Saturday, May 31, 2003

Gifts for Knitters

You may have noticed I've included a countdown button from my birthday in the left panel. Let it never be said I didn't give enough warning.

What do Knitters Want
There are a number of areas of interest in my non-knitting life. I love fountain pens and stationary. I love to read interesing novels. I enjoy gay-related things, and of course, food. It seems like these non-knitting related interests are the only areas where loved ones focus when buying me gifts. Here's one of my favorite gifts I've ever received (I bought it for myself):

Despite telling friends and family how much I love receiving knitting stuff, I never seem to get those kinds of gifts. So I thought I'd list those things that most knitters (including myself) would be thrilled to get (other than a gift certificate...which is always good too). 

  • Needle sets, including:

    • Denise or Boye sets

    • Multiple sizes of wooden needles (Ebony, Birch, Walnut, etc.)

    • Set of bamboo double points in various sizes

  • Project bags, including:

    • Tapestry-like bags

    • Canvas bags like my Eartha Knit Bag

    • Funky plastic bags (like the ones I've seen at Target)

  • Knitting cases for needles, accessories or sundries

  • Knitting books

  • Knitting machine

  • Sweater kits

  • Knit-related jewelry

  • Knit-related gift items, including:

  • Special yarn, including:

    • Quiviut

    • Cashmere

    • Manos 

    • Any other high-end yarn recommended by yarn store

  • Knitting accessories, including 

    • Nostepindes 

    • Yarn swift 

    • Ball winder

    •  Stitch markers, holders 

    • Tape measure - Scissors

    •  Wooly Board 

  • Other fiber-related items, including 

    • Spinning paraphernalia 

    • Looms 

    • Crochet-related items 

    • Clothes/Sweater Steamer

    Why is it that non-knitters find it so daunting to give knitting gifts? Are they afraid you'll already have it? Is knitting so daunting or mysterious to them that they wouldn't possibly know where to start? Are they hoping that this fiber obsession will go away if they ignore it?

    I realize most of the folks reading this are knitters, and I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak. But when I give gifts, I try to give things that the recipient is interested in. I plan on setting up a separate page dedicated to "What Gifts to Give to Knitters", and keeping a link to it from my blog. Any other ideas of gifts you would enjoy getting as a knitter, I'll include.

    I'm almost through the second pattern repeat on the first sleeve. I continue to make slow, but persistent progress, and I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm also still secretly hoping that I can do a MAJOR blocking of this thing so that it will fit me. It would be great to be able to wear this masterpiece after all the work I put into it. Otherwise, I might have to offer it to my mother's husband or someone else I know who is smaller than me, like a niece or something. Here's how it's looking at any rate.

    Knit Enthusiasts Unite
    Just as an update, Amber won't be able to join us because of a prior engagement and Marcus may decide he'd prefer to be biking (or joining Antonio in a...*cough*...knitting lesson). Since it's scheduled to rain tomorrow, I hope Marcus decides to join us so Kathy can get some use out of her lobster bib. I'll update you with pictures of however it turns out.

    Well, there are two to speak of. First of all, Khebhin isn't actually dead. From what he says, his cousin played a hoax, while Khebhin was away.

    Second, Kate will resume blogging in June.

    I have to admit, I never really believed Khebhin was dead, although I wanted to explain in my blog why I was removing his blog button, and why we weren't going to hear from him anymore. It seemed odd to me that Khebhin had a knitting friend, Enos, that I had never heard of. But I certainly wasn't going to express my cynism about it on-line.

    It seems that the resurrection is even a little more odd. Khebhin asked his homophobic cousin to oversee his e-mail while he went on an unannounced trip to Ireland. While he was gone, all Khebhin's computer files were deleted, and his cousin announced to only one of Khebhin's lists that he had died in a car crash. I'll let you all draw your own conclusions about this strange turn of events.

    I have also replaced Khebhin's blog button with one for Amber's site, Not So Swift.

    I am glad that Kate will be blogging again.

    Thursday, May 29, 2003

    Focus Damn It!

    I'm having one of those periods in my life where I set sights in one direction only to be distracted seconds later by something else that grabs my interest. The result is I just keep turning in circles.

    From a knitting perspective, I know what I need to do, and that is to finish Donegal. Once Donegal is done, the other projects that yearn for my attention will move along quickly, even if I can't focus on any one project for an extended period of time.

    Be forewarned. Wendy makes doing Fair Isles look easy and fast, and they are definitely anything but that. She has an incredible persistence and endurance when it comes to her knitting Which I appreciate, but definitely don't have myself. Honestly, I'm not sure I would want those qualities. I often enjoy the scattered, unfocused nature of my knitting. It makes the act of knittng seem more creative, or at least more Bohemian to me. It's one of the few areas of my life where I can display creativity, so I don't want to have any level of rigor or structure to that outlet.

    All that being said, I am focusing mainly on Donegal this week. I did end up getting a 16" circular for the sleeve, and it is working out MUCH better for me. As the sleeve tapers down, I will have to switch to two circulars, but for now, I am enjoying the knitting significantly better with one needle.

    I'll post a new picture on Friday or Saturday.

    Old Socks
    My first attempt at doing a pair of toe-up socks was following the instructions for Judy Gibson's "You're Putting Me On" socks. I followed the pattern blindly with some old purple Inca Alpaca, and they came out great. It was interesting doing a heel flap, since my only experience up until then was doing short-row heels on the sock knitting machine.

    Since then, I realized I prefer the short-row heel, and so I've changed the heel when I do the toe-up sock. At one point, I may change to a short-row toe, but I don't mind the look of the increase toe as described in Judy's pattern, so I don't see the need to change that part.

    Knit Enthusiasts Unite
    It is a great thing when I get to meet up with talented knitters with the same level of enthusiasm for the craft as I have. It's a bonus when those folks have exquisite taste, so I can bounce ideas off of them about possible design directions. If those qualities weren't enough, these folks are also extremely fun to be around. Here's a picture of Marilyn and Kathy waiting for me to arrive for the last meeting.

    That's the kind of meeting I'm expecting this Sunday when I meet up with Marilyn (Knitting Curmudgeon) and Kathy. The meeting was also supposed to expand to include Amber and Marcus, although I'm not sure if either of them will be there.

    What Makes a Blog Interesting?
    Obviously, I've thought a lot about this topic, even if I fall short of interesting sometimes. But I was reading Justin's Blog yesterday, and I was so pulled into his simple story of life at his house, that it made me think about this topic again. I love reading Justin's blog, but it doesn't fit into the standards I usually associate with a good blog. His doesn't have tons of pictures, he doesn't include a lot of technical knitting tips, and, in fact, there's not a whole lot of knitting content in his blog. And yet, I go to his site every day that I visit my own to check for comments (which is usually at least once a day).

    I guess if I could figure that out, I'd be the next John Irving.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2003

    I Wanna Be Vishnu

    Rama, what I could do with 4 arms and hands.

    Pulled in Many Directions
    I want to work on all my current projects and start at least five more. Here's a status report.

    Started the first sleeve on two 24" circulars. I want to switch to one 16" circular, but don't have a US3. I might try to get over to the yarn store to pick one up before I proceed.

    Patterned Sock
    Turned the heel on the second sock. It's not an identical twin, despite the fact that I tried to match the pattern, but I don't mind fraternal twins when it comes to pattern socks.

    Wendy's Catnip MouseAlong
    Wendy had a great little knit-along for knitters with cats. I made one of these little babies, and stuffed it with my own homegrown, home-dried catnip.

    Gage could have cared less. He played with it for a second and then got totally bored. Oh well, it was fun to make.

    New Mini-Chock-a-BlockDesign
    I did the ribbing and almost the first row of blocks a couple of weeks ago. I think I messed up the pattern stitch in one of the blocks and I may have to rip back a few rows. I started doing this one on straight needles and just bought a circular US5 since I couldn't find any in all of my stash.

    Cone Yarn Sock
    This one is stalled on the needles. After the patterned sock is done, I'll get back to this baby.

    New Novelty Yarn Scarf
    When I was at the yarn store the other day for the circular US5, they had just gotten in boxes and boxes of a new Lana Grossa fur yarn called Pep Tiger. The colors were great, so I bought a bunch in case I decide to ever do another art/craft show. The Pep Tiger is about $1 less than most similar novelty fur yarns, has about 30 more yards, and is very soft. Made out of Microfiber and Nylon. I'm sure I can easily sell these scarfs for around $32 and still make about $9.00 per hour on the knitting.

    Double Ruffle Scarf
    Another stalled project. Here's my excuse on this one. I can't do crochet without watching what I'm doing, and that restricts when I can/want to work on this one. I know...lame.

    I'll write about future project ideas in another blog entry.

    Discontinued Yarn Request
    One of the good things about the KnitList is the ability to send out a request for a discontinued yarn to around 5,000 knitters. Chance are at least one person will have some of the requested yarn in their stash. I have one of those requests, but I thought I'd start by asking blog readers if they can help before going through the KnitList.

    Years ago, I started a sweater for my sister-out-of-law made from Rowan Fox Fibre, California Cotton. I got the back and a portion of the front done, and then realized I was short at least two hanks of this yarn. I either lost some yarn, or had a brain mis-fire when I was planning the sweater.

    So, if anyone has Rowan Fox Fibre, California Cotton in Shade CAL2 (Oyster) and would be willing to sell or trade it, I could go back and finish this sweater. My lot number is 0-4926, which is what I'm hoping for, since I don't know how close each cotton harvest was since this yarn is not dyed. Here's what it looks like on the hank in case you need to go by a visual.

    Cute Knote Cards
    I just checked out some great little knit-related cards on blog pal, Amber's site.

    Check out the note cards and postcards here.

    The only thing I wish she had was a pack of note cards or postcards with a selection of her sister's designs. Clever girl is forcing me to order two boxes of cards.

    Sunday, May 25, 2003

    Blogger Void

    It has just come to my attention that one of my fellow male knitters and bloggers, Khebhin has died recently. His enthusiasm and support of men who knit will be missed.

    For those of you who have read Khebhin's blog, or know him from various knitting lists, he was in a fatal car crash. I'll leave the button for his blog on my site for another week, for those of you who would like to check out his last few postings. In addition to being on three or four knitting lists together with Khebhin, I also corresponded with him quite a few times and got to know him through his e-mails.

    His death has me wondering whether he finished the shawl he wrote about, or how far he got on his huge sock being made out of scrap yarn. As irrational as it sounds, it makes me want to finish as many projects of my own as quickly as possible. Godspeed, my friend.

    Knitting Progress
    On a much happier note, I finally finished the body on Donegal and cut the neck steek and knit the collar.

    Here's a closeup of the collar from the front.

    And from the back which shows the steek laying ever so calmly despite not being sewn down or secured in anyway.

    Now I just have the sleeves to go. I will be very close to running out of one of the colors, and I'm not sure if it's a discontinued Rowan Donegal Lambswool Tweed or not. Hopefully I'll have enough, or if not, I can find some in my stash.

    Knit Blog Meeting
    It sounds like we need to have another knit blog luncheon. Kathy, Marilyn and I met last time, and this time it sounds like the same three with Amber and Marcus along as well. It should be fun. Since I'm only home on weekends, it will have to be scheduled on a Saturday or Sunday. It will obviously need to happen before Achim gets home, otherwise Marilyn won't be available. So let's hear some suggestions on timing. I'm available any weekend between now and the last weekend in June.

    Hopefully, I'll have the Donegal complete by the meeting, and I'll have made some headway on the new Mini-Chock-a-Block pullover, so I can get the groups feedback again.

    Thursday, May 22, 2003

    Passion or Obsession

    With me into my knitting and Thaddeus into foraging for mushrooms, some might say it's definitely obsession.

    Codependent Behavior
    For those of you who don't know, Thaddeus has what could mildly be called a hobby. He has about the same level of interest in amateur mycology as I do in my knitting (was the word "interest" a little mild?). For those of you who care, we've just finished morel season which is Thaddeus' version of Stitches East for me (the highlight of his year).

    For months before morel season, he travels far and wide looking for areas that might yield the treasured mushroom. Here's a sampling of what he came home with this year, displayed in front of some of our hobby-related collection.

    I tell you this because Thaddeus and I have a very sick relationship. He encourages my insane search and collection of anything knitting related, and I enable his obsessed search for everything mushroom related. As such, our house is chock full of the tools of our respective trades. And since the outside world would for the most part find both our avocations somewhat boring, we've created a rule when we're out in public together. When a discussion of either of our passions takes place with an outsider and the conversation exceeds five minutes, we have to change the subject to some other topic, or risk being interrupted my the one whose hobby isn't being discussed. It works out well so we don't bore new acquaintances to death with talk of knitting or mushrooms.

    I've made some progress this week on Donegal, and I'll hopefully finish the body of the sweater this weekend. At that point, I'll be cutting the steek for either the sleeve or the neck. I still am amazed daily how quickly Wendy gets one of these suckers done. I've always known her speed was impressive, but actually doing a Fair Isle now, it reminds me even more how amazing that woman is. Go Wendy!

    Knitting Pal
    I met up with Marcus again to discuss his current sweater. A beautiful argyle sweater from an old Rowan book. Since I was luck enough to have tips from the ladies at the Tomato Factory on intarsia methods, and also Kaffe himself, I was glad to pass on some this knowledge to the fearless knitter himself. This picture is days old, so I'm sure he's made significantly more progress, but it's looking great. He's doing it in Silk Road Tweed by Debbie Bliss...just stunning.

    Blog Void
    I just read on Wendy's blog and confirmed on Mama Kate's that Kate will stop blogging shortly either temporarily or for good. I will miss her blog, but I can certainly understand her reasoning. It's sad when one of the blogs that inspired mine is out of commission. I can only hope that she comes back to blogging soon.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    Humble Pie

    Let it never be said that I'm not open to feedback.

    Fiber Ignorance
    As an impassioned knitter, my first reaction to the "are you making an afghan?" question was annoyance at her ignorance. The secondary reaction was dissappointment that the intricacy of this sweater didn't immediately notify the questioner that the garment was clearly of a higher quality than afghan knitting.

    But as Jen noted in her comment yesterday, I expected too much. Clearly not everyone understands knitting to the degree that I would wish. My iniitial reaction to berate her was based solely on my own selfish expectations. Next time I hear a similar question, I will try to remember to be pleased that there was interest in my fiber work, and not focus on the level of understanding.

    I made some additional progress on Donegal yesterday, but not enough to show a difference in any picture I could post to the blog (maybe I should just keep posting the same picture until it's significantly different). I figured I could show you some closeups instead.

    The first one is a closeup of the sleeve steek. You've seen this view before, but that picture was of the old steek before I had to rip it out. I want you to clearly understand that the entire length of the steek in this picture had to be reknit after my stupid blunder.

    The second picture has a dual purpose. First to show a closeup of the pattern repeat. The colors are pretty representative of the real garment, so I thought it would be good to look at. The second purpose is to show off my stitch markers. These stitch markers were made by my knitting friend Janis. I love using these and they make my works-in-progress look even more fancy than they already are.

    Cat Knitting
    For those knitters out there with cats, Wendy is having a knit-along on her blog for a knitted catnip mouse with a cable down the back. I plan on knitting along, but I won't be able to start until I get home to my worsted weight yarn scraps.

    In honor of this feline knit-along, I present Gage. He's carefully guarding Donegal by throwing his body onto it.

    Actually, this picture was taken with both Donegal and Gage on my lap. I was reclining/knitting and Gage was missing his real daddy (Thaddeus). Gage couldn't stand that I wasn't paying enough attention to him, so he positioned himself right on top of Donegal. Work resumed after naps were taken by both Gage and I.

    Sunday, May 18, 2003


    Much of the impetus for me to knit and to blog is the exhibitionism factor.

    Knitting in Public
    I just love showing off my knitting skills. On Friday, Thaddeus needed to go in for his fourth eye surgery, and it required a longer visit at the doctors than initially anticipated. Of course I wouldn't be caught dead without my knitting, so I had Donegal with me and the self-patterning sock. With five other people in the waiting room and four staff folk behind the counter, I pulled out one of the most impressive sweaters I've ever made and began working away.

    Not a comment. Not a sideways glance.

    Finally, when we went up to the counter to discuss the schedule with the staff, two of them asked me about my knitting. The first one asked me what I was knitting..."was it an afghan?" I felt like berating her, but I just told her no, it was a simple pullover. When she looked closer, she realized how intricate it was and showed the other two staff.

    Finally, the recognition I craved. They oohed and ahhed appropriately.

    Reader Input
    Peter asked what he called a "dumb question".

    Before I answer his question, I have to ask, why do most folks have difficulty letting someone consider their question dumb? It's like an automatic response to "I have a dumb question" to say "The only dumb question is the one not asked." Well, I don't consider Peter's question dumb, but I have heard some dumb questions.

    Anyway, his question was why use wooly boards except to get a good picture of your completed sweater.

    My answer would be that some of us (me included) need to uniformly stretch out sweaters done in stranded knitting, and the wooly board is the easiest way to do that. It's not to stop the sweater from stretching, on the contrary, it's to stretch it out to its final size while it dries.

    Speaking of which, Thaddeus tells me that it might be a little harder to make one of these than I had originally thought. I may have to block this baby without one.

    Knitting as Art
    Searching around for interesting knitting links, I found a great site with an art exhibit that features fiber artists. Part of the exhibit started with a Japanese artist that led seminars which extolled Japanese housewives to start to see their knitting and other stitch work as expressions of art.

    Being a huge fan of color, I loved many of the pieces in this exhibit. Being a knitter who expresses his majority of creativity through his knitting, I loved the concept of the show.

    Donegal Confessions

    All last week while I was in Albany, I didn't have my tape measure, and the number of centimeters completed were estimated. As it turns out, I overestimated by about 2 centimeters. So I worked feverishly this weekend to make up for my miscalculations. Well, I finally got Donegal back to where it was before I realized my terrible mistake. Furious knitting in the waiting room at the eye doctors allowed me to pick up the pace a little.

    Working on this sweater takes a lot of my concentration and gets boring at the same time, so I did intersperse my knitting of Donegal with the patterned sock. I finished the first sock and got the toe done of the second sock. Here are some pictures of the sock.

    A closeup of the heel.

    And a closeup of the toe.

    At this rate, I'll have a pair of socks done before I get Donegal done. But I can always switch to the finer gauge socks in cone yarn if I finish the patterned socks.

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    Blog Controversies

    Controversies always contain a hook that reaches out and compels people to jump into the fray.

    I wanted to clarify one of my comments on the previous blog entry. The way I wrote it insinuated I thought the church was to blame for the tragedy of the woman stoning her children. I really don't think that's true, or at least I sure hope not. I was just trying to say that the fundamentalist neighbor who was interviewed had to make sure to say the church that the woman belonged to was a "good one". Meghan's comments expressed what I was trying to say much better than I was able to. I also was very moved by what Renee had to say and how even-handedly she said it. Thanks all for your thoughtful comments.

    Reader Input
    On a much lighter note, a kind reader sent this to me, so I thought I'd share it.

    To be clear, I do NOT want this cartoon to start a round of discussions as to whether knitting needles can be brought onto airplanes. There have been more of those conversations on the various knitting lists than I would care to discuss.

    Another reader asked whether I secure the yarn label into every ball I wind, even if I have multiple balls of the same color. That would depend. If the entire sweater is done in one color, then I don't secure any labels. If I have two or three of a color, I definitely secure a label into each one.

    I was also glad that a reader mentioned the McMorran Yarn Balance. They are available at a lot of fiber stores that focus on spinning and definitely online. I've never used one, but I'm told they are pretty accurate. On a related note, I've also read that yarn can weigh significantly different amounts depending on how dry or humid the surrounding air is. The amount of moisture that the yarn holds varies a lot, so the weight will as well, so you can't always determine that one 50g DK weight yarn will have the same yardage as another 50g DK weight yarn.

    Another question was about how I split the blocks on the front of the Chock-a-Block cardigan, and that maybe I should have reduced them by the width of the button band. That's an interesting thought which I had never considered, since the width of the front is definitely a little wider than the back. Fortunately, the new design is a pullover, so I won't have to worry about it, but for future sweaters, I'll have to try adjusting for that.

    Marilyn, the Knitting Curmudgeon asked me if I owned a wooly board (and had to brag that she does...hmph!). I don't own one, but I have directions for making one out of relatively simple materials. The husband reviewed the materials list and the instructions, and he wants to discuss it further before he commits to making one for me. Here's someone's picture of their version of the homemade wooly board.

    If anyone would like the instructions, you can find them on the web by clicking here.

    Fair Isle Progress
    Okay, I got another 3 cm done since the last update, so I'm up to about 9 or 10 out of the required 16. I'm hoping to be back up to the neck steek by the end of this week. At which point I will resume showing pictures of the garment which don't look the same every day.

    Other Works In Progress
    Just so you don't think I've forgotten, I haven't done any work recently on any of the following:

    1. Double Ruffle Crochet Scarf
    2. Self Patterning Sock
    3. Hemp Pullover
    4. Baby Alpaca Bed Spread
    5. Cone Yarn Sock

    I'll be back to some of them when I get this Fair Isle sweater done. Alice has been plaguing me for WAY too many years. I need to finish this.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2003

    Odd Yarn Habits

    Okay, here's where I fess up to odd yarn habits that I have.

    Balling Yarn
    No, it's not THAT odd. I mean winding balls from hanks to balls. I have both a ballwinder, a swift and a nostepinde. I prefer to use the ballwinder and swift to convert my hanks to balls, but I also like to confirm the yardage in each hank, so I run the yarn through a fishing line measurement tool that measures the yarn in feet.

    I got this little beauty at Lakeside Fishing. It was only about $15 with shipping and handling.

    I also never break knots in the yarn that is used to secure the skein (if it's part of the skein of yarn). I carefully untie them. And before the last 10 or 12 spins of the ballwinder, I slip the part of the label with the yarn color and dyelot under the yarn on the ball and finish spinning. This secures the "label" on the outer part of the newly wound cake of yarn.

    Smelling Yarn
    Someone asked me in an e-mail yesterday whether I ever smell yarn that I'm about to buy. I have to admit, I don't, but I do know folks who are much more highly in tune with their olfactory sense than I am who do sniff their yarn. One designer/yarn store owner I know will not knit with silk because of the "wormy" smell of it.

    The only time I was ever affected by the smell of yarn was on a recent eBay purchase. I bought a couple of pounds of Rayon yarn in a bright blue. Not only was this head of yarn tangled and stained, but it had a VERY strong musty odor. After hanging it outside for a while, it still smelled, so I ended up throwing it out. It only cost me $9, so I didn't care.

    Fair Isle Progress
    To keep me honest, I'll tell you that I need to have 16 cm (or about 6 inches) done on the sleeve steek before I start the neck steek. I've finished about 6 or 7 cm so far. I worked on it some last night, but ended up going to bed early. Mondays are long days for me since I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get to Albany by 8:30. It felt good to get a full night's sleep last night.

    But I will keep you updated on the progress and pictures will be forthcoming.

    Off-Topic Commentary
    Today I discuss charity, religion and fundametalism. This is where you see what a bleeding heart liberal I am. Three events have sparked this commentary:

    1. A question from a reader on charitable knitting (kind of).
    2. The stoning of three children by her mother
    3. A fundamentalist on one of my Knitting lists who's afraid for all the list members' souls

    1. A reader who has been encouraging me to knit for others asked about the two sweaters I am making for my neighbors kids. I do not consider this charitable knitting, I'm doing it as a barter for organic vegetables throughout the summer. We've already gotten the most amazing asparagus I've ever had, so it may well be worth it.

    You will never read about me doing charitable knitting on my blog. Charity is one of those things that I feel should be done in private (if done at all). Whether I knit or donate and/or what I knit or donate to charities is between me and my higher power. I am highly egotistical in a lot of ways, but I don't feel the need to get kudos from blog readers for charitable acts. Brownie points in heaven is all that I ask.

    2. I saw an interview of the neighbor of the woman who killed two of her children and severely injured the third by stoning them because God told her to. While this is obviously a tragic case of mental illness (probably post-partum related), my concern is on the neighbor's comment that "she belongs to a good church". I can't imagine defending a church that was so out of touch with her religion that she would stone her children. She home-schooled (most probably so they wouldn't learn about evolution in public schools) based on religious conviction, and probably had no time away from them.

    I feel bad for the poor woman...worse for the children. But I despise the church that helped her get to that point, or at best, had no idea she was at that point. A good church indeed!

    3. A woman on one of my Knit lists has decided that the membership is all headed for hell, and it's her job to save our immortal souls...ugh! Her tired old rhetoric about how the bible tells us why we're in danger has become almost anachronistic in this day and age. I can't understand how someone like that doesn't understand that her blind following of the words from her pastor are as crazy as the voices in the Texan woman's head telling her to stone her children. I further can't understand how she hopes to convert folks who don't believe that the bible is...well...gospel.

    The best part of this woman's inane rantings are the wonderfully thoughtful conversations that have ensued about religion and some of the funniest, most sacreligious flames I've ever read. Most enjoyable reading I've had for a while.

    Monday, May 12, 2003


    All my life I've been a weakling. It's a good thing I can run like hell.

    New Sweater Design
    I couldn't stand the pressure of having new skeins of yarn in great colors, so I started the new Mini-Chock-a-Block sweater yesterday. Here's a working copy of the graphic for color combinations.

    The colors will be different than this, but I used this format to establish the proper balance of colors and how to equally disperse some of the brighter colors thoughout the more muted colors. Honestly, I hardly got any done, but I felt I should confess to having started another project. It took quite a while to just wind all the yarn on balls.

    As penance for this transgression, I decided to force myself to finish writing up the pattern for the Chock-a-Block cardigan. Now the pattern is completely done, and is ready for submission to Unicorn as part of the men-on-men book.

    Anyone up for a quiz?
    I found this quiz on-line, and it seemed to accurately describe me, although I can't believe I'm a yellow. I don't even LIKE that color, and if I ever wore it, you would think I had a liver disease.


    You are very perceptive and smart. You are clear and to the point and have a great sense of humor. You are always learning and searching for understanding.

    Find out your color at!

    Fair Isle Progress
    I did another inch or so on the Donegal sweater. Even though I worked on the new design, I still was able to get some Fair Isle knitting done. Again, I haven't gotten up to the neck steek, so I can't put a picture up yet. For those of you who hate that I started a new one without finishing all my outstanding projects, I can assure you that I only have the Donegal and the Patterned Sock with me now in Albany. I can't even think about working on the new design until I get home on Thursday night.

    More Confessions
    Okay, I succumbed to a request from a friend and neighbor to knit her young daughter two cardigans from yarn she bought when she was visiting her sister in New Orleans. I figure that they will both go very quickly since the child is pretty small, and they will be done on US5 needles. She bought a total of three yarns to be made into two cardigans.

    The first yarn is a confetti colored yarn with slubs made out of cotton (I think). There is no label, so I'm guessing on this. I did a small swatch and it knits up kind of fun.

    The other two yarns are Provence and Flora by Trendsetter. She wants me to use the Flora as trim or accent. I'm not sure how that will look, but I'll try either striping around the neck and sleeve cuffs or putting in a few stripes on the body. To make this one interesting, I will also probably have to add some pattern stitch work. I couldn't stand to have to do both of these cardigans in all stockinette stitch.

    I haven't decided on a penance for this sin yet. All clever suggestions will be considered.

    Friday, May 09, 2003

    QueerJoe Doppelganger

    An attractive, gay, male knitter in my own town that I've heard about for years, and never met...until yesterday.

    The Mysterious Marcus
    It was downright strange. A couple of years ago, over the course of about a month, three people in my life (including Thaddeus) told me about a very good looking man they met named Marcus. Everytime I'd arrive somewhere, someone would say I just missed him. Coincidental, but not extraordinary. Until, the ladies at my local yarn store told me that he had been in the store, and he was a fearless new knitter who was undaunted by even the most complex Aran patterns.

    Now I was intrigued, but still, this Marcus man eluded me.

    The World Wide Web has a great way of bringing folks together. He found my blog and e-mailed me earlier this week. As an additional oddity, Marcus told me that many of my 100 Things About Me list applied to him as well. About 30 of them, including the fact that he's got his private pilot's license.

    We scheduled to meet at Simply Knit so I could finally get to meet this elusive stranger. Despite fears that the universe would collapse in on itself when we met, I finally got to meet this talented knitter. We had a great time shopping after hours at the yarn store, and he is a wonderful guy. Here he is looking over some complex intarsia designs in an old Rowan magazine.

    I also decided to move forward on the Mini-Chock-a-Block design without waiting for Matt's color input. I don't know if they will look as good as what Matt's working on, but I figure I can always make two different colorways of this sweater, or redo it in Matt's version if I don't like mine. Here are the 22 colors of Jamieson DK that I bought last night.

    I have to decide on which color I will use as the border color. I also realize from this picture, that I will need to be sparing with the royal blue in the center top row and the coral/peachy color on the bottom towards the right.

    Just In Time Project Bag
    I had completely forgotten I had ordered a canvas bag from Antonio's site, EarthaKnit. It will be perfect for the new sweater project.

    I also didn't realize it was imprinted on the reverse as well. Gawd, I'll look fabulous with my new project bag.

    Stitch by stitch, inch by inch, I make progress on this sweater, but I am bound and determined to get it done this time. I had to bring Thaddeus in for a medical procedure today, so I got another inch done while waiting for him. I don't plan on including another picture until I'm back up to the neck steek. It looks pretty much the same as the last picture.

    In answer to the question, "Are you using the colors called for in the pattern?", the answer is yes. There are two colorways, Earth and Sky. I'm doing the Earth colorway and the only color that was no longer available was Wood Green (I think), but there was an almost exact match in something else (that works perfectly.

    Self Patterning Sock
    Also made some progress on the ribbing on this project while taking a break from Donegal at the hospital.

    I never like the ribbing as well as the toe, foot and heel when knitting with self-patterning yarn. It just doesn't show up as crisply. But I'm still liking this yarn.

    Wednesday, May 07, 2003

    Slow Progress

    I can't imagine how Wendy makes so much progress on her Fair Isle sweaters...she makes me look bad in comparison.

    Work is continuing to interfere with my ability to knit, but I persevere. I've done about an inch, including setting up the sleeve steek. I've also taken some tips from Wendy and put some stitch markers to separate the repeats. My two-handed knitting is getting more and more routine, so I think progress on this sweater will get faster and faster. You won't see much difference, but here's where I am so far.

    It will be a satisfying day when I get back up to the neck steek.

    Pattern Sock Yarn
    Given how much more work it is to do the Fair Isle sweater, the ease with which this sock is moving along is amazing. I'm not even sure if I like the colors or pattern that it's making. I'm just enjoying doing all knitting and having a pattern emerge effortlessly. It's a good change up from the work on Donegal.

    As you can see, I have turned the heel. I did a standard short-row heel on half of the 68 stitches.

    New Jamieson Line
    Here's the little bit of information that I gleaned when reviewing the new line of yarns from Unicorn/Jamieson.

    First of all, it is clear that David (of Unicorn Books) is extremely tired of Shetland wool. You won't find a speck of Shetland in the new line.

    There is an extensive line of merino, soft tweed, cashmere and possibly cotton, although I don't remember if there's any cotton since I don't like cotton yarn, and this is all about "me" afterall.

    My favorite yarn is a worsted weight tweed. The colors are rich and have a lot of depth. The yarn is plied loosely (looked like two ply, but I could be wrong). There's a rich maroon color that everyone liked, but lots of other colors as well. The tweed includes little slubs of other colors, which I like, especially when making classic men's sweaters.

    The cashmere looked like a lightweight DK weight, although I didn't validate that. Colors were limited, but nice. This will knit up perfectly beautiful garments, but I imagine it will also be pretty pricey.

    The merinos came in multiple weight and had a pretty extensive color pallette, although no where near the 180 or so colors of Jamieson DK. The merinos were also smooth, and lofty yarns that reminded me of the Jo Sharp yarns, except softer.

    I'm expecting to go back to the yarn store this Thursday evening, so if you have any more questions, I'd be glad to check it out further.

    Sunday, May 04, 2003

    New Starts

    How amazing that I can be sidetracked so easily by a simple trip to my local yarn store.

    Yarn Store Visit
    I stopped in at Simply Knit on Friday to show them the final Chock-a-Block sweater. They all seemed to like it, so I was happy. Not happy that it won their approval, but happy because it looks like it will be a successful design from a sales perspective. I'm hopeful that the editor at Unicorn books will like it as well. If some of the guys who have expressed interest in submitting a design for "men by men" book come up with a few designs, then I will propose this one as part of that effort. If not, I will hope to get it into one of the next Jamieson books.

    As it turns out, Jamieson is going to be coming out with an entire new line of yarns. I got to see a lot of them, and they look very exciting. It was one of those that triggered me to be sidetracked. Jamieson had sent a bag of random skeins of yarn in the upcoming line. One of them caught my eye, so the ladies at Simply Knit gave it to me to play with. I couldn't help starting it as soon as I got home.

    There is really nothing extraordinary about this yarn or the sock that it's making. It's just another self-patterning sock yarn. Up until now, I have resisted knitting with any of these yarns. I feel like I shouldn't like them. They seem fake, or too easy, or taking away my ability to be creative with colors of my own. I have to say, I am LOVING knitting this sock. I don't know why, I just am.

    Baltimore Orioles
    As a celebration for the success of my last project at work, we had a party in one of the executive boxes at the Baltimore baseball field, Camden Yards. In addition to food and drink, we got to watch the Orioles get spanked by the Kansas City Royals. I thought my blog-buddy Justin might be interested to know I witnessed this public humiliation.

    Donegal Progress
    Getting back to the point where I could actually start knitting this garment again took a while, and I had to count 336 stitches a few times just to make sure I was really back to where I should be. I haven't even gotten back up to the sleeve steek, so I won't put a picture in till later.

    I plan on making this my primary project while I'm working in Albany, even though I have to carry a bag'o yarn with me, it will be nice to finish this wonderful sweater.

    Knitting Blog Pets
    For those of you who read Wendy's Blog as often as I do (and I know most of my readers know me from her blog), I have been hesitant to post about her cat Izzy having to be put to sleep. I have actually been shocked into paralysis about writing about Izzy, not knowing what to say, but knowing I wanted to say something.

    As I type this blog entry on my lap top, my cat Gage is sitting on my chest, waiting for Thaddeus to come home. The thought of losing this wonderful animal is a devestating one for me, so you can imagine how I felt when I read Wendy's post. Izzy's personality was apparent in how Wendy showed him on her blog, and I grew to know him as well as I felt I knew Wendy. Her blog post that day had me crying for her loss. I also was glad that Izzy had such a wonderfully loving mom, like Wendy to take care of him, and having rescued Gage from the local shelter, I hope he feels the same way. I leave you with some pictures of Gage in his favorite napping place.

    Friday, May 02, 2003


    Finishing a garment well can make all the difference in terms of how I enjoy the result of my knitting.

    Sara Cardigan
    The worst part about this sweater is the fact that it is not at all photogenic. As I've written before, I love wearing this sweater and it gets more compliments from people whose opinion I respect than any other sweater I wear. I tried once more with the new camera, and that didn't help either

    The gros grain ribbon helped a lot (I hand stitched it in with a tacking stitch like you'd use to do a hem), but after finishing this sweater and sewing in the buttons on the Chock-a-Block cardigan, I've realized that I don't do button bands very well. I find that I have to constantly make adjustments to them and even then, I'm never fully satisfied.

    Chock-a-Block Cardigan
    As mentioned, all the buttons are on, and I figured I owed all those folks that suffered through the design decisions a few finished pictures of the sweater. First of all, here's one that shows the buttons and a close up of the button band. The buttons don't match any color in particular, but they end up adding style without detracting. Exactly what I look for in a set of buttons. And of course, thanks to Marilyn, on all her advice with buttons.

    And here are a couple of pictures with me wearing this final creation. You'll note that it's shorter than a standard men's cardigan, so I will make the pattern so that it includes two sizes, this one and a larger one.

    You can also glimpse some of my other sweaters in the armoire behind me where I store my sweaters.

    Finally, here's another one that I thought looked good.

    Other Fiber Efforts
    A while ago, I decided to try to teach myself quilting. I wanted to machine stitch the pieces, so I bought an old Sears sewing machine. I picked one of the most complex patterns and realized I hate using a sewing machine and gave up quickly. Then I decided that maybe hand stitching would be more enjoyable. I've gotten eight squares done so far, and maybe some day I'll pick it back up and make the quilt that will go with my alpaca bedspread.

    While I haven't worked on this in over a year, I did enjoy the hand stitching much better than the machine work.

    Well, I'm off to Baltimore for a project team celebration. You'd think I'd stay over for the MarylandSheep and Wool festival since it's tomorrow, but I would prefer to spend some time with Thaddeus. Now that you've seen another picture of him, you know why.