Tuesday, March 30, 2004

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I wish I was talking about my knitting progress.

Civil Rights Travesties of Justice
Two news articles came across my computer screen today.

Both of them were clear demonstrations of how much hate there is when it comes to treating people equally.

The first one is pretty big news. Massachusetts legislature has agreed on a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

Massachusetts Hate Legislation

The second is even worse in some ways. It's not just a denial of equal rights, it's censorship and hate-mongering with our children.

The Boy Scouts of America has kicked out an Eagle Scout for expressing his opinion that it's wrong to discriminate.

Boy Scouts of America Strikes Again

Three cheers for Andrew Cote who demonstrates the true values that scouting is supposed to espouse, despite harsh outcomes.

Two Steps Forward
There's no back-tracking when it comes the knitting on the baby blanket. Four sections complete and about three more to go.



The recipient just went for an ultrasound today, but she's not going to find out the gender. Fortunately, the off-white will work for either a boy or a girl.

Here's a closeup of the pattern for those of you wanting more detail.



Next Project
I brought the yarn with me for the next baby blanket...



...but I forgot the pattern. I'm not sure if it's a free, on-line pattern, so I may not get to "swatch" this one this week.

Readers' Questions/Comments
Audrey asks what is boring about the baby blanket.

The pattern has a 36 stitch, 8 row repeat that doesn't vary enough for my knitting interest. I still like the pattern well enough to struggle through my boredom.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Knitting In My Sleep

Okay, fess up...how many of you have been found snoring with the knitting needles still making stitches?

Mini Mistakes
Thaddeus has found me dozing off while my hands continue knitting. I just caught myself doing that three times last evening as I watched television, and worked on the baby blanket.

Only twice did I have to rip back a little to fix the errors I made will sleep-knitting.

Despite that, and a busy Sunday evening, I have still made some progress on this project. I'll have a picture showing you where I am tomorrow, but suffice it to say, I'll be more than half done by then.

Morehouse Raglan Ownership
Now that the Morehouse Raglan is washed and dried, and the ribbing doesn't pull in quite as much, Thaddeus is reconsidering trying it on.

I begged him all weekend to try it on so I could get a picture for the blog. He was not very cooperative. Hopefully I'll get one sometime this coming weekend.

The Real Rebekah
But what I do have is a picture of both Thaddeus and our neighbor/sweater recipient, Rebekah.



This is the frilly sweater that I made for her in the carnival/Mexican colored yarns. I thought it would be way too small because I didn't have enough yarn, but it looks wonderful on her.

This girl could make any sweater look adorable.

This is also the most accurate picture of Thaddeus that I've ever seen. Unfortunately, I had to scan a physical photograph, so the quality isn't that great. Ain't he adorable too?

Readers' Questions/Comments
Aarlene suggests sending donations to a charity on behalf of my birthday.

I love this suggestion, with a minor change. My views on charitable giving are that they should be done without announcing it to the world (or to anyone, for that matter). That being said, I would love to think that someone took my birthday as an opportunity to donate to a charity. But I'd prefer that it was a charity of their own choice, and that they did it so that only the donor and their rendition of a higher power (if applicable) know about it.

Marta asks about yarn stores in Verona Italy.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my copy of Vogue with me to work this week, so I can't look that up in their article. My only experience with yarn shopping in Italy is a lovely little store I found in Lucca. I bought the generic brand of Cashmereno for about 60% of what I'd pay for it here.

Kathy is the most well-traveled yarn shopper I've ever met. If she says there's not much, I would take her word for it.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Boring, Steady Progress

Progress on the Cashmereno baby blanket continues at a steady pace.

Knitting Boredom
It's very strange.

I love the pattern.

I love the yarn.

I love how the blanket is coming out.

But progress is on this project is steady and oh so boring.



I've finished another section of the blanket pattern repeat, and I'm moving into the next section. Fortunately, I think I'm only doing seven sections total (perhaps nine if yarn is sufficient). I may just have to start a "swatch" (thanks Stephanie for the great subterfuge idea of calling a new project a swatch) of the new baby blanket.

This overgrown, luxurious warscloth is getting tedious, but it's still going to be an amazing gift.

Critiquing Friends
In my critique of the two knitting magazines, and then as a follow-up in the comments, Brandon Mably's sweater design in Rowan Silk Tweed was mentioned.

Kathy and I both know Brandon personally. Kathy has hung out with him quite a bit (and as some would notice, she is fiercely loyal to her friends), and I've met him a few times, and we both think he is a wonderful guy.

Usually, I don't mix personalities with my opinions, but I would find it very difficult to trash anything that Brandon had designed. Fortunately, I like this most recent sweater, so I didn't have to.

I also find it very difficult to critique the work of "my people". When one of my brethren took over the helm of a major knitting magazine, and it hasn't been very good since, I had a lot of trouble critiquing the editor. I don't know the editor personally, but I still wanted to give the person the benefit of the doubt.

Readers' Questions/Comments
Marilyn says about one of my critiques, "The argument for chunky cotton yarn that you will hear is 'I live in Rio and it's too hot for wool.' Or some such sh*t."

That excuse doesn't cut it for me. Even cotton is heavy and hot when it's chunky weight. There is no place I could imagine using a chunky weight cotton.

Carol S. mentions that she thought the shawl in FCEK was okay.

I agree, I thought that was one of the 10 designs I thought was okay or good. Kind of boring design, but a good choice of yarn, inoffensive shaping. Overall, okay design.

Stinkerbell asks about the Italy yarn shopping section in Vogue Knitting.

It would be a little bit of work to copy all of the information into the blog, or an e-mail. I'd be glad to mention a few of the places discussed If I knew what area of Italy you were moving to.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Magazine Review

I've never been a very big fan of Spring and Summer issues of Knitting magazines, so read this with a grain of salt, so to speak.

A "Fair and Balanced" Review of the New Magazines
I saw both the new Family Circle Easy Knitting (FCEK) and Vogue Knitting (VK) in the store this past week, and picked both of them up.



Here's are my thoughts.

FCEK
For US$6.00, there are 42 patterns in the magazine. Of the 42, I thought about 10 of them were okay or good.

There's an article on Remembrances of Knitting Past - ugh!
There's an article on troop-related knitting - ugh!
There's an interview with Jil Eaton (of Minnowknits fame) - stupid questions, interesting answers
There's a listing of annual Knitting events, festivals and camps/retreats - it's missing MDS&W???

Of the patterns, there were some very nice, simple women's tops. I liked the colors and pattern in the Rowan Summer Tweed top, but not the shaping. There are a few midriff tops that are awful. There's a knitted sarong that is so wrong (think knitted towel). There's a Summer, fur-edged jacket...huh? There's a chunky cotton top (I don't get chunky cotton at all). The beach-wear is just plain ugly. The men's designs are uglier. The crochet garments are hideous.

VK
For US$6.00, there are 32 patterns in this issue. Of the 32, 7 are good.

There's a mini-article on knit-related tattoos - I wish it was longer
There's an article on sibling rivalry in knitting - Tired discussion of knitting as a liberator or imprisoner of women
There's an article by Joy Fox on shopping for yarn in Italy which I found very interesting and useful.
There's an article of young school kids knitting which had pictures that made me bypass the article immediately.
There's a tutorial on some of the "traveling" pattern stitches used in the patterns which had good, clear pictures and instructions.

Of the patterns, there's a white, cotton, hoodie that I liked. A ratty t-shirt with skinny scarf (for Summer) - Uh, no. The beachwear was either stupid, impractical or boring, except for the cover sweater which I liked. There's a section on "Naturals" with very nice designs. Brandon Mably has an interesting sweater done in Rowan Summer Tweed (I must like that yarn), but I'm not sure about the shaping of his design. There's a crochet section that's not as bad as FCEK, but one of the bikinis has a matching sleeve pattern...uh, no.

Of the two magazines, I'd say both are worth the price. If I make just one design from either, it's worth a price of $6 to me.

Current Knitting
Now that the Morehouse Raglan is done, I am moving along smoothly on the baby blanket in Cashmereno.



As you can see, I've finished the second section of the blanket pattern repeat.

The drape of the fabric is very nice. I'm using a US6 needle with a DK weight yarn (which is looser than the US5 I would normally use).

The looseness of the fabric works extremely well with the softness of the Cashmereno. It's making the blanket doubly soft.

This blanket is destined to become the baby's favorite thing to sleep with.

Readers' Questions/Comments
Marilyn mentions the weather in Albany and the fading interest in AIDS/HIV work.

The weather is getting warmer (or my blood is getting thicker), and the AIDS/HIV charities are having a helluva time staying solvent. The result is a spiked increase in new HIV infections. Mostly in younger gay men in poor areas.

Eva asks about any listing of Knitting events.

As mentioned above in the FCEK review, FCEK has a decent listing of the events (except for one big one - the MD Sheep & Wool festival). The best on-line list I was able to find was this one:

http://www.knittersreview.com/upcoming_events.asp

Stephanie asks about the address to send birthday presents.

I couldn't possible publish an address for birthday gifts. It would look way too greedy.

However, if anything arrived at Simply Knit on 23 Church Street, in Lambertville, NJ 08530, I'm sure they'd pass it on to me.

Finally, thank you everyone on suggestions for charity knitting ideas. I have a lot of ideas to look into. Now I just need to find the time. Thanks again.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

At Last

Etta James' song, "At Last" is one of my favorite songs. Cyndi Lauper has a great cover of it on her latest CD also called "At Last". I'm listening to that CD now, and it's applicable to my knitting today as well.

Morehouse Raglan
I stayed up last night to finish the sleeve, and start the neck. I also got to see the Sopranos, which is always a late night treat for me.

I finished the neck this morning, doing just a simple 2X2 rib for about an inch.



As you can see from the picture, I did get to wear the sweater to the office today.

The sweater needs to be washed, so I can see how it will hang. I may need to add a little bit to the bottom of the body and sleeves, but I'm betting the washing will stretch it out a little naturally.

Last Night's Massage
Sorely needed, the massage was wonderful. But it also gave me a great idea.

If I was a certified massage therapist, I bet I could make a decent amount of money at the knitting events by giving 10 or 20 minute forearm, wrist and hand massages. $15 for 10 minutes and $25 for 15 minutes and people would be lining up to have their "claws" relaxed.

It's doubtful that it would generate any regular clients, since not many of the visitors are locals, but a day or two of massages could offset the cost of a booth and make the CMT a little money I would imagine.

Next Project
I worked a little bit this morning on the blanket, but I only got 3 rows done. Again, not worth a status picture.

I am, however, very excited about working on the blanket as my primary project. I think it will move along pretty quickly now that the Morehouse is done.

Next Next Project
I've gotten two ideas for another baby blanket for my brother and sister-in-law.

The first one, looks to be a double knit, two-color, reversible blanket, from a knitter friend, Leslie.

The other was an idea from Carol Lapin, who thinks I could use the Lion Brand pattern for a multi-color afghan:



I would just change the yarn to baby weight, and use my own color pallette.

I'm leaning toward the Lion Brand pattern, but I want to swatch both first.

Blog Direction
Just a follow up on the charity discussion.

One of the things I like about Wendy's choice of charities, is that she can combine both knitting and animal protection. I'd like to try to combine GLBT causes and knitting. If anyone knows of any ideas, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Passion

a : ardent affection : LOVE
b : a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept
c : sexual desire

Passion for Knitting
Reader Tom asked me to describe my "passion for knitting" and I realized I had never really given much thought to the word "passion".

In Merriam Webster's definition above, definition "b" clearly describes my concepts of passion when it comes to knitting. I clearly have a strong liking and desire to knit. I am VERY devoted to knitting, both in my own activities, as well as promoting the hobby.

It still fascinates me that I can create fabric from yarn. With an in-depth understanding of the kind of fabric that different types of yarns create, and a growing understanding of color and design, the process of knitting provides infinite possibilities for me.

My knitting blog allows me to demonstrate my devotion and to promote the craft.

Blog Direction
From the beginning, I have wanted to have my site to log my knitting progress and completed projects. I think I accomplish that very well.

I want to help inspire other knitters or would-be knitters with my enthusiasm and encouragement. I sometimes succeed at that.

I've also wanted to be a useful resource for knitters that would give knitting techniques and tips. I've done some of that, but I wish I could provide a lot more in that area. I'm hopeful that I will be able to dedicate a little more time to adding tutorials, or resource lists, or design ideas.

Finally, I'd like my blog to advocate for something I believe in. Wendy has her animal shelter causes, and others use their blog to promote other worthy causes. I didn't initially think enough folks would read my blog to be able to have much of an impact. I'm rethinking that now, and I expect to start including some form of charity project in the near future.

Current Knitting
I continued to make the second sleeve of the Morehouse Raglan longer than yesterday.



You'll see I don't have that much more to do.



I've already switched to the smaller needles for the end of the sleeve.

I have a massage scheduled for this evening, so I'm not sure how much knitting I'll be able to get done. There's still about 3 hours of knitting to complete this sweater when I combine the last part of the sleeve and the collar edging (still undecided how I'll do that).

I'd still like to be able to wear the sweater tomorrow before I leave Albany (it's been very cold here).

Next Project
No progress made on the baby blanket.

However, a few of the co-workers just sent the first baby gift of a beautiful quilted blanket yesterday. I figure a second blanket could never hurt, especially since they will be totally different.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathleen says "Did I miss something? I thought the Morehouse Raglan was for Thaddeus."

No, Kathleen, you didn't miss anything. The raglan is still being made for Thaddeus. He has mentioned a few times that he doesn't like anything form-fitting, and he thinks the Morehouse Raglan will look awful on him. Hopefully he'll be wrong, but even if he's right (which he almost always is), I'll claim the sweater as my own.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Parenting

I don't disparage those folks that decide to be parents, but I am glad I'm not a parent myself.

Chock-a-Block Family
Thanks everyone for the nice comments on the chock-a-block sweaters.

Marina was a sweetheart the entire time she was at the yarn store, including during the extended photo shoot. Click here to see five photos of she and I together. Thank goodness Janis has a camera, and knows how to use it.

Whenever I'm with an infant for a little while, I'm always amazed at the incredible amount of attention they require. Even the most delightful child (like Marina) requires someone to look after her feeding and spitting up and cradle rocking and making sure she's not too warmly dressed in a merino sweater, and, and, and, and...it never seems to end.

It gives me newfound admiration for my parents (who had 7 of us), and for parents like Janis.

Current Knitting
I made siginificant progress on the second sleeve of the Morehouse Raglan.



With a little luck, I might even get to wear this sweater on Thursday. Just one half of a sleeve more to do, and then a quick neck finishing and it's done.

A reader asked how I could hate Winter when it gave me so much opportunity to wear knitwear. In some ways I agree with him, but I'd be just as happy living in a tropical climate, and making lace or knit gifts for friends and family still stuck where it snows.

Next Project
I also got a little more done on the baby blanket.



I've had a number of folks ask for the pattern. The pattern is by Nancy Hearne and it's free on the web. Here is the link again for those interested in a great little blanket. I don't suggest starting this one if you've never done cables or eyelets before.

It's not hard, but it's also not very well described in the pattern.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Amy asks what kind of edgings I'm doing on the Morehouse Merino.

Two simple things. First, I'm doing about three inches of the 4X4 rib in a smaller needled (going from a US8 for the body to a US6 for the edge ribbing). It's subtle, but slightly different.

I'm also using a Kitchener-like bind off to make sure I maintain some elasticity.

Jane asks about information on designing men's cardigans.

I like to have at least one reliable cardigan in my wardrobe (mostly to keep at work when it gets chilly). Mine is a simple raglan cargigan done in a luxurious Sara by Adrienne Vittadini (77% wool, 16 mohair and 7% nylon). It is warm and soft and better than my old baby blanket. I knit it up in a very conservative dark olive (they call it Army Green). I used the same Incredible Custom Fit Raglan pattern as I'm using for the Morehouse Raglan. I just put in a steek for the front button band. It was also plain stockinette.

Here's my advice on designing men's cardigans.

Simple is best. Dark colors work well (unless you're Kaffe Fassett). Use the same shaping as you'd use for a loose crew-neck sweater (I think deep v-neck cardigans look bad). Make cardigans about 1.5 inches longer then a crew-neck sweater.

Other than that, you can do anything you want in the color design. Pick a two-color pattern stitch from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries, or the Harmony Guides.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Slow Knitting Weekend

Despite going to the yarn store, meeting Janis and Marina, knitting the first sleeve on Morehouse and doing more work on the baby blanket, I didn't feel like I got a lot done this weekend.

Yarn Store
I got to see my knitting friend Janis and her little beauty, Marina. Marina has grown into the sweater and leggings a little more, and they looked very cute on her.

Unfortunately, I don't have a very good picture of all of us wearing different generations of chock-a-blocks...all three came out very blurry. Here's the best one.



Janis is wearing the original Chock-a-Block cardigan, I'm in FiestaWear and of course Marina is in baby FiestaWear.

Current Knitting
As mentioned above, I finished the first sleeve on the Morehouse raglan. I have to admit having tried the sweater on a number of times, and the warmth and the softness is almost decadent.



I'm hoping to finish the last sleeve and the collar this week in Albany.

Next Project
I was able to get the first row of blocks done on the baby blanket, and I'm enjoying the pattern very much.



I enjoy working the blanket in between working on the sweater. The difference in textures, and needle sizes make for an interesting mix of projects.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Tired of Winter

From the first cold day of this Winter, I wasn't pleased. You can imagine how I'm feeling today.

Day Before Spring
Today's weather brought another few inches of the ugly stuff.



I am just so tired of cold, windy days with snow, slush, sleet and road salt. My car is a mess, every driver is an asshole (including me), and I just want nice sunny weather to take over.

Customer Complaints
As always, it was interesting to read all of your comments on this.

I still think something as extensive as the KnitList is a bad place to post yarn store complaints. Or more accurately, a bad place to try to form an opinion of a yarn store.

I would venture to say that I'm highly dissimilar than at least 95% of the KnitList folks, and my ideas about yarn stores would be much different from most of theirs.

Can you imagine taking the word of Gloria Marie (for those old time listers that remember her) on how good or bad a yarn store was?

Current Knitting
I told you the body of the Morehouse Raglan is done.



Since I wanted the bottom edge to have a lot of stretch, I didn't want to do a standard cast-off (mine are always too tight). So I bound off using the Kitchener-like stitch. It took a long time, but I'm glad I did it.

I have also started on the first sleeve, although you can't tell in the picture.

Next Project
You'll see I haven't gotten much done on the Shannon baby blanket.



It is possible to start to see the eyelets in this useless little picture.

I compared my blanket with the other woman I'm working with. She's doing regular yarn-overs, and I'm doing reverse yarn-overs. I'm not sure if that's the only difference between our knitting, but her blanket has a horizontal knit ridge above each of the eyelets, and mine doesn't.

So it appears the reverse yarn-over does make a difference.

Don't get me wrong, her blanket looks lovely.

I loved someone's quote about making the same mistake consistently on a pattern makes it a design feature.

Readers Comments/Questions
Apologies to Beth for writing a blog entry about yarn store complaints on the day she wrote a vent about a store that locks their bathroom to prevent theft.

I think I explained that it wasn't her story at all that prompted my blog entry.

Kerry described the letter I was disparaging about a woman who was annoyed that a yarn store charged 50 cents over retail for most skeins of yarn. I totally agree with both Kerry's and Carol S.'s comments on that issue.

Calling Miss Cleo indeed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Yarn Store Complaints

I find it to be a cheap shot when someone posts a yarn store customer service complaint on a KnitList.

At Least Three Sides
As with all stories, there are at least three sides to it.

In the case of a complaining customer, it's the customer's side, the store's side and what really happened.

Having worked for a very short period of time at a yarn store (Tomato Factory), I can tell you there are some whacko customers out there. And from the customer's perspective, I'm sure I wasn't always the best yarn store employee.

Customer Stories
Here are just a couple of customer stories I witnessed personally:

1. At Stitches one year I was sitting next to a yarn store employee who was knitting and looked up to smile at two customers who had come up to the table. One of the customers said to the store employee, "Did I do something to piss you off?" When her response was (with a smile, still), "No, why?", the customers walked away grumbling about the nasty help.

If I hadn't been there to see that one myself I wouldn't have believed it.

2. A telephone customer (older-sounding woman) used to call the store when I was there, and anytime I'd answer, she'd ask to speak with a woman. If I was the only person in the store, she would have to call back later when someone could help her.

3. A customer came in wearing a sweater that was designed by the store owner. The sweater was a multi-color pattern where the selection of colors was critical to the success of the design. The customer had bastardized the design with some of the ugliest colors and acrylic yarns I had ever seen. When the customer asked the store owner how she liked it, the owner's response was diplomatic, but truthful. The owner said something like, "Your color selection makes it a very different sweater than mine." The customer didn't say so at the moment, but she was highly offended, and complained about the store for years after the incident to anyone who would listen (including e-mails to the KnitList).

Don't get me wrong, I know there are some nasty, unhelpful store owners/employees out there. I just meant to show that you can't always believe everything you read or hear about a yarn store.

Current Knitting
I'm almost done with the body ribbing at the bottom of the Morehouse raglan.

I didn't have time to put up a picture for today's entry.

Next Project
I admit it...I couldn't resist, and I cast on for the new blanket.

I did a couple of rows, but haven't gotten very far. I know I've mentioned it before, but I LOVE Cashmereno. It's soft on the ball, and creates an incredibly soft fabric.

I have to say, the pattern is very well written. There's a stitch that I'm not even sure I'm doing correctly. It says the following:

"yo in reverse (= from back to front)-p 2 tog"

If anyone has a swatch on the needles, I'd like them to try this stitch and tell me it's an easy stitch to do. And if it isn't tell me if the following wouldn't be the same instructions, but a little easier to execute:

"bring yarn to the back of work, P2tog"

Short Post Today
Sorry, today's post is short. Not much knitting news or pictures.

Also, even though I'm of Irish decent, I don't celebrate St. Patrick's day and I won't until the Irish GLBT group is allowed to march in the New York City parade.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kake asks why don't Thaddeus and I have clothes that belong to both of us, where there is an overlap in our tastes.

It's not so much our tastes that don't overlap, it's the styles that flatter us that don't overlap very much. We do have some garments that we share, but they are few and far between.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Sweater Ownership

Is it good or bad that Thaddeus and I are about the same size when it comes to clothes?

Our Clothes Rules
Jojo asks who will get the sweater when it's done.

Thaddeus and I have come to this unstated agreement about clothes that fit us both.

While our sizes are similar, the styles that flatter each of us aren't.

Thaddeus looks good in bold, large patterns and sage greens and browns.

I look better in small patterns and blues and reds.

Our unstated rule has become that whoever looks better in a piece of clothing, gets to claim it as their own. If we both look good in it, then it belongs to the purchaser (or recipient if it's a gift).

Current Knitting
Since the current sweater is a bold rib pattern, in a tan/taupe color, the original intention was to give it to Thaddeus.

Knowing that he tries to minimize any tight, clinging around his stomach/waist area, I tried to make the fabric of this sweater rigid enough that it wouldn't be completely form-fitting when the ribbing pulls in around his mid-section.

I really won't know if I was successful until the sweater is complete. Right now, I'm just about to swith over to a smaller needle to do the bottom of the body.



If all goes as planned, Thaddeus will get the final sweater. If the shape of the sweater isn't acceptable to Thaddeus, I will get the sweater.

Next Project
I brought the baby blanket yarn and needles and pattern with me to Albany just in case I "needed" to start something new.

Since it's slated to snow ten inches today, and I need a US6 needle for the bottom ribbing of the Morehouse ragland body, I may not be able to get to the yarn store today to pick up the needles that I left at home. I my just be "forced" to start the baby blanket tonight.

New Design Idea
I was hoping to have started the Fair Isle design yesterday, but work had me too busy. Hopeufully, I can get in some design time today.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks for all the responses on K the K sts and P the P sts.

If a novice knitter/co-worker hadn't confirmed that she had to re-do the ribbing three times because of the instructions, I wouldn't have been so sure that it was bad instructions. I like adding "as they appear" or some such instruction. Like Sean mentions, it helps get the new knitter to recognize what the stitches look like.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Beware the Ides

It always seems that typically "bad" days (e.g. Friday, the 13th and the Ides of March) turn out to be lucky days for me.

Baby Blanket - Pattern Annoyance
Since the yarn was sitting there all soft and warm, I figured I could at least read the pattern to see what it was going to be like.

And then I saw it. Here is the designer's instructions for 2X2 Ribbing:

Row 1: R. S. *K2, p2, repeat from * across.
Row 2: *K the k sts, p the p sts, repeat from * across.

Now, I know what 2X2 ribbing is, and I've seen this description of "K the K sts and P the P sts" enough times to know that the designer means to Knit the back of the purl stitches and purl the back of the knit stitches. I just think it's not a very accurate description, especially for new knitters.

If I didn't know how to make 2X2 ribbing and I read those instructions, I would not come up with ribbing, I would have double moss stitch. In my mind, I would be knitting into the back of all the stitches I had just knit, and purling into the ones I had just purled on the prior row.

The thing I find most annoying about this instruction specifically, is that a more accurate and concise way of writing it would be:

Row 2: P2, *K2, P2, repeat from * across.

Current Knitting
I was annoyed enough with the pattern for the baby blanket, that I just decided to keep working on the Morehouse Raglan.

Thaddeus kept saying that the sweater looked ridiculously narrow, and I tried to explain that it was just the nature of the ribbing. So I had to try it on to show him.



While the angle of this picture isn't exactly flattering, I'm still hoping that the sturdiness of the finished fabric will not be completely form-fitting.

New Design Idea
I am just itching to try my hand at designing a Fair Isle.

My last Ron Schweitzer Fair Isle vest gave me two insights into Fair Isle design.

First, is a simple insight. Designing a vest is significantly easier to design and knit than a full sweater. The second insight is that the pattern design can (and should be) conceived in just black and white. Once I have the pattern design charted out, I can then select two sets of colors that will substitute for the black and white to get the standard Fair Isle look.

Not sure if it will work, but I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Yarn Advice

Thank you all for your ideas on yarns.

Baby Blanket Yarn
I went to the yarn store yesterday, and was having a lot of difficulty finding anything that was washable, DK weight and not cotton.

Everything I found that met all those criteria was only in colors that I didn't want to use for the blanket. That was until I realized that the KFI Cashmereno was machine washable, and DK weight!!!



Then I come home to find Marilyn's timely note about Cashmereno...great minds think alike.

There were a lot of colors I liked, but most of them were either associated with a gender, or weren't what I was looking for. I figured I couldn't go wrong with basic white.

Now I can't wait to start this new project.

Current Knitting
I've added a few inches onto the body of the ribbed Morehouse raglan and it's looking pretty good.



In addition to having new, soft yarn for the baby blanket, and this project getting boring, I will have a LOT of trouble sticking with this until it's done.

Fortunately, the Morehouse merino is pretty yummy feeling as well.

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival
It looks like Thaddeus and I will take a little road trip down to the MDS&W on Saturday, May 1st, in case anyone will be going.

All the talk of yarn vendors and spinning equipment and lamb chops made both Thaddeus and my mouths water.

We probably won't spend much time down there, but I'm looking forward to it very much.

Change of E-Mail
I've complained about AOL for years, but in all honesty, AOL is where I first established the QueerJoe identity.

But, alas, AOL is no longer necessary for me, and I've decided to cancel my account. I had heard horry stories (like this one) about folks being unable to cancel their accounts, but I had no trouble.

My new e-mail, in case folks want to get in touch, is QueerJoe@queerjoe.com or QueerJoe@comcast.net.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Blog Advice

It's always flattering when someone asks for my advice, but even more flattering when they actually take it.

Beth's Blog
Beth was the reader that asked for blog advice the other day.

I just got a chance to check out her blog today.

It's just about the most perfect blog.

The colors she's chosen are extraordinary (her design schooling clearly gives her an edge here...I want her to redesign my colors sometime!!!)

The topics are interesting, thought-provoking and along my lines of thinking.

The writing is succinct and opinionated without being sanctimonious or rude.

The knitting content is excellent.

Most importantly, I got a clear picture of who she is (despite how erroneous it might be).

Knitting
I finally got to the bottom of the sleeve opening on the Morehouse raglan.



I always like this stage in a top-down raglan for two reasons. One, it clearly looks like a sweater at this point. Two, there are a lot fewer stitches to knit each round.

I'm hopeful to put a lot of knitting time in this weekend.

Next Knitting Project
I'm also hopeful to get over to the yarn store sometime this weekend to look for an appropriate yarn for the DK weight baby blanket.

I was considering Kerry's advice on using acrylic to avoid any chance of allergy, but honestly, the knitting process is for me as well as the recipient, and I much prefer wool. If I can't find anything I like in wool or wool blend, I'll look more at acrylics.

Readers' Questions/Comments
Susan asks if I have any pictures of Simply Knit, since she does most of her purchasing on-line, and would like to get a sense about the store (especially since their web site is so sparse).

I don't have any at the moment, but I'll try to take some if I go this weekend, and post them in another entry. It's a nice little store. I can (and have) spent hours there.

Aubergine asks what is the gauge of the Morehouse Merino and how many skeins will it take to make the sweater.

I actually swatched for this sweater, and in stockinette, I got 17 stitches over 4 inches on US8 needles. Each skein has about 125 yards, so I'm expecting to use between 10 and 12 skeins for this sweater.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Twisted Readers

I am never disappointed when I ask the readers of this site to exhibit creativity.

Twisted Posters
A few people went to town and came up with their posters for the election. Check them out on the links below:

Carol S.
Wendy B.
Audrey's First
Audrey's Second
Marilyn's

Mine was pathetically boring compared to those. Thanks, that was fun.

Knitting
I got some additional knitting done on the Morehouse Raglan. Just barely enought to merit a picture on the blog.



I am close to the point where I put the sleeves on holders, so the next pictures will look a lot more like a sweater (rather than a fancy hanger cover).

Next Knitting Project
My client-boss is pregnant, and while I probably won't be on the job when she delivers in August, I thought I'd make her a baby blanket.

Another client-co-worker found this pattern, and I liked it well enough to consider doing for my next project.

Now I just have to find some machine-washable, DK weight yarn in a nice non-gender-specific color.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Twisted Ideas

One of the best ways of mocking the opposition, is twisting their ideas for your own purposes.

Election Posters
The Republican web site has added the ability to create custom posters.

Here's my first attempt.



Check it out and make your own cool poster. I'd be happy to post any clever entries if you want to send me the PDF file that gets created.

Have fun.

Knitting
I did a few more rows on the Morehouse Raglan pullover. Not really enough to show a new picture, so I'll hold off on that until next entry.

I loved the web link that Sarah (my favorite listmum) sent as a demonstration of what she wants to knit. It does look similar to what I'm knitting (except with drop-shoulders and a hot man wearing it). Thanks for making my day brighter.

New Knitting Store
Reader Fredda sent me information on a yarn store close to my current client. Ye Olde Yarn Shoppe, in Schenectady, NY is a cute little store with a large amount of yarn.



While they had way too much novelty yarn for my tastes, I can't blame them for that, because it sells. But they also had a lot of Sirdar, Pingouin, Debbie Bliss, Regia, Noro and KFI yarns. Patterns and yarn were stuck into every nook and cranny in the store.

Way too much to explore on a lunch visit. I may need to go back.

With my compulsion, I couldn't leave the store without buying at least one garment's worth of yarn, so I purchased this.



It's 12 balls of Gaelic Aran yarn (by KFI) in a dark olive color that they call sage (it's too dark to really be sage). I bought about 2050 yards because I've been thinking that I'd like to design my own Aran sweater or knit one of Antonio's (if he ever decides to write one up). Either way, I liked the color and thought it would show off cabling very nicely.

Readers' Comments/Questions
JoJo asks what are Thaddeus' hobbies.

Thaddeus is an amateur mycologist. There is probably a more accurate word for what he does, but he's into foraging for wild mushrooms. He's obsessed lately with his 1983 Mercedes Benz (240D, I think), and he also enjoys fishing once in a while.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Blogging Advice

Beth asked me if I had any advice for a would-be blogger. I didn't think I did until I started writing.

Would-Be Bloggers' Advice
Decide on your purpose(s) in writing a blog, and make sure your postings are consistent with that. My purpose was initially to document my knitting, so I had some log of what I had worked on. I realized I also liked the validation of readers, so I modified my purpose to include writing a blog that would encourage readership.

Make decisions now about personal blog policies, such as what topics you will write about, and which ones you won't. I personally hate reading knitting blogs with lots of children content, so I'm careful to severely limit my writing on nieces and neighbor children, and I won't include funny little things they did in my blog. I'm not a big fan of pet stories, and while I will post an occasional cat picture, I write very sparingly about my cat.

I do have a passion for knitting (mostly) and civil rights, so I consider both of them valid topics of blog writing. Establishing your own focus will make it easier as you decide what you will and won't write about.

If you're interested in a large readership, here are some of the ways I've done that:
- Included lots of pictures
- Include a lot of knitting content
- Make sure there's some ability to comment
- Write about interesting, or funny or controversial topics
- Encourage all opinions, even highly insulting or opposing ones
- Cross-reference other blogs that are popular that you like a lot
- Refer to your blog in e-mail knitting lists
- Reply to all correspondence from blog readers

Finally, I would offer the old adage, be true to yourself. I like what I write, and I enjoy writing it. If I didn't, I'd stop the blog today. I write it for me, and I'm glad folks are able to see my passion for knitting in my writing. That's been very gratifying.

As for technical advice, I would recommend a few things as well:
- Don't use Blogspot (I do, and their software is too slow). I've heard Moveable Type is better, but might require more technical knowledge (Wendy uses that)
- Edit any pictures to make them as small in file size as possible and still allow for quality of picture
- Make sure you know a little about HTML or have access to someone who does
- Choose a template that you won't get tired of, it's sometimes difficult to change over to a different one
- Use a counter software that allows you to track visitors (I like GoStats, but I've never used anything else)

Knitting
Sorry for my egregious typo in yesterday's post. How is it that I know that yolks are parts of eggs, and yokes are the top of a sweater (among other things), but I can confuse them just because they sound the same?

Today's picture isn't very good, but I wanted you to see how I've been evaluating this sweater so far.



I won't be able to do this as easily once the sleeves have been moved to stitch holders (although, I could thread yarn in as stitch holders instead, I guess).

Overall, I'm happy with how it's looking. Honestly, I think the sweater will look better on Thaddeus. It's got that stable, sturdy look that is so flattering to his handsome face.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Amanda mentions that the color of the Merino changes a lot based on the lighting used in the picture.

The most accurate color is the actual picture of the yarn I used originally. I'd call it more gray, but it definitely looks kind of tan/taupe too.



Kerry and other readers have complained that not all of the pictures are displaying on my blog.

I think BlogSpot is having some issues, but I'm not sure. I've decided to only show three blog entries instead of five, to limit the number of pictures that need to be downloaded. Hopefully, this will solve some of the problems.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Generosity

The on-line knitting universe has some incredible weirdos, but there are also some amazingly generous folks out there.

Thank You's
I've been very fortunate to have met some incredible folks as part of my blogging. This forum has allowed me to be among some very talented and tasteful knitters.

Lately, it has also introduced me to some very generous folks.

Thuy was the knitter in California who asked if I had a wish list for my upcoming birthday. When I mentioned I didn't, she kindly offered professional engineering services in exchange for knitting inspiration. Talk about imbalance of trade...I felt like George W. Bush.

John in Portland just married his long-time lover, Alan of 26 years. He sent me an e-mail offering to house Thaddeus and I if we decided to take advantage of the gay marriages in his county in Oregon. He also offered a tour of the Portland-area yarn stores. How great is that?!?!

Thank you to both of you.

While I don't anticipate taking either of you up on your offers, the offers were wonderful and generous nonetheless.

Knitting
You'll see I've made some additional progress on the Morehouse (I've been misspelling it...sorry) raglan pullover.



The wide ribbing pulls in, so it's hard to get a sense about what the sweater will look like when it's being worn. It also makes it look like I haven't knit much, but I really have!!

I've tried it on a few times to make sure I like it, and it's looking better and better. I'll try to take a picture of the yolk forming over my massive shoulders.

The finished garment is going to be very soft and very warm. I have GOT to make my way to Morehouse Merino sometime to get some more of this stuff. I don't think I can wait until Stitches in October now that I've had the chance to work with this beautiful yarn.

Panic Moment
Now that I've made a little progress, I decided to project ahead a little to see if the ribbing would work out based on the numbers. It appears I'll be off by about four stitches.

My options are:

1. Increase by four stitches and make the sweater a little oversized.
2. Keep two of the under-sleeve ribs as two-stitch ribs
3. Rip out the sweater and re-design

I'm pretty certain I'll choose the first option. Since the ribbing pulls in, and the knitted fabric is thick, a little extra ease won't hurt a thing.

If the sweater is already too wide around the chest when I get to that point, I'll choose option two.

Option three is out of the question.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Relief

Nothing better than setting aside those US1 needles and thread-they-call-yarn, for worsted weight.

New Project
I pulled out the sacred Moorehouse merino, and started a top-down raglan.



I started with the calculated pattern from the "Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan" web site. I've used it a few times, and it's a great starting point for me.

You'll also notice I'm doing a wide rib (4X4), and I realized after one false start that I'd have to fudge the numbers a little bit to get the ribbing pattern to match on the front sections.

Panic Moment
After doing about 5 inches on this new sweater (after ripping out the original 3 inches), I realized that when I move the sleeves to holders, the ribbing for the front and back will need to be at a point where I can match them up.

I don't have the energy to try and figure it all out in advance, so wish me luck that it works out close enough so I don't have to fudge it too much.

Maybe I'll just change to plain stockinette when I get to that point, and not worry about it.

Either way, I'll keep you updated.

Old Project
I did some additiional work on the vacation sock.



As you can see, I was able to finish turning the heel.

Heel knitting is one of those activities that requires me to start and finish it all in one sitting. If I leave it mid-heel, I have to rip it all out, because I never remember where I am.

Now, all I have to do is the leg ribbing...yuck!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Gratuitous

Merriam Webster:

gra·tu·itous
Pronunciation: gr&-'tü-&-t&s, -'tyü-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin gratuitus, from gratus
1 a : given unearned or without recompense b : not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration c : costing nothing : FREE
2 : not called for by the circumstances : UNWARRANTED

Blog Links
I was checking out other sites that were referencing my blog yesterday, and someone kindly listed me as their favorite blog of the day because of the "gratuitous underwear pictures".

I'm assuming she meant the second definition above.

While I liked that I was her favorite of the day, I wasn't sure I liked the connotation of gratuitous in this case.

I felt the pictures were called for and in fact added to the content of my blog.

Political Groundswells
I find the concept of groundswells and political climate changes very interesting. Lately, despite surveys that show the majority of this country is against gay marriage, there seem to be an abundance of folks that are even more against the folks calling for constitutional amendments.

Check out MoveOn.org to look at the incredible number of hours that folks have committed to remove George W. from office.

Also check out Lizzy's blog where she links to the Democratic party's web site, requesting that all her readers donate at least the cost of one skein of yarn to help remove the incumbent president.

More and more I see things turning to a more "fair and balanced" view of democracy in this country. I'm just hoping it doesn't peak and dwindle off before the elections in November.

Knitting
I just remembered (again) how difficult it is to work on fine gauge garments when trying to maintain a blog.

Believe it or not, I worked on both the Kid Alpaca Bedspread and the Vacation Sock in the last two evenings, despite how it doesn't appear possible from these pictures.





I'm just up to the heel shaping on the sock, so I'll continue to work on these two projects here in Albany, and then I'll switch to something else this weekend if I can just figure out what I want to work on.

Next Project
I've been itching to start working with the light gray, Moorehouse merino I've had in my stash for a while.



I honestly just don't know what I want to make with it. If I remember correctly, the yarn is a heavy worsted weight, and it is one of the softest yarns I've ever purchased.

I'm thinking a sweater, and right now I'm picturing a pullover. Perhaps a simple raglan, ribbed pullover would look perfect with this yarn.

Since I haven't even swatched it yet, I really don't know what kind of fabric it will make, but for right now, I'm sticking with a wide-ribbed raglan.

Any other thoughts?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Scott wants to know if the underwear is hot, or the model. Sean wants to know how the "boys" like them.

I'm assuming Sean means my cackies (or is my mind still in the gutter and he means all my numerous sex partners). The "boys" are quite comfortable, and any hotness in the picture is due to the camera angle and a timely tan.

Jane wants to know if Thaddeus and I will be marrying in New Paltz.

Thaddeus and I have already had a small committment ceremony, and until marriage will allow us to share social security benefits, and own a house in a truly joint way, then I won't be getting married.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Appreciation

Nothing is so welcoming to a knitter as appreciation for a gift.

Zachary Blanket
A while ago, some of you may remember I knit a quick blanket for a coworker's new baby boy, Zachary.



I used a blue acrylic I had in my stash, and I knit a simple King Charles Brocade (which transformed into a different stitch for the center panel and then back to the classic KCB).

The parents were thrilled with the gift back when I gave it to them, but I just got a follow-up note from them with the following section:

"I thought you would want to know that Zach still sleeps every night with the blue blanket you made for him. He loves it. Whenever we lay him in the crib we drape it over him and he immediately pulls it up over his face and usually falls asleep that way."

I've been feeling more emotional lately (I think I'm getting my period or something), and his note actually brought a tear to my eye.

Albany Knitting
I had a massage scheduled for last night (it was wonderful and sorely needed...even after a week of vacation), so I didn't do much knitting.

I did some work on the vacation sock, and I can at least show a picture.



Tonight, I have a meeting scheduled, and then Wednesday night my boss is supposed to be in Albany, and we'll probably get together for dinner. I'm hoping to be able to get some knitting done in between all these pesky work responsibilities.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy asks what's up with mole sauce?

For me, putting chocolate and beer into a sauce seems odd, but I guess no more odd than putting ground up chile peppers into ground beef. The chocolate seems to give the sauce a very rich texture and flaver, but I don't taste the chocolate without the sweetness. In my opinion, a mole is just a nicely flavored, rich sauce perfect for chicken.

Marilyn wants to know where the euphemism "cackies" comes from.

I simply quoted Aubergine's question. I'll let him explain the derivation of cackies (presumably meant to signify balls, stones, jewels, cojones, testicles, etc.)

I just want to note that while Lisa claims my birthday is the same as her father's, she definitely DOESN'T say it was the same year. I just didn't want folks to think I was old enough to be her father.

After a couple of requests, I decided to post a list of my favorite Cancun Restaurants. Click here to see it if you're interested.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Supportive Readers

I wanted to start today's entry with a thank you to all of you who support the effort of civil rights. Amending the constitution (state or federal) to deny equal rights seems so wrong, and yet there seem to be a lot of folks who support it because of how the right wing spins it.

Funny T-Shirts
Thanks to Carol S.'s creativity and humor, you can now order t-shirts (if you didn't already read about them in the comments.

Check out Carol's great offerings and wear her creations with pride. I've already ordered one of each, and I can't wait to wear them around town.

http://www.cafeshops.com/csperanza

Knitting
I ended up finishing Rebekah II last night, including knitting the second sleeve, sewing both of them on, and weaving in the ends. I'm hopeful that Thaddeus will run into the neighbor sometime this week and can deliver it, but if not, I'll do it this weekend.



The little sweater turned out quite beautifully, and the faux fur trim is very silky and soft. The combination of merino and microfiber fur is very soft. I also love the color combination.

While you can't see it from the picture, there are a couple of pattern stitches in the body and trim of the sweater which look great together as well. I still may decide to write up this pattern, but I'll have to change the trim at the bottom to something else. I could never write up how I did it without writing line-by-line instructions.

Albany Knitting
I ended up bringing the vacation sock and the kid alpaca bedspread to Albany with me.

Both of them are fine gauge and seemingly endless, but they seemed to be the easiest projects to grab and pack last night when I was getting ready.

Updates and pictures to come later.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy asks what was the best meal we had on vacation.

The local restaurants do something amazing with flank steak (I think they might call it tampiquena or something like that) that both Thaddeus and I love. I also had one of the best chicken mole dish I've ever had, and lots of spicey habanero sauces.

Thuy (in an e-mail) asks if I have a gift wish list since my birthday is fast approaching.

Thank you for asking, it was very sweet. I didn't really put my birthday count-down on my blog to beg for gifts. It was more to help folks remember to wish me a happy birthday.

Carol S. (of t-shirt fame) asks if I blocked the undies before assembling.

I was planning on it, but I didn't feel like taking out the iron while I was on vacation, and the sewing up of the the three pieces ended up being easy without blocking. One wearing and they really don't seem to need blocking.

Aubergine wants to know if the undies chafe my cackies.

The merino I used for this project is very soft, and no, there is no chafing. As I mentioned in my last post, I will have to add some lycra to the waistband to help keep them up.

Finally, Noemie mentions that I should have titled my blog from last week as "Estoy en Cancun" instead of "Soy en Cancun".

She is exactly right, and minutes after I left the internet cafe where I posted that entry, I realized I had made a mistake. I guess I was just hoping it was a permanent situation as opposed to just a week-long vacation.