Friday, June 15, 2018

Modern Day Alchemy

And that is the most succinct description of the Men's Knitting Retreats that I can come up with.

These two photos were taken during the weekend of the retreat.  The top one was a group of guys that visited Carole Foster's Sheep Farm/Yarn Store (see Carole center) to either take a workshop in indigo dyeing or to supplement their stash.  They all seem happy regardless of the reason for the visit.

The second photo is the full group of guys (with one guy missing...I think the one female sheep in the photo may have had something to do with his absence).

From the very first day at the retreat, some strange and wonderful things happened, and it reminded me that I have very little to do with the concoction of guys, yarn-enthusiasm and natural beauty of Easton Mountain.  When I focus on making sure the space and all the logistics are handled, the guys seem to handle the rest.

I'm blessed to have some small part in it and the ability to participate with an awesome group of men.

If you're a guy who knits who has never experienced one of the Men's Knitting Retreats, you should definitely try the experience.

Current Knitting

The last two days have been very busy with little time to focus on my knitting

Only 1/2 a row of hearts added to the blanket (did that really require 2 progress photos?).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Useful Reference Guides

I remember when I learned about various on-line formulas that could be used to create one-piece, top-down raglan sweaters and how useful they were.

New Book - One-Piece Knits

The new knit publication, One-Piece Knits by Margaret Hubert is a valuable addition to my knitting references.

This book is full of useful information that both a new knitter and a longtime knitwear designer could find useful with plenty of tips, ideas, designs and detailed photographs.  It starts with many of the useful methods that I wish had been published years ago when I first started knitting sweaters...basic cast-ons, seaming up techniques, yarn weights, measuring a body for fitting a garment...etc.

The author identifies 12 basic prototypes of one-piece sweaters (for those of you who are averse to lots of finishing on a garment) and details how you can make them in various yarn gauges and multiple different sizes.  Top-down, side-over, back-to-front and cuff-to-cuff (all the hyphenated design concepts) and then provides the formulas for each in many different sizes.

And many of the examples are for men as well.

As an experienced knitter, I won't be knitting any of these designs as written, so I don't find this book to be inspirational in terms of ideas.  But when I am inspired with an idea for a new sweater design, I will definitely be starting with this book as my go-to reference on approximating size, stitches, increases and decreases.  It's a comprehensive book replete with templates on creating many different styles of sweater.

Current Knitting

One more row of hearts added to the Heart Baby Blanket...

Three more rows to go.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Gay Pride Allies

Longtime knitting friend Carol and her daughter went to the Philly Gay Pride parade this past weekend to support her oldest son (and older brother).  It reminded me of how important the love and support of parents and siblings are.

A Mother's Love

A few months after my mom found out I was gay, my sister tells me about an incident with my mom and one of her neighbors.  My mom is out chatting with a couple in a neighboring house and the man tells a rather innocuous gay joke.  I don't remember the joke now, but I recall it wasn't meant to be hateful, in fact I remember it made me laugh.

My mom replied..."My son is gay, and I find that joke offensive."

I can't tell you how proud I was of my mom.  More importantly, it made me realize how critically important it was for me to have her love and support.  She wasn't thrilled to know her son was gay, and she struggled with it for a while, but her thinking evolved quickly.  A longtime friend of hers reminded her that I had always been a good son and that hadn't changed.  Having a friend be supportive of my mom seemed important in her evolution.

Sister Kathy and mom
My mom and I have a great relationship these days.  She lives a couple of miles from me and I'm glad to be around for when our family gets together or when she needs me for this weekend I'll be feeding her cat.

Allies...friends...parents...brothers and sisters...and even social media friends and blog readers...people you can be sure of...such an important part of my life.  I'm blessed and grateful for all of them.

Current Knitting

It's growing...

Another layer of hearts have been added on to the Heart Baby Blanket...only four more rows of hearts to go.

I like that this blanket looks good on either fact I'm not sure whether I prefer the reverse stockinette heart on a stockinette background...

...or a stockinette heart on reverse stockinette background.

Fortunately, it looks good either way.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Unfriending Alpaca Farmers

Being a proud snowflake (which is a euphemism for queer in my mind), I have decided that I don't need to see Facebook posts that are either hateful or ask me to profess my love for a god or Jesus.

Why Are All the Assholes Alpaca Farmers?

A while ago, when I decided to quickly expand my "friends" on Facebook, I just started adding a lot of the recommended friends without really knowing who they were.  It was egotistical, but I wanted a lot of Facebook "friends."

For some reason, there must be a very large number of alpaca farmers in my Facebook universe and they all started to friend me and I just accepted their friend requests willy nilly.

Now, as I'm reading through my posts and I find anything hateful, racists, supportive of our POS POTUS, anti-Clinton/Obama/Mueller or if I see regular posts asking for "amens" or ways accepting Jesus as one's personal savior has made one's life glorious...I just unfriend the person immediately.

At least 90% of those unfriended lately guessed it...alpaca farmers.

These people are some of the stupidest, most hateful, willfully ignorant people I run into on social media.  I know this sounds like I'm taking a broad brush to a somewhat random population...but that has been my anecdotal experience.

Now, I'm sure there are exceptions...I'm sure, because I know some amazing alpaca farmers who are smart, loving, supportive people.

But in my most recent experience, Christopher Guest should do a sequel-like movie about alpaca breeders and farmers similar to "Best In Show" and he wouldn't have to exaggerate anything to show a crazy bunch of nut jobs and to create a hilariously funny movie.

Current Knitting

While I clean out the hate on my Facebook feed, progress moves forward on the Heart Baby Blanket.

I'm thinking I'll need to do a total of 9 rows of hearts, possibly 10 to make it a nicely proportioned blanket for swaddling, using in a crib, etc., so I have a few more rows of hearts to finish.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

They Have Deemed Me an Enemy

It didn't just's been happening for a while.  Being a queer man, I am now clearly seen as an enemy by many conservatives.

Dangerous Shifts

It used to be that Christians didn't like my behavior and thought it was against nature and God, and even at their most charitable, they felt that they were trying to save me from an eternal fire.  But I was still worthy of being converted and/or saved.  I wasn't an enemy.

The courts took a long time to come to it in this country, but when they opened up the right for Thaddeus and I to get married, I thought that it normalized us to some degree.  Now our mere presence as potential customers of their businesses is a threat to their religious freedom.  It used to be that I could live in a community of people who had some disdain about my morals, but I wasn't an enemy.

The conservative right has until recently seen us as a potential voting constituency.  I knew many gay men with money who were "socially progressive but financially conservative."  For me that was code for greedy assholes who had gotten their money through the support of the social and governmental infrastructure, but didn't think others deserved the same...the old, "I have all I need, so you can turn off the spigot now." mentality.  But now they're actively working to take away rights...rights for some queers to serve in the military, to adopt children, to access benefits for married couples.  Yes, we used to be tolerated with varying levels of disdain.  But, I wasn't an enemy.

The POS POTUS has changed all that.

I didn't really understand what it meant when people of different races claimed he was labeling non-white people as "other"...oh I understood it...the birther shit, the rapist coming over the border, but I didn't realize how demoralizing and dehumanizing it was until I felt it's brunt.

Yes, Christians have been given full rein to hate in the name of God and call it religious freedom.

Yes, religious freedom now means that asshole companies like Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop can now legally deny me service and discriminate against me because I'm queer.

Yes, this federal government and quickly the courts it is appointing has declared I am an enemy and should be treated as such.  But it also finally shows me just how forcefully I will need to respond to these hateful pricks.

I can at least be grateful for the wake-up calls.

For many non-whites reading this, I'm sure this is something you've experienced for a long time, and I apologize for my newfound fervor, but it was easy to deny the injustices until it started getting quite as personally scary as it's been getting in this country.  And for the Christians and conservatives that act in a way that would be pleasing to the namesake of Christianity, having allies is truly appreciated.

November can't come fast enough for this enemy of the State.

Current Knitting

More work accomplished on the Heart Baby Blanket.

I'm using a very soft and drapey acrylic yarn in a very neutral color and I'm liking the result.  Like many, my niece doesn't want to know the gender of her child-to-be, so a silvery gray with lavender tones seems like it will be perfect for the gender-unknown newborn.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Visionary Knitting

It's hard to imagine that someone could have re-imagined knitting and describe it in a whole new way that would make as much or more sense than how I've been doing it for over 30 years now.

A Major Accomplishment

After knitting for decades now, various components of repeating stitch sequences has occurred to me as an interesting concept, but I never really delved into it, and then I started reading through a new book I got that the recent retreat...

Sequence Knitting by Cecilia Campachiaro has combined a new (maybe not new...but newly formulated) idea of creating unique and interesting fabrics using simple techniques.

First of all, the book is's big and heavy, physically and it's completely full of succinct and easy-to-read descriptions of a new way of understanding repeating stitch patterns.  It also has tons of beautifully photographed examples of the technique.  The pattern designs that utilize these techniques are strategically placed within the description of the technique (also beautifully photographed) to give concrete examples of ways the ideas can be used.

This coffee-table-quality hardback book serves both as a revolutionary new-ish technique, as a stitch dictionary and as a template for creating your own stitch dictionaries.

It's expensive as hell, but I have a feeling once knitters get a gander at this volume, they will realize the importance of having it in their reference library.  Just to give you a point of reference, it is WAY more useful than Principles of Knitting (in my humble opinion) and I would have easily paid more for POK back in the day.

If you've got a birthday or gift-receiving event coming up in your life...this would be a perfect item to'll definitely not regret owning this radical and ground-breaking tome on rethinking your stitch designing.

Current Knitting

All that being said, I have decided to use a free pattern for the baby blanket that will go with the booties I knit up last week.

It's a very simple heart/block patterned blanket and there are tons of mistakes in the pattern, but it's easy enough to  follow even if with the mistakes.

Readers' Comments/Questions

sprboston writes, "ooh, cute bootie pattern! I'm always interested in a new bootie pattern. will you share the name, please?"

Yes!  It's from a German knitter's blog with an English translation of the pattern that is well written and has tons of great progress photos - Bootie Pattern

Regarding my appearance at the retreat in drag, Matt Senger writes, "To be honest, when I first saw you in the great room I thought what is this woman doing here raining on our parade but then thought, why not, as an afternoon guest. Glad, however, you are not considering opening the weekend up. We would quickly be outnumbered. It is a sacred space, time.

Sacred space's been a fantastic realization at what an amazing space gets created when we celebrate the communion of men with yarn obsessions.