Monday, May 21, 2018

Bit Off More Than I Could Chew

No matter what I write before a Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, don't EVER believe me if I say I'll try and post every day.

Not Enough Hours In A Day

This is not a complain...when life is full and joyous and satisfying, blogging just takes a backseat to fully participating and reveling in all that is amazing about this annual event.

After arriving home last night and unloading the car, I wanted nothing more than to enjoy hanging out with Thaddeus and Finn and eat some of Thaddeus' potato pancakes with sour cream.

Even today, the unpacking of all that makes up the retreat seems daunting.  Editing hundreds of photos and determining which photos to include in the blog and which aren't worth salvaging looks like something I will never complete.  Sifting through hundreds of e-mails and replying to the 3% that require it might take a little while.

I promise to start posting a blog entry or two this week that will convey how magical this past week was for me and 40 other guys...but for now, I need to get a bit organized.

As a teaser (which I hope you will find satisfying enough), I offer you one photo from the buffet line for lunch at Easton Mountain.

Not-So-Spoiler Alert - This was probably the best MSKR yet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

2018 MSKR Day 3

My heart is full.

Awesomeness Persists!

With the arrival of some of the early guys, I am restored to full capacity and ready to retreat.

I am reminded again about what amazing men this retreat attracts every year.

We're also putting together the project bags for all of the guys (including some fantastic Juniper Moon yarns for all the guys).

Forecast continues to be excellent for the upcoming week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2018 MSKR Day 2

Fat, happy and revving up for the first official day.

Waking Up in Paradise

Unusually for my first night in an unfamiliar bed, I slept soundly and woke to the cacaphony of chirping, whistling and honking birds.  Here are some photos of the early morning as the sun rises on the horizon.

And then there was breakfast!

So far, so good.

Monday, May 14, 2018

2018 MSKR Day 1

The 11th annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat will begin officially this coming Thursday, May 17th.

Early Days

Later today, the car will be packed and I will kiss Thaddeus and Finn goodbye and head up to Greenwich, NY for a few days to relax and prepare for the retreat.  I love the three pre-retreat days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) as they give me a chance to relax, eat well and hang out with some of the other guys who arrive a day or two or three early.

I'm hopeful to be able to post photos and small blog posts every day this week so that folks that can't be there can at least have a taste of the exciting week.

Most of the guys who have ever attended any of the Men's Knitting Retreat know that I don't knit at retreats (or at least very rarely knit), and so I won't have any knitting progress on the blog this week.

But since this past weekend I did make some negative progress...

Current Knitting

I ended up ripping out the entire sleeve this time and re-started it alternating two colorways of yarn.

Not sure I'm going to be pleased with this either, but I have plenty of time to ponder it this week.

Be good while I'm away.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Yarn Chicken or Weighing Yarn

When knitting was still new, I think it would have been preferable to know for certain that I had enough yarn to finish a project.

Cynical Old Knitter

Even back then, it hadn't really occurred to me that I could knit one sleeve, weigh the completed sleeve and weigh my remaining yarn to make sure I had enough for the second sleeve.  It should have been obvious, I know, but it takes a while for revelations like this to dawn on me sometimes.

Now that it's not such a hardship to rip out perfectly good knitting, I'd just rather play yarn chicken with my knitting and estimate as best I can whether I'll have enough yarn to complete a project.

I can usually estimate with some level of accuracy whether I'll have enough yarn to finish a project.  But even in the event that I miscalculate, it seems like it's a minor inconvenience anymore when I have to rip back and do something differently.

After is just knitting and I enjoy knitting...even re-knitting.

Current Knitting

I successfully ripped back the sleeve and re-attached the other hank of yarn I have left for the Briar Rose Pullover.

In fact, I've actually almost come to point where I'll shape the top of the I've even made some progress. I noticed that there was a difference in colorways in this latest hank as well, although no where near as pronounced as the other one.  I'm sorry to say, I think I'll need to rip this back again...this time all the way to the beginning and start using both hanks of yarn intermixed every other row.

Thank goodness I love knitting so much!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Ever Wanted to Produce a Retreat?

Most things are more involved than most people might imagine.  Producing the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat for the past 10 years has never been a chore, but there is an enormous amount of planning and activity required to make it happen each year.

Lying in a Hammock - Knitting a Sock

This coming Monday, I will pack up my car (to the rafters...if cars have rafters) and head up to Greenwich, New York to begin preparations for the 11th annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

We have 43 guys attending and the official retreat will begin on Thursday, May 17th.

Over the years, I have honed the art of producing this retreat into a fine science and it's been incredibly gratifying to see other guys around the country have done similar work for their regional retreats.  We have seven active Men's Knitting Retreats currently being produced and they still continue to be more and more popular.

So much so, that it became easier to create an initial guide for would-be retreat coordinators to at least answer most of their initial questions.

The regional Men's Knitting Retreats are all coordinated, financed and produced by volunteer coordinators who want to foster this amazing community in their own area, but there are a number of centralized functions, like the web site, the scholarship fund, social media promotion, etc. as well.  It's been amazing how much growth we've seen in the demand for the retreats.  Two examples of the expansion are the Great Lakes Men's Knitting Retreat sold out rather quickly last year and again this year, so an interim retreat was added into the schedule...the Mid-Michigan Mens' Knitting Retreat.  Similarly, the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat has been selling out very quickly for the last few years, so we've created a second annual retreat at Easton Mountain in September - North East Men's Fall Knitting Retreat, which will coincide with the Adirondack Wool & Arts Festival (formerly the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival), which happens to be just down the road from Easton Mountain.

We're not sure how fast (or if) the North East retreat will sell out, but if you know anyone interested, we will officially open registration for the first-ever such event this coming Saturday at 10:00 am Eastern Time.

Current Knitting

Oh No!  I hate this kind of shit and it makes me want to throw my knitting in the trash (which I won't).

Can you see where I switched to the new hank of yarn?  It's a completely different colorway!

Ugh!  It's probably my fault...I pay so little attention to that kind of thing...hell, this could be a completely different yarn for all I know...I threw away the tags when I wound them into balls.

Hopefully I have enough yarn in the last hank to finish the sleeves in all one colorway...otherwise I'll have to pull out both sleeves and intermingle some of the different colorway.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Asshole Incentivized

With our current dumpster fire in the White House, it amazes me how much more attention being an asshole gets than being a good, ethical person.

My Attempts at Ass-holiness

Last week, I published a "true confessions" list of opinions about which I wasn't overly proud.

First of all, I was really trying to demonstrate that my opinions and thoughts aren't always very charitable.  And secondly, I had no idea that no one had ever expressed some of those opinions publicly, but the firestorm of agreements and disagreements on the one issue truly surprised me.  But the thing that surprised me most was realizing that the most contentious issues always get the most attention.

Look at my dashboard for Blogger (the platform on which this blog is published):

This screen capture shows that the "Okay...I Admit It" blog entry garnered more than twice (684 hits) the number of eyeballs as any recent blog entry.

Don't get me wrong, this screen capture was done shortly after the Millard Fontenot Scholarship blog entry was posted and there were already 130 hits to that blog post...but despite what an amazing man Mill was and how proud I was of my way of honoring him, that blog post won't get half as many hits as the contentious one of me expressing snarky opinions.

Sad to say, I'm realizing that this type of thinking is a big part of the reason we have the POS POTUS we have.

And I have no solutions for it.

Current Knitting

Over the weekend I worked a little on the sleeve for the Briar Rose Pullover and a also worked another diagonal strip on the Knitted Sheet.

I think the increases on the sleeve are working up fine (at least just by eyeballing it) and I'm loving the look of the Knitted Sheet more and more as it grows and grows.  I'm up to about 260 stitches per row and it's just getting wide enough that I won't be able to display the whole project soon due to the length of the needle.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Honoring Millard

Having never met Millard Fontenot in person, it still hurt a lot when I found out he had unexpectedly died in March earlier this year.  He was such an active and vibrant member of many of my on-line forums, that it was inconceivable that he should have died.

Kerry's Request

Shortly after he passed, I heard from Mill's life partner, Kerry, who I had met at the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat a few years ago.  He asked if we could set up a memorial scholarship fund for the Men's Knitting Retreats in Mill's name because of how supportive he was of the men's knitting community and the retreats they had both attended.

For years, each of the regional retreats had a scholarship fund to allow for helping guys attend their specific retreat.  None of them were set up as charitable funds, so there was no tax benefit to donating to them.  We had been looking at a way to make donations tax deductible.

And now we have!

Using a graphic of Millard's Brethren Sock design as a logo, we have established The Millard Fontenot Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc. (The Millard Fund) which can accept charitable contributions.  The donations can be directed toward a specific regional retreat, or they can be donated to the general fund, which will be able to award scholarships to any of the regional retreats.

You can't imagine how satisfying it is to have created a vehicle for honoring Mill's memory.

So please check out the web site and help us remember an amazing guy.

Current Knitting

I did end up ripping out the beginning of the sleeve for the Briar Rose Pullover and starting again.

The new sleeve cuff is wider and the body of the sleeve is being worked on bigger needles than the cuff.  I like it better, but I'm worried the rate of increases is too fast and I may be creating puffy sleeves.  

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Mars & Venus Collide

It may be true that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but the Venn diagram of where they overlap is where I find myself when it comes to emotional expression.

Porn vs. Intimacy

When it comes to attraction, men are generally visually attracted and women are emotionally attracted.  And I say generally...not everyone complies with this stereotype...even me sometimes.  As visually stimulating as pornography can be, it is usually completely devoid of satisfaction...empty calories of wasted energy...the white sugar of inputs to the brain.  It never comes close to touching the spirit, the center, the being, the soul.

Open, vulnerable, intimate connections with others on the other hand is something worth working toward for me.

Lately, I've fallen in love with the prose of Sam Van Wetter.  It's not often that I find men who can open their soul and express what they discover in words that are expressive and profoundly true.

His intermingling of connection with the Earth and nature with community political expression all seem to come from a deep love for the universal flow of existence.  His words convey to me a vivid experience and even a yearning to be in rhythm with all the splendor and beauty of the natural experience.

Read his latest Larking adventure here:

You won't be fact, quite the opposite...the absorption of his words is truly satisfying for me and hopefully for you as well.

I'll look forward to connecting with Sam in a few weeks at the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat...he and 43 other guys will get together to for a 4-day weekend to connect in ways that guys don't often have the opportunity.

Current Knitting

I started the first sleeve, using a smaller needle on the cuff and then realized I forgot to switch to the larger needle once I got to the actual sleeve.

So, I'll probably end up frogging at  least down to the cuff...although when I get the needle out of it, I may see if the cuff is really wide enough or whether I need to start with a few more stitches.