Sunday, February 29, 2004

Mission Accomplished

Even on vacation I set goals for myself, and I am happy to say, all goals I set for myself this year were completed. Fat, tanned and underwear completed.

Here's a picture of me just before checking out of the hotel on Friday.



Vacation
If you ever go to Cancun, and you like authentic Mexican food, and you're not afraid to drink local water, and you're comfortable going to places that speak very little English, let me know. Over the years, Thaddeus and I have found a few very good restaurants.

Since they are mostly patronized by locals, they are also very inexpensive.

On the other hand, the hotel we stay at is completely for tourists...and mostly American.

Here's a picture of our hotel room (suite). It was taken from the balcony looking into the living room and through the French Doors into the bedroom.



And here's a picture of our view of the ocean from the ninth floor.



If you see the little Tiki huts on the beach, you can see where I sat my lazy ass every day until lunch time.

Knitting
As mentioned in my vacation blog entry, I was able to finish all the knitting on the underwear. I also completed the assembly while still in Cancun.



When I got home, I found some appropriate buttons in my stash, and sewed them on as well.

Here are the two shots of me modeling the underwear (as promised).





While it's not obvious from the picture, I will need to sew in some elastic on the waist band. the ribbing just doesn't provide enough elasticity to keep them up comfortably.

Other Knitting
After I finished the underwear, I worked on the vacation sock (second of two). I only completed about 3 inches of the foot so far. It's very fine gauge (80 stitches around the foot on US1 neeedles).

I got bored with the sock, so now that I'm home, I decided to take up the challenge of finishing Rebekah II. While knitting two sleeves seemed simple enough, trying to remember which stitch patterns I used and recalculating gauge and determining lenght, all made for a little bit of a challenge.

I finished knitting the first sleeve, and I'll work on the second one more today. I'm not sure what project I'll bring to Albany this week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I just wanted to thank Carol S. for keeping the blog readers amused with her funny anti-amendment slogans, and her dry commentary on the boring topic of airplane knitting.

Not only would I buy some of those t-shirts, I'd help to market them.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Soy en Cancun

Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.

Vacation
Vacation has been just about perfect. I could list the three imperfections, but it wouldn´t be useful.

Suffice it to say, the weather is perfect, the hotel is as close to perfect as it comes and Cancun has some of the most beautiful beaches I´ve ever been to. Thaddeus and I are having a great time and eating like pigs (as per usual).

In fact, we just had one of the most amazing meals at a very "locals" restaurant. We had a HUGE meal for about US$20 (propina not included).

Knitting
I finished all of the knitting on the underwear, although I haven´t put them together yet. I plan on doing that before I leave for home, but I´m not sure.

At least I´ll look tan and dark when I model the garment.

I also started the second "Vaction Sock". The first one was started two years ago (I think...maybe only last year) and I´ve just started the toe on the second one (toe up with a short row heel).

Readers´Questions/Comments
Carol S. wants to know who´s taking care of Gage.

Nancy the local vetinarian technician takes care of pets in their homes while local folks are on vacation. She comes highly recommended, and if Thaddeus likes her, she must be good.

CT Karen wants to know how I got the knitting needles on the plane.

I´m hoping this is a joke question or that CT Karen doesn´t read my blog much. For those really wanting to know, I didn´t knit on the plane (nor did I take needles on board).

See you all again on Saturday.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I'm Outta Here

Shortly we'll be leaving for the airport and off to sunny Cancun.

Another Hot Mass Murderer?
No, but I'm as equally ashamed about my attraction.



God, wasn't he hot back then? I'd definitely have done him. Get him a little lubricated (with alcohol) and then lubricated (as in Dr. Ruth's idea of lubrication) and we'd have had a good 'ole time.

Vacation
Last year, I was able to get on the internet once while I was on vacation, and that was just to check comments on my blog. It cost me over $15 (U.S.) for that short little access.

This year, I'm going to see if it's possible to find a cheap, little internet cafe where I can even post brief blog entries.

The hard part is that I won't be able to transfer/edit/upload pictures that can be posted to the blog until I get back to my own computer.

Knitting Progress
As you can see, I was able to only start the ribbing at the top.



I've decided I will take this project with me to Cancun, as well as perhaps the vacation sock project that I think I started last year down there.

At least the picture of me modeling the underwear will have a little tan to show.

Have a good week while I'm gone, and play nicely until I get back.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Overwhelmed

I have an enormous capacity to multi-task, but lately I have had WAY too much on my plate.

Overload
First, there are lots of things going on at home occupying my time. In addition to all the preparation and execution of Thaddeus' birthday, and getting ready for vacations, there's been some other issues I've been dealing with.

Then, work has gotten ugly. I've changed responsibilities lately, and the new tasks are taking up way more time than I have had to work in the past at this client.

And then, of course, there is the knitting and blogging that I have had to neglect (not to mention fraternizing with my coworkers and calling my friends, etc.)

Overdue
Normally when I'm stressed, I knit more. These days, that's not the case.

I have done some additional knitting on my underwear project. I've gotten almost up to the ribbing at the top of the right side of the underwear.



While I'm not looking forward to the ribbing, I am looking forward to finishing this project. After the ribbing, there's a gusset that needs to be knit (to allow room for my ample package), and then the sewing up.

It doesn't appear I'll have finished this garment before I leave for vacation early on Friday morning.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Michael (Aubergine) asks what were the answers to the contest.

Here they are (in order):

knitting
blog
queer
joe
pattern
knit
blogs
queerjoe
patterns
yarn
s
free
scarf
hat
knitted
sweater
for
crochet
curmudgeon
to

Now, just to answer some other questions about this list. This list only shows single words, but the searcher could have included all of them in their search. So if multiple searchers type in "free pattern to knit queerjoe's scarf", each of those words would register as part of this list, including "s" as a separate word, since it appears after an apostrophe.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day

And happy birthday to my lover and life partner, Thaddeus. He's 50 years old today.



His birthday gift was this:



It's even fiber-related. It's one of two shearling car seat covers for his prized 1983 diesel Mercedes. They are merino wool shearlings, and there are headrest covers as well. He loved them.

Blog Contest
There were a total of 22 entries for the contest, and many folks REALLY wanted the yarn prize.

For the non-techno-geeks in the audience, you may be dismayed to know that the answers to the blog contest were readily available to anyone that knew how GoStats (my counter software) works.

You may have noticed I removed the counter from my site for the week of the contest, but that didn't stop 8 entrants to the blog contest from getting there in other ways to get the exact answers to the blog contest question.

I knew that this was a possibility when I established the rules for the contest, but I had no idea there were so many folks that would have found a way to figure it out. So, I feel I have to credit them with the ingenuity, and consider them one of the possible winners of the contest.

As stated, I picked randomly from all the contest entries with all correct answers, and the lucky winner is Gail in Illinois.

On winning she writes:

"I've just started knitting with jumper weight, and I'm loving it. And I love navy blue."

Congratulations, Gail, and thank you everyone for playing.

Knitted Underwear
I've gotten a little past the crotch on the right side of the underwear, and while I didn't get to knit anywhere near as much as I had hoped, I will probably end up finishing this project before I go on vacation next Friday.



Readers' Comments/Questions
Here is the picture of Lisa with a yarn moustache from the knit get-together at Kathy's house.



Now if I could just get permission to post the picture of Kathy that makes her look dazed, drunk and senile...

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Short Entry

Believe it or not, I consider brevity one of my strong points, and my business writing is very succinct and to-the-point.

Work, Work, Work
Speaking of work, it's taking up an enormous amount of my time, and so I'll keep today's blog entry short.

Blog Contest
It was mentioned by the second entrant, that my e-mail address to submit entries is difficult to locate on my blog page. Here's the e-mail address, shown as a link.

queerjoe@aol.com

That second entrant was the last entry I've received, so vote soon, and vote often if you're interested in winning that lovely yarn.

Knitted Underwear
Talk about a boring knitting project. Not only is the knitting part boring enough to make me die of ennui (thanks Marilyn), but it must be extraordinarily tedious to read about.

As a result, I will make sure that a picture of the completed garment is posted to the blog. Hopefully this will make up for the day-by-day, boring nature of making stockinette fabric.

I did get some additional knitting done last night, and I'm almost up to the crotch on the second side. This weekend will be a very busy one, but I'm still going to push to finish this project so I can get on to something much more interesting.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Aubergine asks what is the fleshy, shadowy image on the Patons pattern picture.



I had to go back and look at the picture again to realize what you were talking about, and to my shock and surprise, it appears that my huge member got inadvertantly reflected in the picture.

Actually, it's just how the flash reflected on semi-gloss paper, but I thought I could spice up a short blog entry with a little sex talk.

Thanks for you comments on the comments. I think I should have fixed the problem as of this entry, but with my lack of HTML skills, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Defending Marriage

The sanctity of marriage needs to be defended against all who would denigrate its holy premise.

Most Recent Political Rant
What fucking hypocrites! Our White House Administration and Massachusetts folks in favor of passing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman really pisses me off.

How can they justify talking about the sanctity of marriage, and referring to the bible for a working definition only when it comes to keeping marriage rights away from gays and lesbians?

First of all, if they really wanted to protect the sanctity of marriage, they would have condemned Britney Spears for her publicity stunt marriage. They would condemn those conservative assholes at Fox for putting marriage-for-money shows on their "fair and balanced" network. They would be talking about how over half of the U.S. senate and house of representatives aren't fit to serve because they have had divorces. Until they truly show their belief in the sanctity of marriage, it's just plain, hateful bigotry.

Second of all, you should see how the bible really defines marriage. My artist friend, Jane Gilday sent me something from The Common Good Network that shows the idiocy of relying on the bible to define marriage. I don't think the Bush administration really wants to execute all the non-married, non-virgin women (or the women that got married after losing their virginity).

I urge any readers in Massachusetts or with family in Massachusetts to urge their government representatives to put a stop to the hateful waste of time and expense of amending their state constitution.

Blog Contest
As of this writing, I've received only one entry for this contest. This Friday is the deadline, so make sure you get your entries in before then if you would like they yarn prize.

Knitted Underwear
I'm progressing along nicely, and if I can maintain this pace of little knitted stitches, I should be able to finish the underwear by the end of this weekend.



While that will be an aggressive goal, it would be nice to finish up this project and get on with another one.

I also thought I'd show the booklet picture of the women's version of knitted underwear (listed as Lady's Knickers).



Readers' Comments/Questions
Elisa asks what size needle and what weight yarn I'm using for the men's knickers.

I'm using Baby Weight yarn on a US3 needle, which calls for a gauge of 32 sts = 10 cm (4"). The ribbing is being done on US1 needles. You can check out Patons Beehive here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Time For a Blog Contest

It's been a while since I held my last blog contest, so I figured it was about time to have one.

Friday the 13th Blog Contest Rules
This contest is going to be a relatively simple test, that requires some thought, but not a lot of research or analysis.

E-mail me with a list of what you think are the top 20 search term, (single words only) that most commonly bring folks to my site.

The list should be in order of most common, to least common, in case more than one person gets every one of them correct. And if somehow more than one person gets them all correct and in the right order, I will pick a random winner.

All entries should be e-mailed by midnight of Friday, February 13th, U.S. Eastern Time.

You should also check out Wendy's site, since she's having what I call a "repulsive cat love" contest for Valentine's Day. But as always, she has good prizes.

Blog Contest Prize
There will only be one winner of this contest, and that winner will get ten hanks of Jamieson Spindrift (jumper weight Shetland) in a very dark navy color.



Knitted Underwear
I finished the lower ribbing and knit a couple of inches on the right side leg of the undies.

It's moving along well, but I didn' feel like a picture would be overly useful.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Sean wants to see me model the final garment (Aubergine seconds that request).

We'll see how I look in them, and if posting such a picture would cause an uproar to rival the Janet Jackson boob affair. If I look fat or otherwise unattractive, there will be no picture.

If the picture is too revealing, I won't post one. Other than that, I will post a picture.

Aubergine also wants to know how I will know if they're clean since they are light oatmeal colored.

I don't know what he does in his underwear, but I think cleanliness will be easily discerned with this color. They are also made with superwash merino, so I don't think I'll be handwashing them.

Finally, Shannon mentions that the scarf that Nadine was knitting at the get-together sounded like a "Loopy and Luscious" scarf from Knitty, Winter 2002.

If that wasn't the exact pattern she was knitting, it was very close. Here's the link to the Knitty scarf. Nadine's was black background with very vibrant colored thick loops, so her scarf looked a lot more dramatic, but it seems like the same idea.

Here's Nadine's scarf.



I would have include her face (or pictures of other folks at the get-together), but they would have tarred and feathered me if I published the pictures that I took...they didn't come out well at all, except for one picture of Lisa with a moustache.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Knit Meet Up

Meeting with my people is always an enjoyable experience.

Knitting At Kathy's
Kathy hosted a knitting get-together yesterday at her house which included lunch prepared by Lisa.

Food and knitting...no better combination on earth, except for perhaps sex and chocolate?

Anyway, Kathy and Lisa were obviously there. Nadine, Liza, Claudia and Andrea were the other participants at this little shindig. Unfortunately, Marilyn had some back problems, and couldn't make it.

I brought my underwear-in-progress, much to the boredom of the other guests (it's a simple piece of stockinette fabric with ribbing). Kathy showed us some awesome color samples of a cool crochet item she's working on. Liza was working on a wonderful old Kaffe design, plus she brought a boat-load of novelty yarns so folks could play with yarns.

Lisa worked a little a very cool black with white pinstripe ribbon yarn that Liza brought. It knit up very cool in simple garter. Nadine was working on an amazing scribble lace scarf that used a very fine black background (of Rowan Kid Silk Haze) with bright crayon colored thick yarn that stood out brightly. Hard to describe, but very cool looking nonetheless.

Claudia brought a quilt that she had finished piecing which was beyond belief beautiful, so I won't even try to describe it, and Andrea was wearing a great combination novelty yarn wrap and a novelty yarn scarf in great bold colors. She was working on a new cotton sweater as well.

Food was very satisfying as well. All-in-all, it was a very well spent Sunday afternoon.

Blog Poll Results
First of all, I have to credit Wendy for my Friday poll on underwear. While I was planning on doing the poll through readers' comments, when I saw Wendy's poll she set up on freepolls.com, I thought it would be much more interesting.

Thanks Wendy.

Also, the results are as follows:

Total Respondents (as of this morning): 80
Boxer Wearers: 20%
Boxer Brief/Brief Wearers: 62%
Don't Wear Underwear: 9%
Other: 9% (one of the 7 "others" mentioned women's bikini briefs)

Of those wearing boxers:
81% Use the fly to pee
19% Don't

Of those wearing boxer-briefs or briefs:
18% Use the fly to pee
82% Don't

Since I'm making a rendition of boxer briefs, and the fly will be buttoned, I can guarantee that the fly will not be used.

Thank you all for the input. I hope the results are interesting.

Knitting Progress
I did finish the left side of the briefs this past weekend. God, I thought the ribbing was going to kill me.



You'll see that I'm also almost done with the bottom ribbing on the right side of the briefs.

And for those anti-white underwear boys who read this, I just want you to know that the color is light oatmeal, not white.

Readers' Questions/Comments
Jo in Boston asks if Gage is a flame point Siamese.

Yes, I'm pretty certain he is. He has all the physical characteristics of one, and acts exactly like a Siamese cat. Unfortunately one of those characteristics is a constant desire to eat yarn.

Since eating yarn can be deadly for cats (and almost was for Gage early on in his ownership of us), I have to store/hide all my yarn from him.

For those of you who question why bother putting a fly on boxer-briefs or briefs, I couldn't answer that. I find the fly to be more annoying than anything else. A center seam would accentuate the look of the package better anyway.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Hooked on Phonics

First, thanks to Marilyn for noticing my misspelling of "heel". It's one of the few words where "heal" doesn't ever look wrong to me. Interesting that I used both spellings in the original, uncorrected post.

Obligatory Knit Blog Cat Picture
My cat, Gage, takes a terrible picture, but every once in a while I feel it's necessary to post a picture. I mean, Wendy does it, so it must be how knit blogs are done.

Here he is hiding underneath the table at a recent dinner get-together with local friends.



This picture will have to suffice for another month or so. I don't really understand the purpose of cat pictures on a knitting blog, but every once in a while I have a slow day.

Knitted Underwear
The left side of the undies are moving right along. I made it up to the crotch, and I'm starting work where the fly begins.



Despite the boring nature of this kind of knitting (you folks must be drowsy), I'm actually enjoying this project quite a bit. It's very meditative in many ways.

I will also say that I don't foresee a drawer full of these undies.

Informal Survey of Readers
My current pattern calls for a button fly on the underwear front.

We did an informal survey where I used to work, but I'm wondering what most guys do when they go to a urinal (and woman can answer for any guys they want to ask).




More on Provisional Cast-On
I just wanted to thank Christina for adding an additional piece of information on this technique.

When I was being taught to do machine knitting, my friend/teacher would have me cast on with any waste yarn, and knit a few rows. Then I'd knit one row with a slippery yarn. And only then would I start using the real yarn.

I also tried to use very contrasting colors between the slippery yarn and the real yarn. It made picking up the live stitches easy to do before I pulled out the slippery yarn.

This technique worked very well on the circular knitting machine when I was making a pair of socks in one continuous process of knitting. I would start the first on at the toe, knit up through the top of the first sock, knit one row of slippery yarn, and then knit the second sock.

Kitchenering the toes and binding off at the top of the cuff were easy when I could pull out the slippery yarn between socks.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

From Where Does it Originate?

For those of you old enough to have worked on the initial IBM PC's in a DOS environment, it's easy to recognize where some of the conventions in Windows-based computers are derived.

Knitting Origins
Similarly, there are a number of knit-related techniques that I didn't really understand, until I had a little training in machine knitting.

The interesting thing, is that early machine knitters had to use multiple hooked needles to try and replicate what was initially created using knitting pins (or what we now refer to as knitting needles).

Two examples I can think of are:

1. The provisional cast-on
2. The short-row heel

Provisional Cast-On
For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it's basically a technique of starting a piece of knitted cloth with yarn you will end up not using (known as waste yarn). The knitter casts on (or in some cases, crochets a chain) with this waste yarn, and possibly knits a few rows.

Then, with the "real" yarn, the knitter starts to actually knit what will be the finished fabric.

When the knitting is complete, the knitter carefully removes (heh...you should see me do it) the waste yarn at the beginning of the piece, and moves the "live stitches" of the real fabric onto needles to add ribbing, or finish the end of the fabric in some other way.

Clear as mud?...check it out with pictures here. The example only uses one row of waste knitting, but it might help to understand it.

Most machine knitters use this technique on their machines to start the fabric.

Short-Row Heel
When circular knitting machines were developed to imitate knitting on double pointed needles, it wasn't possible for a standard "Dutch Heel" to be worked, so the highly recognized short-row heel was developed.

Dutch Heel



Short-Row Heel



This technique allowed the machine to work only half the circle of the knitting and then knit back and forth on an ever decreasing number of stitches. Once the number of stitches was enough for the width of the heel, the stitches were increased on each row until half of the sock was being knit again.

Then standard circular knitting was done to finish the foot.

If you think that's hard to picture, try to get your brain around the fact that the toe is shaped exactly the same way on most machine made socks.

Knitted Underwear
I made some significant headway (for a school night) on the underwear last night.



Just a few more rows and I'll be up to the crotch on the first side of the pattern. At this pace, I might actually get to wear this garment before Winter is over.

Speaking of Winter
I got this in my e-mail yesterday, and thought you might enjoy it.



It perfectly expresses my thoughts on the season, although I have to admit, this Winter has been much less hard on me both emotionally and physically.

That does NOT mean I am not looking forward to my Cancun vacation in a couple of weeks!

Readers' Questions/Comments
Kathy asks for her own pair of MEN'S underwear, and Marilyn asks me to address publicly why Kathy is always whining for my knitted output.

I have to say, my blog comments wouldn't be the same if I didn't get at least one comment from Kathy requesting a knitted item. Even some baby items Kathy has asked me to make an adult version of. Or at very least, she is telling me to forget the baby stuff and work on something that would fit her.

My assumption on this (since Kathy is way more talented than I will ever be, is that she is doing her best impression of a KnitDweeb. I find it kind of charming and ego-boosting.

Susan asks what pattern I'm using for the kid alpaca bedspread.

I'm using a pattern from one of the Walker Treasuries, and I don't have the name of it with me, but here's the basic pattern:

Cast on in multiple of 10 stitches:

Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2 (RS): *K6, Slip1, K1, PSSO, YO, K2Tog, YO rep from *
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: *K5, Slip1, K1, PSSO, YO, K2Tog, YO, K1, rep from *

Then I just keep reducing the initial Knit stitches at the beginning of each RS row, so the yarn-overs start one stitch earlier on every right side row. It requires some fudging of the first couple of stitches when the increases and decreases get to the edges.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

You Thought Your Weather Sucked

Then check out our Northern neighbors.

Pictures of the Trans Labrador Highway
My current client has employees in Canada with whom I have some regular dealings, and one of them sent me about 10 pictures of this lovely site:



These are pictures of the Trans-Labrador Highway being cleared. Kind of a daunting task, and it makes me think they should just close down areas of the country the need to use that highway to get anywhere.

Now THAT'S sweater weather.

Knitted Underwear
It's not overly challenging, because it's all done in stockinette, and the shaping isn't very complex...but...I am enjoying the serenity of knitting such soft yarn on such delicate, little needles. God knows Marilyn might be right that it'll end up in the undone undies pile, but I don't think so at the moment.



Readers' Questions/Comments
Ann and Carrie are interested in the underwear pattern. I use a very old Paton's pattern that has expired its copyright, and so I can publish it here.

The pattern is for both short and long underwear for men.



I've never made the long version, but I have completed two "pairs" of the short version (why do they call them "pairs"?).

http://queerjoe.blogspot.com/Man's%20Underpants%20Pattern.htm

I like Amanda the Booklady's idea about a QueerJoe's Officical Underwear-Off. Anyone completing a pair will have to send me a picture of some man modeling them. Any takers?

Monday, February 02, 2004

Betwixt and Between

I'm finding it difficult to settle on any one project.

Kid Alpaca Bedspread
While the yarn is amazing to work with, the working on this project is incredibly boring. I got another inch done and now I'm up to 8" (in my dreams). But I had to put it down in exchange for something different. Anything different.

New Mini Project
I picked up a Craft Show scarf and finished one of those yesterday.



Again, my camera doesn't really do the color justice. It's deep plum with flourescent orange highlights. Odd, but interesting combination of colors.

I Need to be Challenged
I was thinking I might need to pick up the Kaffe Fasset waistcoat kit in Donegal Lambswool Tweed, or start designing my own Fair Isle or do some incredibly intricate lace project.

Since my project boss is pregnant (and due in August), I thought I'd use the off-white, baby-weight, superwash, merino and try making an heirloom, lace baby blanket.

I was going to use one of the patterns in the Jan Eaton lace book, and after a few false starts, realized that this is just not the right yarn for this project.

Settled (for now)
So, I just decided to go back to my roots, and make myself a pair of underwear using the same superwash merino.

I got the ribbing on the bottom of the leg done, but no picture yet.

I figured if I can get this project done in a quick enough timeframe, I'll be able to wear them up in Albany. If they fit well, and they're more comfortable and warm than regular Hanes tighty-whitey's, then I might even make myself a whole week's worth.

I'll have a picture of the garment in progress in my next blog entry.