Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Knit Titles Abound

A quick search on Amazon of knitting books ends up with over 5,000 titles...and today's book review is the top result on the list.

Knit Book Review

Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary have come up with a perfect book with simple designs, using luxury yarns.

Plum Dandi Knits will not appeal to you as a knitting pattern book if you're looking for complex stitch designs, ornate shawls or designs with tons of vibrant colors.

If you want something with a lot of great basic patterns (mostly for women), this would be a perfect book to treat yourself to this holiday season.  The photography and layout of the book is also just right for this type of knitwear design book.

Here are the two most likely patterns I will make from this book:

The Cape Elizabeth

Love the simple eyelet stitch pattern and the elegant edging.  With a nice drapey merino, this garment would be fantastic.

The Harrington Scarf

I'm always looking for ways of using bulky yarn in a simple and pleasing way.  I love everything about this design and could easily see it in a bulky handpainted yarn as well.

Current Knitting

I mentioned I had started a Linen Stitch Scarf in the last blog post.

This stitch pattern always takes me a long time to work, so even after a lot of work, I'm not sure I'll be able to finish this beauty before my show this weekend.  Wish me luck.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Final Days

While others get frantic about cyber-Monday sales (or not), I'm feverishly working to get last minute knitting and organizing products for my last craft show of the year.

NJ and PA Readers

The gratitude and appreciation I have for the loyal supporters of my blog is more than I could possibly acknowledge.  Just know that you all are represented well by the local followers of QueerJoe with the folks who come out to see me at local craft shows.

I am not one of those professional crafters who do shows all year long and travel far and wide to do so.  I choose only high-end shows that are within 20 miles of where I live, so this year (and last year), I only ended up doing two shows each year.

Asking a favor...

Can folks who know people in the NJ and Eastern PA areas please go to the page for my upcoming show, and "Like" the page and "Share" the page with anyone you think might be interested.

The show takes place in a beautiful old river mill complex that is maintained by a local historical foundation.  Shoppers walk around huge old wooden gears and grist mill equipment and at the same time get to see some of the finest local artisans and craftspeople in the Hunterdon County, NJ and Bucks County, PA area.

The Page for the event is here on Facebook -

The Event (where you can RSVP or indicate interest in attending is here -

Thank you all in advance for any support you can throw my is very much appreciated!

The photo above represents my knitting production for the month of November...3 shawls, four scarves and a hat.  I'm hopeful to have another couple of hats and one more scarf finished before this upcoming weekend!  Wish me luck.

Readers' Questions/Comments

Annec writes:  A question about the Indian cross-stitch: why do you slip the sts knitwise from the left needle to the right? Does the resulting twist help with maintaining the length of each st? (I finished a shawl that included this pattern st and the double-wrapped sts were slipped purlwise).

When I slip the 8 stitches knit-wise, and then knit those stitches, it puts a twist into the elongated stitches that minimally changes the length of the stitch, but mostly it's done so that the stitches hold the cross-over a little bit more firmly.  In my experience, slipping the stitches purl-wise allows the loose/long stitches to worm out of place more easily and the extra twist holds them a bit more snugly into place.  Either way works just fine.

Current Knitting

In one weekend, I was able to bang out another Knitted Cross Stitch Scarf, start a new linen stitch scarf, start a new Maypole hat and knit up a swatch to help a friend.

The latest Cross Stitch Scarf is a bit brighter than most of my other work...the teals and peaches in it, give it almost a Southwestern feel, and while I would never wear this colorway, I am quite pleased with how it came out.

This swatch is a pattern stitch called Dandelion Stitch.  It was made to support a botanist friend who is doing a lecture on dandelions.  She has dozens of examples of where dandelions are represented in ways other than just the flower itself, so I suggested she knit this stitch as an example.  When she asked me to knit it, I was thrilled to do it and have my knitting be a part of a botany professor's lecture on some about which she is an expert.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Comparing Size

Typically, generalizations about men who knit make me nuts, but I'm thinking that most of us have had some experience with comparing our size with other guys.

Who Has the Biggest?

When I got my first Addi needle gauge...

...and realized there was a size US15 needle (10 mm), I knew I just needed to have the biggest one.

But then when I found this at my local flea market...

...and looked closer...

...well, you KNOW those needles came home with sparkles and all!

As a follow-up on two things from Monday's blog, I was able to both make a mistake (fearlessly), and attempt a slightly different approach on the video tutorial for the Knitted Cross Stitch Scarf!

Since I was using a US13 (9 mm) needle to double-wrap the elongated stitches, I thought..."Why not use a US35 (19 mm) and only wrap ONCE!!!

In theory it was a great idea, but in reality, it didn't work well at all without stretching my work more than I cared to during the knitting...difficult to describe why, but I ended up going back to double wrapping the US13's.

So I guess size isn't everything.

Current Knitting

Sailing along on the latest Knitted Cross Stitch Scarf.

I opted to create two scarves instead of one wrap, so I'll be casting on another scarf sometime today.  It's amazing how Suzanne's colors make these scarves so beautiful...I couldn't be more pleased.

I also whipped up a Maypole Hat to add to my craft show inventory.

I still need to make a couple more of these hats to replenish inventory from my last craft show, so I've got my work cut out for me in the next week.

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.