Friday, April 30, 2004

Addiction, Compulsion, Obsession, Habit

All of these seem to describe how I do knitting.

Yarn Purchase
I called Yarns International to see if they would be able to bring my order with them to MDS&W. Unfortunately they can't.

That didn't stop me from ordering enough yarn to make two Fair Isle vests. Here are the colors I think I ordered. I have my original list, but some weren't in stock.



I still think I need a tweedy, light blue, but I'll decide that after I swatch up these colors.

Now I can't wait for them to arrive.

Spring Cleaning
Thaddeus surprised me with four more of the canvas, hanging closet shelves, and as I was moving yarn into them, I found a lot of things I have been looking for for a while.

1. Missing yarn for a Rowan Denim Jacket and a completed front section.
2. Stitch markers (dozens of them)
3. The lycra I needed for the knitted underwear waistband
4. Significant left-overs of Shetland jumper-weight from an old Stained Glass pullover I made.
5. A tapestry knitting needle case FILLED with metal straight needles and accessories

I feel like I doubled my stash of knitting shit just by organizing it a little.

Interim Knitting
I stalled a little (as I usually do) on the Dancing Feet sock. The ribbing always slows me down some.



Kim S.'s comments on tightness got me a little concerned now. I never considered the tightness of putting these socks on, and I got worried that she might be exactly right.

Suffice it to say, I didn't want to rip out the entire leg of this sock after it's done so I put the active stitches on waste yarn and tried this litte sock-wannabe on.



These socks are amazing. I will definitely enjoy wearing them.

Off To The Festival
Thaddeus and I leave this afternoon to head down to Baltimore.

For all you GLBT folks who will be there tomorrow (Saturday), there will be a small meet-up at 1:00 PM back by the herding dog arena at the back of the fairgrounds.

The secret words to gain entry are either:

1. The spider barks at midnight!

or

2. Baaah, Ram, Ewe

Don't tell anyone. Hope to see some of you there.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Suicide Bombers

Isn't there any way we could get these guys/gals to kill people we don't like instead of our military?

World Peace
The best thing about a successful suicide bomber, is that there's one less of them out there after he/she is done.

But wouldn't it be great if we could get those crazy clerics, who excite their following enough to commit acts of murder/suicide, to hate members of the Ku Klux Klan? Or how about the executives responsible for Enron?

I, for one, would like to see those whacko suicide bombers make two wrongs made right.

Fair Isle Design Project
I spoke with Yarns International, and they will have the Shetland 2000 for sale at MDS&W, but not in any of the dyed colors. Only the naturals. And they won't be selling any other jumper-weight Shetland.

Looks like I'll have to check my Jamieson color card and order. Do you think they'd be willing to bring my order with them to MDS&W?

Interim Knitting
I'm speeding right along on this wonderful sock.



As you can see, I've finished turning the heel, and now I'm heading up the leg.

I'm thinking about switching to smaller needles for the ankle section only, so they pull in a little snugger there. We'll see if that works out for me tonight.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Shopping

I'm a gay man. I like shopping. I'm obsessed with knitting. So shopping for yarn is nirvana.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
I've never been to the MDS&W before, but I'm hoping for at least a few opportunities to purchase yarn.

I know I have to buy yarn for the "Fashion of Christ" Fair Isle, so I'm hoping that Yarns International will have either their Shetland 2000 or some other Shetland for sale there.

Thaddeus and I will be heading down to Maryland on Friday evening, and staying overnight. Then Saturday doing the festival. I'm looking forward to it a lot. I think Thaddeus is going for his sainthood badge.

Knit Get-Together
Thanks to Marilyn, I have a couple of pictures to share of the event this past Sunday.

This one is a picture me, Thaddeus, Carol S. and Kathy at lunch.



And this one shows Thaddeus, Carol S. and Kathy in the front, with Marilan and her beau John in the back.



We definitely need to do this again soon.

Interim Knitting
I made some addtional progress on the Dancing Feet sock, and I continue to enjoy this yarn and this sock project enormously.



I did put out a review of the yarn on Wiseneedle, thanks to Kim's timely reminder.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn asked incredulously if I really used the word "yummy".

Would "fabulous" have been worse?

Carol S. asked how long it took to get my yarn from Joslyn's.

I honestly don't remember. I think it came rather quickly, and I imagine she probably had quite a few orders, because it was a blog entry from Wendy that prompted me to order, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Color Design

Color design, for some, comes naturally. I am not one of those people.

Design is Hard Work
For me, color design requires a lot of effort.

I have a little understanding of basic color concepts, but for me, when I'm mixing a lot of colors, I need to create a graphical representation of what the final product will look like.

The Rosemary's Baby blanket was a perfect example. I had done a small graphic, with approximations of the 16 colors I was using, and after many different attempts, I arranged them in a way that I thought looked great.

As I started knitting it, I was starting to doubt some of the choices I had made (reader comments helped to foster that doubt). This same kind of doubt came up a dozen times when I was making the FiestaWear pullover.

The lesson I learned, was that I need to design based on the total composition of the piece. Designing color as I go along, would not be a very successful method for me.

Heresy Swatch
The colors I used in this swatch are not what I will end up using, although I kind of like this colorway.



If I didn't care about dumbing down a color design, I'd stick with these colors.

Unfortunately, I know I can do better.

I've got some of the colors picked out already, and I'm liking the Pine and Light Blue combination in the swatch enough, that I'll end up using that as well.

But as with all color design, I will minimally have to mock up or a graphic representation of what the finished sweater will look like, or do another swatch with the intended colors.

Interim Knitting
While I fiddle with Heresy designing, and ordering yarn, I've started the sock with the double-ruffle scarf yarn.



I have two things to say about this yarn:

1. Color - awesome
2. Quality - yummy

They yarn is called Dancing Feet from Joslyn's Fiber Farm. It's in colorway Forest Floor.

Wendy used this a while ago, and I had to order it. I'm incredibly glad I did. These will be the most comfortable, nice looking socks I've ever made.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Quick Loading Blog Entry

Or, in other words, no pictures today.

Knitting Get-Together
Despite the rain the and chilly dampness, Marily, Kathy and Carol S. and I got together for a little yack-fest in Lambertville/New Hope yesterday. Marilyn's beau, John was there, and Thaddeus joined us for lunch.

Kathy was wearing another one of her great multi-color sweaters that she made out of scrap needlepoint floss. A nice simple design, with both texture and lots of color. Looked great. Marilyn had her Lavold sweater in a great tweedy green yarn, and we got a chance to help her decide on the color sequences of her next multi-color sweater. Carol S. was working on non-descript ribbing (she hasn't learned how to show off yet).

It was my first time meeting Carol S., and it was like she's been part of the group from the beginning. She also helped to make up for Lisa's last minute work-related absence. Carol added the sharp-tongued humor that Lisa is known for.

All-in-all, it was just what the doctor ordered. I'm hopeful that Marilyn will post a picture or two of the get-together. I left my camera in the car, and I wasn't about to traipse out into the rain to get it.

Baby Blanket
I showed the group the most recent baby blanket, and all agreed it is much nicer in person than on the blog. Marilyn even back-pedaled, saying she thought the blanket was nice all along. She just didn't think I'd enjoy making it...yeah, right.

It was nice getting the feedback of these folks with what I consider to be good taste. Now I feel confident giving the blanket as a gift to my sister-in-law and brother.

I figure I also have enough of the GGH Merino Soft left in a few colors, that I can make another pair of the leggings too.

Next Project
I started swatching the new Fair Isle design to make sure I liked the pattern design in the actual knitted fabric.

I've almost completed a 64 stitch repeat of both the wavy/circle pattern and the "frog"/cross" pattern. It looks a lot different than I expected, but I'm liking it nonetheless. I'll have a picture of the completed swatch tomorrow, and then I'll need to start selecting the colors I will use.

Other Next Project
I also brought with me the yarn that started out as the double-ruffle scarf.

I frogged the scarf, and decided to make a pair of socks from the yarn (as it was originally intended). This yarn was a little too thin for the scarf, and the color patterning didn't really lend itself that well to crochet. I think it will make much nicer socks.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Sharon asks how I will keep the bugs out of my new yarn storage area.

We don't really have a problem with bugs in my area. Just the closed closet door will do a lot to keep out any possible wool predators.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Spring Cleaning

Unlike some fastidious queens, I am not someone that places a lot of emphasis on perfect cleanliness.

Yarn Re-Organization
Yesterday, Thaddeus and I were shopping at Lowes and Target, and we ended up finding something that looked like it would be helpful in organizing my yarn (which was scattered throughout the house in various storage areas...I guess it still is).



We bought three of them for the left side of our guest bedroom closet, and I was able to store quite a bit of my yarn in them.



I think we're going to buy four more of them so I can store the remainder of my yarn, and eliminate two old dresser drawers and a cedar chest.

We'll see how it works out.

Current Knitting
I finished the main part of the Rosemary's Baby blanket, and I have successfully taught myself to do an i-cord bindoff (thanks ChicKnits!!!).



Here's a closeup of the edge (not much to see).



As you can see, I've completed about half of the edging, and I'm hopeful to finish it all by tomorrow when I meet up with Kathy, Carol and Marilyn at the Shad Festival in Lambertville, NJ (yes, believe it or not, they actual celebrate the running of the most repulsive, oily fish known to man).

But it is Marilyn's birthday, so we didn't want to let some old fish festival dissuade us from meeting.

I'm looking forward to meeting Carol S.

Next Project
The Fair Isle is starting to seem like the most enticing design challenge for my next project.

I've started by designing the graphic, using only black and white (I'll take on the challenges of colors and shaping next). Here's what I'm thinking about doing.



Since it includes upside down crosses, I've already decided to name the new project, "Heresy".

Next step will be to use some of my old jumper weight Shetland to swatch up a sample. I'll probably use
a lot of the colors that I used for Donegal, just to get a sense about how the design knits up.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jennie says: "I combed the archives for the type of yarn you're using. You mentioned Plum which is a Wool-Ease color but the balls and the yarn itself certainly don't appeat to be Wool-ease. What's the deal, man?"

The yarn is GGH Merino Soft (superwash, baby-weight merino). It's a completely different gauge than the Wool-Ease called for in the pattern, but theirs isn't a baby blanket.

Friday, April 23, 2004

New Skill

I'm always thrilled to learn something new, especially when it comes to knitting. Even more thrilling, is the fact that I have enormous resources at my disposal for learning new things.

Applied I-Cord
I've done lots of i-cord in my day, but I've never had the opportunity to do applied i-cord.

I've seen it used as an edging. I even like it. Now it's time for me to learn how to do it.

ChicKnits has a good description of the technique, and an interesting description of how she figured it out by herself. I always like those kinds of discoveries, and having read her description, I wish I had been so clever.

Now I can't wait to use the new technique as the edging on the blanket.

I'm toying with the idea of doing it in multi-colors, but I'm not sure I want the busy of an edging on the blanket. I may try it to see if I like it, and if I don't, then just do the i-cord in the final square color, purple.

Current Knitting
I've got a few more painfully long rounds to do on the purple, and then, of course, even longer i-cord to do.



I'm hopeful to get the lion's share of this blanket done this weekend, so I can move on to something else this coming week.

Next Project
I haven't thought for a while what my next project would be. I'm thinking I could do any of the following:

1. Make headway on designing/knitting a Fair Isle design of my own.
2. Pick up some long-abandonned project and work on that.
3. Start a Manos throw for myself (I envy the one I made for my mother every time I go to her house).
4. Decide on some other random project.

The Fair Isle is my favorite idea, but I'd have to buy the yarn once I completed the initial design ideas. I have a lot of jumper weight Shetland, but I know I'd want to select more colors than what I have.

The abandonned project would be good for trying to tidy up my life and living area a little, but there are reasons these projects have been abandonned.

The Manos throw would go quickly, and I'd enjoy it, but the weather has gotten quite warm here lately, and a blanket in my lap wouldn't help much.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I just wanted to thank Kim for giving credit for the spiralling squares design to Joan Shrouder. Joan has long been an active member of the internet knitting community. I'm sure this isn't the first thing that others have borrowed from her.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Short Non-Knitting Entry

I was too busy to knit or blog much today, so it's off-topic and short.

Blogger Charity Event
Beth, the Knitting Freak has made some great T-shirts (men's and women's) and some Totes with the Knit for Peace symbol on them.



They are available through her site. She is planning on donating 25% of the profits to charity in multiples of at least $100.

One of the charities she plans on donating to is MANNA.

Beth asked me if I could get the word out, so I'm doing my best. Go check them out.

Readers' Comments/Questions
A number of readers have asked where they can find the Rosemary's Baby blanket pattern.

It's based on a Lion Brand pattern that is available for sale on their web site (and very difficult to find using their search):

http://pages.lionbrand.com/6030/PictPage/1921942708.html

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

New Blogs

It's excellent to see a few new blogs when they're written by folks I admire in the internet knitting world.

Three New Daily Reads
I wrote a while ago when Stephanie Pearl starting publishing her blog, and I added a link to her site from my blog below. She has continued to produce a lot of knitting and write very well about it. Great stuff.

Kim Salazar has also joined the fray. I have followed Kim around some of the varied knitting lists over the years, and I find her writing to be smart and opinionated. She also has a wealth of knowledge about the art/craft/hobby/obsession of knitting. I've added a button for her as well.

Finally, Mary-Helen has been writing a blog that I've been enjoying more and more. As one of my "people", I'm glad to see her contributing her fine writing and knitting to the on-line community. I'm going to have to add a button for her blog soon too.

Today's Mood
It's been an emotional roller coaster for a few weeks now, and I never know from day to day whether I'll be angry, joyous, serene or depressed (or sometimes all of them throughout the same day). Today, I'm feeling hopeful. Hopeful mostly that I'm out of the funk for a while.

Just thought you might want to know.

Current Knitting
As you can see from the picture, the final color square on the Rosemary's Baby blanket is plum. It's a very deep, smokey purple color that is just about the same intensity as the olive that precedes it. I was glad to see Audrey was the first guesser, and she guessed correctly.



I wanted the outer-most color to be dark to help frame the blanket. I will probably use the same color for the trim, if I ever decide what to use.

I could have used a smokey navy blue, or I might have even been able to get away with a deep barn red.

I liked the idea of a mustard color for this blanket...such a rich color, but I didn't want to go lighter on the outer edge.

Thanks for the suggestions on the edging. The blanket fabric is very solid and plain, so I'm thinking that any eyelet trim would be too frilly looking on it (and if it's a boy, I wouldn't want to be blamed for trying to turn him into a nelly boy). A ruffle might have the same effect.

Still not sure what I'm going to do.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jane asks how much time I spend each day knitting, or if I'm an incredibly speedy knitter.

First of all, I'm not a fast knitter. I knit at probably an average speed for a long-time knitter. I put in between 1 and 2 hours a day when I'm away from home, and between 2 and 4 hours a day when I'm home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Snarky Blog Entries

How do you know if a blog entry is too inspired by a bad mood to publish.

Self Censorship
I had a whole litany of bitchy whining and venting written up and ready to publish yesterday.

At the last minute, I decided to go through and censor out a lot of what I had written. I did this for two reasons.

1. I was in an awful bitchy mood, and very angry.
2. Some of the things I had written could have been hurtful.

I've read some blogs that are purposely hurtful, and/or hateful and/or ignorant, and I didn't want to write that way, even on days where I felt one of those ways (can you feel ignorant?).

Today's Rant
I'm still a little bit of a curmudgeon today, so here's something that really pisses me off.

When someone tries to proselytize their religion by disguising it as a discussion that is minimally on-topic to the ongoing conversation.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone just starts discussing the miracle of the shroud of Turin (hello!?!?...how many times does carbon dating have to be done to prove it's a fake?), or how accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior helped them get to the point were there geraniums grew better?

If that wasn't bad enough, when confronted, they get all indignant that they're being repressed for being a Christian. If they want to see repression, try being openly gay or lesbian or transgendered in High School...now THAT'S repression.

Thanks, I feel Better...Now For Some Knitting
I did do a little work on the Rosemary's Baby blanket, and I'm liking it better and better.



I've got five more VERY long rounds of the current color (olive) and then twelve even longer rounds in the final color.

Can anyone guess which color will be on the outer square? Does anyone have any ideas for an appropriate edging for this blanket?

Readers' Comments/Questions
I don't think there are any outstanding questions from reader comments. But I do have to say I love what Elissa had to say in her comments about the "f" word.

"Life's harsh, get a helmet, dude."

Monday, April 19, 2004

Ahh Springtime

It's beautiful even in Schenectady, New York today.

Signs of Spring
My favorite sign of Spring is the blooming of the Bradford Pear trees in my neighborhood.



The streets of my townhouse complex are lined with Bradford Pear trees, and then at the end, some form of pink blossoming cherry tree (which blooms at the same time).

I love the Summer most, but Spring comes a close second because it foretells an upcoming Summer.

Knit Get-Together
In honor of Marilyn's birthday this coming Sunday, a few of us are getting together in New Hope to enjoy the Spring weather and gab about knitting.

Stop by Marilyn's blog and remind her how old she is...that never gets tired.

Knitting
God my knitting is boring!!!

It's boring to knit, and it's boring to blog about...I'm sure it's equally as boring to read about.

Although, I had a major crisis with it that had me on the edge of my seat with fear.

I realized that I wouldn't have enough yarn for the color on the most recently completed square. I decided to do one less row of purl stitch, and add an extra row of knit in the next color to compensate. It all turned out fine, and it shouldn't be noticeable.

Didn't that just give you chills of excitement?

I'm on the second-to-last square on the Rosemary's Baby blanket. There wasn't really enough progress to take a picture, so I'll take one for my next entry.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

My Reply

Despite how pissed off I was when I got the offensive e-mail, my reply to the rude reader was much more tame than some of your comments.

Here's What I Said
My purpose in replying was to try to have the reader see that the request was rude by phrasing my reply in the same way the demand was made to me:



Thank you all for your sympathetic outrage and your very complimentary comments on my blog. Both were very much appreciated.

The Other Side of The Blog Reader Coin
Reader Rosemary from Colorado did an incredibly generous thing. She offered to make me a US4 circular needle that would be large enough to hold the entire baby blanket.

She described how she makes them here.

She went even further and made and sent me TWO circular needles.



One was long enough to use to knit the current blanket, and the other was long enough to display the blanket (for pictures...see below). The needles are made of smooth birch, they're perfectly sized US4's and I love them.

She also sent along a little gift from her cat Domino to Gage.



Packing them in a Rainbow motif was very much appreciated by me, and Gage is enjoying playing with them quite a bit as well.



Rosemary, thanks again for your very nice gifts.

Knitting Content
I'm halfway through the 14th round of color on Rosemary's Baby blanket.



Two more rounds of color after that, and I can finish this project up. Then all I have to do is decide what the hell to do with it.

Thaddeus has now decided it's looking more and more like the vortex from Evil Dead 2:



Thursday, April 15, 2004

The "F" Word

I am very open to others' opinions, even if they are presented in an insulting way. I am not open to anyone telling me how to be, or how to write my blog.

The Wrong Approach
I had a good day today.

My taxes got into the mail on time.

Work went fine and all-in-all, nothing about today sucked too much.

Then I come home to this:



How Could This Have Been Done Better
If you have a problem with my language or anything else on my blog, here are some suggested solutions:

1. Go away and don't feel it's necessary to tell me why.
2. Let me know your opinion and possibly tell me why you feel the way you do.
3. Insult me on your own blog.

If you try to tell me how I or my blog should be, I will not have pleasant words for you.

I'd be interested to hear how others might have responded to this reader.

Blog Snobbery
A few months ago, someone on the Knit Flame list mentioned that she didn't read my blog, because she thought I was a blog snob.

I liked the term and wrote into the Knit Flame list to confirm that, in fact, I am a blog snob.

I like well-written blogs that inspire me or teach me or make me laugh or contribute to knitting as a craft.

I don't like what I consider to be boring blogs. I think that blogging is already self-indulgent activity, and risks being incredibly tedious as a result. Unless a blogger has something interesting to read or look at, I won't even consider reading.

The Newcomer Rules I posted originally last year, caused a big brouhaha. But it made some of my blog readers assess whether my blog and the associated comments were a place where they belonged.

I think it might be time for some to re-assess.

Knitting
I'm almost completed with the current color square on the Rosemary's Baby Blanket. I'm up to over 400 stitches on each round, so it's taking longer and longer.

I'll post a picture in my next entry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Bone Weary

There is just NOT enough time in the day these days.

Craziness
This week I'm not commuting to Albany, so I thought my days would be leisurely.

Tax filing ripped any spare time from my hands like an older brother takes Christmas money from his younger sibling.

Taxes have been rather simple for me in the past. Even when I started itemizing, my taxes went smoothly and easily.

This year I had to file the following taxes:

1. Thaddeus' Federal taxes
2. Thaddeus' PA state taxes
3. Thaddeus' local Earned Income taxes
4. My Federal taxes
5. My PA state taxes
6. My NY state taxes (NY state non-resident taxes SUCK)
7. My local Earned Income taxes
8. My estimated quarterly local Earned Income taxes
9. My property taxes (okay, I only had to pay these, but they came along with all the others)

Just organizing all the paperwork and getting all the software and forms I needed took for-freaking-ever. I did not enjoy the experience this year at all.

Knitting Time
Despite all of the well-intentioned comments, I put the Bulls-Eye blanket back on the needles and knitted a total of one round (I am NOT taking a fucking picture).

I do intend on finishing this blanket (or whatever the fuck it turns out to be), and I decide to finish it for one reason. To see if the final color composition works or not.

Kim Salazar is exactly right in her comment that it's hard to tell the colors on a computer monitor (whether it's old or new, it doesn't matter much).

For those of you asking about the color placement, not only did I plan out the color order of the blanket in advance, the next color that comes after the current orange color, is a bright yellow...you think it hurts your eyes now, wait till you see the next round completed.

Blog Reader Distractions
To distract you from the "vortex-of-hell" blanket discussion, I'm posting pictures of two sweaters that I made a long time ago.

The first one, I made for my first lesbian friend and coworker.



It's a worsted weight cotton (ugh) vest that I designed using the woven stitch. It looked very much like an Indian blanket when I was done. She seemed to like it, so I was very pleased.

The other one was a little Debbie Bliss Fair Isle vest done in Rowan cotton that I made for my nephew.



I'm not sure what my sister ever did with that little vest. It was a pain in the ass to make, because not only do cotton and Fair Isle not mix very well, but it was done flat. Purling and Fair Isle mix even less than cotton and Fair Isle.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy asks if I'll be giving up sleeping to take up spinning.

I don't anticipate starting spinning right away. I'm just getting my feet wet. I was hoping to stop working before I began spinning, but I may start a little earlier than that (like, 7 years earlier). I just picked up two more spinning books at the book store today.

Jojo asks who does the cooking in our household.

Thaddeus does almost all of the cooking. He's better at it than I am, although I'm not a bad cook. He enjoys it a lot too and he's MUCH neater when he cooks than I am.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Knitting Doubts

I'm wavering on my baby blanket choice, and in my hesitation, I've done NO knitting at all.

Baby Blanket
I'm starting to agree more and more with Marilyn's assessment of this Lion Brand design.

I don't know if I'm liking the colors and to add to my doubts, Thaddeus has started calling it "Rosemary's Baby Blanket".

I took it off the needles and put it onto waste yarn, so I could see how it will block out, and I like it a little better.



I put the phone in the picture so you could get a sense about the size right now.

I do have to finish this project, even with my doubts, and even though I have to put all of those stitches back on the circular needles. I just don't know if it will end up being given away as a gift yet.

Warshcloths are NOT an Option
There have been a number of comments suggesting I do something different for the charity project, like scarves.

This time I disagree with Marilyn and some of the others (see...my head's not THAT far up Marilyn's ass...for those of you who were around for the Newcomer Rules brouhaha).

Again, here's my thinking on the issue.

When I looked at some of the items that were being auctioned off, I don't think scarves would be appropriate. They have major art pieces in their auction, and while the silent auction might be a more appropriate venue, I was hoping to do something bigger.

I'm not able to get anything together quickly enough to put an item in this year, so I have plenty of time to organize a group event, if blog readers are open to it.

And even if there is just limited interest on the group project, we could at least donate one major sweater to the event.

Since I still have to deal with issues of which yarn to use, and possibly permission to use a Unicorn/Carol Lapin design, I'll postpone this topic for a little while.

New Fiber-Related Interest
With the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival coming up at the beginning of next month, I thought I might take the opportunity to look at and test-drive some spinning wheels.

At one point, I will take up spinning.

To get a little bit more information about spinning, I asked the GLBT Knit List (who have some amazingly talented spinners) what would be good beginner spinning books (the Amazon gift certificate from Thuy was burning a hole in my cyber-pocket).

I ended up ordering the only three spinning books available through Amazon at the moment:



Hands On Spinning and A Handspinning Treasury by Lee Raven, and Spin It which is a compilation of articles from Spin-Off Magazine.

In addition, a VERY generous lister sent me an extra copy of Anne Field's The Ashford Book of Spinning.




I should have enough reading material on the topic to keep me busy for a while.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Happy Easter

Knitting Soars on Two Circulars

Between double points and two circulars, I'll take the two circulars any day.

Progressing Nicely
I made it to the yarn store and the longest US4 circulars they had was 24 inches. I got two of them, and the work is progressing much faster than when I was on five double points.



Even stretched out over almost the entire 48 inches of circular needle, the blanket is still somewhat scrunched for the picture.

I'm on the 8th of 16 rows.

I'd love to say that means I'm half way through, but really it means I'm only about one third of the way through. But fortunately, I'm enjoying the knitting. It's interesting, and the mini-successes of making it to the next color keeps me knitting.

Charity Knitting Project
Thanks everyone for your comments and eagerness to work on the MANNA charity project.

The famous Kim Salazar (of WiseNeedle fame) has questioned if the Araucania will work at the same gauge as the Merino Big called for in the Kaleidoscope design.

I think Carol, the designer, designed a similar garment using Araucania. I'm not sure about that, and I may need to wait until she returns from Germany to ask her.

Knitter's Magazine Review
First of all, I have to say that Spring/Summer issues of knitting magazines are my least favorites. Men don't do sweaters in the Spring and Summer (or rarely, at least) and I hate working in cotton



That being said, I have to say, this is probably the best issue of Knitter's I've seen since Rick Mondragon took over as editor. There are about twenty designs in this issue, and I like five of them very much. There are four I dislike.

I like the cover design a lot. It makes excellent use of a colorful combination of yarns and the shaping is simple and good. I'm also quite fond of the Dress White design by the editor himself. I wouldn't ever make it for fear of dying of boredom, but I like it.

There's another simple white jacket done in a loos honeycomb stitch that is simple and attractive. Colleen Smitherman also has a simple eyelet/cable-like shell that is elegant.

Kay Dahlquist has a refined cardigan done in a nice Chambray Diamonds pattern that looks interested to make and ends up in an overall nice design.

There are a few designs I think are just plain bad. There's a bright "coral" tent that even the model seems to be pouting about having to wear in the Miami Beach heat, and a pullover tank done in offset panels that offends my eye.

Caramel Cables is done in doubled Mission Falls 1824 Cotton and has cables. Can you say "heavy"? And the last of the "bads" is a simple tweed shell with metal grommets.

The remaining ten or eleven designs are either items I didn't care either way about, or, like the poncho and the summer hats, are okay, but not my taste in garments.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy notes (and Lisa concurs) that I should change the color scheme on the charity knitting project.

Depending on how many knitters volunteer, and how many sweaters we end up doing, we can have multiple colorways. I'd be glad to take on the design of an alternate colorway on at least one of the sweaters. I'm also realizing that I may need to get Unicorn's approval to knit/donate this design. I may possibly have to design a completely different sweater.

Friday, April 09, 2004

My Kingdom For a US4 Circular

And I would guess my "kingdom" is about worth that much.

Needle Scarcity
I have a MILLION needles it seems, and most of them are Addi turbo circulars.

But now that I'm starting to outgrow the double points on the baby blanket, do you think I'm able to find even one US4 circular? I have dozens of US5 and US6 needles, and I'm convinced when I was working on my last project, and needed US6 needles, I had the same problem.

Current Knitting
Anyway, your picture today looks like a lump of yarn, and will until I get my ass over to the yarn store to pick up a circular needle.



As you may or may not be able to see, I've finished just started the fifth square of 16 increasingly larger squares. As with many of my multi-color designs, I'm not overly thrilled with the colors so far, but I'm growing more and more confident that I'll like the overall composition when it's done.

It does help for me to plan out the entire color scheme before I start something like this.

M1's on Purl Rows
Thanks go out to both Heather and Sean on a great suggestion for doing a M1 increase on a purl row.

Both of them independently suggested that instead of picking up the horizontal yarn in between stitches and purling into that, that I purl into the stitch below where I want to have my increase.

Given the lack of fluidity in the standard M1 increase, this solution sounds like a great way of doing it. The next time I need to do M1 increases on a purl row, I will use this technique. I don't want to change in the middle of the project.

Charity Knitting Project
Here's are my thoughts on the MANNA project.

1. First and foremost I want an end-product that is FABULOUS
2. I want a project that will allow for multiple knitters to work on it.
3. The yarn used for the project should be of fine quality

I'd like to suggest an idea, and elicit any comments before committing to it.

First, the project I think would be perfect would be Carol Lapin's "Kaleidoscope"



Second, this project is done in 12 strips, and then each strip is joined with a 3-needle bind off.

Finally, I'd suggest using a different yarn than the pattern calls for. There is an amazing Manos-like yarn called Auracania that would be perfect for this project.

Auracania Shade Card

Threadbear Fiber Arts and Simply Knit both carry this yarn, so it should be relatively easy to get, at good prices.

I'm thinking that I'd call for volunteers to do one of three things:

1. Contribute towards the purchase of the yarn.
2. Knit at least one strip of the garments.
3. Help piece together the finished garments.

Depending on how many volunteers were willing to participate, we'll make as many of these garments as we can. All but one will be donated to MANNA or any other HIV/AIDS-related organization that could use it for their auctions, and the final one will be used as a raffle for one lucky volunteer.

Tawk amongst yerselves.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jane asks for the pattern for the baby leggings I made for Jani's daughter, Marina.

This pattern has never been proofread or test knitted, so I caution there may be errors. I don't usually like to put my name on something that may have lots of errors, but if you want to use it with that caution in mind, here it is.

Baby Leggings

It also doesn't have the color sequence I used (which I don't know anymore). I used 5 or 6 different colors of GGH Merino Soft 4 ply.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Knitting Dilemnas

Just how important could a choice about knitting be?

Project Design
If I didn't have a blog readership looking over my shoulder, I think I would just quit working on the new baby blanket project. It's getting too hard.

First of all, as stupid as this sounds, I didn't know how to do a M1 on a purl row.

When I do a M1 on a knit row, I know how to pick up the yarn between the two stitches below and place it on the left needle so that it twists just right when I knit it, and there is no resulting hole in the
fabric.

I figured it would be pretty easy on a purl row as well, but I have to say, it wasn't as intuitive as I
would have guessed. After working the first square, I had holes at each increase.

I ripped it out and started again.

This time, I didn't like the color order that I started with, so I ripped it out again.

Finally, I've made some small progress and I like the colors and there are no holes....



...but, after only two color squares, I'm already up to 124 stitches in each round. And EVERY
round increased by 4 more stitches, and that means every square, increases by 48 stitches.

With 14 more squares to go, I'll have almost 800 stitches on the needles by the time I bind off the outer square.

I'm thinking it would be easier to make another completely new sweater design with leggings, hat and booties.

Color Joins
Reader Sharolene asked in an e-mail how I join in new colors on a two-sided garment and still make sure it looks good on both sides.

I have to admit, that I don't think there is any way to really do that well, especially on two-sided garments, like blankets and scarves.

Here are my tips:

  • When I have to weave in the two ends when the color changes, I try to make sure I weave across an entire row, so it at least looks uniformly bad across the row.


  • If the garment has two or three colors that alternate every 2 or 4 rows, I try to weave the unused color(s) up the side of the garment, and never cut them so I don't have ends to weave in.


  • If a blanket is going to have many ends to weave in, I will consider doing something else, or lining the blanket with flannel or something soft.


  • Finally, there is a technique called the "Russian join" that I've tried, but I don't like very much. Here's a site that explains it with pictures.

http://www.knittinganyway.com/freethings/russianjoin.htm

I find it leaves the yarns too bulky at the join, but it might work better with a different yarn.

Blog Charity Knitting
Thanks to reader, Anjeanette, it looks like I've found the charity that I'd like to support on this blog.



MANNA, The Metropolitan AIDS Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance provides nutritional support by the delivery of meals and groceries to homes and congregate meal sites for persons living with HIV/AIDS.

MANNA promotes an understanding of HIV/AIDS wellness through nutritional education and counseling. Through these services MANNA provides opportunities by which caring people can extend loving support to families, friends, and neighbors living with HIV/AIDS

Specifically, MANNA has an annual auction called "Show of Hands" where local artists and craftspersons donate pieces for auction. The auction has brought in over $100,000 each of the five last years.

I've been in contact with the folks at MANNA, and I'm trying to decide if I can pull something together for donation for this year's auction (May 21st) or whether I should do a community effort of blog readers and contribute something on a larger scale for next year's auction.

I'll let y'all know either way.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mary asks if all the compliments about Thaddeus don't persuade him, will I get the sweater.

Just so you know, he saw the blog yesterday, and hates all of the pictures. It looks like I may get the sweater afterall.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Lover, Partner, Friend - Thaddeus

Just thought I'd take a moment to brag.

Birthday Comment
Many of you mentioned the comment that Thaddeus left on my birthday.

He's never commented before, so his comment on my birthday was even more special.

Thaddeus is quite an amazing man. In addition to being very handsome (as many have mentioned previously), he is also very smart, insightful and most importantly, thoughtful. His acts of thoughtful kindness always surprise me, even when they're done for someone else.

Morehouse Merino Raglan
Thaddeus did something else very thoughtful last week.

After bugging him for a picture of him in a sweater that he was convinced would be unflattering on him, he went to the trouble of setting up the tripod, and taking a few pictures of himself in the sweater so that I could get them posted last week.

When I thanked him for sending them, he replied that he was just trying to make me smile. He did in fact make me smile and also a little teary.

The lighting wasn't so great on the pictures he took, so I opted to take different ones this past weekend. Here's my favorite (although most of them were very similar).



Click here to view a PDF file of all five pictures.

Next Project
Thanks for everyone's participation in the informal survey.

It seems that most folks agree that the Lion Brand afghan would be the best option.

To clarify, I would only use my own yarn for that project. It will be done in baby weight, superwash
merino from Lana Grossa. I started swatching the new baby blanket last night, but I messed up some of the increases on the purl rows. I need to rip it out.

I also need to re-think the color scheme a little. I'm not sure I can trust that adding new colors as I go along will result in a successful color design.

I really liked Joan's box and wave pattern, but I agree with most of the folks that the wrong side floats wouldn't be right for a baby blanket.

Readers' Comments/Questions
CarolS. asks what's ear candling.

Audrey describes it pretty succinctly in her comments (thanks Audrey). A Google search will also bring up a lot of information on the topic. I've done it a number of times, and enjoy the experience, despite how odd it sounds.

Crystal and Robert ask where they can get the pattern for the Lion Brand afghan.

I don't actually have a pattern. A friend bought the kit for the afghan (I think that's the only way to get the actual pattern, but I don't know). The concept is pretty simple. It's basically just a simple square pattern done in the round from the center, out.

There's only two differences. First, you increase one four stitches every round. Second, each color stripe has rounds of purl stitches and rounds of knit stitches.

It wasn't hard to figure out last night when I swatched it.

Lisa asks if I got my birthday spanking.

I'm assuming that's what the spanking was for.

Marilyn's comments about the baby blanket options have me questioning which direction to go.

I may just opt to make another baby Fiesta-Wear sweater for the new baby. I figure even if I make the LB afghan, I can always make matching clothes.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Productive Weekend

Overall, I had an incredible birthday weekend. Both the celebration and my knitting were successful.

Birthday
Thaddeus treated me like a prince, and the haircut and dinner were both great. We had to postpone ear candling until next week.

For those of you who don't know, Thaddeus is a trained barber (even though he doesn't do that for a living). We have a barber chair in our house, and he cuts my hair. I haven't paid for a haircut in about 15 years or so.

Dinner at "Andiamo" was as excellent as ever. Jean, the chef-owner is an amazing chef, and she even gave us our desserts for free because it was my birthday.

Birthday Weekend Knitting
In between all the festivities, I was able to get a lot of knitting done on the baby blanket. In fact, I finished knitting, and now all I have are about 10 ends to weave in.



Weaving in ends on this project needs to be done with great care. There is no wrong side, so I have to make sure the ends get woven in where they won't be seen from either side. Also, since this blanket will be machine washed, I need to make sure they are securely woven in.

Next Project
Here are the four options again for my next baby blanket.

1. Rambling Rows afghan in baby weight yarn.



2. Slip-stitch stripe/check mosaic pattern.



3. Mosaic slip-stitch pattern called Blocks and Waves.



4. Lion Brand afghan with spriral squares.



Looks like it's time for a Reader Survey to see which one I should select.



Sunday, April 04, 2004

04-04-04

Numerologically, this has to be a good year for me.

Birthday Gifts and Fun
So much to talk about.

Birthday started on Friday when I got birthday cards from family and friends in the mail.

Then, reader Thuy sent a VERY generous gift.



I will now have to search for an appropriate knitting book on which to spend this nice gift. Thank you very much.

Thaddeus gave me these beautiful flowers early so I could enjoy them throughout the weekend (but wouldn't let me open my card till today).



Isn't it amazing what two gay boys can do with some daisies? We had also bought a dress watch for me a couple of weeks ago as my birthday gift.

Birthday Road Trip
Yesterday, we took a nice drive out to Buttsville, NJ (I don't make this shit up) to my favorite hot dog place on the planet, Hot Dog Johnny's.



And had this.



Well, actually, I had four hot dogs with "everything". "Everything" at HDJ's is diced onions, mustard and a pickle spear. I took the picture of the one above to show I got TWO pickles on this one. A very rare and special occassion at HDJ's.

Birthday Events
Today's schedule will include a haircut (by the master barber, Thaddeus), perhaps an ear candling and a dinner at my favorite local Italian restaurant, Andiamo in Lambertville, NJ.

Current Knitting
I'm very close to being finished on the baby blanket.



I'm about one third complete on the last repeat. I have to give credit to the designer, Nancy Hearne on this blanket. It is quite beautiful, and yet simple at the same time.

Next Project
I've got four options for my next project, and I have done swatches for two of them.

1. Soon-to-be yarn store owner, Nadine suggested the Rambling Rows afghan in baby weight yarn.
2. Knitter friend, Leslie suggested a slip-stitch mosaic pattern that is checked on one side and striped on the other.
3. Joan Hamer suggested a different mosaic slip-stitch pattern called Blocks and Waves.
4. Yarn store owner/designer Carol Lapin suggested the Lion Brand afghan with spriral squares.

My next blog entry will have pictures of each, and a survey to ask for readers' votes on which they think would be best.

Readers' Questions/Comments
Thank you all for you kind birthday comments. It makes my birthday even more enjoyable.