedure, I decided to work only on the afterthought heel sock project...I figured if I messed it up it wouldn't require much to re-do it.

Suffice it to say, the first heel is now complete after three different attempts which I ripped out.  I finally landed on a standard short-row heel, using the wrap & turn short-row technique.  My first attempt was to use Japanese short-rows, which I hated for a heel.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Key To Happiness

If you're coming to QueerJoe's blog to find out the key to happiness, I think you may possibly have lost your way completely.


There are certain truths that one stumbles upon during a lifetime that come to be important aspects of what makes up one's character.

I was fortunate to realize very early in my life that the pursuit of money, power and/or success wasn't the goal...that satisfaction was the goal, and possibly pursuit of money, power and/or success might help with reaching that goal.

It always amazed me how easy it was to see when people had lost sight of their purpose and how they would change their focus to make success the goal instead of what success could bring.  I'm fortunate that it always seemed clear to me.

We recently watched the movie, The Founder, the story of Ray Kroc and the founding of the fast-food chain, McDonald's.  Never was it more clear how someone had lost their way and confused success with happiness.  Ray seemed so deluded by the pursuit of success, not only did he seem to lose his soul, but he also seemed to have convinced the two McDonalds brothers (who really founded the business) that they too should be fighting for success instead of happiness.

It was a clear analogy for me as to how our current politicians are not  only focused on self-serving, power-grabbing, zero-sum-gain strategies, but they are also convincing millions of Americans that they should be fighting for the wrong things...including me sometimes.

I have to keep reminding myself...what is important to me...what do I want in this life...and not be distracted by the vengeful feelings I have.

Current Knitting

More ripping out and re-knitting of the Easton Logo blanket has taken place since the last blog entry.

You might have noticed the slope of the mountains in the latest panel that I attached don't exactly line up with the panel next to it, but I'm pretty certain I can fix this easily with a little duplicate stitch and also when I do the embroidery of a darker mountaintop outline of stitches.  Otherwise, it will be a lot of ripping and re-knitting.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Saving Face

The Japanese had this great concept of being able to extricate yourself from a potentially embarrassing situation or argument with your humility in tact.

Facebook Should be Named "Losing Facebook"

It seems every public argument these days, especially in social media is all about decimating the opponent.  It's not just about winning the argument...it's about making those with whom you disagree look like a complete fool and publicly humiliating them.

In my mind, that's the online equivalent of physically beating someone so badly, they don't have the ability to come back and fight another day.

It's brutal, overly cruel and unnecessary.

Don't get me wrong, I've been guilty of arguing this aggressively numerous times.  My anger and rage lately make me want to pulverize people with whom I vehemently disagree.

I've decided I will try and offer online opponents the opportunity to save face in a few different ways.  There are different kinds of disagreements on Facebook which I will handle the in the following ways:

  1. People who honestly disagree with a post on my own timeline and state their reasons coherently and respond directly to the point of the post without posting multiple other non-sequitur responses. To these people, I will thank them for their opinion, letting them know how much I value their ability to present their opinion in a way I can understand it.
  2. People who respond to a post on my timeline with less-than-coherent arguments, lies/inaccuracies/alternate facts, or information that doesn't respond directly to my point, but tries to distract with other points.  I will respond back with feedback about how their response is not valuable and allow them to respond coherently, or have their comment deleted.
  3. Responses from a comment I make on someone else's timeline that are clear and respond directly to my comment.  Especially when it's from the person who made the initial comment, I will again thank them for their point of view and the clarity with which they present it.
  4. Responses from a  comment on someone else's timeline that is unclear, non-responsive and/or aggressive.  I will reply back with reasons why I won't pursue their argument and unfollow any further comments from the post.

I've decided I don't have to win every argument I get into, but I also want to make sure I don't accept bullying, lies or hateful language...especially on my own personal space.

We'll see if this newfound civility will last.

Current Knitting

Having been off pain meds since Sunday, I have gotten back to knitting and decided to focus on trying to finish the Easton Logo Blanket.

I'm finally past the point where I had to rip out and now I only have the rest of the current panel and one more intarsia panel to knit.  Sewing it all up, weaving in ends and doing a border will still take quite a bit of work, but I'm liking how it's turning out.